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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin

Chapter V: county government,   pp. 31-37

Page 36

placed in the Eleventh Circuit and Eau Claire in the Thirteenth, leaving the Eighth
Circuit to include the counties of Dunn, Pepin, Pierce and St. Croix. At the same
time Judge Egbert B. Bundy of Menomonie succeeded Judge Humphrey on the
In 1879 Buffalo County was added to the circuit and Eau Claire was taken back,
making the Eighth Circuit to consist of Buffalo, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce
and St. Croix. Thus it remained until 1892-93, when Eau Claire was transferred
to the Seventeenth Circuit. As no further change has been made, the Eighth
Circuit is now composed of the counties of Buffalo, Dunn, Pepin, Pierce and St.
Judge Bundy, having served on the bench of the Eighth Circuit for 18 years,
was succeeded Jan. 1, 1897, by Eugene W. Helms, of Hudson, who died in office and
whose successor, in 1915, was Judge George Thompson, of Ellsworth, the present
judge of the circuit.
Dunn County in general has always been one of the most law-abiding sections
of the state and few notable crimes have been committed here. What was supposed
tc be the first murder f a wI-it man in the valley happened at Menomonie in 1844.
The victim was stealthily shot in the garret of an old log house. The perpetrator of
the cold-blooded crime was arrested and taken to Prairie du Chien, where he was
tried before Judge Dunn and acquitted.
Another episode which cost the lives of a respected official of Dunn County and
that of his brother of Pepin County, and which resulted in the lynching at Durand
of one of their murderers, will always form one of the most interesting portions of
local history. While the principal events took place at Durand, Dunn County was
directly concerned and its entire population was acutely interested. The excite-
ment incident to the tragedy extended to the whole country and the affair became
one of national celebrity.
On Sunday, July 10, 1881, Milton Coleman, under-sheriff of Dunn Countv, and
Charles Coleman, deputy sheriff of Pepin County, accompanied by E. A. Toft of
Menomonie, were returning through Durand in charge of a prisoner captured at
Wabasha, who was accused of burglary committed at Mr. Toft's jewelry store
two weeks before. As thev entered Durand about 5:30 p. m. they were told that
Alonzo and Ed. Williams, alias Maxwell, notorious horse thieves and desperadoes
from Missouri, for whom a reward was out, had crossed the river in a skiff that day,
and were skulking in the outskirts. Placing their prisoner in the Durand jail for
safe keeping, the Coleman brothers, against warnings given them, set out to look
for the outlaws. They were armed with shot guns and had no fear. At about
8:30 o'clock, on the edge of town, they saw two men approaching along the road,
each armed with a Winchester rifle and a revolver. Milton Coleman raised his
gun and cocked it, aiming at Alonzo Williams. At the same time he said, "You are
mv ..........."   but he never finished the sentence. Williams fired with un-
erring aim and Milton fell back, his neck broken by the bullet. As he fell his
gun was discharged at his antagonist. Alonzo fired a second shot and fled down
the road. At the same time this occurred Charles Coleman and Ed. Williams
exchanged shots. Charles received a fatal wound just below the heart, and Williams
kept on firing, shooting five or six times with his revolver. Coleman sank on one
knee in the road and fired a second time. Then he fell dead. He had been hit
twice. Both the Williams brothers, it later developed, had been struck by shot,
Ed's wounds being the more serious, but after the shooting he walked away and
joined his brother. The excitement throughout the entire Northwest was aroused
to the highest pitch, and for more than six weeks the Eau Galle woods, in which the
murderers had taken refuge, were scoured without avail. Armed men came from
as far as Winona and Red Wing to join in the s'parch and menomonie furnished many
volunteers. The Ludington Guard was oalled out in July to assist in the hunt.
Not until November, however, was definite news obtained of the fugitives. Word
was at last received that Ed. Williams was captured in Hall County, Nebraska.
Sheriff Killian of that county found both brothers in bed in a farm house, and, after
a desperate struggle made E d. his prisoner, Alonzo making his escape. Ed. was

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