Materials to the 1873 Butcher-Cotton Gun Battle
Temple Hickman Family Reunion
Utah, 10 June 2000
is additional information on Cotton, Butcher, and the 1873 and 1877 trials, with
some earlier and later events added, mostly in chronological order. For
completeness, I am including articles that you may already have seen, but have
colored them grey.
Nov. 8th . Cold and stormy. The High Priest's quorum met in council at my
house in the evening. Among other things considered was the case of Gabriel
Cotton who had run over the rules and laws of the city association by jumping
land claims and threatening blood if molested. The council agreed unanimous that
he could not be sustained or fellowshipped by the saints in Genoa [Nebraska];
therefore the teachers were instructed to warn the Saints in Genoa not to have
anything to do with him in any shape or form, neither buying or selling and that
all who sustained him by trading with him could not be fellowshipped by the
Dec. 2lst. This morning Gabriel Cotton came into town and abused Brother Hudson
in a shocking manner and then made an attack upon me in the following manner: As
I was walking into Brother Nathan Davis's door yard, I heard someone calling my
name I turned to look and saw a man coming up the street, and when he came near,
I saw that it was Cotton. He called to me again and wished me to come into the
road for he wanted to talk with me. I, knowing that he had threatened my life,
told him that he could talk with me where I was. As I was standing inside
Brother Davis' door yard, he then came up to the fence near where I was standing
which was by the side of it. I stood close to the axe with my right hand resting
on the top of the handle. He then began to abuse me in a shameful manner I told
him to go away and leave me as I wanted nothing to do with him, but he continued
his abuse, threatening my life. I told him if he took my life, it would be
nothing more than he had done; for he had proved himself a murderer long ago. He
then made a rush at me, gathering an axe on his way and drawing it upon me I
retreated, taking with me the axe that I held in my hand. At this moment,
Brother Davis with some others rushed from the house and ordered him to lay down
the axe, which he threw down, and retreated to the fence and drew his Pistol and
cocked it, and swore that he was enough for half a dozen of us. He then went
away and a short time afterward he came by where I was sitting and talking to
Brother Dalrymple, and again threatened my life with many bitter oaths. This
same Gabriel Cotton had been stirring up rebellion and strife, through an
apostate spirit, among the Saints in Genoa for the last six or eight months, and
my opposition to his course caused his enmity to me . . . .
Dec 26th. Had meeting at Brother Dalrymple's Cotton with some of the apostates
attended prayer meeting at Brother Sinclair's.
Dec. 27th. Stayed at home. In the evening called some of the brethren together
and formed them into a sort of police to thwart the movements of the Cotton
Apostates party who have sworn to take my life.
June 20th . Went to the ferry and commenced crossing Brother Brown's
company of 60 wagons, and at about 4 o'clock the rope came in too near the north
side landing. (having rotted off by acids being put upon it by some fiend in
human shape--Cotton). The boat was loaded with one wagon and yoke of cattle and
about 40 or 50 men, women, and children when the rope parted. The boat went
whirling down stream by the swift current for several rods until some of the men
on board caught the longest end of the main rope and pulled it in shore on the
south side; otherwise no one knows how far the boat might have gone down stream
and how many lives might have been lost. After the boat and all was landed
safely, we got a man to splice the rope, and we then stretched it across the
river again and crossed over three wagons before dark.
of Joel Hills Johnson (1802-1882)
To read more of Johnson’s diary, goto http://geocities.com/Heartland/Meadows/8918/johnjh.html
Deseret Telegraph company have taken steps to extend their line from Sandy to
Bingham, along the grade of the narrow gauge railroad. The poles, which are of
red pine, six inches in diameter at the top, are already upon the ground; men
were at work yesterday digging holes, and the setting of the poles begins
to-day. These were obtained from Weber, and are twenty-three feet in length.
They are to be placed in the earth three feet, making a well elevated line. The
wire is to be number eight, galvanized. A large force of builders will be kept
on the line, and our Bingham city friends may expect the click of the lightning
to ring in their ears in just about one week from to-day. We congratulate them
upon their union by telegraph with the outside world. With a narrow guage road,
a live newspaper, and a reliable telegraph line, Binghamites may soon put on
metropolitan airs. And they are a live people up there, too!
Lake Herald, Jul 1 1873
July 11th, 3 p.m.—This growing and prosperous camp has just been
put in telegraphic communication with Salt Lake "and the rest of
mankind" east and west. John J. Fitzgerald, electrician. All seem happy.
FOLLOWING was received this afternoon.
CANYON, 11.—The Bingham Pioneer sends greeting to the Deseret Telegraph
Company, and in behalf of the citizens of Bingham and West Mountain Mining
district acknowledges the enterprise of the company, that has now placed this
flourishing mining camp district in telegraphic communication with the world.
With the three great agents of modern thought, the telegraph, the locomotive and
the printing press, pressed into our service, we shall, on a larger scale than
ever, uncover the rich mineral treasures in these mountains.
following reply was sent to the preceeding:
LAKE CITY, July 11, 1873.
C.G. LOEBER, Editor Bingham Pioneer:
generous congratulation is received. I sincerely entertain the hope that the
telegraphic connection that just made with the flourishing Bingham Camp, will
materiall[y] aid the iron horse and the Pioneer in the development of its
prosperity. A.M. MUSSER.
Weekly News, Wed Jul 16 1873, p. 377
CAÑON AND CAMP FLOYD R.R.
Company to build this road was incorporated Sept. 10th, 1872, and
sixteen miles were graded and tied ready for the iron, by June 1st,
1873. Then some eastern capitalists associated with parties in Salt Lake City,
bought out the stock, rights and franchise of the road. Light iron for narrow
gauge roads at the time could not be obtained in the United States, and they
were compelled to wait until their iron was manufactured. The first installment
of the iron was received Sept. 1st, 1873, and notwithstanding further
delays arising from the same cause, the road was completed to Bingham, its
present terminus, and freight and passenger trains were running through by
December 1st. The distance is about twenty-two miles….
L. Sloan, Gazeteer of Utah and Salt Lake City Directory, 1874, p.47
, the exact date is not known, a Mr. Joseph Pratt, a sheep rancher in the
Bingham Canyon area, moved from a house situated along-side the old Bingham and
Garfield Railroad line to a two-story frame house he built in Copperton. Mr.
Pratt and his family lived in this house until 1930 when it had to be razed to
make room for the building of the high school.
the Pratt home was the first one within the present boundaries of Copperton,
there were a few other structures in the area at this time. South of the
Pratt’s residence and in the gulley along the main road to Bingham there were
a few small ranches and a dairy. These included: the Makrakis Dairy (down the
gully a ways) where there were 30 to 40 cows, a farmhouse, barn, slaughter house
and milk house; the Condas farm; the Vardakis farm and the Kappel ranch. Also in
the area were the Conary, Butcher, Stringham, Stowell and Mayberry ranches.
many travelers passing the area on their way to Bingham at that time, the
environs of the Pratt home became known as "Rattlesnake Flats". It got
this nickname because on the flat area where Copperton now stands, with the
exception of the Pratt home and scattered ranches, all that could be seen was
sage brush, rocks and vacant land inhabited by lizards, grasshoppers and
Crump, Copperton, 1978, p.8-9
village of Bingham, five miles within the cañon is remarkable for nothing
especially different from other mining camps already described, excepting that
murders are rather more common. A few days before our arrival there was a lively
family difficulty, in which a father and his three sons were killed. Their
relations contemplate shooting the murderer when they catch him, and as in that
case the murderer’s friends will "go for" them, and as that
"going for" will be avenged, there is likely to be a diminution of the
population of the camp.
Codman, The Mormon Country. A Summer with the Latter-Day Saints, 1874,
returned home and thought I would get some cheap place, and do the best I could
until things would have a change. I bought a small ranching place at the mouth
of Bingham Cañon, moved my family and stock there, built a good corral, and
commenced to improve. I bought seventy-five head of Spanish horses, and intended
to do ranching and stock-raising business. But to my sorrow, I soon saw that I
was again watched; men were prowling around day and night, some of Brigham’s
jobbers. I understood it, knowing his motions so well. I commenced laying out in
the brush. I saw two men go into the tent where I was in the habit of sleeping.
They had a pistol in each of their hands. This was what I expected, and feared
being shot in bed. Two nights after I saw two men go in the tent again, and two
stood outside with guns in their hands. I concluded that there was no use for me
to try to live here any longer. The day following I saw one of the party, a man
to whom I had done several favors, and I rounded him up and demanded of him what
was the cause of this. He agreed to tell me all provided I would not expose
Hickman, Brigham’s Destroying Angel, 1872, p.175-176
property [in Salt Lake City] south on both sides of Main from South Temple
Street, as I remember it, was residential except that at Third South and Main
there was a two-story building, which Dan Clift had erected. The upstairs was
used as a dance hall and court room. I remember attending an important trial
there. I think it was that of a notorious horse thief, but I do not remember the
name. Bill Hickman was the principle horse thief in this section of the
territory, with his headquarters in the mouth of Bingham Canyon. There were
practically no farms west of the Jordan River and he and the Cottons, with whom
he associated, could ride the range with their branding irons with a good deal
of freedom, as was done elsewhere in the territory.
A. Sessions, Mormon Democrat: The Religious and Political Memoirs of James
Henry Moyle, p.72
other things I became nearly betrayed into the gang of horse thieves who were
located at this place [Centerville] and associated with one Ben Tasker, a
somewhat noted Utah outlaw, who had a station here. He was known to possess
large ranches somewhere southward in Utah on which bands of horses were raised.
It was supposed that he was shipping these through northward to Evanston,
Wyoming. But in addition to the horses from his own ranch, he shipped stolen
horses and kept up a regular transportation of these from the south to Evanston.
One of his stations was located in the mouth of Bingham Canyon, where his
henchmen, a family of Cottons and another by the name of Butcher, lived. These
people both received the horses brought into their neighborhood and passed them
on, generally using night riders, to this other station in Centerville. These
Bingham people were desperados and quarreled with each other and nearly wiped
out the existence of both groups.
J. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, p.52-53
THIEVES.—From every direction come rumors of depredations of
horse thieves. It appears that this
nefarious business is carried on upon a systematic principle, and by wholesale,
so that the ranges of the Territory are getting almost cleaned out in some
places. We have information to the
effect that bands of horses are taken from this Territory to Montana, at which
latter place it is presumable they are sold, and in order that the thieves
should not return empty handed of animals, they sometimes bring horses from
Montana to Utah and dispose of them hereabout.
It is also pretty well understood that horses and mules are frequently
stolen from a range in one part of the Territory and sold in another part and
then citizens living in the parts where the sales are made frequently miss their
animals from the range, from which they have probably been stolen and sold
elsewhere. What is to be done to
stop the wholesale horse and cattle stealing operations now being carried on in
this Territory, is an important question for consideration.
--Deseret News, Jul 16 1873
Twenty-Fourth in Salt Lake.
Thursday, the twenty-sixth
anniversary of the Pioneers’ entry into this valley, was observed generally
throughout the city, although no public display was made.
The banks and principal business houses were closed, and all observed the
Twenty-Fourth as a holiday. There
were many private social parties gathered at the various gardens and places of
amusement, in and around the city and at private residences; but the feature of
the day was the Sunday School excursion gotten up under the auspices of the
At 8:15 a.m. the excursionists, to
the number of nearly a thousand children and adults, left the Utah Central Depot
for Lakeside. There were nine
passenger cars filled, even standing room being in demand; with fruit cars to
carry the pic-nic “doings.”
A pleasant ride of an hour landed
the party safely at their destination, where all disposed of themselves as they
pleased. Some bathed, others swung
or danced, a band of music having been provided, and still more enjoyed
themselves in strolling through the grove.
Pic-nic had been bounteously provided by the excursionists, and there
were summer drinkables without limit. After
spending the day in pleasant amusement the party returned, arriving at the depot
at 6 p.m. No accident occurred
during the trip; and those present will long remember the day as one of the
happiest of their lives. Those who
planned and carried out the excursion had the thanks of all for the general good
time they had occasioned.
In the evening parties fond of
dancing found plenty of opportunity to gratify themselves; and judging from the
numbers who tripped the “light fantastic” at the various balls throughout
the city, they availed themselves of it. Taking
all in all Salt Lake has seldom had a holiday pass more quietly and pleasantly.
--Salt Lake Herald, Jul 26
MEN KILLED.—The following came by Deseret Telegraph last night:
24 July.—Three men were killed here this afternoon about four o’clock. The
fight occurred near the mouth of Bingham Cañon. The parties killed are old man
Cotton and two of his eldest sons. They were murdered near the man Cotton’s
house. One of the men’s name who is supposed to have killed them is Butcher,
the others are not known.
following was received this morning:
25.—In the fight yesterday, old man Cotton was killed instantly. The youngest
son Gabriel was shot five times with a revolver to the body and once with
buckshot, to the side of the head, but he is still breathing. The eldest son was
shot five times, and cut in several places with a knife. He died instantly.
Butcher, one of the implicated parties, was arrested last night. The constable
found him in his house. He made no resistance. The examination comes off
to-morrow. A young boy named Thompson, passing at the time on horseback, was
thrown and had his arm badly broken. There is considerable excitement here over
the shooting. The full account of it will come out to-morrow in the examination.
The fight was the result of an old grudge.
25, 11:00 a.m.
Cotton died about two hours ago.
a gentleman acquainted with the Cotton family, who reached this city this
morning, the following particulars concerning the tragedy were obtained:
senior Cotton was about proceeding in the direction of Butcher’s place on some
business, and two of his sons said they had better go with him. They all three
started and when they got near Butcher’s house, Butcher called one of the sons
in, there being two other men in the house with him. Young Cotton entered and,
without any fight, Butcher shot him, Cotton fell to his knees, when Butcher shot
him again, and then hammered him on the head with the butt of his pistol, and
finally chopped him with a knife. The three desperadoes then shot the old man
and the other son. A boy on horseback, believed to be some connection of the
Cottons, was also shot at, but the ball missed him and hit the horse, and the
boy was thrown and his arm broken.
Geo. J. Taylor was sent for to hold an inquest on the bodies, and he left this
city for that purpose this morning.
News, Semi-Weekly, Tues Jul 29 1873
BUTCHER SLAUGHTERS THREE MEN.
Becomes Notorious for Plural Exterminators.
evening a private telegram informed us that a man named Cotton and his two sons
had been killed near the mouth of Bingham cañon, by one "Sod"
Butcher, who lives close by the Cottons, at that place. There were also many
rumors circulated through the city on that evening and yesterday, about the
affair, most of which were exaggerated, or biased for one or the other parties.
The report which is probably the nearest correct is that an old grudge existed
between Butcher and the Cottons. On Thursday old man Cotton had occasion to
visit Butcher’s place on business, and his two sons, fearing harm might befall
their father, accompanied him. Arriving at the house, Butcher invited one of the
young men to enter, which he did, at the same time making an insulting remark to
one of Butcher’s children. At that Butcher seized a gun, and before young
Cotton could escape shot him dead. The father and the other son were at the time
a short distance from the house, saw what had transpired, when they commenced
firing into the house, but without doing any execution, except to smash some
window glass. Butcher watched his chance, and as an opportunity offered he fired
again, killing the father, and shortly after wounding the other son, who died
yesterday. It is said that Butcher fired at other parties, but the rumors lack
confirmation. There was another man in Butcher’s house at the time of the
killing, but he is not charged with taking any part in the tragedy.
Deputy-Sheriff Sanders, of Bingham, arrested Butcher Thursday evening, and
conveyed him to Bingham city, where a guard was placed over him. Early yesterday
morning, Coroner Taylor left this city for the purpose of holding an inquest.
The inquest was opened in the afternoon, but at a late hour last evening very
little evidence had been given. Until evidence is taken we prefer not to publish
anything that would prejudice anyone. All of the parties connected with the
transaction bear bad reputations in the community. The man Cotton, father to the
boys, has been looked upon as a terror to quiet settlers in that region for a
long time; and Butcher’s relation to Bill Hickman as his son-in-law, does not
add to public opinion in his favor.
Lake Daily Herald, Sat Jul 26 1873
AT Bingham.—There will be preaching at Bingham on Sunday, at 11 A.M., and at 8
P.M., in the court room, by the Rev. Mr. Peirce, of this city.
Lake Daily Herald, Sat Jul 26 1873
the 25th day of July, 1873 Coroner Taylor was notified by J.F. Tasker
that three men had been murdered at the mouth of Bingham Cañon and there being
no justice of the peace willing to officiate he immediately went out to the
scene of slaughter and proceeded to hold an inquest in the case.
three bodies were found lying side by side in a little cabin near the mouth of
the cañon and occasionally parties would drop in to see them, but no one being
willing to act as a juror in the case it became necessary to summon jurymen from
the town of Bingham some miles above, which was done.
State Archives, Salt Lake County Coroner Record Book, Series 4143 p.109
inquest was also reported with slight variations in several newspapers as
OF THE CORONER’S INQUEST.
THE VERDICT OF THE JURY.
Friday the inquest on the bodies of Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilbert Cotton and
Gabriel Cotton, Jr., the three men shot by Samuel Butcher and others, was held
at the mouth of Bingham Canyon, the scene of the tragedy, before Geo. J. Taylor,
Coroner of Salt Lake County.
Sworn, testified as follows.
was at Mr. Butcher’s about ten minutes before the quarrel. Mr. Cotton, Sen.,
came along, and he and Mr. Butcher had words; this occurred at two o’clock
yesterday afternoon; I could not hear all that was said, but they were talking
very hard. The old man Cotton had left and gone below to Mumford’s ranch, when
young Cotton came along and asked Butcher where his father was; Butcher told him
he had gone down to Mumford’s; young Cotton replied: "You are a damned
liar;" at this remark, Butcher and young Cotton commenced shooting; they
both had revolvers and shot guns. I saw the boy Cotton shot off his horse by
Butcher. Both Cotton boys came there and quarreled. I saw H.W. Taylor shoot at
then sworn and said Mr. Butcher shot twice or three times at me when I went
down. I then went back and saddled a horse and went down again, and saw the old
man Cotton go out of the hollow (ravine), and Butcher following him with a gun
in his hand. Old man Cotton waved his hands for me to go away, and I went and
harnessed up the horses to the wagon.
Mary Jane Cotton.
and the little boy went down to Butcher’s; Butcher shot the old gentleman
twice (meaning her husband). I begged him not to shoot, but he shot him again.
There was another man who shot him afterward; I did not know who he was; Mr.
Cotton was 52 years of age, Gabriel 19 and Bert 21.
he went down to Mr. Butcher’s on business and had a chat with him; we had
words; he said I took his poles; I denied it harshly; he struck me and I struck
him back; he drove me back up the Canyon, and told me that I had better go and
get Cotton’s band, and he would clean them out; I walked backward with a stone
in each hand for defense. The old man, Cotton, was down at the cross fence;
don’t know why he was there; when I got back we then went down to Butcher’s
and had some words with him about the morning’s fight; I left Cotton at
Butchers quarreling, and went down to Mumford’s, where Cotton followed me
immediately afterward. The eldest boy came down and told us that his brother was
shot; old man Cotton and the boy then went up around the north side of
boy between nine and ten years of age, said one man beside Butcher came up and
shot his father. He did not see his father shoot;
that Mr. Kirk came down and talked tough, as though he wanted to fight; so the
children said. She also said that Kirk hit Butcher in the mouth. Butcher then
picked up Mr. Kirk and threw him down, and I and Mr. Gee took him off and would
not let him strike Kirk. Butcher followed Kirk quite a distance. The fuss was
about poles. Kirk said I’ll go and fetch some one that will soon settle you.
