Cass County’s first homicide
Two men sat on the steps of Joseph McLane’s general store on a beautiful spring day when Nathaniel (Nathan) Graves rode up.
A number of men were milling about as a public sale was being held a short distance from the Philadelphia establishment. A few glanced up at Graves, who suddenly drew his pistol, aimed at one of the men on the steps – a man named Fowler – and fired. The other man on the steps, pioneer settler Alexander (Alec) Beard, would tell authorities that Graves never spoke a word.
Then, Richard McDonald rode up. He had witnessed the murder. Graves immediately took flight with McDonald in hot pursuit. Perhaps McDonald had the speedier horse or simply was the more skilled rider. With McDonald rapidly narrowing the gap, Graves soon drew his horse to a stop, got off his mount and waited for McDonald with a drawn knife. The two men struggled until others arrived. Graves was disarmed and dragged off. For his part, McDonald had suffered serious knife wounds from which he would recover.