Benjamin Roland Brewer[1]

Male 1834 - 1921  (86 years)


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  • Name Benjamin Roland Brewer 
    Court Appearance Between 6 and 7 Oct 1866  Charged with waste and mal administration in the estate of Wilson Brewer of which he was administrator; his defense; his resignation as administrator Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Born 20 Oct 1834  Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Gender Male 
    Census 1850  Howard County, Howard Township, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Wilson Brewer household, 1850 U. S. Federal Census, Howard Township, Howard County, Indiana. [WB 06.]
    Wilson Brewer household, 1850 U. S. Federal Census, Howard Township, Howard County, Indiana. [WB 06.]
    Wilson Brewer and Family: His wife, Margaret Jane Moore Brewer; His and their children: Andrew, Benjamin Roland "Rol", Sarah, John, Julia, and Nancy.
    Census 1856  Iowa State Census, Boone township, Hamilton (Webster) County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Wilson Brewer household, 1856 Iowa State Census, Boone Township, Webster County, Iowa.  [WB 20.]
    Wilson Brewer household, 1856 Iowa State Census, Boone Township, Webster County, Iowa. [WB 20.]
    Wilson Brewer and Family: His wife Margaret J. Moore Brewer; His and their children: Andrew Jackson, Roland, John, Sarah, Julia, Nancy, William, and Walter.
    Administrator 12 Mar 1857  Acceptance as administrator of the Estate of Wilson Brewer after the death of Andrew J. Brewer Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Purchase of Property 22 May 1857  Lot 4, Block 7, New Castle, Webster County, Iowa from Nancy (Brewer) Stanley for $450 Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Property Sold 27 May 1857  Lot 4, Block 7, New Castle, Webster County, Iowa to James Hall for $800 Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Census 1860  Troy Township, Wright County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    Military Rank Between 1864 and 1865  Private, Company I, 16th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry Find all individuals with events at this location  [10
    Military Service Records Between 1864 and 1865  National Archives, Washington, D.C. Find all individuals with events at this location  [11
    Soldier Between 18 Nov 1864 and 19 Jul 1865  Company I, 16th Infantry Regiment, Iowa - probably fought with Sherman in Georgia (Millen, Atlanta and Savannah). Enlisted in Iowa; mustered out in Louisville, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location  [12
    Census 1870  Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [13
    Census 1880  Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [14
    Census 1885  Iowa State Census, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [15
    Census 1895  Fourth Ward, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [16
    Affidavit 4 Jul 1898  Des Moines Agency, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions Find all individuals with events at this location  [17
    Census 1900  Fourth Ward, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [18
    Ward File 1905  File of 4th Ward Residents, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [19
    Census 1910  Fourth Ward, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [20
    Died 16 Apr 1921  Webster City, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [21
    Obituary 18 Apr 1921  Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [22
    Buried 18 Apr 1921  Graceland Cemetery, Section 5, Division A, Lot 31, Space #4, Webster City, Iowa. These are city owned lots. Find all individuals with events at this location  [23
    Pension File 1 Feb 2005  National Archives, Washington, D. C. Find all individuals with events at this location  [24
    Person ID I973  Lange Pierce
    Last Modified 21 Apr 2006 

