Sunday, July 3, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - The Firemen Lost in Chicago 1924

The Belvidere Daily Republican,
Belvidere, IL - 19APR1924, pg1
A follow up to a Memorial Monday post in April where it was noted that numerous fire fighters from union L2 in Illinois were lost in a single event. This is the story of their loss.

"Fire Killing Eight Believed Due to Arson

Arrest Three Seeking Plot to Gain $32,000 of Insurance

Chicago's tragical fire followed by swift action that places three men under arrest when police follow trail of recently place insurance policy - firemen crushed when explosion wrecks walls of burning structure

(Special by the United Press.)

Chicago, April 19 - Arson was suspected by police today in the fire which last night gutted a four story building here, killing eight firemen, one civilian, and injuring 20 others, some perhaps fatally.

Search of the ruins continues, police and firemen fearing others, still unaccounted for, may have been trapped when a terrific explosion caused the walls to billow out and then collapse.

The explosion occurred on the second floor while firemen were swarming all over the building.

The dead:

Captain John J. Brennan, 40
Michael Devine, 34.
Lieut. Frank Frosh, 37.
Thomas Kelley, 51.
Edward Kersting, 38.
Francis S. Leavey, 37.
Samuel T. Warren, 40.
Jeremiah Callaghan, 40.
William Derh, 40**

The structure was known as the Curran building, located on Blue Island avenue, on the south side. Fire, apparently insignificant, broke out last evening. Within a few minutes the fire was raging through the entire structure.

Scores of pieces of fire apparatus were brought to the scene.

Blast Shatters Building

Several firemen were on the upper floors, others were on the ground floor, and still others were perched on ladders leaning against the walls and on a water tower rearing its head a few feet from the building when, without a second of warning, a terrific explosion shook the building; the walls bulged out and then caved to the ground.

The roof and upper floors crashed through to the basement, carrying the tortured, living freight. Shrieks of agony pierced the gale-like roar of the flames and earth-shaking crash of falling brick, concrete, steel and timbers.

Heroes to the rescue

Scenes of unsurpassed heroism followed. Policemen and firemen, undaunted by the leaping flames and falling debris, rushed into the roaring furnace. Most of those on the injured list were dragged from the ruins and owe their lives to the prompt and courageous work of the rescuers.

Doctors, internes (sic) and nurses were summoned and the men received first aid in the glare of the fire.

A priest, Father E. A. Jones of the Holy Family church, walked calmly through the excitement, delivering the last sacrament to the dying.

Patrolman Thomas Kelley, Jr., giving assistance wherever needed, came on one little group and broke through to see if the could help and found his father dead, in the center.

Ride Falling Wall

Lieut. John Kaminiski and John Courtney of a fire insurance truck, had a miraculous escape from death. They were on the third floor when the explosion occurred. They rode the falling wall to the street and while rendered unconscious they were not badly hurt. Police were told that owners of the Curran building had aroused the enmity of many persons by planning to rent the upper floors of the structure to negroes. Police also were told that several persons, acting suspiciously, had been seen near the building just before the fire.

Separate investigations are under way by police, the fire marshal and the coroner.
The Belvidere Daily Republican,
Belvidere, IL - 19APR1924, pg2

Three Suspects Arrested

Police today took into custody Samuel Moore, Leo Unell and Samuel Palinski in connection with their investigation of arson.

Moore and Unell, proprietors of the Moore-Unell Novelty company, owners of part of the structure, took out $32,000 fire insurance several days ago, police said.

Palinski, police said, held the policy in lieu of a mortgage on the company's stock. Adolph Friedman, proprietor of another shop in the building, told police that an hour and a half before the fire broke out Moore asked him if all the tenants were out of the building."

Makes for a dramatic story. With the tragedy and heroism of fire fighters is the story of racism (how dare they think to rent to blacks! *gasp*) and greed. Had they not been so greedy these people would have lived longer lives.

** William Derh is not listed on the IAFF memorial and should be the civilian listed in the article. It is possible that James Carroll was also a casualty who isn't listed here. He was listed with the rest of the group on the memorial. He may have died from injuries later, was found later, or was a casualty in a separate fire and just happened to be listed next in the series on the panel.

