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Tom Branigar: Kelty Murders Presentation
September 19, 2015 @ 1:30 pm
The Polk County Museum recently acquired an artifact that is directly related to one of the most violent events in the history of the county. The violence grew out a shooting that happened near Bethel in 1887 when Oscar Kelty killed his wife Clara. He then tried to commit suicide, but only succeeded in badly wounding himself. He was quickly captured and taken to the county jail in Dallas.
Due to Kelty’s injury, county officials delayed a trial until he was stronger. Incensed at the delay, a group of men formed to expedite matters. Early on the morning of July 7, 1887, they rode to Dallas and broke into the county jail. Overpowering the guard Harry Depew, they took Kelty from his cell and hanged him from an oak tree next to the courthouse across the street.
The artifact acquired by the Museum is the piano that was in the living room of the Glandon home the day of the murder. When Oscar shot his wife the bullet passed through her body and lodged in the piano across the room.
The hole caused by the fatal bullet is still clearly visible on the right side of the piano about six inches from the top.
Join us on September 19, as PCHS Archivist, Tom Branigar recounts the story of the tragic murder and subsequent lynching.