    Father Wilson Brewer,   b. Between 1804 and 1806, Probably North Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 26 Dec 1856, Webster City, Webster County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 52 years) 
    Mother Rhoda Stanley 
    Married 23 or 25 Jul 1830  Probably Henry County, Indiana Find all individuals with events at this location  [25, 26
    Notes 
    • Wilson Brewer was married on July 25th, 1830 to Rhoda Stanley by Miles Marshall, J. P. in Wayne county. He later lived in or near Blountsville in Henry Co., Indiana, from which place he moved during 1850-1860 possibly to a point near Webster City. Iowa. Rhoda Stanley may have been a relative of William Stanley who married Nancy Brewer. [WB 11.]
    Family ID F407  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Eliza Jane Frakes,   b. 14 Jan 1836, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jan 1865, Webster City, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 29 years) 
    Married 1 Mar 1864  Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa; Simon Day, J. P. Find all individuals with events at this location  [27
    Children 
     1. Jane E. Brewer,   b. Abt 1865, Probably Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID F403  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Elizabeth Frakes,   b. 3 Oct 1850, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Oct 1867, Probably Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 17 years) 
    Marriage License 14 Apr 1866  Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [28
    Married 15 Apr 1866  Home of Thomas Bonebright, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa; S. Benjamin Stamp, J.D. Find all individuals with events at this location  [29
    Children 
    +1. Margaret Ellen Brewer,   b. Abt 1865, Prob. Webster City, Iowa or Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. UNKNOWN, Probably Texas Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 21 Apr 2006 
    Family ID F404  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 3 Judith Henshaw,   b. Abt 1841, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Aug 1884, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 43 years) 
    Married 9 Apr 1869  American House, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa; by J. R. Patrick, J.P. Find all individuals with events at this location  [30
    Children 
     1. Charles E. Brewer,   b. Abt 1870, Probably Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Frederick Brewer,   b. Abt 1874, Probably Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Mar 1897, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 23 years)
     3. Anneta Bell Brewer,   b. Abt 1879, Probably Cass Township, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 21 Apr 2006 
    Family ID F405  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 4 Nellie E. Conlin,   b. Aft Oct 1865, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 20 Jun 1889  Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa; A. R. Flemming, J.P. Find all individuals with events at this location  [31
    Notes 
    •        Ellen E. is the probably same person as Ellen O'Rourke that is mentioned in BRB 07. She is found in the 1910 Census as Ellen E. and has been married to BRB for 22 years. This information fits with BRB 06, a marriage license. In this same census, there is a Peter E. O Rourke that lives as a neighbor. This person could be a brother to Ellen, but I have not been able to establish that fact by means of perusing census records with a variety of names: Ellen, Nellie, Nellie Conlin, Ellen E., Ellen C.,etc. I did find a Patrick O Rourke in Iowa City, Iowa in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. An Ellen is listed as being 4/12ths year old. It is not clear that this is the Ellen, wife of Benjamin R. Brewer in 1910, but it could be.
             Ellen or Nellie with the last name of Conlin could have been previously married, but I have not found anything in census records to show that. [DLL]
    Children 
    +1. Frank Brewer,   b. 5 Sep 1889, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jun 1965, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 75 years)
    Family ID F406  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    •        According to the death certificate, Benjamin Roland "Roll" Brewer was a mason, retired at time of death.
             In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, "Bolen" is a 15 year old male, born in "Ohio." He is living with his parents, Wilson and Jane, who were also born in "Ohio," two brothers (Andrew J., John T.) and three sisters (Sarah, Julia, and probably Nancy). [WB 06.]
             The 1856 Iowa State Census indicates that Roland Brewer was born in 1836. This could have been an estimate since the death certificate is very clear on the date of birth. [WB 20 & DLL.]
             On March 12, 1857, "Roll" Brewer became the administrator for the estate of his father, Wilson Brewer. His older brother, Andrew J. Brewer was the original administrator for the W. Brewer estate, but he died very suddenly on March 07, 1857. Between 1857 and 1866, not much attention was given to this matter other than the routine paying of bills and sale of property to support the minor children of W. Brewer. There was the matter of the Civil War in which B. R. Brewer did participate. In 1866, his administration was challenged by Thomas B. Bonebright, husband of B. R. Brewer's younger sister, Sarah. "Roll" Brewer was accused of being "guilty of waste and mal administration." He was summoned to court, defended himself, and subsequently resigned as administrator of the W. Brewer estate. [BRB 11.]
