John William Pallister died 23 July 1902

John Pallister was born about 1858 in Castle Eden, in County Durham, England, the son of Thomas and Mary Pallister.  County Durham is on the northeast coast of England.  The 1861 census lists John with his parents at Hedshope, in Castle Eden.  His father was an agricultural laborer.  He had an older sister Ann, and younger brother, Richard. 

In 1871, the family was in Heighington.  The census had several levels of location:  country of England, county of Durham, registration district of Darlington, sub-registration district of Aycliffe, town of Heighington, civil parish of Heighington.  His father was a farm laborer.  John was a scholar.  It looks like they lived at Lewisburn (?) cottage. 

In 1877, John married Sarah Maughan in Stockton, Durham County.  They are recording in the quarterly index so I know they were married in January, February, or March, but not the exact date.  Sarah was the daughter of William Maughan, and was born in Bradbury, Durham County. 

The 1881 census shows John Pallister living with his mother at 1 Providence Row in St. Giles, in Durham County.  He is listed as married but Sarah was not living with him.  John was a plate setter, which was a railway job.  Sarah was living with her father and her son John in Bradbury.  My records show that Thomas Pallister, son of John and Sarah, and the man who married Ella Tourville, was born in 1878, but I was not able to locate him in the 1881 census.  His birth date came from his obituary, and I don’t have a birth record for him.  Perhaps he was actually born after the census. 

John and Sarah’s son Joseph was born in 1884 in England.  The next son, Ernest, was born in 1889 in Colorado, so we know that John and Sarah came with three sons sometime after 1884.  I was not able to find them in the Castle Garden records (the arrival place of immigrants before Ellis Island opened) and I did not find them in the 1885 Colorado state census. 

John and Sarah and sons settled in Eagle County in Colorado.  The Eagle County Blade reported:  On the night of November 21, 1894, Mr. [John] Pallister was shot and severely wounded by one Dan Wright. Wright and his brother Henry were on a drunken spree and frightened Mrs. Hawley and her daughter, who fled from their house to Pallister’s place for protection. The latter started out after the belligerents and met them. In the encounter part of his lower jaw was shot away by Dan Wright. Wright was afterward convicted of an assault, we believe, at least his sentence was 60 days in the county jail.

Their son John died in 1898 in Edwards.  Earnest died sometime before 1900.  Their fifth and final son Frank was born in 1899 in Edwards. 

John served as the Eagle County Humane Officer in 1899, but that job did not go smoothly for him.  On March 16, 1899, the Eagle County Blade reported that citizens of Minturn wanted John Pallister, Humane agent, to be impeached.  He was accused of “an excessive zeal in killing stock on the range.  This winter has been a serious loss of cattle due to the severe storms, and those which weathered the severe season have come out in a starving condition.  It seems that Pallister has encountered a number of those animals, and considering that they were in misery and suffering he has summarily shot them on the spot.  The ranchers make the complaint that there was no necessity for the action of the humane agent; that many which were shot would have lived through the winter and their killing was a destruction of property unwarranted by law.”  Pallister stated in his defense that the cattle killed were in the last stages of starvation and it was necessary to put them out of their misery.  The newspaper seemed to side with the ranchers, saying that there has not been great loss or any loss of stock on account of starvation, that there is plenty of feed.

On 9 Sep 1899 the Eagle County Times reported:  Mr John Pallister, one of the prosperous ranchers of Edwards, was in the city Sunday en route home from Leadville.  John has an immense crop of hay; but is in no haste to unload at the prevailing prices.  He will hold it till spring if necessary for a satisfactory market. 

The 1900 census listed John and Sarah at Lakes precinct in Eagle County.  He lived near Charles Tourville.  The previous year, his son Thomas has married Charles’ daughter Ella.  This record shows that Sarah had five children, three still living.  Another neighbor was Daniel Siddell. 

John died 23 July 1902 in Lake Creek, the victim of a shooting.  The local papers reported the event as follows:   

PALLISTER IS KILLED – SHOT TO DEATH AT HIS RANCH BY L.A. SIDDALL – VICTIM LONG FEARED BY HIS NEIGHBORS AS A BAD MAN – SIDDALL GAVE HIMSELF UP – CORONER HOLDING INQUEST

