Adelbert Goheen

Male 1870 - 1891  (21 years)

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  • Name Adelbert Goheen 
    Born 1870  Cerro Gordo County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Census 1880  Otter Tail County, Minnesota Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Woodside twp 
    • James Goheen age 48, born Virginia, parents Virginia, farmer
      Mary Ann age 42, born Illinois, parents Kansas
      Elisabeth daughter age 25, born Iowa
      Alonzo son age 24, laborer born Iowa
      James son age 21, Laborer, born Iowa
      Anderson son age 19, laborer born Iowa
      Marques son age 17, laborer, born Iowa
      Abasolon age 15 son, laborer, born Iowa
      Alphoso son age 13, born Iowa, cannot write
      Adelbert son age 10, born Iowa, can not write
      Lewellyn daughter age 7, born Iowa
      Vernie age 3, daughter, born Iowa
      Ross son age 1, son born Minnesota
    Census 9 Jun 1885  Otter Tail County, Minnesota Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Woodside twp 
    • James W Goheen age 53 born Virginia
      Mary A Goheen age 47 born Illinois
      Adelbert age 15 born Iowa
      Llewellyn, male, age 13 born Iowa
      Veny, female age 8 born Iowa
      Ros male. age 6, born Minnesota
      His brother and family Edward Rufus also lived in Minnesota in Cass County
    • Role: Witness
    Died 23 Oct 1891  Furgus Falls, Otter Trail County, Minnesota Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    • Birth: 1870
      Death: Oct. 23, 1891, Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, USA

      Though he claimed to be innocent, Goheen was convicted and hanged for the murder of Rosa Bray. After his conviction, Adelbert stated that his brother, Anderson, was the killer. Anderson was arrested, but Adelbert refused to testify, so Anderson was released and the execution was carried out.

      In 1918, in Montana, Anderson made a death bed confession that he was the killer.

      The headstone was placed in 2005, largely thru the efforts of Otter Tail County Historical Society researcher, Maxine Adams.

