The Cortland Democrat, Friday, August 25, 1893.
MET A TRAGIC DEATH.
Cheated the Gallows, But Was Killed by a Train—Madison County's Famous Murder Case Recalled.
(Syracuse Herald, Aug. 23, 1893.)
John Kief, the alleged Madison county murderer, who was imprisoned in the Morrisville jail for seven years for the killing of Albert D. Howard in 1886, and was discharged a year ago, was killed on the West Shore railroad at Canastota at 8 o'clock this morning. Kief, who for the last year has been running a blacksmith shop at Clockville, drove into Canastota last night, and during the evening was seen in several saloons drinking and carousing. He wandered early this morning to the railroad tracks. He had gone only a short distance when the train which left this city at 1:25 o'clock came along and struck him. The wheels passed over his body, severing the head and the right arm and leg.
The engineer of the train says that he did not see anyone on the track until he was within twenty feet of the victim. This was too late to avoid the accident, as the train was running at a high rate of speed and could not be stopped in that distance. As soon as possible the train was backed up and the body picked up and carried into the baggage room, from where it was removed to the morgue. The identity of the dead man was established by several persons who knew him and by letters in his pocket from Mrs. Carrie C. Howard of Utica.
Mrs. Howard was the wife of the man for whose murder Kiel was arrested as an accomplice. Kiel was working for Howard, who was a wealthy farmer living near Morrisvllle, and was trusted in many ways by his employer. Kief and Mrs. Howard, it was alleged, had become infatuated with one another. Howard and his wife frequently quarreled, and after one of these Kief was discharged from Howard's employ. A few days later Howard died and was burled. Kief immediately returned to the house to work. It was only a short time before it became talked about that all was not right about Howard's death, and his body was disinterred and an autopsy made. From this it was learned that he had been poisoned.
Kief and Mrs. Howard were immediately arrested, and the trials which followed were among the most sensational ever held in Madison county. Mrs. Howard was arraigned first, and to the surprise of the people assembled and Justice Forbes, who presided, she was acquitted. In releasing her from custody Justice Forbes said: "You are discharged, but be careful you don't do it again." The trial of Kief followed, and he was convicted of murder in the first degree. His counsel made a strong fight, and appealed the case. A new trial was ordered, and in this one the jury disagreed and Kief was returned to the Morrisville jail. He was now compelled to remain in the jail because he was short of funds and could not carry on the fight.
His attorney filed with the lower court a notice of appeal to the General term for a change of venue and a year ago it was granted, the case being sent to Chenango county for trial on the first grounds that Kief could not have a fair and impartial trial in Madison county. Six years had elapsed since the murder was committed, and the important witnesses in the case had either died or moved away, and when Kief was arraigned in Norwich the prosecution withdrew the charges and Kief was a free man.
During his incarceration Kief had unusual liberties for a criminal. He was allowed to roam about the jail yards and in the roadway at his pleasure. He was allowed many visitors, among them women who were infatuated with him. Two of them, it is said, fell victims to his wiles.
|Photo copied from Grip's Historical Souvenir of Cortland.|
Union Veteran Legion.
At a preliminary meeting of the Union Veteran legion held Monday evening in G. A. R. hall, W. J. Mantanye was chosen temporary chairman and E. M. Seacord, secretary. The following officers were chosen:
Colonel—Wm. J. Mantanye.
Lieut. Colonel—Samuel M. Byram.
Major— Wm. H. Morgan.
Adjutant — Ed. M. Seacord.
Surgeon—Dr. H. C. Hendrick.
Chaplain—Nelson W. Smith.
Quartermaster—L. P. Norton.
Officer of the Day—B. E. Miller.
Sergt. Maj.—D. R. Montgomery.
Q. M. Sergt.—John Miller.
Officer of the Guard—Lyman Jones.
Other officers will be chosen or appointed after the muster. The muster will take place in the same hall next Monday evening at 7:30 o'clock and it is particularly desired that every member be present. Col. Jas. J. Smyth, the mustering officer, will be at the Cortland House Monday, and as muster can only be had on presentation of discharges or adjutant general's certificate of service, these documents should be left with him before noon of that day in order to give him time to examine them.
W. C.T. U. Convention.
The annual meeting of the [Cortland County] W. C. T. U. occurred Saturday, August 19.
The annual reports from the thirteen departments of work undertaken by the union attested to the interest and progress made during the past year.
A brief extract from some of these reports will indicate the tendency and aim of this organization.
Nothing has interfered with the regular fortnightly gatherings, only one having been omitted during the entire year, that upon the exceedingly stormy Saturday proceeding Christmas.
Some department has been presented at each of these meetings, the program being in charge of the Superintendent of said department.
The Evangelistic Superintendent reports as follows:
Thirty-eight Sabbath morning prayer meetings; 24 consecration services; Sunday P. M. gospel temperance meetings; 1 Sunday P. M. gospel temperance meeting at the East side reading room; 1 all day prayer meeting.
