The Butcher family with their ranch in the background, probably around 1876.  Left to right, Samuel Monroe, Sarah Catherine, Samuel, Rebecca, Isaac, Harrison,
Minnie, Polly, Deseret, Nettie, George.  The Mercur and Camp Floyd Railroad tracks are behind them, and a pole of the Deseret Telegraph to Bingham is at right.
The site of the Butcher Ranch on Bingham Creek is now buried by ARCO's cleanup of the Utah-Apex Tailings Ponds southeast of Copperton.                                
   Looking south, this picture was provided by Steve Butcher of Sandy, Utah.         

The Butchers of Bingham

by Steve Richardson

Edwin Temple Hickman Family Reunion

Torrey, Utah, 10 June 2000

Expanded and Revised

  In 1851 Bill Hickman's 2nd oldest daughter Sarah Catherine (1835-1914) married Samuel Monroe Butcher (1828-1908). The newlyweds accompanied her father to Sacramento,California where their first three children were born; they returned to Utah about 1857.  By the summer of 1873 they were operating a successful ranch on Bingham Creek near the mouth of the canyon, and the couple had  11 children whose ages ranged from 20 to 2 (they eventually had 13).  In 1862 Samuel had taken a polygamous wife, Mary Chadwick (1843-1896) and by the summer of 1873 they had 6 children, aged 9 to 2 (they eventually had 12).  Little else would be known today about these Butcher families were it not for a disagreement they had with some neighbors.   On the morning of 24 July 1873 Samuel Monroe Butcher shot and killed Gabriel Cotton and his sons Gabriel and Albert.  This is an attempt to tell the story of that event as reported in newspapers and court trials that were held in 1873, 1877, and 1890, with some earlier and later events added, mostly in chronological order. 

Monday, Nov. 8th [1858]. Cold and stormy. The High Priest's quorum met in council at my house in the evening. Among other things considered was the case of Gabriel Cotton who had run over the rules and laws of the city association by jumping land claims and threatening blood if molested. The council agreed unanimous that he could not be sustained or fellowshipped by the saints in Genoa [Nebraska]; therefore the teachers were instructed to warn the Saints in Genoa not to have anything to do with him in any shape or form, neither buying or selling and that all who sustained him by trading with him could not be fellowshipped by the saints.

Tuesday, Dec. 2lst. This morning Gabriel Cotton came into town and abused Brother Hudson in a shocking manner and then made an attack upon me in the following manner: As I was walking into Brother Nathan Davis's door yard, I heard someone calling my name I turned to look and saw a man coming up the street, and when he came near, I saw that it was Cotton. He called to me again and wished me to come into the road for he wanted to talk with me. I, knowing that he had threatened my life, told him that he could talk with me where I was. As I was standing inside Brother Davis' door yard, he then came up to the fence near where I was standing which was by the side of it. I stood close to the axe with my right hand resting on the top of the handle. He then began to abuse me in a shameful manner I told him to go away and leave me as I wanted nothing to do with him, but he continued his abuse, threatening my life. I told him if he took my life, it would be nothing more than he had done; for he had proved himself a murderer long ago. He then made a rush at me, gathering an axe on his way and drawing it upon me I retreated, taking with me the axe that I held in my hand. At this moment, Brother Davis with some others rushed from the house and ordered him to lay down the axe, which he threw down, and retreated to the fence and drew his Pistol and cocked it, and swore that he was enough for half a dozen of us. He then went away and a short time afterward he came by where I was sitting and talking to Brother Dalrymple, and again threatened my life with many bitter oaths. This same Gabriel Cotton had been stirring up rebellion and strife, through an apostate spirit, among the Saints in Genoa for the last six or eight months, and my opposition to his course caused his enmity to me . . . .

Sunday, Dec 26th. Had meeting at Brother Dalrymple's Cotton with some of the apostates attended prayer meeting at Brother Sinclair's.

Monday, Dec. 27th. Stayed at home. In the evening called some of the brethren together and formed them into a sort of police to thwart the movements of the Cotton Apostates party who have sworn to take my life.

Monday, June 20th [1859]. Went to the ferry and commenced crossing Brother Brown's company of 60 wagons, and at about 4 o'clock the rope came in too near the north side landing. (having rotted off by acids being put upon it by some fiend in human shape--Cotton). The boat was loaded with one wagon and yoke of cattle and about 40 or 50 men, women, and children when the rope parted. The boat went whirling down stream by the swift current for several rods until some of the men on board caught the longest end of the main rope and pulled it in shore on the south side; otherwise no one knows how far the boat might have gone down stream and how many lives might have been lost. After the boat and all was landed safely, we got a man to splice the rope, and we then stretched it across the river again and crossed over three wagons before dark.
--Diary of Joel Hills Johnson (1802-1882)
Most Mormons are familiar with a hymn Joel Hills Johnson wrote, High On a Mountain Top.
To read more of Johnson’s diary, goto

Bingham Telegraph Line

The Deseret Telegraph company have taken steps to extend their line from Sandy to Bingham, along the grade of the narrow gauge railroad. The poles, which are of red pine, six inches in diameter at the top, are already upon the ground; men were at work yesterday digging holes, and the setting of the poles begins to-day. These were obtained from Weber, and are twenty-three feet in length. They are to be placed in the earth three feet, making a well elevated line. The wire is to be number eight, galvanized. A large force of builders will be kept on the line, and our Bingham city friends may expect the click of the lightning to ring in their ears in just about one week from to-day. We congratulate them upon their union by telegraph with the outside world. With a narrow guage road, a live newspaper, and a reliable telegraph line, Binghamites may soon put on metropolitan airs. And they are a live people up there, too!
--Salt Lake Herald, Jul 1 1873

BINGHAM, July 11th, 3 p.m.—This growing and prosperous camp has just been put in telegraphic communication with Salt Lake "and the rest of mankind" east and west. John J. Fitzgerald, electrician. All seem happy.


THE FOLLOWING was received this afternoon.

BINGHAM CANYON, 11.—The Bingham Pioneer sends greeting to the Deseret Telegraph Company, and in behalf of the citizens of Bingham and West Mountain Mining district acknowledges the enterprise of the company, that has now placed this flourishing mining camp district in telegraphic communication with the world. With the three great agents of modern thought, the telegraph, the locomotive and the printing press, pressed into our service, we shall, on a larger scale than ever, uncover the rich mineral treasures in these mountains.


The following reply was sent to the preceeding:

SALT LAKE CITY, July 11, 1873.

To C.G. LOEBER, Editor Bingham Pioneer:

Your generous congratulation is received. I sincerely entertain the hope that the telegraphic connection that just made with the flourishing Bingham Camp, will materiall[y] aid the iron horse and the Pioneer in the development of its prosperity.

--Deseret Weekly News, Wed Jul 16 1873, p. 377


…The Company to build this road was incorporated Sept. 10th, 1872, and sixteen miles were graded and tied ready for the iron, by June 1st, 1873. Then some eastern capitalists associated with parties in Salt Lake City, bought out the stock, rights and franchise of the road. Light iron for narrow gauge roads at the time could not be obtained in the United States, and they were compelled to wait until their iron was manufactured. The first installment of the iron was received Sept. 1st, 1873, and notwithstanding further delays arising from the same cause, the road was completed to Bingham, its present terminus, and freight and passenger trains were running through by December 1st. The distance is about twenty-two miles….
–Edward L. Sloan, Gazeteer of Utah and Salt Lake City Directory, 1874, p.47

Around [1913], the exact date is not known, a Mr. Joseph Pratt, a sheep rancher in the Bingham Canyon area, moved from a house situated along-side the old Bingham and Garfield Railroad line to a two-story frame house he built in Copperton. Mr. Pratt and his family lived in this house until 1930 when it had to be razed to make room for the building of the high school.

Although the Pratt home was the first one within the present boundaries of Copperton, there were a few other structures in the area at this time. South of the Pratt’s residence and in the gulley along the main road to Bingham there were a few small ranches and a dairy. These included: the Makrakis Dairy (down the gully a ways) where there were 30 to 40 cows, a farmhouse, barn, slaughter house and milk house; the Condas farm; the Vardakis farm and the Kappel ranch. Also in the area were the Conary, Butcher, Stringham, Stowell and Mayberry ranches.

To many travelers passing the area on their way to Bingham at that time, the environs of the Pratt home became known as "Rattlesnake Flats". It got this nickname because on the flat area where Copperton now stands, with the exception of the Pratt home and scattered ranches, all that could be seen was sage brush, rocks and vacant land inhabited by lizards, grasshoppers and rattlesnakes.
–Scott Crump, Copperton, 1978, p.8-9

The village of Bingham, five miles within the cañon is remarkable for nothing especially different from other mining camps already described, excepting that murders are rather more common. A few days before our arrival there was a lively family difficulty, in which a father and his three sons were killed. Their relations contemplate shooting the murderer when they catch him, and as in that case the murderer’s friends will "go for" them, and as that "going for" will be avenged, there is likely to be a diminution of the population of the camp.
--John Codman, The Mormon Country. A Summer with the Latter-Day Saints, 1874, p.134

I returned home and thought I would get some cheap place, and do the best I could until things would have a change. I bought a small ranching place at the mouth of Bingham Cañon, moved my family and stock there, built a good corral, and commenced to improve. I bought seventy-five head of Spanish horses, and intended to do ranching and stock-raising business. But to my sorrow, I soon saw that I was again watched; men were prowling around day and night, some of Brigham’s jobbers. I understood it, knowing his motions so well. I commenced laying out in the brush. I saw two men go into the tent where I was in the habit of sleeping. They had a pistol in each of their hands. This was what I expected, and feared being shot in bed. Two nights after I saw two men go in the tent again, and two stood outside with guns in their hands. I concluded that there was no use for me to try to live here any longer. The day following I saw one of the party, a man to whom I had done several favors, and I rounded him up and demanded of him what was the cause of this. He agreed to tell me all provided I would not expose him….
--Bill Hickman, Brigham’s Destroying Angel, 1872, p.175-176

The property [in Salt Lake City] south on both sides of Main from South Temple Street, as I remember it, was residential except that at Third South and Main there was a two-story building, which Dan Clift had erected. The upstairs was used as a dance hall and court room. I remember attending an important trial there. I think it was that of a notorious horse thief, but I do not remember the name. Bill Hickman was the principle horse thief in this section of the territory, with his headquarters in the mouth of Bingham Canyon. There were practically no farms west of the Jordan River and he and the Cottons, with whom he associated, could ride the range with their branding irons with a good deal of freedom, as was done elsewhere in the territory.
–Gene A. Sessions, Mormon Democrat: The Religious and Political Memoirs of James Henry Moyle, p.72

Among other things I became nearly betrayed into the gang of horse thieves who were located at this place [Centerville] and associated with one Ben Tasker, a somewhat noted Utah outlaw, who had a station here. He was known to possess large ranches somewhere southward in Utah on which bands of horses were raised. It was supposed that he was shipping these through northward to Evanston, Wyoming. But in addition to the horses from his own ranch, he shipped stolen horses and kept up a regular transportation of these from the south to Evanston. One of his stations was located in the mouth of Bingham Canyon, where his henchmen, a family of Cottons and another by the name of Butcher, lived. These people both received the horses brought into their neighborhood and passed them on, generally using night riders, to this other station in Centerville. These Bingham people were desperados and quarreled with each other and nearly wiped out the existence of both groups.
–Gary J. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, p.52-53

  HORSE THIEVES.—From every direction come rumors of depredations of horse thieves.  It appears that this nefarious business is carried on upon a systematic principle, and by wholesale, so that the ranges of the Territory are getting almost cleaned out in some places.  We have information to the effect that bands of horses are taken from this Territory to Montana, at which latter place it is presumable they are sold, and in order that the thieves should not return empty handed of animals, they sometimes bring horses from Montana to Utah and dispose of them hereabout.  It is also pretty well understood that horses and mules are frequently stolen from a range in one part of the Territory and sold in another part and then citizens living in the parts where the sales are made frequently miss their animals from the range, from which they have probably been stolen and sold elsewhere.  What is to be done to stop the wholesale horse and cattle stealing operations now being carried on in this Territory, is an important question for consideration.
--Deseret News, Jul 16 1873

The Twenty-Fourth in Salt Lake.

