Scrapbook items of Jacob Geier
Submitted by Marthann Kohl-Fuhs
Transcribed by Cathy Labath [Note: Talleyrand is in Keokuk Co, IA]
Aug. 1898. Unknown Newspaper.
Jacob Geier Kills Mats Morhain Instantly.
The Crime Was Committed Friday Evening at 9:15 O'clock--A Keg of Beer Figured
An Old Feud Existed--Talleyrand in Great Excitement--Murderer Now in Sigourney
TALLEYRAND was the scene of an awful crime Friday night, ....[faded
line]..from a living state to one of death, by the hands of Jacob Grier. Never
before was the town of Talleyrand so shocked and torn up over a similar
catastrophe. The people were thrown into almost a frenzy. Murder is an awful
crime, and when brought right before the eyes of an enlightened and educated
people, it is more or less liable to produce a frenzied populace and a reign of
pandemonium. But in this particular instance the calm and sober thought of the
citizens of Talleyrand prevailed.
In many communities such a deed as was committed, the people's wrath could
not have been checked, and a serious outcome might have resulted, causing a
black and distorted page on the annals of her history. Before going into
details, the NEWS desires to complement the sober judgment of the citizens of
our sister town for the manful way in which they handled this voxing problem and
The case is a peculiar one. The parties involved have a history. They were
old friends. The date of their friendship extends back to the Fatherland in
On the night of the murder, a ...[line with blotted ink]...tried to
ascertain how ????? about the crime. In the excitement of the hour we gathered
together only a few expressions. The details are as follows:
On Friday, Mr. Wm. Berend, known familiarly as "Dutch Bill," conceived of
the idea that a keg of beer would be a good thing for a party of four or five.
Mr. Berend is an elderly man. He has no avocation in life. He is simply a man
who takes the world comparatively easy. He has frequently remained at the home
of Jacob Geier and was quite often a visitor. He became acquainted with the fact
that Frank Hilliard, a teamster of Talleyrand, was going to take his mother over
to Keota in a vehicle and thence would go to Harper. Mr. Berend spoke to him and
asked him to bring back a keg of beer. He paid him the price so tis said. Mr.
Geier also visited him to get in Harper or Keota, a potato fork, a scythe,
files, etc., and bring them back to him.
Mr. Hilliard was gone a few hours, and at about two or three o'clock in the
afternoon he returned with the keg of beer. He unloaded all of them in front of
Geier's home. The beer was taken to the cellar, and in a few moments it was
tapped, and Geier, Hilliard, Berend had a few rounds. It was noticeable says
Geier that Hilliard had drank several beers in Harper, and was to a certain
extent, under its intoxicating influence. It seems that Hilliard and "Dutch
Bill" had a few words over the cost of the keg. Geier then ordered Hilliard away
from the house that he (says Geier) did not want any fuss around there. He went
away, but again returned and ...[blotted words]... had another glass of beer
...[blotted words]...near 5 o'clock in the evening Geier then wanted Hilliard to
go away, and so expressed himself remarking that he...[two unreadable
lines]...get some when sober.
Hilliard went away from the house, but returned again with Mathias Mohrain.
The two went into the cellar and filled a pitcher, returned upstairs and they
all helped to drink its contents. Geier states that he told his children to go
and lock the cellar door, and let no one go down under any circumstances. The
order was obeyed. In a short time Hilliard and Mohrain wanted to go down and
fill another pitcher. They were refused. Presently Berend went down and returned
with a full pitcher. The parties all drunk. "The presence of Mohrain," says
Geier, "annoyed me, and I did not want him in my house."
At this juncture, Mrs. Geier called her husband "Dutch Billie" to come and
eat some supper. This they did.
After supper, (the hour was not learned) Hilliard and Mohrain again went to
the cellar, filled up their pitcher and half gallon jar. When they came up they
started up out of the house. Geier says to Morhain: "What are you going to do?"
He replied that he was going to take it out to his sick wife. The assertion was
doubted, Geier telling him that "you are going to give that beer to the boys on
the outside. If your wife is sick, you can take some to her when you leave to go
Geier then went out to the northeast corner of the house, turned...[two
faded lines.]...fruit jar full of beer on his arm. Geier did not like this and
took it away from him, saying that "if you can't be honest, I don't want you
around." At this moment, says Geier, Mathias Mohrain came up and offered him the
price of the beer. He did not accept, but led him to the gate and told him to
go. He immediately returned twice afterward, with the same result. However, the
third time, Geier gave him a vigorous shove and he tumbled out the gate.
