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 Francis Otis “Frank” Chenoweth

Francis Otis “Frank” Chenoweth

Decatur County, Iowa, USA
Death 16 Dec 1941 (aged 70)
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Burial Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Memorial ID 63744166 · View Source
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Murder victim.

Frank Otis Chenoweth was born in 1871 in Decatur County, Iowa, son of John Casper Chenoweth and Mary Eliza Puckett. When less than 10 years old he moved with his parents to Russell County, Kansas, where he grew up. His parents moved to St. Joseph, Missouri in the late 1880s, and he began working in slaughterhouses. He was not a particularly tall man, but still was enormously strong. He was primarily using his middle name of Otis by the mid-1880s.

He married Lucy Sara Miller in 1894, and they had four daughters and a son. Their son died before his second birthday, and Frank's wife Lucy died in 1903. He remarried to Bessie Clemens and tried to hold his family together, but most of the girls were sent to live with aunts and uncles on both sides of their parents' families. He divorced his second wife and married again in Iowa to Frances Wilmatt about 1926.

During the Depression, Otis operated a restaurant and general store in Sioux City, Iowa, which went out of business because he was a soft touch who allowed too many people credit. By the time he had returned to Kansas City in the mid-1930s, he was again divorced.

He opened another restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas when he returned. His grandson, Richard Rock, remembered how his mother frequently received free groceries from his grandfather, just to help her out. Unsurprisingly, this store also went out of business for the same reasons as his Iowa enterprise. Besides working in the slaughterhouses of Kansas City, Frank also worked for his son-in-law, McKinley Mikesell, as well, both in a salvage yard and a filling station.

In the early morning hours of 15 December 1941, he was operating a filling station at Elmwood Avenue and Fifteenth Street (now known as Truman Road) when three teen-aged boys attempted to rob him. He resisted and fought back, but was shot in the abdomen by one of the boys as he wrestled with one of them. The trio fled the scene having taken no money.

On the 16th of December 1941, Francis Otis Chenoweth died at the age of 71 of his wounds at Kansas City General Hospital. The young men responsible for his death were arrested, charged, and convicted, and served time in prison.

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from the Kansas City Star, 15 December 1941, page 8.



Three Young Men Flee When the Filling Station Operator Resists Their Attempt to Rob Him.

When three boys about the age of his grandsons tried to rob him at 2:25 o'clock this morning, Frank O. (Dad) Chenoweth, 71 years old, lunged his chunky 200-pound frame at them in righteous wrath. And Bum, his faithful dog is believed to have pitched into the fight too.

Chenoweth's gasoline station at the curve on roaring Fifteenth street at Elmwood avenue, was the battle scene. Oil cans were upset, the door to the wash room was splintered, and bullets from a .25-caliber pistol carried by one of the bandits smashed against the stone inner walls.


One bullet struck Chenoweth in the abdomen. Bum, too, must have been shot or overpowered, because the dog was nowhere to be found today. The bandits fled without getting any money.

Chenoweth's condition was described as critical at the General hospital. A blood transfusion was given him.

For nine years Chenoweth has tended the station at night. George E. Oeis, 63, of 2221 Elmwood avenue, is his day assistant. The two elderly men also sell coal in 50-pound and 100-pound lots from a small scale at the station.

In those nine years Chenoweth has had no previous brushes with bandits.


His dog, part Chow and part bulldog, has been his constant companion. When Bum was struck by a car recently, suffering a broken right shoulder, his master took him into his home at 4512 East Fifteenth and nursed him back to health. It is not known definitely whether the dog was lured away before the bandits attacked, or whether it took part in the defense.

The bandits are believed to have been about 14, 16 and 18 years old, respectively, Negroes, the oldest carrying the pistol. One of them lost his hat during the scuffle, and the hat was the clue to an investigation which the police today predicted would result in arrests soon.

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from the Kansas City Journal, 16 December 1941, page 1.

Holdup Victim Dies of Wounds

Frank Chenoweth, 71-year-old filling station operator who was shot Monday morning in an attempted holdup, died today in General Hospital, despite an emergency operation performed shortly after he was admitted.

Chenoweth, who lived at 4512 E. 15th St., told police three youths attempted to rob his station at 4601 E. 15th St. He resisted, and during the scuffle that followed, the oldest of the trio fired three shots from a revolver.

The third shot struck Chenoweth in the abdomen. The boys fled, without taking anything from the station.

Family Members

  • Created by: FamilyMan
  • Added: 5 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 63744166
  • FamilyMan
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Francis Otis “Frank” Chenoweth (8 Oct 1871–16 Dec 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 63744166, citing Elmwood Cemetery, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by FamilyMan (contributor 47408836) .