  Thursday, the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Pioneers’ entry into this valley, was observed generally throughout the city, although no public display was made.  The banks and principal business houses were closed, and all observed the Twenty-Fourth as a holiday.  There were many private social parties gathered at the various gardens and places of amusement, in and around the city and at private residences; but the feature of the day was the Sunday School excursion gotten up under the auspices of the Twentieth Ward.

  At 8:15 a.m. the excursionists, to the number of nearly a thousand children and adults, left the Utah Central Depot for Lakeside.  There were nine passenger cars filled, even standing room being in demand; with fruit cars to carry the pic-nic “doings.”

  A pleasant ride of an hour landed the party safely at their destination, where all disposed of themselves as they pleased.  Some bathed, others swung or danced, a band of music having been provided, and still more enjoyed themselves in strolling through the grove.  Pic-nic had been bounteously provided by the excursionists, and there were summer drinkables without limit.  After spending the day in pleasant amusement the party returned, arriving at the depot at 6 p.m.  No accident occurred during the trip; and those present will long remember the day as one of the happiest of their lives.  Those who planned and carried out the excursion had the thanks of all for the general good time they had occasioned.

  In the evening parties fond of dancing found plenty of opportunity to gratify themselves; and judging from the numbers who tripped the “light fantastic” at the various balls throughout the city, they availed themselves of it.  Taking all in all Salt Lake has seldom had a holiday pass more quietly and pleasantly.
--Salt Lake Herald, Jul 26 1873

THREE MEN KILLED.—The following came by Deseret Telegraph last night:

BINGHAM, 24 July.—Three men were killed here this afternoon about four o’clock. The fight occurred near the mouth of Bingham Cañon. The parties killed are old man Cotton and two of his eldest sons. They were murdered near the man Cotton’s house. One of the men’s name who is supposed to have killed them is Butcher, the others are not known.

The following was received this morning:

BINGHAM, 25.—In the fight yesterday, old man Cotton was killed instantly. The youngest son Gabriel was shot five times with a revolver to the body and once with buckshot, to the side of the head, but he is still breathing. The eldest son was shot five times, and cut in several places with a knife. He died instantly. Butcher, one of the implicated parties, was arrested last night. The constable found him in his house. He made no resistance. The examination comes off to-morrow. A young boy named Thompson, passing at the time on horseback, was thrown and had his arm badly broken. There is considerable excitement here over the shooting. The full account of it will come out to-morrow in the examination. The fight was the result of an old grudge.

BINGHAM, 25, 11:00 a.m.

EXTRA—Gabriel Cotton died about two hours ago.

From a gentleman acquainted with the Cotton family, who reached this city this morning, the following particulars concerning the tragedy were obtained:

The senior Cotton was about proceeding in the direction of Butcher’s place on some business, and two of his sons said they had better go with him. They all three started and when they got near Butcher’s house, Butcher called one of the sons in, there being two other men in the house with him. Young Cotton entered and, without any fight, Butcher shot him, Cotton fell to his knees, when Butcher shot him again, and then hammered him on the head with the butt of his pistol, and finally chopped him with a knife. The three desperadoes then shot the old man and the other son. A boy on horseback, believed to be some connection of the Cottons, was also shot at, but the ball missed him and hit the horse, and the boy was thrown and his arm broken.

Coroner Geo. J. Taylor was sent for to hold an inquest on the bodies, and he left this city for that purpose this morning.
Deseret News, Semi-Weekly, Tues Jul 29 1873



Bingham Becomes Notorious for Plural Exterminators.

Thursday evening a private telegram informed us that a man named Cotton and his two sons had been killed near the mouth of Bingham cañon, by one "Sod" Butcher, who lives close by the Cottons, at that place. There were also many rumors circulated through the city on that evening and yesterday, about the affair, most of which were exaggerated, or biased for one or the other parties. The report which is probably the nearest correct is that an old grudge existed between Butcher and the Cottons. On Thursday old man Cotton had occasion to visit Butcher’s place on business, and his two sons, fearing harm might befall their father, accompanied him. Arriving at the house, Butcher invited one of the young men to enter, which he did, at the same time making an insulting remark to one of Butcher’s children. At that Butcher seized a gun, and before young Cotton could escape shot him dead. The father and the other son were at the time a short distance from the house, saw what had transpired, when they commenced firing into the house, but without doing any execution, except to smash some window glass. Butcher watched his chance, and as an opportunity offered he fired again, killing the father, and shortly after wounding the other son, who died yesterday. It is said that Butcher fired at other parties, but the rumors lack confirmation. There was another man in Butcher’s house at the time of the killing, but he is not charged with taking any part in the tragedy. Deputy-Sheriff Sanders, of Bingham, arrested Butcher Thursday evening, and conveyed him to Bingham city, where a guard was placed over him. Early yesterday morning, Coroner Taylor left this city for the purpose of holding an inquest. The inquest was opened in the afternoon, but at a late hour last evening very little evidence had been given. Until evidence is taken we prefer not to publish anything that would prejudice anyone. All of the parties connected with the transaction bear bad reputations in the community. The man Cotton, father to the boys, has been looked upon as a terror to quiet settlers in that region for a long time; and Butcher’s relation to Bill Hickman as his son-in-law, does not add to public opinion in his favor.
Salt Lake Daily Herald, Sat Jul 26 1873

PREACHING AT Bingham.—There will be preaching at Bingham on Sunday, at 11 A.M., and at 8 P.M., in the court room, by the Rev. Mr. Peirce, of this city.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Sat Jul 26 1873

The Bingham (Utah) Tragedy.
  Butcher, who killed Cotton and his two sons, was arrested yesterday.  The youngest son was shot five times with a revolver and once with a shot-gun loaded with buck-shot.  A number of stories are afloat about the affair.  The general belief is the Cotton's were the assailants.  The people of Bingham seem to justify Butcher.  The Coroner is holding an inquest to-day.
--Nashville Union and American (Tenn.), Jul 26 1873

On the 25th day of July, 1873 Coroner Taylor was notified by J.F. Tasker that three men had been murdered at the mouth of Bingham Cañon and there being no justice of the peace willing to officiate he immediately went out to the scene of slaughter and proceeded to hold an inquest in the case.

The three bodies were found lying side by side in a little cabin near the mouth of the cañon and occasionally parties would drop in to see them, but no one being willing to act as a juror in the case it became necessary to summon jurymen from the town of Bingham some miles above, which was done.
--Utah State Archives, Salt Lake County Coroner Record Book, Series 4143 p.109

[The inquest was also reported with slight variations in several newspapers as follows:]




On Friday the inquest on the bodies of Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilbert Cotton and Gabriel Cotton, Jr., the three men shot by Samuel Butcher and others, was held at the mouth of Bingham Canyon, the scene of the tragedy, before Geo. J. Taylor, Coroner of Salt Lake County.

Solomon Gee

Being Sworn, testified as follows.

I was at Mr. Butcher’s about ten minutes before the quarrel. Mr. Cotton, Sen., came along, and he and Mr. Butcher had words; this occurred at two o’clock yesterday afternoon; I could not hear all that was said, but they were talking very hard. The old man Cotton had left and gone below to Mumford’s ranch, when young Cotton came along and asked Butcher where his father was; Butcher told him he had gone down to Mumford’s; young Cotton replied: "You are a damned liar;" at this remark, Butcher and young Cotton commenced shooting; they both had revolvers and shot guns. I saw the boy Cotton shot off his horse by Butcher. Both Cotton boys came there and quarreled. I saw H.W. Taylor shoot at J.F. Tasker.

J.F. Tasker

Was then sworn and said Mr. Butcher shot twice or three times at me when I went down. I then went back and saddled a horse and went down again, and saw the old man Cotton go out of the hollow (ravine), and Butcher following him with a gun in his hand. Old man Cotton waved his hands for me to go away, and I went and harnessed up the horses to the wagon.

Mrs. Mary Jane Cotton.

I and the little boy went down to Butcher’s; Butcher shot the old gentleman twice (meaning her husband). I begged him not to shoot, but he shot him again. There was another man who shot him afterward; I did not know who he was; Mr. Cotton was 52 years of age, Gabriel 19 and Bert 21.

Wm. Kirk

Said he went down to Mr. Butcher’s on business and had a chat with him; we had words; he said I took his poles; I denied it harshly; he struck me and I struck him back; he drove me back up the Canyon, and told me that I had better go and get Cotton’s band, and he would clean them out; I walked backward with a stone in each hand for defense. The old man, Cotton, was down at the cross fence; don’t know why he was there; when I got back we then went down to Butcher’s and had some words with him about the morning’s fight; I left Cotton at Butchers quarreling, and went down to Mumford’s, where Cotton followed me immediately afterward. The eldest boy came down and told us that his brother was shot; old man Cotton and the boy then went up around the north side of Butcher’s house.

Caleb Cotton,

A boy between nine and ten years of age, said one man beside Butcher came up and shot his father. He did not see his father shoot;

Sarah C. Butcher

Said that Mr. Kirk came down and talked tough, as though he wanted to fight; so the children said. She also said that Kirk hit Butcher in the mouth. Butcher then picked up Mr. Kirk and threw him down, and I and Mr. Gee took him off and would not let him strike Kirk. Butcher followed Kirk quite a distance. The fuss was about poles. Kirk said I’ll go and fetch some one that will soon settle you. Butcher replied: "You had better get Cotton and his band." Kirk came again on horseback, and Butcher said, Billy, you had better get down and settle that affair. I never allow anyone to strike me in the mouth—get down and I’ll whip you. Cotton spoke up and said "You told him to bring down Cotton and his band—I am come, and I am always ready for anything you want." Butcher said I ain’t talking to you; I don’t want anything to do with you, so you had better pass along the road. They then quarreled, and Cotton called Butcher a liar. They quarreled quite a while. Cotton then went down to Mumford’s where Kirk had gone just before. I saw young Gabe Cotton coming with a shot-gun. Asked if his father was there, Butcher told him he was at Mumford’s, then Gabe said, "You are a lying son of a b—h; he is there;" he then drew his shot-gun to shoot, but it snapped; Butcher then shot him with a single barrel shot-gun, and he fell off the horse. Bert, another son of Cotton’s, then came and asked where his father was, but no answer was given, except I told him I believed his brother was shot; he was then in the road and fired two shots into the house. Old man Cotton arrived just at that time, and wanted to know who had been shot. Butcher said to Wm. Taylor, "Take care of that man Bert Cotton, Taylor." Told Bert to go into the house; he went down two steps and stood there. Old man Cotton then begun to talk and called Butcher a liar, and a son of a b—h, and said, "If you want anything of me you can have it." He then fired two shots at Butcher, when Butcher took the same shot gun used before and shot him and he fell, I was scuffling with Bert, who was trying to take the gun away from me to defend his father; it was a double-barreled shot gun that was lying beside the steps. Then Butcher turned and shot Bert with a Derringer, because, as he said, Bert had tried to kill him. Butcher never left the house except to go to the stable. Butcher, Wm. Taylor and Gee were all present. It is a quarter of a mile from Butcher’s to Mumford’s place. All was over in about fifteen minutes. Butcher stood outside when he shot Cotton; that is, Cotton was between the house and Butcher when he was shot. Butcher shot Bert once on the stool, once on the bed, and once under the bed. I and my daughter had got the gun from Bert, and he was sitting on a stool when he was first shot.