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Panel 1923-1924

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 12

In this installment of Thriller Thursday I'll continue with the articles on the Villers trial. Some drama (or should I say melodrama) takes place in Mrs. Tromer's testimony and some disjointed testimony given that will hopefully be clarified in other clippings.

Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"On opening court Saturday morning the attendance was considerably less, not as many ladies being present as heretofore. Mrs. Tromer was carried in and answered questions through the interpreter on cross examination for a short time, when she began to cry out in a loud and wavering tone of voice uttering mournful cries sounding something like the wailings, or half singing of an insane person. She was at once removed to a waiting room and after a short time her cries were stopped and she again relapsed into quiet."

Ok...already starting out here I'm annoyed. I think the real drama is this woman. Seriously. Were the stays on her corset too tight? Did they still wear corsets? And am I the only one thinking that maybe she was finally silenced with a punch to the face? I get it. Horrible stuff happened to her and her husband, but there were quite literally years in between all this. It's normal to get a bit emotional, but I'd be pissed not hysterical. If someone killed my husband I'd be trying to rip his throat out not sobbing like a nub. Yeah. I'm a modern woman. Anyway...

Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"On cross-examination

She said about the first time she met Villers was while living on the Kennison place when one day during threshing time Villers being at the house he attempted to put his hand on her breast. He had always tried to be familiar with her; her husband objected and was angry when she told him of these occasion (sic), as she always did. They incensed her greatly. These attempts were made before Tromer left; not every time she saw Villers, but often. (Here witness was removed from room.)

Little Hilda Tromer was called and stated she saw Villers pull her mother into his lap and attempt to kiss her; was not asked at LaMoure as to this. Her mother did housework alone for the family.

Otis Frazer recalled to testify to plowing for Villers about a month and a half in 1894.

Albert Eitell, also recalled, said he hand (sic) worked with Villers in fall of '94. Villers cropped the northwest quarter, near the house, that year. Louis Villers, he thought, worked it in '95; he threshed with him before Tromer left.

Mrs. Jos. Comber of Montpelier was the next witness. She had not been on the stand before and her testimony was anxiously hatened (sic) to by the audience. She said she knew Villers well in 1894; Villers and Tromer coming from Jno. Comber's place on day in fall of '94 and when they left her house went in direction of Villers' place. It was about 3 p.m. Villers came in to light a pipe and she asked him who was out in the buggy and he said Tromer."

Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
I understand they were trying to cram so much into these article, but the terrible grammar was really getting to me. It is unfortunate that there wasn't more detail as to the reason these questions were asked of the witnesses. While I'm sure those following the case intently in 1898 were familiar with the details, the lack of clarification as to why which fields were farmed isn't as clear to someone looking back more than 100 years.

"John Kenoskie of Adrian was next called. Witness' testmony (sic) objected to by defense as not having been included in information. States attorney on oath said evidence of witness was not known to him until after proceedings had been begun. Objections over-ruled, and witness statement received.

He said he had met Villers once, before Tromer disappeared; had with neighbors joined in search for the body. In company with Wm. Benjamin of Adrian, they had searched the grounds on the Villers place. Remembered seeing two straw stacks burning near there on the Sunday following Villers arrest. In searching for some clue of Tromer, he found a hammer lying in road by side of buggy track leading to Villers house; kept hammer at his own hause (sic) every (sic) since; it had been used some by himself and boy.

(Hammer here introduced in evidence and witness recognized it as same.) He said hammer was in same condition as when he had it and was found about a half mile from the culvert.

In interrogatories the defense here asked if the hammer might have been useful on a mowing or threshing machine. Witness excused."

So in this post we see some testimony reported, but nothing linked together. Nothing put into a nice package for consumption. I can only assume that they're building up to something, but only time will tell. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - The Story of the Seven from PA Union L1

Lebanon Semi-Weekly, Lebanon, PA
21JAN1924, pg1
In a Memorial Monday post back in April I shared names from a panel of the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. Seven fire fighters from Union L1 in Pennsylvania died in one event in 1924. That was a large number and it made me want to find out where Union L1 was from and what happened. Please be warned that this article can be a bit graphic.

"Firemen Had Horrible Death in Blazing Oil

Pittsburgh, Pa., Today - Seven firemen were killed in fighting an oil fire at the plant of the Atlantic Refining Company in Lawrenceville today. Many suffered from the intense cold. Scores of others were reported injured.

The firemen were killed when they fell into a tank of blazing fuel.

