On November 25, 1900, a man by the name of William H. Fullhart was found dead, murdered by a blow to the head. The two men who found him were William, aka, Billy Groat and Wesley Richardson.
Mr. Fullhart, known as a miser, had a hobby of collecting traps, and he always carried a revolver with him. People described him as one of the most eccentric characters in Custer County.
Fullhart lived on a ranch in an adobe house about 18 miles northwest of Anselmo, Nebraska right on the county line. Part of his ranch was located in Custer County and the other part in Logan County.
Fullharts house was made by a Swedish bricklayer named Thompson. It was extremely small and consisted of two layers of brick. The outer bricklayer was made of red brick while the inner bricklayer was made of adobe. Fullhart lived alone in the house with his pigs and chickens. He also ran about 50 head of cattle and many horses, which were often out in the adjoining pasture belonging to William Groat. Mr. Fullhart and the Groat family had carried on a feud for years because Mr. Fullhart would let his animals roam and graze on the Groats land.
Fullhart was murdered a mile east of his house where he had gone to fix fence. Fullharts frozen body was found wearing three pairs of overalls, two shirts, two coats, and a saddle blanket along with seven dollars in his pocket. He was known to have received $1,600 a short time before. The cause of death was determined to be by two crushing blows to the head. A doctors examination determined that the blow was by a blunt instrument with sharp protruding objects. Mr. Fullhart was estimated to have been dead for 3 or 4 days before he was found. Old records have placed the site of the murder near Section 18, Township 20 and Range 24, although it is very possible that it could have been Range 25.
Blame for the murder was directed toward Mr. Fullharts hired hand, William Oxley, a 32-year-old, handsome man who had suspiciously disappeared at the time of the murder. Oxley was apprehended in Springfield, Missouri where his family lived. He was returned to Broken Bow, Nebraska to stand trial. Mr. Oxley was known in Arnold, Nebraska as a kind, honest, trustworthy man with a very good reputation. Many people believed him to have been set up by the real murderer. Nevertheless, the trial came to an end in February of 1901 with William Oxley sentenced to 26 years in the state penitentiary.
Oxley always proclaimed his innocence and the fact that he was unjustly charged, tried, and convicted. It turned out that Oxley really was innocent; he served less than 2 years in the Nebraska State Prison at Lincoln, because the real murderer confessed to the murder on his deathbed. This mans name was Stillman P. Groat, the father of William Groat, and Mr. Fullharts neighbor Further information on Stillman Groat is sketchy, but some very real motives for the murder are the long-standing feud between the two neighbors, money, or possibly they got into a new argument.
Today, Fullhart’s house has been demolished, and he is buried in the Grandview Cemetery located about a mile and a half northwest of Anselmo, NE.
The gravestone is very old and hard to read, but it says:
William H. Fullhart
Died November 24, 1900
Pictures of my GPS location:
Sophomore, Class of 2007