Stories in Part 2:
A Frontier Slaying-1791
A Frontier Slaying
The first area homicide of record was that of an Indian, shot and killed by a young man near present West Point around 1797.
A family named Carpenter had settled at the site, according to historical accounts, and an Indian, White Eyes, had stopped there. White Eyes reportedly was intoxicated, and got into some sort of difficulty with a 17-year-old son of the settler.
When the Indian apparently threatened the youth, the latter turned and began running. The Indian followed, brandishing a tomahawk. Young Carpenter realized his pursuer was gaining on him, and turned and shot him. White Eyes died shortly afterward.
Another version was that the Indian had stopped to obtain water, and for some reason became hostile, starting to chase the boy around the outside of the home. The youth darted inside, grabbed a gun and shot the red man.
SINCE THIS WAS a period of peace in the Northwest Territory, the youth was taken into custody to Steubenville to stand trial for murder. Columbiana County had not yet been created from Washington and Jefferson Counties.
Many residents of the frontier feared the slaying would incite the regional tribes to ill will and vengeance. Only 15 years prior, Andrew and Adam Poe of near Georgetown had engaged marauding Indians near Yellow Creek, slaying Big Foot.
Courts were conducted then by justices of the peace, and Carpenter was cleared of the homicide charge on grounds he acted in self defense. To placate the Indians, several presents were given to the family and friends of the victim.
Three men -- including Bezaleel Wells, who had laid out Steubenville -- donated a sum of $300 to White Eyes' widow.
The death marked the last Indian slain by Whites in this part of Ohio.
Just Missed Hanging
One of Columbiana County's earliest murder cases involved a farmer who was convicted in 1829 and due execution but only a week before his scheduled hanging was granted a life sentence instead.
Joseph Morton, 54, of Goshen Township, then in Columbiana County, went on trial Sept. 30, 1829, before the September term of Ohio Supreme Court sitting at New Lisbon with Chief Justice Calvin Pease presiding.
He was charged with first degree murder in the slaying of John Holman after an argument. Morton had taken a muzzle loading rifle and fired at the other man, hitting him in the left chest, killing him instantly. Testimony described the wound as six inches deep and an inch wide.
The 12-man jury found him guilty as charged. On Oct. 1, Justice Pease ordered Morton "hanged by neck until he be dead" Nov. 5 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the old stone jail at High and Beaver Sts. by Sheriff Jacob Watson.
Ohio Sheriffs, at that time, were legal executioners of all criminals in their jurisdiction. The trial cost $8.60, and materials for scaffold, rope and pine coffin were probably more than double that.
Morton's friends and others opposed to the death penalty traveled to Columbus to appeal to the Governor to prevent the hanging. On Oct. 30, six days before the execution, a courier delivered an order from the Governor reprieving the prisoner.
The Governor's order quoted "and whereas the said Joseph Morton has had much intercession in his behalf setting forth sundry good causes forsooth account of which by virtue of the power vested in me by the Act for safekeeping of persons that may be reprieved by the Governor passed 27th January 1818, / do hereby pardon, exonerate and release said Joseph Morton from the punishment of death. - . on the express condition that he be confined in the Ohio Penitentiary at hard labor during his natural life."
The prisoner, who had been born in Pennsylvania, died of "old age" at the pen Sept. 9, 1837.
The Flying Dutchman
Still a mysterious part of area lore is the murder of a European inventor who had come to town just before the Civil War with the goal of constructing a flying machine.
The decapitated body of Christian Olsen -- Swedish or Danish -- was found the morning of June 4, 1861, on the railroad tracks near Second St. and Broadway, apparently the victim of a train accident.
Further examination of the body revealed death caused by "a shot, ball or slug," and a coroner's jury ruled the victim "was run over by the cars -- supposed to have been placed on the track to avoid detection"
Olsen had been regarded as a strange person, keeping to himself, working day and night on his invention and saying little about the project. He avoided mention of his background and earlier life, but said, one source indicated, he had been run out of Germany for his firm belief in the possibility of a device that could fly.
He had come to the city in the late 1850s, renting a room on the second floor of a building at Third and Broadway, later the Martin apartments.
JERE H. SIMMS, editor and owner of The Tribune newspaper published later in the century, wrote an account of the murder, describing Olsen and other events, based on material supplied by those living here at the time.
Simms reported Olsen arrived here in the spring of 1851, saying he had walked from Pittsburgh. He rented the room from William McKee, a carpenter, who occupied the lower floor for his shop. This shop later was Jake Shenkel's grocery store.
Olsen said he wanted a workshop to build a "flying machine," Simms wrote, paying in advance with gold.
The newcomer seemed pleasant, and people apparently liked him and respected his desire for privacy. He generally appeared in public only to buy food and pick up at the nearby freight station various parts and supplies shipped from the east.
("It is stated he was passionately fond of Pier, Daniels & Co. XX( Pittsburgh Cream Ale and Dark Porter- 'half and half," the real stuff, along with John Baum's homemade bologna with Brownsville Water Crackers. This was his morning and evening meal. For lunch he added hot onions, sauerkraut and fried liver." -- Simms)
He was said to be a draftsman, an inventor, skilled in working with wood, iron, Swedish steel, brass and copper, and well educated in Scandinavian languages. His English was proper, but accented.
Located within a block of Central School, his workshop became a curiosity for students. Simms wrote that one day a number of youngsters gathered around the outside stairway to his quarters. Olsen came out, scrutinizing the group, then beckoned to a large boy who appeared intelligent.
This 'lad' was 75 or older when interviewed by Simms, and told of being hired by Olsen to bring his meals daily to the workshop where he wished to eat. "I was one of three boys allowed to go into his shop. I (was) told I must keep my tongue still and never talk or tell anything I saw or heard about his shop."
"I saw men from town in the place talking to him several times about buying an interest and the prices (he) wanted. But I let it go in one ear and out the other."
"He never left his workshop during the weekdays for any length of time. On Sundays he would take short strolls around town, never very long. He seemed afraid someone would break in and steal or see something about his flying machine."
Simms asked how the machine looked -- "like any of our 'Fliers' of today or the early German types of planes?" The other replied, "Not that I can remember. It seemed to have wings that worked with coils of springs which he wound up."
This man and two other boys said they saw the machine running the night before the slaying, Simms wrote.
were present after supper for a short time. One of the boys claims that Olsen locked up his shop and went down on Second St. to celebrate his success. He had been held up several weeks waiting for new and stronger steel springs to come from the old country. He had broken smaller, weaker springs made in this country from inferior steel.
OLSEN'S BODY was found along the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad tracks near Second and Broadway, apparently hit by a train. The mangled body been on the tracks, and the head severed under the wheels.
However, examination revealed death was caused by a "shot, ball or slug." A bullet wound was found in the left shoulder, the slug piercing the heart and exiting the right side, just above the hip.
Investigators discovered no clues as to the culprit, and found no relatives nor enemies or any of the gold and silver he reportedly had in abundance despite his frugality. A coroner's jury on June 12 ruled Olsen had been shot to death at the hands of a person or persons unknown and placed in the path of a train to avoid detection of the slaying.
One source indicated men of the village went to his rooms and found the flying machine damaged along with blood indicating violence. It was described as wood structure with square wings and a box seat with a steering wheel. The crime had left the seat pulled loose across the frame whose slender wood sections were smashed.
A $100 reward was offered by the village for information leading to the slayer. The notice was published four times in the town's weekly, The Mercury. The reward was never collected, and the plans for the invention never found.)
The unfortunate victim has long been called "The Flying Dutchman."
Another version of the murder was provided later by John H. Burgess, who served as Mayor and came to East Liverpool in 1840 when he was six.
He said that although he had not been a spectator, he was told Olsen's machine had been flown on "Blakeley's Hill," later called Thompson Hill. A spring broke on landing, and the following day Olsen went to Pittsburgh, obtained a new spring and returned.
The inventor is said to have declared, "Tomorrow I am going to fly over East Liverpool," according to Burgess, and worked late to make the repairs. On the following day his body was found on the track by a potter going to work.
Burgess' recollection was that Olsen, seemingly a victim of the 4 a.m. passenger train, was buried in the old West Fifth St. cemetery. But some friends, suspicious of foul play, provided $100 to hire a Pittsburgh detective, Robert Hague.
In Hague's investigation, he asked for the exhuming of the body. Burgess, known in the community as "Uncle Jack," said he held the lantern for two laborers who dug open the grave at night.
The coffin was not raised, but a portion of the lid was cut away so the detective could view the head and shoulders. Hague then discovered a bullet hole in one shoulder.
Uncle Jack claimed that one of three men Hague suspected of the killing was accused on the street the next day. This man reportedly fainted, and when revived, denied any knowledge of the inventor's death.
Burgess said a woman on Second St. reported seeing three men carry an object down an alley from Third St. and place it on the tracks a few hours before Olsen's body was found. A man stated he heard a shot fired around Broadway during the night.
The man whose shop was beneath Olsen's room said his floor was stained with blood which seeped through the ceiling. According to Burgess, the three suspects were charged with murder, and given a preliminary hearing before a justice of the peace.
That justice was a relative of one of the suspects, Burgess related, and the three were released for lack of evidence. One of these men, he said, later drowned in the Ohio River.
UNCLE JACK recalled some men took custody of the flying machine and sought vainly to assemble it. It remained in storage in Olsen's former room for many years, then was kept in a building on Second St. Here it was destroyed in a fire which swept the structure, Burgess said.
Sanford C. Hill, the city's noted mathematician and former mayor, wrote of Olsen in a notebook, the contents of which were reported by his son, the Rev. W. E. Hin 1908.
"He had evolved a device by which any one could soar over the air like a bird. The most believe his ideas are chimerical. Some see him as a man of mental aberration. But he has the confidence of one East Liverpool citizen," referring the person allowed to see him work behind closed doors, apparently Sanford Hill who provided a description:
"The machine being constructed in East Liverpool is expected to be ready to fly in eight or ten weeks. It is a model after the Condor of South America, the parts of it bearing the same relative size and weight as the different members of that bird."
