Transcription of newspaper article published in the Rocky Mountain News, September 20, 1902, Denver, Colorado.



Defenseless Farmer Shot, Dragged
and Kicked, Then Left In a
Ditch to Die


Frederick Thompson has a chance for recovery. The delicate scales just balance: he clings to life by a thread .. so slender a breath might sever it. That he should for a day survive his experience with ruffian holdups Thursday Night is a marvel bordering on the miraculous. Attacked by two armed men, shot from behind, dragged from his wagon to a ditch, brutally clubbed and kicked each step, and finally robbed and thrown into a ditch containing half a foot of water, while he was fired upon a dozen times, he yet summoned strength to drive nearly seven miles before, breathless, bruised and bleeding, he swooned in the arms of the blue eyed girl wife who sat at the ranch home eagerly awaiting his return.
If Frederick had known the meaning of fear, his brutal assault and probably murder would never have occurred. When two armed and masked ruffians sprang on either side of his wagon, pointing each a gun at his head, and one of them cried, "Throw up your hands!" Thompson's ready reply was, "I guess I don't know that it's necessary," and he accompanied his words with a stinging back hand blow in the face of his right hand assailant. That was pluck. Thompson's blow was against impossible, overwhelming odds.
With body perforated with bullets, and head and face beaten almost to a jelly, bleeding from twenty wounds at every _________ _____________ (words not readable) and expectorating blood from within almost in a stream, he drove all the weary, stretching, paind-mad miles to his home, and believing himself to be dying, bade her 'he' loved good-bye.
"Nan, oh Nan," he called at the gate, "Nan, I'm shot." And then, in answer to the eager questionings of where, he answered, weakly, "Oh, everywhere." Carried to the light in his room, he sank into his wife's arms: "I'm going, Nan," he whispered, kissing her again and again. "I -- I -- knew they had killed me, Nan; but I wanted so to see you and the boy, Nan. I -- I-- just lived, Nan, to say -- to say, good-bye."
Breath failed him. Prostrate from loss of blood which still spurted from a dozen wounds, and wet and cold with the water, mud and slime of the foul ditch into which he had been thrown, the exhaused man lay on his wife's bosom and waited for life to come back in one sustaining breath. He was at that moment, while she kissed - his - forehead - and smoothed the clotted, tangled hair, that life's pendulum swung lowest.

Returning From Denver

Frederick Thompson, aged 27 years, lives on the ranch that was once his father's, twelve miles west of Denver, between Semper and Broomfield. He had been to Denver with two loads of hay. His brother-in-law and hired hand, Frank Meickel, had preceded him home with one wagon, by several hours. Thompson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson, Sr., live at Harris, five miles west of Denver. Thompson stopped there at 8:15 o'clock Thursday night, and his mother came out to speak to him. His purse he had secreted in the wagon, and he brought this out to give his mother some money. As she clasped it in a thin, trembling hand he saw two men pass by, walking apart on either side of the road. One seemed slender and quite young. The other was taller and stouter. Thompson put his purse in his pocket and drove on toward the ranch home, seven miles distant.

Boarded the Wagon

When near the ditch opposite Maham's young orchard, and half a mile from his Mother's home, the men he had seen passing him before, masked now, and each holding a revolver in hand, sprang upon the wagon on either side of him, the youngish one called to him to throw up his hands. "I guess I don't know that it's necessary," replied Thompson, dealing the assailant to his right a back hand blow. With that the youngster shot him from behind. The bullet ranged through the left side. Two other shots followed in quick succession. Then ruffian hands were laid upon him, and they dragged him, face down, across the road and over yards thick studded with cockleburs, to the brink of the cold, slimy ditch.
"Take my money, take everything, but spare my life," he pleaded.
"Kill the ----- ------ ------- ------," cried one, and at that began an assault altogether inhuman and brutal beyond the measure of words.

Shot at Twelve Times

Blow after blow and kick upon kick were raised on head, face and body. Robbed then and thrown into the dirty ditch, he was not left to unconscious misery without a devilish and cowardly attempt to destroy him. Standing on the bank with their victim just beneath them, they fired twelve shots at him, bespattering him with mud and water, perforating his clothing and grazing his flesh but for all that, not one bullet found a vital mark, not one stung its way to the seat of life. His face was set with blood that streamed from wounds where the burrs pricked and stripped the flesh, where rough heels had gashed and in the right temple a bullet had cut the flesh and grazed the bone.

Lay in the Ditch

Wracked with pain and stunned by shots and blows and loss of blood he swooned there in the ditch's dark waters. Reviving, he lifted himself, but seeing his team, he mistook it for the men and crouched low again the ditch's mire. Finally he recognized his team and dragged himself to where faithful old Kate and Polly, his beautiful grays, stood patiently waiting, he mounted his wagon and began the homeward drive. His money was gone, but a gold watch he carried had not been molested. Behind his wagon he had been leading a bay mare, his buggy horse. She was gone. Next morning Frank Meickel found the mare's harness and Thompson's hat by the roadside.
Thompson's drive in the night is indescribable. It seemed years to him before he reached the hill top and saw the welcome gleam of light across the alfalfa fields streaming from a window of his home. "If I can live to tell Nan goodbye!" That was his soul conscious thought. His opening the field and house gates seems a miracle. At the first he fainted; then recovering consciousness crawled on hands and knees to it.
At the second he supported himself, by the harness of the lead horse. "Nan" he called, "Nan, oh, Nan, I'm shot."

