Taylor County Murderer,
A Fugitive, Dies After Gunfight
Bedford Times Press
Oct 19, 1933
Patch relates Joseph Brice, sentenced to hang by the Taylor County
court for the killing of William Mullen, back in the '60's, escaped
the gallows by getting away from his custodians here, to die
several years later at the hands of two young men, according
to a story related by C.E. Patch.
A story of the early Taylor county murder, the capture of the murders,
their trial in the Taylor county courts, and the escape of Brice was
printed in the Times Press several weeks ago.
Since then Mrs Emma Sedgwick of Bedford has added a little to
the old story - now comes C.E. Patch
with further sequences.
Patch has lived in Taylor county most of his life, spending a few years
working from place to place and in traveling. He has
been in Alaska, California and
many of the western states.
He recalls that his father, Smith Patch, furnished the wagon
in which the body of the murdered man was brought
to Bedford from the spot where it was found
near Hawleyville.
Patch, about the year 1887, went to Buffalo, Wyo where he got work
on a ranch owned and operated by a man named Brown.
Brown operated a good-sized acreage hiring two or three
men to do the work, and, in the threshing season,
operated a threshing outfit.
Patch, says he cut bands on Brown's outfit, made a general
hand about the place and seemed to become considered
a good hand by Brown.
But Brown had a bad name. Folks would tell Patch that every
one he ever had working for him either run off from bad
treatment or disappeared, no one knew. Finally
it came to Patch's ears that Brown was really Joseph Brice,
the man wanted back in Taylor county
for murder. Then Patch became interested as that was
back in his old home county.
Miles Metcalf of west of Ladoga and Joshua Buckingham, of
near Hawleyville, each had purchased a 160 acre farm near
Buffalo, Wyo a short while before Patch
worked in that country. They both told that they had
seen Brice while a prisoner at Bedford and that they knew he
was the rancher and threshing machine man now going by the name
of Brown.
After working a few months on the Brown place, Patch says he
decided to leave while his skin was all together, as he
did not like the stories told about his boss.
Finally he told Brown he was leaving and Brown urge him to stay.
"Suppose that Metcalf and Buckingham have been telling you stories
about me?" he asked Patch. "Well, you've asked me. I'm leaving
while I can. Folks tell me you fall out with your hands
eventually so I'm going," Patch
told him.
Brown insisted that he and Patch could get along but C.E. pulled
out and went to Buffalo to look up another job.
Patch states that Brown was a home very little. He would come in
occasionally to leave orders for work and then would ride
away on his horse, a rifle hanging from his saddle and a
six shooter from his belt. Neighbors figured he was one
of the Jackson Hole gang of outlaws.
In later years Patch met a man by the name of Jay Brown at
Gravity who had lived around Buffalo, Wyo and in talking
over their experiences of that country, Patch asked about
his former boss, Brown.
Jay Brown related that the desperado, Brice by name but
going under the name of Brown, had been shot by two young
men from Illinois whom he had working for him on his
Wyoming ranch.
Brown's tendency to quarrel with his hired men had been
carried too far finally, the man getting the drop on him and
killing him. The story was that they tossed his body on a
brush pile and burned it.
In setting up the property left by Brown, the story runs, a man
from Illinois came to Buffalo, Wyo, and looked after the details. He
stated his name was Brice and that he was a brother of the
dead man, the Brice wanted in Bedford, Iowa
for murder.
Patch is certain that the Brice who escaped from the Taylor
county officials back in the early day with a sentence of hanging
on his head is the same man for whom he had worked
in Wyoming and that he met his death as related. Parts
and bits of the story have been checked and rechecked and
substantiated in too many places and ways to permit
him to doubt it.