"The machine is to be put into motion by a series of springs which have been arranged so as to be wound up consecutively. The whole are made of wrought brass. They work as smoothly and with as much precision as those of a watch"
"The machine," Hill noted, "is to be directed by the tail, machinery for which is now being completed. The tail is to the bird what a rudder is to a boat."
"The six different ways which this patented, improved Condor will be able to wiggle its tail would quite surprise an Audubon or even birds that wear the feathers.
"The old German intends to fly to Washington in order to procure his patents at which time he will surprise the dignitaries in the patent office by causing the bird to go through a series of gyrations undreamed of even by an expert chickenhawk. Look out for the only genuinely 'Flying Dutchman."
Countless other stories and rumors evolved from the incident for many years. An article in the Western Reserve Chronicle of Nov. 28, 1861, indicated Olsen had made a flying machine in Germany, "the success of which was placed beyond doubt by actual experiment."
But, the story claimed, "it was seized and destroyed because it was too easy a medium to commit depredations and escape without detection."
Simms noted that The Mercury, the town's newspaper started by Jesse Harris two weeks prior to the murder, contained no account of Olsen's death. "Mr. Harris was a very careful editor and a neat printer," Simms wrote. "His paper was a model in makeup, well-printed on a handpress."
But Simms noted that Mercury Issue No. 3, printed two days after the slaying, "does not contain a line of news about the murder.
"How Brother Harris became so "scooped" cannot be accounted for unless he was absent from town . . . or whether it was done at the request of relatives of someone on whom suspicion fell, or by request of the Mayor we shall never know."
Killer Escapes Execution
A 19th Century East Liverpool law officer captured a murderer who was probably the only Columbiana County sentenced to hang.
Samuel Err Mead was convicted in 1875 of fatally injuring an elderly Leetonia man during a robbery at the victim's pawnbroker business.
The slaying marked one of the most bizarre crimes in this region. Mead of North Lawrence west of Massillon, about 25, used a large stone to batter into submission Elijah Davidson, 89, a veteran of the War of 1812.
He got away with a $12 watch, $500 in promissory notes and $30 in the victim's wallet -- $24 of which was the pension of the aged veteran.
Mead, a miner and harness maker, was taken into custody two days later in East Liverpool by Marshal William Welch who had been alerted by telegram about the suspect in the vicious robbery/assault. Welch recognized him when he went into a city barbershop.
Before Mead finally paid his penalty, he exchanged shots with pursuers, temporarily escaped custody of one officer whom he tried to bribe, almost broke out of the county jail by hitting a guard with a brick, slashed his arm in a suicide bid, and finally escaped and remained at large for two years.
THE KILLER HAD been convicted of first degree murder, and was sentenced to hang in February 1876. But the Ohio Supreme Court granted a stay of execution in January on a writ of error.
Then the High Court ordered a new trial -- but Mead by then had escaped and was working in cotton fields in Arkansas.
He was finally cornered in 1877 when he returned to his parents' home to be again with his wife. Sheriff J. D. Fountain and two deputies, apparently alerted to Mead's visit, searched the house. Fountain opened an inside cellar door to find the hiding slayer pointing a gun directly at him.
When the officer slammed the door shut, Mead burst through an outside door, and was running away when officers gave chase and fired at him. Realizing he was trapped, the killer then placed his revolver to his forehead and fired.
He died shortly -- still not legally convicted of what a newspaper termed "one of the boldest, wickedest attempts at murder."
Mead, father of two small daughters, was about five foot three, weighed around 115 pounds and had black eyes and black hair with prominent cheekbones and a sharp chin.
His parents and the family had resided for some time in the Waterford -- East Palestine area. Mead along with his wife, Celeste Ward Mead, and daughters, one about three, the other one, had moved late in 1874 to North Lawrence.
Apparently unemployed, he had returned from Stark County around April 22, 1875, to visit his sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Levi Ward of Middleton Township. About 7 a.m. April 24 (a Saturday) he left the Ward home some five miles from New Waterford, saying he was going home to North Lawrence.
In Leetonia, Mead encountered two old friends -- Sam Landenslager and Adam Somerville, both of Leetonia. Somerville told Mead he might find mining work at Grafton Furnace west of the town, and they both went there and were hired.
Back in Leetonia, Mead started looking for a place to live, according to Somerville. About 3 p.m. they were both in a billiards hall when Mead left, explaining he had some business downtown.
A Mrs. Hawk, a washer woman who had rooms with Davidson, said Mead came to the Front St. building about 4 p.m. and asked for the old man. She said he sat talking with Davidson about a room, "his face as red as a beet."
Both Somerville and the woman described Mead as wearing a light brown coat and vest with trousers tucked into "fine boots." He told her, she said, that he had a wife and a child about the same size as hers.
Davidson stated he had a room available, that Mrs. Hawk could give up one of hers upstairs. She slept in the basement and kept some things in the other room.
The two men went up through a trap door to view the rooms, one about six by ten feet and an adjacent smaller one four by ten. Mrs. Hawk kept furniture in the large one and he stored clothes in the other. She followed, asking the visitor how long he planned to say. He replied he'd let her know in two or three days.
THE OLD MAN recognized Mead as having pawned an overcoat three or four months previously for $2.25. They all came back down, Mead agreeing to take the rooms. The woman went to the basement, and Mead then told Davidson he wanted to measure the smaller room for his bed.
Back upstairs, Mead handed the owner a piece of string he said was the length of his bed, and asked him to help measure the floor space.
As Davidson was stooped over, holding one end of the string at a designated spot, Mead smashed him on the head with a stone, a piece of kidney ore weighing about four pounds. He then jumped on the fallen victim,- and, gripping his throat to stifle cries with one hand, continued to hammer him on the skull and one cheek with the stone.
In a statement signed two days afterward, Davidson said the assailant struck him with the stone "probably 20 times."
The strong and wiry old veteran struggled, grabbing his attacker by the legs and trying to bring him down. In this attempt, he managed to bite the thumb and finger of Mead who jerked it from his mouth, pulling out a tooth.
As the old man lay seemingly dead or unconscious, the intruder seized the loot, went downstairs and outside, heading west along the nearby railroad tracks.
Davidson crawled down the stairs and out to the front stoop where he was found on the doorstep, dazed and bleeding. Large bloodstains had seeped into the floor upstairs, some through to the ceiling below, and blood trailed down the stairs.
Mrs. Hawk, who had gone to the basement, heard him groaning, and came up to find him sifting with arms on knees, head sagging forward, covered with blood.
A Mr. Wright came to her assistance, and people began to gather. A physician, Dr. Hawn, arrived to find the victim in a semi-comatose state, dully answering questions but not paying attention to anything else.
Davidson mumbled he had been beaten by a man who recently pawned an overcoat. Those aiding him may have deduced the culprit was man who reportedly had commented when redeeming the garment that "Old man Davidson is just lousy with money."
The doctor later said he counted 13 contused head wounds, 12 about an inch long and the 13th larger on the left side, five inches long showing several fractured bones, "some of which could be lifted out as well as skin and clots of hair."
Newspaper accounts said Mead had once worked at the Lawrence Coal Co., and had forged a signature to notes, forcing him to leave that area. One report indicated he had spent a term in the penitentiary. His parents, Heman and Sarah Mead of near East Palestine, were said to be 'very respectable and exemplary people."
A common belief was that he had deliberately planned to decoy the old man upstairs, and thought the body would not be found until Monday since no one would have called upon during the weekend.
Others thought he meant only to rob Davidson, but found the victim surprisingly strong for his age, and had to kill him to escape.
AFTER FLEEING the scene, Mead started walking toward Salem. John Morgan and Samuel Switzer of Leetonia had heard of the attack, and were also headed west in a buggy, looking for the robber. About 6 p.m. they spotted a man coming through a meadow from the railroad.
The walker was about 60 yards away headed north in a ravine when Morgan jumped out of the buggy and directed him to halt. When Morgan got to the ravine, the other man had reached the top of the hill turning toward an orchard.
"I fired at him, he turned around and ordered me to stop or he would shoot," Morgan later testified. He said he fired again, and the other returned the shots, then hurried north where Morgan and Switzer lost him in woods.
By Sunday, the victim's son, John Davidson, had offered a reward of $200 for finding the robber who had already traveled back to the home of the Wards near Middleton. Mead explained his injured thumb and finger as having "got into a scrape at Massillon, and was running from arrest."
Before leaving the Ward home Sunday, he shaved off his mustache and goatee and had another brother-in-law, Michael Ward, about 35, cut his hair. He also changed from a greenish gray coat and trousers with white hat to a faded blue coat, dark pants and railroad cap.
After breakfast, he walked south, apparently toward the Ohio River and West Virginia where he had other relatives. The youngest Ward brother, Lycurgus, 17, accompanied him about 2.5 miles until they reached the Clarkson Road.
By late Sunday night he had reached East Liverpool, stopping at the boarding house of Henry Ashbaugh to obtain supper and a room, paying him $2. Mead went out after breakfast, and visited a barbershop with another boarder, probably to get a better trim than the rough haircut Michael Ward administered the day before.
Marshal Welch had received a telegram about the robbery along with a description of the suspect. He saw such a man in Mead, watched him go into the barbershop. The law man went in and asked Mead if he knew the other customer, and Mead identified him as a fellow boarder. Welch later followed him to a saloon, but didn't find him inside. He went out and saw the suspect "in the square" (Third and Market) going toward the railroad track then up and alley to Third St.
The marshal walked up to him and said he wanted to talk, taking him into the parlor of a Mr. Barlow. Here Welch told him why he had stopped him, explaining the telegram alert and the description he fit.