An Agony of Suspense

George Meickle, Mrs. Thompson's father, who lives ten miles north of the Thompson place, had arrived that evening. Meickel, his son Frank and Mrs. Thompson soon had Thompson in a clean bed and in dry clothes. They stanched the flowing blood, waiting eagerly for the wounded man to catch his breath. Mrs. Thompson was in an agony of suspence as her husband struggled for life. In her ears rang his pitiful words when he thought himself dying. "Nan, I'm dying, dear. I -- I -- just wanted to live to see you and the boy again. Just to get here, Nan, and tell you goodbye."
At Broomfield lives Mrs. Mary Wright, Mrs. Thompson's aunt. In her residence is a phone. They rang for Dr. Horace Robert Burns and his assistant, Dr. Lion, at Louisville. By 2:30 a.m. the physicians had arrived. At 5 a.m. one 38-caliber bullet had been removed from Thompson's stomac, his flesh wounds had been dressed and he was resting unaccountably well. Yesterday afternoon he was actually raised to a sitting posture in which he seemed more comforable. However, the expectoration of blood is serious. His case is uncertain. His chances seem even. Nothing has been of the stolen mare. Probably the ruffians returned straight to Denver and sent the mare far away as a decoy. They got $75.00. Thompson and his wife were raised within a few miles of each other and have been sweethearts many years. They have been married since mere children. Mr. Thompson's parents gave him the old homestead and took his smaller place at Harris.
Thompson has two brothers in Denver, Thomas Thompson, Jr., a restaurateur on Colfax avenue, and William Thompson, real estate, 1713 Seventeenth street.

To the Scene in an Auto

Aboard a Winton automobile car of latest fashion and great speed, with Webb Jay as conductor, a News representative and a News artist took a thrilling ride to the scene of the holdup and to Thompson's home. Taking a circuitous route in going they covered the distance of fifteen miles in a half hour.
In two instances a half mile was made in twenty-five seconds. Three times they made a mile in a minute and ten seconds. Once they actually ran away from a swift moving Colorado and Southern passenger.
The Denver police will keep a sharp lookout for the assailants of the Broomfield ranchman. The affair happened in Jefferson county, but Chief Armstrong telephoned to the sheriff of that county and asked for a description of the men.

Pictures accompany article, but the copies are of quite poor quality.


Transcription of newspaper article published in the The Denver Post, September 19, 1902


Fred Thompson Had Sold Two Loads of Hay in Denver and Was on His Way Home with the Proceeds When Shot in the Back by Robbers -- Little Hope of Recovery -- Three Bullets Fired at Him Before He Fell From Wagon.

Broomfield, Colo., September 19 - Fred Thompson, a young ranchman living five and a half miles southeast of Broomfield, was held up and shot three times by two holdups about 9 o'clock last night on the Boulevard road, at 11 o'clock this morning Mr. Thompson was still alive, but the attending physician holds out little hope of recovery. The holdups escaped.
The shooting and robbery occurred at a point on the Boulevard road three and a half miles southeast of Broomfield, and Mr. Thompson had no warning of his danger until he was suddenly ordered by two men in the roadway to throw up his hands, the order being reinforced by a rifle and a big revolver in the hands of the holdups. The ranchman either refused or did not make any effort to throw up his hands and a second later one of the holdups, who stepped to the rear of the wagon, aimed his rifle at Thompson's back and fired, the bullet going clear through the body. The second holdup fired his revolver almost simultaneously, the bullet striking the breast bone and dropping into the abdomen.
The man with the revolver then fired again, this time the bullet striking the left temple and grazing the scalp. It seems almost miraculous that this shot did not kill Thompson.