The fire was still burning fiercely. Starting in a 10,000 barrel tank of oil, it threatened to spread to adjoining tanks.

All available firemen in the city were called out.

Company officials refused to allow newspapermen near the scene of the blaze, claiming there had been too much 'publicity' in the million dollar fire at the same plant a year ago.

The dead are:

Hoseman Patrick Abbott and Captain Edward Jones, both of No. 26 Engine Company.

Fire Captain Rudolph Bliske and Hoseman John Markham.

Three unidentified firemen.**

The seven men were thrown head-long into the burning tank when a ladder on which they were standing crumpled beneath them.

The tank let go with an explosion shaking the Lawrenceville district for blocks around.

Bob Smith Sam Bolin, Captain Frazier.

Buck Lowrie. Fireman of No. 9 Company was saved from death in the boiling tank when pulled safely by Fireman Jenkins. Loire was badly burned and taken to a hospital where it was believed he will recover.

Jesse Mercer and Al Stewart, firemen, were both seriously injured when a roof upon which they were standing gave way, throwing them 30 feet to the ground.

The firemen, aided by scores of volunteers, were keeping the blaze confined to the one tank. It was not believed at 10 A.M. that there was serious danger of the fire spreading.

Seven blackened, charred bodies of firemen were removed from the burning tank of crude oil at 10:30 A.M.

While several hundred firemen and volunteers fought to keep the blaze from spreading to other tanks and building inside the great yards, a group of heroic men rescued the bodies from a manhole at the bottom of the tank.

Their faces and hands blackened and cracked by the intense heat, the rescuers worked grimly until all the bodies had been removed.

The fire started with an explosion early today that rocked the Lawrenceville district for blocks.

Great clouds of dense black smoke poured from the tank and settled in a pall over that part of Pittsburgh.

Heroic rescues, spectacular and dramatic, marked the work of the fire fighters. It was a scene of ghastly impression as the men battled against the flaming oil, endeavoring to save 0 surrounding tanks from catching fire.

The blazing tank was lcoated (sic) in the midst of 10 other tanks, all of 10,000 barrel capacity, and was joined to a sister tank standing only a few yards away.

A runway connected the two tanks and upon this runway the firemen were forced to stand and fight the heat and flames.

Several women, wives of the firemen appeared at the gates of the oil yards after it was learned some of the firemen had been killed, many of them weeping and screaming.

The oil company guards denied them admission along with newspapermen and others who sought to go inside.

Hospital ambulances, police patrols and scores of nurses hastened to the scene of the fire. First aid was rendered to firemen. hot coffee was supplied the men in wash tubs.

The fire spread to a three story brick building in the yards and added new danger to adjoining plants where the distilleries are kept. Machinery crumpled, windows cracked with the intense heat and telephone and electric lines were rendered useless as the fire raged.

Streams of water were played upon all buildings and tanks in the yards. Coatings of ice formed immediately presenting an odd contrast with the melting pot of the fire shooting out flame and smoke.

The firemen had great difficulty in getting close enough to the tank to do effective work. Barricades were constructed and a dozen streams of water poured upon the other tanks to cool them. Little effort was made to extinguish the tank afire. Firemen said it would have to burn itself out while they did their best to prevent the other tanks from engulfing."

As I was transcribing this I kept wondering about them using water on an oil fire. We know that doesn't work. Water spreads oil fires and they really need to be smothered to be put out. We've got chemicals nowadays that can do that, but they apparently did not. My curiosity was satisfied when it got to the last paragraph. They knew they couldn't put it out. They just tried to contain it.

Another curiosity was that the company wouldn't let the newspapermen near the action. While it can easily have been said that they were trying to protect them that doesn't appear to be the case. In the fifth paragraph we see that the Atlantic Refining Company refused to let the newsmen near the fire because of a fire a year ago where the company seemed to have received some negative publicity. Curiouser and curiouser. Sounds like there was a story there!

**The article mentions unknown firemen that were killed. As mention in my previous post the seven men who perished were:

Patrick Abbott
Rudolph Bliske
Samuel Bollinger
Henry Frazier
Edward Jones
John Markham
Robert Smith

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Panel 1923-1924

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tuesday's Tip - Using Other Ancestry Trees

Heck or any other family tree you find on the internet. No this isn't a post saying that you should seek out and copy information into your tree that other people have. Even when you collaborate you need to verify research. After all you may find that something was wrong! I'm talking about using the information from family trees to break through a brick wall.

