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 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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Rita Dermott nee Brown

The Standard Speaker,  26JUL1965 pg22
Continuing the posts on my Zombie-Brown line with Neal and Bridget Brown nee Brown's sixth child, Rita. This article brings me no revelations although I know know where Rita is buried and that we had some of her siblings spreading out past the confines of Hazleton. I had created a FindAGrave memorial for her last year so everything is updated and looking good.

I was a bit cautious when I first came across this obituary and started reading. Starting out calling her "Mrs. William R. Dermott" made me cringe a little because far too frequently in women's obituaries would that be the end of it. No other information would be important because her identity was lost at marriage and she became one with the identity of her husband (apparently). Luckily, that wasn't the case and not only was it a proper obituary, but they included a nice chunk of family data.

"Mrs. William R. Dermott

Mrs. William R. Dermott, 47, of 112 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, the former Rita Brown, this city, died at 3:10 a.m. Sunday in Allentown General Hospital where she had been a patient for the past two weeks.

Born in this city, she was a daughter of the late Neal and Bridget (Brown) Brown. She lived in Jim Thorpe for the past 20 years.

She was a member of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Jim Thorpe.

Surviving are her husband, William; two daughters, Mary and Rita, and a son, William, all at home; four sisters, Mrs. John (Nancy) Harkins, Newark, Del.; Mrs. Eleanor Prosser, Mrs. Clyde (Mary) Barth, and Mrs. Charles (Joan) Cann, all of this city.

Also surviving are six brothers, Neal, James and Charles Brown, all of this city; Paul Brown, Leadville; Eugene Brown, Levittown,  and John Brown, Philadelphia.

Funeral services will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday from the Ring Funeral Home, 218 Centre street, Jim Thorpe. A high mass of requiem will be celebrated at 10 o'clock in Immaculate Conception Church. Interment will be in the parish cemetery.

Friends may call from 4 p.m. Tuesday until time of the funeral."

So another obituary down. Neal/Neil and Bridget had 11 children and Rita was only number six. I don't have obituaries for all of them, and some I've already shared, but the end of this search is near. Nothing is out of place so I'm really beginning to believe that the 1940 Census was just an erroneous fluke.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 9

Mrs. Tromer and her children from The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
I wonder if I'll get up to "part 100" by the time this is all over? This is going to be a slightly longer post in an attempt to wrap up the first page of the newspaper.

I can't say that I feel better after transcribing the speculation presented here either. Even as this section of the newspaper wraps up we are told that feeling was so strong against Villers that they didn't think it was safe for him to be acquitted. Could he have even gotten a fair trial?

What was even curiouser was the belief that Mrs. Tromer changing her story multiple times somehow showed that she was telling the truth and that it is more suspicious that Villers did not change his story over the years, therefore it was rehearsed. You can't win, can you? Those, of course, were assertions of the defense so they're lines of argument that would be expected.

Living in a time of women's liberation I was particularly annoyed at Mrs. Tromer's constant melodrama and fainting. I was even more irked at the defense saying that if a woman had presented her story in a bold manner like a man that it would have been more questionable. Lucky for that attorney that I didn't live back then. Even as a child I wasn't meek.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
"Speaking of the motive of the crime he said it was not cupidity. It was a delicate subject and he did not like to speak of it but the jury understood. He pictured the prisoner stealing up to a window early in the evening just after the sun had gone to rest in the country where she thought her husband was; stealing there after the light had gone out of the heavens and while the wife was seated by the light of chips upon the stove listening to the children lifting their prayers and saying 'forgive us our trespasses and deliver us from evil' while he, with murder in his soul, looked on and then say he would not kill a man for $48 or any other sum.' Here the audience applauded and the judge had to rap sharply for order and state that no such demonstration would be allowed again. She had confessed and the weight had been lifted from her mind she went out of the court room singing psalms and for hours after was singing hymns. She believed herself to be in heaven beside her old husband to whom she held up her hand and swore never to divulge her secret. For the first time in three long years she was free from this oath. You say she didn't tell the truth? The truth was that before Villers ever entered into this scheme he made a criminal of this poor family.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
I know that Mrs. Tromer's story is not the best of most connected. It is strange that she was ever here to tell the story at all. But it required those inconsistencies to prove the truth of her utterances. She has testified differently at other times and said things which were contradictory. But because she did that we know she told the truth. I had rather believe one who would tell such a story than a woman who would bare her face to the audience and tell in a brazen and manly way a story so straight that you could not find a flaw in it anywhere. These are the kind of stories that bear on their face the impression of having been doctored. 'And that is the matter with your story, Joe,' said the attorney turning to the prisoner suddenly. 'Three long years in the pen, time enough to study over this matter and think it all out.' The turning to the jury: 'Who ever expected he would testify other than he did?

