Square Off


A New Trial Granted in the Famous Peter Brannigan {sp} Murder Case—A Brief History of a Remarkable Trial.


Peter Bannigan, on Dec. 25, 1876, at Bismarck, Dakota Territory, in an affray which occurred at Bannigan's saloon at that place, shot and killed John D. Massingale, a soldier in the United States army. For this homicide Bannigan was indicted for murder and had a trial in Bismarck in the latter part of February, 1877. He was found guilty of the charge of murder on the jury trial, and sentenced to be hanged on the 26th of April following. Geo. P Flannery, E. A. Williams, and H. M. Davis, Esquires, of Bismarck, defended the case at the trial. In March, after the trial, Bannigan, by the aid of Fitz. Fitzgerald, who once kept a gaming resort in St. Paul, and Charles Driscoll, a saloon keeper in Bismarck, bribed the jailor in the absence of Alex McKenzie, the noted officer of Bismarck, to unlock the doors and let Bannigan escape. The plot was carried out, and Bannigan, mounted on a good horse, left Bismarck for White Earth Reservation. A few miles from Bismarck he was overtaken by a "blizzard,' in which he froze his feet and face, and became totally blind. Desperate and alone on the terrible prairie, Bannigan gave his horse freedom to go where he chose, and for forty-eight hours he sat doggedly, until the swelling had so subsided that he could see a little out of one eye. He saw a light in the distance, and riding up to it, found himself in the village of Audubon, Minn., about 25 miles east of the Red River, having been carried by his horse over 200 miles from Bismarck. He was obliged to rest, and while resting, he was recaptured by John Haggerty {sp}, sheriff at Fargo, and conveyed back to Bismarck. Later, in April, he telegraphed Messrs. Erwin & Griffin, of St. Paul, retaining them to renew the battle in the courts. Mr. Erwin, with the local attorneys for Bannigan, obtained, only a few days before the day set for Bannigan's execution a stay of the proceedings and the allowance of a writ of error to the supreme court. In June last Mr. Griffin argued the writ of error before the supreme court of Dakota, at Yankton, and later, in December, Mr. Erwin again re argued the case, the attorneys for the Territory claiming the record as incorrect. The attorneys were highly gratified on receiving from Hon. B. S. Williams, clerk of the supreme court, late yesterday, a telegram that "judgment of the court below in Bannigan's case is reversed, and the cause remanded for a new trial." Bannigan will be again tried in May next at Bismarck.

Bismarck Tribune, 2/14/1878

Human Derrick

Posted 02/26/2015