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Thomas Dillin Murdered
Jasper Courier
Friday July 27, 1883

This is the first of a series of stories that appeared in the Jasper Courier between July 27, 1883 and April 25, 1884. There was some controversy over the facts surrounding the shooting. Was it murder or self defense? The Jasper Courier in its writings clearly believed that Ozro Cooper was guilty of murder. His brother in law, J. E. Strain offered conflicting information. Both views are said to have been derived from statements solicited from unbiased individuals. Cooper surrendered in Evansville April 21, 1884 and taken to Jasper for trial. Apparently he was returned to jail in Evansville because of threats of lynching in Dubois County. While there he was interviewed by an Evansville Courier reporter, who after the interview, apparently felt Cooper would be exonerated. The five day trial which ended Tuesday May 13, 1884 yielded a verdict of guilty, and Cooper was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Foul Murder:  All the northwest portion of the county were into a fever of excitement on last Saturday morning as the word was carried from mouth to mouth that Mr. Thomas Dillin, a prominent farmer and citizen of Madison Township, had in hot blood been shot down and killed by Ozro L. Cooper of the same township, and that his son Samuel Dillin Jr. was also severely wounded, over a difficulty in regard to the division of some rent wheat which they had sown together on the Lemmon farm in Boone Township. It seems from all circumstances surrounding tha Cooper had been anticipating a difference in regard to it for some time and went to the threshing of the wheat on Friday armed and prepared for a fuss.
He had a lawsuit begun with Dillin in regard to it, but came in that day and ordered proceedings therein stopped, saying he had agreed to forgive Dillin what he wanted. After the threshers had left with the machine and some 8 or 10 men were on the ground with half a dozen teams for the purpose of hauling the wheat away, Mr. Samuel Dillin Jr and Mr. Kellams had hold of a sack of wheat to throw into a wagon, when Cooper forbid them to load it until he got his share. Mr. Dillin told him not to "get on a high horse" about his share, but wait until the rent was pain according to agreement, and then they would settle about his share of the crop fairly. Mr. Sam'l Dillin and Kellams then attempted to out the sack onto the wagon when Cooper with one hand jerked it to the ground at the same time putting his hand on the ready revolver in his hip pocket. Jerking the wheat provoked Sam, and he reached across the sack, not seeing Cooper's pistol, and slapped him with his open hand, when Cooper drew back a step and raising his pistol, shot Sam, who seeing the pistol had turned sideways, in the hip, making a severe wound.
Cooper immediately wheeled halfway round and fired twice at Thomas Dillin who was standing 6 or 8 feet away and had been saying nothing to him for several minutes. Each shot took effect, one entering the stomach near the navel and severing the descending aorta, the other entering the front of the inside of his left leg, severing the femural artery and Dillin fell over on some wheat sacks and died in a few moments. Mr. M. Holder started towards them and Cooper shot at him but did not hit him. By this time Sam had recovered from his surprise and drawing a pistol started towards Cooper, who turned and ran, Sam shooting at him three times. After one shot Cooper hollowed out and it is thought probably he is wounded. Sam's wounded leg let down on him then, and he could follow no longer, and Cooper made good his escape, the half dozen men present having their attention called to the teams being frightened by the firing and all running away.
The coroner held an inquest on Saturday and Sunday, finding the above facts. The friends of Dillin immediately authorized Sheriff Joseph to offer $500 reward for the arrest of the murderer and active search of the country is being made for him. It is hoped the man may be speedily arrested and brought to justice as his previous actions conclusively show that he was expecting to raise a fuss and shoot somebody.
Mr. Dillin was 45 years old an 1 month, was born and raised in Madison Twp., and was one of its most prominent citizens. He was for a year publisher of the Ireland Argus, was a Justice of the Peace for eight years, was road superintendent in his township, and supervisor at the time of his death. In all of these positions he acquitted himself with credit and with satisfaction to the people and Madison Twp. will greatly miss his attention to the public welfare of the township and his great enterprise and tact in making good public highways. He was also a member of Jasper Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, which order took charge of his corpse and buried him with the beautiful ceremonies of orderon Sunday.
A sermon was delivered by Rev. S. J. Martin to the small portion of the congregation which could get inside of the church. The Resolutions of the Order will be found in today's Courier.