Butcher replied: "You had better get Cotton and his band." Kirk came
again on horseback, and Butcher said, Billy, you had better get down and settle
that affair. I never allow anyone to strike me in the mouth—get down and
I’ll whip you. Cotton spoke up and said "You told him to bring down
Cotton and his band—I am come, and I am always ready for anything you
want." Butcher said I ain’t talking to you; I don’t want anything to do
with you, so you had better pass along the road. They then quarreled, and Cotton
called Butcher a liar. They quarreled quite a while. Cotton then went down to
Mumford’s where Kirk had gone just before. I saw young Gabe Cotton coming with
a shot-gun. Asked if his father was there, Butcher told him he was at
Mumford’s, then Gabe said, "You are a lying son of a b—h; he is
there;" he then drew his shot-gun to shoot, but it snapped; Butcher then
shot him with a single barrel shot-gun, and he fell off the horse. Bert, another
son of Cotton’s, then came and asked where his father was, but no answer was
given, except I told him I believed his brother was shot; he was then in the
road and fired two shots into the house. Old man Cotton arrived just at that
time, and wanted to know who had been shot. Butcher said to Wm. Taylor,
"Take care of that man Bert Cotton, Taylor." Told Bert to go into the
house; he went down two steps and stood there. Old man Cotton then begun to talk
and called Butcher a liar, and a son of a b—h, and said, "If you want
anything of me you can have it." He then fired two shots at Butcher, when
Butcher took the same shot gun used before and shot him and he fell, I was
scuffling with Bert, who was trying to take the gun away from me to defend his
father; it was a double-barreled shot gun that was lying beside the steps. Then
Butcher turned and shot Bert with a Derringer, because, as he said, Bert had
tried to kill him. Butcher never left the house except to go to the stable.
Butcher, Wm. Taylor and Gee were all present. It is a quarter of a mile from
Butcher’s to Mumford’s place. All was over in about fifteen minutes. Butcher
stood outside when he shot Cotton; that is, Cotton was between the house and
Butcher when he was shot. Butcher shot Bert once on the stool, once on the bed,
and once under the bed. I and my daughter had got the gun from Bert, and he was
sitting on a stool when he was first shot.
I didn’t see any one but Bert killed. I ran into the cellar and hid when the
row commenced. Bert was putting water on his head, and took some in his mouth
from me as I was passing with water. He said "Oh, my brother."
Butcher, Taylor and Gee were there. Thompson came just as old man Cotton came
of Mr. Butcher’s, substantiated her mother’s testimony, and said she knew
nothing about the scuffle for the gun; she led Bert by the arm and sat him down
on the stool and then went out. It was about three minutes between the time the
gun was taken and the time when he was shot. The investigation at this point
adjourned until yesterday, in order to secure the attendance of other witnesses.
At two o’clock yesterday afternoon the investigation was resumed at the
Recorder’s office at Bingham City, when the following testimony was taken:
teamster, said, as I was coming home from the Wasatch smelter with the team, I
saw a party coming from Butcher’s meeting us going down the canyon (in the
direction of Lehi). Cotton was among them, and was ahead on the near side of the
road, there were two other gentlemen following him armed, the fourth man
apparently about nineteen or twenty years of age, was also following him, but
was not armed. One of those on the near side I supposed was Butcher, Cotton and
him appeared to be quarrelling. Butcher had his hand on the seat of his pants.
Cotton was also armed, but made no demonstration. After he passed me he partly
turned around and said to Butcher, I don’t want to talk to you and will not.
One of the men that was opposite Butcher laid on his haunches, and apparently
took aim at Cotton. The fourth man patted him on the head, and I shouted tut,
tut, and he did not fire. They then all walked back to Butcher’s house, except
Cotton, who kept on the road. Two men referred to who were armed came up to town
with Butcher when he was arrested yesterday, but they are not under arrest. This
was about three p.m. on the day of the murder.
I arrived at Mr. Cotton’s on the day of the murder—the 24th of
July, at which time Cotton was talking to a man whom they call the little
Scotchman, living at the first house this side of Cotton’s, was talking with
him. I walked up at the time and asked Cotton where my boy was. He did not
answer me, but continued to talk to the Scotchman, who told Cotton that he had
just had a fight with Butcher, and that he had just come from it. He also told
Cotton that Butcher said you had better go and fetch old Cotton and his band to
come and whip mine. Cotton replied that if Butcher wanted anything of Old Cotton
he could have all he wanted; the little man then started home to his own place;
I then asked again where my boy was; if he was out with the herd, but got no
answer; I then started to see Cotton’s little boy, thinking he would know
where he was; he told me he was out on the range, on a cream-colored horse; I
then turned to the well to get a drink; I drew a bucket of water and took one
drink; when I looked up and saw the Scotchman coming running his pony from
Butcher’s way; I then walked toward Cotton and his two sons; the latter were
on the stable, and Big Ben, (Tasker), was pitching hay to them. I heard Cotton
say, this man, (meaning the Scotchman), must not go down there again alone. Ben
took his belt off and handed it to Cotton; it had one navy six-shooter on it.
The two boys and Ben then joked together about having a good time. The old man
went down through his own field and met the Scotchman at the bottom end. That
was the last I saw of Cotton and the Scotchman. I then went talking to the
little boy again, when a teamster came up and said there was trouble down the
road, and that some man was taking aim at Cotton. At that time the two sons came
off the top of the stable, stripped the harness off the near horse, the second
son jumped on it with a double barreled shot gun. The oldest son followed him at
about 200 yards distance on a bay horse. Tasker also followed about 100 yards in
the rear of the eldest son, with a breach-loading rifle in his hand. That was
the last I saw of them. I then ran up the hill in hopes of seeing my boy; as I
got on top of the hill I heard several guns go off, I wheeled to the right and
made up to Butcher’s house, where I saw a man apparently dead; blood was on
his face, and I did not recognize him. I then went on and asked a gentleman who
was nearer the house, unarmed and apparently looking every way who it was. He
said I don’t know. I then asked him what the trouble was. He again replied I
don’t know. I heard screeching in the house. I then went and halted in front
of the door, when another man either came out of the house or around the corner
with a rifle in his hand and halloed, "You damned old coward stand your
ground." I then looked up and saw old Cotton about two hundred yards from
the house toward the mountains. I then saw a man drawing a bead on him from
behind a stump. He held his aim but did not fire. The man that halloed was an
elderly man, with gray hair at the back of his head. I did not see his face, and
then advanced to within eight or ten feet of Cotton. At this time one of
Cotton’s sons was coming toward the old man. I then turned and went into the
house and found it was my boy that was screaming. He was crazy. He asked me what
I wanted to kill him for. I tried to pacify him. Cotton made motions with his
hands, but I could not tell what he said. He had nothing in his hands at the
time. I remained with my boy until the Cottons and the other men came to the
house. I saw the faces of horses looking in the door. Mrs. Butcher came in and
said, you was always a good boy, and we want to save you. He then came into the
house and remained with me, the women and children. The old man was outside
talking; presently several, probably six, guns went off outside. I could not
tell how many. The women screamed out, the old man is gone. Two men then came
into the house, and loaded each a gun, and remarked to young Bert Cotton, who
was in the house, "You damned son of a b—h we have got you in a tight
place." The two men then went out, and in a moment or two muzzles of guns
was stuck into the door-way, and were fired, and young Bert fell on the floor.
After he fell three or four pistol bullets were fired at his head, each taking
effect. Soon after the same two men came in again when several of the women
begged for me and my boy, who was at the time perfectly crazy. This man who I
think they call Butcher, ordered the women and children all outside; the
smallest woman offered me a baby two months old, saying, take it and hold it
close to your breast. The man referred to, was behind them all, furious to get
them out. I held my boy by the arm, and tried to pull him out when the women
were going out, my hold broke and he remained outside; I then went in again to
the side of the bed and took hold of his arm and sat looking at him. The two men
then went in loading their guns; the tall man whom I supposed was Butcher, said
to me after his gun was loaded, "You d—d old thieving s—n of a b—h,
this charge is for you!" He said I had hired my boy out to steal and he had
been at it all summer. I begged him to spare my life, and told him to go and
enquire about our characters of Judge Harrison—or Mr. Wright—at Sandy, where
we had been a good deal. He then cursed me again and raised his gun to his face.
I looked at the gun, and then turned to the boy, saying, "Putnam, be a good
boy, and we’ll die together."
man then said I have a good mind to spare you. I said thank you, sir, raised and
gave him my hand; we shook hands and gripped tight like two friends. The dark
complected man said "This damned old rascal will tell tales," the one
that said he would spare me told me to go with the boy and not stop at
Cotton’s. As I walked out with my boy old Mrs. Cotton drove up by the first
boy that was killed screeching, and asked me to help her. I took hold of the
boy’s shoulders and helped lift him in the wagon. I then raised up on the hub
and lifted his head up under the seat. I cast my eyes around and saw my boy
quartering for the brush. I overhauled him and took him by the arm and told him
I would stick by him, and let them put their own dead in the wagon. I then got
to Cotton’s place. Ben Tasker came out with a rifle in his hand and said,
"I am your friend, but you can’t pass here with that boy." I then
said, "Putnam, we must go back." I went back opposite Ben’s little
house and went wetting the boy’s head with water, then Tasker told me to take
him inside and put him on his wife’s bed. Just as I was going to do it the
stage came down the hill. I said to the boy, we are safe, the stage is coming.
Tasker stood back on the other side of the road and the stage drove up between
us and him. I asked the driver to let me put the boy inside. I also got in and
we came to Bingham.
answer to questions by the jurors Thomson said two men loaded their guns, and I
believe two men fired, but I saw no man shoot.
testimony concluded the evidence in the case. The jurors retired to a private
room, and after a brief interval returned the following:
inquisition holden at the mouth of Bingham Canyon, on the 25th day of
July, A.D. 1873, on the bodies of Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilbert Cotton and Gabriel
Cotton, Jr., there lying dead before Geo. J. Taylor, Coroner of said County, by
the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oath do
say that they died from the effects of gun and pistol shot wounds from weapons
in the hands of Samuel M. Butcher and one or more parties to the jurors unknown.
