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Note: Mr. Searaway’s last name has been spelled differently in historical papers, including Seraway, Searway, and Searaway. The Iowa GenWeb Death Records Index for Iowa County, Iowa, lists his surname as Searaway, though his gravestone in Longstreth Cemetery shows it as Searway. Marriage records for his sister, Francis, spell her maiden name Searaway.
Frank Searaway lived alone about six miles northwest of Millersburg, Iowa, and disappeared on or around Sunday, May 7, 1911.
According to a Williamsburg Journal-Tribune article dated Thursday, July 13, 1911, neighbors thought for a time he had gone to see his sister in Benton County. They suspected something was wrong when he stayed gone so long, and wrote his sister asking about him.
When the sister replied that Frank had not been there, a number of men organized a search party on Sunday, July 9, 1911, and set out to find him.
They found Searaway buried in his stable with three bullet holes in his head and his skull crushed in.
“The coroner and sheriff were sent for,” the paper reported. “They dug him up and on examination found the wounds.”
Area residents believed Searaway had been robbed before being killed.
Searaway’s remains were interred in the Longstreth Cemetery Sunday evening, July 9, by the township trustees.
The Journal-Tribune referred to Searaway as “a harmless, inoffensive man, living alone and troubling no one,” and called his death “deeply deplored in a community” and “one of the worst tragedies in the annals of Iowa County.”
In another article dated July 27, 1911, the Journal-Tribune wrote:
By the process of development it is quite likely that the officials may uncover the dastardly crime. The old theory that “Murder will out” has held good in every case since Cain’s and there is every reason to believe that the Lincoln township murder will not prove an exception.
In a Dubuque Telegraph-Herald article dated Sunday, June 24, 2007, Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Sheets said he believed a human skull found in a county courthouse June 12 belonged to Searway [sic].
“We’ve found a possible grave site where the victim was buried” Sheets told the Telegraph-Herald.
Sheets said she skull might have been taken in the late 1930s for use as evidence.
Construction workers found the skull in a metal box in the attic of the Poweshiek County Courthouse in early June 2007. In addition to the skull, they also found decayed clothing and leather belts.
Frank Searaway was born May 23, 1867, to Joseph and Frances (Dustile) Searaway.
He was survived by his sister, Francis (Mrs. William Henry Paul).