Man Believed to Have Been Murdered Greeted by Old Friends
Body Thought to Have Been His Had Been Identified and Buried by Relatives--Alleged Slayer Proves Alibi
[From Eagle Valley Enterprise, Eagle, Colo, Feb 21, 1908]
Submitted by Leah Tourond - ltourond@explornet.com

Fairfax, Mo.--When Jacob A. Funk alighted from a train at Skidmore, Nodaway county, and greeted and was recognized by his old friends he was as one who arose from the dead, and could also have enacted the part of Enoch Arden, for the "Phillip Ray" and his wife still reside in the town. He could even have done something more startling than this. He could have been taken to the cemetery and been shown the grave in which his body was supposed to have been laid more than a dozen years ago. He did not do this, but left on the first train for Maryville, where he suddenly appeared before his sister, Mrs D.S. Holmes, who felt that she was confronted by one from another world.

The story that forms the basis of those surprises and complications is a somewhat peculiar one, dating back 14 years. In the spring of 1894 Jacob A. Funk, 34 years old, and Frank Ridge, who was a few years younger, were farming on shares near Skidmore. Early in April Funk left home in a rickety road cart, ostensibly for the purpose of buying seed potatoes. He did not return, and after many days his friends decided that he had left the county, or that he had been killed. A search revealed nothing, and in August Ridge disposed of his share of the crop to the mother of the missing man and went to Kansas City.

More than a year passed, and early in December, 1895, fragments of a human body were found hanging to a tree in a ravine in Atchison county, about six miles west of Skidmore. Other bones, an old valise and some pieces of clothing were found on the ground nearby. Attention was at once directed to the disappearance of Funk, and some of his relatives were sure that the body was his. His aged father said that he could recognize the skull by reason of the fact that one cheek bone was higher than the other.

The suspicion was aroused that Jacob Funk had been murdered, and the question of finding the murderer came up. Suspicion pointed to Ridge, the partner, and Sheriff Shackelford, of Atchison county, went to Kansas City and placed him under arrest. The warrant was issued by Justine Proud, of the township in which the skeleton was found, but Ridge's attorney took a change of venue and the case was sent to Fairfax. Here, December 26, 1895, the preliminary examination was had before Justice Blevins and Justice Wilson. More than 60 witnesses had been summoned, but only 13 were examined.

Ridge proved that he had spent the night previous to Funk's disappearance at Quitman and came back to Skidmore on a train that arrived shortly after Funk had started. As he worked all that day it was shown to have been impossible that he could have committed the deed.

A year or two after this Mrs Funk was married to James Gibbs of Skidmore and they still reside at that place.

As indicated by the testimony brought out in the trial of Ridge, some mystery seems to be connected with Funk. Since his return he talks freely only he refuses to explain why he left so suddenly, merely saying that he "had a cause for it." He also refuses to tell where he has been and what he has been doing. It in some way came out that he had been living in Iowa for the last six years, and is apparent that he has been prosperus. His reticence extends not only to his warmest friends, but to his nearest relatives.

The fact being fully established by his return that the body found hanging in Atchison county was not that of Funk, the question as to who it was who was hanged or who committed suicide, is being asked.


Note from Pat O'Dell:

Jacob Funk, age 39, born Nov 1860 in Iowa parents born Pa and Oh was working as a hired man for B. VanDyke in Lucas Co, Ia in 1900 census. He was living there in 1880 with his brother David.