I only uploaded my tree to a year ago, but I've been delighted since. Originally I had wanted to wait until it was "done" before uploading it, but are our trees ever really done? Nope. Anyway, hits came up as "hints" next to people that I thought I'd done exhaustive searches on Ancestry's site. Hits that I hadn't gotten before. I don't know why exactly it happens. I think it's just a quirk of the system that the results vary on the search engine (general search versus a specific record set on Ancestry), but it happens. That's a different post and I digress...

I've never been a big fan of using other people's trees. Sharing research I love, but I won't ever copy someone's information and put it in my tree. However, you'll get hints on Ancestry for other trees that share the same person...or Ancestry thinks it might be the same person. I don't speak for Ancestry, but I'm going to guess that they aren't asking you to just steal someone else's tree/research and make it your own. They want you to use it. How do you do that?

Doubtless there are several ways, but I'm going to share what recently happened with me when I was clicking on hints for my Brogan line. Elizabeth Brogan had a hint next to her. Just one and it was a family tree. Several family trees, actually. All I had on Elizabeth was that she was born in March 1888 in Pennsylvania and I had gotten that from a census record. I found nothing else on Elizabeth. I didn't know if she married, when she married, or if she died a spinster. After clicking on that hint though I now know.

Screenshot of Ancestry Family Tree hint

I don't know ShirleyLong90 who created the Coyle Family Tree Ver 2, but I'm going to be sending her an email. I've got Coyles in my family tree and we both have Elizabeth Brogan (and I'm sure many more people) in common. So what did I do with this information? I didn't just put it in my tree and assume it was right. I compared it with other trees that also popped up under the hint to see if more than one person had this information. Sure, that can just mean that other people copied it from another tree, but finding similarities can be significant. So I searched* for Elizabeth McHugh's death in March of 1963. I found it easily.

The Hazleton Standard Speaker, 20MAR1963,
pg 20
After seeing the obituary I can now put in Elizabeth's marriage and death. Because it was in 1963 I also can search the Pennsylvania Death Certificates database and maybe even find her birth. It will certainly/hopefully confirm the rest of the information on here and it's always important to get as many different sources to confirm your findings! From this obituary I can even see when her husband passed, who her children are, and where she is buried. I've walked past so many McHughs in St. Gabe's and this summer I'll be looking for her and Patrick's stones because I now know they belong to me.

So a lot of this blog post is common sense. Many of you are probably sitting there having gotten to this point and are saying, "Duh! Where's the real news here, Cherie?" The thing of it is, if you're already doing this then you're ahead of the game. There are people out there though that scoff at the idea of looking at anyone else's tree. Sometimes it's because they consider it cheating. Sometimes it's just because they don't trust other trees. Guess what? Don't trust other trees. Don't trust other research completely ever until you verify it yourself. I don't trust anything even when collaborating unless I can make the connection as well. Maybe some would say that this holds my research back. Perhaps it does, but I've had incorrect information in my tree before and I'll work hard to make sure it doesn't happen again. Here you aren't simply trusting another tree. You're using it as a tool to test that connection and see if it is valid.

As for cheating, you're only cheating if you take someone else's work and put it in your tree without conducting your own independent research. And that's not cheating it's stealing. It's plagiarizing. Don't do it!

Now I'm off to contact the creator of that tree and say hello.

*It's probably about time that I made this statement because I've talked about and multiple times throughout my blog's history...I am in no way associated or a paid representative or promoter of or I just really love the results I get with them. Although with how often I crow about their sites maybe I should get paid ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Military Monday - Memorial Day is NOT for me!

(This is a repost from 2015, but it still applies. Remember those that gave their all for our freedom this Memorial Day. They aren't here to thank, but raise a glass in their honor.)

That title might be a bit confusing. I don't mean that I don't celebrate Memorial Day. I mean that I don't expect or want you to thank me for serving on Memorial Day. There's a holiday to thank me and other veterans and it's called Veterans Day. Memorial Day is the day that we remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Memorial Day is for people like this man:

And this man:

And this one:

And this one:

Last, but certainly not least, two Soldiers that went through the Defense Language Institute when I was a Drill Sergeant. First is Andrew James Creighton...a sweetheart of a Soldier. I don't think there was a single one of us who wasn't proud of him and heart-broken when we got the news that AJ Creighton died in Afghanistan. You can see a very touching tribute to AJ here and read more about this man's life here.

