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An Innocent Bystander


In yet another example that whiskey and cards don’t mix, an innocent bystander lay seriously wounded in French Joe’s gambling joint on Front Street in Fargo.

The Fargo Forum reported on this date in 1894 of a scuffle that resulted in the near death of Andrew Ness.

The trouble all originated with “Gambler” John Hogan and Abram “Debs” Morris. Morris and the innocent bystander Ness were seated in a small room at French Joe’s, trying to get up a game of cards.

Morris had no money, and called out to Hogan to come in from another room and “stake him.” Hogan refused to lend Morris any money, and one angry word led to another. According to the news account, both men were under the influence of liquor. Before long, Morris had Hogan by the throat and started pushing him backwards.

At this point, Hogan drew a revolver. Morris, seeing the weapon, quickly dodged just as Hogan pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Andrew Ness, who was sitting innocently at the table. Ness sank to the floor with a groan.

Hogan, upon seeing what he had done, dropped the revolver and quickly rushed to the wounded Ness lying on the floor. He tore away Ness’ clothes to see what damage the bullet had done.

Morris, not content to let the quarrel drop, again grabbed Hogan by the throat. By now, the crowd that had gathered to witness the affray separated the two men before more damage could be done.

Fargo Police Officer Gowland arrived and placed both Morris and Hogan under arrest. Hogan, seeming penitent, yelled, “I did the shooting—it was all an accident—I’m responsible for it and am willing to stand by it.”

Both men were quickly locked in the city jail.

The innocent victim, Andrew Ness, was placed on a cot in the corner of the room. Drs. Wear and Campbell, who attended Ness, reported that the bullet glanced off a rib, and entered the liver. Although the wound was serious, they said he would hopefully recover.

by Dave Seifert

The Fargo Forum, Daily Edition. Third Year, No. 261. Tuesday Evening, October 4, 1894. Pg. 1.