Conrad KOHL news items posted. Initial research was done by volunteer, V. Reeves, in 2006.




Yester Year Stories, Backed with Today's Research


LeMars Post
May 17, 1895

Conrad Kohl, a Wealthy Union Township Farmer Shoots His Former Hired Man,
Claims It Was in Self Defense.—Has Many Friends.—Story of the Shooting.

A fatal shooting affray occurred last night in Union township near the
village of O’Leary. Wm. Dockey, a farmhand, was shot and killed by his
former employer, Conrad Kohl, a prosperous and wealthy farmer and one of
Plymouth’s old settlers. The shooting was the outcome of a disagreement
between Kohl and Dockey dating from Sunday last. Upon that day Dockey, in
company with other O’Learyites got up on a big drunk, presumably at Neptune.
Returning at night he slept in the barn and the next morning was not in a
condition for work. Kohl told him that he was no longer required about the
place and sent him to Warner’s store to receive the balance due him, about
$22 for labor. Warner gave him about $11, withholding the balance for an
account that he (Warner) had against him. Either that day or the following
one Dockey went to Sioux City in company with one Warner. He returned to
O’Leary last night and was seen in the town about 9 o’clock in an
intoxicated condition. Shortly before ten, Kohl’s family returned from a
prayer meeting and reported seeing Dockey, first in the road and then near
the outbuildings. Putting a pistol in his pocket, the old man sent out to
the buildings. When near one of the grain barns he met Dockey and asked him
what he was doing there. “None of your d---n business” was the reply and
with the words he dealt Kohl a blow on the left side of the head with a
heavy monkey wrench, making an ugly scalp wound. The old man upon being thus
assaulted, pulled the pistol from his pocket and shot Dockey in the forehead
almost squarely between the eyes. Death was instantaneous. Kohl
immediately spread the news, and sent Watson Monroe, a neighbor, and a clerk
in the store, to LeMars for Sheriff Boyle. The latter was out of town but
Deputy Lewis accompanied by Coroner Gray hastened to the scene of the
killing. Kohl was tan into custody and a jury empanelled preparatory to an
inquest. The evidence taken was principally that of Mr. Kohl and was
substantially as given above. The jury at 4 a.m. returned a verdict of
“death caused by a bullet fired from a pistol in the hands of Conrad Kohl.”
The pistol was a small affair, rather old looking and known as Red Jacket
No. 4, of 32 caliber.

The deceased had been working around O’Leary for several months past, first
for Tom Dunbar and, since last fall, for Farmer Kohl. He was a short heavy
set fellow with sandy moustache and light hair, drank a good deal and was
not of prepossessing appearance. He has a brother at Ellendale, N.D., and
it is also rumored that he has a wife and two children in that state,
although he has generally posed as a single man. The brother has been
telegraphed. His parents lived in Chickasaw county.

Mr. Kohl is one of Plymouth’s most substantial and well-to-do farmers, the
owner of a half section of rich farming land in Union and has a host of warm
friends all of whom are firm in loyalty and stand up right royally for him.
At the preliminary hearing he was released upon $3,000 bond to appear June
25th for trial. Besides himself, C. E. Haas and J. C. Huebsch are upon the
bond. Mr. Kohl alone is worth many times the required amount.

Great excitement prevails both in the neighborhood of the shooting and in

LeMars Sentinel, LeMars, (Plymouth), Iowa, Monday, May 20, 1895,
Page 4, Column 3:

Farmer Conrad Kohl, of O'Leary, Fatally Shoots Wm. Dockey.

Immediately Send For the Sheriff, and Gives Himself Up--Released on
$3,000 Bonds to Appear June--25th--Coroner's Jury Held and Verdict Rendered.

The little village of O'Leary was the scene of great excitement Friday
over the killing of William Dockey by his former employer, Conrad Kohl, the
previous night, and the subsequent appearance of the sheriff and coroner and
the holding of an inquest in the early hours of the morning before many of
the neighboring farmers were awake.

The scene of the killing was Kohl's farm yard, a distance of about forty
rods south of O'Leary, and the only witness to the encounter between the men
resulting in Dockey's death was Kohl's son, a lad of about fourteen years.
Father and son give the same details in describing the affair, both claiming
that the shot was in self-defense, but their is considerable public opinion
against Kohl among some of his neighbors who regard him as very hot-headed.
According to the stories of himself and son and W. L. Warner, the O'Leary
storekeeper, it appears that the man, Dockey, worked for Kohl about eight
months and up to the preceding Monday when Kohl dismissed him on account of
his coming home drunk Sunday and being unfit for work. He went with him to
Warner's store and there paid him what money was still due him, nearly $30.
Dockey accompanied Warner to Sioux City that day and they remained there
until Wednesday evening. Thursday, the day of killing, Dockey went to
Neptune and got a keg of beer and returned and was drinking during the
afternoon at Nugent's blacksmith shop. It is reported that he told Nugent
when he left in the evening that he was going over to Kohl's to get some
sausage and dried beef which he knew Kohl had stored in an outbuilding. At
about eight o'clock he entered Warner's store and secured pen, paper and ink
and did a little writing after which he went out and an hour later was

