Bio: Schwantes, Frank (1900 - Convicted of Murder)

Obit: Kluckow, William & Ernestine (Murdered - 1900)

Contributed by Family Member


Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon


Surnames: Schwantes, Kluckow, Camp, Marchetti, Bump, Kregel, Griepentrog, Siebrath


Schwantes, Frank (Arrest and Conviction for Murder)



----Source: Marshfield Times (Marshfield, Wood Co., WI), 7 Dec. 1900


Alleged Incendiary Taken In Charge by Marathon County Sheriff Wednesday.

New Evidence Said to have been secured Which may Lead to Conviction.

Despite the fact that the verdict of the coroner's jury at the inquest upon the bodies of William amd Ernestine Klukow, of which nothing but a handfull of bones remained, was that they were burned in their home in a manner unknown, the Marathon county officers have continued an active search for evidence, and have at last secured information which they claim justifies the arrest of Frnnk Schwantes, the neighbor who has been suspected of incendiarism (causing fire).

Sheriff Malone and District Attorney Munson, who have been working on the case, went to Spencer Tuesday to make the arrest but did not find their man at his home. It was thought at first that he had left the country, but the officers followed him to Colby where he was taken into custody, his explanation of his absence being that he had gone to Colby to sell a team of horses.

 The accused was taken from Colby to Spencer and brought before Justice Barney for a preliminary hearing on a charge of murder, Wednesday, and the hearing was adjourned one week, the defendant being taken across the country to Wausau where he will be committed to the county jail pending the adjourned hearing. The evidence adduced at the inquest was purely circumstantial and will not, unless supported by some more direct testimony, sustain a conviction. The officials are very reticent in regard to their Investigation since the inquest and nothing has yet developed to show the nature of the new evidence they are supposed to have discovered.  In the absence of a statement by the district attorney nothing further will be learned until the hearing neit week, when It is probable the plan of the prosecution will be divulged.

The crime of which Schwantes is accused is one of the most horrible imaginable-- the burning of the sleeping couple in their own home when their feebleness prevented their escape, or a cold blooded murder and subsequent fire to cover up the crime, as circumstances may determine. The theory which has gained general credence is that the aged people were first murdered and the remains so placed as to receive the full effect of the fire, which is supported by the fact of the bodies being so completely destroyed. The case has attracted great interest and the report of ihe trial will be awaited with impatience.



----Source: Marshfield Times (Marshfield, Wood Co., WI), 15 Nov 1901




Found Guilty of Murder in the First Degree


Verdict was a great surprise to all concerned


At about ten o’clock last Sunday morning after deliberating for over fourteen hours the jury in the trial of Frank Schwantes for the murder of William and Ernestine Kluckow on November 13th, 1900, returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.  The result was received with surprise by many residents of this vicinity who have followed the case closely, and the concourse of opinion before the verdict was in favor of the innocence of the accused.  The evidence upon which a conviction was secured was purely circumstantial and the powerful motive shown was the controlling element in obtaining the verdict.  The prisoner, who has maintained an air of stoical confidence throughout the trial, was overcome at the adverse termination and broke down completely.


The story of the crime for which Schwantes will pay the heavy penalty of long imprisonment unless acquitted at a new trial, is commonplace in plot, but remarkable in development.  His relation with the deceased persons who were the parents of his wife, was that of the holder of the legal title to their forty-acre farm, subject to a claim for their support during life, and as is frequently the case in such transactions, the relations between the parties were known to be strained and Schwantes was accused of ill-treating the old people.  Under the conditions, the violent death of the aged couple would naturally be attributed to the man who profited most by their decease, and the facts establish a powerful motive for crime.


With the motive and the further fact admitted by Schwantes that he saw the fire and went to the place which he found enveloped in flames, and concluding that he could be of no service, returned home and went to bed; the direct evidence of crime was at an end and these two points were considered by the jury as sufficient to sustain a conviction, aided by the finding of a few small human bones in the ashes.  The conduct of the man in leaving what he knew to be an inhabited building in flames without giving an alarm operated strongly against him as he was unable to give an explanation which in any measure justified it.


The theory of the defense was that the fire originated from a defective stove and this line of reasoning was sustained by strong evidence.  That the stove was defective and was fired to its full capacity was shown beyond question while the condition of the relics indicated that the origin of the fire was near the stove.  The complete destruction of the bodies, however, militated against the accidental fire theory as only a small piece of a jaw bone and fragments of a skull were found in the debris.


Immediately after the announcement of the verdict the defendant’s attorneys, Camp, Marchetti & Bump, filed a motion for a new trial upon sixteen exceptions to the proceedings, but the motion was denied by the court.  Schwantes was sentenced to life imprisonment, the first day of each year to be spent in solitary confinement. An appeal to the Supreme Court is expected.




----Source: Marshfield Times (Wood Co., Wisconsin) 12 Dec 1902, p. 6


Schwantes Case Revived.

The readers of this paper who are familiar with the famous Schwantes murder case, and have wondered what has become of his wife and children, will be somewhat surprised to learn that Mrs. Schwantes is soon to be married again. On Monday County Clerk Kregel of Marathon county received an application from Spencer for a marriage license for Albert Siebrath and Ida Griepentrog. The maiden name of Mrs. Frank Schwantes was Ida Griepentrog and as the sentencing of Frank Schwantes to the state's prison gave his wife a divorce she evidently thought that she could resume her maiden name, though legally she is still Mrs. Frank Schwantes and if she desires to be married again she must do so under that name. Mr. Kregel returned the application to Spencer for correction and when it is properly filled out a license will be issued, as she has a right to remarry if she desires.

Frank Schwantes was convicted at Wausau last fall of the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Klukow, an old couple living near Spencer, and about a. mile from the home of Schwantes. The trial was a long and sensational one, and though the verdict was a surprise to some, it was the only one that could have brought in According to the offered and the convicted man was sentenced testate's prison for life. A new trial having been refused Schwantes it was thought that the case would be carried to the supreme court, but nothing has been heard of it for some time, and it is supposed the matter has been dropped.

The evidence at the trial brought out the fact that the old couple had deeded their small farm to Frank Schwantes in consideration of life support, and that at times they were dissatisfied with the provisions furnished and had quarreled with Schwantes. The home of the Klukows burned one night and the aged couple have never been seen since, but pieces of human bones were found in the ruins and it was supposed that they had been burned with the cabin, which was an old log affair. Schwantes admitted that he had seen the burning building from his house and had gone to the fire, but the building was about burned down when he arrived, and he went home without notifying any of the neighbors. The evidence which was all circumstantial, pointed toward Schwantes as the one guilty of setting fire to the house and he was convicted on this evidence.




----Source: Stevens Point Daily Journal (Stevens Point, Wisconsin), Friday, 2 Feb 1906.


The application of Frank Schwantes for a new trial has been denied by the supreme court. Schwantes is now serving a life sentence at Waupun for the murder of Mr. and Mrs. William at Spencer in 1901. The house was afterward destroyed by fire to conceal the crime. Schwantes was convicted by strong circumstantial evidence.


Franz "Frank" Friedrich Hermann Schwantes died 16 Jun 1926 [Church Record]


Other News Clips



           Notes: died in a farm house fire near spencer


           Notes: died in a farm house fire near spencer



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel