Gravesites at Fort Schellbourne
The previously 3 Unknown men who were murdered,probably around 09 Jun 1865
near Schell Creek Station,are now identified as:Two brothers,Morgan and
Martin Woolman of Buchanan Co.,Iowa and a traveling companion known only
Morgan and Martin Woolman went west some time in 1864 and were on their way
back from California with some half-breed horses (one account puts the
number at 14) to take back to their Iowa homes. Traveling with the two
brothers was a man known only as ”Jim.”All three men were murdered in
June 1865 by Ransom Young,age 20,and James Wabb (aka Josiah Walton),age
19,at or near Schell Creek.
The two youthful murderers had met their victims at Ruby Valley or at some
point east of the Sierras and traveled with the three men until they killed
them using ax or hatchet blows to bash in their heads while they slept.
Then,they mutilated the faces of the victims using sharpened cedar
branches hoping Indians would be blamed for the deaths.
The killers loaded the dead men onto horses and led the animals up a nearby
gulch about one or five hundred yards where the murderers concealed the
bodies in tall sagebrush on the side of a hill away from where they had all
Blood and brains found at the campsite and dropped on the way to where the
bodies had been hidden led a man searching for stock to the corpses on 10
Jun 1865. He gave the alarm and the pursuit for the perpetrators began.
Wabb and Young had tried to burn the bloody clothing and blankets of the
victims,but did not succeed in the attempt. A badly damaged daguerreotype
was later found in the ashes which was thought to be a picture of a woman
and a child,perhaps related to one of the murdered men.
While Young was arrested at Bed River,east of Schell Creek,by soldiers,
Wabb escaped on a jaded horse. His horse gave out at Indian Springs and he
continued his escape on foot. He was captured within four miles of Fort
Crittenden (Camp Floyd,UT?) by a Mr. Roberts and a second man who were
Wabb identified himself as being Josiah Walton of California and admitted
to the killings. Mr. Roberts arranged to immediately transport him back to
Schellbourne. Young was being held at Egan Canyon by the Justice of the
Peace and he too had confessed.
Upon hearing of the capture and imminent arrival of Wabb,a large body of
angry citizens forcefully took possession of Ransom Young from the Justice
of the Peace and took him to Schellbourne to meet the arrival of Wabb and
Young showed regret for his part in the horrific murders but Wabb was
indifferent and sullen.
The citizens constructed two tripods from poles and a carpenter’s saw horse
was placed beneath each. The prisoners were made to mount the sawhorses,
cords were fastened to the apex of the tripods and snugly adjusted around
the two prisoners necks. Then the saw horses were removed. Because there
was very little fall for the bodies,the two died by strangulation.
Young and Wabb were executed without a trial at Schell Creek,
(Schellbourne) at ten o’clock on the morning of 15 June 1865 over “the
graves of their victims on a grassy hillside under a stately pine,near a
beautiful spring.”It is said they were buried near the spot where they had
murdered the three men.
Young and Wabb were from near Mission of San Jose,California and had
relatives there. One newspaper account concluded,“The swift retribution
that overtook the murderers was but the just punishment of their crimes.”
It is reasonable to assume that “Jim”and Morgan and Martin Woolman were
the first interments to be made in the Schellbourne cemetery.