Fell From His Wagon
Thompson fell from the wagon and the horses came to a standstill. As soon as the ranchman fell to the ground the two hold-ups seized him and dragged him to one side of the room, where they beat and kicked him into unconsciousness, after which they rifled his pockets of $75, unhitched the third horse, which had been tied to the rear of the hay wagon, mounted the animal and escaped.
With almost human instinct Thompson's team did not move from the spot and remained quiet for two hours, at the end of which time Thompson recovered consciousness. He dragged himself to the wagon and in some way managed to get in it and started the team homeward. Thompson then again became unconscious.
The horses arrived home shortly after 11 o'clock and Meikle, the hired hand, went out to help unharness them. He spoke to Thompson, but did not receive an answer. Looking into the bottom of the wagon he saw the still form of his master and then hastily ran to the house to notify Mrs. Thompson that something had happened.
Search for Bandits
Meikle and Mrs. Thompson carried the injured ranchman into the house and put him on the bed, after which the neighboring ranchmen were aroused and a messenger sent to Broomfield to notify Mrs. Mary Wright of this place to send for Dr. Burns at Louisville, who was summoned by telephone. Dr. Burns arrived at the Thompson ranch at 2:30 this morning and dressed the bullet wounds and injuries of Thompson and made him as comfortable as possible. The bullet, which entered the breast, was located and extracted.
After recovering consciousness under Dr. Burns' attention, Mr. Thompson said he could not describe his assailants, more than that one appeared to be young and of medium height and build and the other seemed to be middle-aged, medium height and quite stout. The young man carried the revolver and his companions had the rifle.
Mrs. Thompson, wife of the wounded ranchman, is a niece of Mrs. Mary Wright of Broomfield, one of the best known residents of this section of the state. Frank Meikle, the hired man, is a brother-in-law of Thompson and bears an excellent reputation.
Hold-Ups From Denver
It is generally believed that the two hold-ups came from Denver and that they had been following Thompson all day, knowing he had sold his hay and therefore must have more or less money in his possession. The horse they stole on which to make their escape was bay mare, weighing between 1,100 and 1,200 pounds. The horse has a white stripe down its forehead. The hold-ups probably rode the horse for several miles and then turned it loose, knowing full well that they could be all the more easily traced if they kept the animal in their possession. The ranchmen in this vicinity are thoroughly aroused over the affair and threaten summary punishment if the robbers are captured.
Mr. Thompson and his hired man, Frank Meikle, left the Thompson ranch early yesterday morning with two loads of hay, which were sold for $75.00. The ranchman had three horses and the hired man two.
After the hay was sold and delivered Thompson remained in Denver some time to make a few small purchases. Meikle started home with his team and wagon some time before Thompson and reached the ranch fully an hour before his employer. Meikle says he did not see any one on the road and was not molested in any way.
Transcribed from The Denver Post, Saturday, September 20, 1902


Ranchman Shot by Holdups Has Chance for Recovery

Broomfield, Colo., Sept 20 -- The condition of Fred Thompson, the young ranchman who was shot three times and robbed Thursday night while on his way home from Denver on the Boulevard road, is quite favorable today and Dr. Burns, the attending physician, now entertains hopes of recovery. Mr. Thompson is in a serious condition, but it is believed his strong constitution will pull him through. Besides the three bullet wounds, his body is covered with bruises from the beating and kicking he received at the hands of the hold-ups after being shot.
A careful examination shows that Mr. Thompson was not shot through the body from the back, but was shot twice in the head and once in the left side. The balls which struck the head glanced off and caused only scalp wounds. One came out at the right side and shot off the top of the right ear.
The bullet which entered the left side struck a rib and did not reach a vital spot. The ball was been extracted.
As yet no trace of the two hold-ups or the bay mare they escaped on has been obtained and the officials are as much in the dark as ever. A sharp lookout is being kept in every part of the county, however, and it is believed the criminals will sooner or later be apprehended.
Thompson's two brothers, William and Thomas, who reside in Denver, visited their brother's ranch last night. Thomas, who is engaged as a restauranteur at 44 West Colfax, returned early this morning.
"Fred certainly had a terrible encounter," said Mr. Thompson, "but, as by a miracle, his injuries will not likely prove fatal. A large 48-caliber bullet was taken from his side last night, but the examination showed that his intestines were not penetrated, and blood poison is the only complication feared. The wounds on the head are painful but only the scalp and one ear are injured. His face is swollen double from the brutal beating and I hardley recognized him when I first saw him.
"He has not the slightest idea who his assailants were, and his chief bit of identification is their size, one of them being quite short and another rather tall. He says he thinks the tall man bears some marks from the encounter, as he was able to get in several blows before he was beaten and shot into insensebility"
Article in The Denver Times, September 19, 1902

Similar type article from the Denver Times is in our possession, but the copy is quite poor and bearly readable.

Note: There is a picture of Frederick Thompson and wife Agnes Meikle on their wedding day on page 2 of this issue of the newspaper. Again, not a real clear picture.

Transcription of article pulished in the Denver Republican, September 20, 1902


Boulder, Colo., Sept 20 -- (Special) A mistake was made in regard to the shooting of Frederick Thompson near Harris Thursday night. He was badly kicked about the back and chest, and this no doubt led to the report that he had been shot in the back. One bullet grazed the back of the head, another the temple, and the third struck a rib in the breast. None of the wounds is dangerous. Unless some unexpected complications set in Thompson will be able to be out in a few days.


Submitted and Transcribed by Mary Thompson Saban, granddaughter of Frederick J. Thompson. Despite the seriousness stated in the first articles, the later articles do clear that up. He was wounded, shot three times. None of the wounds was life threatening. The beating he received must have been far more painful that the bullet wounds. To the best of my knowledge, the assailants were never caught. Neither the horse nor the money were ever recovered that I am aware of. It was however one of the most publicized moments of early Adams County.

Some genealogy notes: Frederick Thompson's father was Thomas Thompson Sr, and we have found no evidence his name was William as suggested in one of the above articles.

Mrs. Thompson's maiden name was spelled Meikle. (And she had dark brown eyes, not blue eyes!)

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