Barber County Kansas

The Saga of Cloud & Culpepper

The Sharon News
11/5/1884 The skeleton of a man supposed to have been murdered, found near Sun City last August is probably the remains of one Tom Cloud, of Neosho, Mo. The father of the dead man is endeavoring to solve the mystery of his son's death.

The Union
12/19/1884 From the Cresset. We learn from Mr. Cloud, that a young fellow by the name of Culpepper has been arrested at Neosho, Mo., on suspicion of having murdered the young Cloud on Elk creek, last summer. The man who was with Cloud when he came through here called himself Culpepper. There are two or three of our citizens who are positive they will be able to identify the man arrested if he is the same person. It is said that Mr. Culpepper formerly worked on the Moore & Cuddy range and was from a good family, but was a man of reckless and dissolute habits. It is certainly to be hoped that the right man has been found, and if so that he may meet the just penalty for his awful crime.

12/26/1884 Wm. Murdock writes Sheriff Rigg that he has identified the man, Culpepper, who we mentioned last week as having been arrested on suspicion of being the murderer of young Cloud, as the man who was in company with Cloud when he passed through here. Culpepper at that time traded horses with Murdock. Culpepper admits that he was with Cloud and accompanied him as far as Sun City, where he says he was separated from him. Culpepper will be brought here in a few days for preliminary examination. -Cresset.

A gentleman from Medicine Lodge, since the above has been put in type, informs us that Culpepper has been arrested and is now in irons at the county seat. Circumstantial evidence indicates that he is the guilty party. Let it be well ascertained. Better than ninety and nine guilty escape than that one innocent man be punished. There is a peremptory demand for speedy and inexpensive justice. The "voice of our brothers blood" and the voice of Western Barber and Eastern Comanche, all call for a speedy termination of what may prove a tedious and unsatisfactory process.

1/2/1885 The Cloud Murder Case.
On Friday night last Wm. Murdock arrived here in charge of Culpepper, who is charged with the murder of young William Cloud, of Neosho, Mo., on Elk creek about the 24th of May. Brief notices of this case have from time to time appeared in these columns, but a brief review of the case in connection with the present arrest will be of interest. William Cloud, who was cruelly murdered and left a prey for the birds and wolves of the prairie, was the son of a respected farmer near Neosho, Mo. From what we can learn he was a young man of excellent habits, the pride of his parents, who had given him the benefit of a superior education and all the advantages of culture it was in their power to bestow. At the age of twenty-five, with a laudable ambition to better his condition, the young man started for western Kansas, promising his parents that he would inform them from time to time of his whereabouts and prospects. On May 22d he had progressed in safety as far as Medicine Lodge, and wrote his father the he was going still further west. He was driving a mule team and had a new wagon manufactured at Neosho, Mo. This was the last word the parents received from their ill-fated boy. After weeks of anxious waiting with no word of tidings the father started in search of his son. He arrived at the Lodge on August 13th, but could get no definite clue of the missing son. About the 1st of October, however, some parties who chanced to be riding on Elk creek in the edge of Comanche county, discovered the skeleton of a man who had evidently been killed some months previous. Pieces of clothing and other little articles found about the skeleton were sent to A.C. Cloud, the father of the young man, and were identified as belonging to his son. The story of the brutal murder naturally excited the sympathy of our citizens of the sorrow stricken parents, and they rendered what aid was in their power to trace the perpetrator. It was remembered by some parties who had become acquainted with young Cloud that another party was with him when he came through here. The two had stopped at Wm. Murdock's and the companion of Cloud had traded ponies with Murdock. The two had also stopped at Mr. Hittle's ranch on Red creek and stayed all night. This companion gave his name as Culpepper, and his home not far from Neosho, Mo. Trace of him was soon obtained at his own home, and his arrest ordered. Wm. Murdock was furnished with the necessary papers to get him, and proceeding to Neosho identified the prisoner as the man who had traded horses with him in May. As soon as possible he started with his prisoner and arrived here as previously stated, on Friday night. The prisoner, P.C. Culpepper, is a man of probably 27 or 28 years of age, spare built, medium height, sandy complexion and light blue eyes. His face is partly covered with a scattering, light red beard. His countenance is one of that impassive kind which does not indicate anything particular. He seems very reticent and disinclined to communicate on the subject. He admits that he was with young Cloud when here and he accompanied him as far as Sun City, where he left him and went through to Denver, Colorado. We understand he further says that Cloud was joined by another party at Sun City, whose appearance he, Culpepper, wasn't pleased with. This, so far as we can learn, is all the communication the prisoner makes on the subject. We have heard some rumors in regard to Culpepper's previous reputation, which may possibly prove of some importance. The preliminary examination was to have occurred on Tuesday at 2 o'clock, but was postponed on account of inclemency of the weather. The prisoner has retained as his counsel an attorney by the name of Freeman from Missouri, and Edward Sample, Esq. of this city. At present circumstances seem against Culpepper, but every law-abiding citizen will unite with us in the desire that the investigation may be full, searching and fair, uninfluenced by any bias or prejudice for or against the accused. If he has done the deed he has committed a crime horrible in its conception, and the coldblooded cruelty of its execution can only be expiated by the blood of the murderer. If he did not commit the crime he should be given a fair opportunity to prove his innocence. - Cresset