Second, Jacques Earl "Gus" Brunson. He went to DLI for awhile before reclassing Infantry. He kept in touch with the drills after leaving and we knew he was in Iraq collecting items to give to the Iraqi children. He was in the National Guard and volunteered for this tour in Iraq because it would be better money for his two children. He was the first casualty for our cadre of Drill Sergeants to hear of.

These Soldiers may not have been members of my family tree, but they are members of my Army family.

That's not to say that there aren't women that need remembering, but I don't have any in my family tree to be memorialized on this day.

As far as family traditions Memorial Day seemed to have little to do with the military in my family. Memorial Day was the time when flowers were placed on the graves of all of my ancestors. My mother still treks to the old family cemeteries each year to visit their graves. I make the trek as a part of going home, but not as a part of Memorial Day. I probably would if I lived anywhere near "home," but I don't.

I actually like the thought of remembering ancestors on Memorial Day even if it isn't the intent of the holiday (you can read more about Memorial Day here), but I still don't want to be thanked for my service today. What I want is for you to remember those that died so you could live in the country and world you do...even with all its flaws. When you're grilling and sitting in the backyard having a beer have a drink in honor of those men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 11

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg2
And on we continue! This week it's time to begin the prosecution's case against Villers.

"Said Villers Didn't Sleep at Comber's.

John Comber, recalled by the prosecution said he and his family and hired girl were at home the night of Sept. 14, and 15. Louis Villers reached the house between 2 and 3 a. m., sleeping behind the stove in the kitchen, M. J. Villers not sleeping in his house that night. On cross examination he said he fixed the date because that was the only night Louis Villers slept there. M. J. Villers left about the time the machine did and he didn't see him again that day. The crew slept at the bars.

While at the machine he saw a man going by, a stranger, the man called out to him but he, no knowing Mr. Tromer, could not say it was he. Carley came to his house to get Villers to thresh for him and the date, Friday, Sept. 14, was..."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Now this looks a bit disjointed, especially when you see the next clipping which is the top of the next column. It also doesn't appear that this would have continued anywhere on this page. The next title/subtitle looks like it could have finished this sentence. It certainly continues with the prosecution's case. Either way we'll continue...

"....Firmly Impressed Upon Him.

Didn't know any one called his attennion (sic) to the date - he knew when threshing was done at his farm. That Friday night - the entire week M. J. Villers was at his place - was the only night the prisoner did not sleep in his house and was the only night Louis Villers slept there in the kitchen.

Mrs. Jno. Comber had known Villers ever since he had been in Dakota and corroborated her husband's testimony except that she did not know at what hour of the night Louis Villers came to the house. On cross examination she said she was sick at the time but knew all that went on in the house, but not outside. Louis Villers left after breakfast the next morning. She was unable to do any house work, kept a girl, made no beds.

Said Villers Tried to Sell a Ring.

Ambrose Walsh of this city for fourteen years and acquainted with Villers for six or seven years stated Villers, in threshing season of '94, offered to sell him a plain gold ring, holding it out in his hand as they walked on Front street. He refused to buy it. On cross examination said the date might have been as early as August of first part of September; at time had not heard of Tromer's disappearance and didn't connect two events."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
So from this testimony I'm assuming that when they said Villers slept at the house on the nights in question that information wasn't given by Jno. Cromer himself although that is difficult to tell with how the article was written. He did give some testimony so why the change now?

"The Afternoon Session.

The public was surprised at the unexpected termination of the trial without the appearance of Mrs. Villers as a witness. neither was Mrs. Tromer placed on the stand in rebuttal as at the morning session was stated would be done. The only witness was Mr. Villers and he but a few minutes.  A part of the testimony of Mrs. Tromer and other witnesses at the LaMoure trail was read by Attorney Ellsworth for the defense and made a part of the record.

There Mrs. Tromer testified she had seen Villers about the cows before they were taken back; Villers said he would send them to his place - didn't say her husband wanted that done; her husband had not stated anything about that.

