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William Leopold Cotter (1848 - 1903)

William Leopold Cotter
Born in Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 11 Feb 1873 in Cass County, Missourimap
Descendants descendants
Died in Sacramento, California, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 17 Nov 2016
This page has been accessed 111 times.


Excerpt from 'History of Sacramento County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; by Willis, William Ladd, Publication date 1913:

July 27, 1903, thirteen desperate convicts in Folsom prison assailed the guards, captured the prison, armory and escaped, carrying with them Warden Wilkinson and Capt. R. J. Murphy. They had armed themselves with "file" knives and razors. Two of them turned on W. A. Chalmers, the outer gatekeeper, and stabbed him in the arm, while the others rushed into the captain's office, captured the warden, captain and other officials and taking them as shields, demanded that the armory be opened to them, or they would slaughter all the officials. The armory was opened and they supplied themselves with rifles, revolvers and ammunition and still holding their prisoners to shield them, demanded that the main gate be opened, under the same threat, and it was done. To the honor of "two prisoners be it said, Joseph Casey, a life termer, slammed the inner door, preventing a general escape. 0. C. Clark, another convict, doing twenty years for forgery, dropped down in the office and going to the warden's office, gave the alarm, which was telephoned to Folsom, and the big siren was sounded. The war- den and officers were released and returned to the prison, their captors having exchanged clothes with them. Chief Turnkey Joseph Cochrane had been badly stabbed, and Guard William Cotter was dead and others wounded. At Pilot Hill the convicts were overtaken by posses and J. J. Allison, a convict, was killed. On August 1st as a militia company from Placerville was trailing the convicts on a hill near that place, they were fired on from ambush and two of them, Festus Rutherford and Charles Jones, were killed and William Gill wounded. The convicts split into two bands, and posses hunted the foothills and mountains for them. Roberts was captured in a grain field near Davisville on August 5th by Deputy Sheriff John J. Hinters of this county. Roberts and Howard had come to Sacramento and passed the night at Agricultural Park, separating afterwards. Seavis, the negro convict, was captured on August 6th, at Auburn, by Sheriff Keene and Deputy Coan. Fahey had a battle on the night of August 7, with Detective Max Fisher and Deputy Sheriff Wittenbrock, but got away in the dark. On August 23rd Murphy was captured by offi- cers at Reno, and AVoods was captured in the same city the next day. Ro}^ Fahey, "Red Shirt" Gordon and some of the others have never been captured.

William was born about 1848. He was the son of Edmond Cotter and Elizabeth Pence. He passed away in 1903
Children of Amanda Temple Clawson and William Leopold Cotter (3)
Claude Clawson Cotter 1874–1946
Leo Julia Cotter 1879–1923
John William Cotter 1882–1959
Parents and Siblings
Edmond William Cotter 1818–1880
Elizabeth Amanda Pence 1824–1880
Children of Elizabeth Amanda Pence and Edmond William Cotter (8)
Sarah Ann Cotter 1845–1923
William Leopold Cotter 1848–1903
Mary Elizabeth Cotter 1852–1885
Joannah Cotter 1854–1925
Martha Jane Cotter 1857–1944
Rose Irene Cotter 1862–1926
Nora Josephine Cotter 1863–1962
Edmond Michael Cotter 1866–1917


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The funeral of the William L. Cotter, the guard who lost his life while at his post of duty at the Folsom Prison on Monday last, took place in the city this afternoon from the residence of Mrs. J. H. Byers, his daughter, at 520 Tenth Street. A large number of the friends and acquaintances of the late guard were in attendance. The Relief Committee of the I.O.O. F., to which Order Mr. Cotter belonged, attended in a body. The Rev. R. Renison of the Episcopal Church, officiated at the services. He spoke of how Mr. Cotter lost his life in the noble performance of his duty. He said that death was a great sorrow under all circumstances but that that was a little ray of light to relieve the mourners when it was known that the deceased had died at his post.

posted by Lonnie Donaldson

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