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Davenport Weekly Leader
Davenport Weekly Leader
Contributed by Susan

Description: Moline Tragedy Recalled John Perkins of Arcola, Illinois, Finds a Long Lost Sister

Date: January 31 1899

Newspaper published in: Davenport, IA

Page/Column: 6

Moline Tragedy Recalled John Perkins of Arcola, Illinois, Finds a Long Lost Sister

According to the Chicago papers, John Perkins, of Arcola, Illinois, has found a sister after being separated from her for thirty years. The story recalls a murder committed near Moline in 1876. The story told in the Chicago papers is as follows:

Arcola, Ill. After a separation of 30 years, John Perkins, a prominent farmer living ten miles east of Arcola, Ill., has located his sister at Linn, Kansas, who, he claims was abducted by an uncle named Freeman West at Moline, Ill., in 1868. Mr. Perkins tells the following story of the abduction.

In 1868, James Perkins (father of John Perkins) lived in Mercer County, Ill. He had a wife, two sons John aged six years; Andrew, aged four years and a daughter, Lottie, aged less than two years. At this time the mother died and the children were left to the care of relatives. An uncle, Freeman West, and his wife, having no children, took the little girl and emigrated wet. The father and the little brothers could get no trace of the whereabouts of the sister until a few days ago.

West was afterwards killed in a melee at a dance, and the secret of the little girl's identity was buried with him.

Lottie, who was now thrown out of a home, was picked up by the authorities and taken to the poorhouse. A home in a family on a farm was soon found for her and here she lived for ten years.

She ultimately married a prosperous farmer named Wesley Mosher, of Linn, Washington County, Kansas. The husband took an interest in finding his wife's relatives, finally locating a man who knew of the West family in Moline, Ill., and Mr. Mosher wrote to one who proved to be a brother of Freeman West, who knew of the abduction of Lottie Perkins by Freeman West and wife 30 years ago.

The Moline Journal tells the story of the murder this event recalls as follows:

Our old residents well remember the murder of Freeman West and the circumstances surrounding the tragic affair, also the fact of the residence of the girl at the West domicile.

Freeman West's death created a great sensation at the time and several participants in the affair still live here. He was murdered at the Weaver farm Christmas Eve, December 24, 1876, and the funeral was held the day following Christmas. At that time monthly dances were held at the Weaver farm. On this occasion West, who was a big strapping fellow, got into an altercation with pretty nearly everyone in attendance, and after a set-to with a couple of the Weaver boys, turned his attention to Harry Morten (or Martin), a diminutive and inoffensive young man who could offer but little resistance. Picking Morten up bodily, West placed him upon a red hot cook stove in the room and held him there and to the horror of those assembled swore he could roast him alive. At this Morten succeeded in whipping out his revolver and shot West, after which he made his escape. Though the injury was inflicted with only a 22-caliber revolver, the wound proved mortal, and West died during the night. Officer Starofsky obtained possession of the revolver which he still has. D. O. Reid was one of the coroner's jury over the remains of West. Morten was arrested but got off and is now conducting a farm not far from Moline. The murdered man was a brother of Andrew West who died here about two years ago of cancer. Several of his relatives still reside in Moline.

After the death of West a subscription was taken up among the people at the dance to pay the funeral expenses, but the man who came in to buy the coffin after making his selection got drunk, blew the money and when found by the irate contributors had only $2.25 left, so the remains were turned over to the county for burial.

Submitted: 01/27/14

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