Idaho County Free Press

Thursday, August 13, 1908

OFFICER SHOT DOWN IN COLD BLOOD - At Eleven O'clock Monday Evening Joe Sorrow starts Row With Officer Williams and Kills Hime

AUTOMATIC GUNS USED IN FIGHT - 18 SHOTS FIRED - Prisoner Has Nothing to Say About Bloody Deed --- Now in Jail on charge of Murder in First Degree --- Preliminary Hearing has Been Set for Next Tuesday

Another victim has been added to Idaho county's growing list of murdered men through the assassination of Officer Williams.  Monday night by Joe Sorrow.  To day the people of the city are called upon to pay their last respects to a pioneer citizen who lost his life through the cowardly act of another.  The story of the crimes most revolting and shows the perpetrator killed his victim with out other cause than that he was representative of the law and stood for law and order.

Briefly told, the tragedy is as follows: Monday afternoon Officer Adams called upon Sorrow and told him that complaint had been made to the department by citizens regarding the running at large of Sorrow's cattle.  Sorrow at first listened to the officer with respectable attention but as the conversation progressed he began to lose his temper and finally with an oath, raised his hammer as though to strike the officer and at the same time grabbed at his coat.  Adams reached for his gun and had it partially out of his pocket when James Murphy jumped between the men and showed them of the folly of such action.  During the trouble the star fell from Officer Adam's coat and Sorrow picked the same up and gave it to him.  When Adam's left his shop Sorrow seemed to be in a reasonable state of mind although he was still considerable excited.

That evening Officer Adams came down town and along about eight met Henry Williams and stated he was not feeling extra good.  Williams suggested he had better go home and he would go on in his stead.  Finally Adams agreed to do so but before leaving recalled the trouble he had with Sorrow in the afternoon and the previous trouble Sorrow had made for the force but both men treated the matter lightly and agreed Sorrow was more or less of a wind-bag and was given to boast and bluster.

Along about eleven in the evening, Loren Williams, the fifteen year old son of the officer, arrived at the pound with some stray horses.  Sorrow, whose blacksmith shop was in the neighborhood stepped out of the shadows of the building and accosted the boy.  He cursed the boy and attempted to intimidate him.  About this time, officer Williams arrived.  Sorrow at once turned his abuse upon the officer and said: "You sons of b------s, you got those horses out in the country and you are just after the dollar, G-d D--- You".  To which Williams replied that the boy had found them in a garden.  As the conversation progressed Sorrow became the more violent and in a short time whipped his gun from his bosom and waved it in front of the officer.  He brandished it in Williams face and with an oath asked Williams to give up his gun stating he would blow his brains out.  Williams was unable to get his weapon as Sorrow kept him covered.  The officer plead with the raving man not to make trouble and to go home.  Sorrow became only the more enraged and asked Williams to walk off twenty paces and shoot it out.  Williams replied:  "No Joe, we'll not do that, go home and attend to your business and I will do the same".  With his hands above his head Sorrow forced the officer across the street to a point just below Sam Jones' barn.  Here it seems a water plug in the sidewalk caused the officer to fall and Sorrow raised his gun to shoot.  Young Williams struck the could be assassin over the head twice with quirt and for a minute only he was dazed.  Sorrow then turned the gun on the boy and fired but his aim was poor.  He then fired at the officer regardless of his pleadings for his life.

Just when the officer fired cannot be determined but the preponderance of evidence indicates it was after he received the first wound which was four or three quarter inches below the right nipple.  Another ball passed through the fleshy part of the officer's thighs.  Williams must have opened fire when he was first wounded, as Sorrow received a wound to each knee.

Immediately after the shooting the boy started up the street on his horse crying for help and Sorrow fired several shots at the retreating figure, one of which passed through the transom of the Arlington bar.  With his smoking gun in hand, Sorrow took a look at his victim and started south remarking as he passed several people that he had got that son of a b----.  He dropped in a saloon and took a few drinks to nerve himself up and then proceeded to Cote's cigar store where he surrendered his gun.

