Barber County Kansas

Articles collected by Kim Fowles

The Killing of George Castine

On Thursday evening of last week a young man 19 years of age, named George Castine was shot by the postmaster, David Stewart, of Elm Mills. It is charged by the postmaster, that Castine was attempting to rob the office at the time of the shooting, and the circumstances surround the case, seem to bear him out in the charge. Young Castine died on Friday, from the effects of the wound and a coroner’s jury rendered a verdict of justifiable homicide. It is a sad affair and should be a warning, boys, that there is no safety except in honest, manly conduct.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, March 4, 1887.

Last Saturday, the man Stewart of Elm Mills, who shot the boy Castine, had a preliminary hearing before Justice McCandlass, and was held to bail in the sum of $2,000. There seems to be considerable mystery about the affair, and much connected with it that does not appear on the surface. A postmaster is not allowed to shoot people at will, simply because he is postmaster, nor is he allowed to set traps to get to shoot people. From what we have heard, it is a bad case all ‘round and one to be deeply regretted.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, March 11, 1887.

As we go to press, a jury is being secured for the trial of the man Stewart, for shooting the boy Castine at Elm Mills this spring.

Eugene Hagan of Topeka, assistant U.S. prosecuting attorney is attending court in the Elm Mills shooting affair. We knew Eugene when a kid, and are glad to see him so well advanced in his profession.
-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, June 10, 1887.

The case of the State vs. D.N. Stewart, was called in the circuit court, now in session in this city also week and dismissed by Judge Ellis without trial. This is the Elm Mills shooting case, wherein Stewart shot and killed a boy 17 years old, named Castine; Stewart claiming that the boy was attempting to rob his store and the post office, he being postmaster at the time. This seems a rather short and unceremonious way of disposing of a case wherein the life of a human being is concerned, but as we have no particulars or facts at hand, shall make no comments further than to say a life has been taken; has the law been fully satisfied?

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, June 17, 1887.

John Castine

Our readers will remember the shooting of the boy Castine, by the son of postmaster Stewart, at Elm Mills, last winter. Young Stewart claimed that the boy was attempting to rob the post office, at the time of the shooting. At a preliminary examination before Justice McCanlass, Stewart was held to bail in the sum of $2,000 which he gave, and at the beginning of the term of the district Court just adjourned the case was dismissed by the judge, on the ground of insufficient evidence to convict. At that time a young lawyer, named Hagan, a deputy U.S. prosecuting attorney was here in the interest of Stewart, as being a U.S. official.

After the case was dismissed nothing more was said or done about it, until a U.S. Marshal came from Topeka and arrested the dead boy’s father, John Castine and his daughter, a girl 17 or 18 years of age, and in hand-cuffs (the father at least,) took them to Topeka on the charge of being implicated in the attempted robbery of the post office, and a report invented and published in the Topeka and Kansas City papers, describing Castine as a desperado of the most dangerous character, and that his capture was only effected after a hard chase by an armed posse, through the Indian Territory. All these sensational reports were utterly false; Castine and his daughter quietly submitted to arrest, and were spirited out of the county before even his aged and grief stricken wife knew they had been taken from here.

When the arrest became generally known a few friends wrote to the authorities at Topeka, stating the facts and the grand jury, in session there ignored the complaint and the prisoners were discharged and at this writing - Tuesday - are probably working their way home, destitute of money, as best they can.

Every one knows Castine, knows that this is a malicious and damnable persecution, by men, simply because he is an old solider that had a half witted boy shot for perhaps prowling about the post office after dark. Nobody believes with any intent to rob it, and no one for a moment believes his father or sister guilty of aiding him or even had a knowledge of his whereabouts at the time -- this is substantiated by a petition signed by over two hundred of our citizens and forwarded to Topeka.

It is said Mr. Stewart signed the petition for Castine’s release, if so who are the persecutors? The young lawyer Hagan may have made the complaint, we known of his rebel extraction and rebel sympathy, but it seems he would hardly stoop to so dirty a job, knowing the censure he must meet for putting the Attorney general’s office to such an expense, all for no cause whatever. The persecutors must be nearer home, and rumor points to the neighborhood of Elm Mills.

