James Connelly

(Date Unknown - April 15, 1947)


The Lusk Herald
April 17, 1947


James Connelly Dies Here Tuesday

James Connelly, a long-time resident of Niobrara County, died at the Spencer Hospital Tuesday afternoon, April 15, from complications arising from a fall, in which he fractured his hip about a month and a half ago.

There are no relatives in this part of the country and Sheriff D. A. Shoopman is trying to locate a brother in Kentucky.

The deceased is about 73 years of age and has engaged in sheepherding and ranching in this locality for the past forty years or more. Little is known of his early life and funeral arrangements have not been made pending word from the brother if he is located.

The Lusk Herald, July 22, 1948

Rugged Pioneer Life of late Jim Conley Revealed Here by Nephew, W.L. Readnour

W.L. Readnour, cousin of the late Noah Readnour or Jim Conley (Connelly) as he was known here, brought some interesting information to this community about his notorious uncle when visiting here the past week.

The Readnour estate was settled Saturday when at a sale of the real and personal property, Henry Kraft was the high bidder for his old neighbor's land. Conley's land had adjoined that of Kraft's.

The nephew, W.L. Readnour, knows much of the Conley story because the younger Readnour lived with the older man's parents for some 14 years and heard from them how their son had left Kentucky after shooting a man.

It was in 1892 that Noah Readnour (Jim Conley) made his escape form Kentucky. He was 20 then and had had trouble with another young man over a girl. One night his adversary and his brother sneaked upon Readnour and shot him in the hip. As the pair galloped away, Readnour shot at the riders, killing one.

Despite the pleas of his parents to remain and face trial, Noah believed it better to leave and save the family feud that he was sure would exist even though he shot in self defense. For 36 years his parents never knew his whereabouts.

With $10,00 reward placed upon him, there was at one time an effort to get Readnour from Nebr., where he had taken up residence, but Noah got wind of the attempt and moved up into the Black Hills area where he led the most rugged of pioneer life.

Some 36 years ago he did venture back to the old home at Williamstown, Ky., but only his parents knew of his return and he left them shortly after, never to be heard of again by his father or mother.

His mother wrote numerous letters to him in the belief he was still alive, but Noah never replied. However, among his possessions, was found the last letter his mother had written in 1910 before she died. He had kept it spotlessly clean and preserved.

It was apparently shortly after his visit home that he came to Wyoming to homestead. He lived a rather secluded life, worked for some other ranchers and was known as a "good hand." But he was rough and tough. He bought the best horses, the best harness, the best gun that he could and gave these away and got better as he found them. He apparently saved little.

When at last about a year and a half ago, he decided to return to Kentucky to give himself up, he was an old man. He did have $2500 which he carried in a suitcase along with his false teeth and a few other possessions. Enroute, the suitcase, $2500, false teeth and all were stolen except for $75 he had strapped to his person.

When he got to the Sheriff's office in Williamstown he was so sick that he could hardly go farther, and told much of his story lying on the floor of the sheriff's office. Kentucky officials no longer wanted him. Records were gone, if there had been a charge against him. For a month or so he remained with a brother Wash Rednour, but soon quarreled with the family and returned to Wyoming.

The nephew, W.L. Readnour, lives at Cincinnati, and he first learned about his uncle form the radio, where sensational reports were told of his return. Mr. Readnour went to Willimastown and met the uncle. The old man held younger people there by the hours telling them tall tales of the west.

It was after returning to Lusk after giving himself up in Kentucky that Jim Conley fell and broke his hip. His last days were lived with the same roughness and toughness that had described his whole life. He gave nurses or Dr. Reckling of the Spencer Hospital no peace.

Still the people who worked with him and who had come somewhat to know him respected him for what he was, a tough old pioneer.

W.L. Readnour, getting ready to leave here Sunday, asked The Herald to express his and the family's appreciation for the many kindnesses rendered the old man. Mr. Readnour said "I have certainly met some fine folks in my short visit to Niobrara County."

He was joined by other members of the family in Lusk Sunday for a trip into Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

The Lusk Herald, March 7, 1946

Man Claiming Lusk Residence Admits Killing 50 Years ago

The story carried by two national press services this week, of a Lusk, Wyoming, man who returned to Williamstown, Ky., to surrender to authorities for a killing he committed 50 years ago, has created considerable conjecture here this week.

The man who surrendered gave his name as Noah Readnower, but is believed to have gone by another name here. However, the Herald, at its early press time, had been unable to confirm the belief. The man did leave Lusk on a trip last week.

The 73-year-old Readnower found that he wasn't a fugitive; that there was no existing warrant for his arrest.

It was Carl Hightower who, in 1896, fell dead in a gun battle near the Mount Pleasant Christian Church, about four miles from Williamstown, and three sisters agreed to let the matter drop.

COURT OF INQUIRY CALLED BY JUDGE

County Judge C.A. Pettit, who called a court of inquiry into the 50-year-old case, said the brother, Jack Hightower, had conferred with the sisters, Mrs. Lucy King, Mrs. Oba Lanter and Mrs. Edna Littell, and decided to make no attempt at prosecution.

Relating his story to Sheriff Caldwell, Readnower said he was returning from the church, when he met Hightower and Marion Rankin, both mounted. As they passed, he said, Hightower pulled a gun and fired. One of the shots hit his hip, and he was thrown by his frightened horse. Readnower said he drew his own gun, shot and killed Hightower .

Readnower told Sheriff Caldwell he left home after the killing on the advice of his father, who, he said, had explained that here was no money with which to hire a lawyer for his defense.

Readnower, 23 years old at the time, went to Iowa and worked for years in a mine. He then went to Wyoming, became a homesteader and now has 480 acres of land at Lusk.


Editor's note: These articles appear here as published with two variations of the name Readnower and Readnour.

















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