Arkansas Valley Democrat, Tuesday, October 25, 1881.

                          DETAILS ON FATAL SHOOTING OF JAMES J. RILEY.

                             Murderer Captured and Safely Lodged in the County Jail.

                                                             Full Particulars.

Red-handed Murder has been among us, and the dull cold shadow of death is still brooding over our little city. The cowardly assassin is trembling behind the doors of our County Jail, while his unfortunate victim, and our respected citizen, James J. Riely, is sleeping in his grave. It is an awful thing to meet death in any shape, but it is terrible to fall  in ones own door-way, the victim of a cold blooded murderer, shot to death by the merciless hand of a fellow townsman; yet, such is the fate of James Riely. Between the hours of nine and ten o’clock on the night of the 17th inst. he was shot through the heart and instantly killed by a fall fired from a pistol held in the hand of Thomas J. Armstrong, and falling back in the threshold of his own store, he cried to his friends around him, “I am killed! I am killed!    Mr. Shenneman took him to Winfield, and brought him back the next day to stand his preliminary trial before Judge McIntire. The preliminary was waived; but the following are near the facts in the case as gathered from those who were present at the shooting.

Used the next portion for novel.

Fearful words that we fear will ring on like an endless funeral knell in the assassin’s ears till he follows his victim to the grave.

[There was more to article, which I skipped.]

Cowley County Courant, November 24, 1881.

“The trial of Thomas J. Armstrong for the murder of James Riely at Arkansas City on the evening of the 17th of October last, was concluded last Wednesday, in the District Court, the jury returning the verdict of murder in the second degree, Thursday morning, after having been out about ten hours.

“It appears from the testimony in the case that there had been a horse race in the Indian Territory on the afternoon preceding the evening of the murder, and that Riely owned one of the horses. During the race some misunderstanding arose regard­ing the starting of the horses, Riely and his friends claiming that the word at which the horses were to be started had not been given, and Burch, the owner of the other horse, and his friends claiming that it had. Armstrong, who had been betting on Burch’s horse, was heard to make threats against the deceased during the controversy.

“After the conclusion of the race, the parties had returned to Arkansas City. In the early part of the evening, Armstrong, in company with a man by the name of Adams, went into Riely’s store, and shortly after they got in there, Armstrong invited Riely to have a cigar. Riely replied that he would not smoke with anyone who would bet against his horse. Armstrong said he couldn’t smoke with a better man, as he thought he was the best man in town.

“Riely remarked that he would bet him twenty or twenty-five dollars, whereupon both parties put up the money. Several parties who were standing by induced them to put away their money.

“Riely or his clerk at this time informed the crowd that they wanted to close the store and proceeded to blow out the lights. The crowd started out of the building and Adams had got nearly to the door, when he was pushed out by Riely, but turned and at­tempted to re-enter the building, and was again pushed out by Riely and fell upon the sidewalk.

“Riely went up to where he had fallen, kicked, or attempted to kick him. Armstrong, who was standing a few feet from Riely, started towards him and told him to not kick Adams, that he was drunk. Just as he started he was caught by Marshal Fairclo, who told him to hold, that there was no use of there being any difficulty between him and Riely. Armstrong attempted to get away and was pushed by Fairclo into the street. Immediately on arising to his feet Armstrong told Riely not to do that again and Riely kicked at him. Armstrong advanced toward him and Riely threw off his coat and stepped a few feet north of where he had been standing to a post which supported the awning. Armstrong at about the same time stepped in the same direction and when within a few feet of Riely used some opprobrious language and fired, the ball taking effect in Riely’s left breast, killing him almost instant­ly.”


Arkansas Valley Democrat, Tuesday, November 15, 1881.

The District Court of Cowley County convened on the 8th, but on account of its being election day, was adjourned over to the 9th, when the following criminal cases were disposed of: Jefferson McDade, charged with stealing twenty dollars in money, plead guilty of grand larceny. James Jackson charged with stealing two horses, plead guilty of grand larceny. Ewell Harmon, charged with stealing eight hogs, plead guilty of grand larceny. Christian Gelts, charged with stealing a hog, plea of not guilty. The defense was ably conducted by Henry Asp, and the verdict of the jury was not guilty. The defense in the case was that it was a “put-up-job” by his wife to get him out of the way. The trial developed some very smutty things. R. E. Hicks, charged with misdemeanor, plead guilty, and fined $5.00. Jacob Weekly, charged with misdemeanor, plead guilty.

OFFICIAL VOTE: A. T. Shenneman, 1,668; R. W. Stevens, 718.



Arkansas Valley Democrat, Tuesday, November 28, 1882.

A. A. Newman has just completed a stone business house 25 x 75, two stories high. It is to be used for a hotel.

A. A. Newman has the frame up, and will soon have completed one of the finest residences in the east part of town.

Mr. D. Warren, a prominent stock man of Grouse creek, has moved to our city in order to give his children the advantage of our excellent schools, and has built a fine residence in the north part of town.

Mr. Samuel Hoyt returned from Canada last week, and has commenced the erection of a large two story residence near the Presbyterian church. We are informed that he intends making Arkansas City his future home.

Arkansas Valley Democrat, Tuesday, December 12, 1882.

Mr. A. A. Newman is having the Farmers Hotel painted and greatly improved internally and externally.