Another tragedy occurred in the county yesterday, the scene being on Lake creek. John Pallister was shot to death at his ranch by L. A. Siddall, son of D. E. Siddall. The affray occurred about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, and news was soon afterward telephoned to the sheriff and coroner. Sheriff Frank Farnum, Under Sheriff Nims and Coroner W. H. Farnum started for the scene with a rig and at Minturn met young Siddall accompanied by his father and Charles Tourville, a neighbor, on route to the county seat to give himself up. The under sheriff returned to the county seat with the party while the sheriff and coroner went on to the scene of the tragedy. The abbreviated story of the fatal affray as told by L.A. or “Bert” Siddall is as follows: Through some horse deal which the Siddalls had supposed was closed satisfactorily to Pallister at the time, Pallister has lately claimed a balance due him of $5. Yesterday morning Bert Siddall passed Pallister’s place, met the latter and had a talk with him about the matter. Pallister blustered a good deal and threatened and said he had sent for the sheriff to come and get the horse over which the dispute arose. Bert claiming to be desirous of avoiding any trouble, went to a neighbor, William McCourtrie, borrowed $5 and returned to Pallister’s premises. At McCourtie’s the nature of his errand back to Pallister’s was explained and William Goffin followed and is said to have been an eye witness of what followed. Upon Siddall’s reappearance on the premises Pallister, bearing a 30-40 Winchester rifle, met him at the barn. Siddall tendered him the $5, when Pallister flew into a rage, knocked the money from the young man’s hand and with a threat thrust the muzzle of the rifle against Siddall’s body. Siddall grasped the weapon and forced it aside, at the same time drawing his own revolver, a 38 caliber, and began shooting. In the struggle at close quarters Pallister lost possession of his own gun and made for the house calling to his family to bring him the other gun (presumably a shot gun.) Siddall followed him up and exhausted his revolver, four shots, without disabling Pallister. Then, fearing the latter would secure the shot gun, Sidall hastily returned to the scene of the commencement of the trouble, snatched up the Winchester from the ground and shot and killed Pallister just as he reached this door. The Blade is unable at this time to secure the story of the eye witness or of Pallister’s family. However this will likely be heard at the inquest which in all probability is being held today. Young Siddall claims self defense and believes that his prompt action alone saved his life.  No one familiar with the conditions which have for some time past existed in the vicinity of Lake Creek will be surprised to hear of the tragedy. Whether for good reasons or not, the entire community has lived in fear and dread of John Pallister. There has been a good deal of devilment committed in the neighborhood and of late years it has all been laid at Pallister’s door. Stock has been wantonly shot and killed on the range; fires mysteriously started; property stolen; machinery damaged unaccountably, and three men have mysteriously disappeared. Pallister has never been accused before a court of any of this mischief but the belief among his neighbors is that he was guilty of all of it. Complaint was not made, because such evidence as would have to be produced in court could not be secured and everybody feared to take the matter up on account of the vengeance which they believed would follow.

Young Siddall will be taken before a justice today and a preliminary hearing will doubtless be held as soon as the attendance of the district attorney can be had, when more information on both sides will likely be brought out.  (24 July 1902, Eagle County Blade, p. 1)

I did not find a news story that told the outcome of the coroner’s inquest, but a news item in 1908 mentioned Bert Siddall, so he wasn’t in prison then.  He may not have been criminally charged in the death.

John was buried at Red Cliff, Colorado.  His wife died in 1937 and was buried at Edwards.  Besides the two sons who died young, Thomas married and had a large family, and died in 1959.  Joseph apparently didn’t marry.  Frank married Elaine (last name unknown) in 1952.  He was 53, she was 35, and I do not know if they had children.  Frank died in 1980.

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2 Comments

  1. Shawn Day said,

    July 23, 2012 at 15:23

    To the author. I don’t know your name but stumbled on your blog in a search for the portion of article I had seen before involving the death of John via Bert Siddall. My Dad;s mother Nellie (Nell) Day was the second oldest daughter of Thomas and Ella Pallister. I was delighted to gain more information on their ancestors across the pond from your blog! I would love to find out any more information you might have about them and also any information about the Day side of my family. There was a Martin(Mart) and Emma Day who homesteaded somewhere near Wolcott and my Grandad James T. Day came to live with them from an orphanage in Denver when he was of age. He met Nell Pallister and married and they had two children – Eva Pierce and James M. Day (Jim). Eva now resides in Pueblo, CO and is 85 and very active and sharp. My dad Jim and my mom Katherine (Green) live in Grand Junction. I would love to talk with you or email or whatever works for you. My name is Shawn Day and I live in Colorado Springs. My email is charliebrownday@gmail.com and my phone is 719-360-4081. Thank you so much! Shawn

  2. Shawn Day said,

    April 17, 2015 at 11:29

    Just an addition to the above… Frank and Elaine Pallister were known to me as a boy as they lived near us. They did not have children.


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