Years After Slaying of Young Brother Gates Pressed
the recent dramatic incidents of John W. Gates life was his
attempt to avenge the murder of his brother, Gilbert W.
Gates nearly 30 years ago, after he had been slain in a
wagon, traveling across the blue grass prairies of northeast
Gates, who was but 18 years old had been engaged in
freighting in Sedgwick county, Kans. Tiring of the work, he
started back to his Illinois home. He was accompanied by
Alexander Jester, a veteran of the civil war, who traveled
in a prairie schooner. Jester took along a buffalo calf
which he exhibited along the route from the buffalo country
to northeast Missouri.
Middle Grove, Mo., Gates was murdered while he slept in his
wagon. Jester drove into Paris, Mo., that night and left
there the next morning for Indiana.
parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Gates, of Turner Junction, Ill.,
becoming uneasy, Gates senior started in search of their
son. At Paris the father learned his son was last seen with
Jester at Middle Grove. Jester was traced by means of the
buffalo calf to Richmond, Indiana. There it was found Jester
had started for the Kansas plains again. He was followed to
Valley Center, Kans., where he was arrested for murdering
Gates. Jester escaped from jail by knocking down one of the
29 years Jester was lost. In 1899 he was arrested at
Shawnee, Kans., through information furnished by his
half-sister, Mrs. Cornelia Street. She said Jester had
ill-treated her and she desired that he be tried for
John W. Gates heard of the arrest he said he would spend his
entire fortune if necessary, to have Jester hanged. He
employed W. S. Forrest of Chicago and former Lieut. Gov.
Charles P. Johnson, of St. Luis, as his chief counsel to
prosecute the case, and hired twenty detectives to gather
evidence. The detectives found 100 witnesses scattered
throughout the United States, who were brought to New
London, Mo., at Gates’ expense to testify as to what they
knew of the murder nearly 30 years before.
Jester reached New London in 1900 he did not in the least
resemble the man who sat in a cell in the Paris jail 29
years before. Then he looked the part of a border ruffian,
but when he stepped of the train at New London he looked
like an old-style minister, and played the part so well he
enlisted much sympathy. Jester wore a black Prince Albert
coat and patriarchal long, white beard.
of testimony were introduced at the trail, which lasted
several weeks, and although John W. Gates spent many
thousands of dollars, Jester was acquitted. Jester died four
years ago in Oklahoma.