Mary Butcher

Said I didn’t see any one but Bert killed. I ran into the cellar and hid when the row commenced. Bert was putting water on his head, and took some in his mouth from me as I was passing with water. He said "Oh, my brother." Butcher, Taylor and Gee were there. Thompson came just as old man Cotton came up.

Rebecca Butcher,

Daughter of Mr. Butcher’s, substantiated her mother’s testimony, and said she knew nothing about the scuffle for the gun; she led Bert by the arm and sat him down on the stool and then went out. It was about three minutes between the time the gun was taken and the time when he was shot. The investigation at this point adjourned until yesterday, in order to secure the attendance of other witnesses. At two o’clock yesterday afternoon the investigation was resumed at the Recorder’s office at Bingham City, when the following testimony was taken:

Martin Donovan

A teamster, said, as I was coming home from the Wasatch smelter with the team, I saw a party coming from Butcher’s meeting us going down the canyon (in the direction of Lehi). Cotton was among them, and was ahead on the near side of the road, there were two other gentlemen following him armed, the fourth man apparently about nineteen or twenty years of age, was also following him, but was not armed. One of those on the near side I supposed was Butcher, Cotton and him appeared to be quarrelling. Butcher had his hand on the seat of his pants. Cotton was also armed, but made no demonstration. After he passed me he partly turned around and said to Butcher, I don’t want to talk to you and will not. One of the men that was opposite Butcher laid on his haunches, and apparently took aim at Cotton. The fourth man patted him on the head, and I shouted tut, tut, and he did not fire. They then all walked back to Butcher’s house, except Cotton, who kept on the road. Two men referred to who were armed came up to town with Butcher when he was arrested yesterday, but they are not under arrest. This was about three p.m. on the day of the murder.

Thomas Thomson

Said I arrived at Mr. Cotton’s on the day of the murder—the 24th of July, at which time Cotton was talking to a man whom they call the little Scotchman, living at the first house this side of Cotton’s, was talking with him. I walked up at the time and asked Cotton where my boy was. He did not answer me, but continued to talk to the Scotchman, who told Cotton that he had just had a fight with Butcher, and that he had just come from it. He also told Cotton that Butcher said you had better go and fetch old Cotton and his band to come and whip mine. Cotton replied that if Butcher wanted anything of Old Cotton he could have all he wanted; the little man then started home to his own place; I then asked again where my boy was; if he was out with the herd, but got no answer; I then started to see Cotton’s little boy, thinking he would know where he was; he told me he was out on the range, on a cream-colored horse; I then turned to the well to get a drink; I drew a bucket of water and took one drink; when I looked up and saw the Scotchman coming running his pony from Butcher’s way; I then walked toward Cotton and his two sons; the latter were on the stable, and Big Ben, (Tasker), was pitching hay to them. I heard Cotton say, this man, (meaning the Scotchman), must not go down there again alone. Ben took his belt off and handed it to Cotton; it had one navy six-shooter on it. The two boys and Ben then joked together about having a good time. The old man went down through his own field and met the Scotchman at the bottom end. That was the last I saw of Cotton and the Scotchman. I then went talking to the little boy again, when a teamster came up and said there was trouble down the road, and that some man was taking aim at Cotton. At that time the two sons came off the top of the stable, stripped the harness off the near horse, the second son jumped on it with a double barreled shot gun. The oldest son followed him at about 200 yards distance on a bay horse. Tasker also followed about 100 yards in the rear of the eldest son, with a breach-loading rifle in his hand. That was the last I saw of them. I then ran up the hill in hopes of seeing my boy; as I got on top of the hill I heard several guns go off, I wheeled to the right and made up to Butcher’s house, where I saw a man apparently dead; blood was on his face, and I did not recognize him. I then went on and asked a gentleman who was nearer the house, unarmed and apparently looking every way who it was. He said I don’t know. I then asked him what the trouble was. He again replied I don’t know. I heard screeching in the house. I then went and halted in front of the door, when another man either came out of the house or around the corner with a rifle in his hand and halloed, "You damned old coward stand your ground." I then looked up and saw old Cotton about two hundred yards from the house toward the mountains. I then saw a man drawing a bead on him from behind a stump. He held his aim but did not fire. The man that halloed was an elderly man, with gray hair at the back of his head. I did not see his face, and then advanced to within eight or ten feet of Cotton. At this time one of Cotton’s sons was coming toward the old man. I then turned and went into the house and found it was my boy that was screaming. He was crazy. He asked me what I wanted to kill him for. I tried to pacify him. Cotton made motions with his hands, but I could not tell what he said. He had nothing in his hands at the time. I remained with my boy until the Cottons and the other men came to the house. I saw the faces of horses looking in the door. Mrs. Butcher came in and said, you was always a good boy, and we want to save you. He then came into the house and remained with me, the women and children. The old man was outside talking; presently several, probably six, guns went off outside. I could not tell how many. The women screamed out, the old man is gone. Two men then came into the house, and loaded each a gun, and remarked to young Bert Cotton, who was in the house, "You damned son of a b—h we have got you in a tight place." The two men then went out, and in a moment or two muzzles of guns was stuck into the door-way, and were fired, and young Bert fell on the floor. After he fell three or four pistol bullets were fired at his head, each taking effect. Soon after the same two men came in again when several of the women begged for me and my boy, who was at the time perfectly crazy. This man who I think they call Butcher, ordered the women and children all outside; the smallest woman offered me a baby two months old, saying, take it and hold it close to your breast. The man referred to, was behind them all, furious to get them out. I held my boy by the arm, and tried to pull him out when the women were going out, my hold broke and he remained outside; I then went in again to the side of the bed and took hold of his arm and sat looking at him. The two men then went in loading their guns; the tall man whom I supposed was Butcher, said to me after his gun was loaded, "You d—d old thieving s—n of a b—h, this charge is for you!" He said I had hired my boy out to steal and he had been at it all summer. I begged him to spare my life, and told him to go and enquire about our characters of Judge Harrison—or Mr. Wright—at Sandy, where we had been a good deal. He then cursed me again and raised his gun to his face. I looked at the gun, and then turned to the boy, saying, "Putnam, be a good boy, and we’ll die together."

The man then said I have a good mind to spare you. I said thank you, sir, raised and gave him my hand; we shook hands and gripped tight like two friends. The dark complected man said "This damned old rascal will tell tales," the one that said he would spare me told me to go with the boy and not stop at Cotton’s. As I walked out with my boy old Mrs. Cotton drove up by the first boy that was killed screeching, and asked me to help her. I took hold of the boy’s shoulders and helped lift him in the wagon. I then raised up on the hub and lifted his head up under the seat. I cast my eyes around and saw my boy quartering for the brush. I overhauled him and took him by the arm and told him I would stick by him, and let them put their own dead in the wagon. I then got to Cotton’s place. Ben Tasker came out with a rifle in his hand and said, "I am your friend, but you can’t pass here with that boy." I then said, "Putnam, we must go back." I went back opposite Ben’s little house and went wetting the boy’s head with water, then Tasker told me to take him inside and put him on his wife’s bed. Just as I was going to do it the stage came down the hill. I said to the boy, we are safe, the stage is coming. Tasker stood back on the other side of the road and the stage drove up between us and him. I asked the driver to let me put the boy inside. I also got in and we came to Bingham.

In answer to questions by the jurors Thomson said two men loaded their guns, and I believe two men fired, but I saw no man shoot.

This testimony concluded the evidence in the case. The jurors retired to a private room, and after a brief interval returned the following:



Salt Lake County.

An inquisition holden at the mouth of Bingham Canyon, on the 25th day of July, A.D. 1873, on the bodies of Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilbert Cotton and Gabriel Cotton, Jr., there lying dead before Geo. J. Taylor, Coroner of said County, by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oath do say that they died from the effects of gun and pistol shot wounds from weapons in the hands of Samuel M. Butcher and one or more parties to the jurors unknown. In testimony whereof the jurors have set their hands hereunto, the day and year aforesaid.

J.B. Giles, Foreman

John B. Mathew,

E.G. Sturgis.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the verdict rendered by the jury.

Geo. J. Taylor, Coroner.
--Salt Lake Tribune, Sun July 27, 1873

The bodies of Cotton and his two sons were brought to this city yesterday and buried.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Sun Jul 27 1873

FALSE RUMOR.---A rumor which has been current in town to-day, to the effect that Butcher had been lynched by the residents of Bingham, is incorrect. We took pains to inquire by telegraph to-day, concerning the matter, and received answer that Butcher was safely in jail.


EXCITEMENT AT BINGHAM.---There was considerable excitement in Bingham on Saturday, after the termination of the inquest on the bodies of the Cottons, and threats were made about lynching S.M. Butcher. On Saturday evening Coroner Taylor issued a coroner’s warrant for the appearance of Butcher, before the nearest Justice, also for two other parties unknown to the jury. On receiving the warrant Justice Kinney sent a posse of men from his office to the prison in the upper part of town, to disarm Butcher. As the posse were proceeding to the place where he was, for this purpose, a crowd gathered and threats of lynching him were freely indulged in, but several parties used their influence against such a proceeding and the crowd were eventually quieted, and Butcher, who, previous to this time, had, although under arrest, been carrying a loaded shot-gun, was disarmed.

The examination before Justice Kinney was to take place to-day, when a number of witnesses, additional to those who testified at the inquest, would give testimony. Mr. Hoffman was engaged to conduct the prosecution, and Mr. Loeber, editor of the Bingham Pioneer, had been retained for the defense.

Bingham has been the scene of more than one bloody tragedy. There is quite a large number of graves at the mouth of the canyon, some of which contain the remains of a few parties who were killed by accident, while the balance contain the remains of individuals who have met with violent deaths at the hands of their fellow creatures. These killing affairs commenced in picking off one at a time, then two, and now comes the latest Bingham tragedy, in which three men "bit the dust."
--Deseret Evening News, Mon July 28 1873

It was rumored on Thursday that a man had been hung near the mouth of the canyon on Wednesday evening. Rumor had it that he was a "stock-dealer," and had been elevated for the undue interest he took in other people’s horses. We have not been able to get reliable information in the case, and give it only as a rumor.

Besides immense silver ore deposits, West Mountain District has also very rich placer gold ground, which is worked by a company of Italians. During the past winter this company cleaned up $10,000 in gold dust, as the result of four men’s labor. It owns the bar claim directly opposite Dr. Hickman’s house, in main Bingham Canyon, and a few days since acquired additional ground just above the doctor’s premises. There is every indication that the entire gulch running up from Bingham City to Bear Gulch is richly gold-bearing, and we hope before long to see it thoroughly worked.
Salt Lake Tribune, Tues Jul 29 1873

BURIED—The bodies of Gilbert L., Gabriel and Gilbert Cotton, the three men killed by "Sod" Butcher, at the mouth of Bingham Kanyon on Thursday were brought to town at one o’clock this morning and taken to Mr. J.E. Taylor’s, City sexton. The remains were accompanied to town by some of the relatives of deceased, and were buried this morning.
Deseret News, Semi-Weekly, Tues Jul 29 1873

Utah Murderers.
  Salt Lake, July 28.--Butcher and the unknown persons were found guilty by the Coroner's jury of killing the Cotton family.  There was a good deal of excitement in Bingham Canyon, and some talk of lynching, but the peace was preserved.  No one knows when the trials of any of the murderers can take place, in consequence of the peculiar condition of the law.
--Chicago Daily Tribune (Ill.), Jul 29, 1873


First Day’s Examination.

There was some excitement in Bingham on Saturday night, arising from the alleged fact that officer Saunders had permitted Butcher to remain armed, on the plea that there was danger of an attempt to lynch him; and a telegram was forwarded to this city for the sheriff, but Butcher was finally disarmed, on the demand of a deputation of the citizens, and the angry feelings were measurably allayed.

On Sunday, Deputy-Sheriffs Golding and Dewey went out to Bingham and took charge of the prisoner, who is now in the custody of Constable Fitzgerald and a guard. Mr. Hoffman prosecutes for the people, and Mr. Burmester, of this city, is counsel for the defense.

Yesterday the examination of Simon M. Butcher, for the killing of Gabriel Cotton and his two sons, commenced before Justice Kinney, at 10 a.m. On motion of the prosecuting attorney, the hearing was postponed until 1 p.m., owing to the absence of material witnesses. At 1 p.m. the case was resumed, and witnesses for the prosecution were sworn and examined.

Putnam Thompson, aged 14 years, testified that on the day of the homicide he was riding by Butcher’s house when Butcher appeared and drew a shot-gun on him and told him to stop or he would kill him; did not stop but started the horse to running, when the horse stumbled and fell, and threw him, breaking his arm, and rendering him insensible; said he had never seen Butcher in his life before; did not know who picked him up; there might have been other men there.

Thos. Thompson testified that he was slightly acquainted with the Cotton family; was not acquainted with Butcher; was at Cotton’s house about 12 o’clock on the day of the homicide; his son, the first witness, was employed by Cotton; a man came up and told witness there was trouble at Butcher’s; the two Cotton boys got each of them a gun; the younger Cotton took a double-barrelled shot gun; the man said that he saw some one taking deliberate aim at Mr. Cotton; Ben Tasker had a breech-loading rifle; I turned round to the little boy, Cotton, and inquired where my boy was; he said my boy was on the range on a yellow horse; I went out to the well then, and got me another drink; started up the hill in a northerly direction; as I reached the top of the hill I gazed around to see if I could see my boy; at that moment I heard guns going off. I ran down the hill quartering to the road, in the direction of Butcher’s house; when I got opposite the house I saw a man lying in the road; another I do not know who he was, a little above with nothing in his hand. I asked him who the man was that was killed; he said he didn’t know. I then asked him what the trouble meant; he answered again, "I don’t know." I walked forward opposite the door. I then heard a man halloo out, "Stand your ground you d—d old cowardly son of a b—h!" I don’t know who the man was. Saw old man Cotton and son in a northerly direction from the house, coming quartering to the house. I supposed the man was calling to the Cottons who were about 200 yards from the house. Saw a man resting a gun on a stump, or something, pointing a gun toward Mr. Cotton. I saw that man’s back, he did not fire. Saw a man start from the end of the house to go toward Mr. Cotton. I did not see the man’s face. I don’t know Mr. Butcher. He was a tall man, with gray hair. The last thing I saw was Cotton, and the man gesticulating with his hands. I gazed upon the scene. The young man rode down within ten feet of his father and halted. I then turned and went in the house. I got into the house and found my own boy; he appeared to be terribly deranged. I tried to pacify the boy; told him he wouldn’t be harmed. After some little time the oldest of the Cotton boys came in the door; one of the ladies of the house told him to come into the house, and he would not be hurt; he came in; I heard the lady call him "Bert." I looked at him several times to see if he would notice me.

Court adjourned till Tuesday morning.

Yesterday Sol. Gee and William Taylor were arrested in Bingham, on suspicion of being implicated with Butcher in the killing of Cotton and his sons. Their examination will be had in connection with Butcher’s, now going on before Justice Kinney.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Tues Jul 29 1873



Timely Interposition of the Citizens to Save Him.


On Saturday night, Secretary Black received a telegram from Mr. Lober, editor of the Bingham Pioneer, and counsel for Butcher, stating that there was trouble at Bingham between Judge Kinney and Constable Sanders as to who should have the custody of the prisoner, Sanders refused to give up his charge, while Kinney swore in a special police force for the purpose of guarding Butcher. The object of the telegram was to obtain assistance from the Governor of the Territory, which, under the circumstances, could not be rendered, and of which Secretary Black promptly informed Mr. Lober, stating that until all civil authority was exhausted, he could not act in the matter.

Sheriff Golding and Deputy repaired to the scene of the disturbance, and found, on their arrival, that the citizens had unarmed the prisoner.

Yesterday at 9 a.m. the examination of the prisoner was held before Judge Kinney and was continued until to-day. Two other men have been arrested and are held for examination.


Bingham Canyon runs about east and west through the western range of mountains, forking, however, at several points at a distance of three to five miles up. The mountains on either side of the canyon road are very high and steep, covered at places with a beautiful green foliage, while other portions are barren and rocky. From the entrance to the canyon till Bingham city is reached, evidences of industry strike the eye at every step, every available spot being cultivated in the bed of the canyon, while the rugged sides of the mountains are everywhere pierced with the crowbar and miner’s pick, and in the majority of cases, with promising results. The roadside is also dotted at short distances with miners’ huts, interspersed here and there with quite respectable sized camps. Saloons are also well represented the entire distance.


Are a hardy, thrifty looking people, and full of enterprise and hospitality, as was evidenced wherever we went and were introduced. The proprietor of the Bingham House, especially, gave evidence of his appreciation of the press. This house appeared to be doing the largest business in town, and was highly spoken of by all. The Nixon House, however, has its friends; indeed, all the houses are doing well, and each vies with the other for leadership.


On leaving the canyon, continues in an easterly direction until it reaches Lehi, passing Cotton’s, Butcher’s, and Mumford’s ranches. Cotton’s is the most westerly of the three, being situated at the very entrance to the canyon, at the point where the Salt Lake mail road intercepts that of the canyon.


is situated about a fourth of a mile further east, on the Lehi road, which runs down the hollow, or ravine, made wider than the canyon by its stream spreading out for centuries past, leaving the mountain confines. This was the scene of the murders. Another fourth of a mile in the same direction brings you to Mumford’s ranch, where the old man Cotton and the Scotchman were when young Gabe Cotton, the first victim, was shot. These ranches consist of log cabins, stables, and corrals, surrounded by small corn, wheat, barley, oat, and potato fields, running in narrow strips of land along either side of the road and canyon stream.


After the inquest was over and the verdict rendered, we were, through the kindness of Sheriff Sanders, permitted to interview the prisoner Butcher. On entering the log building where he was confined Mr. Sanders told him to come forward, and gave us an introduction. On extending our hand, with the "How are you, old man," we instantly found our "paw" in the grip of a lion. His iron muscles clinched with the power of a vice. Butcher is a man full six feet in height, straight and bony, with high cheek bones, prominent thin nose and deep set cold gray eyes,--in a word, he is a "Mars" man, and a man probably hard to aggravate, but as furious as a lion when aroused. His composition is rather that of a general than a husbandman. He talked freely, exhibiting not the slightest signs of nervousness, in fact we should have been surprised if he had, for he is undoubtedly a man of iron nerves, which the evidence given at the inquest fully bears out.


GHOSTS and hobgoblins are said to have been seen, at Cotton’s ranch, since the murders were committed. How about Butcher’s, are they "scart" to go there? [This was contained in an article called CITY JOTTINGS, noticed on the same page as the above article.]
Salt Lake Tribune, Tue Jul 29 1873


Catched on the Fly by Our Reporter.

We understand that the Rev. Mr. Peirce, last Sunday, in Bingham, preached two sermons right over Mr. Butcher, the murderer of the Cotton family. We understand the audience in the court room, where the preaching was, appeared much interested, but we have not learned of any beneficial effect of the sermon on the criminal confined in his cell under the pulpit.
Salt Lake Tribune, Wed Jul 30 1873

The Bingham Homicide.

The examination into the Cotton homicide was continued yesterday at Bingham, before Judge Kinney; but up till the leaving of the mail nothing of special interest was elicited more than we have before published.

Excitement continues to run high in Bingham, caused by the lawless course of two or three parties there; but the citizens of that camp are entitled to the utmost credit for the law-abiding spirit they have manifested all through this exciting affairs, and their determination to have the law enforced.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Wed Jul [30] 1873

BINGHAM.—We understand a disagreement arose between Justice Kinney and Constable Saunders, which grew out of the Butcher-Cotton tragedy case. The constable it appears, held an inquest over the bodies of the Cottons before the arrival at Bingham of Coroner Taylor, which the Justice questioned his right to do. One consequence of the affair is that constable Saunders has resigned and another man is acting in his stead.

Nothing new of importance has been elicited at the examination, more than was adduced at the inquest and some of the evidence given at the latter was somewhat of a mixed, not to say conflicting, character. S.M. Butcher, S. Gee and W. Taylor are still held in custody.
--Deseret Evening News, Wed July 30 1873


Continuation of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.

The report of the evidence before the court, published in Tuesday’s Herald, broke off in the middle of Thomas Thompson’s testimony, the mail leaving for this city before he had finished. The balance of Monday was taken up by this witness, but his evidence was the same as published on the 27th, in the proceedings before the coroner’s jury.

Tuesday morning, at 8 o’clock, court again convened and Thomas Rockwood took the stand for the prosecution. He testified to meeting old man Cotton and Butcher and three other men near Butcher’s house, and that Cotton had a pistol, but Butcher was not armed. One of the three men with Butcher had a pistol, and Cotton remarked to witness to notice that those four men were following him.

E.A. Munser testified that he was with Rockwood at the time of meeting the four men and Cotton. He heard Cotton say all he wanted was fair play.

Dr. J.B. Hickman then testified as to the nature of the wounds the Cottons received, after which the Court adjourned to 2 p.m.

