Archived Story

Murder a fact, motives disputed

Published 1:07pm Saturday, March 31, 2012

The facts surrounding Austin’s first murder are not in dispute. In August of 1856, Horace Silver and William Oliver, both of Austin, struck Chauncey Leverich over the head at his place of business at the corner of Bridge and Chatham Streets. Silver and Oliver plead guilty to assault and paid fines of $10 and $20.

The two immediately left town. Austin was under territorial law at the time and the men likely feared harsh vigilante justice. Some time later, Leverich died of his injuries.

The historical records do give conflicting accounts of the motive behind the attack. Some say that Leverich was operating a saloon and Silver and Oliver were rowdy customers. After being kicked out of the saloon, the two exacted revenge on Leverich.

Another account holds that Leverich’s business was a grocery store. On the night of the incident, he had received his first order of goods, delivered by wagon. Friends gathered to help stock the store and were visiting about attending a dance later that night. The story goes that Silver, a close friend of Leverich, began teasing him by flicking the cigar out his mouth. This irritation, apparently meant in humor, caused a fist fight that resulted in the fatal blow to Leverich.

Whatever the motive, the result is the same. One of the community’s early leaders was dead, not yet 30 years old, and Austin’s first murder had occurred.

 This Week at the HHH

Wednesday: Peter Rabbit Story Time presented in cooperation with the Austin Public Library at the HHH. Free, no registration required. Craft activity and snack featuring garden vegetables.

 Coming soon to the HHH

Social Concerns: Ghost Towns of Mower County by Dustin Heckman of the Mower County Historical Society at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17. To attend, register at the HHH office at 433-4243.

Stepping Out for Autism Walk: Mill Pond on Saturday, April 21, part of Autism Awareness month. Walk and family picnic to generate funds for HHH autism programs. Contact the HHH office at 433-4243 for information.

A Chocolate Affair Spring Luncheon: Monday, May 7. Contact the HHH office at 433-4243 for information.



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