Murder at the Lincoln Hotel: The Irvine-Montgomery Case

The Lincoln Hotel at Ninth and P streets was the scene of a sensational murder in May of 1892. RG2158-408c


The trial of William H. Irvine for the murder of Charles E. Montgomery in October of 1892 in Lancaster County District Court captured statewide (and national) attention. The crime for which Irvine, a Salt Lake City real estate man, was placed on trial for his life was the fatal shooting of Montgomery, president of the German National Bank of Lincoln. The crime occurred in the Lincoln Hotel on May 26, 1892, amid a May 25-26 celebration in Lincoln of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nebraska’s admission to the Union.

The Omaha Daily Bee said on October 10, 1892: “The shooting occurred a few minutes before 8 o’clock [a.m.] in the dining room of the hotel. The room was crowded with guests of both sexes, and some of the most prominent people of Nebraska were quietly enjoying their morning repast, . . . Suddenly, without a word of warning, the report of a pistol shot rang through the room and then another. A gentleman sitting at the table nearest the door was seen to arise from his chair, stagger blindly around the table out into the corridor and fall at the foot of a divan.”


Irvine’s trial for the shooting of Montgomery was held in October 1892 in the Lancaster County Courthouse in Lincoln. RG2159-438


Irvine took Montgomery’s life because he believed that the latter had had an affair with his wife.  When the case went to trial in October 1892, Irvine’s lawyers, according to the Bee on October 14, “set up in defense of their client the plea of . . . mania transitoria.” The prosecution, said the Bee on October 25, denied that the prisoner had been temporarily insane at the time of the killing, “and contended that if Irvine had been a poor man, without means to employ from twelve to fifteen attorneys for the purpose of working up a sentiment in his favor, the jurors would not find it necessary to leave their seats to find a verdict of guilty.”  The defense, while not disputing that Irvine had shot Montgomery, appealed to the jury for a “verdict that was based upon a higher law than that found in the statutes.”

What did the jury decide? Learn the outcome of this memorable trial in this Timeline column..

— Patricia C. Gaster, (former) Assistant Editor/Publications

(Updated May 18, 2023)

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Buffalo Bill’s Big House

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Marker Monday: The Seedling Mile

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

Vacationing on a Budget in 1909

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.