Saturday, February 11, 2012

No Remorse

Moses P. Kinkaid, Judge of the 12th Judicial District

The latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC featured actress Maris Tomei who was searching to discover more about a great grandfather who died in Italy.  As usual there were family legends and Marisa’s mother thought he may have been a philanderer or something and was murdered.  The local cemetery documented that he died of an illness.  Upon further investigation, Marisa learned her ancestor was shot in the back of the head by a wealthy business partner who was convicted of the murder.  But then the murderer hired a “dream team” of lawyers to get him acquitted and he walked away with a slap on the wrist. 

Well, it appears that this is what happened in the Turpin family when Louis Goochey murdered Newt Turpin.  I’ve learned from fellow researcher Rich Swearingen that Goochey was convicted of the murder, but then appealed the conviction.  Moses P. Kinkaid was the judge and Goochey was acquitted.  We don’t know the reason yet, although that’s my next project.   My best guess is that perhaps the jury or judge determined that Goochey did not plan or intentionally murder Newt Turpin.  Goochey did trespass onto the Turpin homestead, was walking away with a horse or horses, and when Newt yelled at him, Goochey admitted he had a loaded musket and shot Newt on the spot.  

Goochey spent the remainder of his life moving from place to place and making excuses about his past.  He invented a “Turpin Gang” that was the source of his bad behavior. 

Goochey’s tale of woe reminds me of a story a friend of mine told of his years working in the emergency room of Dallas’s Parkland Hospital.  It seemed that every weekend a terrible gang, referred to by the docs as the “Two Dudes Gang” would go on a rampage in Dallas.  The result was that every Friday and Saturday night, victims would hobble into the emergency room with broken noses, stab wounds, gunshot wounds, and other injuries.  When my friend would ask what happened, the responses would be “I was in a bar minding my own business when these two dudes came up and…”  You fill in the rest – they harassed my girlfriend, picked a fight with me, bullied my best friend, whatever.   The point was that it was NEVER any fault of their own.  They were poor victims of the nastiest gang in town.  

I’ll print Goochey’s story here as told to his grandchildren as they sat on his knee.  Goochey displayed no remorse!  It will remind you of the Two Dudes Gang and of Marisa Tomei’s ancestor. 

Next blog, I’ll point out where Goochey’s story falls apart (in case it’s not obvious). 

Related by Ivan D. Goochey
Grandson of Louis Hiram Goochey

This is a story related to me many times by my father, Louis A. Goochey, as I sat on his knee around the pot-bellied stove on winter evenings. He told it over and over and I never tired of his telling.

Sometime between 1884 (the year my father was born in Ponca, Nebraska) and 1890, my grandparents, Louis Hiram Goochey and Clemenza Ann Botts-Goochey, moved to a claim on the Niobrara River north of the village of Newport, Nebraska. Their house consisted of a dugout carved into the side of a bluff. At the time of the Turpin Affair, they had four children: Alma, Garfield, Louis A. and August. Two other children would later follow: William and Lilly.

Shortly after the family moved to their claim on the Niobrara my grandfather was approached by a committee from the neighborhood. They stated that the area was rife with horse thieves, and, since law authority was tenuous at best, they had formed a vigilante committee to protect their property from these thieves. It is true that Kid Wade, a notorious horse thief (later hanged to the train whistle post at Bassett) marauded the area. The committee invited my grandfather to join their organization. He took their offer under consideration but later refused the offer, stating that he considered the actions of the vigilantes to be worse than that of the so-called horse thieves.

This refusal set into action a series of attempts to “remove” my grandfather from the area. On one occasion a neighbor came to the dugout and asked my grandfather if he was going to the literary that evening. My grandfather said that he had heard of no literary being held. The neighbor stated that, indeed, one was being held at the schoolhouse. So my grandfather saddled up a horse. Then he took his youngest son, “Gus”, up behind him and had my father jump up behind the neighbor. They rode for some distance, when suddenly the neighbor let out an extremely shrill whistle. Shortly thereafter they came to a place where the schoolhouse would have been in view. The neighbor then said he guessed he had been wrong - there were no lights at the schoolhouse, therefore there was no literary. They turned and went home. My grandfather realized that the shrill whistle was a message to those others lying in wait that, since the children were along, there could be no act of “removal”. One person in the neighborhood had amicable relations with the vigilantes but was also friendly toward my grandfather. He once showed him a limb overhanging a stream where the vigilantes planned to hang my grandfather.

There were no fences in the area – or at least my grandfather had not fenced his land. What horses and cattle he may have had were herded daily by his children. One day my father and his sister, Alma, were to mind a team of horses as they grazed. Instead, they began to play, and before they were aware of what had happened, the horses disappeared. Several days later, R. N. Turpin (a member of the vigilantes) posted notice in the Mariaville post office that my grandfather’s horses were on his property – that he could come get them and that no damages would be asked. However, the dugout was located between the Turpin homestead and the post office, meaning that Mr. Turpin had to go past my grandfather’s home in order to get to the post office. Clearly it would have been more convenient for him to have stopped at the dugout.

My grandfather shouldered his breech-loader rifle and set out to retrieve the horses. On this day, my father and, again, his sister, Alma, were hoeing and weeding a garden patch near the river. They would have been around 9 and 11 years old. My grandfather went to the Turpin property, located the gentle team of horses, and taking one by its mane, the other began to follow. But he thought he heard his name called. He looked back and Mr. Turpin (who had been a sharp-shooter in the Rebel army) was taking aim at him. My grandfather wheeled a horse about and jumped in behind it. The poor horse caught a charge of 3-cornered slugs in its thigh. Screaming in pain, the horse bolted, leaving my grandfather totally exposed. He said he was so rattled that his first shot must have gone ten feet over Turpin’s head. Mr. Turpin then took second aim…but his gun misfired! My grandfather then took careful aim. He fired, and the charge caught Mr. Turpin in his mid-section. He then turned and ran, for his gun could accommodate only two firings. Mr. Turpin was to say that he could have played a game of checkers on my grandfather’s coattails as he ran!

Nine days later, R.N. Turpin died of his wound. He, however, made a statement that he wanted no prosecution for my grandfather-that he had merely taken this means to get him out of the way.

Upon hearing the gunshots, my father thought his father had shot some ducks and he ran down to the stream to help retrieve them. My grandfather motioned him to hide with him in some underbrush that grew by the riverside. Later, in the dead of night, my grandfather hitched up a team and wagon and drove himself to Newport to give himself over to authorities. A trial was held in Bassett (there may have been two trials) but in any case, my grandfather was defended by a lawyer that a group of citizens hired from Omaha. He was acquitted. The family moved from the area and resettled in the Monroe area.

In other notes Rich relays part of the story contributed by Vicki Daughton:

[Goochey] had two trials in Bassett; he was found guilty the first and acquitted the second.  [The family] moved to Newport immediately, lived there 1 or 2 years, I think 1890 or '91 or maybe '92 or '93 they moved to Ainsworth, that was '94, lived there till Spring.  Then went in a covered wagon to Ericson 25 miles north of here (Scotia). [Goochey] worked on a dam and a ditch a year or so, then to Schuyler. He worked around there till Fall, and then back to Ericson, took a 160 acre homestead South of Erickson -proved up on it then sold it and the crop for $11,000, couldn't stand prosperity any longer so went south of Bassett took another homestead.  By the way - Judge Kinkaid was the District Judge who presided at his last trial. Goochey asked [the author of this piece] to vote for Kinkaid as he knew the witnesses had a "frame up".

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