John Kirkland (Lynching of)

John Kirkland was shot to death in Howard County on October 8, 1888, after he attempted to kill a local doctor.

A Dr. Chisholm hired Kirkland, a white man, to do some work for him on October 6, 1888, after which the pair had “a difficulty.” They apparently did not solve the issue, and Kirkland “waylaid” the doctor that evening and shot at him, but Chisholm escaped the ambush. A group of armed men set out after the unsuccessful assassin, “but he defended himself and escaped.”

Kirkland was captured on October 8 and placed in the custody of a constable. As the lawman transported Kirkland toward the nearby jail, though, they were intercepted by “several masked men with Winchesters” who seized the prisoner, telling the constable to “ride on.” The lynch mob then “riddled Kirkland with bullets, killing him instantly.”

Newspaper accounts described Kirkland as “a desperate character,” with several saying that “all feel that the community is well rid of his presence.” No one appears to have been arrested in Kirkland’s slaying.

While widely reported in regional newspapers, no Arkansas papers appear to have carried accounts of Kirkland’s slaying.

For additional information:
“An Arkansas Desperado Riddled.” Arlington [Kansas] Enterprise, October 12, 1888, p. 1.

“A Desperate Character Killed.” [Paola, Kansas] Western Spirit, October 12, 1888, p. 1.

“Well Rid of Him.” Abilene [Kansas] Daily Reflector, October 9, 1888, p. 1.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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