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Colonial Cases


Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.), 15 June 1854

The Greatest Verdict Yet. - The Chicago Journal published the following as a "cotrrect copy" of the verdict of a coroner's jury in the case of a murdered girl:---


An inquisition taken for the people of the State of Illinois and county of Cook, this 26th day a.d. 1854 before Mr. Austin Hynes, Coroner of said county of Cook upon view of the body of a Female Child name unknown then and lying dead upon the oaths of Twelve Good Lawful Men of the people of the Said State and County of Cook, and When and how the said came to his or she came to her death We the Jury do say We the Jurors do Agree The Body came to her Death by death unknown.


Sterling Republican Gazette, 1 March 1862


We are this week pained to chronicle the death of H. S. Cabot, Supervisor from Prophetstown.  A correspondent had kindly favored us with the following particulars: On Tuesday last two men called at Mr. Cabot's house and desired to obtain a tree from his land below Prophetstown, and he started with them for the timber.  After going a short distance the men were detained for some cause, and Mr. Cabot went on alone.  When the men reached the timber they found Mr. Cabot lying upon or against a large branch of a dead tree, which apparently had been struck by the one he had cut, and falling, had inflicted terrible wounds on one side of his head and shoulder.  He did not speak after being found, but from the appearance of the ground must have dragged himself along some ten or twelve feet.  He lived but a few hours after being conveyed home, insensible.  An inquest was held by Coroner Eddy, on Wednesday.  Mr. Cabot was a very honorable man and his death causes universal regret.


Sterling Gazette, 3 February 1866


On Monday morning last, Mrs. Jemima Harvey, wife of Mr. O. N. Harvey, of this city, died very suddenly.  For two or three days previous she had been troubled with a severe pain in the head, but nothing serious or prostrating was apprehended.  On Sunday night she retired to bed, and during the night Mr. Harvey was awakened by the crying of one of the children.  He spoke to his wife, but receiving no answer arose and found her a corpse.  On Tuesday, Justice J. S. Stager summoned a jury, consisting of A. A. Terrell, Wm. McCune, W. A. Sanborn, A. McCloy, S. T. Gearner, Wm. McKinney, H. S. Street, E. H. Barber, Joseph Golder, R. F. Randolph, J. C. Teats and A. H. Foote, and on Wednesday morning a coroner's inquest was held.  After examining the body and hearing the evidence of witnesses, the jury returned the following verdict: "That the said Jemima Harvey was found dead in her bed on the night of Jan. 28, 1866; that she had for some time immediately preceding her death been indisposed, and constitutionally feeble, and that she died by the visitation of God, in a natural way, and not otherwise."


Sterling Gazette, 2 October 1866

Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Kilgour presented the report of a coroner's inquest on the body of Francis Haney, which was approved by the Board and placed on file.


Sterling Gazette, 13 October 1866


Early Thursday morning of last week Coroner Taylor was notified that the body of a man was lying at the door of the house of Winsor Ball, in Lyndon township, about seven miles south of Morrison.  Immediately the coroner repaired to the place and found the corpse as above stated, and after empanneling a jury proceeded to an investigation, upon which were elicited the following facts:

   That James Forth, a near neighbor of Ball's, had for some time been engaged in a criminal intimacy with Ball's wife; that Ball had frequently remonstrated with him for it, and threatened him with summary vengeance if he did not desist, to which remonstrance's and threats Forth seems to have paid little heed, but kept up frequent visits at Ball's house, in which, it would seem from the testimony elicited before the coroner, he endeavored to persuade Mrs. Ball to get rid of her husband and then she could live with him; that about nine o'clock on Wednesday evening Forth made one of his customary visits to the house, but was not admitted; that he refused to go away when ordered off, and persisted in his determination to be admitted or he would force his way in - whereupon Ball who was in the house during the time, shot at him through the window (having during the day heavily loaded his gun with buckshot for the purpose), who while con tents of the charge entering Forth's head a little above the cavity of the right ear, and causing death almost instantaneously.  - Morrison Sentinel.

   The case of Mr. Ball came before the Grand Jury at the present term of the Circuit Court, but they failed to find an indictment against him.


Sterling Gazette, 10 November 1866


Larry Haffner, an Irish citizen of Sterling, was killed at Dixon on last Saturday night.  He had been employed at his trade, and was just returning home, and while attempting to get upon a moving freight train in the dark he missed his footing and fell beneath the wheels, and the train passed over his body diagonally, crushing it in a horrid manner and causing instant death.  The deceased leaves a wife and several children.  The following is the verdict of the Coroner's jury:

   At a coroner's inquest held at the Air Line depot, in the city of Dixon, in Lee county, on Sunday the 4th day of November, A.D. 1866, the Jury having been duly summoned by James Hatch, Coroner, to view the body of Larry Haffner, there lying dead, and to enquire in what manner and by whom or by what the same body came to its death, and the said body having been duly sworn, and having made due inquiry as aforesaid of all facts and circumstances connect with the said death, do find: That the said Larry Haffner came to his death by accident, by falling between and under the cars of a freight train near the depot of the C. & N. W. R. R. in said Dixon on Saturday the third day of November A.D. 1866, at about eleven o'clock p.m., in the attempt to get upon the said train when the said train was in motion.


Sterling Gazette, 22 June 1867


Mr. Henry A. M. Oyler, of Morrison, was found Thursday evening at the Residence of  Col. Wm. M. Kilgour, stupefied from the effects of Some kind of drug.  Upon being questioned, he said he had taken an ounce of laudanum.  Drs. Anthony and Utley were at once summoned, but he was beyond the reach of medical help, and died Thursday night at the residence of Wm. Zimmar.  He was a well dressed, gentlemanly  appearing man.  He kept an eating house in Morrison, and was formerly from Freeport.  A coroner's inquest is being held as we go to press. (Friday noon.)