The other man denied he was Samuel Mead, said he was Charlie Howard, and threatened to sue the officer if he weren't released. After five minutes, Welch, now even more suspicious, took the suspect to the Mayor's office. During this walk the suspect stated he lived near New Castle, and had injured his thumb there.
At the City Hall the suspect again gave his name as Charlie Howard. But the officer insisted he was Samuel Mead, and placed him under arrest, examining his hand and putting him in jail about 11:30 a.m. In Mead's vest pocket were found $21.51, a box of cartridges, and a watch without a crystal or hand.
Welch sent word to Leetonia that he had the suspect, whose left hand and thumb were lacerated, having apparently been bitten, as they plainly show marks of teeth." Authorities advised Welch to bring his prisoner to Leetonia "on the first train."
Instead the officer decided to transport Mead in a two-horse buggy with a Mr. Frederick, starting about 6 p.m. and traveling via New Lisbon. Approaching Lisbon the suspect revealed he had $60 or $65 hidden in his coat sleeve, and would give the money to Welch along with his overcoat if he would let him go at Franklin Square by the railroad crossing.
He explained he faced some 'trouble" in Leetonia, adding he had rich friends who would give him more.
WELCH DECLINED, but Mead repeated the offer when they got out of the buggy briefly. At New Lisbon, they stopped opposite the Cowan House, and as Welch was leaving the vehicle, Mead slipped a handcuff and ran off north toward Jefferson St.
Mistaking an open space between two buildings as an alley, he darted up it and into a small shed. Welch followed him to the shed, waited for a lantern to be brought, then found the suspect lying with some lumber over his face.
They went back to the hotel for supper. Welch ripped open the lining of the overcoat but found no money.
Instead of traveling directly to Leetonia -- fearing the angry people there might stage a lynching -- they waited until 3 a.m. Tuesday to transport Mead. Then, along with Sheriff J. D. Fountain and Deputy Kems, they drove on to Leetonia and Mead was placed in the jail.
Mead was taken for a hearing, but there was difficulty in finding a witness for the state, so it was postponed until Saturday, and the suspect was removed to the County Jail at New Lisbon.
Meanwhile, Davidson had become weaker and less conscious. Dr. Hawn found him dead Thursday morning, the aged victim having succumbed between 4 and 5 a.m. from inflammation in the terrible wounds.
The doctor had explained to Davidson Saturday the seriousness of his condition, and asked if he had anything to attend to because it was unlikely he would get better. Davidson tried to answer but became sick at the stomach.
On Sunday night the question was repeated by the doctor, who read to Davidson a statement about the assault which the patient signed as a dying declaration.
The old veteran had been born in Great Britain. During the 1812 war, he served in Virginia as a private with Capt. Brooks' company, listed on the rolls as Elijah Boyce. In 1800 he married Sarah Knowing who died in 1845, and two years later he wed Elizabeth Butz who died in 1886. He had filed for divorce in 1855, but it was dismissed and no divorce granted.
Mead, now facing a murder charge, was returned to Leetonia Saturday on the 6 a.m. train by Town Marshal W. A. Roller. An orderly crowd of about 100 awaited in curiosity. The suspect was placed in the village jail until the hearing began before Justice Clapsaddle.
Various witnesses identified Mead and his conduct and travels after the robbery, and about 5 p.m. the Justice ordered him held for trial on a charge of first degree murder. Sheriff Fountain took him back to New Lisbon on a local freight train, handcuffing himself securely to the prisoner.
The accused was indicted at the next term of Common Pleas Court, but the defense lawyers asked for a continuance which was granted to the fall term.
On the morning of Aug. 24, 1875, a guard at the County Jail opened Mead's cell door enough to place a bucket inside. The prisoner seemed to be wiping his face with a towel, which actually was covering two-thirds of a brick wrapped in cloth.
As the guard bent to set down the bucket, Mead struck him on the left side of the head above the temple. The injured guard, however, managed to close and lock the door despite the pain and blinding blood.
THE TRIAL WAS HELD in October 1875 before Judge Joseph Frease. Wilson S. Potts was the Prosecutor, aided by Maj. Jonathan Wallace and N. B. Billingsley. The defendant's attorneys were J. A. Ambler, a former judge, and M. A. Taggart.
Mead sat between his counsel, moving restlessly. Nearby were his wife and children, one of which the defendant occasionally held on his lap during the day. His father sat behind him, conversing with him now and then.
The defense immediately asked for a change of venue which was denied.
After examining 191 prospective jurors, and exhausting all but two of the defense's challenges; a jury of 12 (all men) was seated -- seven farmers, two railroad men, an iron ore miner, a lime works operator and a cement maker.
After opening statements, Dr. Hawn testified to attending the murder victim, Elijah Davidson. The defense objected to the reference to the victim's name, declaring the indictment read Elisha Davidson. Judge Frease concluded the trial should continue, and the exception was noted.
When the victim's son got on the stand, he was questioned about his fathers name, and he replied it had always been Eliiah Davison. The attorneys argued validity of trying a man for killing a man with one name and identified as another on the indictment.
The bench ruled despite a spelling error, there was no doubt as to identity, the names being the same in form and pronunciation. The prosecution could continue, while the defense marked its exception. Other prosecution witnesses described their connections with the victim, the scene, the arrest, the defendant, his sudden change in appearance in two days, Davidson's death statement.
The defense's case was brief, focused on assertion that Mead had other money than that taken in the robbery. This, of course, could have been the money obtained in forging the orders on the coal company.
A guilty verdict was returned by the jurors.
Mead was taken back to his cell to await sentencing. Early in November, he apparently attempted to avoid the noose by taking his own life -- opening an artery in his arm and bleeding severely.
However, he recovered and was present when Judge Frease several days later sentenced him to be hanged on Feb. 25, 1876, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Asked if he had anything to say why the sentence should not be carried out, he replied that another man had committed the crime.
His attorneys dutifully filed a writ of error appeal with the Supreme Court, and by late January, the high court allowed the writ and suspended the execution. Whatever joy this brought Mead was tempered with grief in March 1976 when his new son, Charles, born the month before the trial, died at nine months.
The court granted Mead a new trial in June. But by then, he was hundreds of miles away -- escaping from the County Jail in mid-May. He had sawed through bars of his cell, tied sheets together as a rope, and climbed down from a window.
Sheriff Fountain offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest and detention of the little man whose description included such facts as being very fair and pale due to long confinement. One newspaper commented he was "probably within five miles of New Lisbon yet and will sooner or later will be taken there or elsewhere."
HE COULD HAVE been close to Lisbon at the time, since at least one man claimed he saw him, dressed like a woman, on an eastbound train.
An engineer named Snyder who had once worked with Mead told the train conductor Mead was aboard wearing a dark dress, light hat and white veil. The conductor doubted Snyder's claim, and was reluctant to embarrass the lady who he thought was from Tiffin.
A Salem newspaper reported Mead's father had bought a revolver and cartridges, and boarded the same train to sit near his son. Snyder later said he was unaware of the reward, or he would have followed the "woman" to Pittsburgh where she was seen to depart.
However dressed, Mead left the region, and was not heard of publicly until autumn 1677. He was reportedly in Arkansas earning money on a cotton plantation, when he decided to come back to see his wife and family.
The fugitive showed up at his parents' home the night of Sept. 16, 1877. The father and mother concealed him in the attic, but urged him to flee before he was apprehended. He refused to leave before he saw Celeste, declaring he had come for that purpose, and would do so even if meant sacrificing his life.
Suspicions of his return reached Sheriff Fountain, and he along with Deputy Fred Gailey and Leetonia Marshal Roller went to the house and began a search.
The fugitive was nowhere to be seen, but in the attic officers found a well-filled apartment which had recently been occupied. A tense room-by-room hunt was launched, lasting nearly an hour.
The Sheriff and Roller returned to the basement, and discovered a door leading to an outside cellarway. Fountain opened it partially to find Mead with a cocked pistol pointed at his face.
Fountain sprang back and slammed the door shut. Mead then exited through the outside door, and began running past Deputy Galley stationed nearby. Gailey shouted for him to halt, then fired at him and started a chase.
Mead then turned his weapon on himself and pulled the trigger. He lived about two hours, never saying a word, officers reported.
The body was taken to New Lisbon about 2 am., and later to East Palestine for burial.
(Author's Note: Curiously, an account of Mead's crime was published Aug. 16, 1925, written by a Harry Stanley who reported he escaped jail (near the Square in Lisbon where a scaffold had been built for him) but was found only three days later.
One source said he was discovered in a cellar near Lisbon, another reported he was cornered in hills near Salineville. This story said gunfire was exchanged, and Mead was shot and killed by Deputy Galley who was slightly wounded. The body was taken to Lisbon where Mead was buried!)
One of the many ironies of this remarkable misadventure was that Mead had inflicted his horrendous crime on Davidson the same date the octogenarian was born in London Dock, England -- April 24, 1786.
A Despised Husband
Few killers in East Liverpool have been looked upon with such abhorrence as Ralph Wintergill who in 1877 chased his wife down an alley, cut her throat, then slashed his own neck in a suicide attempt.
He and Elizabeth Hales, widowed sister of his first wife, had been married for a year and a half, and friction had developed over several issues, ranging from ownership of their Market St. house and pension money for her children to relationships with their different offspring.
Elizabeth had five children and he had six, four of them joining him at the East Liverpool home after the couple wed in March 1876.
Wintergill, 46, had come to the city from Allegheny, Pittsburgh's old North Side, and was employed at Wylie's pottery here and also at Allegheny. He and Elizabeth argued over his working, he apparently unwilling to earn money for her children.
He also declared he should have title to the property left her by her husband. She said if he didn't want to support the family, they would part. In September he moved to another place in town.
While separated, they corresponded and met at the Methodist Church where both were members. He worked around the yard, building a fence and cultivating potatoes. She sent him turkey and plum pudding.
Wintergill returned to the house in January, bringing two of his children, and they "lived in harmony" for a while.
