Sunday, November 21, 2010

Amanuensis Monday - The Villers Saga, Part I

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, 10NOV1897
"Murder Revealed

Discovery of a Skeleton in Stutsman Supposed to Be That of August Tromer

Latter Disappeared Several Years Ago, and M. J. Villers, Now in the Pen, Suspected.

L. E. Booker Fails to Appear in United States Court to Answer the Charges Against Him.  (This is not a part of the Villers article and was just in the subheading.)

Found a Body
A murder mystery has been cleared up by the finding of a body in the southern part of Stutsman county supposed to be that of August Tromer.  This is the man whom it is believed M. J. Villers now serving a term in the state penitentiary at this place for the attempted murder of Mrs Tromer, killed some time previous to his attempted murder of the wife.  The body was plowed up in a field where it had been burried underneath a straw stack which later had been fired destroying all traces of excavations in the earth.

August Tromer, with his wife, were simple minded German folks living in LaMoure county.  several years ago Tromer disappeared and his whereabouts could not be discovered.  There were rumors of foul play and Villers, who had had dealings with Tromer was believed to have been connected with his disappearance but there was no proof.  Not long after this, Villers was arrested on a charge of murderously assaulting Mrs Tromer, the wife of the man who had disappeared, and was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary where he now is.

At the time of the disappearance of Tromer, Villers occupied a thirty acre piece of land which he had rented from one Talley.  After Viller's incarceration in the pen, Talley took back the land, and "not long ago, while at work the plow suddenly dropped into soft ground near a badger hole and the plow, catching on something, was thrown out of the soil.  A piece of cloth was hanging from the share and as Mr Talley had lost a coat on the land the previous season he paid little attention to the matter except to think that he had discovered a portion of his old coat.  The next time around the field, however, in passing the same badger hole he discovered a (nub?) of preculiar shape, and near it pieces of a human skull.  It immediately suggested itself to him that he had discovered the long sought body of August Tromer.  Scraping away some of the soil he discovered that the body of a human being was interred there.  A pocket knife and a portion of a jacket were picked up together with a portion of the skull which showed evidences of being crushed in a some previous date.

It is believed that the body which has been thus discovered is that of Tromer, and there is also a belief and some evidence that Villers was the man responsible for his death.  Attorneys in Stutsman county and citizens interested are speculating whether if this can be shown to be the body of Tromer, Villers can be taken from the pen before the expuation of his present sentence tried for murder."

I find it interesting to say that "a murder mystery has been cleared up" when they found the body.  Perhaps the mystery of what happened to Mr. Tromer, but hardly the murder itself. Makes me wonder how fair the trial was! 

(Typographical errors are intentionally left in these transcriptions)


  1. How interesting! And you're right - I wonder how fair of a trial he got in the late 1800s. Were there any family stories passed down about him being wrongly accused? :)

  2. No. Sadly, I had originally thought there was a chance when I found these newspaper articles, but as I received documents from the court I realized that he most likely did it. I'm going to be focusing on Martin for the next several Mondays. It's an interesting story, but sad to know that he was apparently such an ass...