The 1890s brought some very sad incidents in Plymouth County. This story features two surnames:

1) Reifsteck, the murderer

2) Hanson, the victim

**Reifsteck's first name is apparently George, not Charles as the newspaper headline stated.


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LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
April 28, 1891

Chas. Reifsteck Sends a Bullet through F. S. Hanson’s Heart
The Prisoner Brought Back in Irons by Sheriff Boyle
Exciting Scenes at the LeMars Depot
Hanson Killed while Acting as Peacemaker at a Social Gathering
The Prisoner Interviewed in Jail

The home of Stephen Bonn in Hungerford township, this county, was the scene
of a shocking murder Sunday at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Geo.
Reifsteck shot and almost instantly killed F. S. Hanson, a blacksmith.

There was a large gathering of neighbors and acquaintances from various
parts of the county at Mr. Bonn’s place and an old fashioned beer drinking
was in progress. There were races and athletic sports as well as beer
drinking and lunch. George Reifsteck came over from what is known as Happy
Corners, or Neptune, and joined in the festivities. It is stated that he had
only been there a few minutes when he and Robert Bogenrief, of Hinton, got
into a dispute about which could kick the highest. Reifsteck made some boast
and Bogenrief said he couldn’t kick anything, at which loud and angry words

Mr. Hanson, who was in the house playing cards heard the altercation and
came out to quell the disturbance. Parties who were present state that he
spoke kindly to them and asked Mr. Reifsteck not to talk so loud. He said
there should be no fighting and quarrelling there. Then Reifsteck pulled his
revolver and fired at Hanson, the ball taking effect near or in the heart.
Reifsteck’s version of the story, as told to Sheriff Boyle, is, that he was
crowded by Hanson in a bullying manner and that Hanson applied an
opprobrious name to him and struck him, when he quickly drew his gun from
his hip pocket and fired two or three shots.

It seemed to be hard for those present to realize that Hanson was killed.
Some one induced Reifsteck to give up his pistol and in about half an hour
he rode away on his pony. He went home to Neptune where he has been in the
saloon business. From Neptune his cousin took him to Kingsley where he hired
a team and driver and started toward the Missouri river, evidently intending
to get out of the state.

Word was sent to LeMars and a warrant for his arrest sworn out before
Justice John C. Kain and Sherriff Wm. Boyle started at about six o’clock in
pursuit. At Kingsley the sheriff changed teams and followed. The fugitive
had about four hours the start.

Sheriff Boyle had a long and hard drive after his man and has made a fine
record in his prompt capture. He overtook his prisoner about a mile beyond
Sergeant Bluffs in the woods at four o’clock in the morning. He presented a
couple of revolvers at the prisoner and caused him to throw up his hands and
jump out of his carriage, whereupon Boyle put the hand cuffs on him.

Reifsteck was brought to LeMars by the sheriff on the 9:15 train yesterday

When the sheriff alighted from the train with the prisoner, at this place,
about 200 people had gathered at the depot, out of curiosity to see the man.
He is a solid built young fellow of perhaps twenty-five years of age and
weighing about 150 to 160 pounds. His shoulders are humped to some extent
and his general appearance is not favorable to good opinions. Some fears of
lynching were entertained by him, on seeing the crowd, but no thought of any
such deed was expressed by any one although as usual several parties thought
such a fate “none to bad for him.”

A Sentinel representative was permitted to see Mr. Reifsteck last evening
and the following is substantially his story.

“I got dinner at home (Neptune) about noon, dressed myself and went over to
the saloon to get some cigars. Then I and a friend went down to Mr. Bonn’s,
walking all the way, where there was some horse racing on the prairie near
by. We went to the house where there was beer. I went down cellar and drank
some beers. Shook hands with my friends and acquaintances. Then got to
talking about kicking. Young Bogenrief offered to bet five dollars he could
kick any man on the ground, in the face with both feet. I offered to take
the bet and pulled off my coat and dared him to kick me in the face. Then
this gentleman, Hanson, came out and interfered. I told him to go away and
leave me. I didn’t want trouble with him. We had had trouble before. In the
excitement that prevailed I was struck by some one. I reached into my pocket
and got my pistol and fired at Hanson.”

