Hoggard v. Dickerson, 1036.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtSturgis
Citation180 Mo. App. 70,165 S.W. 1135
PartiesHOGGARD et al. v. DICKERSON.
Docket NumberNo. 1036.,1036.
Decision Date28 March 1914
165 S.W. 1135
180 Mo. App. 70
HOGGARD et al.
No. 1036.
Springfield Court of Appeals. Missouri.
March 28, 1914.
Rehearing Denied April 27, 1914.


Evidence held to justify a finding that a reward offered for the capture of the murderer of defendant's friend was not conditioned on the murderer's being brought in dead, but contemplated his capture according to law.


A reward for the capture of a murderer, conditioned on his being brought in dead and involving the commission of a crime, would be invalid.

3. REWARDS (§ ½, New, vol. 15 Key-No. Series) —NATURE OF UNDERTAKING.

An offer of a reward is in the nature of a contract with any and every person undertaking to comply with its terms.


Though a person cannot claim a reward for performing the service required without knowledge of the offer or without an intention of claiming the reward, yet a performance begun without any knowledge of the reward being offered or even before the reward is offered, when completed after such knowledge, entitles the party to the reward; and hence, where a reward was offered for the apprehension of a murderer, and plaintiffs acquired knowledge thereof and intended to claim the reward before delivering the prisoner to the sheriff, such

[165 S.W. 1136]

delivery constituted an essential part of the service to be performed to entitle plaintiffs to the reward.


A reward offered for the arrest or capture of a fugitive implies his safe delivery to the proper persons or place for holding him for trial.


In an action to recover a reward, an instruction that, in order to sustain defendant's claim of settlement by the payment of $15 to plaintiffs, the jury must find that such sum was paid and received on an agreement and understanding of both parties that it was in full settlement of all claims by plaintiffs for the reward, was not objectionable as requiring a finding that plaintiffs received the $15 in satisfaction of all claims for reward, whether against defendant, the county, the state, or any other source from which a reward might come.


It was within the trial court's discretion to refuse a cautionary instruction as to alleged statements of defendant on account of the liability of the witnesses to forget or misquote or misunderstand what was really said; the court having instructed generally as to the credibility of witnesses, including their means of knowledge and apparent intention to testify truthfully.


Where defendant made a public offer of a reward for the apprehension of an alleged murderer at defendant's ranch where the shooting occurred and at a station where a special train, obtained to take officers to the scene and return the body of deceased, was standing, the fact that defendant made a different offer at another station where the train stopped on its return trip, without any intention of withdrawing the first, did not operate as a revocation of the first offer.


Revocation of a reward before it has been acted on is a matter of defense and must be pleaded.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Greene County; Alfred Page, Judge.

Action by Joseph Hoggard and others against R. P. Dickerson. Judgment for plaintiffs, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Patterson & Patterson, of Springfield, for appellant. Dickey & Dickey, of Marshfield, and J. T. White, of Springfield, for respondents.


The jury in this case by its verdict held the defendant liable to plaintiffs for the payment of a reward of $5,000, alleged to have been offered by defendant to the public for the capture of the slayer of Stanley Ketchel, who was shot and robbed on October 15, 1910, at a farm owned by defendant in Webster county, Mo., known as the Dickerson ranch. There was little or no doubt at the time that one Walter Dipley, then living on such ranch, was the guilty party, and the reward offered was practically, if not in terms, applicable to him. The friendship existing between defendant and the slain man was very close, and Ketchel was at the time of his being shot a guest of defendant at his ranch. Ketchel was well known as the middleweight champion pugilist, and the defendant is a prominent business man of Springfield, Mo. The shooting of Ketchel occurred in the morning, and Dipley, who did the shooting, at once fled, heavily armed. On defendant being informed of it, he at once chartered a special train at Springfield, took with him a man with bloodhounds, gathered all the officers within reach, and with some of his close friends went to Conway, the nearest railroad point to the scene of the killing. He was evidently very much wrought up and showed a determination to have the guilty man captured and punished. Efforts were made at the ranch to track the escaped murderer, but without avail. The defendant, with his friends, officers, etc., took the slain man back to the special train at Conway in the afternoon and from there to Springfield.

It is claimed that the defendant, both publicly and privately, offered a reward of $5,000 to any one who would capture the person who shot Ketchel, both while at the farm and at Conway just before the special train departed on its return to Springfield. While defendant, by his answer, denies the allegations of the petition generally, his evidence shows and he admitted that he did offer a reward for the body of the person who shot his friend Ketchel, but that his offer was "for him dead, not one cent for him alive." The defendant also sets up the defense of a settlement between plaintiffs and himself, whereby the plaintiffs accepted $15 in full settlement of their claim. There were a large number of witnesses examined on both sides, the battle being waged for the most part as to whether defendant offered a reward for Dipley dead or for him dead or alive. It was admitted on the trial that Dipley was tried and convicted of the murder of Ketchel and sentenced to the penitentiary for life. It was also shown, without contradiction, that plaintiffs, who were farmers in Webster county, captured Dipley the next morning after the commission of the crime and delivered him to the sheriff and jail of that county. We will speak more of the manner of the arrest in connection with the plaintiffs' knowledge of and reliance on the reward in making it.

A careful analysis of all the evidence

165 S.W. 1137

is well calculated to convince a jury, as it doubtless did, that while defendant's preference was, in his anger, excitement, and intense feeling against the murderer of his friend, to have the guilty party killed rather than captured and brought to trial, yet that he did offer a reward for his capture regardless of his being brought in dead or alive. The evidence shows that he began talking this offer of reward even before reaching the scene of the killing; he stated it several times at the farm to different men or groups of men; he stated it two or three times on the return to Conway before the train left for Springfield. It is doubtless true that he did not always state it in the same terms, though there is no variation as to the amount. He evidently gave way, especially in talking to individuals who were his friends, to his desire for revenge in stating his offer of reward and told them to bring him in dead, or that he was armed and dangerous and to shoot him down and take no chances, or to shoot him first and cry halt afterward, and other such expressions, showing a desire to have him killed rather than captured. There is abundant evidence to show, however, that to other persons and especially when making the offer publicly, as he did from the car door at Conway, he stated the reward would be given for him dead or alive, or simply for his...

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8 cases
  • Bennett v. Gerk
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 20, 1933
    ...for complying with this provision of the offer of reward. Smith v. Vernon County, 188 Mo. 501, l. c. 514-515; Hoggard v. Dickerson, 180 Mo.App. 70, l. c. 79. (3) It is sufficient if any essential part of the service, in complying with the provisions of an offer of reward is performed after ......
  • Bennett et al. v. Gerk et al., 22392.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 20, 1933
    ...for complying with this provision of the offer of reward. Smith v. Vernon County, 188 Mo. 501, l.c. 514-515; Hoggard v. Dickerson, 180 Mo. App. 70, l.c. 79. (3) It is sufficient if any essential part of the service, in complying with the provisions of an offer of reward is performed after t......
  • State v. Cox, 23031.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 16, 1922
    ...and conviction of Buntyn constituted a contract which is to be construed by the same rules as any other contract. Hoggard v. Dickerson, 180 Mo. App. 70, 165 S. W. "The contract must be given a reasonable construction, keeping in mind the purpose of the party offering the reward. The terms o......
  • James v. Turilli, 33962
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • September 28, 1971
    ...reference to some other agreement or matter, in order to be enforceable.' Plaintiffs respond with a quotation from Hoggard v. Dickerson, 180 Mo.App. 70, 165 S.W. 1135(2, 3): 'An offer of reward is in the nature of a contract with any and every person undertaking to comply with its terms. (C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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