             In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Benjamin R. Brewer is found in Troy township, Wright County Iowa. He is a 24 year old, male farmer and I assume, single. He was born in Indiana. His real estate value is estimated at $830 and personal estate at $100.
             Between November 1864 and July 1865, Benjamin R. Brewer was a soldier in the Civil War on the Union Side. He enlisted at the age of 28 in Company I, 16th Iowa Infantry Regiment. It may be that he participated with General Sherman in the Georgia campaign. [BRB 14; BRB 15; BRB 18] From the Military Record, Benajmin R. Brewer was 28 years old upon enlistment. His height was 5 feet 7 inches, light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair. The enlistment or draft date was November 18, 1864 at Fort Dodge, Iowa. Reported for duty at Goldsboro, NC, April 01, 1865. He was mustered out on July 19, 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky. [BRB 18.]
             In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Benjamin R. Brewer is living with his third wife, Judith Henshaw in Cass township of Hamilton County, Iowa. He is a 36 year old male farmer who was born in Indiana. With him and his wife are Jane E., Margaret, and Charles E. [BRB 17.]
             In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Benjamin Roland "Roll" Brewer was married to Judith C. Henshaw (Brewer). He was a white, thirty-four year old male; his occupation was that of a farmer. He was born in Indiana of parents he indicates were both born in Iowa. [This is not true; his father Wilson was born in North Carolina and Rhonda Stanley, his mother, was born there also.] Three children are living with him: Charles, Frederick, and Nettie. [BRB 08.]
             In the 1885 Iowa State Census, Benjamin Roland Brewer is a 44 year old, white, widowed male. He lives on Superior Street, 2nd Ward, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa. He was born in Indiana. He is living with four children - three by Judith Henshaw and one by Betsy Frakes: Charles, Frederick, Anneta, and Margaret E. He is a farmer. [BRB 19.]
             In the 1895 Iowa State Census, Benjamin R. Brewer is a 58 year old white, male who is living with his wife, Ellen, two sons (Fred M. and Peter "Frank") and a daughter, Nettie. They all live in the 4th Ward, Webster City, Boone Township, Hamilton County, Iowa. The Census shows that "Roll" Brewer was in Company I of the Iowa 16th Regiment during the "War of the Rebellion." Also living with them are three people: Ruth Blair(n), a 15 year old single female; Wilson Blair, a 28 single, white male, a laborer; and, Fred Blair, a 21 year old, white, single male. [BRB 24.]
             In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Benjamin R. Brewer, a white male, is living in Webster City, Iowa, Ward 4. He is living with his wife Nellie (Ellen) and their son, Frank. Benjamin is a married, white, male who indicated that he was born in February of 1831[when he was actually born in 1834 in Sept]. He indicated he was born in Indiana of parents who were born in Indiana [father in North Carolina, actually]. He is a day laborer, who has been out of work for nine months. He speaks, reads, and writes English. He owns his own home, free and clear. In the home, there is also a roomer by the name of George Bonebright. George is divorced. [BRB 16.]
             In 1905, B. R. [Benjamin Roland] Brewer is living on James Street, 4th Ward, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa, with his wife, Ellen, and son Frank. [BRB 20.]
             In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Benjamin R. Brewer, a white male, is living in Webster City, Iowa, Ward 4. He is living with his then wife (4), Ellen E.. He was born in Indiana of parents that were both born in Indiana (Father - North Carolina; mother - Indiana). He speaks, reads, and writes English. At this time, he is 75 years old, in his 4th marriage, one of a 22 year duration at this point. He owns his home free and clear. He is a veteran of the Union Army. [I cannot read trade or profession or general nature of industry or business- DLL] [BRB 13.]
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      Daily Freeman Journal, 18 April 1921
             Roll Brewer Drops Dead Aged Pioneer Settler of Webster City Falls Dead in Home of Apoplexy, Came Here in 1850 Had Lived in This Community Longer Than any Other Man
             B. R. Brewer, known in Webster City for a good many years as "Roll" Brewer, dropped dead in his home Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock of apoplexy. He had been in poor health for some time, but had been up and about all the time and his passing came unexpectedly and as a shock to relatives and friends.
             The funeral was held this afternoon from the home at 1131 James street, conducted by Rev. Manson E. Miller. Mr. Brewer was past 86 years of age, having been born Oct. 20, 1834 in the state of Indiana.