A deep feeling of indignation is expressed on every hand, and a determination if manifest to now sift the whole affair from beginning to end and see if justice cannot be done Castine and his dead boy. He (Castine) is a member, in good standing of the Grand Army of the Republic, and has a record as a brave and faithful solider, also, the reputation of a quiet, peaceable law abiding citizen; poor, but industrious and honest. The post here of which he is a member, has taken the matter in hand and are determined that it shall be sifted to the foundation and know exactly why a foolish boy is shot to death and his father and family subjected to such cruel indignities; if it is because he has been a faithful soldier, or is in somebodys way, let it be known.


Since the above was put in type, Castine and his daughter has landed in the city from Topeka. As above stated the U.S. grand jury ignored the complaint against them. Above we call this persecution malicious; it was more than malicious, it had a purpose, which seems to have been to force Castine into a written agreement not to further prosecute the killing of his boy; which it seems has been left open to prosecution by the Judge dismissing the case before it went to the jury, after hearing the evidence adduced on behalf of the complaint, all of which the jury heard, and two of them at least said had the case went to them they could have done nothing but convict under it, notwithstanding the Judge’s arbitrary action.

At Topeka Castine was offered his freedom, by the Attorney Hagan, if he would sign an agreement not to further prosecute Stewart, this he indignantly refused to do. On Wednesday evening the G.A.R. Post here held a very largely attended indignation meeting, the proceedings of which we are not at liberty to give further than to say the whole matter is in the hands of committees that will doubtless see full justice done.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, July 5, 1887.

As in the case of Castine - "an injury to one, is a concern of all."

It cost just about $5,000 to get Plotkins in the pen a year, Steel in jail for six months, discharge Stewart and have the Jury’s verdict of O’Shee’s guilt set aside. Courts may be a little costly, but we must have them.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, July 15, 1887.

Our article of last week, detailing a few of the particulars of the Castine case, caused no little stir and comment in certain circles of the county. What we said did not do the subject justice by half, nor can it be done outside of a court of the strictest equity among men. The Cresset, also, last week published a communication doing Castine a great wrong as must be admitted from what evidence has so far been adduced. The article said "Castine and his daughter was with the boy when shot." If so, why was it not sworn to by the Stewarts at the inquest or preliminary examination? They were asked such questions and failed to make any such answers, as the written testimony now shows. They could not swear that Castine was about the office or had anything to do with the flimsy claim of attempted robbery.

Why was Castine offered his liberty, while in jail at Topeka, if he would sign an agreement not to further prosecute young Stewart, if he is guilty of aiding the boy to rob the office and they can prove it, whey do the want to compound a felony? They know he is not guilty, and they know that further investigation of the shooting of the boy is liable to reveal some things so far hidden, that would not be pleasant to have made public. Bad as the shooting of the boy was, it would provably have died out had not the malicious persecution been commenced against the father and family and so dead a give-a-way been made public by trying to bribe Castine to silence by giving his liberty. A man that takes human life, even with a show of justification, sleeps upon a troubled pillow, and where there are circumstances surrounding the deed that lessens the justification; often very foolish things are done that invariably result in injury to the cause of the perpetrators. People have got to talking and this and that put together is liable to weave a chain of evidence that it will be hard to refute, and by the time the G.A.R. committee are ready to act; they doubtless will be in a position to see that full justice is done to all parties concerned.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, July 22, 1887.

The letter of W.C. Perry, U.S. Attorney, published in the Index, this week, denying that Castine was offered his freedom if he would promise to not further prosecute Stewart for killing his son, is a little too transparent. Castine will make an affidavit any day that the Attorney Hagan, made him such an offer, and other evidence will in time be forthcoming to substantiate the fact. This business is not by any means settled, as certain parties will find out in the near future.

-- The Chief, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, August 26, 1887.

Reports from California say that David Stewart, formerly of Elm Mills, this county, and who went to Ensenada, last summer hoping to better his health, died there in the latter part of February. It will be remembered here that he is the man that shot and fatally wounded young Castine, whom he is alleged to have caught robbing the post office at Elm Mills, and of which Stewart was in charge at the time.

-- Barber County Democrat, April 6, 1888.

Thanks to Kim Fowles for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news articles to this web site!

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