Much thanks to Phelps County Phelps Helps newsletters and the book “Happy as a Big Sunflower” about life in early Phelps County. This book has several other brief mentions about our family, like descriptions of Joe Galladay’s speaking style, Josephine Moser Steward’s husband’s card playing, and Jacob and Sam Moser too!!
Several families including the Galladay, Moser, Daggett, Sweezey and Miller’s went to Phelps County. Nebraska in about 1873. Sometime shortly after that, William “Crazy” Miller, who’d been the first sheriff, abducted one of Ruth and Joseph Galladay’s daughters ( possibly Cordelia/Phidelia) when she was 16. He kept her imprisoned for some time and she apparently had 1, perhaps 2, sons. She escaped to the Dale farm and was rescued by Emma Dale and her husband. According to the Phelps Helps Newsletter, she went then by train to rejoin her family who had moved away. In 1877, Miller was shot by a group of men including James Sweezey, Sam and Jacob Moser, John Daggett and Bob and Sam Dale in an incident on his land bordering the Moser farm. Miller was killed by Sweezey (who was sheriff after Miller)and Dale injured.
Three years later (1880), they were brought to trial and found not guilty. It was a large trial with 60 witnesses.
Here’s some of the problems:
The Galladay’s appear to never have left Phelps county after 1873. They are on the 1880 census (well, Ruth is. Joseph died in 1879). The time frame for the daughter having two children seems off. If all arrive in 1873, she probably doesn’t disappear until 1874 at the earliest, you’re talking 2 years for two kids, who ” were never taught to speak” making it 1876, then “several years” before the shooting in 1877. It doesn’t work out. Rolf Johnson’s diary in “Happy as a Big Sunflower” definately dates the shooting as July 20 1877, so that’s the most definate date. The arrival of the settlers is from a remebrance by Sweezey of when they arrived in 1873. So there’s only 4 years for the whole incident. Rolf only mentions the daughter as being Miller’s mistress and Joe Galladay’s daughter and having a son. My best guess for the timeline is:
1873 — Arrival
1874 — Abduction
1875– son born
1876 –escape and “several years” of peace
1877 July — Shooting
But it still barely works time wise.
Now, the FAMILY connections, and there are alot.
Joe Galladay is Oliver Whitney’s step father, making the “daughter” Oliver’s half-sister and her sons his nephews. Sam Moser is Oliver’s father-in-law, Jake Moser his brother – in law. Bob Dale marries Cordelia’s sister Sarah Moser (Sam Moser’s daughter’s and Jake’s sisters) becoming Oliver brother in-law. James Sweezey’s daughter is married to Elton Miller, William “Crazy” Miller’s brother. A nephew Delbert is living with the two of them in 1880, probably the son of Crazy and the Galladay daughter. I haven’t found a second son. Ruth’s son Homer is born in the right time frame tho also so I suspect he mgight really be one of the sons, but he’s always listed as Ruth’s son or Frances’s brother. Ruth would have been almost 50 when he was born tho. So it sounds like a family fued. Rolf’s diary states there were frequent shooting incidents between the neighbors.
Here’s some more speculation:
Oliver and Cordelia are in Smith County Kansas in 1875, is their absence from Rock Falls connected to the kidnapping ? Did they leave for a few years to get away from Crazy Miller??? Did the rest of the Galladay’s? If so, they had to have returned prior to Joe’s death in 1879. And everyone’s on the 1880 census — except the two daughters who may be the one mentioned. Which daughter is it? Who were the sons? Where’d they go to? Where’d the daughters go? Where’d that train take her and the son(s)? Did everyone arrive earlier than thought?
This has to be one of the most interesting stories in my family, but getting it straight sure isn’t going to be easy.
Just another version from the Phelps County Sheriff’s web site:
“Somewhere in the prairies of southwestern Phelps County near Spring Creek lies the unmarked grave of a would-be-killer who died in 1877. Articles in the newspaper state James Sweezey was Sheriff at the time. The deceased, William P. Miller, a former Sheriff, lived in a combination dugout and log cabin next to the Moser farm. Miller always carried a gun & threatened his neighbors. He kidnapped 16 year girl ( old Cordelia (?) Golladay (daughter of Joseph and Ruth Golladay) ) and kept her imprisoned. Shortly after the birth of her second child, the girl escaped to the home of Robert Dale.
After the escape, Miller appeared to reform. However, as the years passed, more threats to the neighbors were reported. On July 19, 1877, Miller attempted to carry out his death threats. He threatened to kill Sweezey. Sweezey ordered him to surrender without result. Miller died from three gunshot wounds that day. Jacob Moser, Samuel P. Moser and Robert Dale were also with Sweezey.”
for more info see phelps helps newsletters, the book Happy as a Big Sunflower and http://www.phelpso.org/FramesPages/HistoryFr.htm