Jealousy & Bad Whiskey, Day 5: Andrew Medford- Bad Timing?

We took a few days’ break for Mother’s Day and because I’ve been working late nearly everyday. I’m glad you’re back! Before moving on to Andrew’s testimony, I wanted to talk about the polls I’ve been including. In the first poll, the first question asked you which description of Isabelle gave you the most information about her. The most popular choice was “inclined to waywardness”. Others chose “very large for her age” and “very robust”. I happened to like the waywardness comment but I also liked the description of “tolerably good looking”. I’d sure like to know who the reporter was and see who he married so I could judge for myself what that phrase might mean! The second question asked for everyone’s preliminary opinion about the shooting. There were 3 votes of self-defense, one vote of murder with no premeditation, and one vote of “I need more information”.

In quiz number 2, there were also two questions. The first being whether Charles Smoley’s testimony changed from the time of the shooting to the time of the court date. The answer is, yes- it did! All initial reports that I could find stated he was present when the shooting happened. However, by the court hearing he had come up with an alibi that apparently was accepted, that alibi being that he was at someone else’s (John DANIELS’) home at the time of the shooting. The next question was – did this information make you question what really happened that night with Preston SEELY? Everyone who voted said yes, it would make a difference. So now you know! Unlike a real jury, you have the opportunity to go back and read all the testimony before making your final verdict. Take advantage of that! On a side note, did you catch that statistic about the number of people testifying in that hearing? The number of people testifying in that hearing was equivalent to 1/6 the population of Dearing at that time! It was a much bigger hearing than I imagined. Now, moving on…

Allow me to introduce you to my guest writer of the day, Barbara T. Barbara is married to one of Andrew MEDFORD’s grandsons. I want her to tell you Andrew’s story in her own words and then I’ll add a little bit at the end of her piece. SHE HAS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THAT I POST THE FOLLOWING: HER STORY ABOUT ANDREW AND HIS LIFE MAY NOT BE COPIED WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. So here is Andrew’s story by Barbara in her own words.


Andrew MEDFORD, photo courtesy of Barbara T. Photo may not be used without the permission of Barbara T.

Andrew Medford’s involvement in the shooting seemed to be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just a brief synopsis of Andrew Medford’s life to help you understand him better. Andrew had very little stability nor family in his life. He was born in 1882 somewhere around Poteau or Muldrow area when Oklahoma was Indian Territory according to family. His application for a Social Security Number in 1937 stated he was born in Scott County, Arkansas. Andrew’s mother died in childbirth having another child shortly after he was born, consequently Andrew never knew his mother. His father was rather elusive. Andrew didn’t seem to have much recollection of him. In a deposition Andrew made in 1900 in an application for the Five Civilized Tribes, Andrew stated he didn’t remember his father and was told by an uncle that his father had passed away about 15 years ago. In that same deposition Andrew stated his uncle had since passed away and the only living relative he had was a cousin (hat he knew of anyway). Andrew lived with a Delbert A Hill & his wife Nancy in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Delbert & Nancy “adopted” children that needed a home and raised them. It’s questionable if any of the adoptions were “official” or if they just took the children in and raised them as many did in that era. It’s probable the Hills weren’t able to have children of their own. During that time period it was not unusual to acquire children to help out around the farm. All Census records listed Delbert as a “farmer” but he was also known as a “Pastor”. The Medford family always referred to him as “Pastor Hill”. He’s the one who married Andrew with wife #1 and wife #3; signing one marriage license as “D.A. Hill Minister of the Gospel” and one as “D. A. Hill Minister United Baptist”. He may have been doing both farming and pastoring a church as many did in that time. Andrew’s life before his early 20’s was spent living & roaming around northeastern Oklahoma. Andrew had a brief marriage from JUN1905 until JAN1912 living in Nevada, Missouri at least some of that time. His wife left him in 1911, went back to Oklahoma, divorced him and took back her maiden name.