Williams was taken to the hotel, and after suffering for five hours passed away.  He made a death bed statement which will be used in the coming trial.  Sorrow was placed under arrest and lodged in the county jail.  The wounds in his legs are of a serious nature and it may be necessary to amputate one or both members.  When seen by a representative of this paper, yesterday, Sorrow seemed not to realize the serious of his crime but refused to talk stating he had been told by his attorney to say nothing.  The date of the preliminary hearing has been set for the coming Tuesday.

Camas Prairie Chronicle – Cottonwood Idaho

Friday, August 14, 1908


Joe Sorrow Kills Officer Williams Apparently Without Motive – Had Been Drinking and Tried to Disarm the Nightwatch

As a result of a pistol duel at Grangeville late Monday night, Nightwatchman Henry Williams is dead and Joe Sorrow, a local blacksmith is confined in the county jail with bullet wounds in both legs.  It seems the trouble arose over the impounding of some stock belonging to Sorrow and it was near the city pound that the shooting occurred.  Sorrow, who was known to be very quarrelsome when n liquor, had been drinking that day and had torn the star off of Policeman Adams and tramped on it, the intervention of friends only preventing a shooting at that time.  Later he appeared at the pound and engaged in an altercation with Williams over the stock that had been locked up.  Williams did not anticipate serious trouble and started back toward Main Street, when Sorrow pulled two revolvers and covered him.  Williams is said to have tried to talk him out of shooting but Sorrow opened fire and then both men engaged in the fusillade.  About twenty shots were fired in all and Williams was struck twice in the chest and died at four o’clock Tuesday morning.  Sorrow was shot in both legs near the knees.  He was later arrested and placed in jail.

Williams was one of the best known men in Grangeville and was well liked by everyone.  He has acted as special officer there for a long time and always gave excellent service.  He was chief Patriarch of the grand encampment of Odd Fellows and stood high in that lodge.  He leaves a wife and five children.

Sorrow has been a resident of Grangeville for several years and has operated a blacksmith shop there since the Buffalo Hump “boom” days.  He also has a large family.

Feeling is reported to be pretty strong at Grangeville against Sorrow as it is claimed he was not at all justified in the shooting.


Idaho County Free Press

Thursday, August 20, 1908

BINDS SORROW OVER - Preliminary Hearing Held Tuesday of This Week Results in Binding Sorrow Over to the District Court

HELD WITHOUT BOND TO AWAIT TRIAL - Story of the Terrible Tragedy Is Told Before Crowded Court Room -- No Violence is Attempted

The Sorrow hearing held Tuesday occupied most of the day and resulted in Judge Vineyard binding him over to the District Court without bond.

A number of witnesses were introduced by the state and but three by the defense.  The court room was filled with a great crowd of people during the proceedings but perfect order was maintained and at no time was there any attempt made to do violence to the prisoner.  Which shows Grangeville people have enough faith in the law to allow it to take its course.  Prosecuting Attorney Griffith conducted the examination for the state and was assisted by Atty. Hattabaugh.  The defendant's intentions were well looked after by Atty. W.N. Scales.  

Drs. Campbell, Stockton and Scheaffer were put on the stand to describe the wounds, and etc.  But the most important witness for the state was Ed Davis, who was on the stand several hours and stood the right cross examination of Judge Scales.

Davis sated he was putting his horse in the Boss barn on the night of the row and heard Sorrow and Williams quarreling.  Said Sorrow made an attempt to strike Williams.  Williams asked him to go on about his business and leave him alone.  Sorrow demanded Williams to put his hands up which he did.  Sorrow asked Williams if he had a gun and the Officer replied in the affirmative, then Sorrow asked him to step back twenty spaces and they would shoot it out. Williams refused to do so.  Sorrow cursed Williams and backed him across the street at the point of a gun.  Heard Sorrow say "You son of a b----, I have got the drop on you now, give me that gun".  Williams said, "I won't give it up".  Prior to this heard Sorrow say, 'You people are going out on the commons rounding up stock for the dollar."  Officer stated he had gotten them out of his garden.  Witness thought shooting occurred between Oliver building and Murphy blacksmith shop.