Mrs. Kohl and a daughter had been at church that evening and in
returning after nine o'clock saw Dockey in the yard. They told Mr. Kohl and
he took his revolver and went out with his son against their wishes. He saw
nothing of Dockey for some time, but finally noticed him at the granary
door. He immediately said "What the h---- are you doing, Bill?" and the
latter replied "None of your d----- business," whereupon Kohl rushed up and
grabbed him by one arm telling him to put up his hands. With his disengaged
arm Dockey struck him on the head with a monkey wrench he had in his grasp
and Kohl immediately fired, the ball taking effect just over Dockey's right
eye, killing him instantly. The revolver was a small 22 calibre weapon.

Mr. Kohl at once proceeded to Warner's store and told Warner the
particulars and Wallace Munroe and Geo. Farrell were dispatched to LeMars
for the sheriff and coroner. Deputy Sheriff Lewis, in Sheriff Boyle's
absence, went out at once, and Coroner Gray followed. A jury consisting of
W. L. Warner, Sam Harvey and George Farrell was empanelled and a verdict
found that the deceased was brought to his death by a bullet from a revolver
in Conrad Kohl's hand.

Conrad Kohl is a wealthy and highly respected farmer of over fifty years
of age, the father of several children who are leading members in church and
social life in the community and upon whom the blow falls heavily. Mr. Kohl
himself is suffering greatly from the act committed in a moment of
excitement and he has the sympathy of a host of friends who easily find
excuses for him on the grounds of self-defense. he is, however, regarded by
some of his neighbors as very hot-headed and exciteable and a fact, with
unpleasant connections with the shooting, is that he purchased cartridges to
fit the revolver used that same evening at the store. On the other hand
most any man would be liable to shot after being struck on the head with an
iron wrench. he was given a hearing Friday morning and was bound over for
preliminary examination until June 25, and was released on a bail bond of
$3,000 which was signed by himself, C. E. Haas and J. C. Huebsch.

Zink & Roseberry have been retained for the defense.

Dockey was a man of about 33 years of age, of short, thickset build, and
had been injured at some time in the leg and in one hand, somewhat crippling
him. He has a brother in Ellendale, S. D., where he previously lived, and
his parents reside in Chickasaw county, this state. His relatives were
telegraphed, but could not be found in time to arrange for his burial and
his funeral occurred on Saturday from Beely & Fissel's undertaking rooms.
Previous to his working for Kohl he had worked six months for Ben Dunbar who
stated that he was a hard-working, honest man with no worse proclivities
than a slight inclination to drink.

LeMars Sentinel, LeMars, (Plymouth), Iowa, Thursday, December 19,
1895, Page 3, Column 3:

Conrad Kohl to be Tried This Week for Killing his Hired Man, Wm. Dockey.

From Monday's daily:

It was expected that the Kohl murder case would come on this morning
before Judge Gaynor, but owing to other cases that were not finished, it was
deferred for a short time.

Mr. Kohl has been out on bail since May. He shot and killed his hired
man on the 17th of May under circumstances that indicate the killing was
done in self-defense. Mr. Kohl and his son who was present and saw the
affair both assert that the shooting was done in self defense.

The hired man had been discharged for drunkenness. He went off on a
drunk for several days and then was found on Friday night May 17, on Mr.
Kohl's premises. Before going over to Mr. Kohl's farm he had told his
companions that he was hungry and that he knew where there was some sausage
and dried beef over at Kohl's and that he would go over and get some.

When Mrs. Kohl and her daughter returned from church they found Dockey
in the yard. Mr. Kohl took his revolver and, accompanied by his son, went
out to see Dockey. The wife and daughter objected to his taking his
revolver. He saw nothing of Dockey for some time, but finally noticed him
at the granary door. He immediately said "What in h--- are you doing,
Bill?" and the latter replied "None of your d----- business," whereupon Kohl
rushed up and grabbed him by one arm, telling him to put up his hands. With
his disengaged arm Dockey struck him on the head with a monkey wrench he had
in his grasp, and Kohl immediately fired, the ball taking effect just over
Dockey's right eye, killing him instantly. The revolver was a small 22
calibre weapon.

Mr. Kohl at once proceeded to Warner's store and told Warner the
particulars. A jury consisting of W. L. Warner, Sam Harvey and George
Farrell was empanelled and a verdict found that the deceased was brought to
his death by a bullet from a revolver in Conrad Kohl's hand.

The preliminary hearing did not bring out any special evidence and Mr.
Kohl was again released on bail to await the action of the grand jury. He
was edicted (sic--indicted) and now the case comes up for trial. Ira T.
Martin will assist the county attorney in trying the case for the state
while Zink & Roseberry defend the prisoner.

Dockey had a wife and children near Ellendale, S. D., but appeared to
have abandoned them.

The Kohl case will be called as soon as the case of Jandt vs. Dunbar
goes to the jury, probably tomorrow noon.

