taken from several editions of the Anamosa Eureka September - November 1911


Mecum Brothers Will Be Tried At Next Term of Court Held In Three Weeks

The Mecum brothers were recently arraigned for preliminary trial in the Canadian courts. Wanted in Iowa for attempted murder, and facing a like charge in the Canadian courts, they chatted gaily while awaiting for the proceedings to begin.

The delay gave everyone opportunity of getting a good look at the two desperate men who electrified Winnipeg August 23, when they made their determined attempt to escape. Constable Traynor was not able to attend the trial, having suffered a relapse.

The men are not in the least disturbed over the predicament in which they find themselves. They both apparently enjoy the notoriety gained. With all their nonchalance, however, the deep cunning of the men is shown. When they realized that a court officer was in a position to hear what they were talking about, they at once stopped and a few seconds later held a rapid conversation on their fingers. Both are experts at the deaf and dumb language, judging from the speed with which they can converse with each other. At the conclusion of one of the talks Kelley laughed silently and heartily. Both looked around the courtroom continually, evidently looking for someone who from all appearances, was not there.

The scratches and marks which were caused by their fight with the police have entirely disappeared and while neither of the men wore a collar they both looked spruce.

Kelley, while in the provincial jail, made no secret of stating that there was no jail on the continent that could hold him for six years. He said that convicts had to go out to work and that guards were always armed. There was bound to come one second when the guards would not be watching and then a smash over the head with a stone or shovel would be all that was necessary. With the guard gone the rest would be easy.

Kelley claims to have had a good education and upon being asked why he did not apply it to better use remarked: "Your legislatures make laws which permit the selling of whiskey and very bad whiskey. Some one has to be found to drink it and there you are."

Both men while in the provincial jail coaxed hard to be allowed to be together and could not understand why they were kept entirely apart.

There were rumors that friends of the two brothers were hanging around the jails, presumably with the intention of trying to communicate with them. If such was the case there was no opportunity to bring that about. They were brought from the provincial jail by armed guards and were handcuffed. Both men claim to have found a sum of $6000 with which to pay their counsel. They also claim to have unlimited funds at their disposition to fight the case, but both have but little hope of getting clear. They are very anxious to find out where they will be sent when they are sentenced. Both were sent up for trial at the assizes, which will open in three weeks. If not convicted, they will be handed over the Iowa authorities.

There is little doubt, however, of their not being convicted. It is expected that they will get life sentences. The assizes corresponds to the district court in Iowa.


A dispatch from Winnipeg states that the Mecums, who are confined in a Canadian jail under the names of Jones and Kelly, are acting like wild men. They will be easily recalled as the desperadoes who are wanted for the murderous assault on Guard Hamaker.

In the Canadian jail Kelly destroyed his bed and bedding, while Jones tore down the iron strips that form one side of the corridor where he exercises. Guards, hearing the confusion, rushed in and a terrible struggle ensued before the prisoners were overpowered and finally knocked insensible.

The guards are taking no chances with this pair of thugs. The two are handcuffed night and day and much oseverer measures are promised.


Are Now Doing Time in Stony Mountain Prison

Bert and Chas. Mecum were convicted in the Canadian Assizes on two charges of Attempted Murder, under the names of Jones and Kelley. Following these convictions they pleaded guilty to many charges of burglary, theft, and housebreaking. They had previously pleaded guilty to two charges in police court for which they were remanded for sentence.

When the Mecums were brought into the Assizes a double precaution was taken. The rule is to send a single officer for a prisoner. Three were sent after the Mecums. The sheriff watched from the courtroom window and seemed relieved when he saw them approaching from the jail. They were brought in heavily chained together, and handcuffed to a 250-pound constable. At the foot of the stirway leading to the Assizes Kelly balked and refused to mount. Considerable time was spent in getting him into the spriit of moving.

A surprise was sprung when the men went on the witness stand. They were remarably frank in their statements, and told a story of the chase and their capture. The only excuse they offered was drink and the fact that they failed to recognize as officers the constables who accosted them.

Jones admitted on the stand that he had been committed to the Anamosa Reformatory for stealing a team of horses. He admitted the escape where Allan Hamaker was shot, but denied that Kelly had anything to do with it. He maintained that the trick was turned by another brother whom he called Mike. In telling of shooting Hamaker and tying him to a tree he denied that he shot the guard. His version of the affair was that he held Hamaker by the wrist thus pressing the revolver against the guard's stomach. He maintained that Hamaker himself pulled the trigger. This story was evidently hatched with a view of evading responsibility for the attempt on Guard Hamaker's life.

Kelly denied that he had ever served time here or in Illinois. The verdict of guilty in the first attempted murder trial was returned in half an hour. The other one was returned just about as quickly.

The men were sentenced last Friday the 27th. They received ten years on each murder charge, and five years on each charge of housebreaking. This will keep them in the toils of the Canadian prisons for many years. They were taken to Stony Mountain Prison to commence their sentences, yesterday.


(ed.note: the Mecums had earlier pled guilty to several less-serious counts stemming from their rampage, were later found guilty of the more serious charges, and now this!)

A Winnipeg dispatch tells of the sentencing of the Mecums to additional terms of seven years each. This sentence was inflicted for housebreaking, and is in addition to the ten year sentences imposed for attempted murder. They will now have to serve seventeen years in the Canadian prison. The dispatch states that the brothers were greatly surprised when they were taken into court and given this additional time.

A Canadian paper says: "Harry Kelly and Frank Jones, the two desperadoes who shot Policeman Traynor, and who pleaded guilty to four charges of burglary, will spend seventeen years in Stony Mountain penitentiary. Although they are now serving a ten-year term for the shooting of the constable they were this morning sentenced to an additional seven years by Judge Walker on three charges of burglary, to which they pleaded guilty nineteen weeks ago. The charges were kept on the police court docket from week to week pending the behavior of the prisoners in the penitentiary. It was understood that if their conduct was good the cases would be withdrawn. Notwithstanding the fact that this heavy sentence was hanging over them the two were incorrigible, and the penitentiary authorities say that they set the rules of the institution at defiance.

"Both men were extremely surprised at the heaviness of the sentence. Although they showed no emotion in the dock they complained bitterly in the cells after. They declared that they pleaded guilty on the understanding that they would have all charges withdrawn. A mild sensation was created in the courtroom when the two appeared in the dock attired in their convicts' uniform of grey, barred with crimson. They were doubly handcuffed, and then handcuffed to each other, while a warden stood on each side of them. Their hair is clipped short and they were rough convict boots. In imposing the sentence the judge said that there was no object in lecturing them. They knew the consequences of their crimes, and that he would imposed an extra seven years on each of their sentences."