BUT IN SEPTEMBER, Elizabeth told him more room was needed in the house for their broods, and she planned to have two bedrooms added to the structure. Lizzie, her 17-year-old daughter, later testified her stepfather warned her mother she "would repent" if she built the rooms, When Elizabeth asked how, he answered she would find out.
The two also fought about a grape vine she wanted relocated but he refused. A more important debate centered on the pension funds of her deceased husband, placed in the custody of Jake Shenkel, a grocery store operator.
Early in October, according to Lizzie, Wintergill told her mother she would have to stop dealing with Shenkel, giving her until the end of the month to settle up.
On the day of the murder, Oct. 30, he did not go to work at the pottery, Lizzie testified, but was out of the house until 10 am. He came in and told Elizabeth to go to Dr. Gardner and to Jake Shenkel. She said she was unwell but would do so, Lizzie said.
When her older brother, Rob, came home, he found his mother crying. She said "they had told him things about her," and he was jealous. Rob said she should not go to the two men, that they should come to her.
At dinnertime Rob cautioned Wintergill he must treat Elizabeth better or he would have to leave again, that he "had shortened her life by 20 years." Wintergill, according to Lizzie, laughed, saying he did not doubt it.
After the midday meal, Elizabeth and Wintergill had a talk, he telling her to leave as it would be better they separated if they could not live in peace. She cried, saying she had reason for tears, that he was not good to her, that he had grabbed her by the shoulder and another time tried to hit her.
Wintergill got a sheet of paper, and sat down in the kitchen writing for 20 or 30 minutes. Mrs. Shenkel, a neighbor, came to the house about 1:30, and from the front room Elizabeth called to her husband. He just continued to write, so she beckoned to him, and they went into the bedroom.
Lizzie, in the front room thought she heard swearing. Then came a scream, and Elizabeth's voice, 'No, honestly, I never did!" Then another scream.
Lizzie said she ran into the bedroom, and saw her stepfather holding Elizabeth around the shoulder with his left arm, a razor in his right hand. When he raised his right arm, Elizabeth and Lizzie both ran into the alley, Wintergill after them.
Young Silas Ferguson was plastering walls at the new addition to the house and heard nothing until the woman and girl ran out of the house and through the garden, the husband chasing them.
Lizzie said Wintergill passed her and caught up with his wife, pressing her against a fence, then pulling her head back and cutting her throat.
"I tried to get her away," she later told the jury. "He turned and struck at me." She said her mother sank down, covered with blood. Then "he turned his back to me and cut his own (throat). Nothing was said; she made some little noise."
LIZZIE SAID HER mother was carried into the house, and she was not present when Elizabeth died.
The Potters Gazette, a local weekly published by David B. Martin, reported the crime under a headline, "A Devilish Deed." Martin, learning of the death, apparently went to the scene where pieces of weatherboard were found with Wintergill's writing in blood.
Some of the messages Martin copied included, "I don't want to live," "I begged for her to quit going to Jake's. She said she would die before she quit," "I love my wife dear," "I die for love," "Jake Shenkel is the cause of this."
Wintergill, gravely wounded by his own hand, was believed to be dying. The editor of the Gazette thought so, and condemned him for his reported "deathbed" justifications for his deed:
"... the cold-blooded murderer of his wife, since having consigned her to the grave, has spent the few days he has left for himself to live in trying to blacken her reputation. It was bad enough certainly, a strong man that he was, to brutally sever the vitals of the defenseless woman he 'loved dearly,' but it is even worse to try and destroy the good reputation she has heretofore borne."
her death, while professing love for her, he has been venomously striving to blacken and besmear her character; he commenced this while his hand was still dripping with the blood from her vitals; he has kept at it while his own life has been ebbing away; he has been making use of those around him to aid him in the slanderous work. .
"There are those (comparatively few, however, be it said) who now speak of his pious life, who hang around his dying couch as though he were something of a hero and a martyr, who are ready to do his menial services at his beck or nod, who certainly have not fully realized the enormity of the crime he has committed - a crime which will rank among the most unprovoked, the most deliberate and cruel, the most dastardly and fiendish, of any that have ever disfigured the annals of crimes committed in this section of country."
"It is proper enough that all should be done for him that common humanity may require, but pity and sympathy are sadly misplaced."
However, Wintergill did not die as The Gazette expected. He underwent surgery, and slowly recovered, although an opening remained in his throat.
His medical treatment stirred resentment with the County Commissioners who refused to authorize funds for another operation. They ignored doctors' claim he had not healed properly, and the that cavity would never close without surgery.
As a result the slayer spoke, one reporter wrote, 'with a wheezing cough, caused by the unhealed wound in his throat, which reminds one of the sound produced by steam escaping from the boiler of a steamboat."
Another newsman reported the opening through which air passed as making an "unpleasant gurgling sound, and although he is sufficiently strong to walk about his cell, talk with comparative ease and has a good appetite, permanent recovery will be slow."
Wintergill was described as a slender, mild-mannered man, about 5-foot-10, weighing 150 pounds, clean-shaven except for a full growth of white chinwhiskers.
HIS CRIME LEFT the community filled with loathing, and within a few weeks, the Methodist Episcopal Church formally expelled him.
Area newspapers treated him with disgust, calling for quick conviction -- "Justice will not be done until he is suspended between heaven and earth," declared the Ohio Patriot. Reporting his condition a few weeks afterward, The Buckeye State said, "Wintergill, we are sorry to say, has sufficiently recovered to be removed to the County Jail where he languishes."
A rumor that he was attempting to escape the jail brought an update in The Potters Gazette:
Wintergill, the convalescent cutthroat, . . . informed the officer in charge that he did not want to escape, that all he did want was justice. He failed to say what justice would require in his case.
We think the blind goddess would have to hold her scales suspended for a tong time before anything could be found to weigh in his favor against the heavy crime of brutal, cold-blooded wife murder. It will take an astute lawyer to de vine any plausible theory of defense."
The suspect earned further public disdain. On Nov. 30 he sent from jail to the oldest of the children whose mother he murdered an itemized bill for personal articles still in the house.
His action seemed linked to a note for $400 he had borrowed from Mrs. Hales before they were married. He had put the note up for a mortgage on the house, requested of him by Rob Hales.
Wintergill apparently sought several items in the house, and not receiving them, dispatched the bill of $17 for reimbursement. The articles included an ax, a crock, a pair of stockings, four sheets, a set of quilting frames, some oakum, bed ticking, hatchet, rope and shovel.
He wrote to Rob:
"If I had dealt with you over that note as you are trying to do over my goods, I wonder what your thoughts would have been about me. I knew the note you held against me was not worth five cents if I had wanted to act dishonest about it. But no! I did not hesitate for one moment when you asked for a mortgage to secure you."
"Now / have sent different times for my goods and they have been refused. / will not send for them again. If you send them over to me between this and Monday, I will receive them, and if not, I must force you to be honest in this case."
"I now see what you would do if you had a chance, but there is two sides yet, and I want you to know it now... If you see fit to keep (the articles) you can do so, but I will lay a valuation on them and send a bill of them, and if the goods do not come in good order when mentioned, I will claim eight per cent for my money until It is paid."
Yours with Respect, Ralph Wintergill"
The Potters Gazette, under a headline "A Murderer's Meanness," printed the letter, and commented:
"The same narrow-minded, mercenary, mean spirit is here evinced that he manifested during the time he was married to the murdered wife, off whom he sponged a living for so long. He shows himself utterly devoid of human sensibility, as mean as he is murderous."
The newspaper noted the list did not include a razor; "we suppose he took the razor with him."
WINTERGILL WAS indicted for first degree murder, and his trial began June 3, 1878, before Common Pleas Court Judge Peter A. Laubie at Lisbon. The case was presented by Prosecutor John McVicker, assisted by A W. Nicholls of Lisbon and Col. H. R. Hill of East Liverpool.
Representing the defendant was R. W. Tayler, 26, of East Liverpool, no minor talent in the profession, although a lawyer for only two years.
A native of Youngstown, Tayler had taught at Lisbon and became superintendent of schools. He was also editor of the Buckeye State at Lisbon for almost two years, and went on to become County Prosecutor in 1880-86, then a member of Congress and a U.S. District Judge at Cleveland in 1905.
Tayler was aided by two other members of his law firm of Tayler, Wallace and Billingsley.
Jonathan Wallace, 58, a native of St. Clair Township, was another outstanding figure in the county. He had taught school then read law in a firm in which the junior partner was Edwin Stanton, President Lincoln's Secretary of War.
Wallace was elected County Prosecutor in 1851, and was sent to Congress in 1882, defeating William McKinley, future President. In 1885, he was appointed Ninth Judicial District Judge to fill an unexpired term, then practiced law with the Lisbon firm until his death in 1892. He had assisted in the prosecution and conviction of Samuel Mead in the 1875 beating murder of Elijah Davidson at Leetonia.
Nathan B. Billingsley, 28, was the son-in-law of Wallace, under whom he had read law. He also went on to become Common Pleas Judge in 1893-95.
For Wintergill's trial, the original venire of 36 potential jurors was dismissed by Judge Laubie on a motion by the defense that irregularities occurred in placing of the names in the box from which they were selected.
A special venire of 43 more names was then drawn and summoned, and examination began late in the afternoon. Because of the extensive reporting of the murder in county newspapers, many of the prospective panelists indicated they knew of the crime and had formed opinions.
These were excused along with others who said they held conscientious beliefs against capital punishment. Only seven jurors had been chosen when this second venue was exhausted at the end of the day.
The next morning another venue of 36 was called, and yet a fourth was needed to complete the jury by mid-afternoon.
Prosecutor McVicker opened with a presentation of the basics of the murder charge. Wallace responded with the defense claim of the defendant's insanity caused by frequent attacks of epilepsy.
FIRST WITNESS was Lizzie Hales, teenaged daughter of the victim. She described the family background, the dissension between the husband and wife and the Oct. 30 events. Under cross-examination, Lizzie said Wintergill thought a great deal of her, that if anyone criticized the children he would be irritable for several days.
