Logo by Ginger Cisewski
Printed in the October 3, 2001 Issue of the Cascade Pioneer-Advertiser
One of the most famous and most troubling of local histories is the story of Bob McGinty's murder of his estranged wife in 1854. As time has passed, the facts of this bizarre episode have grown hazy and indistinct behind the curtain of rumor. The Pioneer here reprints an accounting of the murder first written in 1899, 45 years after the actual event, but accurate to the best of our knowledge. - The Ghost of a Pioneer Devil
Briefly set forth the McGinty tragedy was as follows: Bob McGinty and his wife quarreled and separated. She went to her father's home in Washington township, Jones county, on the farm now owned by Mrs. William Gavin Jr. Her father's name was Clark. One day in the fall of 1854, Bob McGinty went to Dubuque and after selling his oats, got into a fight and bit off a man's nose. He returned to his home (the present Davis homestead, one and a half miles east of Cascade on the Garryowen road. Some demon of deviltry possessed him, probably the result of drink, and determined him to destroy his wife. He drove his team attached to a wagon to the home of his wife's parents, where he demanded his wife. Clark, Mrs. McGinty's father, drew a revolver and shot McGinty. A struggle for the weapon ensued, and McGinty got it and shot Clark twice. Once in the right groin and the second shot took off his nose. Mrs. Clark finally landed on McGinty with a flat iron. This brought a truce in the battle. In the meantime, Mrs. McGinty made herself scarce, McGinty either saw her escape or imagined she did. At any rate he left the Clark place and started in search of her. She had fled to the home of Mrs. Marsh along the road, but that woman would not let her in, fearing the vengeance of McGinty. The unhappy woman then ran on. A few moments later McGinty appeared and commanded to know of Mrs. Marsh the whereabouts of his wife. At first, she refused to tell him, but when McGinty threatened her life she informed him that she had run on. McGinty pursued the woman and finally overtook her and with a knife literally hacked her in pieces.
After committing this atrocious deed, McGinty unhitched one of his horses from the wagon and rode away through the wood's to his home. In his path homeward was the river and its skirting of high bluffs. Over one of these McGinty rode his horse, probably with the intent to end his life. In this he did not succeed, as neither he nor the horse was seriously hurt. It has been popularly related that the horse was killed, but that is untrue. McGinty reached his house and told his younger brother what he had done. He gave the boy some papers and $100 in money and told him to ride to the home of his married sister, who then lived on the farm where Mrs. James Dolphin, Sr. resides, and to tell her what had occurred and to keep the money. The boy rode away on this errand.
No sooner had he gone than McGinty barricaded himself in the house and lying down on the bed, emptied the contents of a shotgun into his neck. A posse from Cascade, organized when old man Clark rode into town and told the story of the tragedy, went to the McGinty farm and found "Bob" pretty far gone. They loaded him into a wagon, but he died on the road, near, the Parker residence on the Eastside. His remains were buried on the top of the First Bluff, where they still repose.
It has been nearly forty-five years since the terrible crime occurred, and a great deal of traditional glamour surrounds the story. It is a good story for sensational embellishments, and all kinds of fanciful additions have been related concerning the tale, but the foregoing is a clear and concise account of it.
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