At 2 p.m. Martin Donovan took the stand. He testified that he told the Cotton boys and Tasker that old man Cotton was in trouble, whereupon Tasker with a rifle, one of the boys with a shot gun and the other with a pistol, started to Butcher’s house. Court then adjourned to Wednesday.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, J.F. Tasker was placed on the stand and testified as follows: Live in Bingham Cañon; on the 24th Donovan came to Cotton’s place and said Cotton and Butcher were in trouble; he said some man was drawing a bead on Cotton; that the man was down on his haunches at the time of drawing the bead; another man was patting him on the head at the time. Donovan said, "Tut, tut;" Cotton was going down the road and said he did not want anything to do with Butcher; Cotton also told me and the boys not to go past Butcher’s house; but to go around the hill; the younger boy was so far away that I do not think he heard what his father said; the boys started ahead of me; they both got on horses bare back; I got on a horse with a rope around his neck; when I got to where we usually water the horses, my horse would go no further; I then went down on foot, and met a man who worked for Butcher, between the latter’s house and Cotton’s; he asked me what the trouble was; I told him I hoped it was nothing, but was going to see; when I got in sight of Butcher’s house I saw him and two other men standing there; I then started up the hill and passed around the house; when I got up on the side hill they shot two or three times at me; the shots were all fired close together; Taylor was one of the men with Butcher, but the other I did not know; I stated before the coroner’s jury that it was the unknown man who shot at me, but I am not positive who it was; I saw the three men very distinctly before the shots were fired at me, but at the time of the shooting I could not see anything but their heads; they were behind a dug-out; could see the guns or pistols they pointed at me; stood still till after two shots were fired, when I went back to Cotton’s house and saddled a horse; Caleb Cotton, ten years old, told me that his father and Bert were out in the hills above Butcher’s house; he told me to hurry and go to them, as Butcher was near them with a gun and was going to shoot; he said his father was trying to come home, but Butcher was telling him to stop; took the boy with me to show where the old man was; before I got to the place I saw Cotton walking towards Butcher’s house, and Butcher was walking behind with a gun pointed at him; I then knew the youngest boy was shot; started across to get down to Butcher’s house as soon as I could, but before I got there old man Cotton was down in the middle of the road, nearly opposite the house; the old man waved his hands towards me; the inference I drew from his actions was that he wanted me to go back, and not go to him; went back, hitched up the horses and asked Mrs. Cotton to go down and get the dead boy; put a Danishman, my wife and Mrs. Cotton in the wagon; when they had got about half way to Butcher’s the Danishman jumped out of the wagon and came back; when the wagon came back the three bodies were on it; two were dead, but one was not; Cotton had a pistol which came up in the wagon with his body; it was a cartridge pistol, and I had all of the cartridges; it had not been fired during the day; the cartridges were all in just as I had put them; the first stage had just passed as I got to the house the first time; the first boy was shot about fifteen minutes of 2 p.m.; when Cotton started to go down to Mumford’s to see about putting down some railroad ties I called him back and told him he had better take my pistol, and to pass by the right hand side of Butcher’s house; he went the course that I told him to go until he got to an open space between his and Butcher’s houses; he remained there some little time, and then went across to the road; as he crossed the road I called to him, as also did his two sons, Gabe and Bert; we motioned to him to go the way which I had told him to follow; the reason I had for motioning him was that on the morning of the 24th a gentlemen told me that some parties below were going to kill Cotton and me; the gentleman did not say who was going to do the killing; the old man went down through his own field; when Cotton was looking at the railroad grade the man Kirk went down past Cotton’s house toward Butcher’s as fast as his horse could run; he had told me some time before that he was going down to Mumford’s, and my understanding was that there was some business affairs between Cotton, Mumford and Kirk, which were going to be settled.

At this point in Tasker’s testimony the stage for this city left Bingham. The balance of his testimony we will publish to-morrow.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Fri Jul 31 1873


Our report of the examination published Thursday morning broke off, in the middle of J.F. Tasker’s testimony, given Wednesday. After his examination in chief he was subjected to a rigid cross-examination, but little additional was elicited except that Mr. Tasker started to the scene of action with a breach loading rifle and cartridges, which fact the witness seemed very loath to disclose. The witness manifested much reluctance in giving his testimony while being cross-examined.

After the cross-examination of Tasker, the court adjourned till 5 a.m. Thursday.

Mrs. Cotton, wife of deceased, was then put upon the stand. She testified that she saw her husband shot, that she begged the defendant not to kill him, but he would not listen. There was an unreasonableness about her story which has excited marked comment, as her testimony does not tally in the essential features with Tasker’s.

The cross examination of Mr. Thomas Thompson will be resumed before Mrs. Cotton’s cross examination, the defendant’s attorney having demanded that the cross examination be completed before any further witnesses should testify. The court issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Thompson, who does not seem to relish a cross examination. Soon after the witness made an appearance, and the cross examination was to be resumed at 2 p.m.

Mr. Martin Donovan also was brought upon the stand for the purpose of laying the foundation for impeaching him, by showing that he had sworn differently before the coroner’s jury. When asked if he swore that the fourth man put his hands on the man’s head who had drawn a bead on Mr. Cotton, and said "tut tut" and he desisted, he said "no." There is much testimony yet to be introduced, and no doubt a thorough investigation will be had. The excitement, we are informed by parties from Bingham, is allayed; and Mr. Fitzgerald, the officer appointed in place of Saunders, resigned, is filling the position with much judgement and giving entire satisfaction. The unpartial manner in which Judge Kinney presides, is marked, and few magistrates have a more enviable reputation for sound sense. From what we have heard so far, there was a general row, in which more than the accused and deceased were engaged.

On Thursday at 2 p.m., the hour to which the even adjourned, Mr. Thomas Thompson was cross-examined. Nothing new was elicited by the examination. Mrs. Cotton was then cross-examined, but detailed nothing different from what she had testified before. The court then adjourned till 8 a.m. yesterday. A material witness for prosecution not being in attendance, an attachment was issued for the witness living some eight or ten miles distant, and the court adjourned till 2 p.m.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Sat Aug 2 1873


Continuation of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.

At 2 p.m. Friday, Mr. Mumford took the stand and testified as follows:

Was at my house when Cotton’s oldest son came for Cotton, saying there was some trouble between Butcher and his brother; the son said he believed Butcher had killed his brother; Cotton and the boy then started down the road towards Butcher’s house; when they had got about one-fourth of the way to Butcher’s house they went up the hill, and into a ravine out of my sight; I then saw two men going towards Butcher’s house, but I do not know who they were; there were two men following them; I did not see any one around at the time they went into the ravine; was in sight of Butcher’s house all of the time, and could see people moving about there, but do not know who they were; saw men starting in the direction of the ravine in which Cotton went, but could not distinguish who they were; afterwards I saw the same parties come down in front of Butcher’s house.

Examined by the court. My house is one-half mile from Butcher’s; had nothing but my eye to discern the parties with; could not tell whether they had guns or not; did not see Cotton have any fire arms, but saw something that looked like the handle of a knife; while at my house Cotton said he wanted Butcher to keep out of his way; did not hear Cotton say that Butcher had threatened his life; Kirk and my family were with me when Cotton was at my house; Cotton and Butcher had a difficulty prior to the day of the shooting, and there were unpleasant feelings between them; between myself, Butcher, or Cotton, there never have been hard feelings.

The prosecution closed its evidence with this witness.

Miss Rebecca Butcher was the first witness for the defense. She testified as follows:

Bert Cotton grabbed a double barreled gun to shoot father with; mother grabbed the gun, but could not get it away from him; I took him by the arm and told him he could not shoot father; while I had hold of his arm a bullet passed between me and mother; I rushed to the door, but did not see who fired the shot; did not hear any more firing at that time; saw nothing more of Bert Cotton after that; have had no conversations with any one about the matter since; no one told me what story to tell when in the witness stand.

In answer to questions by the court, the witness said: I don’t know what time Bert was shot; think it was about noon when Thompson’s boy rode past; it was before Bert was shot; did not see him fall off his horse, and do not know who brought him in the house; when I first saw him he was crying; his father was not in the house at the time, but came in about ten minutes afterwards; did not hear his father say anything; did not see Mr. Cotton that day; have never been in Cotton’s house; was frightened when I saw they were going to shoot father; just before the shots were fired in the house, I heard shots on the outside; no one came into the house; father was not in the house at any time while Bert was there; Bert was not in the house at all, but was on the second step; there are five steps down into the house; just at the time the shots were fired into the house, Bert rode up to the cellar door on horseback.

Mr. Mumford was recalled for the defense. Saw Bert Cotton leave my house on horseback, in company with his father; he rode up to the door of the cellar; know it was he, because he left my house on horseback, and I followed him with my eyes until he got into a ravine close by the house, and then saw him among those who came down the hill.

Court then adjourned till 8 a.m. Saturday. At the opening of court the defendants’ counsel asked that Mr. Gee be discharged, there being no evidence against him—in order that he could testify for the other defendants. Granted. Court then adjourned till 2 p.m. to allow time to procure other witnesses.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Sun Aug 3 1873


Continuation of the Evidence in the Justice’s Court.

At 2 p.m., Saturday, the examination of S. Gee, who was arrested as being particeps criminis in the killing of Cotton and his two sons, came up before justice Kinney.

Martin Donovan sworn: I recognize one of the parties who was present when the pistol was pointed at Cotton.

Cross-Examination: Mr. Gee was not the person who drew the pistol on Cotton, and I do not know who the man was.

Examination by the court: I think I would be able to recognize the man who drew the pistol on Cotton; do not recollect of seeing Gee before the day of the shooting; of my own knowledge do not know that Gee had any hand in the killing of the Cottons.

Thomas Thompson sworn: I think there is a person here who was present at the time of the killing; Gee was the man I spoke to when I went there; did not look at Gee after I first spoke to him; never saw Gee before that time; did not see Gee take any part in the shooting; he was standing a few feet from the road where the first boy was shot; saw no weapons on Gee.

Mrs. Cotton sworn: Mr. Gee was present when my husband was killed; when I was within fifteen feet of my husband Gee went between the house and the stable; when he got to the stable I called to him twice before he answered; he came to me when I asked him if he were present and saw the wicked deed done; he said he saw it but did no shooting himself; I asked him if he would help me put the bodies in the wagon; he said he had been stopping awhile at Butcher’s house, and that he came from Montana; Gee put his hand on the wagon when it started, and Butcher called him back; he then said he could not go.

Cross-Examined.—Gee said he saw all of the shooting, but fired no shots himself.

Mrs. J.F. Tasker sworn: Was at Butcher’s house between 3 and 4 o’clock, on the 24th; do not know how near I was to the house when Cotton was killed; heard no shooting.

At the close of the examination the prisoner Gee was remanded to custody, and the court adjourned to Tuesday at 2 o’clock p.m.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Tues Aug 5 1873


Butcher committed for trial without bail.

Our mail report of the examination into the Cotton homicides, in Bingham, did not reach last night, but the following was received by Deseret telegraph line:

Bingham, 5, 7:10 p.m.—The examination of Butcher closed and the defence rested their evidence this afternoon. When the case was submitted for argument there was an exciting time in the court room, which however, was finally quelled, and the argument was proceeded with.

Butcher was committed without bail.

Frank Hoffman, the prosecuting attorney, made an able speech, and during the excitement, pledged himself to defend the court.

From another source we learn that Mr. Burmester’s argument for the defense was also an able effort. By the prosecuting attorney pledging himself to defend the court it would appear that the excitement arose from the probable course of the court relative to the prisoner. If so, and if threats were made should the prisoner be admitted to bail, the action of the court having the probable appearance of being coerced might possibly demand revision. All intemperate ebullitions of passion under such circumstances are unwise and provocative of no good results.
--Salt Lake Daily Herald, Wed Aug 6 1873

[Per. Deseret Telegraph.]

Excitement at the Butcher Examination.