The state, in its turn, also reading from a transcript of the evidence given by Joseph Villers at that trial stated when he went to his house that Sept 14, carrying Tromer with him on his way home, the witness found his wife baking pies and Frasier playing near the house. He then testified this was about 3 p. m. Tromer had left his oxen at the place that day intending to call for them later."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg2
Can't make much out with the last paragraph. What transcript from which trial? The original one when he tried to kill the wife? More questions than answers in that paragraph!

"Ella Villers at that trial testified she saw Tromer sitting in the buggy with her father a little north of the house. Her mother, she thought, was digging potatoes. She did not remember where her father went after that; Tromer, she testified, went toward home on foot.

M. J. Villers was recalled to the stand in regard to the Haas letter; said he had a German friend, Victor Frecke, who lived in Milwaukee, who with two sons was thinking of coming to Dakota, northwest of LaMoure. Witness did not remember whether or not any mention of wife and children was made in the letter. The contents, the witness said, were about as follows:

'"Jamestown, North Dakota," I forget the date, "Mr. Victor Frecke, Dear Sir: If you wish to come on a visit to North Dakota don't fetch your sons with you now as the work is pretty well over but it will do about next July or so." For the business he wanted to put his son in I told him it would be riskey (sic) in this part of Dakota.'

I signed my name to it and sent it the next day, said the witness. I had further correspondence with him about his coming to the state but it was in French.'"

What exactly was the "Haas Letter" and why is it significant in this case? Was this the letter from the first trial that they claim Villers had written? It shouldn't be. That letter was alleged to be in English and the problem was that it wasn't written in German for Mrs. Tromer to understand. So what is this letter and why is there no better explanation? Hopefully it will be discussed in the newspaper later because it's a big question mark right now.

Until next Thriller Thursday!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 10

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
Continuing with the coverage of the Villers trial from the Jamestown Weekly Alert. We have finally made it to page two and the story certainly stays interesting!

This first image was at the top of page 2 although it covers what we already knew, since page 1 talked of the verdict and sentencing. My guess is that this was because the information for this issue was being compiled as the trial was winding down. It's not like our daily papers where all the information for the days news got in there within hours. The paper was weekly and this trial was sensational. They were getting every detail in there!

"Evidence all in

Arguments in Villers Case Made By Attorneys to Jury.

Unexpected Ending of Evidence - Important Testimony for Defense

End of Trial Approaching - Mrs. Villers, Not Placed Upon the Stand."

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
As we saw in last week's post the prosecutor mentioned how Villers' wife wasn't present at the trial. Seeing this would have made me wonder if she was instructed not to be there in case she had to testify...and then just didn't. Is that how things really are or is that just in movies? Also, wasn't it widely practiced that a wife couldn't be compelled to testify against her husband? Perhaps her testimony wouldn't have been helpful, but potentially could have been hurtful or twisted to be hurtful against her husband. There could have been good reason to not have her testify and if she did then she would have been available for cross-examination. Just like today the lack of testimony tends to be looked at by the opposing side and inferring guilt even though that isn't necessarily true.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"The first and only murder trial in Stutsman county approached its close at 2:17 p.m. Monday when Judge Fisk ordered the attorneys to proceed with their arguments to the jury. States Attorney Baldwin reviewed, commenting upon the evidence, directing attention to the most material points. He spoke less than three-quarters of an hour and then gave way to Attorney Ellsworth who made a strong plea for his client, M. J. Villers."

This clipping looks like it would have done better on the first page, but at least it teases us into knowing that whatever plea the defense made, it was a good one.

"Monday's Proceedings.

Louis J. Villers, son of Mr. Villers, corroborated the testimony of his father, saying he was at Comber's Sept. 14th. The next day he took his father's rig and came to Jamestown for some cylinder rings. He returned about 8 p. m. to Jno. Comber's where he saw his father; he supposed Mr. Villers slept in Comber's house that night. His father was troubled with a disease of the bladders since '93.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
Mr. F. Carley of Montpelier, testified he was at Comber's to about sundown Sept. 14; said Villers bore a good character so far as he knew.

Peral Wright knew Mrs. Tromer in '92 when he (sic) saw her taken with a more violent nervous attack than any here in court. At the time she was at the store getting breakfast when she fell backward on the floor, frothed at the mouth, sobbed, cried and screamed and was not able to do any work afterward for three days. Also saw her in a nervous attack in '93, but not so severe. Photographs of the grave and surrounding topography, showing building, etc., taken by the witness were identified and introduced in evidence.