In testimony whereof the jurors have set their hands hereunto, the day and year
hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the verdict rendered by the
J. Taylor, Coroner.
Lake Tribune, Sun July 27, 1873
bodies of Cotton and his two sons were brought to this city yesterday and
Lake Daily Herald, Sun Jul 27 1873
RUMOR.---A rumor which has been current in town to-day, to the effect that
Butcher had been lynched by the residents of Bingham, is incorrect. We took
pains to inquire by telegraph to-day, concerning the matter, and received answer
that Butcher was safely in jail.
AT BINGHAM.---There was considerable excitement in Bingham on Saturday, after
the termination of the inquest on the bodies of the Cottons, and threats were
made about lynching S.M. Butcher. On Saturday evening Coroner Taylor issued a
coroner’s warrant for the appearance of Butcher, before the nearest Justice,
also for two other parties unknown to the jury. On receiving the warrant Justice
Kinney sent a posse of men from his office to the prison in the upper part of
town, to disarm Butcher. As the posse were proceeding to the place where he was,
for this purpose, a crowd gathered and threats of lynching him were freely
indulged in, but several parties used their influence against such a proceeding
and the crowd were eventually quieted, and Butcher, who, previous to this time,
had, although under arrest, been carrying a loaded shot-gun, was disarmed.
examination before Justice Kinney was to take place to-day, when a number of
witnesses, additional to those who testified at the inquest, would give
testimony. Mr. Hoffman was engaged to conduct the prosecution, and Mr. Loeber,
editor of the Bingham Pioneer, had been retained for the defense.
has been the scene of more than one bloody tragedy. There is quite a large
number of graves at the mouth of the canyon, some of which contain the remains
of a few parties who were killed by accident, while the balance contain the
remains of individuals who have met with violent deaths at the hands of their
fellow creatures. These killing affairs commenced in picking off one at a time,
then two, and now comes the latest Bingham tragedy, in which three men "bit
Evening News, Mon July 28 1873
was rumored on Thursday that a man had been hung near the mouth of the canyon on
Wednesday evening. Rumor had it that he was a "stock-dealer," and had
been elevated for the undue interest he took in other people’s horses. We have
not been able to get reliable information in the case, and give it only as a
immense silver ore deposits, West Mountain District has also very rich placer
gold ground, which is worked by a company of Italians. During the past winter
this company cleaned up $10,000 in gold dust, as the result of four men’s
labor. It owns the bar claim directly opposite Dr. Hickman’s house, in main
Bingham Canyon, and a few days since acquired additional ground just above the
doctor’s premises. There is every indication that the entire gulch running up
from Bingham City to Bear Gulch is richly gold-bearing, and we hope before long
to see it thoroughly worked.
Lake Tribune, Tues Jul 29 1873
bodies of Gilbert L., Gabriel and Gilbert Cotton, the three men killed by
"Sod" Butcher, at the mouth of Bingham Kanyon on Thursday were brought
to town at one o’clock this morning and taken to Mr. J.E. Taylor’s, City
sexton. The remains were accompanied to town by some of the relatives of
deceased, and were buried this morning.
News, Semi-Weekly, Tues Jul 29 1873
was some excitement in Bingham on Saturday night, arising from the alleged fact
that officer Saunders had permitted Butcher to remain armed, on the plea that
there was danger of an attempt to lynch him; and a telegram was forwarded to
this city for the sheriff, but Butcher was finally disarmed, on the demand of a
deputation of the citizens, and the angry feelings were measurably allayed.
Sunday, Deputy-Sheriffs Golding and Dewey went out to Bingham and took charge of
the prisoner, who is now in the custody of Constable Fitzgerald and a guard. Mr.
Hoffman prosecutes for the people, and Mr. Burmester, of this city, is counsel
for the defense.
the examination of Simon M. Butcher, for the killing of Gabriel Cotton and his
two sons, commenced before Justice Kinney, at 10 a.m. On motion of the
prosecuting attorney, the hearing was postponed until 1 p.m., owing to the
absence of material witnesses. At 1 p.m. the case was resumed, and witnesses for
the prosecution were sworn and examined.
Thompson, aged 14 years, testified that on the day of the homicide he was riding
by Butcher’s house when Butcher appeared and drew a shot-gun on him and told
him to stop or he would kill him; did not stop but started the horse to running,
when the horse stumbled and fell, and threw him, breaking his arm, and rendering
him insensible; said he had never seen Butcher in his life before; did not know
who picked him up; there might have been other men there.
Thompson testified that he was slightly acquainted with the Cotton family; was
not acquainted with Butcher; was at Cotton’s house about 12 o’clock on the
day of the homicide; his son, the first witness, was employed by Cotton; a man
came up and told witness there was trouble at Butcher’s; the two Cotton boys
got each of them a gun; the younger Cotton took a double-barrelled shot gun; the
man said that he saw some one taking deliberate aim at Mr. Cotton; Ben Tasker
had a breech-loading rifle; I turned round to the little boy, Cotton, and
inquired where my boy was; he said my boy was on the range on a yellow horse; I
went out to the well then, and got me another drink; started up the hill in a
northerly direction; as I reached the top of the hill I gazed around to see if I
could see my boy; at that moment I heard guns going off. I ran down the hill
quartering to the road, in the direction of Butcher’s house; when I got
opposite the house I saw a man lying in the road; another I do not know who he
was, a little above with nothing in his hand. I asked him who the man was that
was killed; he said he didn’t know. I then asked him what the trouble meant;
he answered again, "I don’t know." I walked forward opposite the
door. I then heard a man halloo out, "Stand your ground you d—d old
cowardly son of a b—h!" I don’t know who the man was. Saw old man
Cotton and son in a northerly direction from the house, coming quartering to the
house. I supposed the man was calling to the Cottons who were about 200 yards
from the house. Saw a man resting a gun on a stump, or something, pointing a gun
toward Mr. Cotton. I saw that man’s back, he did not fire. Saw a man start
from the end of the house to go toward Mr. Cotton. I did not see the man’s
face. I don’t know Mr. Butcher. He was a tall man, with gray hair. The last
thing I saw was Cotton, and the man gesticulating with his hands. I gazed upon
the scene. The young man rode down within ten feet of his father and halted. I
then turned and went in the house. I got into the house and found my own boy; he
appeared to be terribly deranged. I tried to pacify the boy; told him he
wouldn’t be harmed. After some little time the oldest of the Cotton boys came
in the door; one of the ladies of the house told him to come into the house, and
he would not be hurt; he came in; I heard the lady call him "Bert." I
looked at him several times to see if he would notice me.
adjourned till Tuesday morning.
Sol. Gee and William Taylor were arrested in Bingham, on suspicion of being
implicated with Butcher in the killing of Cotton and his sons. Their examination
will be had in connection with Butcher’s, now going on before Justice Kinney.
Lake Daily Herald, Tues Jul 29 1873
LYNCHING OF OLD MAN BUTCHER.
Interposition of the Citizens to Save Him.
REPORTER INTERVIEWS THE MURDERER.
Saturday night, Secretary Black received a telegram from Mr. Lober, editor of
the Bingham Pioneer, and counsel for Butcher, stating that there was trouble at
Bingham between Judge Kinney and Constable Sanders as to who should have the
custody of the prisoner, Sanders refused to give up his charge, while Kinney
swore in a special police force for the purpose of guarding Butcher. The object
of the telegram was to obtain assistance from the Governor of the Territory,
which, under the circumstances, could not be rendered, and of which Secretary
Black promptly informed Mr. Lober, stating that until all civil authority was
exhausted, he could not act in the matter.
Golding and Deputy repaired to the scene of the disturbance, and found, on their
arrival, that the citizens had unarmed the prisoner.
at 9 a.m. the examination of the prisoner was held before Judge Kinney and was
continued until to-day. Two other men have been arrested and are held for
OF THE MURDER.
Canyon runs about east and west through the western range of mountains, forking,
however, at several points at a distance of three to five miles up. The
mountains on either side of the canyon road are very high and steep, covered at
places with a beautiful green foliage, while other portions are barren and
rocky. From the entrance to the canyon till Bingham city is reached, evidences
of industry strike the eye at every step, every available spot being cultivated
in the bed of the canyon, while the rugged sides of the mountains are everywhere
pierced with the crowbar and miner’s pick, and in the majority of cases, with
promising results. The roadside is also dotted at short distances with miners’
huts, interspersed here and there with quite respectable sized camps. Saloons
are also well represented the entire distance.
a hardy, thrifty looking people, and full of enterprise and hospitality, as was
evidenced wherever we went and were introduced. The proprietor of the Bingham
House, especially, gave evidence of his appreciation of the press. This house
appeared to be doing the largest business in town, and was highly spoken of by
all. The Nixon House, however, has its friends; indeed, all the houses are doing
well, and each vies with the other for leadership.
leaving the canyon, continues in an easterly direction until it reaches Lehi,
passing Cotton’s, Butcher’s, and Mumford’s ranches. Cotton’s is the most
westerly of the three, being situated at the very entrance to the canyon, at the
point where the Salt Lake mail road intercepts that of the canyon.
situated about a fourth of a mile further east, on the Lehi road, which runs
down the hollow, or ravine, made wider than the canyon by its stream spreading
out for centuries past, leaving the mountain confines. This was the scene of the
murders. Another fourth of a mile in the same direction brings you to
Mumford’s ranch, where the old man Cotton and the Scotchman were when young
Gabe Cotton, the first victim, was shot. These ranches consist of log cabins,
stables, and corrals, surrounded by small corn, wheat, barley, oat, and potato
fields, running in narrow strips of land along either side of the road and
the inquest was over and the verdict rendered, we were, through the kindness of
Sheriff Sanders, permitted to interview the prisoner Butcher. On entering the
log building where he was confined Mr. Sanders told him to come forward, and
gave us an introduction. On extending our hand, with the "How are you, old
man," we instantly found our "paw" in the grip of a lion. His
iron muscles clinched with the power of a vice. Butcher is a man full six feet
in height, straight and bony, with high cheek bones, prominent thin nose and
deep set cold gray eyes,--in a word, he is a "Mars" man, and a man
probably hard to aggravate, but as furious as a lion when aroused. His
composition is rather that of a general than a husbandman. He talked freely,
exhibiting not the slightest signs of nervousness, in fact we should have been
surprised if he had, for he is undoubtedly a man of iron nerves, which the
evidence given at the inquest fully bears out.
and hobgoblins are said to have been seen, at Cotton’s ranch, since the
murders were committed. How about Butcher’s, are they "scart" to go
there? [This was contained in an article called CITY JOTTINGS, noticed on the
same page as the above article.]