But Mrs. Tomer's story was different. Portions of it she had forgotten, but God Almighty saved her to tell what she did tell, as God Almighty put the badgers down to say where Tromer was buried. An all-wise providence and God saved to use Mrs. Tromer, and her little children, to tell the story.

The reason why the story she told is true is because she never left the direct point of issue.  No power on earth can ever remove from her the idea that she received three letters through the hands of this defendant.

Why would Villers be concerned about the disappearance of Tromer? He was concerned and worried about him. He talked to the neighbors and to other people. Told them he knew August Tromer was alive, he had received letters from him. He didn't because Tromer was dead. His object and motive was to conceal the fact that he had killed him. Then he would kill Mrs. Tromer to conceal the evidence that she would hold in her breast against him that would tend convict him of this crime.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
Why did Villers get Mrs. Tromer to write that placard that she had left the country? He had all their property and he could not accomplish anything with her alive. He wanted her out of the way also.

There is nothing perplexing about his case. There is no question in the world as to who killed this man. I know it is an awful thing for you to say by any act of yourselves that Joseph Villers should hang. A poor helpless individual whose wife I have not seen by his side during this trial. And I would not by act or word detract one thing from his daughter, who has been here, however. She could not have done otherwise and I do not see why she didn't make her story stronger; could as well as not.

How Mrs. Tromer Received the News

Shortly after the verdict had been announced the news was carried to the Farmers' Home where Mrs. Tromer is staying. She either misunderstood the verdict or the news was too much for her enfeebled condition for upon its announcement she made some exclamation, I, or he, is not known, is free, and fell a swoon. Her heart stopped beating and her condition for a time was extremely serious.

It was feared that she would not survive but after extreme exertions she revived and asked what the finding of the jury was. She was completely prostrated and unnerved and unable to leave for La Moure today as she expected.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1

Mrs. Tromer is still very weak. Her nerves are completely shattered and it is by an effort that she is up and about. Her children are her greatest anxiety. The little boy, Hedo, has been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Peterson of Barnes county, near Clark City, and Mr. and Mrs. Bonnet of Sunburn have taken little Rosa with a view of adoption. The necessary papers will be made out shortly. Little Hilda, who says she is 'going to be eleven years old', will probably remain in the city several families being desirous of caring for and educating her.

Mrs. Tromer reluctantly gives them up, she knows she is unable to provide an education and care for them as she would and it is a great effort for her to see them go. They were the pride of her husband.

The son Edward, returned today to Dickey and Mr. Orderer's where he is staying this winter. The two oldest boys are now young men.

While little has been said about it in the press, it has been known that so strong was the feeling against Villers with many, that an acquittal might have been risky for his personal safety. The conviction of his guilt is too strong in this and LaMoure counties, where the details of the case are known, to make a second trial of the case in either county a probable event - if a new trial should be granted by the court.

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
The trial of the case was a rapid one and without any unnecessary expense. The only delays were from sickness of the chief witness.

In terest in the proceeedings (sic), both in and outside of Jamestown, was great. The Alert sold out its extra issues here each night, and booked new subscribers from every town in this county and from several towns in LaMoure, Barnes and Foster counties, knowing they could get the full reports in the Alert.

The photograph of Mrs. Tromer and her three little children, from which the picture published in this issue is engraved, was taken after her arrival here as a witness in the trial."

Well that was certainly more excitement and dramatic than in previous editions of this series. We've finally gotten past most of the boring stuff and seem to be getting into the information presented...or at least the information the newspaper and courts shared with the public. Next week we hit page two and I can promise you that it doesn't get boring again. At least not at first glance. This next page appears to have testimony given on behalf of the defense by the accused's children. For me that will be of great genealogical importance. I look forward to jumping into it and I hope you are enjoying the posts as they get more exciting!

The Jamestown
Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg8







Monday, April 25, 2016

Memorial Monday - IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial 1923-1924

IAFF FFFM Panel 1923-1924
This week the next panel for the IAFF's Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial covers the rest of 1923 and most of 1924.