Heard Williams cry after shooting, "Oh God, I am shot."  Officer continued to halloo.  One shot was fired and then a space, then another and space  and then began to rattle.  Officer hallooed after third shot.  From flash of guns, looked as though one man was down and the other walking around him.  Heard Sorrow say, "I have half a notion to knock your brains out."  Officer cried, "For God's sake, don't shoot."  Think William's boy struck some one with whip when he rode in between them.  On cross examination Davis stuck to his story pretty well.  Said he did not know who fired first.  Boy ran up  street after first shot.  Heard something fall like a body when second shot was fired.  Went over to where wounded man was and found him rolling about in great pain.  Sorrow started up street then came back and looked at Williams and then turned and went on up street.  Last time he heard Sorrow was when he demanded Officer's gun just before the shooting began.

William Zuver:  After hearing shots left his place of business, next to Cote's cigar store, went up Main street and down State where he met Sorrow near Bargain Store with gun in left hand.  He said, "I got the son of a b----."  Heard man hallooing for help.   Went down to Murphy blacksmith shop where found Officer Williams on sidewalk in great pain.  John Davis, his brother and himself gathered him up and took him in Jones barn.  He asked us to get his wife.  Found billy on left hand side of him and gun on the right.  Met his son at corner of Batty's saloon.  On cross examination stated he heard three shots fired.  When found Officer his head was between his legs.  Heard him halloo for help.  

Mrs. Vennie Brooks:  Lives in Cawley house, near scene of trouble.  Shooting occurred several minutes before eleven o'clock.  First heard men quarreling.  Heard one man say: "You dirty sons of b---- you drove them in from country".  Kept on swearing.  Heard man say: "You give that to me, you dirty sons of a b----, you have had the drop on me, now I have the drop on you."  Shall I pull it!"  Other party said "No!No!No!".  Next heard shot.  There was one, then another and then another.  Heard man who had said "No!No!No!" cry out.  "My God I am shot!" Asked man who was standing at telephone pole near house who it was.  He said "Joe Sorrow has shot old man Williams."  On cross examination witness stated she did no know either of the parties to the affair.  Time of a minute elapsed between the shots.  man was asking other man not to shoot in pleading tones.

At that time the state introduced the clothing of the dead man, his gun and two other guns.  Council for defendant entered objection.  Also quirt Williams boy had was introduced without objection.  Officer Adams was briefly examined and then the state rested.

Defense then called several witnesses to the stand and had them tell what they remembered of the death statement made by Officer Williams and also made demand on County Attorney for death statement which he refused to produce.

At this time county attorney made demand on defendant's council to allow him to examine wounds in legs of defendant which council refused to do.  Both were sustained by the court.  Defense asked county attorney to take the stand which he refused to do.  At this stage of the proceedings the attorneys had several hitches.  The defense then concluded its side of the case.

The court then after due deliberation held the defendant to await the action of the district court, which convenes here the last of the month, without bail, on the charge of murder in the first degree.

Camas Prairie Chronicle – Cottonwood Idaho

Friday, August 21, 1908

Joe Sorrow, who shot and killed Nigh watch Henry Williams at Grangeville last week, has been held to the district court on a charge of murder in the first degree and will not be admitted to bail.   Sorrow’s preliminary hearing was held Tuesday at Grangeville with the above result.  Only a very little evidence was introduced and the two eye witnesses of the shooting were not put on the stand at all.




SEPTEMBER 29, 1908


Evidence in Trial of Joseph Sorrow Shows Killing of Williams Was Cold Blooded

(Special Dispatch)

Grangeville, Sept. 25 – After deliberating throughout the night the jury in Judge Steele’s court returned a verdict of guilty in the second degree against Joseph Sorrow, who killed Henry Williams, night policeman, after a quarrel over some impounded stock.

Sorrow first drew his gun, the evidence shows, following a quarrel, and commanded the officer to throw up his hands.  After complying with this request William refused to surrender his own weapon to the blacksmith, who was under the influence of liquor.

Witnesses swore that Williams stood with his hands above his head, begging the infuriated and drunken blacksmith not to shoot, but to go peaceably home, when Sorrow replied with an oath that he would shoot and two shots rang out in quick succession.

Williams, mortally wounded, returned the fire, wounding Sorrow in both legs near the thigh.  Williams died a few hours after the shooting.





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