Geier says he then went into the house, unlocked a drawer, took out a 32
calibre revolver and laid it on the stove. He says he then saw Morhain come
again to the door. He, Geier, opened the door, and Morhain struck him over the
head with a lantern, inflicting a gash on the forehead, and causing the blood to
rush down his face. "I wheeled around," says he, "grabbed the gun with my right
hand, a lighted lamp with my left and went out the door. I fired two shots. I
then went out the gate, started west, and fired three more shots. After this I
felt faint, went into the house, laid down on the bed and told those present to
go and get Dr. Gray for me."
Thus the story runs, as told by Jacob Geier, the murderer. Others tell it a
Ed Grubb, a respected citizen of Talleyrand, and a blacksmith, says that
"Mohrain came to the house and tried to find his hat, which he had lost. He was
looking for it when Geier appeared at the door. Geier cursed Morhain. Morhain
said that he only wanted to find his hat. They had words and Morhain struck him
with a lantern. Geier fired two shots. One of them I could hear strike the house
on the...[faded lines.]..., and manager of the Talleyrand creamery, verifies
about what Mr. Grubb states. They were together. They remarked to one another,
they had better step away, or they would be hurt.
After the last shot had been fired, and the awful crime committed, citizens
gathered around the murdered man, examined him and seen that life was extinct.
He was dead. Two holes were in the back of his head, and one on the side. One of
the bullets entered the skull at the rear of his head, passing through his brain
and lodging near the eye. Any one of the last three shots might have been fatal.
The murdered man was taken to the Baptist church, and a guard of men watched
Drs. McFarland and Richards of Keota were ...[several dark lines]...of the
Peace Thos. J. Brink acted as coroner, and pannelled a jury, and a verdict
rendered that "Mathias Mohrain met death at the hands of Jacob Grier."
Ten minutes after the shooting Constables Frank Strickland laid his hand on
Jacob Grier and in the name of law, said he was under arrest for the murder of
Mathias Mohrain. There was no resistance. He knew he had done the deed. He was
guilty. The constable took him to his own house, just the next door. His wife
and four little children accompanied him. Some one went to the telephone and
called for Sheriff Laffer.
The message says," Come at once. An awful murder in Talleyrand."
In a few moments afterwards at the hour of 10:15, Sheriff Laffer, Marshal
Grimes, Deputy Sheriff Plaff, and a NEWS representative were hastening with all
possible speed for the scene of the tragedy. In exactly one hour and nineteen
minutes from that time the parties left Sigourney, Sheriff Laffor had Mr. Geier,
the murderer of Mathias Mohrain, in custody, and ready to return him to
Sigourney, and place him, within the confines of our county jail, branded to the
world as a [cut off word.]
The parting scene between the condemned man and his wife and four little
children was a very sad and pathetic sight. The father was to leave the side of
his chosen companion, his little tots, his home, his associates, his all, to
mingle with criminals and be placed behind iron bars. Perhaps he could never
return. Perhaps law will say, Justice must be meted, but to the fullest
....[several dark lines]...
The criminal offered no resistance. He gave himself up to Sheriff Laffer.
He said to him, "Sheriff Laffer, I am guilty. But I want justice." He broke down
and wept. He could see his little children before him. To leave them to the
cruel, cold, harsh world was more than he could bear. He made a request of
Sheriff Laffer. He wanted to remain at home that night with his family. The
sheriff could not and would not grant the request. He said "All right, I will go
with you peaceably and gentlemanly. I know I will get justice. " He was covered
with blood, his face was wan and haggard. The torture of mind during the past
few hours told severely on him. He was nervous, excited.
He was placed in the carriage and taken to Sigourney. On the way he spoke
feelingly of the crime. Told all about it. Told of his early life. "From now
on," says he, " I am a prohibitionist. I care not who is opposed to it. As God
hears me I shall never take another drop of liquor. This trouble is all through
one keg of beer." He says, " I thank God that my poor mother and father back in
Germany are not living to learn that their son is a murderer in Americhy. It
would kill them. Poor mother, she would die of a broken heart. My poor children
what will they do? Not a dollar in the world." He kept up a similar conversation
all the way to Sigourney.
Aug. 1898. Unknown Newspaper.
His Early Life.