             Came Here in 1850
             Benjamin R. Brewer came to Hamilton county with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Brewer, in 1850 and the family located near the present site of Stratford, later called Hook's Point. They came from Indiana with an ox team and covered wagon and never crossed a railroad in the entire trip. After living near Hook's point for a year the family removed to what was known as the Eyer farm, just southeast of what is now Webster City and what was later a part of Webster City. A year or two later the family removed to a claim a little nearer to the present site of Webster City and built a cabin on the north bank of Brewer creek, near the bridge on Superior street.
      At the time of his death Mr. Brewer had lived longer in Webster City and vicinity than any other man, having come her with his parents in 1851 and having lived here and in this section of country for seventy years. His sister, Mrs. Thomas Bonebright, who survives him, alone equals his record of long residence and still lives in this city on a part of the homestead her father entered along in 1852.
      Saw Town Start
             Mr. Brewer witnessed the building of Webster City from the time the first house was erected to the present. When the family located on what was later known as the Eyer farm there was not another family in this vicinity. There was not a fence, a road or any kind of improvement, the landscape being exactly as it had been for ages.
      A span of seventy years is a long time in the history of Webster City. In fact it has witnessed every improvement made here. The hardy pioneers who came to this part of Iowa in the fifties endured all the hardships incident to the opening up of a new country and they laid the broad foundations for the present civilization and prosperity. The present generation knows nothing of what they encountered and overcame, the trials that beset them and the fortitude with which they met and conquered all obstacles.
      The deceased lived here continuously except during his service in the Civil war. Shortly before his departure for the front he was married to Jane Frakes, daughter of Patrick Frakes, a neighbor pioneer. Before his return from the war his wife died, leaving an infant daughter, now Mrs. Jennie Carmichael, of Clarion. Later he married Betsey Frakes, who also died leaving a daughter six weeks old, now Mrs. Margaret House, of Harlingen, Texas. His third wife, Judith Stone-Brewer, bore him three children, Charles of Kansas City, Fred, deceased, and Annetta Bell of this city who was but two weeks' old at her mother's death. To his last marriage with Ellen O'Rourke, now deceased, one son was born, Frank, who resided with his father at his death.
      Roll Brewer served in the 16th Iowa regiment under Captain Williams. The time covered only about a year but was strenuous and picturesque as he was engaged at Nashville and accompanied Sherman on his march to the Sea and less destructive raids. At the close of hostilities he received his discharge, and for several years has drawn a pension.
             His passing leaves but one of the original votes who elected our first county officers, after the division of Hamilton and Webster counties. All now are gone except J. D. Sketchley.
      During the early years of his residence here, "Roll" hunted and trapped over almost every foot of what is Hamilton county, and as the herds of big game diminished in size he covered Boone, Wright, Webster and Humboldt counties. He was an expert marksman and has killed dozens of deer on the site of our present city: a favorite haunt of deer being the ravine which flanks his home and the bottom lands along the river. The numbers of wolves, wildcats, rattlesnakes and other dangerous varmints killed by him easily ran into the hundreds.
             He was a student of nature instead of books. He knew the habits and haunts of wild beasts and their trails and tracks. He knew the feeding-;laces of wild-fowl and the nesting places of wood-songsters. He knew the bird's love twitter, the note of content or the scream of fear. He loved the forest trees and ferns and native flowers. He could take a B-line through the woods to a storehouse of wild honey, and the root and herb fields were familiar to him. As he studied animals he studied men and found them much the same. The instinct of animals and the intuition of men is for protection, he declared, and if not gained by open conflict then by craft and cruelty. He guessed the intent of a man as accurately as he predicted the spring of the panther and he gauged his conduct accordingly. He was unacquainted with the inside walls of schools, but he was not unfamiliar with the ordinary processes of the human mind. He did not give snap judgment, but given a premise and his conclusions were generally unerring--they reached the mark as his bullets hit the target.
      In this initial trip to Homer, Roll Brewer, then a youth, lost his bearings for the first and last time. Thereafter he made such a thorough study of the surrounding topography that he became an accurate and valued guide for travelers and newcomers wishing to locate land. He knew the natural fords, the location of springs and the well-stocked fishponds, and piloted the pioneers on raft, flatboat or in canoe as well as through woods across swamps or over prairies.