Andrew lived around the Coffeyville, Kansas area for about 5 years after that divorce and hung out with some very colorful characters much like himself while living there. Andrew, the Stewarts, the Pettys, the Smoleys, they all knew each other well and worked as Smelters together. After all, it was 1914 and small town America. Andrew being alone and not having much money may have even lived with some or one of them for a time. Andrew was arrested at different times for having illegal liquor with each of these guys, Will Petty & Charles Smoley according to newspaper articles. It was well known in the Medford family that Andrew liked his homemade brew.

It would not be unusual for Andrew to be in the buggy with Will & Isabella on the evening of 25MAR1914 or visiting with a group of people in front of Isabella’s house. Especially since very recently he had been married to Zelpha, a half sister to Isabella Stewart. It was marriage #2 for each of them, Andrew & Zelpha. According to the paper Zelpha was a “well known young lady in Dearing”. They were married JUL1912. One of the newspaper articles about the shooting said Andrew was divorced but previously a brother in law to Isabella on the night of the shooting. Some might wonder if Andrew was pursuing Isabella too. The way all the newspaper articles describe what happened and from what the witnesses say it seems that Seeley had it in for Petty. There seemed to be some jealously there which did not involve Andrew directly in the shooting, he just happened to be there at the time. Andrew offered his hand to Isabella to help her out of the buggy so she wouldn’t get hurt and he got shot in the process. Medford seemed to be just hanging with his friends that evening which put him in the middle of the whole situation when Seeley attacked Petty. Andrew was arrested later that night but released the next day for lack of evidence that he was involved.

It is not known exactly why or when, but sometime during the next couple years after the shooting Andrew went back to Oklahoma. The next time we have any record of him is when he married wife #3 in Ochelata, OK in AUG1917. Her father called the Sheriff, had Andrew arrested on the grounds of perjury for lying about her age and he was put in jail overnight. Family says her father was against the marriage, after all they were a church going family. Who would want their 17 year old daughter marrying a 34 year old man who was already divorced two times, had a questionable reputation, liked his homemade brew and had few arrests under his belt? (none of the arrests ever amounted to anything that we know of). Andrew had 10 children with wife #3. All of whom grew to adulthood except for one who died at birth, 6 being born in Oklahoma and the last 4 born in Kansas. Many years they lived around the area of Dewey & Bartlesville, Washington County, Oklahoma. Around 1930 Andrew moved the family to Coffeyville, Kansas. Family stories say he was making moonshine in Oklahoma, got word the sheriff was after him, and had to get out of the state. One day he came home and told Mama to take the children, load up the wagon, get to Coffeyville quick and he would meet them there later. After moving back to Coffeyville Andrew’s life seemed to settle down a lot with working and raising the children.

On the fateful Monday morning of 16JAN1939 Andrew was on his way to work riding in the back of a pickup truck with his comrades when a car ran a stop sign hitting the truck. Andrew was thrown from the truck receiving severe injuries to his head. He was in the hospital for a week then passed away the following Monday morning 23JAN1939 at the age of 56. His death certificate listed his Cause of Death as “Severe auto injuries to head & chest”.

Written by Barb T
daughter in law to Andrew’s daughter, Velma
(who loved to tell stories by the way)

Wrong Place, Wrong Time- A Man With No End of Hard Luck

Andrew MEDFORD was married to Isabelle STEWART’s half-sister (through her mother), Zelpha JOHNSON. Andrew MEDFORD and Zelpha JOHNSON BERRY were married 3 July 1912 in Coffeyville, Kansas. The wedding was performed by Judge O. O. CRANE. At some point between July of 1912 and March of 1914 the couple divorced. Andrew apparently remained close to the STEWART family. He was working at the smelter in Dearing when the shooting occurred.

I’m assuming Andrew looked younger than his years because the newspapers guessed his age at 28 or 30. He was actually about 32 or 33 years old at the time of the shooting. On the evening of the shooting, Andrew was in the buggy with Willie and Isabelle. (I have to wonder if he was there because he, too, was sweet on Isabelle!) Reports vary in detail stating that Isabelle was sitting on the dashboard of the buggy, that she was getting into the buggy or that she was already in the buggy when the fight started. Reports also vary in detail in regard to Andrew’s actions. Some reports state that he tried to stop Willie when Willie pulled his revolver and that the gun discharged and shot Andrew and Isabelle. Other reports say that when the fight started, Andrew swung around to get between Willie and Isabelle and started trying to get Isabelle out of the wagon. Willie fired the first shot while Andrew was trying to get Isabelle out of the wagon. Willie was shooting and unaware that he had killed Press with his first shot. Willie threw his pistol around to one side of his body and fired again. It was this wild second shot that went through Andrew’s hand and into Isabell’s stomach. Ultimately, Andrew’s wound was declared “minor”. Some accounts say that when Willie ran from the scene of the crime, so did Andrew. Other accounts say officers arrested Andrew at the scene the night of the murder and that he and one or two others were held as possible accessories to the murder. He was put in the county jail in Independence, KS. (There is one report that said he fled with Willie and stayed with Willie in Wann, Oklahoma at the HICKS residence until they were both arrested there.) In any case, Andrew was released on 26 March 1914- the same day Willie was released. News reports declared Andrew had no part in the killing of Press SEELY. They reported that there was no further reason to hold Andrew and that he was merely “an innocent bystander who got what the innocent bystander usually gets when a quarrel starts.” There was one report in The Wichita Daily Eagle that reported that not only was Andrew arrested but he and Willie were both charged with taking part in a fight.

Final Note

Please show some love to Barbara T. in the comments. She was very gracious to hang with me through this series of blog posts and to share some family stories with us about Andrew.

Now- rest up, jurors. Testimony is winding down (and so am I! It’s the last week of school and I’m exhausted!). I hope to put out one short blog post tomorrow with an update on Isabelle. Then, the final testimony coming from the Defendant himself, Willie PETTY! Then we declare him innocent, guilty, or otherwise and we’re done! Thanks for staying with me. This has been fun. Now go to bed and get some sleep!

Until tomorrow,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Resource list:
The Coffeyville Daily Journal
5 July 1906; 15 November 1907; 30 October 1908; 7 November 1908; 29 April 1910; 4 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 9 December 1910; 28 December 1910; 15 November 1911; 10 January 1912; 17 January 1912; 3 February 1912; 7 February 1912; 30 March 1912; 23 November 1912; 22 March 1913; 2 April 1913; 21 June 1913; 16 August 1913; 20 August 1913; 27 August 1913; 14 February 1914; 26 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 9 April 1914; 7 October 1914; 1 April 1915; 2 June 1915; 5 June 1915; 12 June 1915; 15 September 1915; 9 February 1916; 17 February 1916; 23 February 1916; 24 April 1916; May 1916; 4 13 May 1916; 28 November 1916; 12 February 1917; 27 March 1917; 18 August 1917; 14 September 1917; 1 June 1918; 27 February 1919; 31 March 1919; 21 April 1919; 3 July 1919; 23 December 1920

The Coffeyville Weekly Journal
27 August 1909; 22 July 1910; 4 November 1910; 18 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 17 March 1911; 24 March 1911; 29 September 1911; 15 November 1911; 17 November 1911; 24 November 1911; 8 December 1911; 15 December 1911

The Arkansas City Daily Traveler
29 May 1920

The Evening Star
1 June 1908; 26 March 1914; 27 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 31 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 13 April 1914; 15 April 1914; 16 April 1914; 13 February 1915

The Daily Republican
17 November 1911; 17 November 1913; 26 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 10 January 1916

The Hutchinson News
26 March 1914

The Parsons Daily Sun
24 June 1905; 26 March 1914

The Oxford Register
2 April 1914

The Alma Enterprise
3 April 1914

The Leavenworth Post
26 March 1914

The Chanute Daily Tribune
26 March 1914

The Wichita Daily Eagle
27 March 1914

The Independence Daily Reporter
15 December 1908
1 April 1914
16 April 1914

The Sun
28 May 1920
9 November 1920

The Fort Scott Daily Tribune and The Fort Scott Daily Monitor
9 April 1920

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