      Burial: Saint Ottos Catholic Cemetery, Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, USA
    Misc 28 Oct 1891  [5
    • Adelbert Goheen, Her Slayer, Is Hanged at Fergus Falls Soon 4 After Midnight. He Marched to the Gallows as Erect as a Soldier Without a Flinch or Tremor. FERGUS FALLS, Minn..
      Special Telegram,Oct. 23. 1a. m.—Adelbert Goheen was hanged at 12:15 for the murder of Rosa Bray. At 11:30 Goheen was taken to the second floor of the jail,walked nimbly up the stairs and cast a furtive glance at the trap as he passed by it into a side room.
      At 12 o'clock the priest knelt down and prayed with him for about two minutes. Then the sheriff slipped in and handcuffed his hands behind his back. The priest led the way to the trap. Goheen followed with Sheriff Billings in the rear. Marched out as erect as a soldier. There was not a flinch or a tremor as he passed into the hall, he looked up at the rope and took his position on the trap. was then strapped as usual.
      Sheriff Billings then said. "Adelbert, have you anything to say?" He said,“Gentlemen, you see one way of dying." As the black cap was being put on him and the priest said the Lord's prayer, "Let her go, Jack," said Goheen, and the sheriff pulled the trap. Then there was a heavy fall and a slight rebound and the rope straightened. It seems that the noose slipped around a little and his neck was broken. He died of strangulation. The body was allowed to hang about twenty five minutes. Goheen died as he said he would. No more neruy man ever stood on a death trap.The greater part of the evening was spent in playing on the accordion and listening to the priest's reading. At 11 o'clock he was given an oyster stew which he ate with a relish. At 11 o'clock every reporter was excluded from the jail and only the officials and spectators allowed by law were present.
      Why He Died
      History or the Crime and the Trial Which Resulted in Conviction. Monday morning, March 23,the body of Rosa Bray was found on the Great Northern railroad crossing, near Broadway, in Fergus Falls. She had evidently been dead sometime and the body as frozen stiff. It was at first supposed she had frozen to death, but at the inquest two bullet wounds were discovered, one back of the ear and the other in her breast. Either would have caused instant death. It was learned that Adelbert Goheen,who had been intimate with the woman, had disappeared on Sunday, the 22d. Search for him began, but it was not successful. The following Sunday morning he returned home voluntarily and was arrested.
      At the trial parties testified that Miss Bray was to meet Goheen that night; that he as seen going toward her rooms. Two people were seen walking on the Great Northern track who resembled Goheen and Miss Bray. Two shots were heard. Afterward a man was seen running who resembled Goheen. Deputy Sheriff Johnson described Goheen's actions when arrested. On his person were found a number of 38 caliber cartridges,which he was trying to hide, being the same size as those found the woman's body Bowma-ter. a fellow convict of Goheen's at Stillwater, visited Goheen jail, and testified that he had asked Goheen if he killed the girl and that Goheen did not make any answer, but winked at him. Goheen's brother, Anderson, and his mother testified that he was not out of the house that evening that he slept with Anderson that night and both retired at 8 p. m. Goheen's father refused to testify to this. It took the jury just twenty hours to agree and it brought in a verdict of guilty.
      One day he made a statement to County Attorney Daly, in the presence of Sheriff Billings and Mr. Mason, in which he asserted that his brother,Anderson, was the murderer of Rosa Bray. He gave details of the occurrence, claiming that he saw it all from a distance. He accounted for his presence by saying that he was suspicious of him and his victim, and had followed them. He gave such a clear statement of the matter that the officers thought it advisable to look Anderson up. He was arrested at Moorhead and brought here for trial. At the preliminary examination Goheen refund to go on the stand to testify against Anderson and the prisoner was discharged Goheen has made several threats that he would never be hung.
    Misc 25 Jul 2005  Otter Tail County, Minnesota Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Fergus Falls 
    • For 104 years, the case had been closed and gathering dust, until Maxine Adams happened upon Goheen’s file while studying in the Otter Tail County Historical Society. Adams, a part-time writer who has an interest in murder stories, decided she wanted to write a book about a regional case. When Adams went through Goheen’s inch-thick file full of Daily Journal clippings recounting the arrest, trial and execution, she found a short, one-page story tucked away in the back that was published in The Journal 27 years after Goheen’s execution. It claimed that his Adelbert’s brother, Anderson, confessed to the crime. After 10 years of research, Adams is convinced of Adelbert’s innocence and now hopes to try to clear his name and give him a proper burial. "I have a really strong need to do right for this kid"; she said. Lower class family Adams is the first to admit that Adelbert was no saint. Born to a lower-class family that was known for crimes in the community, Adelbert was known to be a troublemaker and had already spent two years in Stillwater prison as a teenager. But he always proclaimed his innocence, Adams said, including during his trial, where Bray’s skullcap sat on the judge’s bench. "I don’t think Perry Mason could have gotten this kid off"; Adams said. After he was sentenced to death, Adelbert made a confession to the sheriff: his brother, Anderson, had committed the murder and hid Bray amongst a clump of trees. The sheriff quickly arrested Anderson, but when Adelbert refused to testify after he was told that he would still be charged as an accomplice, Anderson was released, and his brother executed. Innocent? In 1918, Anderson was in Wrightstown, Mont., when, according to a second-hand source printed in The Journal, he made a deathbed confession that he had indeed committed the mother. "He wanted word sent to his mother, but she died some years ago, never knowing her boy was innocent"; the article read. Adams cited that as a main reason why she believes Adelbert. "Even for a family without scruples, to not want to die with a murder on your conscience sounds credible," she said. "He wanted his mother to know." She also said Adelbert’s story of what happened; following Bray and his brother up the tracks, suspecting that she was in trouble and running after watching his brother fire the gun is also believable given the evidence. Adams said she believes the next day, Adelbert confronted his brother, who threatened to kill him. The two walked to Wadena and returned to Fergus, where Adelbert was arrested a week later. If he was guilty, Adams argued, Adelbert wouldn’t have so easily returned to Fergus Falls. "He knew he wasn’t guilty"; she said. But she said she also knows that for the time being there isn’t enough proof to clear his name. She’s hoping to find newspaper articles from Wrightstown to verify the story in The Journal. She’s also started the process of providing a funeral service for Adelbert, who is buried in an unmarked grave in St. Otto’s Cemetery on County Road 111 in Fergus Falls. Adams said that Fergus Falls Monument will donate a headstone for Adelbert, and a priest is offering to provide an invocation. It’s a first step, Adams said, to providing closure to a case thought closed so long ago. "There isn’t that often in a lifetime you get a chance to right something that’s so wrong"; she said.
    Person ID I5661  Goheen
    Last Modified 15 Sep 2018 