No cross examination."

I wish they would have clarified the "violence" more and why they phrased it that way. I don't think they were trying to say that she would have been the one to hurt her husband, but there doesn't seem to be a purpose to it. What was their point?

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"Slept with Villers at Combers.

Louis Comber, son of John Comber, said he was at his father's place Sept. 15th, '94, and saw Villers there then. The cook shanty remained there until Sunday; didn't see Viller's bring any provisions to it. Villers slept that night in the kitchen, he (sic) sleeping with him. The witness is a sound sleeper but he remembered Villers getting up several times awakening him some of the times and was there Sunday morning.

No cross examination.

Jno. Comber said Villers threshed at his place Saturday, the machine next going to his brother's place, Joseph Villers was present at the machine, the cook shanty remaining to Sunday fore noon. Villers was at his house Saturday night, talking with him and family before going to bed. Louis Villers came during the evening bringing some cylinder rings with him. Louis Comber slept in the kitchen with Villers that night.

No cross examination."

So far none of the witnesses have been cross examined. I wonder if that was because their was nothing to gain and cross examination would have only helped to strengthen the alibi. They are set on that date too. I can only imagine that was because it's the date Mrs. Tromer claims that her husband went missing. Of course, Mr. Tromer could have been held and killed on another date. No saying it played out that way, but blowing holes in the case as it is presented in the newspaper is too easy. Especially when looking back from current times.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert - 20JAN1898, pg2
"Prosper Naze, Villers' son-in-law, was at Villers' home Sunday afternoon, Sept. 16th; saw Villers drive away southwest in his democrat wagon; was asked to accompany him to Tromer's for a sheep - did not go. Saw Villers return in same direction with meat or a sheep.

No cross examination.

Here it was stipulated by counsel that a mortgage, of which Exhibit 5 is a copy, was written Sept. 19, '93, by W. B. S. Trimble, and signed in his presence by Aug. Tromer, and the same day Trimble wrote a note of the same date for $296.96 payable to Octavia Villers which August Tromer executed in his presence.

Dr. Baldwin, recalled by the defense, said Mrs. Tromer first met him in his office the middle of July, 1893. Her health was then poor, she having spells of unconsciousness at times. He didn't know what was the cause of them. In summer of '94 she was brought into his store from Strong & Chase's where it was said she had fainted while trading. The day was warm and the doctor thought she had overtaxed herself. She was unconscious but a few minuted with no excitement or hysteria. Mrs. Tromer was much improved after her first treatment which was somewhat incidental, she not having come to the city for treatment. There was a deficiency of red corpuscles in her blood, she was very white and he prescribed accordingly. Hysteria is a disease of the nerves. First time he saw he she didn't speak any English and Mr. Tromer did the talking; now she can understand common English.

No cross examination."

I know I've mentioned it before, but her "nervous condition" is very irritating. A disgrace to women everywhere. Not that the men were much better. Oh how I wish I could really know what was wrong with her. Was there something wrong or was she just nuts? "Hysteria is a disease of the nerves"...oh for a proper diagnosis!

"Here the defense said it was ready to rest the case providing they were granted the privilige (sic) of placing Mrs. M. J. Villers, their last witness who was then unfortunately sick and quite nervous on the stand later. The prosecution did not readily consent to this, the defense rested and the state began the introduction of testimony in rebuttal no agreement for the taking of her deposition being secured."

Oh please not more nervousness! I hope that this was just that Octavia was nervous about taking the stand and was also sick. Two separate issues, but with the way women were and were viewed it's hard to tell. I found it amusing in a very hypocritical sort of way that the prosecution would be so against delaying Octavia Villers' testimony when they delayed the trial for Mrs. Tromer's hysteria. I supposed that's their job though. Still, with the comment about how Octavia Villers didn't testify I've got to wonder whether it was due to her being ill. Surely if they wanted to bring her back and the prosecution fought to prevent it that they would have noted that in the closing statements.

Next week I'll start on the prosecution's case which is much longer than what the papers presented for the defense. we'll see how much we get through. Maybe I'll find out more about the business Villers was in because I always thought it was farming and that he rented land from Tromer, but with all of these posts I'm thinking that may not have been the cut and dry of it.