Little was said the day he left to stay at "Bereford's lot" for the ten weeks separation from Elizabeth. During that interval, the two corresponded and met at church, the girl testified. After he came back, bringing two of his children, there was no difficulty, she said. He worked at the pottery and also at Allegheny.
When she heard her mother scream just before 4 p.m. the day of the murder, she ran into the small bedroom where they stood near the bed, Wintergill biting his lower lip. She saw a handle in his hand, something broad and shiny on the other side.
Questioned again by McVicker, she stated she witnessed but one stroke when Wintergill slashed her mother.
A Dr. Cooper was the next witness, testifying he had known the defendant since 1855, had been treating him for "symptoms of an epileptic character." The physician said he had never seen Wintergill during a seizure, but had noticed "a dull, dispirited way' that indicated he had epilepsy.
The seizures had been of short duration, he said, and he had been called to the patient's home several times. A person experiencing such attacks over a period of years, he said, would be liable to have his mind impaired to a degree.
Asked by the Prosecution: -Would a person subject to epilepsy and laboring under the impression his wife was untrue to him, and who would cut her throat and kill her, be in his right mind, in your opinion?'
Dr. Cooper answered such an act would not argue in favor of the person's sanity.
Questioned by Wallace, the doctor said it does not ordinarily follow that the mind becomes deranged from epilepsy. He also said Wintergill had not suffered an attack for some time, perhaps ten years.
Closing arguments began the morning of June 6. The Gazette reported McVicker gave a "brilliant" hour and half presentation for the State. But Tayler's defense summation was described as an "eloquent and forcible appeal" for his client, and his account of testimony was submitted "with grace, accuracy and deliberation." The reporter added, "We bespeak for him a brilliant future."
Judge Laubie in his charge to the jury dealt with the question of insanity, saying the panel had to determine if Wintergill acted of his own free will or "governed by an uncontrollable impulse produced by a disease of the mind."
"Was he capable of judging whether the act was right or wrong. . .did he know at the time that it was an offense against the laws of God and man. . . subject to punishment?"
He said they must distinguish between loss of power of self control by reason of disease of the mind or temporary loss of the will by reason of anger or passion, "as the latter does not relieve from responsibility for crime."
The jury retired at 5:30 p.m. At 8:30 they notified the court a verdict was reached. There was a rush to the courtroom. Wintergill was brought from the jail looking "pale and anxious."
After the usual questions from the judge, the foreman announced the panel was agreed on a verdict of guilt in murder of the first degree. The Gazette noted, "The verdict is in vindication of law, in the interests of order and meets with general approval."
BUT NOT WITH the defendant or his attorney, Wallace, who immediately asked for a new trial.
The prisoner's previous attempt at suicide remained a concern for the Sheriff. "Since the verdict," one paper reported, "Wintergill remains in a very thoughtful mood," adding that a guard was kept on him night and day.
At a subsequent hearing and sentencing session, Judge Laubie rejected the motion for a new trial, and ordered Wintergill to stand up to learn his punishment.
Supported by Sheriff William Hostetter and Deputy Fred Galley, Wintergill arose with head bowed and eyes closed. Judge Laubie referred the indictment, the impartial jury, the able defense and the verdict. "Have you anything to say why the judgment of the court should not be pronounced?"
With a tremor in his voice, the prisoner answered, "I don't think I'm guilty of willful murder."
After a painful pause, the Judge, voice trembling with emotion, ordered that the prisoner be escorted to the county jail and held in solitary confinement until Oct. 4.
Then he was to be taken to the place of execution by the Sheriff, and at 10 a.m. "be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your soul."
A Journal reporter saw no evidence of "deep feeling" in Wintergill. "He preserved the same calm expression he had borne all through the trial." Leaning on the Sheriff and Galley, he descended the Courthouse steps and entered a carriage to be taken up to the jail.
But Ralph Wintergill was not to hang. There was sentiment in the county that his mental state was not normal, and a petition with 200 names of East Liverpool residents and some from Lisbon was sent to Ohio Governor R. M. Bishop asking commutation of his sentence. Private letters were also sent from other citizens.
Wallace went to the Governor's office to present his appeal. One newspaper reported the Prosecutor and other county officials supported commutation. But another said Prosecutor McVicker and Judge Laubie refused to sign any petition.
Nevertheless, the Governor, persuaded that the slaying occurred while the husband was laboring under a fit of insanity, late in September ordered Wintergill to serve life in prison. The Governor issued a formal statement:
I have given the case careful consideration, and commute the sentence of death to imprisonment for life, for the following reasons:
The evidence shows that the act was done in the presence of three other persons, and was followed by an attempt to commit suicide by cutting his own throat. From a careful examination of the testimony, it seems to me he was not in a condition of mind that would require premeditation and deliberation, which are essential to murder in the first degree.
If he was not insane, so as to constitute a complete defense, there was at least a morbid and unnatural condition of mind on his part toward his wife, most likely arising from a suspicion of her infidelity, which the proofs show to have been wholly imaginary.
In addition, his epileptic condition prior and subsequent to the commission of the homicide, strongly supports me in the conclusion.
These facts, and his living to a good old age as a good, moral and peaceable citizen, always having sustained an excellent character, furnish satisfactory evidence to me that justice demands that commutation be granted.
THE GOVERNORS leniency was seen by The Gazette as without foundation. "This arbitrary action will be approved only by those opposed to capital punishment in any case. The Governor, to be consistent, should in the future "commute" all death penalties in his administration and disregard the Law of the State and the action of the courts."
The Gazette also commented:
It is hard to see why his attempt to kill himself should mitigate his offense in killing another. If a threat made neatly a month before, of what he would do at about the time the crime was actually committed, did not show premeditation, it is hard to imagine what evidence would be sufficient for that purpose.
Is not the mind of every criminal in a morbid and unnatural condition when engaged in a cruel and bloodthirsty murder? The few "spells" it was claimed he had many years ago, was a far-fetched effort to show an "epileptic condition," and had no influence on any person but the susceptible Governor in quest of a reason for setting aside the action of a just court and impartial jury.
We doubt if Wintergill's character was anything like as exemplary as that of Hunter who was hanged in New Jersey last week, and whom Gov. McClellan declined to pardon. How easy it is to kill a good person, and how hard it is to hang a murderer.
The Steubenville Herald declared, The murder was one of the foulest and most fiendish that ever transpired in Eastern Ohio, and the strongest opponent of capital punishment will admit that if any crime deserved punishment by death this was the one."
The Steubenville Herald declared, "The murder was one of the foulest and most fiendish that ever transpired in Eastern Ohio, and the strongest opponent of capital punishment will admit that if any crime deserved punishment by death this was the one."
The Herald suggested as a measure of economy, all criminal laws in Ohio be suspended during the rest of Gov. Bishop's term. "There is certainly no use in going to the expense and trouble of convicting criminals only to have the action of the courts nullified by executive action."
A few weeks later The Gazette reported on a "gentleman who visited Wintergill at Columbus." The visitor reported the prisoner is "satisfied and contented" with the commutation.
He says, in fact, he prefers living in the penitentiary to East Liverpool. If this be true, we for one go in to have Gov. Bishop pardon him out, and make him come back. He might probably cut a few more throats, but he would be doing penance for his crime and that is what he should do.
He also says he does not wish to see any of his friends. He has heard they are coming to see him, but requests them to stay home. This shows him to be an ungrateful cuss, to go back on those who saved his neck from the hempen cord which would have bound him to the eternal shores, or in other words, towed him to heaven where all those fellows go.
Our informant also says he still whistles through his throat.
TEN TO ONE odds were given by the Steubenville paper that a petition for Wintergilt's release would be filed eventually, and "he will walk forth a free man while his poor victim sleeps in her untimely grave."
Wintergill, prisoner No. 13045, spent 19 years in the dreary Columbus pen, came to accept the severe restrictions, routine and order imposed on him, made friends among fellow prisoners and prison authorities.
On Christmas Eve 1897 an unconditional pardon was granted him by Gov. Asa Bushnell, and at a prison Christmas variety show the former prison chaplain summoned Wintergill from the audience of 2,500.
As he walked to the front, loud applause swept the hall -- he was well-known in the institution, had held a responsible position in the shop, was the oldest man in the prison proper. The only older inmate was in the insane asylum.
Now nearing 70, the newly freed gray-haired man was handed his pardon paper, then made a few remarks. He said he did not believe he had an enemy within the walls, that he was contented with his life. Wintergill explained he had not yet decided when he would leave -- this brought some hisses from the incarcerated onlookers.
A few days later newspapers were reporting him still behind bars, reluctant to leave, although his son was coming from Pennsylvania to take him away.
The city's Daily Crisis commented editorially, referring to the "broken down old man."
True advocates of constitutional government and enforcement of law, for the protection of the community, as well as true philanthropists have no sentimentalism to squander on the likes of such as Ralph Wintergill. .. . the man deliberately murdered his wife, cut her throat, then attempted to end his own miserable existence.
Many people who oppose capital punishment yet believe the greatest restriction should be put about the pardon power... There is room for doubt as to the element of true clemency in the act which gave him his liberty.
The house in which the Wintergills had lived, on the Hailes lot along Market St., several years before had been moved to Basil Alley at the rear of the Burford Pottery. It was unoccupied.
Wintergill finally left the pen, and reportedly went to live with the son at Beaver Falls.
Anger And Alcohol
Hard drinking was a common practice in parts of early America, brought from Europe and expanded to help ease the travails and hardships of battling the frontier. Among the first businesses in East Liverpool was a tavern operated by one of the Fawcetts, the founding family.
Arrival of the English potters introduced to the town a long tradition of imbibing -working 12 and more hours a day for five or six days deserved two or three days of liquid relief. Even meal-time in the shop found craftsmen at a nearby pub for a few.