Lake Tribune, Tue Jul 29 1873
on the Fly by Our Reporter.
understand that the Rev. Mr. Peirce, last Sunday, in Bingham, preached two
sermons right over Mr. Butcher, the murderer of the Cotton family. We understand
the audience in the court room, where the preaching was, appeared much
interested, but we have not learned of any beneficial effect of the sermon on
the criminal confined in his cell under the pulpit.
Lake Tribune, Wed Jul 30 1873
examination into the Cotton homicide was continued yesterday at Bingham, before
Judge Kinney; but up till the leaving of the mail nothing of special interest
was elicited more than we have before published.
continues to run high in Bingham, caused by the lawless course of two or three
parties there; but the citizens of that camp are entitled to the utmost credit
for the law-abiding spirit they have manifested all through this exciting
affairs, and their determination to have the law enforced.
Lake Daily Herald, Wed Jul  1873
understand a disagreement arose between Justice Kinney and Constable Saunders,
which grew out of the Butcher-Cotton tragedy case. The constable it appears,
held an inquest over the bodies of the Cottons before the arrival at Bingham of
Coroner Taylor, which the Justice questioned his right to do. One consequence of
the affair is that constable Saunders has resigned and another man is acting in
new of importance has been elicited at the examination, more than was adduced at
the inquest and some of the evidence given at the latter was somewhat of a
mixed, not to say conflicting, character. S.M. Butcher, S. Gee and W. Taylor are
still held in custody.
Evening News, Wed July 30 1873
of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.
report of the evidence before the court, published in Tuesday’s Herald, broke
off in the middle of Thomas Thompson’s testimony, the mail leaving for this
city before he had finished. The balance of Monday was taken up by this witness,
but his evidence was the same as published on the 27th, in the
proceedings before the coroner’s jury.
morning, at 8 o’clock, court again convened and Thomas Rockwood took the stand
for the prosecution. He testified to meeting old man Cotton and Butcher and
three other men near Butcher’s house, and that Cotton had a pistol, but
Butcher was not armed. One of the three men with Butcher had a pistol, and
Cotton remarked to witness to notice that those four men were following him.
Munser testified that he was with Rockwood at the time of meeting the four men
and Cotton. He heard Cotton say all he wanted was fair play.
J.B. Hickman then testified as to the nature of the wounds the Cottons received,
after which the Court adjourned to 2 p.m.
2 p.m. Martin Donovan took the stand. He testified that he told the Cotton boys
and Tasker that old man Cotton was in trouble, whereupon Tasker with a rifle,
one of the boys with a shot gun and the other with a pistol, started to
Butcher’s house. Court then adjourned to Wednesday.
8 a.m. Wednesday, J.F. Tasker was placed on the stand and testified as follows:
Live in Bingham Cañon; on the 24th Donovan came to Cotton’s place
and said Cotton and Butcher were in trouble; he said some man was drawing a bead
on Cotton; that the man was down on his haunches at the time of drawing the
bead; another man was patting him on the head at the time. Donovan said, "Tut,
tut;" Cotton was going down the road and said he did not want anything to
do with Butcher; Cotton also told me and the boys not to go past Butcher’s
house; but to go around the hill; the younger boy was so far away that I do not
think he heard what his father said; the boys started ahead of me; they both got
on horses bare back; I got on a horse with a rope around his neck; when I got to
where we usually water the horses, my horse would go no further; I then went
down on foot, and met a man who worked for Butcher, between the latter’s house
and Cotton’s; he asked me what the trouble was; I told him I hoped it was
nothing, but was going to see; when I got in sight of Butcher’s house I saw
him and two other men standing there; I then started up the hill and passed
around the house; when I got up on the side hill they shot two or three times at
me; the shots were all fired close together; Taylor was one of the men with
Butcher, but the other I did not know; I stated before the coroner’s jury that
it was the unknown man who shot at me, but I am not positive who it was; I saw
the three men very distinctly before the shots were fired at me, but at the time
of the shooting I could not see anything but their heads; they were behind a
dug-out; could see the guns or pistols they pointed at me; stood still till
after two shots were fired, when I went back to Cotton’s house and saddled a
horse; Caleb Cotton, ten years old, told me that his father and Bert were out in
the hills above Butcher’s house; he told me to hurry and go to them, as
Butcher was near them with a gun and was going to shoot; he said his father was
trying to come home, but Butcher was telling him to stop; took the boy with me
to show where the old man was; before I got to the place I saw Cotton walking
towards Butcher’s house, and Butcher was walking behind with a gun pointed at
him; I then knew the youngest boy was shot; started across to get down to
Butcher’s house as soon as I could, but before I got there old man Cotton was
down in the middle of the road, nearly opposite the house; the old man waved his
hands towards me; the inference I drew from his actions was that he wanted me to
go back, and not go to him; went back, hitched up the horses and asked Mrs.
Cotton to go down and get the dead boy; put a Danishman, my wife and Mrs. Cotton
in the wagon; when they had got about half way to Butcher’s the Danishman
jumped out of the wagon and came back; when the wagon came back the three bodies
were on it; two were dead, but one was not; Cotton had a pistol which came up in
the wagon with his body; it was a cartridge pistol, and I had all of the
cartridges; it had not been fired during the day; the cartridges were all in
just as I had put them; the first stage had just passed as I got to the house
the first time; the first boy was shot about fifteen minutes of 2 p.m.; when
Cotton started to go down to Mumford’s to see about putting down some railroad
ties I called him back and told him he had better take my pistol, and to pass by
the right hand side of Butcher’s house; he went the course that I told him to
go until he got to an open space between his and Butcher’s houses; he remained
there some little time, and then went across to the road; as he crossed the road
I called to him, as also did his two sons, Gabe and Bert; we motioned to him to
go the way which I had told him to follow; the reason I had for motioning him
was that on the morning of the 24th a gentlemen told me that some
parties below were going to kill Cotton and me; the gentleman did not say who
was going to do the killing; the old man went down through his own field; when
Cotton was looking at the railroad grade the man Kirk went down past Cotton’s
house toward Butcher’s as fast as his horse could run; he had told me some
time before that he was going down to Mumford’s, and my understanding was that
there was some business affairs between Cotton, Mumford and Kirk, which were
going to be settled.
this point in Tasker’s testimony the stage for this city left Bingham. The
balance of his testimony we will publish to-morrow.
Lake Daily Herald, Fri Jul 31 1873
report of the examination published Thursday morning broke off, in the middle of
J.F. Tasker’s testimony, given Wednesday. After his examination in chief he
was subjected to a rigid cross-examination, but little additional was elicited
except that Mr. Tasker started to the scene of action with a breach loading
rifle and cartridges, which fact the witness seemed very loath to disclose. The
witness manifested much reluctance in giving his testimony while being
the cross-examination of Tasker, the court adjourned till 5 a.m. Thursday.
Cotton, wife of deceased, was then put upon the stand. She testified that she
saw her husband shot, that she begged the defendant not to kill him, but he
would not listen. There was an unreasonableness about her story which has
excited marked comment, as her testimony does not tally in the essential
features with Tasker’s.
cross examination of Mr. Thomas Thompson will be resumed before Mrs. Cotton’s
cross examination, the defendant’s attorney having demanded that the cross
examination be completed before any further witnesses should testify. The court
issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Thompson, who does not seem to relish a
cross examination. Soon after the witness made an appearance, and the cross
examination was to be resumed at 2 p.m.
Martin Donovan also was brought upon the stand for the purpose of laying the
foundation for impeaching him, by showing that he had sworn differently before
the coroner’s jury. When asked if he swore that the fourth man put his hands
on the man’s head who had drawn a bead on Mr. Cotton, and said "tut tut"
and he desisted, he said "no." There is much testimony yet to be
introduced, and no doubt a thorough investigation will be had. The excitement,
we are informed by parties from Bingham, is allayed; and Mr. Fitzgerald, the
officer appointed in place of Saunders, resigned, is filling the position with
much judgement and giving entire satisfaction. The unpartial manner in which
Judge Kinney presides, is marked, and few magistrates have a more enviable
reputation for sound sense. From what we have heard so far, there was a general
row, in which more than the accused and deceased were engaged.
Thursday at 2 p.m., the hour to which the even adjourned, Mr. Thomas Thompson
was cross-examined. Nothing new was elicited by the examination. Mrs. Cotton was
then cross-examined, but detailed nothing different from what she had testified
before. The court then adjourned till 8 a.m. yesterday. A material witness for
prosecution not being in attendance, an attachment was issued for the witness
living some eight or ten miles distant, and the court adjourned till 2 p.m.
Lake Daily Herald, Sat Aug 2 1873
of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.