Especial attention is called to the Sunday morning prayer meeting, held at headquarters each Sabbath morning at quarter before ten o'clock, having for its especial topic the outpouring of the spirit upon Pastors and people of the congregations of our own community. A cordial invitation is extended for these meetings.
The Loyal Temperance Legion department reports:
One hundred and ninety members, 147 of whom are pledged members. These are divided into three companies, A. B. and C., according to age and acquirements [sic.] There are seven graduates and one seal.
Co. B. has a circulating library of sixty books which were drawn one hundred and eighty-seven times during the year.
Articles were made and sent to the exhibit and sale of the children [sic] at the World's Fair.
The department for missionary work among lumbermen, miners, soldiers and sailors, and Freedmen has done much in sending boxes of clothing and literature. Thirty-four volumes of Theological Work were sent to a Home Missionary in Minna. The departments were enabled to do this through the generous gift of Rev. J. L. Robertson, from whose library they were culled.
Especial attention has been given to the needs of the Mariner's Temple at New York, to which the late J. F. Avery devoted so much of his life.
Hampton agricultural and normal institute, and Cortland Hospital have been remembered and contributions have been made to Ship's libraries.
Mothers' meetings have been energetically pushed during the year. Four branches are carried on, in the north and south, east and west portions of this town each with a leader who conducts the meetings. There is an increasing interest and attendance on this line of work.
Social purity is taken up in those gatherings, literature distributed and discussions carried on, upon topics helpful to mothers.
Much has been done in the departments of Sabbath observance and Sunday school work in the way of agitation and education.
The department of literature reports eighteen dollars and forty cents expended for books, tracts &c. Ten thousand seven hundred papers of literature distributed, also two hundred papers given away and forty-four books or pamphlets. It is impossible to gather results in either of the foregoing departments of work, but the Superintendents have been untiring in their efforts.
From the Scientific Temperance Instruction report we glean as follows:
The school commissioners and representatives of the several towns recommend the ''Pathfinder Series'' and Steele's ''Physiology" (revised) for use in schools throughout Cortland county.
A series of temperance physiologies was last March adopted by both Normal and Union school boards.
The Union schools had been doing good work along this line, but since the action of the board the subject is pursued with renewed interest. According to the action of the Normal school board the subject is to be taken up systematically in September at the beginning of the winter term. Methods and training in the lower departments are to be given the student-teachers that when they graduate, they may be as well fitted to teach this branch as any other.
The law requires that "Physiology with special reference to the effects of alcohol and other narcotics on the human system shall be taught all pupils in all schools.
The books adopted and recommended in this county have been thoroughly revised by Mrs. Mary H. Hunt, National and World's Superintendent of Scientific Temperance Instruction of the W. C. T. U. and will in every way meet the above requirements.
It is very gratifying to those interested to know that the law is now to be carried out in our own schools.
Upon April 1st of this year the W. C. T. U. assumed the carrying on of the East Side reading room. The committee who began the work felt that they could carry it no longer and made over the property gathered by them for the work to the union, who had the rooms renovated and adorned, added papers, periodicals, looks and games and reopened the rooms the public.
At first the games seemed the attraction, but these have been more and more superseded by the reading matter until it now occupies the prominent position.
A circulating library has been established, and both interest and attendance are on a steady increase as the following figures show:
June, 14 ½ [sic.]
July, 17 ½ [sic.]
Largest attendance, July 6, 31.
Average attendance, April 20, 15.
A Loyal Temperance Legion has been opened, which meets every Sunday P. M.
A mothers' meeting is held once a month.
While the shops are closed the reading room is kept open during the day as far as possible.
The W. C.T. U. commends the work of the East Side reading room to the prayers and the charity of our citizens and earnestly solicits their aid in carrying on the work of the W. C. T. U.
While we earnestly wish more had been gleaned for the Master we adopt the closing words of one of the Superintendents in her report "when we do anything for God, the very least thing—we know not where it will end or what work it will do for Him."
Trusting Him for the fruitage, we leave our seed sowing for another year, in His hands.
The following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
President—Mrs. P. H. Patterson.
Vice-President—Mrs. James S. Squires.
Cor. Sec'y—Mrs. Edith Cotton.
Rec. " —Mrs. Frank Watson.
Treasurer—Mrs. M. H. Yale.
Vice-Presidents from churches:
1st M. E. church—Mrs. E. J. Barnes.
Presbyterian—Miss Sara E. Collins.
Baptist—Mrs. J. Leroy Gillett.
Universalist—Mrs. Eben Mudge.
Congregational—Mrs. Etta Welch.
Homer-ave.—Mrs. J. J. Bouton.
Free Methodist—Mrs. Ida Lowell.
Episcopal—Mrs. W. H. Shankland.
Catholic— Mrs. Chas. Corcoran.