Beer, rum and whisky often ended in arguments, fights and sometimes death. Alcohol led to one of the city's more notorious murders which sent a pottery worker to prison late in the late 19th Century.
Angus Bratt fired five bullets into Jefferson C. Davis, a companion, after a beer bout on Second St. -- then East Liverpool's downtown -- in May 1885.
Bratt and Davis had been drinking in Davis' room in the Barlow House about 9 p.m. May 26, when shots rang out in the neighborhood.
Bratt was a presser in the C. C. Thompson & Co. pottery, and Davis of Youngstown, a paperhanger. Both were originally from Niles where Davis' father was mayor.
The shooting was heard by Dr. George Ikirt, visiting a patient in an adjoining house, and by several men at the Cartwright pottery, and they ran to the scene.
BRATT, ACCORDING to newspaper reports, met the men at the parlor and declared he had just shot a man upstairs and "done it well." Davis was discovered lying against the door of his upstairs room, and Dr. Ikirt found five bullet wounds through the chest.
The gun had been fired very close to the victim; reports indicated his shirt was on fire when found.
When Bratt outside on the Street was told Davis was not yet dead, he attempted to go back and put "forty more balls into him;" that he did not do things by halves.
The crowd gathered outside turned angry, but Bratt walked down to Washington St., saying he was ready to give himself up. He surrendered to Marshal John Wyman who took him to the jail at City Hall on Third St.
He reportedly told some people he shot Davis because the latter insulted his daughter
Davis had left his home about a month previous to do wall-papering, first at Leetonia then East Palestine. He arrived in East Liverpool four days before the slaying to undertake some papering jobs. His wife and two children -- one 14 and the other a baby -- remained behind.
Bratt and Davis had renewed their former acquaintance, and began drinking. They were together at CaIdwell's bar the morning of the shooting, and also that night only 15 or 20 minutes before the incident.
They left the saloon, Bratt ordering the bartender to deliver two beers to Davis' room. This he did, and said the two seemed very cordial.
Bratt was twice-married -- his first wife having died some years before -- and he had several children. Bratt apparently held a good job with an iron works in Niles before coming here some years prior.
A report in The Review suggested "riotous living and sporting habits had reduced his worldly estate and no doubt made inroads on his mental and physical condition." When interviewed in his cell, he seemed to be in "a great depression, stating he had no recollection of what had transpired the night before except he had been drinking hard."
BUT THERE WAS more than a slight suspicion of premeditation. Brafl had tried to purchase a revolver at Shannon's hardware store "to shoot a dog," but was refused. He then asked for the loan of a hatchet and again was turned down.
On the evening of the murder, he had gone to a Second St. neighbor named Smith, seeking to borrow a gun. Smith declined, but said he would sell it for $7. Bratt bought the revolver which was used in the slaying.
While in the county jail, Bratt sent flowers to another inmate -- 19-year-old Annie Van Fossan of East Liverpool, awaiting trial for first degree murder in the poisoning of a 6-year-old cousin in a relative's home in Seldom Seen. She was later acquitted.
Bratt's trial began Dec. 11, 1885 -- a Friday - with Prosecutor R. W. Tayler serving the state and Col. H. R. Hill and former judge J.A. Ambler representing the defendant.
Tayler had ample evidence pointing to first degree murder -- the gun purchase, the arguments, Bratt's presence at the crime, his admission of the shooting and the threat to return and finish the job, etc.
Bratt insisted his mind remained a blank after a quarrel with Davis on the railroad track and the talk with his daughter Lizzie until he found himself in the lockup the next morning. Although Col. Hill did not claim or suggest insanity, he indicated the family had a history of mental aberration, and Angus at times had shown symptoms.
Hill said the jury should decide whether Bratt were guilty or not of manslaughter-- not murder. Bratt, he emphasized, was greatly disturbed about Davis' physical threat to his daughter, Lizzie.
Davis had reportedly discussed with Bratt another young woman, asking about her conduct, declaring he intended "to find out," although Bratt warned he could get into trouble. When later he learned Davis had been upstairs in the rooming house at the same time as his daughter -- Hill noted that Bratt's pension papers had been found on Davis -- the father thought his daughter had been molested or harmed.
The jury received the case late Saturday afternoon, and at 1:45 a.m. Sunday returned a verdict of guilt in the second degree. Judge William Nichols sentenced Bratt to life in prison at hard labor without solitary confinement.
He told Bratt that had it not been for whisky, he would never have perpetrated this crime. "Not that drunkeness was an excuse," he said. "You were in great provocation, as shown by the testimony of your daughter."
At this point Bratt broke down and wept. The judge concluded, "This shows the terrible and fearful consequences of intoxicating liquors." The ex-potter regained his composure, and sat down by the railing for a short time before the Sheriff came to take charge.
Angus Bratt was on his way to a life behind bars.
Woman Racer Killed
A Pittsburgh woman participating in a walking competition in East Liverpool was gunned down by her jealous husband the last day of the race in the spring of 1897.
Agnes Jane Robison, about 36, was in a six-day women's walking match at the Fifth St. rink. She and other female competitors were staying at the Hotel Grand.
Known professionally as Alice Robison, Agnes had been leading the walkers for five days. On the final day, April 24, her husband, Zacharias S. Robison, 46, a house painter, came to town on the afternoon train.
Zack, blue-eyed with a light brown mustache, had 14 years before married the black-haired, brown-eyed Agnes who was previously wed to James Watters.
He arrived at the hotel, went upstairs and located his wife's room -- No. 27 -where she, another couple and a competition official were gathered. After a while Zack and another man went out, later came back and he returned to Agnes' room.
Within minutes, a shot echoed through the hallway, and those nearby entered No. 27 to find Agnes lying on the floor, wounded in the head.
Kneeling over her was Zack holding a revolver. He told onlookers she had merely "a flesh wound." But she soon died, shortly before 6 p.m., and he was arrested, charged with the slaying.
THE VICTIM was still wearing her walking outfit -- a red waist with dark skirt and fancy trimming -- along with a walking medal, five rings and plain circle earrings.
The police investigation and newspaper accounts focused on a letter which Zack supposedly showed accusingly to his wife and which was made public. It was allegedly written by Agnes on Hotel Grand stationery, and addressed to Charles Stewart who had been residing with the Robisons for some time. The letter read:
How / miss you. / hope you made it all right at the house. Let me know dear old darling. Do not drink, and get a job. How did you make out with love. If is so hard to be without you, but darting, I will be true to you. That is not hard to do, darling
But will you be true to me?
I hope so, for! could kill the woman that would come between us, for darting, / love you better than my life, darling. Now, dear, write to me so it will not be so long, for it is hard to be without you. A kiss -- so long. Now, darling, write soon to me and tell me news for I long for a letter from you. This is all this time, dear. Address me at this hotel.
Mrs. Alice Robison
Bye, bye, darling. From one who loves you better than life, and true as gold. Bum this, love.
Trial began June 14 before Judge P. M. Smith at Lisbon. Defending Robison were attorneys P.C. Young and Hollis Grosshans. Young was referred to as "Judge," having served two terms on the Probate Court bench.
The two lawyers offered an insanity defense, and sought to prove Zack had a history of epilepsy in a family noted for mental shortcomings. He had acted in a fit of insanity brought on by intense jealousy, was the premise.
Early testimony revealed new details of what happened leading up to the firing of the revolver.
Agnes Robison had taken in washing and did cleaning for others. She was about 5-foot-4, weighing around 150 pounds, and had developed an interest in sports, first taking boxing lessons and then competing as a "professional pedestrian" in walking races.
In addition, the younger man Stewart had been residing with the Robisons for some time, and was thought to be her lover. Zack's son, Tom, said his father had become angry the day prior to the shooting on finding the letter from his wife to Stewart. The letter seemed to confirm suspicions about their relationship, and Zack resolved he would go to East Liverpool.
He arrived at the Cleveland & Pittsburgh railroad station, and walked to the hotel. He went upstairs looking for her room, and knocked on the door of Mabel Lee, another walking competitor, asking for Agnes.
Mabel told him, and he went to Room 27 just as Mrs. James Wiegand, another walking competitor and friend of Agnes, opened the door to leave with her husband.
Mrs. Wiegand testified that he came in, and Agnes greeted him, shook hands and asked how things were "at home." He answered, "Who do you mean? Your lover?" The Wiegands departed.
MRS. WIEGAND said later Zack came to her and asked if his wife had ever received letters from Stewart She said not, and Zack then termed his wife unfaithful and called her "vile names."
Mrs. Wiegand's husband, James, and Zack later went out to the rink and stopped at Geon's bar before coming back to the hotel. After they returned, Zack went to Room 27. Mrs. Wiegand heard a shot, and hurried over.
Agnes was on the floor unconscious and Zack was kneeling over her, wiping blood from her face. Doctors later reported she had a bullet wound to the temple area and eye, was comatose when they arrived and died soon after.
The physicians at first seemed uncertain about the nature of the wound. Some thought she had been hit in the eye, the bullet coming out the right temple. But it was later confirmed she had been shot on the side of the head, the bullet exiting the eye socket.
Defense attorney Young explained that Zack's mother, Susan Robison of Bellsville, Pa., was too ill to testify, but he was allowed to read her statement that her son as a boy suffered from epilepsy, falling spells and convulsions. According to her, one of his cousins was deaf and dumb, with falling fits, and an uncle had "brain trouble" and paralysis. Her own mother suffered an apoplectic fit before dying.
Several physicians testified, most verifying that Zack seemed to be an epileptic, some seeing lead poisoning symptoms often found in painters, and seemingly insane. Others indicated he was not normal, but hardly insane.
Mabel Lee testified that Zack had told her when he sought Alice's room, "When I do get her, I'll put her out of this business." Later, she said, she heard him tell others in the room after the shooting, "This is what women get for trifling with their husbands."