BINGHAM, 5, 7-10 p.m.—The examination of Butcher is closed. The defense rested their evidence this afternoon, and the case was submitted for argument. There was an exciting time in the court room, which was finally quieted and the argument resumed. Butcher was committed without bail. Frank Hoffman, the prosecuting attorney, made an able speech, and, during the excitement, pledged himself to defend the court.

. . . the Grand Jury that made the inquest was drawn in utter violation of all law; third, the substantial witness to send Brigham Young, Mayor Wells, Orson Hyde, Joseph A. Young and others to the gallows, was Bill Hickman, who confessed a large number of murders committed by himself. District Attorney Bates also learned that all these judicial proceedings had been carried on without one dollar of money from the United States, and that a United States Deputy Marshal was acting as a detective, and had special charge of the informer Hickman, who was also confined at Camp Douglas. It was evident that the money for these prosecutions had been furnished by parties who had power to enforce their designs, and who would have enforced them but for the stern, law-abiding determination of District Attorney Bates. As soon as it became known that the District Attorney would not join in the conspiracy to hang Brigham Young on the testimony of the confessed murderer, Hickman, and on indictments which the Supreme Court of the United States decided to be utterly null and void, as the Grand Jury was a mere mob, the prosecuting officer at once became obnoxious to the Federal Judges of Utah . . . . [This item was noticed on the same page]
--Deseret Evening News, Wed Aug 6 1873

…A single illustration of the state of things here at that time, will prove this assertion. A few days before New Year’s, 1872, the Deputy Marshal referred to, called on me with an order to sign, to permit him to take Bill Hickman out of prison; go with him and spend the holidays at Hickman’s house under a guard; and when I protested against such an order, he quietly told me, "That it was very important that Bill Hickman should be pacified in order to secure his evidence against the leading Mormons." I have good reason to believe that Hickman was taken out of prison by the special Deputy Marshal and went home under guard, and passed the holidays in his family, for the reason above given….
Geo. C. Bates, ex U.S. District Attorney, in Salt Lake Herald, Jul 20 1873

Examination of Butcher.

We are informed that the statement of the Journal’s correspondent, as regards the examination of Butcher for the killing of the Cottons, was incorrect in a great many particulars. The statement that the attorney for Butcher drew a pistol, is not so. While the attorney was addressing the court, Tasker contradicted him, on which he was denounced as a liar. Tasker had a pistol under his leg at the time, and the defendant’s counsel knew it; he then received the full vials of wrath from the legal gentleman. Tasker and his party had stated that if Butcher should be allowed to go out on bail, "hell would pop!" This was known to the prosecuting attorney, and caused him to say that he would protect the Court; and the defendant’s counsel said "yes, let the Court do his duty, and I will protect him also." Our informant says that the whole matter can be summed up in a few words. Tasker and his crowd came up to intimidate the Court and defendant’s counsel, but they made a woful failure as regards the attorney. As usual the Journal’s correspondent must be sensational and not truthful.
Salt Lake Daily Herald, Thurs Aug 7 1873

More Crime.
  I wrote you two weeks ago that "the murder season had apparently set in."  A few days after three men, a father and two sons, were killed in Bingham Canyon by one Butcher, a son-in-law to the notorious Bill Hickman.  There had been a feud of long-standing between the parties, and from evidence taken in a lengthy examination before the Justice of the Peace at Bingham, it appears that the Cottons hunted the fight, going to Butcher's house for the purpose.  Butcher is described as a tall, quiet-looking man, some 56 years of age, partly turned gray, and a perfect tiger when roused.  He certainly riddled his victims when shooting commenced, and their bodies must have presented a ghastly sight as the widow and mother of the slain men lifted them into a wagon and hauled them away from the scene of the butchery.  It was a horrid tragedy.  Butcher is held to await the action of a grand jury, bail being refused.
--Sacramento Daily Union (Calif.), Aug 9 1873

In my office at the Court House all day attending to legal and other business matters. Lysander Gee came over from Tooele City to see his brother, Salmon, who is in the County Jail and has been there since the 7th instant, having been committed by Justice Kinney for alleged complicity with the Cotton Butcher Tragedy on the 24th of July last. There have been a few light showers of late in the night time.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Tues Aug 12 1873

Salmon Gee was brought before me on a writ of Habeas Corpus. There being no evidence against him sufficient to convict him of the murder of the Cottons as charged, I admitted him to bail (the Prosecuting Atty, Z. Snow consenting thereto).
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Aug 13 1873

Horrible Tragedy in Utah.
  On Thursday, at Bingham, a mining town of perhaps 3,000 inhabitants, twenty-five miles from Salt Lake, Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilber Cotton, and Gabriel Cotton, Jr., father and two sons, were shot by Samuel L. Butcher and a man unknown.  Butcher quarreled with an employe of Gabriel L. Cotton.  This employe invoked the aid of his employer.  He, securing a navy revolver, went to Butcher's house, and was shortly after followed by his two sons, each on horseback--one with a repeating rifle, the other with a double-barreled shot-gun.  The old man Cotton, after some sharp words with Butcher, went to a neighbor's house.  Meantime one of the young Cottons (Gabriel, Jr.), aged nineteen came up to Butcher's place, asked the latter where his father was, gave the lie, snapped his shot-gun and was shot by Butcher and instantly killed.  The other son, Gilbert, aged twenty-one, then came up and asked for his brother, and began discharging his rifle into Butcher's house.  He was hurried away and into a neighbor's house, when the old man Cotton appeared, quarreled with Butcher, fired two shots at him, and was instantly killed by a ball from Butcher's gun.  Butcher then turned and fired three Derringer balls into the son Gilbert, who had been deprived of his gun and had again come upon the scene.  After killing the three Cottons, Butcher and his companion went into the house of one Thomas Thompson, and swore they would "clear out" him and his son; but surfeited with blood they finally left him.  the three dead bodies were thrown into a wagon by three women, mother and sisters of the boys, and drawn home by hand.---Salt Lake Cor. New York World.
--Marshall County Republican [Plymouth, Ind.] Aug 21 1873

PROBATE COURT.—Yesterday afternoon, in the Probate Court for Salt Lake County, the indictment charging S.M. Butcher, R.W. Taylor and Sol. Gee with the killing of Gabriel Cotton and two sons, at Bingham, was read to those parties. Gee pleaded not guilty, and Butcher and Taylor asked for time to plead, which was granted.

A motion for a separate trial for Gee was sustained, and the time for its commencement was set for Friday morning, at nine-o’clock.
--Deseret Evening News, Tues Sep 2 1873

The trial of Salmon Gee, indicted with S.M. Butcher and Robert W. Taylor for the murder of the Cottons on the 24th of July was commenced, he having been by request of his attorneys, H. Stout and ----Burmester, and L. Gee, Esqr., accorded a separate trial. Two witnesses were examined during the afternoon. At 6 o’clock Court adjourned till 9 A.M. tomorrow.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Fri Sep 5 1873

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.—Sometime since we stated that Thompson’s son, the boy who was at Butcher’s on the day of the killing of the Cottons, and who was a most important witness in the case, had suddenly disappeared, and could nowhere be found, and now Thompson himself, another important witness, has vanished from sight and no trace of him can be obtained.. Has there been foul play? This has a bad look with it.


PROBATE COURT.—The trial of Solomon Gee, indicted, in connection with Butcher and Taylor, for the killing of Gabriel Cotton and two sons, was commenced at one o’clock yesterday. Dr. Hickman, Thomas Mumford and Martin Donovan were examined on the part of the prosecution. The evidence given did not materially differ from what has already been given to the public as adduced at the inquest and preliminary examination.

SATURDAY, SEP. 6th, 9 A.M.

At the conclusion of the taking of Mr. Donovan’s evidence, Ben Tasker was placed on the stand. The main points contained in the testimony of the last named witness were that he heard of a difficulty taking place on the day of the shooting at Butcher’s place, between the latter and the Cottons. He went near to Butcher’s where he saw the last named individual, Gee, and Taylor standing together a short distance from Butcher’s house. There was also another man whom he did not know standing some distance away from the others. The three men fired either two or three shots at witness. He then turned and went away, when another shot was fired at him by the same parties. He then went to Cotton’s house, saddled a horse and returned to the vicinity of Butcher’s house, where he saw the latter driving Gabriel Cotton towards the house. Cotton had no weapon in his hands, but Butcher had a gun. After a while, Cotton turned and faced towards where witness was and waved both hands. Witness then returned to Cotton’s house, hitched a team to a wagon, and sent a Danishman and his (witness’s) wife to Butcher’s to fetch the body of young Cotton, whom he had been told had been shot. They started towards Butcher’s, but when they got about half way there the Danishman got out of the wagon and went off. The dead bodies of Gabriel and Gilbert L. Cotton, who were brought down in the wagon, and David Cotton, mortally wounded, was also brought down.

The witness had endeavored to find Thompson and his son, important witnesses for the prosecution, but had not been able to trace them. He saw Thompson’s boy on the road near Butcher’s place, on the day of the killing. He was on horseback and Butcher took aim at him with a gun, when the lad slid over the side of the horse and fell to the ground, breaking his arm.

Tasker’s examination in chief was not concluded up to half past twelve o’clock.
--Deseret Evening News, Sat Sep 6 1873

The trial of Gee was proceeded with during the day. Several witnesses testified for the prosecution, which rested at 5:15 P.M. Court adjourned till Monday, the 8th instant, at 9 A.M. This day I entered upon my 70th year. Amy Jane’s father and mother came from Kay’s Creek to spend the Sabbath with us.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Sat Sep 6 1873

PROBATE COURT.—After the examination of Ben Tasker on Saturday, Mrs. Mary Jane Cotton, widow of Gabriel L. Cotton, was placed on the stand and testified for the prosecution. The main points of her evidence were that she saw Butcher shoot her husband with a shot-gun, and Taylor shoot him with two pistols. Butcher told her that he had shot her son who was in the house. Witness did not say that she saw Gee do any of the shooting, but she saw him around the place when the others did it. At the conclusion of the taking of this witness’s evidence, the prosecution rested.

MONDAY, Sept. 8th.—The defense did not introduce any evidence, but rested their case.

Judge Z. Snow delivered an argument for the prosecution, and was followed by Mr. Hosea Stout, whose arguments were ingenious and well put. Mr. Burmester then followed, also for the defense, and if logic and eloquence consisted of sound he would most certainly be a most powerful reasoner. When our reporter got within half a block of the Court House he could hear him quite plainly. Perhaps some of the jurymen were afflicted with deafness. Apparently he is a strong believer in sound philosophy.
--Deseret Evening News, Mon Sep 8 1873

The trial of Gee, implicated in the Cotton murder terminated at about 5 P.M., the jury rendering a verdict of "not guilty". Three divorce cases were up for consideration and some Probate matters, and all together, I had a very busy day.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Mon Sep 8 1873

THAT MYSTERY.—The whereabouts of Thompson and his son, important witnesses in the Butcher–Cotton tragedy case, is still shrouded in mystery. Various speculations are indulged in regarding their fate. Some imagine that, impelled by fear, they left this part of the country voluntarily, while others are of the opinion that they have been bought over and are hid away, and not a few are inclined to the belief that they have met with "foul play."

