Dakota Datebook

North Dakota’s First Mass Murder

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

North Dakota’s first mass murder took place on this date in 1893. Six members of the Daniel Kreider family were killed on their farm southeast of Cando, including four of their 8 children.

In the preceding years, Daniel and Barbara Kreider had moved to Cando from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, by way of Missouri, and appear to have been either Amish or Mennonite. Despite their family of 8 kids, they were only 36 when they were murdered.

Daniel Kreider had a 22 year-old hired man named Albert Bomberger, also from Pennsylvania. That year, an obituary published in the Mennonite newspaper, the Herald of Truth, stated, “This young man had run away from home and had been a cowboy on the western plains and bore no enviable character.” The Pennsylvania story continued, “… (Bomberger was dissatisfied at the amount of work that was required of him, but he seemed adverse to work and evidently had no reason for dissatisfaction.”

It seems Bomberger developed a romantic interest in Kreider’s oldest child, Annie, who was reported to be 15. Daniel, her father, responded by telling Bomberger it was time he moved on.

The Herald of Truth article stated, “Early on Friday morning, July 7, as Sister Kreider was peeling potatoes in the kitchen, young Bomberger went into the bedroom and shot her husband with a shotgun, killing him instantly… She hastened into the room, when Bomberger met her, and pushing her back to the kitchen shot her there, killing her almost instantly. He then reloaded his gun, and when the children, who heard the shooting, came down stairs, he drove them back, and then shot Murbey, (11); Mary, (9); and David, (7). Bernice… (13), had hidden under the bed while these murders were being committed, but slipped out of a window, and jumping to the ground, ran out to a pony that she was accustomed to ride, often without a bridle, but for some unknown reason she stopped on the way to get a bridle, and this little delay gave Bomberger a chance to catch her… ”

The three youngest children, Aaron, Eva and Henry, were spared, either because they hid, or because Annie pleaded for their lives. According to a separate report, Bomberger forced Annie to fix him breakfast while he took all the money he could find. He raped her before fleeing.

Annie walked into Cando and reported the crime to authorities, and within 3 days, Bomberger was captured at Deloraine, Manitoba. Because lynching was a real possibility in Cando, he was jailed in the Grand Forks County jail.

The surviving Kreider children were taken back to the family’s former home in Pennsylvania soon after the murders. Their deceased family members were buried together in a grave 14 feet long by 7_ feet wide. It’s reported that 12 to 15 thousand people attended the funeral service.

Bomberger didn’t deny the charges, and in late November, he was returned to Cando long enough for Judge David Morgan to sentence him to death. On January 19th, 1894, Bomberger was taken to a scaffold constructed in a field about a mile outside of Cando and hanged. His attitude was of indifference; he claimed that because he was drunk during the murders, he wasn’t as responsible as he otherwise would have been.

The Kreider farm was sold a month after the murders; the farmhouse burned down in June 1917.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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