Jacob Geier was born in Buirschgorf, by Trier, Germany, 45 years ago. He has
a very good education. He can...[several dark lines] and indulgent father and
mother. His parents were good christian people. They were people of comparative
means. They did everything they could to give their son Jacob a good start in
life. Martin Reinert of this town knew them all in Germany. He says Geier's
family were fine people. Were good christian folks. Says his sister is as good,
true girl and a devoted christian.
Jacob Geier came to this country 17 years ago and located in Wisconsin.
Three years afterward, he came to Talleyrand and located. He was married twice.
He and his first wife parted a few months after the marriage. He married his
second wife 12 years ago. Four children were born to them and ere the case
becomes part of the court proceedings, another babe will be born. The oldest
son, Jakie, is 11 years old. John, the second son, 9 years of age, Mary, 5 years
and Tracy 2 years old. His second wife's maiden name was Catherine Schram. On
May 16th of the present year he received $483.00 from his father's estate in
Germany. This amount of money was considered by the citizens of Talleyrand as a
Godsend. With this money he can only show a few improvements, debts wiped out,
and the purchase of the Wm. Bishop property, which was sold at Sheriff's sale a
few months ago for the sum of $100.00.
Mr. Geier expects to receive from the estate an additional $483.00 as his
He was a well digger in Talleyrand and a sort of an all around handyman,
doing whatever he could find to do. The murderer has some friends in Talleyrand
and many enemies. He is considered by some as a dangerous character. He has
always drank more or less. Less when money was scarce. More since he received
the money from the estate in Germany.
On first acquaintance with him, he impresses one as a kindly man with a
good heart. Eager to help a friend, kind and generous. 'Tis said that he has
been in similar trouble before. Dan Hamilton, his attorney, and ...[black
line]... It will probably come up in the next term of court. The case will be
watched with intense interest.
Sketch of Mathias Morhain.
The murdered man was a farmer residing one-half mile west of Talleyrand. He
owned 160 acres of land. Was considered a man of some little means. He was
married. Had no children. He adopted a child some time ago. He was a man who
drank to some extent at times. He was born in Germany. He served in Company One
of the First Regiment. His slayer, Jacob Geier, served in Company Five of the
same regiment. They knew each other in the Fatherland. Four years ago Jacob
Geier was constable at Talleyrand. There existed some enmity between the two.
The nature of the trouble is only conjectured by citizens in that community.
About twenty years ago Mathias Mohrain was a resident of Sigourney. He
toiled for Joseph Oelmayer in the furniture business. Mr. Oelmayer says he was a
good worker but that occasionally he would get drunk. He worked several months
and then went down in Clear Creek township.
The murdered man was about 47 years of age. His build was rather short and
he weighed perhaps about 165 pounds. His funeral was held Monday and owing to
the strange and untimely death, the remains were followed to its last resting
place by a vast number of friends and citizens who were attracted by the sad
fate of a citizen.
Thus the mantle is drawn over an awful tragedy and a crime darkens a page
of the history of Talleyrand.
MURDER-SHOOTING AT TALLEYRAND.
August 13, 1898. Talleyrand was the scene of a brutal murder last night.
Jacob Grier shot Matts Mohrain with a .32 calibre revolver and killed him
instantly. It happened about nine o'clock in the evening.
Seems trouble had existed between the men for a number of years, and the
shooting seems to have been an outgrowth of bad blood for years. Sheriff Laffer
was summoned by telephone and with his deputy arrived upon the scene, making the
drive from Sigourney in the phenomenal time of one hour and 19 minutes.
Matts Mohrain was 49 years of age and leaves a wife and large family. This
sad occurence has deeply shocked the community.
Later: The funeral was held in the Baptist Church at Talleyrand. The
biggest crowd Talleyrand ever witnessed was assembled for the funeral. The
string of buggies would have reached nearly two miles.
December 22, 1898.
The jury pronounced Jacob Grier's shooting of Matts Mohrain at Talleyrand
August 12 to be murder in the second degree. It took the jury 15 hours to reach
a decision. The penalty is imprisonment for 10 years to life. He was sentenced
to 15 years.
May 4, 1899.
It is reported that when Jake Grier was searched at the Ft. Madison
penitentiary a watch formerly belonging to "Dutch George" was found concealed in
his shirt under his arm. ("Dutch George" was found murdered at his home
southeast of Keota in March 1898.)
January 5, 1905.
Jacob Grier has been paroled by Governor Cummins and is now at liberty,
coming to Sigourney. Grier murdered Matts Mohrain August 1898. He served six
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