             Roll Brewer had the outlook and understanding of the pathfinder, and admitted in confidence that he should have followed the frontier instead of yielding to inertia of nature and the cramping, dwarfing confines of civilization. He, however, registered no complaints and held no resentment. He passed tranquilly through the startling changes of his more than four-score years. He kept his feet firmly planted on the ground and retained his mental faculties until the moment of his death. His advice was dependable and his friendship enduring. He was quiet, unobtrusive, unafraid. When the death of a father full of years calls from the lips of a grief-stricken son, the cry--"He was a good father to me," the long life of struggle has not been in vain. Success is achieved. [BRB 07.]
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             (I have had a relatively long struggle to figure out the names of the last two wives of Benjamin Brewer. It is my belief that he had four wives: Jane Frakes; Betsey Frakes - these two are very clearly the names of the first two. The name Judith Henshaw is also sometimes Judith Stone. The marriage document clearly says Henshaw, but there is also the name Judith Stone in BRB 07. While I cannot completely prove that they are the same, I will make that assumption. The name of the 4th wife is most difficult to prove concretely. Is it Nellie Conlin as the marriage document indicates [BRB 6] or is it Ellen O'Rourke? In a Department of Interior Document [BRB 21], the name of his wife is Ellen Elizabeth O'Rourke, whom it says that he married in Aug. of 1889 by A. P. Flemming, J. P. The date of the marriage document is June 20, 1889 and A. P. Flemming is the J. P. Because the affidavit from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions and the marriage document are so close, I will accept as a working hypothesis that Ellen E. O'Rourke and Nellie Conlin are the same person.
             The document also indicates a Julia Stone of a previous marriage, who died September 1880. I do not have a death date for Judith Henshaw. Because the 1885 Iowa State census indicates B. R. Brewer as a widower [BRB 19] and because the 1880 U. S. Federal Census indicates a living wife, Judith C. [BRB 08], I have to assume that Benjamin's third wife, died between 1880 and 1885. Thus, the death of Julia Stone in Sept. of 1880 can be accepted as a reasonable hypothesis for her death month and year. Therefore, another working hypothesis is that Judith Stone, Julia Stone, and Judith Henshaw are the same person.)
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             The National Archives Pension file on Benjamin R. Brewer (SC 880.522) appears to be a typical set of documents - at least as I have seen them - for a soldier from the Civil War. The illnesses of such soldiers, and B. R. Brewer appears to be no exception, are denied, pensions are denied for a number of reasons, all of which appear to prevent the soldier from receiving a pension. Roll Brewer it appears has been sick with kidney and breathing problems since after the Civil War. He is denied at first because he cannot prove a birth date, he is illiterate, or there is lack of belief in his illness. I cannot reproduce the file here, but anyone who reads it should read it carefully to ascertain my reading of the file. [BRB 22.]
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             A story that was sent to me by Nadine Dingman, Webster City, Iowa, that has "Roll" Brewer in it::
      Webster City Remembers Death of Circus Strong Man
             Des Moines Sunday Register, June 23, 1985.
             By Tom O'Donnell
             WEBSTER CITY, IA. -- Monsieur Dialo died over a handful of peanut shells.
             Dialo, a strong man with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus, probably never knew it, but it was those fateful shells, thrown through a window at a drunken Webster City saloon keeper, that led to his fatal shooting 97 years ago this week.        Dialo's body still lies in Webster City's Graceland Cemetery, left behind but not forgotten by the Ringlings.
             "The Ringling Brothers Circus supposedly put flowers out each year" on Memorial Day, said Max Maxon, editor of the Webster City Freeman Journal, and a Webster City native.
             But the flowers ended a few years ago, Maxon said, leaving just a few plastic sprays. This year, Maxon drummed up some attention for Dialo's grave (Section I, Lot 41), and several bouquets appeared there this Memorial Day. "He was remembered better than he was for years," Maxon said.
             It would have been easy for Dialo, who was really 25 year-old James W. Richardson, to be forgotten, buried far from his Rhode Island hometown. Webster City turned out to be the final destination in a trip that started with the Ringlings in 1884.
             "His name appears in the route book" for the circus in 1884, said Bob Parkinson, curator of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis. Henry Ringling North's 1960 book, "The Circus Kings: Our Ringling Family Story" notes that the Ringlings' 1884 winter wagon show, "The Carnival of Fun," was joined in the last part of its 1884 tour by "talented young James Richardson, who was billed as Monsieur Dialo. They liked him so much that they engaged him for the circus as well."