2 p.m. Friday, Mr. Mumford took the stand and testified as follows:
at my house when Cotton’s oldest son came for Cotton, saying there was some
trouble between Butcher and his brother; the son said he believed Butcher had
killed his brother; Cotton and the boy then started down the road towards
Butcher’s house; when they had got about one-fourth of the way to Butcher’s
house they went up the hill, and into a ravine out of my sight; I then saw two
men going towards Butcher’s house, but I do not know who they were; there were
two men following them; I did not see any one around at the time they went into
the ravine; was in sight of Butcher’s house all of the time, and could see
people moving about there, but do not know who they were; saw men starting in
the direction of the ravine in which Cotton went, but could not distinguish who
they were; afterwards I saw the same parties come down in front of Butcher’s
by the court. My house is one-half mile from Butcher’s; had nothing but my eye
to discern the parties with; could not tell whether they had guns or not; did
not see Cotton have any fire arms, but saw something that looked like the handle
of a knife; while at my house Cotton said he wanted Butcher to keep out of his
way; did not hear Cotton say that Butcher had threatened his life; Kirk and my
family were with me when Cotton was at my house; Cotton and Butcher had a
difficulty prior to the day of the shooting, and there were unpleasant feelings
between them; between myself, Butcher, or Cotton, there never have been hard
prosecution closed its evidence with this witness.
Rebecca Butcher was the first witness for the defense. She testified as follows:
Cotton grabbed a double barreled gun to shoot father with; mother grabbed the
gun, but could not get it away from him; I took him by the arm and told him he
could not shoot father; while I had hold of his arm a bullet passed between me
and mother; I rushed to the door, but did not see who fired the shot; did not
hear any more firing at that time; saw nothing more of Bert Cotton after that;
have had no conversations with any one about the matter since; no one told me
what story to tell when in the witness stand.
answer to questions by the court, the witness said: I don’t know what time
Bert was shot; think it was about noon when Thompson’s boy rode past; it was
before Bert was shot; did not see him fall off his horse, and do not know who
brought him in the house; when I first saw him he was crying; his father was not
in the house at the time, but came in about ten minutes afterwards; did not hear
his father say anything; did not see Mr. Cotton that day; have never been in
Cotton’s house; was frightened when I saw they were going to shoot father;
just before the shots were fired in the house, I heard shots on the outside; no
one came into the house; father was not in the house at any time while Bert was
there; Bert was not in the house at all, but was on the second step; there are
five steps down into the house; just at the time the shots were fired into the
house, Bert rode up to the cellar door on horseback.
Mumford was recalled for the defense. Saw Bert Cotton leave my house on
horseback, in company with his father; he rode up to the door of the cellar;
know it was he, because he left my house on horseback, and I followed him with
my eyes until he got into a ravine close by the house, and then saw him among
those who came down the hill.
then adjourned till 8 a.m. Saturday. At the opening of court the defendants’
counsel asked that Mr. Gee be discharged, there being no evidence against
him—in order that he could testify for the other defendants. Granted. Court
then adjourned till 2 p.m. to allow time to procure other witnesses.
Lake Daily Herald, Sun Aug 3 1873
of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.
2 p.m., Saturday, the examination of S. Gee, who was arrested as being particeps
criminis in the killing of Cotton and his two sons, came up before justice
Donovan sworn: I recognize one of the parties who was present when the pistol
was pointed at Cotton.
Mr. Gee was not the person who drew the pistol on Cotton, and I do not know who
the man was.
by the court: I think I would be able to recognize the man who drew the pistol
on Cotton; do not recollect of seeing Gee before the day of the shooting; of my
own knowledge do not know that Gee had any hand in the killing of the Cottons.
Thompson sworn: I think there is a person here who was present at the time of
the killing; Gee was the man I spoke to when I went there; did not look at Gee
after I first spoke to him; never saw Gee before that time; did not see Gee take
any part in the shooting; he was standing a few feet from the road where the
first boy was shot; saw no weapons on Gee.
Cotton sworn: Mr. Gee was present when my husband was killed; when I was within
fifteen feet of my husband Gee went between the house and the stable; when he
got to the stable I called to him twice before he answered; he came to me when I
asked him if he were present and saw the wicked deed done; he said he saw it but
did no shooting himself; I asked him if he would help me put the bodies in the
wagon; he said he had been stopping awhile at Butcher’s house, and that he
came from Montana; Gee put his hand on the wagon when it started, and Butcher
called him back; he then said he could not go.
said he saw all of the shooting, but fired no shots himself.
J.F. Tasker sworn: Was at Butcher’s house between 3 and 4 o’clock, on the 24th;
do not know how near I was to the house when Cotton was killed; heard no
the close of the examination the prisoner Gee was remanded to custody, and the
court adjourned to Tuesday at 2 o’clock p.m.
Lake Daily Herald, Tues Aug 5 1873
committed for trial without bail.
mail report of the examination into the Cotton homicides, in Bingham, did not
reach last night, but the following was received by Deseret telegraph line:
5, 7:10 p.m.—The examination of Butcher closed and the defence rested their
evidence this afternoon. When the case was submitted for argument there was an
exciting time in the court room, which however, was finally quelled, and the
argument was proceeded with.
was committed without bail.
Hoffman, the prosecuting attorney, made an able speech, and during the
excitement, pledged himself to defend the court.
another source we learn that Mr. Burmester’s argument for the defense was also
an able effort. By the prosecuting attorney pledging himself to defend the court
it would appear that the excitement arose from the probable course of the court
relative to the prisoner. If so, and if threats were made should the prisoner be
admitted to bail, the action of the court having the probable appearance of
being coerced might possibly demand revision. All intemperate ebullitions of
passion under such circumstances are unwise and provocative of no good results.
Lake Daily Herald, Wed Aug 6 1873
at the Butcher Examination.
5, 7-10 p.m.—The examination of Butcher is closed. The defense rested their
evidence this afternoon, and the case was submitted for argument. There was an
exciting time in the court room, which was finally quieted and the argument
resumed. Butcher was committed without bail. Frank Hoffman, the prosecuting
attorney, made an able speech, and, during the excitement, pledged himself to
defend the court.
. . the Grand Jury that made the inquest was drawn in utter violation of all
law; third, the substantial witness to send Brigham Young, Mayor Wells, Orson
Hyde, Joseph A. Young and others to the gallows, was Bill Hickman, who confessed
a large number of murders committed by himself. District Attorney Bates also
learned that all these judicial proceedings had been carried on without one
dollar of money from the United States, and that a United States Deputy Marshal
was acting as a detective, and had special charge of the informer Hickman, who
was also confined at Camp Douglas. It was evident that the money for these
prosecutions had been furnished by parties who had power to enforce their
designs, and who would have enforced them but for the stern, law-abiding
determination of District Attorney Bates. As soon as it became known that the
District Attorney would not join in the conspiracy to hang Brigham Young on the
testimony of the confessed murderer, Hickman, and on indictments which the
Supreme Court of the United States decided to be utterly null and void, as the
Grand Jury was a mere mob, the prosecuting officer at once became obnoxious to
the Federal Judges of Utah . . . . [This item was noticed on the same page]
Evening News, Wed Aug 6 1873
single illustration of the state of things here at that time, will prove this
assertion. A few days before New Year’s, 1872, the Deputy Marshal referred to,
called on me with an order to sign, to permit him to take Bill Hickman out of
prison; go with him and spend the holidays at Hickman’s house under a guard;
and when I protested against such an order, he quietly told me, "That it
was very important that Bill Hickman should be pacified in order to secure his
evidence against the leading Mormons." I have good reason to believe that
Hickman was taken out of prison by the special Deputy Marshal and went home
under guard, and passed the holidays in his family, for the reason above
C. Bates, ex U.S. District Attorney, in Salt Lake Herald, Jul 20 1873
are informed that the statement of the Journal’s correspondent, as
regards the examination of Butcher for the killing of the Cottons, was incorrect
in a great many particulars. The statement that the attorney for Butcher drew a
pistol, is not so. While the attorney was addressing the court, Tasker
contradicted him, on which he was denounced as a liar. Tasker had a pistol under
his leg at the time, and the defendant’s counsel knew it; he then received the
full vials of wrath from the legal gentleman. Tasker and his party had stated
that if Butcher should be allowed to go out on bail, "hell would pop!"
This was known to the prosecuting attorney, and caused him to say that he would
protect the Court; and the defendant’s counsel said "yes, let the Court
do his duty, and I will protect him also." Our informant says that the
whole matter can be summed up in a few words. Tasker and his crowd came up to
intimidate the Court and defendant’s counsel, but they made a woful failure as
regards the attorney. As usual the Journal’s correspondent must be
sensational and not truthful.
Lake Daily Herald, Thurs Aug 7 1873
my office at the Court House all day attending to legal and other business
matters. Lysander Gee came over from Tooele City to see his brother, Salmon, who
is in the County Jail and has been there since the 7th instant,
having been committed by Justice Kinney for alleged complicity with the Cotton
Butcher Tragedy on the 24th of July last. There have been a few light
showers of late in the night time.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Tues Aug 12 1873
Gee was brought before me on a writ of Habeas Corpus. There being no evidence
against him sufficient to convict him of the murder of the Cottons as charged, I
admitted him to bail (the Prosecuting Atty, Z. Snow consenting thereto).
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Aug 13 1873
COURT.—Yesterday afternoon, in the Probate Court for Salt Lake County, the
indictment charging S.M. Butcher, R.W. Taylor and Sol. Gee with the killing of
Gabriel Cotton and two sons, at Bingham, was read to those parties. Gee pleaded
not guilty, and Butcher and Taylor asked for time to plead, which was granted.
motion for a separate trial for Gee was sustained, and the time for its
commencement was set for Friday morning, at nine-o’clock.
Evening News, Tues Sep 2 1873
trial of Salmon Gee, indicted with S.M. Butcher and Robert W. Taylor for the
murder of the Cottons on the 24th of July was commenced, he having
been by request of his attorneys, H. Stout and ----Burmester, and L. Gee, Esqr.,
accorded a separate trial. Two witnesses were examined during the afternoon. At
6 o’clock Court adjourned till 9 A.M. tomorrow.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Fri Sep 5 1873
DISAPPEARANCE.—Sometime since we stated that Thompson’s son, the boy who was
at Butcher’s on the day of the killing of the Cottons, and who was a most
important witness in the case, had suddenly disappeared, and could nowhere be
found, and now Thompson himself, another important witness, has vanished from
sight and no trace of him can be obtained.. Has there been foul play? This has a
bad look with it.
