Trail of William Alexander Jester

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The History of Jester's Past Is a Dark One
Suspected of Murdering a Man at Valley Center
Said to Hare Attempted to Kill a Sister in Indiana.

Wichita. June 30. Sheriff Simmons, who arrested Alexander Jester at Shawnee, O. T., last week, for the murder of young Gilbert Gates, in Audrain county, Mo., twenty-eight years ago has returned to Wichita to secure witnesses for a more complete Identification of Jester, who is to be brought here as soon as the habeas corpus hearing is finished at Tecumseh. One of the witnesses who will be called to see Jester is John Mott, who lives near Valley Center, Kansas, on a claim which Jester jumped in 1870. In the trial Mott beat Jester and got the land. Jester, it is said, afterward tried to get Mott out on a hunt to put him out of the way.

While Sheriff Simmons was at Shawnee he got a lengthy statement of Jester's life from his sister, Mrs. Cornelia Street, who wrote the letter to Sheriff Simmons giving her brother away. In the statement Mrs. Street says Jester was totally bad from the time he was 10 years old till he killed Gilbert Gates, at which time he was 50.

In 1870, according to Mrs. Street, while Jester and his first wife lived on a claim near Valley Center, a young doctor went to their place one night and stayed until after breakfast the following morning. In a few minutes after the doctor left. Jester stepped out and did not return until noon. He had the doctor's horse and buggy and medicine case and the doctor was never heard of again. This came out on Jester after his first arrest for the murder of young Gates and was told to Mrs. Street by Jester's first wife, who died sixteen years ago. Jester has been married twice since, but deserted both women, and was to have been married last Sunday for the fourth time. Mrs. Street could not remember the young doctor's name, but she said his medicine case sat around in the Jester house for years. When Jester was 16 years old, while the family lived in Indiana he beat one of his sisters over the head with a club until she sank to the ground, and then took a knife and tried to cut an artery in her left arm so she would bleed to death. This was near Hagerstown, Ind. At another time he had trouble With his mother and, during the quarrel, he threw a big stone on her feet, injuring her so that she was a cripple for several years.

Mrs. Street's statement was a long one, and shows Jester to be a man of unusually vicious character.

A special from Hagerstown, Ind., says Jester lived there in 1865. He went west and returned in the spring of 1865 with young Gates' team and wagon and leading a young buffalo which Gates left Kansas with and was taking home to domesticate. Mrs. Street says that young Gates' trunk was split in five pieces and buried on a farm near Valley Center.

J. W. Gates of Chicago, brother of the murdered man, thinks Mrs. Street's story fs perfectly straight. He says his father dug up the pieces of Gates' trunk at the time of Jester's arrest and that no one knew of this part of the case except Mr. Gates and the Jester family.

Tecumseh, I. T., June 30. Alexander Jester, alias W. A. Hill, under arrest for the murder of Gilbert W. Gates twenty-eight years ago, still occupies a cell in the Pottawatomie county jail here and Sheriff Melson of Audrain county. Mo., is still here, pending the hearing of the habeas corpus case, which is set for July 8. The Missouri officer will make a strong effort to secure his prisoner before many days have passed. County Attorney Pittman today filed a petition in the probate court for the turning over of Jester to Melson. The hearing has been set for next Monday morning at 10 o'clock, and will be a test of the probate judge's authority to hear habeas corpus proceedings. Attorney General Cunningham's opinion will be used by Pittman in his contention that Probate Judge Jennings is exceeding his powers.

A. H. Finks of Shawnee, formerly of Audrain county. Mo., made a deposition this morning corroborating J. W. Gates identification of Jester or Hill. Finks is sure he is the man tried for Gilbert Gates' murder in 1871. The aged prisoner was in better health today than yesterday, and appears to be in good spirits.


Brother of Murdered Mann Tells Why He Is Pushing the Case
New London, Mo., July 13

Ex-Governor Charles P. Johnston of St. Louis, one of the chief attorneys for the state In the trial of Alexander Jester, charged with the killing of Gilbert Gates, brother of John W. Gates, made a statement as to the reasons which led to the prosecution by Gates of the aged prisoner. He said: "The Gates family bad long since given up all intention of ever pushing the case of the murder of their brother to trial. One year or more ago this man was forced again to the attention of the Gates family under the most peculiar circumstances by Jester's sister. John W. Gates told us he felt It a duty he owed to the memory of his dead brother, a duty he owed the state and, above all, a duty he owed his aged parents to demand a vigorous trial and an unearthing of all the testimony possible. We have had detectives follow that open trail through four states and knew nearly every act of Alexander Jester for the past 30 years."

Francis M. Dawson, who lived about four miles east of the Hulin lane and south of the Paris (Mo.) road In 1871, took the stand. He testified that in January, 1871, he met Alexander Jester in this lane. The old man had two teams and two wagons.

They were standing still In the road at a point west of the Madison road. As Dawson passed Jester asked him how far it was to a road on which he could turn south. This evidence Is considered significant, as showing that Jester's turning from the main thoroughfare was intentional.

John DeMott of Valley Center, Kan., testified that he had lived there 20 years, and had known Jester for 30 years. He never knew Jester as "Hill."

Jester lived with his wife and seven children, and had "on his place In 1870 a "jolt" wagon and a buffalo calf. The witness said Jester not only farmed, but also preached and was an attendant at Sunday school.

J. C. Templeton of Renlck, Mo., testified that he saw Jester and Gates at Renlck In 1871. Jester exhibited the buffalo calf there, and took up a collection. This Is supposed to be a short time before Gates was killed. Jester's daughter Alice arrived from Norman, O. T.

Joseph B. Delaney, an old citizen of Monroe county, testified that his wife awakened him at their home near Middle Grove, one night in January, 1871, and told him she had heard cries of distress. Mr. Delaney said he went to the camp next morning and Inquired the cause of the cries. He said Jester replied that during a dream he had choked young Gates and Gates had screamed. The witness then pointed to Jester as the same man who told him the story that morning In January, 1871.

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Wow! This is an exciting page, Lynette!! I can’t wait to study everything here!!
posted by Paula J