      Neither North's book nor Parkinson's records shed much light on what Richardson did with the circus, but the Webster City Graphic noted in its editions that Richardson "was the magician, fire eater, and man who lifted the heavy weights with the circus. He was a man of splendid physical development."
             No mention of Richardson is made in an advertisement in the June 20, 1884, Webster City Freeman. "THE BIGGEST AND BEST SHOW -- Ever in Hamilton County will exhibit in Webster City Saturday, June 23rd!" the ad said. "Ringling Bros. 7 Monster Shows!" Admission was advertised at 25 cents.
      Peanut Shells and Revenge
             An account in the Graphic bring up the strange connection between a handful of peanut shells and the altercation. The night of June 23, while the circus was performing on the edge of town, "Roll Brewer, who was partially drunk, threw a handful of peanut shells into Tom Basket's window and made an insulting remark to Tom."
             Basket followed Brewer onto the circus grounds, knocked him down and "kicked him in the face in a most brutal manner," newspaper accounts say. Brewer's daughter ran to her father's defense, and was knocked down and kicked in turn.
             Basket was "giving her rather rough usage, when some of the showmen interfered"
             "Tom went downtown again," the Graphic reported. "He either had his revolver with him or went after it and in a short time returned to the grounds, threatening to 'do up' the show generally."
             The Freeman reported on June 27, 1888, that a coroner's jury charged Basket with first-degree murder. "The prevailing opinion in the community will fully sustain the finding of the coroner's jury; yet all law-abiding citizens agree that the accused -- bad as he is -- is entitles to his day in court, and until a legal examination is had, it is only proper and right that the public judgment shall be suspended as to the measure of Tom Basket's guilt."
             Altercation with Showman
             Basket was held for trial in February 1889. One witness said, "I heard him say that he was looking for a fellow that struck him, and that he was going to lick the fellow before he left town."
             One of the circus workers didn't like Basket's tone of voice, and may have recognized him from the first incident. He told Basket to leave.
             The town marshal, a man by the name of Hathway, testified that he saw Basket arguing with the circus worker. "A showman was asked to go away. He didn't go," testified a terse Hathway. "He went when I took him."
             Basket said he had done nothing wrong, and "No son of a ____ of a showman could run him out. Just then they run right up and began striking," Hathway testified.
             Hathway was struck several times in the melee, and Deputy Sheriff John Atkinson ran to his aid. Richardson, about that time, walked out of a nearby sideshow tent.
             Atkinson, meanwhile, picked Basket upon off the ground and began leading him off the grounds.
             Fatal Interruption
             Richardson, trying to break things up, told the crowd, "Boys, stand back, I'll settle this matter." Richardson took hold of one circus man and told Atkinson, "You take care of your man and I'll take care of mine."
             Atkinson was pushing a resisting Basket down the road, headed off the grounds, when Basket suddenly turned, drew a .38-caliber pistol, and fired.
      "I'm shot!" Richardson said, grabbing his abdomen. He staggered into a sideshow tent, then was rushed to the Willson House to be cared for.
      Basket, as he was being taken away, muttered that "he hope by God he'd killed him," Atkinson testified.
             Richardson was struck in the abdomen, the bullet lodging near his spine. After lingering for a day, he died on Sunday, June 24, 1888.
             Basket was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years at Anamosa, despite an appeal for mercy by his lawyer.
             "I may be added, to the credit of human sympathy, that there were but few dry eyes in all that vast audience," the Freeman wrote on March 6, 1889. "The picture...was one seldom seen in a life time! there sat the father accused of murder, literally buried under the evidence -- surrounded by his three children, the youngest of whom is a motherless baby, too young to list 'Father'..."
             Ringlings Bought Tombstone
             Richardson's relatives, a father and sister from Nantucket, R. I., either forgot about him or decided not to make the long trip to Webster City for the funeral. the Ringlings bought a tall stone to make the grave, and engraved it both with Richardson's real name and his stage name, Monsieur Dialo.
             "The whole affair is a most disgraceful and unfortunate one," the Graphic reported. "The showmen are, so far as we can see, blameless in the matter."
             The experience apparently left a sour taste in the Ringlings' mouths. "The Ringling brothers at that time swore they'd never show in Webster City again," Maxon said. It was a promise they held to until the 1920s. [BRB 25.]