Ed Blackburn, a barber at Fourth and Washington, told the jury he shaved Zack the afternoon of the shooting, and he seemed nervous and in "bad humor." Zack forgot to take with him from the shop a black valise containing a suit, tobacco, half pint of whisky, a piece of cake and letters written by his wife.
Doc Howard, another barber at the shop, testified he had known Zack when the latter was a boy. Howard, described as an 'old soldier,' said Zack was "peculiar... had a fierce look in his eyes." (Howard was the foster father to Charles 'Doc' Howard who was shot to death by his live-in lover, Lottie Skiles, six years later.)
Zack's son, Tom, took the stand to describe the home life of his father and stepmother. His father had been in good health until about a year before when he became melancholy, aged and stooped over. Chuck Stewart had come to live in the house.
Agnes and Stewart drank together, he said, and sometimes stayed out all night. He had told his father of his suspicions, but the latter ignored him. Then Zack took from Stewart's coat pocket a letter from Agnes at the Grand Hotel, steamed it open to discover words of endearment and evidence of an intimate relationship.
He made copies, showed it to Tom, and decided to go to East Liverpool and bring her home.
STEWART, A SLATE ROOFER and an important figure in the trial, was brought by the Prosecution to Lisbon to testify.
The big man admitted receiving a letter from Agnes at East Liverpool, but said he was too intoxicated to recall other than it was "just friendly, nothing improper." It included directions of things to do around the house, he said, adding he couldn't recall if he destroyed it or lost it.
Under cross examination he conceded he was not a hard-working person, had served a term for a burglary in 1891, and had been in the workhouse seven or eight times for assault or disorderly conduct.
Lengthy closing arguments were given by Prosecutor C.S. Speaker and the defense, and a detailed charge made by Judge Smith.
The prosecution suggested that the letter from Agnes was a forgery, with manufactured terms of affection so as to lay a motive for Zack to justify killing her.
The 12-man jury after eight ballots -- the first vote evenly divided -- brought in a verdict of guilt in first degree murder on June 23. Zack, detached and unemotional, stared out the window as he had done during most of the proceedings.
His lawyers moved for a new trial, citing various errors.
A reporter visited Zack in his cell and found him reading a Bible sent by a woman in Sherrodsville. He told the newsman the past four months seemed "like a dream. My mind would go blank but the shock of the verdict made me normal."
"I don't care to live, I know one thing -- I am innocent of killing my wife. It was through me she died, intentional or not. I loved her well enough to suffer death now.
In July Judge Smith overruled the defense motion for a new trial on the basis of misconduct in the jury room and on the part of the Prosecutor.
The Judge said the jury would have been wrong to assume the offered letter was false. "There is no doubt in my mind and no evidence that Agnes Robison did not write that letter. Take away the letter.. . and you have no motive for him to go to East Liverpool and commit murder."
The jurist asked Zack if he had anything to say before sentencing. Zack looked Smith in the eye and declared, "I never intentionally harmed my wife."
The Judge then directed that Zack would die -- "sent to the Ohio Penitentiary and kept until Nov. 26 when before sunrise a sufficient amount of electricity shall be passed through your body to cause your death."
The condemned man did not flinch. He took a chew of tobacco from his mouth, tossed it into a spittoon, and sat down.
His lawyers appealed the verdict, and on Oct. 5, circuit court judges granted a new trial, citing errors on the part of Judge Smith. Noted particularly was the role of Chuck Stewart who, the circuit court said, committed perjury that led to the conviction. "The jury ought not to have believed this man," the judges stated, a "paramour" who described the letter as merely friendly, causing the panel to believe it was a forgery.
They noted Stewart's statements after the that were directly contradictory, and suggested he was not telling "the whole truth." The judges also termed Mrs. Wiegand's testimony differed from the preliminary hearing, and Judge Smith should not have admitted statements that Zack had threatened to kill his wife eight years before if she did not furnish him whisky.
ROBISON'S LAWYERS sent him a telegram about the court ruling. When it was handed to him by a prison official, observers said his face flushed, and he heaved a sigh of relief.
After thanking the man who brought the message, he commented that he didn't know whether to be relieved or sorry. "I would almost rather go to the chair than stand the strain of another such that as the first."
Again he declared love for his dead wife, did not much care to live. He also sent a telegram to his wife's mother, Mrs. Rebecca Jones of West Bridgewater, Pa., advising her of the new trial which had been scheduled for Nov. 14.
East Liverpool Council, meanwhile, had been requested to reimburse undertaker J. D. West for his expenses in arranging for Agnes Robison's burial. A $26 bill had been presented the city by West who said he was ordered by Mayor A.S. Gilbert to take care of Agnes.
Councilman Ashbaugh wanted the bill referred to his committee for study. But Councilman Stewart thought West should get his money: "The woman had no friends. It is nothing more than right. The bill is just, and should be paid, and we shouldn't quibble about it."
Disposal of poor Agnes had been frustrating saga from the start. Mortician West was notified by her sister, Mrs. Haskins, after the murder to ship the victim's body to Pittsburgh. West took the remains by train to Union Station and waited for an undertaker or family members.
When none appeared, West and Agnes returned to East Liverpool on the midnight train. Some local ladies vowed to give her a Christian burial, but Mayor Gilbert was then asked by Mrs. Haskins to transport Agnes again to Pittsburgh. He suggested that someone come to East Liverpool to escort the body.
Next, the Mayor received word to bury Alice here, and send her trunk to Pittsburgh. Finally, a brother-in-law arrived April 27 to take the wandering walker to the 'Smoky City" where she was interred at Allegheny Cemetery.
City Council and the community may have thought Agnes' murderer was still headed for the electric chair. But he pulled a surprise, and on Oct. 20 went before Judge Smith to plead guilty of second degree murder.
Defense lawyer Grosshans had explained the possible grim results of a new trial. Zack remained certain he would be acquitted, but finally gave in. The Prosecutor said he still believed Robison guilty of premeditated murder, but his witnesses were scattered -- one had left the country -- and he accepted the lesser plea.
Seemingly nervous, Zack was asked once more if he had anything to say before sentencing. In a low voice he declared he had not intended to kill his wife when he entered the Hotel Grand that day. He almost broke down as he spoke.
Judge Smith, who four months before had dispatched him to the electric chair, then sentenced him to life in prison.
Zacharias Robison turned out to be an exemplary prisoner, and at the end of seven years, the Ohio Board of Pardons commuted his sentence to 11 years.
With credit for good behavior, his release was effective when Gov. Herrick signed the recommendation of the pardon board
A century later his name is gone from memory, and Zack no doubt lies somewhere in a cemetery. But those reviewing the woeful encounter in Room 27 can ponder the nature of Zack's later life of freedom.
The News-Review reported in the fall of 1897 that his mother, the ailing Susan Robison, had won the right to share in the estate of a Baker family.
Lawyers were working on her claim to the fortune which, it was said, included $37 million in Germany, $200 million in Philadelphia real estate and $80 million in Philadelphia banks.
The bludgeoning death of a riverboat deckhand off the Broadway wharf in 1898 posed a legal question on whether or not the crime occurred in Ohio.
A Black man -- Henry Clark of Pittsburgh -- was struck with a heavy club just before his steamboat, the "Ben Hur," left East Liverpool Nov. 27, and he died as the craft passed Shippingport.
Taken into custody in East Liverpool shortly afterward was Theodore Pryor, 22, who had just quit his deckhand job on the "Ben Hur."
The boat, captained by Herbert Cramer, ran regularly between Pittsburgh and Parkersburg twice a week, and had stopped here, tying up to the city's 40-foot wide wharfboat just off the Broadway shore.
Crewmen of the "Ben Hur" were preparing to depart about noon, and Clark -nicknamed "Kelso" -- had stooped to lift up the gangplank, according to Capt. Cramer who had just come aboard after visiting uptown.
Capt. Cramer heard a dull thud, he said later, and turned to see Clark had fallen to the deck with Pryor standing for a moment with a club in his hand, then running up the embankment. The weapon, about three feet long and 2% to 3 inches thick, was a 'toggle," used to jam in the eye of a rope in a king bolt to fasten a line.
Clark was carried to the engineroom of the boat, and Dr. C. B. Ogden was summoned to treat him. Dr. Ogden, viewing the deep fracture of the skull, sought only to make him comfortable, knowing the injury was mortal.
WHEN THE "Ben Hur" arrived at Pittsburgh, the dead victim was turned over to authorities. A woman named Susie, said to be his cousin with whom he resided, claimed the body.
Pryor, of the Sistersville, W. Va., area, had worked for pottenes for a while before a major labor strike, then turned to the river for employment. His father and stepmother lived here, a sister in Wellsville. He and a friend hired on the "Ben Hur" Oct. 31 as one of 14 deckhands, most of them Black. Pryor planned to work on the boat only until he could find other employment.
Clark, about 30, lived on Hill St., Allegheny, moving to Pittsburgh five years before from Virginia.
A dispute involving Pryor, Clark and another Black crewman named "Yellow" had broken out in mid-November during a run to Marietta. The "Ben Hur" carpenter reported Pryor told him of the fight, saying he "ought to do him (Clark) up."
Pryor, he recalled, had fallen over a chair, and vowed to "get even."
Trial for Pryor, charged with murder, was held in January 1899 at Lisbon before Judge P. M. Smith, and a key issue was whether the Prosecution could prove the crime occurred within the court's jurisdiction.
W. F. Pilgrim, the official in charge of the wharfboat, said the Ohio River was falling on the day of the death, and the wharfboat was close to shore. Thus it was well within the low water mark, historically the Ohio boundary line on the river which lay in West Virginia. The north side of the "Hur" was therefore also north of the line, Pilgrim testified.
Jason Neville, local ferryman for 20 years, testified for the defense, saying the channel depth that day was six feet and the level falling.