LeMars Sentinel, Dec. 23, 1895

The Jury Chosen and Several Witnesses for the State Examined

The trial of Conrad Kohl for manslaughter was commenced Wednesday afternoon.
The selecting of a jury occupied the greater portion of the first session.
The regular panel was exhausted and a number of talesmen were drawn before a
jury was found that satisfied the attorneys on both sides. The ones from
the regular panel chosen were Matthew Janse, of Remsen township, Edward C.
Hoffmann, of Johnson, Wm. Conley, of Washington, Will Kenaston, of
Westfield, Geo. Koenig, of Plymouth, and T. D. Graham, of Liberty. From
among the talesmen drawn the following six were selected to sit on the jury:
Jacob Eberle, Barney Roddy, Wm. Peacock, J. D. Laudi, N. P. Fisch and Geo.
Brunskill. The talesmen who were drawn, but rejected were Nick Wilmes, Nic
Schaul, J. N. Farlow, N. C. Evans, John Linden, C.Hausman, James Blackburn
and J. C. Jones. Among the jurymen that were rejected it seemed that a
majority were somewhat familiar with the case and had formed some opinion in
regard to it. Nick Wilmes was objected to because he could not read or
write English. This disqualifies him under the new jury law.

In opening the case John Adams, for the state, and T. M. Zink, for the
defendant, each spoke for about three-quarters of an hour and the evidence
to be introduced by each side was very closely gone over. Mr. Adams stated
that he would show that on the fatal night, when Wm. Dockey was discovered
by Mr. Kohl in the shed where the meat was and that he started to go away
and off the grounds when ordered to, but that Kohl followed him and grabbed
him, when he struck Kohl in his endeavor to get away and that Kohl promptly
fired; that the blow struck Kohl by Dockey was not of a sufficiently
dangerous nature to lave a mark visible a few hours afterwards. Mr. Zink
stated that the plea of the defense would be one of self defense; that when
Dockey was ordered off the premises he refused to go and that when Kohl went
up to him and ordered him to throw up his hands that Dockey struck Kohl on
the head with a monkey wrench and that the latter fired to protect himself
from further assault.

The first witness called for the prosecution was Nelson H. Bruce, a farm
laborer, who did not know much about the case beyond having seen Dockey in
O'Leary on the evening of the killing and that he was somewhat under the
influence of liquor. Deputy Sheriff Lewis, Thos. Kohl, the young son of
Conrad Kohl who was the only witness present at the time of the act, and
Henry Nugent, the O'Leary blacksmith, were put on the stand this morning but
their testimony was only in line with the facts that are already known to
the public.

From Friday's Daily.

Nothing new or startling was developed in the Kohl trial Thursday. The sate
rested its case at 3 o'clock and the witnesses for the defense went on the
stand and were got through with this morning. The only attempt to spring
any new sensation was on the part of the attorneys for the defense who
attempted to prove that Dockey attempted to poison Kohl or some members of
his family.

Some time previous to the killing Kohl had bought a bottle of strychnine to
kill squirrels with and had kept it in the cellarway. Several weeks after
the fatal day, the bottle was found in the wheat bin, it having been missed
from where it had been kept. Connection was made between the bottle
disappearance and the subsequent recovery based on the fact that Dockey was
supposed to have been in the cellarway the day he was discharged from Kohl's
employ. Attorney Martin made the first address to the jury in behalf of the

LeMars Post
December 24, 1895

The Neptune Farmer Is Found “Not Guilty” of Manslaughter.

The jury in the Kohl case brought in a verdict of acquittal at a late hour last Saturday evening.  At noon, the same day it was reported that the jury stood 10 to 2 for “not guilty” and Kohl’s friends were already confident of securing a favorable verdict.

The decision accords with a very general public sentiment in favor of Kohl.  While popular opinion as near as can be gained from interviews with many of our prominent citizens, is inclined to condemn Kohl for his hasty action, nevertheless the shooting of such a man as Dockery of drunken disposition and a quarrelsome nature, under such circumstances is generally looked upon as a very justifiable act of self defense.

LeMars Sentinel, LeMars, (Plymouth), Iowa, Thursday, January 30,
1896, Page 4, Column 4:

A Mistaken Kindness.

Some person who seems to have a spite on Conrad Kohl and his family and
is at the same time ashamed to have his name known to the public contributed
an article to the last Globe. The anonymous attack comes in the form of a
pretended criticism of the Sentinel which said that Mr. Kohl had many
friends who would be glad to know that the verdict was "not guilty". The
people interested should have appeared at the trial. It is no kindness to
the memory of Mr. Dockey for them now to begin a cruel persecution of Mr.
Kohl and his family. They all regret the terrible occurrence. It will be a
sorrow to them as long as they live. It is a mistake in judgment for anyone
now to attack Mr. Kohl. The communication in question is a libel on judge
and jury as well as the attorneys in the case and Mr. Kohl himself.

Conrad Kohl 1840-1898 His Obituary ** His Death Record

Mrs. Conrad (Wilhelmina) Kohl 1843-1901 Her Obituary ** Her Death Record