  • Sources 
    1. [S3055] Benjamin Roland Brewer, death certificate no. 40-01973 (16 April 1921), Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines. [BRB 01.].

    2. [S3072] Benjamin R. Brewer, requirement of Judge Isaiah Doane to appear in court to respond to charges of "waste and mal administration, 6 October 1866, Hamilton County Court, Webster City, Iowa. [BRB 11.].

    3. [S3056] Benjamin Roland Brewer, death certificate no. 40-01973 (16 April 1921), Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines. [BRB 01.] See also Wilson Brewer household, 1856 Iowa State Census, Boone twp, Hamilton (Webster) County, Iowa, residence 10, family 12, page 459. [WB 20.] Death certificates can be wrong for this 1856 Iowa State Census indicates he may have been born in 1836. [DLL.].

    4. [S3059] Wilson Brewer household, 1850 U.S. census, Howard County, Indiana, Howard township, page 406, dwelling 13, family 23; National Archives micropublication M432, roll 151. [WB 06.].

    5. [S3060] Wilson Brewer household, 1856 Iowa State Census, Boone twp, Hamilton (Webster) County, Iowa, residence 10, family 12, page 459. [WB 16.].

    6. [S3071] Benjamin R. Brewer, affidavit of appointment as administrator of estate of Wilson Brewer, 12 March, 1857 (approval, Judge Willima N. Meservey, 24 March, 1857), acceptance and certification in March 1858 (W. E. Brooks, Register of Probate). [BRB 10.].

    7. [S3070] Town Lot Deed Record, Book 1, Lot 4, Block 7, New Castle, Webster County, Iowa, p. 32. [NB 06.].

    8. [S3069] Town Lot Deed Record, Book 1, Lot 4, Block 7, New Castle, Webster County, Iowa, p. 32. [BRB 09.].

    9. [S3061] Benjamin R. Brewer household, 1860 U.S. census, Wright County, Troy township, Bach Grove post office, page 43; National Archives micropublication M653, roll 345. [BRB 13.].

    10. [S3075] Benj. R. Brewer, Company I, 16th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry, photocopy of record obtained, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [BRB 18.].

    11. [S3074] Benj. R. Brewer, Company I, 16th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry, photocopy of record obtained, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [BRB 18.].

    12. [S3073] Historical Data Systems, comp. Military Records of Individual Civil War Soldiers. [Database online.] Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 1999- [BRB 14.] See also, Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Regiments. [Database online.] Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 1999- [BRB 15.].

    13. [S3062] Benjamin R. Brewer household, 1870 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Iowa, Cass township, residence 21, family 23, Hamilton county compilation, p. 20. [BRB 17].

    14. [S3063] Benjamin Roland Brewer household, 1880 census, Hamilton County, Iowa, Cass township, ED 101, SD 4, sheet 175C, image 0355; National Archives micropublication T9, roll 342; Family History [LDS] film 1254342. [BRB 08.].

