Boone County Indiana
Friday, October 25, 1900
Surname: Burkett, Cunningham, Fruits, Goldsberry, Heady, Oxley, Palmer,Stonebraker&Trotter
Mysterious Nightly Visits of Prowlers
Much Excitement And Comment Over Persistent Daring and Audacity of The Prowlers
One of the most daring attempts at abduction, or something, ever attempted in as thickly settled civilized country as this part of Indiana, that ever came under our notice, has been attempted during the past week at the country home of Miss Mattie and Harley Oxley and Henry Stonebraker and family, two and a half miles northeast of Jamestown. The matter was first made public last Friday morning, and from that on it has been the wonder and talk of the whole community. It has caused much speculation as to the boldness and daring of the night prowlers in their attempt to accomplish what ever it might be.
The disturbance at the Oxley and Stonebraker home commenced on Monday night of last week and was kept up every night until Friday night. The first notice was on Monday night mentioned that someone was prowling about the home by a back door being opened just a little at a time, which squawked as it was gradually inched open. An investigation showed that the door was just slightly ajar. The next observation was on Tuesday night by Harley seeing a man in the barn lot who ran away. And the next observance was on Wednesday night when Miss Oxley going out the front room door and saw someone run down the driveway to the road and Mr. And Mrs. Sonebraker going out the back way and seeing a party run and jump over the fence. That night five parties were seen sulking around the premises, and at one time that night when Harley Oxley stepped to the door a man was standing on the steps in the act, Harley thought of reaching up and taking hold of the telephone wires which entered the house and as he stepped to the door raised his arm as Harley thought, with a glistening weapon in it. At that Harley immediately raised his revolver and fired, at the same moment the man on the steps fired. Harley immediately slammed the door to after firing and he did not notice what became of the man. A close watch was kept all that night before. On Thursday night they made their appearance again as many as six were seen. That evening there was considerable shooting done at them by Mr. Stonebraker and Mr. Oxley, and a few shots fired by the prowlers. The family then immediately telephoned into Jamestown for F.M. Goldsberry, the town marshal, and some other help. Mr. Goldsberry and Wm. Walters and A.D. Gardner at once went to their aid, but when they arrived the prowlers decamped and were not heard nor seen no more that night On Friday night quite a number of men and men from the town- between 20 and 25 gathered in, some arriving before night and some after dark. That night no prowlers were seen or heard, except that an old rattling buggy drove past the house two or three times, which same buggy was heard one or two nights before. But late in the afternoon of that day one man was seen along the cornfield fences east of the house. On Saturday night Ed Heady and Shell Trotter were there prepared for them with guns, Trotter being hidden in the garden, and late at dusk of the evening a man was seen coming hesitantly into the driveway in the yard and stopped when inside the gate. Mr. Heady pulled up on him with his rifle to wound him and the cap only exploded. At that the stranger ran, starting north on the road. At the same time Harley Oxley turned loose on him with his revolver, when the fellow wheeled again and took south. At about the same time or a little before that Mr. Trotter spied a man coming slowly down the road from the north, and he was preparing to intercept him when Otis Fruits and a neighbor came driving in from the north, laughing and talking which caused Trotter to loose sight of the man. On Sunday night, F.M. Goldsberry, A.D. Gardner, Ira Palmer, James Cunningham and E.K. Burkett went out from town before night, but nothing of the prowlers were seen or heard that night, except some men saw what they thought were flashlights and the reflection of a lantern in the woods east of the house.
During one of the evenings when the prowlers were there in greatest numbers the rays of a dark lantern were flashed into the house for just a second or two.
By the way, these prowlers would come just when the full shades of night began to envelope the surroundings.
During some of the afternoons a stranger was seen in the cornfield east of the house, and on inquiring among the neighbors revealed that none of them had been out there, but an investigation of the field revealed a number of tracks.
On Friday morning following the fusillade Thursday night blood was found about the school house yard south of there and in one of the closets.
The prowling around of these strangers in the manner and the persistency and boldness after being repeatedly shot at is a great mystery, and causing much excitement and speculation about the community. It is too much for some to believe and they hoot at it. It is more similar to the days of frontier life and hardly seems reasonable that such audacious attempts would be made to accomplish no one knows what in such a thickly settled community.
The families who are thus annoyed with such mysterious and evil menace are at a loss to understand it except in one conclusion, and that they believe it a design by certain parties to abduct the young man, Harley Oxley, and carry him away to his mother, who has been wanting him to come to her for a long time, in the hope they believe, that they will succeed in reconciling him to them and get the benefit of some money these certain parties may think he will fall heir to later on.
Harley Oxley’s father was a soldier and he and Harley’s mother were divorced before he died, the custody of Harley being given to his father, after his death the boy was adopted by his aunt, Miss Mattie Oxley, with whom he has lived with ever since. Strange parties in the past three weeks have been trying to court the friendship of Harley Oxley, and four parties accosted him week before last, one of which represented himself and one of the others as his cousins, and tried to persuade to go to a reunion and insisted that he go that night. These and connecting circumstances lead them to believe that these night prowlers are attempting to abduct him, yet they are not certain that this is the design. If it is the design of the mysterious prowlers to get possession of him in order to get possession of his money he might get through an increase of his father’s pension, they are attempting a most foolhardy undertaking. They are not only running the risk of being killed in the attempt to abduct him, but the securing the back pension is very uncertain, and even if he should secure it, it would be very difficult for them to get their hands on it. It looks very evident that it is not his life that they are after, because they could have secured that with out so much as half so much demonstration, and the fact there are no bullets marks about the house except the apparent marks of one in the roof indicates they were not meaning to kill anyone of the family.
However whatever the design may be, the mysterious demonstrations have stirred up much excitement and the sympathies of the public is largely with the young man and the family, and his friends are standing by him heroicly (sic) and defending him.
Note from Janet Price; I am posting this story for others I am not related to the subjects.