Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Villers Saga, Part II

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, November 11, 1897
"Finding of Tromer's Body"

(The first paragraph is pretty much impossible for me to read.  I can make out very little, but you can have a go if you like!  If you click on the image it will take you to a larger version!) 

The body lay in (a partial ??) grave three feet deep five feet seven inches long and just wide enough to contain the body.  The head was slightly bent to the south as though after placing it in the excavation it was discovered the grave was a little too short.  The lower limbs were extended, the right foot yet wearing a shoe.  The other shoe was thrown in upside down beside the body, evidently having been removed from the body in the death struggle or in carrying the body to the place of deposit.  On the lower part of the body was a few small field boulders that may have been laid upon it when it was interred or may have been thrown down the badger hols to get them out of the way of the plow. It has been suggested that they were placed in the grave to deflect and throw upward the plow share to prevent discovery of the body in the future.  Distant a hundred feet or more was a stone pile where the stones may have been obtained.

The place of the grave is in a depression on a rise in the ground out of sight of Viller's house, but distant not more than a quarter of a mile.  No other house is in sight than Mr John Ford's three or four miles away.  Work could be carried on indefinitely without discovery.  In the fall of '94 a straw stack stood there and after the attempted murder of Mrs Tromer the ashes of the pile which had been burned were forked over thoroughly with the expectation of discovering some of the bones had the body been thrown in the straw pile with the intention of cremation.  Two crops of grain have been grown over the grave, twice has the land been plowed and it may possibly have been worked indefinitely without discovery of the body had not the wild badgers dug into the grave and thrown up pieces of the skull, some of the clothing and a pocket knife.  The hiding place was well planned and executed and the murder had confidently counted on everything except the excavations of the wild animals.  His devices had but the one defect, but that proved fatal to the preservation of the secret.  The work of interring the body may have occupied the greater part of a single might or it may have been the work of several nights, the body the meanwhile being hidden in the straw.

If the body is (??) as that of Tromer as now seems probable, Villers, the (person) in the pen may be taken thence and (??) to stand trial for murder.  Villers was sentenced to nine and one half years (it gets bad again here, but they are undoubtedly talking about his attempted murder conviction that he was serving in the state penitentiary and that he would have gotten out in 1902).

Sorry for the lack of posts recently everyone!  I've been trying to kick a nasty cold for the past 1-1/2 weeks and it's getting there.  Slowly but surely.  I'm going to be concentrating on transcribing some of my Martin Villers posts before ramping up to the Advent Calendar posts!  Sharing a part of my family's history that I find very interesting.  Always hoping for that bit that could possibly point to Martin being innocent!  I can always hope!


  1. Starting at the eighth line:

    Mrs Tromer, who will attempt to testify that (unreadable) appearance of the body (unreadable) the skull prove the man who's body was found was murdered as the skull was broken to fragments showing that the head of the victim must have been mashed to jelly. The Jamestown Alert says of the burial of the remains:

    The body lay in a narrow grave...

    And then at the end, the last paragraph reads:

    If the body is identified as that of Tromer as now seems probable Villers, the prisoner in the pen may be taken thence and made to stand trial for murder. Villers was sentenced to nine and one half years (unreadable) in 1893 and would be released in 1902 if (unreadable)

  2. You are so awesome, Kevin! :) Thanks! Now I know where to send anything else that can't be made out!