    15. [S3064] Benjamin R. Brewer household, 1885 Iowa State Census, Hamilton County, Webster City, 2nd Ward, Boone Township, Iowa, page 56, line 23, dwelling 114, family 131; Family History Film, 1021473, Volume 193. [BRB 19.].

    16. [S3065] Benjamin Roland Brewer household, 1895 Iowa State Census, Hamilton County, Webster City, Boone Township, Iowa, dwelling 881, family 931, p. 201. [BRB 24.].

    17. [S3077] Benjamin R. Brewer, Des Moines Agency, Deparment of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, January 15, 1898, signed by Benjamin R. Brewer (His Mark). [This document helps establish the fact that Ellen Elizabeth O'Rourke may also be Nellie Conlin since the marriage date of the two is so close. Of course, this is relying on B. R.'s memory - DLL].

    18. [S3066] Benjamin R. Brewer household, 1900 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Iowa, Boone township, Webster City, 4th Ward, SD 10, ED 102, sheet 9B, dwelling 219, family 221; National Archives micropublication T623, roll 435. [BRB 16.].

    19. [S3076] Benjamin Roland Brewer, Ward File, 1905, 4th Ward, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa. [BRB 20.].

    20. [S3067] Benjamin R. Brewer household, 1910 U.S. census, Hamilton county, Iowa, Webster City, 4th Ward, ED 112, SD 10, sheet 16A, dwelling 293, family 297; National Archives micropublication T624, roll 404, page 71A. [BRB 13.].

    21. [S3057] Benjamin Roland Brewer, death certificate no. 40-01973 (16 April 1921), Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines. [BRB 01.].

    22. [S3068] Benjamin Roland Brewer, "Roll Brewer Drops Dead," Daily Freeman Journal, 19 April 1921, Webster City, Iowa. [BRB 07.].

    23. [S3058] Benjamin Roland Brewer, death certificate no. 40-01973 (16 April 1921), Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines. [BRB 01.] See also, Benjamin Roland Brewer, "Roll Brewer Drops Dead," Daily Freeman Journal, 19 April 1921, Webster City, Iowa. [BRB 07.].

    24. [S3078] Benjamin R. Brewer, File No. SC 990 522, Pvt., Company I, 16th Iowa Infantry, National Archives, Washington, D.C. [BRB 22.].

    25. [S7444] Parry, Webster. The Work of Webster Parry. np., nd., p. 454 [Typed Quaker Records.] [Located at the Henry County Historical Museum, New Castle, Indiana.] [WB 04.] See also Yount, Beverly, comp. Marriage Records: Wayne County, Indiana: March 11, 1811 to March 1860. Book B1. Richmond, IN: The compiler. [2414 NW B Street, Richmond, IN 47374.] [WB 08.] See also, Brewer, History of Brewer Family of North Carolina, p. 15. [WB 11.].

    26. [S9780] Wilson Brewer-Rhoda Stanley marriage,23 Jul 1830. (2014). Indiana Marriages, 1810-2001 [database online]. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. [WB 33.].

    27. [S7439] Brewer (Benjamin Roland)-Frakes (Eliza Jane) marriage, 01 March 1864, Hamillton County Marriage Book, page 11, number 106. [BRB 02.].

    28. [S7441] Benjamin Roll Brewer, application for marriage, 14 April 1866, Hamilton County, Webster City, Iowa, with Isaiah Doane, County Judge, page 2. [BRB 03.].

    29. [S7440] Benjamin Roland Brewer, return of marriage license, 15 April 1866, Hamilton County Marriage Book, number 11, page 04, Hamilton County, Iowa. [BRB 04.].

    30. [S7442] Benjamin Roland Brewer, return of license no. 136, 09 April 1869, Hamilton County Marriage Book, number 136, p. 47, Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa. [BRB 05.].

    31. [S7443] Benjamin Roland Brewer, record of marriage, 20 June 1889, Hamilton County Marriages, number 137, p. 80, Webster City, Iowa. [BRB 06.].


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