    Father James Wilson Goheen,   b. 9 May 1832, Botetourt County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Mar 1911, Arkansas Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Mother Mary Ann Burress,   b. 29 Apr 1839, Ogle County, Illinois Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 Dec 1913, Wau, Day County, South Dakota Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 74 years) 
    Married 19 Dec 1854  Butler County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8, 9, 10, 11
    • James W Goheen and Mary Burrows married 19 Dec 1854 by J H Miller, Esq., Butler County, Iowa

      Ed, I have been doing my research since we last talked. Mary Ann Burress married James Wilson Goheen on 19 December 1854 in Butler co Iowa. They had 11 children. My Grandmother Isabelle, brothers Ross, Paul and Joseph are some of them. Do we have a connection???If so I have more info. Carella Maiorino Smith...
    Census 9 Jun 1885  Otter Tail County, Minnesota Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Woodside twp 
    • James W Goheen age 53 born Virginia
      Mary A Goheen age 47 born Illinois
      Adelbert age 15 born Iowa
      Llewellyn, male, age 13 born Iowa
      Veny, female age 8 born Iowa
      Ros male. age 6, born Minnesota
      His brother and family Edward Rufus also lived in Minnesota in Cass County
    Family ID F1244  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Histories
    Adelbert Goheen hanging
    Adelbert Goheen hanging
    Newspaper article detailing the hanging of Adelbert Goheen that later his brother confessed the murder.

  • Sources 
    1. [S422] Census 1880 Otter Tail, Minnesota, 629; Woodside; 177; p. 210; family 20, line 1; James Goheen.

    2. [S1034] Familysearch .org, "Minnesota, State Census, 1885," index and images, FamilySearch, accessed 27 Jul 2014), Otter Tail > Woodside > image 2 of 5; citing State Library and Records Service, St. Paul. (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S146] FindAGrave, viewed; 6 December 2015; Memorial# 14683969.

    4. [S1471] Newspaper Daily Globe Adelbert Goheen, Through a Trap; Story of Murder; 23 October 1891; Life story; iewed; 7 February 2018.

    5. [S431] Newspaper Adelbert Goheen Hanging, Goheen is Hanged; 28 October 1892; Trial and Hanging of Adelbert Goheen; viewed; 6 January 2017.

    6. [S1443] Nespaper Ferguss Falls Minnesota, Was Aldbert Goheen Inocent?; 25 July 2005; Viewed; 22 August 2017.

    7. [S1034] Familysearch .org, James W Goheen marriage, Iowa marriages 1890-1992, FHL microfilm 1035397.

    8. [S108] Rootsweb Listserve, Carmella52, Mary Ann Burress, 10 Jan 2003, 7 Aug 2011.

    9. [S1053] Census 1900, 1900 US Census, Ogle County, Illinois, population schedule, Monroe Township, ED 86, family 83, line 73, page 212, Abraham McNeal, NARA micropublication T623, roll 333 (Reliability: 3).

    10. [S1056] Census 1910, 1910 US Census, Washington County, Arkansas, population schedule, Springdale twp, ED 148, family 117, line 72, page 154, James W Goheen, NARA micropublication T624, roll 67 (Reliability: 3).

    11. [S1442] Book Butler County Iowa, page 262, image page 263.