The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Murder and Mayhem: In June 1867 John H. Cooper was shot and killed by Jack Galligher on the river bank above Oquawka.
Richard Willitts and William Cunningham were also indicted by the grand jury for Cooper's murder. A change of venue for Willitts and Cunningham to Mercer County resulted in having their cases dismissed. Galligher obtained a continuance and when a trial was commenced, the court had trouble empaneling a jury.
The attorneys for the defense advised their client to withdraw his "not guilty" plea and because the legislature in amending the law in relation to murder trials in 1867 made no provision for pronouncing the death penalty in guilty cases, the defendant was sentenced to the penitentiary for 20 years in Joliet. He was later pardoned by the governor.
1911 History of Henderson County