TERRIBLE DEED OF BARTENDER PRATHER
Murdered Bob McSparren and Then Committed Suicide
Double Tragedy Enacted Late Yesterday Afternoon at a Saloon on Fourth and Sacramento Streets
As announced in an extra edition of The Daily News last
night, Thomas Prather employed as a bartender at the Missouri and
Kansas Exchange Saloon at Fourth and Sacramento Streets, owned by
John Engle, shot and killed Robert McSparren, a packinghouse man,
in front of the saloon about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon.
Turning back into the saloon, Prather placed the pistol with which he had killed McSparren to his own temple and pulled the trigger, inflicting a wound from which he died an hour later.
Among those in the saloon at the time of the shooting were the murdered man's brother and cousin, but the double tragedy was so quickly enacted that neither had time to interfere.
Prather stood in the doorway and shot once at the retreating man. The bullet took effect in the left side and, passing through the body, came out under the arm pit at the right side. McSparren walked about forty feet and fell dead.
This crowd stood, four deep, relating with pale faces and horrified eyes tale after tale of the dead man's prowess.
The crowd parted and let them into its center. When they saw
the dead man their wails were redoubled and the motley crowd turned
its eyes to this new object of interest. Their curiosity was only
sated when the ambulance drove away with the murderer and his
Both men were about the same age, thirty-five years.
Prather and McSparren had been friends prior to the quarrel that terminated so fatally. Both were of the same temperament in in many respects, and it was not surprising that any quarrel arising between them would be settled the way it was.
It is said that Prather became very angry at McSparren and that McSparren was heard to repeatedly dare the bartender to shoot, as he walked from the saloon.
Owing to the fact that the men who were in the saloon at the time of the trouble were friends of one or both of the principals in the killing, it has been difficult to get at the real facts leading up to the murder and suicide.
The coroner's jury this afternoon returned a verdict in effect that Prather murdered McSparren and killed himself, as told in the foregoing.
This article originally appeared in the St Joseph Daily
News, a Missouri newspaper, in their edition of February 11th, 1903.
The story occurs just 21 years after the infamous outlaw Jessie
James was shot and killed by Robert Ford in St Joseph, Missouri.
George Robert "Bob" McSparren's death record gives his age as 26,
not 35 as printed in the article. He is believed to be the son
of George and Mary McSparren from Doniphan County, Kansas.
We wish to thank the St Joseph Public Library and Donna Tattershall
of Kansas for their help in acquiring a copy of this story.
George Robert "Bob" McSparren's death record gives his age as 26, not 35 as printed in the article. He is believed to be the son of George and Mary McSparren from Doniphan County, Kansas.
We wish to thank the St Joseph Public Library and Donna Tattershall of Kansas for their help in acquiring a copy of this story.