PROBATE COURT.—Yesterday, in the case of Solomon Gee, indicted for murder, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty and the prisoner was discharged.
Deseret Evening News, Tues Sep 9 1873

A BUTCHER CASE.—Messrs. Wood and Peterson are butchers, have left their old stand, on the State Road, and have opened one in a more populous locality. It is opposite the Herald office, and the street car junction, First South St., where they will be pleased to see and wait upon their old customers, and scrape an acquaintance with new ones. Read their advertisement.
Deseret Evening News, Wed Sep 10,1873

PROBATE COURT.—Wednesday, September 10th, 9 a.m., Hon. E. Smith presiding….

The People, etc, vs. Butcher et al. The case was called and the prisoners were arraigned. The counsel for defendants entered the plea separately, of not guilty. A motion for a separate trial of R.W. Taylor was filed yesterday. Set for hearing Thursday, 11th inst., at 9 a.m. Court adjourned till 1 p.m.
--Deseret Evening News, Wed Sep 10 1873

Held Court all day. John Welch and Henry Roberts were tried for larceny, found guilty and punishment fixed at 6 months in the Penitentiary. H. Stout, counsel for Defence.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Sep 10 1873

The Bingham Murder Case.

The jury in the Bingham murder affair were empaneled early in the week, and proceeded with the investigation of Sol Gee's portion of the case.  Mr. Gee was acquitted.  The charges against Butcher and Taylor were commenced but adjourned till Wednesday next.  A curious thing connected with the trial of Gee was, that an enterprising butcher of this city--Mr. Levi Garrett--was rejected from the jury because he gave a reason why he would have objection to bringing in a legal verdict of guilty, that "he killed himself, every day."  Whether this expression was taken as evidence of over light-mindedness, or as indicating too much of a murderous "mindedness," is too entangled a question for us to unravel.  It killed his prospects as a juryman anyway.

In this case the Jury was empaneled, and Dr. Hickman, Thomas Mumford and Martin Donovan, witnesses in behalf of the prosecution, examined.   The . . . examination of Mr. Donovan was concluded at the adjournment of . . . . court.  Dr. Hickman's testimony was to the point, showing the nature of the wounds of which Mr. Cotton died.  Mr. Mumford simply testified to the fact that Cotton was at his house on the day of the homicide with a Mr. Kirk.  Donovan testified that Gee had a pistol, was elicited that tended in any degree to implicate Mr. Gee in the killing of the Cottons.  Mr. Gee seemed self-possessed, and his brother . . . ted in his defense ; . . . court adjourned till nine a.m. to-morrow, when the trial will be proceeded . . . .  [part of the paper was missing due to a hole on one edge.]


The case of Solomon Gee was continued at the Probate Court yesterday.  Mr. Donovan concluded his testimony and Benjamin Tasker was next examined.  His evidence was by no means direct, although a great effort was made by the prosecuting attorney to elicit testimony that would tell upon the minds of the jury.  He gave a full detail of what took place at Butcher's house at the time of the shooting.  He saw Gee there, but did not see the shooting.  Tasker's examination was continued into the afternoon, and then Mrs. Cotton was put upon the stand.  The prosecution closed with this witness and the court adjourned till Monday.

Mysterious Disappearance.

Some two weeks since, the Tribune mentioned the fact of the disappearance of a boy named Thompson, who lived in Bingham Canyon, and was witness to the Cotton murderers [sic].  The lad was sent by the parents on business to Tintic, and not returning at the expected time, and no word having been received from, suspicions of foul play were aroused.  The father of the boy is now missing.  He also was witness to the murder of the Cottons and the general supposition is that he has been murdered.


Yesterday the case of the People vs. S.M. Butcher was called up.  The defendants withdrew their motion for a separate trial, and the case was set for Wednesday next at nine a.m.
--The above five articles are all from the same issue of the Salt Lake Leader, Sep 13 1873, p.5, p.7.

PROBATE COURT.—To-day the time in the forenoon was occupied in trying to empannel a jury to try the Butcher and Taylor murder case. Two pannels were exhausted and another special venue was issued for another twelve, to be present at 2 o’clock, when it was expected the jury would be completed and the trial proceeded with.
--Deseret Evening News, Wed Sep 17 1873

The County Court was in session till 2 P.M., when an adjournment was taken till Oct. 14th. The Probate Court was opened at 9 A.M., when the case of the people vs Samuel M. Butcher and Robert W. Taylor for the murder of Gabriel L. Cotton, Gilbert Cotton, and Gabriel Cotton on the 24th of July last was called up. Only six jurors of the 24 first summoned were taken. Another venire was issued for twelve men, and out of the first 7 drawn, two jurors were taken. The following named jurors having been accepted and taken were sworn to try the case: Millen Atwood, William Thom, Samuel Bringhurst, Jesse West, David Yearsley, Lafayette Granger, George Stringfellow, Henry E. Bowring, Samuel D. Simine, Charles S. Cram, Elbridge Tufts, and Henry McEwan. Martin Donovan, Thomas Mumford, and ------ were sworn and testified during the day on the part of the prosecution.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Wed Sep 17 1873

PROBATE COURT.—Yesterday afternoon the following jurors were sworn to try the case of the People vs. Butcher and Taylor:

M. Atwood, Wm. Home, Samuel Bringhurst, Jesse West, David Yearsly, L. Granger, Geo. Stringfellow, H.E. Bowring, Chas. S. Cram, S.D. Sirrine, E. Tufts and H. McEwan.

The following witnesses were sworn for the prosecution:

G.F. Tasker, Martin Donovan, Thos. Mumford and Thos. Rockwood; the three latter testified during the afternoon. No important facts, other than were elicited during the trial of Sol. Gee, were adduced.

THURSDAY, Sept. 18th.—The examination of G.F. Tasker occupied all the forenoon.

A discussion arose between counsel as to whether statements made by a man named Kirk in connection with the case could be repeated by witness and received as evidence. The Court ruled that if Kirk’s statements were to be taken as evidence the latter himself must make them in court.
--Deseret Evening News, Thu Sep 18 1873

J.F. Tasker, Nancy Tasker, Thomas Thompson, and Mary Jane Cotton were sworn and testified on the part of the People, which closed the evidence for the Prosecution.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Thu Sep 18 1873

PROBATE COURT.—Thursday, Sep. 19th.—Thompson, the witness who disappeared mysteriously when wanted for Sol. Gee’s trial, was placed upon the stand.

He testified to going to Cotton’s house to look for his (witness’s) boy. While there a man came and said that Butcher was going to shoot old man Cotton and G.F. Tasker. Two of Cotton’s sons were unloading hay near the house, and when they heard this one of them took the harness off one of the horses, jumped on its back and rode towards Butcher’s house, followed by his brother. Witness went to Butcher’s to look for his boy, and entered the house, where he found him. The boy was so badly hurt as to be unable to recognize his father. Witness had been in but a few minutes when "Bert" Cotton entered, followed by Butcher and Taylor, who came in, loaded their guns and went out. Immediately afterwards the muzzles of two guns appeared through the door. These weapons were fired, killing "Bert" Cotton instantly.

Butcher then came in, drove the women out of the house and commenced loading his gun and, while holding a bullet in his hand, said to witness: "This is for you, you horse thief and son of a b—h." Witness begged that his life might be spared and protested that he was not a horse thief, but a gentleman of good character. Butcher seemed satisfied and told him that he might take his boy away, which he did.

Witness did not know the whereabouts of his boy, not having seen him during the past four weeks. He ate breakfast with him at the Washington House. After breakfast the boy started for Lehi, and witness has not seen him since that time, but feels very anxious about him.

Witness never had any difficulty with Butcher, nor was he apprehensive of any danger from him, either to himself or his son.

Friday, September 19th, 9 a.m.—The prosecution rested their case.

R. Burnsides was sworn, and examined for the defense. He had resided with Butcher six years. His evidence was very much mixed and conflicting.

Mr. Sol. Gee was the next witness. He testified that when Kirk went to Butcher and asked the latter, at his house, whether he had accused him of stealing poles, Butcher said he had not, but some one had told him he had done so. Kirk then struck Butcher in the face. The latter lifted Kirk up and threw him down, and was prevented from doing further damage by Witness and Mrs. Butcher. Kirk then left and returned, accompanied by old man Cotton. After Cotton had passed a few ugly words with Butcher, Kirk and he passed on towards Mumford’s. Shortly afterwards, young Gabriel came to Butcher’s and asked where his father was. Butcher told him he had gone to Mumford’s when Gabriel leveled a shot-gun at Butcher and attempted to fire, but the cap snapped. Butcher then sprang into the house, returned, bringing out a weapon, and as Gabriel was in the act of firing off the second barrel, Butcher shot him. Cotton came back from Mumford’s, and saw his son’s body lying on the road. He then fired three shots from a pistol at Butcher, when the latter shot him with a shot-gun. "Bert" Cotton then appeared, fired several shots at Butcher from a pistol, and then ran towards the house, when the latter shot him, causing him to fall inside.
--Deseret Evening News, Fri Sep 19 1873

The trial of Butcher and Taylor was proceeded with and ------ Burnside and Salmon Gee were sworn and testified on the part of the Defendants. Some rebutting evidence was introduced by the Prosecuting Atty, which closed the evidence. Judge Snow for the Prosecution and H. Stout for Defence addressed the Jury in lengthy speeches, and the Court adjourned till 9 A.M. tomorrow.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Fri Sep 19 1873

PROBATE COURT.—Sept. 19, 2 p.m. Jury called, all present.

Sol. Gee still on the stand. He was cross-examined by the prosecution, which took about half an hour, when some of the jurors asked the witness if he drew the diagram of Butcher’s house. He said he did, but did not do the writing on it.

The prosecution asked the privilege of putting Mr. James Nelson on the stand, which was objected to by the defendant. The objection was overruled. He was then sworn and examined.

Mrs. Cotton, Mrs. Tasker and Mr. Thompson were re-called for the purpose of rebutting some of the testimony of the defense.

The respective attorneys then rested, and Mr. Z. Snow, on the part of the prosecution, addressed the jury for one hour and a half. Mr. H. Stout, on the part of the defense, addressed the court for one hour and the court adjourned.

Sept. 20, 9 a.m. The court resumed its sitting. The prisoners were brought into court, when Mr. Burmester for the defense addressed the jury. He reviewed the testimony of the several witnesses at length. He waxed eloquent and loud as he proceeded. With the exception of several lapsus linguæ he did well, defending his clients with ability.

His argument occupied an hour and a half in delivery.

Mr. Z. Snow closed for the prosecution, in an argument of one hour, when the court adjourned till two o’clock.

At that time it was expected that the court would address the jury and the case would then be given to the latter to consider with a view to a verdict. --Deseret Evening News, Sat Sep 20 1873

The court met pursuant to adjournment. Theodore Burmester, Esquire, addressed the Jury on the part of the Defence, and Judge Snow then made the closing speech for the prosecution. The case was given to the jury at 3 P.M., and at 8 P.M. the jury came into Court and rendered a verdict of "Not Guilty", and thus terminated one of the most exciting and unpleasant trials that I ever presided over. The proceedings throughout were conducted by Judge Snow, Prosecuting Attorney for the People, and H. Stout, T. Burmester, and L. Gee, Esqr. For the Defence, with zeal and ability and much fairness. My health during the trial has been poor, and yesterday and today, I have been quite sick, and under ordinary circumstances should have kept my room, but the urgency of the case nerved me to keep at my post till the matter terminated.
–Sarah C. Thomas, ed., Elias Smith’s Journal, Sat Sep 20 1873

AQUITTED.—It will be seen, by our Probate Court minutes, that the jury in the case of Butcher and Taylor, indicted for the murder of the three Cottons, returned a verdict of not guilty as charged in the indictment. The jury stood nine to three for acquittal, on the first ballot.