"Bert E. Burris   L58   TX
John Sandberg   L2   IL
William young   L366   MI
Fred Hippler   L73   MO
Harrington W. Brand   L282   NY
E. O. Jones   L58   TX
Raymond Farrell   L94   NY
James J. Sullivan   L94   NY
Harry Stuhlreyer   L48   OH
William E. Kelley   L282   NY
Bernard Feehan   L1066   NJ
Charles Brehm   L583   WI
Louis C. Lauth   L416   IN
Anthony T. Glover   L144   MA
Thomas L. Bleich   L37   IL
Fred Stehle   L67   OH
Hugh McShane   L255   AB
Herman Schultz   L344   MI


1924

H. Stanley Ellis   L372   CA
Thomas P. Considine   L42   MO
Frank A. Foscoe   L50   IL
Fred Dalton   L67   OH
Hartvig C. Christensen   L82   MN
Patrick Abbott   L1   PA
Rudolph Bliske   L1   PA
Samuel Bollinger   L1   PA
Henry Frazier   L1   PA
Edward Jones   L1   PA
John Markham   L1   PA
Robert Smith   L1   PA
Albert E. Donovan   L94   NY
Fred E. Barlow   L416   IN
Conrad Schwalm   L2   IL
Terrence McCaffery   L2   IL
Frederick Mosher   L841   MA
Wayne Hunter   L416   IN
James Shaw   L94   NY
Roy Walsweer   L366   MI
Ercil G. Morse   L112   CA
Thomas J. Connolly   L94   NY
A. S. Hughes   L58   TX
John Brennan   L2   IL
Jeremiah Callaghan   L2   IL
Michael Devine   L2   IL
Frank Frosh   L2   IL
Thomas Kelly   L2   IL
Edward Kersting   L2   IL
Francis Leavy   L2   IL
Samuel Warren   L2   IL
James Carroll   L2   IL
William Leichsenring   L94   NY
George Hawkins   L344   MI
Claus Clausen   L2   IL
Richard Beard   L344   MI
Edward Cunningham   L853   MA
Harry Shrimpton   L2   IL
William Hutcheson   L29   WA
George Crane   L31   WA
T. Roscoe King   L34   AR
Raymond B. Lancey   L1841   MA
Joe M. Hope   L34   AR
Timothy Murphy   L2   IL
William Shuberg   L27   WA
Thomas Shanahan   L2   IL
James J. McCormack   L94   NY
James J. Murphy   L94   NY
Chris Christiansen   L2   IL
James R. Starkey   L94   NY
W. Earl Harvey   L42   MO
John P. Heydon   L42   MO
Percy Ackels   L366   MI"

As I went through transcribing these names I couldn't help, but think of how many were lost in what would appear to be a single event in union L1 in Pennsylvania. Then union L2 in Illinois popped up. Not only did they appear to lose a large number of people in an event, but throughout the year. Now that school's out for me for the next few months I may have to see if I can find out more.

Let these brave souls never be forgotten.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - James Brown...No Not That One

The Standard Speaker,
28NOV1994, pg2
Last Sunday I shared the obituary of Mary Barth nee Brown as I tried to make sense of this line and its zombie progenitor, Neil Brown Jr. For the backstory on my undead 2nd great uncle please refer to my April 9th post.

So far as I've made my way through the children of Neil and Bridget Brown nee Brown I haven't turned up anything unusual. It's been a typical scenario of transcribing on the blog, updating records in my tree and FindAGrave and there doesn't appear to be anything that would break up what I currently have in my tree. Everything just solidifies the connections. This week the next in line of the children would have been Neil Brown III, but I've transcribed his obituary previously. I'll move on to the next child of the group which is James Brown.

"James Brown

James P. Brown, 140 S. Laurel St., Hazleton, died Saturday at the Mountain City Convalescent Center, Hazleton, after a lengthy illness.

Born in Hazleton, he was the son of the late Neil and Bridget Brown.

He was a 1932 graduate of St. Gabriel's High School, where he was a standout basketball player. Brown later excelled in the Catholic basketball league.

Brown was employed as a business agent for the Boilermakers' Union Local 13, before retiring in 1966.

He was an Army veteran of World War II and served in Italy.

He was preceded in death, in addition to his parents, by his wife, Martha (Thompson) Brown, in 1979; sisters, Rita Dermott, Nancy Harkins, and Eleanor Prosser; brothers, Neil, John and Eugene (Cy) Brown; and a grandson, Patrick O'Donoghue, in 1985.

Surviving are children, William C. Brown, St. Augustine, Fla.; Nancy L. O'Donoghue, Hocessin, Del.; and James P. Brown Jr., Hazleton; sisters, Joan Cann and Mary Barth, both of Hazleton; brothers, Paul, Erie; Charles, Hazleton; six grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Several nieces and nephews also survive.

The funeral will be held Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. from the Boyle Funeral Home, 100 S. Wyoming St., Hazleton, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church. Interment will be in the parish cemetery.

Friends may call today at the funeral home from 6 to 9 p.m."

My cousin, Nancy O'Donoghue nee Brown, had initially given me a lot of the information on this line and as you can see from the obituary, she would know...James was her father. Zombie-Neil was her grandfather. I wish I could talk to her now and ask her more questions, but I wish that frequently.