Just now no particular news of the Cloud murder investigation has been received; except that Capt. Holcombe identified Culpepper. Mr. B.P. Ayers if necessary can corroborate Holcombe's testimony. On reflection, the general tenor of the article in the Union of last week was intemperate. Climatic consideration have induced a change of heart of the editorial breast. A talk with Mr. Cloud, the father of the murdered boy, who foolishly thinks that he is under obligations to the Union man, leads us to suppose that there has been a mistake. Without money and without friends, he has carried nearly a thousand miles, the bones of his dead son. Untiring, relentless as fate, paralyzed in speech but not in purpose he thinks that he has hunted Cain down. The timber on the head of Elk, we mentioned as an item of interest to agricultural readers is very thrifty.

1/9/1885 A number of our citizens have been at the Lodge this week attending to county business, or for the purpose of testifying as witnesses in an important criminal case.

In the Cloud case, four witnesses have been examined in eight days. Mr. Hamlet, whose biography was written by W. Shakespeare, mentions something about "the law's delay." This is a modern instance.

The b.m. of this concern got back from Medicine Lodge Wednesday morning. He wants a breech loading mountain howitzer to kill lawyers with. They kept him on the witness stand twelve consecutive hours.

Our illustrated down-the-river contemporary touchingly comments on a Union article concerning the Cloud murder or mystery -intimating that we favored mob law, which is altogether wrong, etc. Perhaps it may be in a well proven, deliberate and cowardly murder, but as appears from a notice in the i.c. above mentioned, signed by its proprietor, it is all right when applied to minor offenders. The Union retracts nothing.

Sharon News
1/14/1885 Peter Culpepper, who is charged with having murdered young Cloud near Sun City last October had a preliminary examination at Medicine Lodge last Wednesday. The evidence produced against the prisoner is very damaging. He was bound over to await the action of the March term of court, the amount of his bond being $5,000. Being unable to give this, he was taken to the jail at Wichita, where he will be kept until the time set for his trial.

2/11/1885 Peter Culpepper, changed with the murder of Wm. Cloud, made his escape from the jail at Wichita on Jan 22nd. The sheriff of Sedgwick county was inclined to keep the news of Culpepper's escape rather dark, as he did not mention him when publishing a reward for three other prisoners who escaped at the same time.

The Union
2/20/1885 From the Medicine Lodge Cresset. Sheriff Rigg has distributed photographs of Culpepper over the country and used all means in his power to bring him to justice but thus failed so far.

4/3/1885 A letter received from A.C. Cloud the father of the young man whose remains were found and identified last summer, indicates that the old man has not lost his "grip." The escape of the murderer through the criminal carelessness of the Sedgwick county officials, although discouraging, has not abated his desire to see the guilty criminal punished. He has again "braced up" He proposes to "fight it out on this line" until the final end, and if advancing age does not cripple his energies, he will again place the villainous Culpepper behind prison bars. Mr. Cloud says "I will not soon forget the good people of Sun City and their kindness to me in my distress, nor their neighbors at Medicine Lodge who proved themselves friends indeed, when I needed friends." We hope the old man may be spared until he has accomplished his mission, and made the number of murderers on earth, one less.

5/21/1886 Last Tuesday, at Medicine Lodge, the court struck from the docket the case of Kansas vs. Culpepper, as he is now serving a term in the Missouri pen. Culpepper is the man who murdered young Cloud near this city about two years ago. He was arrested, tried, bound over, and as our county had no jail, was taken to the Wichita jail. In a short time he escaped, but is now wearing striped clothes and holding down a steady situation in the Missouri penitentiary, for a crime committed in that state. We do not know how long he will remain the employ of Missouri but it is safe to say that if he loses his situation with that firm in a reasonable time, Barber county will probably secure him a permanent job at Leavenworth.


Also see:

MYSTERIOUS DEATH: Foul Play Suspected
The Western Star, 12 November 1884.


Thanks to Kim Fowles for the above news items and to Landon Fowles for providing her with technical assistance in designing this page!




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