“How far were you from the man when you fired?” asked the scribe.

“About fifteen or twenty feet,” said he.

Sheriff Boyle called his attention to the fact that he had formerly said
twelve or fifteen feet.

“Well, about fifteen feet,” he said.

“How long had you been there when this happened?” was another query.

“From an hour to two hours,” was his answer.

“You were probably making for Nebraska when Boyle got you!”

“~Yes sir.”

Sheriff Boyle then stated that the prisoner had stayed around awhile,
started away and returned and fired his revolver a time or two. Himself and
a friend then went on foot to Neptune where the prisoner got his cousin to
hitch up for a drive and they went south and then east to Kingsley.

Mr. F. S. Hanson was a man of forty of forty-five years old who has resided
in the neighborhood where the shooting was done, for some time. He was
formerly engaged in blacksmithing at Sioux City and was a popular citizen.
His wife was in the house at the time of the shooting.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
May 5, 1891

A jury is said to have been impaneled in the Hansen case near Neptune,
consisting of P. Casper Sr., H. Lembsche, and Joseph Beck. The following is
the inquest as reported although the County clerk says that no official
report has ever been made to him as required by law. The case of Reifsteck
will not probably come up at this term of court.

We, the undersigned jurors at an inquest held April 26, 1891, at the
residence of Stephen Bonn, Plymouth County, Iowa, on the body of F. S.
Hansen, then and there lying dead, do say that the said F. S. Hansen came to
his death by two bullets fired from a revolver held in the hands of one Geo.
~P. Casper Sr.
~H. Lembsche
~Joseph Beck.

LeMars Sentinel
December 25, 1891


This case was called Wednesday morning and is still in progress. Geo.
Reifsteck is on trial for the murder of F. S. Hansen at the farm of Stephen
Bonn in Hungerford township, on the afternoon of Sunday, April 26, 1891.

County attorney P. Farrell is making a strong fight for the state and the
evidence on that side was all in Wednesday. The firm of Argo, McDuffie &
Reichmann are employed for the defense and are fighting every inch of the
ground. They will probably claim that Reifsteck did the shooting in self

The jury is composed of the following gentlemen: G. W. Burrill, James Mace,
Geret Renken, Wm. Hall, C. H. Sibley, Jacob Berner, Wm. Simeon, R. D.
Titcomb, Dierk Wilmus, James Gall, George Ebrecht, and A. E. Riffle.
Twenty-six men were drawn before the jury was complete.

The facts so far as developed by the testimony are much the same as those
given in the Sentinel in its issue of April 28th.

The witnesses who testified in the case are the following:

For plaintiff: Wm. Schnepp, Peter Arendt, John Groatkin, Stephen Bonn, Peter
Gasper, J. E. Bogenrief, Minnie Hansen, Dr. A. P. Bowman, Joseph Hagan and
G. Haarling.

For the defense: Annie Hefner, Geo. M. Hefner, Longuins Lang, Thos.
McNamara, Peter Keiser, Miss Kate Keiser, John McNamara, Frank Hogan, Theo.
Hartmann, Robert Blumer, Julius Tedmann, Nate Soule, Mrs. P. Gaspar Sr.,
Mrs. P. Gasper Jr., John Gaspar and Fred Gaspar.

The jurors and witnesses in court were dismissed Thursday morning until
Monday morning except those in the Reifsteck case.

LeMars Sentinel, December 29, 1891

Reifstack Sentenced to Eight Years in the Penitentiary.

The Reifstack case was given the jury at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and at 1:30
Christmas morning the jury agreed upon a verdict of manslaughter. The
sentence was pronounced by the judge Monday morning. The sentence gives him
the full extent of the law under the verdict, eight years imprisonment in
the penitentiary. By good behavior he can save nearly three years of that
time. It is evident from the length of time occupied by the jury in coming
to a decision that there was a difference of opinion as to the evidence. The
verdict is generally considered a light one.