Judge Smith cited a landmark 1843 court ruling that a boat attached by a line to a shore would be within the jurisdiction of the court serving the shore property. When the defense continued to make an issue of the water line, he declared that the river level and low water mark were irrelevant since the "Ben Hur" was tied to the wharf boat, and the wharf boat was tied to the Columbiana County shore.
The slender, seemingly calm Pryor on the witness stand told of the quarrel on the "Ben Hour," explaining he and Yellow" argued over possession of a chair in the dining cabin. "Yellow," he said, had knocked over Pryor's plate of food, and the two had angrily clinched but were separated by others.
Right afterward, Pryor told the court, Clark had stated, "I can give the - - - --- enough of it," and hit him in the forehead, knocking him down. As he got up, Clark grabbed a poker but did nothing with it, Pryor said. he admitted telling others that he would get even.
On the way up from Wellsville, the weather turned cold, and Pryor decided to leave the boat. He was paid off, and was departing when the mate, not knowing he no longer worked aboard, asked him to watch the West Virginia shore for small game, rabbits and squirrel.
After the departure bell rang, Pryor said he crossed the deck and headed for shore. He saw Clark, and thought it would a good time to get back at what he said Clark had done to him. He picked up the heavy "toggle," and struck Clark, Pryor testified, meaning only to knock him down. "I didn't intend to kill him."
He then ran up the bank and went home. He didn't learn Clark was seriously hurt until told by a neighbor, and found out lark had died, only after he was jailed.
WAS THERE A racial taint to the death and to the verdict? The Review described Pryor as a clean-cut young man, and character witnesses termed him honest and of good conduct.
A prosecution witness testified Clark lived in a "disreputable" section of Allegheny, on Pittsburgh's north side.
The jury deliberated for two hours, voting 12 to none against first degree and second degree murder, unanimously agreeing that the crime was manslaughter. The panel recommended leniency.
Judge Smith sentenced Pryor to the Mansfield Reformatory "until discharged by law." The length of terms at the reformatory at that time were not set, the duration depending upon the behavior of the prisoner.
Pottery Owner Kills Black
The owner of one of East Liverpool's potteries was charged with murder in 1898 following a struggle with a Black man he had previously fired as a stable hand.
Police arrested George F. Brunt, 26, after he shot and killed Dudley E. Lee inside Brunt's home on W. Fifth St. Oct. 24. The gun wielder was president of the G. F. Brunt Electric Porcelain Co. at the foot of Market St. His home was located at the present site of the Ohio Power Co. building.
Lee, 20, had been drinking, and went to Brunt around 6 p.m. apparently to obtain money he believed owed him.
Witnesses said Lee had walked from the alley through the stable into the back yard where Brunt saw him. Lee spoke the pottery executive about his hiring of another Black man to replace him, and said, "I hope you like him better than me." Brunt was said to have answered he hoped so too.
This response seemingly angered Lee who moved toward Brunt, and they began to fight. Byron Rigby in his yard next door heard Mrs. Brunt screaming, saw the pair on the ground, jumped the fence and separated them.
Brunt went into the house and upstairs, telephoning for police to come to his stable. Lee started back toward the stable, but turned and told Rigby 'to call the patrol." Then he walked up onto the porch of the Brunt house and into the kitchen.
RIGBY FOLLOWED him into the house, thinking there would be "another scrape." He passed through to the reception hall, and saw Lee running down the stairs, shouting, "He has got a gun."
Rigby said Lee tried to go into the cellar, but the door failed to open, so he ran into the kitchen. As he went through the doorway, Rigby heard a gunshot.
He said he grabbed Brunt, and told him, "George, this will never do." Rigby took the gun, putting it into his pocket, and led Brunt over to the Rigby house.
Two police officers arrived, one finding Lee crumpled in the kitchen on a small landing of the back stairway with a wound in his right side.
Dr. W. A. Hobbs was summoned from his home across the Street, but within 20 minutes after Lee was placed on the floor, victim died. Dr. Hobbs later determined the bullet hit a lower rib and coursed into the liver, intestines and a major artery, causing fatal internal hemmorhaging.
Brunt's wife, Nellie, who had been screaming in alarm, was also taken next door by the Rigbys. One of the officers went to the home and told Brunt he was under arrest, taking the .32 caliber revolver which had one empty chamber.
Brunt's father, Henry, along with his attorneys, H. R. Hill and Walter B. Hill, had arrived along with many others. After a conference, the party went to the City Hall at Third St. where an alerted Mayor Charles Bough was waiting in his office.
The suspect sat quietly in Bough's private office, saying little and holding his right hand which was injured in the incident. "I had to do it," he told one reporter.
Brunt pleaded not guilty to murder, waived a preliminary hearing and was bound over to the Grand Jury. Family and friends quickly signed for the $10,000 bond.
He was the grandson of William Brunt who had come from England to establish a pottery business in 1848. George headed one branch of the firm, his brother William headed the doorknob plant. George was born in East Liverpool, and educated in public and private schools and at a Chicago business college. He was married to the former Nellie Leighton of Pittsburgh.
Lee was the son of the Rev. Benjamin Lee of Allegheny, Pa., an African Methodist Episcopal minister. Dudley was born in Maryland, but attended school at Salem and completed his education at Cadiz in 1896. He obtained a job at Newark, and had apparently been in Pennsylvania before coming to East Liverpool.
Rev. Lee had been the presiding elder of the district AME church, and was involved in regional missionary work and connected with the Colored Citizens Political Association.
He came to town on the first train, and at the funeral home commented, "We are all human. Innocent blood has been shed. We were held in slavery. We made an appeal to God and he heard us. We will be heard again."
"The colored people of the South are being shot down. I presume it is the same here." His son, he said, never had any trouble or caused his parents to worry. "He was a quiet boy, but I heard of him drinking some time ago."
A BLACK FRIEND of Lee -- Sheldon Murray, a barber -- stated he and the victim had been Steubenville earlier in the day and had been drinking. He reported he had taken a revolver and later a razor from Lee, and on returning to East Liverpool, gave them to another person to hold for a while.
The two walked down Market St. to the alley below Fifth, and Lee declared he was going to see about getting some money. Lee went down the alley, and Murray to the Post Office.
"Lee had been drinking," Murray said, "but was not too drunk to know what he was doing... I heard him make no threats, and simply assumed he was going to get some money due him."
At an inquest held by Coroner Straughn at City Hall, Charles Trainor, a Market St. butcher, testified Lee had come into his shop about 6:45 p.m. After a short conversation, Lee stated he was going to ask Brunt for $5. According to Trainor, Lee said if he did not, he would give him "that," shaking his fist.
The butcher testified Lee mentioned something about a mistake of a few dollars in his wages. Lee appeared drunk, he said, and had to lean against the counter. "I don't think I ever saw him drunk before."
After many Blacks and Whites paid respects at the J. D. West funeral home, Lee's body was transported to Cadiz for services and burial.
Brunt was indicted for second degree murder by the Grand Jury Feb. 11, 1899, and his trial began March 28 at Lisbon before Judge Kennedy. Prosecutor J. H. Brookes' case was based essentially testimony given at the inquest -- as to Lee's good character, that he was unarmed, unaccustomed to liquor, had gone only to Brunt to obtain money he thought due him.
The defense focused on the fight at the stable after which Lee followed Brunt into the home, and that Mrs. Brunt's screams led her husband to believe she was being threatened.
In closing argument, assistant Prosecutor C. S. Speaker claimed Brunt had willfully decided to take a man's life, a man who was not wild or reckless, not addicted to liquor but more helpless than someone addicted. It was noted that the threats of intoxicated men were rarely taken seriously.
Defense attorney James Moore emphasized that every man has a right to defend his home and his family, that when Brunt was upstairs telephoning the police, his wife screamed downstairs and he thought she was in danger.
Atty. Moore revealed that Brunt had met Lee in Pennsylvania in June, telegraphed him in August to come work for him. For a while he had no complaints, but on Aug. 22 he went to the stable to find the horses not fed and Lee still in bed. When his work did not improve, he was discharged.
Brunt knew Lee owned a gun and had a razor, had had it with him earlier the day of the shooting, Moore said, and urged the jury of 12 men to acquit "this respected citizen who was acting to protect a loved one."
The panel deliberated for six hours, then brought in a not quilty verdict. Those in the courtroom applauded, and the Judge smiled in telling Brunt he was free to go.
The jury had agreed that nothing would be said of their proceedings, and that all the records would be destroyed. However, it was reported that for 20 or more ballots ten jurors voted for acquittal and two for second degree murder. The two holdouts were believed from Perry Township.
Lee's father said during the jury's deliberations that he thought the State had presented its case well, and the Judge's charge and the treatment everyone had afforded him was all he could have asked for. 'Ohio cannot be beaten for a fair trial," he added.
However, he said, "I believe the killing was malicious. Brunt had nothing to fear for his wife at the hands of my son who was after Brunt, not his wife. He never said anything to her, even after she struck him on the head with a broom."
Henry Brunt, father of the defendant, and the Rev. Lee met at the Courthouse before the verdict, and shook hands, expressing deep regret over the tragedy.
The Brunts later hosted a celebratory reception at their hotel in Lisbon, the Hostetter House, where Judge Kennedy and various lawyers and other notables dropped by.
A suit for damages was filed in Common Pleas Court by the Lee family in March 1900, seeking $10,000 from Brunt for the wrongful death of Dudley. The action was filed on behalf of his parents, two brothers and two sisters.
Brunt's lawyers later filed a request for more detailed information on the petition as to the alleged damages. The outcome of the suit is as yet not located in court records.
Brunt moved to Columbus in 1909, organizing the G. F. Brunt Co. which acquired the plant of the Columbus Pottery Co at Chaseland, north of the Ohio capital. In 1918 he retired and moved to Chicago.
He later returned to Columbus where, aged 62, he died at his home Aug. 7, 1934, following an 18-month illness. His widow survived. Burial was in Riverview Cemetery after services by the rector of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Chester.
CONTINUE TO Murder Will Out 3