COURT.—The trial of Solomon Gee, indicted, in connection with Butcher and
Taylor, for the killing of Gabriel Cotton and two sons, was commenced at one
o’clock yesterday. Dr. Hickman, Thomas Mumford and Martin Donovan were
examined on the part of the prosecution. The evidence given did not materially
differ from what has already been given to the public as adduced at the inquest
and preliminary examination.
SEP. 6th, 9 A.M.
the conclusion of the taking of Mr. Donovan’s evidence, Ben Tasker was placed
on the stand. The main points contained in the testimony of the last named
witness were that he heard of a difficulty taking place on the day of the
shooting at Butcher’s place, between the latter and the Cottons. He went near
to Butcher’s where he saw the last named individual, Gee, and Taylor standing
together a short distance from Butcher’s house. There was also another man
whom he did not know standing some distance away from the others. The three men
fired either two or three shots at witness. He then turned and went away, when
another shot was fired at him by the same parties. He then went to Cotton’s
house, saddled a horse and returned to the vicinity of Butcher’s house, where
he saw the latter driving Gabriel Cotton towards the house. Cotton had no weapon
in his hands, but Butcher had a gun. After a while, Cotton turned and faced
towards where witness was and waved both hands. Witness then returned to
Cotton’s house, hitched a team to a wagon, and sent a Danishman and his
(witness’s) wife to Butcher’s to fetch the body of young Cotton, whom he had
been told had been shot. They started towards Butcher’s, but when they got
about half way there the Danishman got out of the wagon and went off. The dead
bodies of Gabriel and Gilbert L. Cotton, who were brought down in the wagon, and
David Cotton, mortally wounded, was also brought down.
witness had endeavored to find Thompson and his son, important witnesses for the
prosecution, but had not been able to trace them. He saw Thompson’s boy on the
road near Butcher’s place, on the day of the killing. He was on horseback and
Butcher took aim at him with a gun, when the lad slid over the side of the horse
and fell to the ground, breaking his arm.
examination in chief was not concluded up to half past twelve o’clock.
Evening News, Sat Sep 6 1873
trial of Gee was proceeded with during the day. Several witnesses testified for
the prosecution, which rested at 5:15 P.M. Court adjourned till Monday, the 8th
instant, at 9 A.M. This day I entered upon my 70th year. Amy Jane’s
father and mother came from Kay’s Creek to spend the Sabbath with us.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Sat Sep 6 1873
COURT.—After the examination of Ben Tasker on Saturday, Mrs. Mary Jane Cotton,
widow of Gabriel L. Cotton, was placed on the stand and testified for the
prosecution. The main points of her evidence were that she saw Butcher shoot her
husband with a shot-gun, and Taylor shoot him with two pistols. Butcher told her
that he had shot her son who was in the house. Witness did not say that she saw
Gee do any of the shooting, but she saw him around the place when the others did
it. At the conclusion of the taking of this witness’s evidence, the
Sept. 8th.—The defense did not introduce any evidence, but rested
Z. Snow delivered an argument for the prosecution, and was followed by Mr. Hosea
Stout, whose arguments were ingenious and well put. Mr. Burmester then followed,
also for the defense, and if logic and eloquence consisted of sound he would
most certainly be a most powerful reasoner. When our reporter got within half a
block of the Court House he could hear him quite plainly. Perhaps some of the
jurymen were afflicted with deafness. Apparently he is a strong believer in sound
Evening News, Mon Sep 8 1873
trial of Gee, implicated in the Cotton murder terminated at about 5 P.M., the
jury rendering a verdict of "not guilty". Three divorce cases were up
for consideration and some Probate matters, and all together, I had a very busy
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Mon Sep 8 1873
MYSTERY.—The whereabouts of Thompson and his son, important witnesses in the
Butcher–Cotton tragedy case, is still shrouded in mystery. Various
speculations are indulged in regarding their fate. Some imagine that, impelled
by fear, they left this part of the country voluntarily, while others are of the
opinion that they have been bought over and are hid away, and not a few are
inclined to the belief that they have met with "foul play."
COURT.—Yesterday, in the case of Solomon Gee, indicted for murder, the jury
returned a verdict of not guilty and the prisoner was discharged.
Evening News, Tues Sep 9 1873
BUTCHER CASE.—Messrs. Wood and Peterson are butchers, have left their old
stand, on the State Road, and have opened one in a more populous locality. It is
opposite the Herald office, and the street car junction, First South St., where
they will be pleased to see and wait upon their old customers, and scrape an
acquaintance with new ones. Read their advertisement.
Evening News, Wed Sep 10,1873
COURT.—Wednesday, September 10th, 9 a.m., Hon. E. Smith
People, etc, vs. Butcher et al. The case was called and the prisoners
were arraigned. The counsel for defendants entered the plea separately, of not
guilty. A motion for a separate trial of R.W. Taylor was filed yesterday. Set
for hearing Thursday, 11th inst., at 9 a.m. Court adjourned till 1
Evening News, Wed Sep 10 1873
Court all day. John Welch and Henry Roberts were tried for larceny, found guilty
and punishment fixed at 6 months in the Penitentiary. H. Stout, counsel for
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Sep 10 1873
The Bingham Murder Case.
The jury in the Bingham murder affair were empaneled early in the week, and proceeded with the investigation of Sol Gee's portion of the case. Mr. Gee was acquitted. The charges against Butcher and Taylor were commenced but adjourned till Wednesday next. A curious thing connected with the trial of Gee was, that an enterprising butcher of this city--Mr. Levi Garrett--was rejected from the jury because he gave a reason why he would have objection to bringing in a legal verdict of guilty, that "he killed himself, every day." Whether this expression was taken as evidence of over light-mindedness, or as indicating too much of a murderous "mindedness," is too entangled a question for us to unravel. It killed his prospects as a juryman anyway.
In this case the Jury was empaneled, and Dr. Hickman, Thomas Mumford and Martin Donovan, witnesses in behalf of the prosecution, examined. The . . . examination of Mr. Donovan was concluded at the adjournment of . . . . court. Dr. Hickman's testimony was to the point, showing the nature of the wounds of which Mr. Cotton died. Mr. Mumford simply testified to the fact that Cotton was at his house on the day of the homicide with a Mr. Kirk. Donovan testified that Gee had a pistol, was elicited that tended in any degree to implicate Mr. Gee in the killing of the Cottons. Mr. Gee seemed self-possessed, and his brother . . . ted in his defense ; . . . court adjourned till nine a.m. to-morrow, when the trial will be proceeded . . . . [part of the paper was missing due to a hole on one edge.]
The case of Solomon Gee was continued at the Probate Court yesterday. Mr. Donovan concluded his testimony and Benjamin Tasker was next examined. His evidence was by no means direct, although a great effort was made by the prosecuting attorney to elicit testimony that would tell upon the minds of the jury. He gave a full detail of what took place at Butcher's house at the time of the shooting. He saw Gee there, but did not see the shooting. Tasker's examination was continued into the afternoon, and then Mrs. Cotton was put upon the stand. The prosecution closed with this witness and the court adjourned till Monday.
Some two weeks since, the Tribune mentioned the fact of the disappearance of a boy named Thompson, who lived in Bingham Canyon, and was witness to the Cotton murderers [sic]. The lad was sent by the parents on business to Tintic, and not returning at the expected time, and no word having been received from, suspicions of foul play were aroused. The father of the boy is now missing. He also was witness to the murder of the Cottons and the general supposition is that he has been murdered.
Yesterday the case of the People vs. S.M. Butcher was called up. The defendants withdrew their motion for a separate trial, and the case was set for Wednesday next at nine a.m.
--The above five articles are all from the same issue of the Salt Lake Leader, Sep 13 1873, p.5, p.7.
COURT.—To-day the time in the forenoon was occupied in trying to empannel a
jury to try the Butcher and Taylor murder case. Two pannels were exhausted and
another special venue was issued for another twelve, to be present at 2
o’clock, when it was expected the jury would be completed and the trial
Evening News, Wed Sep 17 1873
County Court was in session till 2 P.M., when an adjournment was taken till Oct.
14th. The Probate Court was opened at 9 A.M., when the case of the
people vs Samuel M. Butcher and Robert W. Taylor for the murder of Gabriel L.
Cotton, Gilbert Cotton, and Gabriel Cotton on the 24th of July last
was called up. Only six jurors of the 24 first summoned were taken. Another
venire was issued for twelve men, and out of the first 7 drawn, two jurors were
taken. The following named jurors having been accepted and taken were sworn to
try the case: Millen Atwood, William Thom, Samuel Bringhurst, Jesse West, David
Yearsley, Lafayette Granger, George Stringfellow, Henry E. Bowring, Samuel D.
Simine, Charles S. Cram, Elbridge Tufts, and Henry McEwan. Martin Donovan,
Thomas Mumford, and ------ were sworn and testified during the day on the part
of the prosecution.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Sep 17 1873
COURT.—Yesterday afternoon the following jurors were sworn to try the case of
the People vs. Butcher and Taylor:
Atwood, Wm. Home, Samuel Bringhurst, Jesse West, David Yearsly, L. Granger, Geo.
Stringfellow, H.E. Bowring, Chas. S. Cram, S.D. Sirrine, E. Tufts and H. McEwan.
following witnesses were sworn for the prosecution:
Tasker, Martin Donovan, Thos. Mumford and Thos. Rockwood; the three latter
testified during the afternoon. No important facts, other than were elicited
during the trial of Sol. Gee, were adduced.