This obituary is pretty good since it shows where the family was spreading out to which will help with later research. Still nothing that contradicts what I already knew about Neil and Bridget and their family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 8

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
Last week we read about the defense's arguments. They weren't exactly the strongest arguments and I think you'll see that the prosecution's arguments in this post aren't much better. I would even say that the prosecution made some fairly wild claims/connections, but something must have stuck to win a guilty verdict.

"The State.

Attorney Guthrie made the final address to the jury and said, in part: Mr. Villers, prior to this transaction, bore a good reputation; he was respected and known throughout this county and trusted in many different ways. You, perhaps, have heard of Margaret, who was called the mother of criminals. There were some 800 direct and indirect descendants of that family. More than 700 of them were at some time in their life in the penitentiary for larceny.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
He who steals has a motive. Criminals are classified. He who commits larceny would not burn a house and he who steals watches perhaps would not steal revolvers. They are like the descendants of Margaret. One was guilty of larceny; all were thieves. There is a system connected with it.

There is something peculiar about the life and character of Martin Villers. How very strange he should have a fire in Wisconsin and lose his home in Kewaunee county. How very strange that a fire follows along in the trail of his whole life. how strange that Peter Sterling should be killed and burned his body was that kind of a murderer. How very strange that the machinery barn of M. J. Villers should burn up; how very strange that Mrs. Tromer's barn should burn and she underneath it in an attempt to burn her body.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
This plan of killing and burning bodies is of a certain kind of a criminal. August Tromer, killed, placed in the ground and a straw stack burned over his grave. There's one of the strongest facts against this defendant. If I had heard of Tromer being killed and a fire kindled over his corpse the first thing I would have said, where is the man who kills people that way?

Attorney Guthrie call the attention of the jury to the settlement had with Tromer that fall. The proposition was settled upon by the defense that Tromer owed Villers $396. This was the starting point. Liens in evidence showed that in '92 Tromer had 1,860 bushels of wheat which at seven cents a bushel would make the threshing bill $130, and Villers says Tromer paid him some money. In '93 he had 1032 bushels of wheat and the threshing bill came to $75 Tromer had paid money both years and didn't owe a dollar for anything else. In '94 he owed $50 for threshing wheat, leaving out the oats, barley and flax making a total of $255. In those years Mr. Tromer threshed about $1,500 worth of wheat - at 40 cents a bushel, about the prevailing price - and this without reference to any other crops.

This crime that Mrs. Tromer talked about and that she finally divulged began way back in '92. This cattle mortgage was a bluff for the purpose of assisting Mr. Tromer to cheat and defraud his creditors. They would believe Mr. Tromer an honest man because he did that, but when he left home he was a criminal.

Why was he chosen? Because Mr. Villers, a smart and wily politician, chosen by the political parties of this county because of his smoothness and ability to get around men and to weave them into believing things he wanted. Because of the fact that this Wily, smooth and smart defendant here taking hold of this poor Dutchman, ignorant and out upon the prairie alone with nothing to think of, he did these things because Villers talked him into it. This mortgage was a bluff. $1,500 worth of wheat and Villers got every bit and Tromer still owed him $72.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
He says he had $148 when he left home that evening. The man who would kill a woman would kill a man for $148. There was a motive sufficient for him to kill and burn."

OK. My husband will be the first to tell you that when financial stuff is brought up I get all glassy-eyed and start to drool all over myself. This last bit of his rather unusual argument to my now addled mind is essentially saying that Tromer kept paying and paying and paying Villers yet Villers kept insisting there was more money owed. I'd like to know more about this "cattle mortgage" that was mentioned above too. It really hasn't been covered and it isn't very clear to me what went on. It's easy to take something that Tromer may have been doing illegally and pinning it on the guy you're accusing of his murder. Anything is possible, but this argument is missing something.

Also, the prosecution wants to paint MJ Villers as this highly intelligent, slick man. Well, I suppose it's better than being called an idiot, but if he was that smart he wouldn't have killed a man that he was getting money from for years for $148. Sure it was worth a LOT more back in the late 19th century, but considering the swindle they're claiming he got from him, why would he kill him for so little after all that? Again, it's possible, but not intelligent. Burying a man that you allegedly killed in a shallow grave on your property isn't very bright either and if he was such a pyromaniac why didn't he just burn the body? It seems like the property was a bit secluded. It was farmed. There are easier and more thorough ways of disposing a body than burying it and setting a haystack on fire. That's just dumb.

I suppose your argument doesn't have to be completely lucid. As long as the jury believes it. And I'm not saying he was innocent. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but for everything I've transcribed and read in all of these clippings (old and newly discovered) there is also something not right with the Tromer couple. Perhaps when this series is over I will have a new subject to research!