The general expectation was that such would be the verdict, or that the jury would disagree, which would have caused a new trial to be necessary.

The evidence showed that the accused never left Butcher’s house, and that all three men who were killed, met with their fate there. The indictment charged the accused of murdering, etc., with malice aforethought, and the jury could not see that they could find a verdict of guilty as charged according to the evidence adduced before them.


INFORMATION WANTED.—Mr. Thompson, the leading prosecuting witness in the Butcher tragedy case, called this morning and desired us to publish a description of his missing son, with a request for any person who may know anything of the whereabouts of the lad to impart the information for the benefit of the anxious father.

The boy’s name is Putnam Thompson, he will be fourteen years old next December, is short for his age, has large dark eyes, a pleasant, open countenance, brown hair, and rather dark complexion. When last seen by his father he had on a black coat, and brown overalls over gray pantaloons. When he left this city for Lehi, over four weeks since, he rode a bay three year old horse colt, branded C on left jaw, and had a wrench brand on the left hip. Address David Boucher, near Dayton, Butte County, California. Mr. Thompson himself will leave for California in a short time.


PROBATE COURT.—Saturday, Sep. 20th, 2 p.m.—Court met pursuant to adjournment. The prisoners, Butcher and Taylor, were present when the Court charged the jury, and the latter retired to their room, in charge of the bailiff. At 8 o’clock the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty.
--Deseret Evening News, Mon Sep 22 1873

Butcher, of Bingham canon, Utah, tried for the murder of Cotton and his two sons, several weeks since, has been acquitted.
--Albany Evening Times (NY), Sep 22 1873

In Third District Court, nolle prosequi entered in case of William Taylor, Soloman Lee, and L. Butcher indicted for the murder of the Cotton family on the ground of previous trial and acquitted in the probate court.
--Journal History of the Church, Aug 3 1877 p.1


Saul M. Butcher, a son-in law of Bill Hickman, was arrested yesterday morning at his place on South Jordan. The arrest was made under an indictment found against him recently by the Grand Jury for the Cotton murder. But as he was tried and acquitted of the charge in the Probate Court, a few years ago, there seems to be a question about the soundness of this second criminal prosecution. The accused, however, was taken to the Penitentiary, where he will remain until the court convenes, when the nature of his case will be inquired into.
Salt Lake Tribune, Thur Aug 2 1877

For Murder.

The grand jury having found an indictment against S.M. Butcher, for the murder of the Cotton family, in Bingham, a few years ago, he has been arrested and placed in the penitentiary. Butcher was tried and acquitted in the probate court shortly after the commission of the bloody deed. Subsequently the "Poland bill" was enacted, divesting the probate courts of jurisdiction of such cases; however, confirming the judgements and decrees theretofore made by these courts. This being the case the indictment and arrest of Butcher at the present time, probably have some importance or meaning, of which the public are not advised.
--Salt Lake Herald, Fri Aug 3 1877


April Term, Michael Schaeffer C.J., Presiding Friday, 3.

The indictment against Saul M. Butcher was sollied.
Salt Lake Tribune, Sat Aug 4 1877


April Term, Michael Schaeffer C.J., Presiding Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Charles Popper vs. S.M. Butcher; on application for an injunction; case set for hearing on the 13th inst.
Salt Lake Tribune, Wed Aug 8 1877


April Term, Michael Schaeffer, C.J., Presiding Tuesday, Aug 14

Charles Popper vs. S.M. Butcher; this cause came on to be heard on defendant’s demurrer to the complaint. Ordered that the demurrer be overruled; defendant excepts. Leave given till the 17th inst. to file an answer, and hearing thereon set for Saturday, the 18th inst., at 10 a.m.
--Salt Lake Tribune, Wed Aug 15 1877

Mon. 12 [September, 1887]. D.B. Bybee, of Hooper, was arrested at Taylor’s Mill, Weber Co., on a charge of unlawful cohabitation. S.M. Butcher who resides near Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake Co., was arrested on a similar charge.
–Andrew Jensen, LDS Church Chronology, 1887 p.15

Sat. 26 [November, 1887].—In the Third District Court, Samuel M. Butcher, of Herriman Precinct, who promised to obey the law in the future, was fined $50 for unlawful cohabitation.
–Andrew Jensen, LDS Church Chronology, 1887 p.21

Today, Bingham Canyon is well known as the site of one of the world's largest copper mines.  But in the 1870s it was just another mining camp trying to get some recognition for the mineral wealth it contained.  National attention first came to Bingham Canyon not because of its ore deposits, but as a result of a gun battle that resulted in the death of Gabriel Cotton and his two sons.  Marla Webb, a relative of the Cotton family, discovered the following first-hand account of the 1873 Butcher-Cotton gun fight in the Salt Lake City semi-weekly Deseret News.  The story was told nearly 20 years later by a participant, Samuel Monroe Butcher, the husband of Sarah Catherine Butcher, the oldest daughter of William Adams Hickman.

S.M. Butcher Arrested
For Killing the Cottons in Bingham Canyon 1873
He shows this and is released on
His own recognizance

  Nearly seventeen years ago Bingham Canyon was the scene of a tragedy which resulted in the death of Gabriel Cotton and his two sons Gabriel and Bert.  The fatal shots were fired by Samuel M. Butcher, more generally known as “Sod” Butcher.  The latter was arrested and a month later had a trial and was acquitted by a jury, the justification being self defense. 

  It has been rumored recently that Mrs. Cotton was determined to have the matter again brought up, and she has been successful, for last night’s R.G.W. train from Bingham carried Deputy Marshal Bush and Mr. Butcher, the latter, under arrest.

  He was placed in the penitentiary and was to have a preliminary examination today, but the grand jury having found an indictment charging the defendant with murder, in having killed Gabriel Cotton, no hearing will be had till the case comes up in district court.

  Mr. Butcher was seen today and gave the following account of the tragedy;

  The trouble took place on the 24th of July 1873.  There was a man by the name of Kirk up there, and he and I had some trouble that day, and we came near to having a fight.   We did not, however, for when we were feeling pretty warm, Kirk said, “I am not able to fight you will find someone who is.” He then went away.

  I thought it was all over and went about my business.  Pretty soon Kirk and Cotton came back.  I said to Kirk, “I suppose you have come to settle that trouble?”  He made no reply but Cotton broke in and said, “You go into the house you s_______   b________“

  I replied, “Cotton I’ve got nothing against you, and if you have something against me, I’ll be glad to correct it.”

  I then got into the house, because I was a little afraid of the old man Cotton.  I knew him to be a dangerous man, and I had been warned that he and his sons wanted an opportunity to kill me.  When I went into the house, Cotton and Kirk continued on their way up to Mumford’s.

  Sol.  Gee who now lives in Tooele, and Wm Taylor whose present whereabouts I do not know, came up to have a pick sharpened, and I helped them.  Then we all went into a tent by the side of the house, and took dinner with my family.

  After dinner I came out of the tent, and was surprised to see Gabe Cotton Jr. sitting on his horse in front of the door.  He had a double barreled shot gun and dropped it on me.  Then he asked where his father was.  I moved close to my door and replied, “He’s gone up to Mumford’s with Kirk.” Gabe then said “You are a ______ _______liar.”

  I jumped into the house and seized my shotgun, which was loaded with buckshot.  He cocked his gun and I saw that he meant to shoot me.  I had nothing left but to fire first, if I could, or be killed, so I let him have it in the breast and neck.  He fell backwards to the ground.  His gun did not go off but it was still cocked and would have gone off soon, only I acted promptly.  Deputy Sheriff Saunders afterwards drew the loads from his gun, and found nine buckshot in each barrel.

  I knew old Gabe Cotton would be on me, so I reloaded my gun.  It was no use trying to get away, for I had no chance.  In about ten minutes, Cotton and his son Bert came.  Cotton saw the dead man lying on the ground and asked, “Who is that you’ve got there?”

  I knew that if I told him, he would drop me so I answered, “You had better go and see.”

  I knew that he would shoot so I backed around to my yard on the south side of the house and in front of the tent.  I had my gun in my hand.

  Cotton stepped up and seeing who it was on the ground exclaimed, “Oh God!  It’s my son.”  He jerked his revolver and began shooting.  I tell you he was pretty quick.  I dodged about so as to spoil his aim and he got in three shots.  I could not get time to steady my gun and fire, so I held it by my side and shot at random.  The charge caught him in the breast and he toppled over dead.

  I turned and looked toward Bert who had been back. He was riding towards me and opened fire.  I drew my pistol and shot at him, the bullet getting him in the left side of the head, close to the eye.  He fell from his horse, I don’t know how long he lived, but it was a very little time after he was hit, if at all.

  In the mean time Ben Tasker, who was on the north side of my house, and about a hundred yards away, opened fire on me.  He had a breech loading rifle and could just see my head over the tent where my children were at the dinner table.  Tasker fired five shots at me, and the bullets went through the tent and came close to me.  It was just luck that none of the children were hit.

  Gee was at the back of the house and saw the whole thing.  Tasker kept on shooting, so I took after him, and he broke and ran over the hill like a wolf.

  While this was going on a man named Thompson had got into the house; how I do not know.  I saw him there and ordered him off.  That evening we found a knife which he had hidden under a pillow, but he got no chance to use it.

  A while after Mrs. Cotton and one of her sons came and took the bodies. 

  I remained at the house until Deputy Sheriff Saunders came down.  He had no warrant for me, but I gave myself up and was taken to Salt Lake.  In August 1873, I was tried in the probate court, before Judge Smith and a Jury.  Judge Snow prosecuted and Mr. Burmester was my attorney.  The jury brought in the verdict of not guilty, and I was released.  I thought that ended the matter.  I would never have shot the Cottons but I had to, or they would have killed me on my own ground.  They had a bitter feeling against me.  I was in their way and had been warned that they would use me up.  I had kept in for a whole year and shortly before this took place, I was told Cotton said he would kill me before the snow fell.  The feeling against me was because I sheltered officers and others who were searching for stolen horses that Tasker and the Cottons had run off.

  Mr. Butcher also referred to the fact that in 1876 he was indicted by the grand jury of the Third District and on the matter being brought to the attention of Judge P.H. Emerson,  who was then on the bench, the indictment was ordered dismissed on the ground of a former acquittal.  Again in 1877, he was indicted, there being three cases.  These were dismissed by Judge Shaeffer on motion of Sumner Howard, then district attorney.

  This afternoon Mr. Butcher brought in the record of his former acquittal, and was released on his own recognizance.  This practically ends the case.
--Deseret News, May 6, 1890
. . . .
1873--Gabriel L. Cotton and his two sons were killed by S.M. Butcher near the mouth of Bingham canyon, Salt Lake County.
. . . .
--Salt Lake Tribune, Jul 24 1910

To see pictures of the Butcher family, click here and here.
For more information on the Cotton family, click here.
The unexpanded, unrevised original paper can be read here.
1862 petition for a road to Bingham Canyon, click here.
Description of mining districts in the Oquirrh Mountains, 1873, click here.
An aerial photograph shows the location of the Butcher Ranch, click here.
Some of the Butcher family lived in Bingham into the 1950s, click here.
To return to the Butcher Index page, click here.
To return to the Hickman Index page, click here.