Sept. 18th.—The examination of G.F. Tasker occupied all the
discussion arose between counsel as to whether statements made by a man named
Kirk in connection with the case could be repeated by witness and received as
evidence. The Court ruled that if Kirk’s statements were to be taken as
evidence the latter himself must make them in court.
Evening News, Thu Sep 18 1873
Tasker, Nancy Tasker, Thomas Thompson, and Mary Jane Cotton were sworn and
testified on the part of the People, which closed the evidence for the
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Thu Sep 18 1873
COURT.—Thursday, Sep. 19th.—Thompson, the witness who disappeared
mysteriously when wanted for Sol. Gee’s trial, was placed upon the stand.
testified to going to Cotton’s house to look for his (witness’s) boy. While
there a man came and said that Butcher was going to shoot old man Cotton and G.F.
Tasker. Two of Cotton’s sons were unloading hay near the house, and when they
heard this one of them took the harness off one of the horses, jumped on its
back and rode towards Butcher’s house, followed by his brother. Witness went
to Butcher’s to look for his boy, and entered the house, where he found him.
The boy was so badly hurt as to be unable to recognize his father. Witness had
been in but a few minutes when "Bert" Cotton entered, followed by
Butcher and Taylor, who came in, loaded their guns and went out. Immediately
afterwards the muzzles of two guns appeared through the door. These weapons were
fired, killing "Bert" Cotton instantly.
then came in, drove the women out of the house and commenced loading his gun
and, while holding a bullet in his hand, said to witness: "This is for you,
you horse thief and son of a b—h." Witness begged that his life might be
spared and protested that he was not a horse thief, but a gentleman of good
character. Butcher seemed satisfied and told him that he might take his boy
away, which he did.
did not know the whereabouts of his boy, not having seen him during the past
four weeks. He ate breakfast with him at the Washington House. After breakfast
the boy started for Lehi, and witness has not seen him since that time, but
feels very anxious about him.
never had any difficulty with Butcher, nor was he apprehensive of any danger
from him, either to himself or his son.
September 19th, 9 a.m.—The prosecution rested their case.
Burnsides was sworn, and examined for the defense. He had resided with Butcher
six years. His evidence was very much mixed and conflicting.
Sol. Gee was the next witness. He testified that when Kirk went to Butcher and
asked the latter, at his house, whether he had accused him of stealing poles,
Butcher said he had not, but some one had told him he had done so. Kirk then
struck Butcher in the face. The latter lifted Kirk up and threw him down, and
was prevented from doing further damage by Witness and Mrs. Butcher. Kirk then
left and returned, accompanied by old man Cotton. After Cotton had passed a few
ugly words with Butcher, Kirk and he passed on towards Mumford’s. Shortly
afterwards, young Gabriel came to Butcher’s and asked where his father was.
Butcher told him he had gone to Mumford’s when Gabriel leveled a shot-gun at
Butcher and attempted to fire, but the cap snapped. Butcher then sprang into the
house, returned, bringing out a weapon, and as Gabriel was in the act of firing
off the second barrel, Butcher shot him. Cotton came back from Mumford’s, and
saw his son’s body lying on the road. He then fired three shots from a pistol
at Butcher, when the latter shot him with a shot-gun. "Bert" Cotton
then appeared, fired several shots at Butcher from a pistol, and then ran
towards the house, when the latter shot him, causing him to fall inside.
Evening News, Fri Sep 19 1873
trial of Butcher and Taylor was proceeded with and ------ Burnside and Salmon
Gee were sworn and testified on the part of the Defendants. Some rebutting
evidence was introduced by the Prosecuting Atty, which closed the evidence.
Judge Snow for the Prosecution and H. Stout for Defence addressed the Jury in
lengthy speeches, and the Court adjourned till 9 A.M. tomorrow.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Fri Sep 19 1873
COURT.—Sept. 19, 2 p.m. Jury called, all present.
Gee still on the stand. He was cross-examined by the prosecution, which took
about half an hour, when some of the jurors asked the witness if he drew the
diagram of Butcher’s house. He said he did, but did not do the writing on it.
prosecution asked the privilege of putting Mr. James Nelson on the stand, which
was objected to by the defendant. The objection was overruled. He was then sworn
Cotton, Mrs. Tasker and Mr. Thompson were re-called for the purpose of rebutting
some of the testimony of the defense.
respective attorneys then rested, and Mr. Z. Snow, on the part of the
prosecution, addressed the jury for one hour and a half. Mr. H. Stout, on the
part of the defense, addressed the court for one hour and the court adjourned.
20, 9 a.m. The court resumed its sitting. The prisoners were brought into court,
when Mr. Burmester for the defense addressed the jury. He reviewed the testimony
of the several witnesses at length. He waxed eloquent and loud as he proceeded.
With the exception of several lapsus linguæ he did well, defending his
clients with ability.
argument occupied an hour and a half in delivery.
Z. Snow closed for the prosecution, in an argument of one hour, when the court
adjourned till two o’clock.
that time it was expected that the court would address the jury and the case
would then be given to the latter to consider with a view to a verdict. --Deseret
Evening News, Sat Sep 20 1873
court met pursuant to adjournment. Theodore Burmester, Esquire, addressed the
Jury on the part of the Defence, and Judge Snow then made the closing speech for
the prosecution. The case was given to the jury at 3 P.M., and at 8 P.M. the
jury came into Court and rendered a verdict of "Not Guilty", and thus
terminated one of the most exciting and unpleasant trials that I ever presided
over. The proceedings throughout were conducted by Judge Snow, Prosecuting
Attorney for the People, and H. Stout, T. Burmester, and L. Gee, Esqr. For the
Defence, with zeal and ability and much fairness. My health during the trial has
been poor, and yesterday and today, I have been quite sick, and under ordinary
circumstances should have kept my room, but the urgency of the case nerved me to
keep at my post till the matter terminated.
C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Sat Sep 20 1873
will be seen, by our Probate Court minutes, that the jury in the case of Butcher
and Taylor, indicted for the murder of the three Cottons, returned a verdict of
not guilty as charged in the indictment. The jury stood nine to three for
acquittal, on the first ballot.
general expectation was that such would be the verdict, or that the jury would
disagree, which would have caused a new trial to be necessary.
evidence showed that the accused never left Butcher’s house, and that all
three men who were killed, met with their fate there. The indictment charged the
accused of murdering, etc., with malice aforethought, and the jury could not see
that they could find a verdict of guilty as charged according to the evidence
adduced before them.
WANTED.—Mr. Thompson, the leading prosecuting witness in the Butcher tragedy
case, called this morning and desired us to publish a description of his missing
son, with a request for any person who may know anything of the whereabouts of
the lad to impart the information for the benefit of the anxious father.
boy’s name is Putnam Thompson, he will be fourteen years old next December, is
short for his age, has large dark eyes, a pleasant, open countenance, brown
hair, and rather dark complexion. When last seen by his father he had on a black
coat, and brown overalls over gray pantaloons. When he left this city for Lehi,
over four weeks since, he rode a bay three year old horse colt, branded C on
left jaw, and had a wrench brand on the left hip. Address David Boucher, near
Dayton, Butte County, California. Mr. Thompson himself will leave for California
in a short time.
COURT.—Saturday, Sep. 20th, 2 p.m.—Court met pursuant to
adjournment. The prisoners, Butcher and Taylor, were present when the Court
charged the jury, and the latter retired to their room, in charge of the
bailiff. At 8 o’clock the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty.
Evening News, Mon Sep 22 1873
Third District Court, nolle prosequi entered in case of William Taylor,
Soloman Lee, and L. Butcher indicted for the murder of the Cotton family on the
ground of previous trial and acquitted in the probate court.
History of the Church, Aug 3 1877 p.1
M. Butcher, a son-in law of Bill Hickman, was arrested yesterday morning at his
place on South Jordan. The arrest was made under an indictment found against him
recently by the Grand Jury for the Cotton murder. But as he was tried and
acquitted of the charge in the Probate Court, a few years ago, there seems to be
a question about the soundness of this second criminal prosecution. The accused,
however, was taken to the Penitentiary, where he will remain until the court
convenes, when the nature of his case will be inquired into.
Lake Tribune, Thur Aug 2 1877
grand jury having found an indictment against S.M. Butcher, for the murder of
the Cotton family, in Bingham, a few years ago, he has been arrested and placed
in the penitentiary. Butcher was tried and acquitted in the probate court
shortly after the commission of the bloody deed. Subsequently the "Poland
bill" was enacted, divesting the probate courts of jurisdiction of such
cases; however, confirming the judgements and decrees theretofore made by these
courts. This being the case the indictment and arrest of Butcher at the present
time, probably have some importance or meaning, of which the public are not
Lake Herald, Fri Aug 3 1877
Term, Michael Schaeffer C.J., Presiding Friday,
indictment against Saul M. Butcher was sollied.
Lake Tribune, Sat Aug 4 1877
Term, Michael Schaeffer C.J., Presiding Tuesday,
Popper vs. S.M. Butcher; on application for an injunction; case set for hearing
on the 13th inst.
Lake Tribune, Wed Aug 8 1877
Term, Michael Schaeffer, C.J., Presiding Tuesday,
Popper vs. S.M. Butcher; this cause came on to be heard on defendant’s
demurrer to the complaint. Ordered that the demurrer be overruled; defendant
excepts. Leave given till the 17th inst. to file an answer, and
hearing thereon set for Saturday, the 18th inst., at 10 a.m.
Lake Tribune, Wed Aug 15 1877
12 [September, 1887]. D.B. Bybee, of
Hooper, was arrested at Taylor’s Mill, Weber Co., on a charge of unlawful
cohabitation. S.M. Butcher who resides near Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake Co., was
arrested on a similar charge.
Jensen, LDS Church Chronology, 1887 p.15
26 [November, 1887].—In the Third
District Court, Samuel M. Butcher, of Herriman Precinct, who promised to obey
the law in the future, was fined $50 for unlawful cohabitation.
Jensen, LDS Church Chronology, 1887 p.21