Weekly Sumter Republican, 17 June 1870

From the Benton (Ill.) Standard.


  On Tuesday morning last, the citizens of this place were astonished by the announcement of the streets that John K. Reasker had been shot and killed by a woman, the evening previous, in Spring settlement, in this county, and about five miles west of Benton.

  It appears that Mr. Reasker left Benton late on Monday Evening, on horseback, and went to the residence of Thomas P. McFee, in Spring Settlement, where he arrive d about half-past eight o'clock, and, without dismounting, called for Mr. McFee, when Mrs. McFee came to the door and informed him that her husband was not in the house, but that he was somewhere on the farm.  It appears from the statement of Mrs. McFee that the deceased then dismounted, hitched his horse, and came into the house, and after being seated a few minutes, she alleges that he took hold of her, threw her down on the floor and violated her person, and then immediately afterward she went into an adjoining room and procured a loaded pistol, and, returning, shot the deceased, who instantly ran out of the house into the yard, where he fell down, and the infuriated woman, noticing his struggles, shot him again in the back of his head while he was lying on the ground.

  The husband who was some distance from the house at the time, hearing the report of the pistol, hastened to the house, where he found his wife standing near the corpse, with the  revolver in her hand, but her states Mr. Reasker was, to all appearances, dead when he arrived.  The news of the sad affair soon spread among the neighbors, and several of them visited the scene of the terrible tragedy; but it produced more profound consternation that no one felt it to be his duty to notify the family or friends of the deceased of the sad affair, and the corpse was permitted to remain in the yard where it first fell until the next morning, and was not removed from the spot until about ten o'clock.,  Mrs. McFee, who shot and killed the deceased, arrived in Benton and voluntarily gave herself up to the proper authorities, which was the first information conveyed to this place of the homicide.  The body of the deceased was brought to Benton, where in the absence of a coroner, Justices Logan and Hill impanneled a jury and held the usual inquest.  The Jury, after hearing the statements of the woman, and other evidence, returned a verdict accordingly.  Mrs. Sarah McFee was committed to prison to await her trial for the killing of John K. Reasker.



WILLAMETTE FARMER (Salem, Or.), 16 March 1872

Near Arcola, Douglas county, Illinois, one day last week, Henry Landery, an old citizen, was shot three times - probably fatally - by his son, a young man 21 years old.  The old man had a violent temper, and had driven the family out of the house, which caused the difficulty in which he was shot.


Sterling Standard, 25 April 1872

Story, fiction.


Sterling Standard, 24 October 1872


On Friday of last week a man by name of Koontz, met with a very severe accident at the keystone House.  In company with Mr. Corby and John Trein he entered the hotel for the purpose of getting some oysters.  On their return Kootz fell downstairs - very badly fracturing his skullbone and making his face generally a scene of horror.  After having his wounds dressed, he retired to a room where he remained till the next morning, and was again seen on the streets.  On Monday of this week he was found dead at the saloon of D. C. Davis, where an inquest was held.  The result of the examination was very indefinite.  It was thought by Dr. Law, who was sworn, that the cause of his death was from heart disease; while others supposed it to be the result of constant drinking - supposing him to have died in a drunken fit.  It would seem quite reasonable to believe that his death was not caused from heart disease, inasmuch as the position he was in, showed every indication of hard struggles.  The jury returned a verdict that the man Koontz came to his death by reasons unknown.  Koontz was formerly a barber at Amboy, and from there he removed to Mount Morris, where he carried on the same occupation, until he came to this city a short time since.  We hope that this, as well as man y other similar cases that has been witnessed in this city, may prove a lesson of much worth to those accustomed to partake of that fiendish draught.  [Story continues with a Mrs. Martin having been engaged to him; another claimant, not probable, ...] - [Dixon Sun.]


Sterling Standard, 22 May 1873

Pit explosion, Westville, Pierton Co., N.S.


Sterling Standard, 14 August 1873

Coroner's Bills.

 R. L. Mangan, J.P. acting as coroner, holding inquest on body of Alexander Dobbs; 19 September 1872

R. L. Mangan, J.P., acting as coroner holding inquest on body of Hiram McKindly; 18th June 1873

R. L. Mangan, J.P., acting as coroner holding inquest on body of Lizzie Mackay; no date

R. L. Mangan, J.P., acting as coroner for holding an inquest on body of H. T. Hamilton; no date

R. L. Mangan, holding inquest on body of Margaret Bosworth; no date


Sterling Standard, 2 October 1873


Last Monday morning a son of Joseph Oler, of Eagle Point, aged sixteen years, left home to draw hay for a Mr. Berger, who resides near Milledgeville.  One of Mr. Berger's boys took a Colt's revolver and went to the barn to shoot some pigeons for dinner.  Mr. Berger and young Oler passed round the barn while the boy was inside.  Young Berger fired at a pigeon; the ball passed through the side of the barn and struck young Oler in the abdomen, near the navel.  Dr. McPherson was summoned at once, and Dr. Wolff, of Polo, was called that afternoon, but the boy shows no signs of recovery, and there is very little, if any, hope that he can survive. - [Polo Press.]



A most terrible accident occurred on the farm of Charles Gerard, about two miles southwest of Rochelle, sometime Thursday afternoon last, by which Anamelia Huntley, a young lady of about eighteen, lost her life.  She had been living with Mr. Gerard and was employed in herding cattle, having a horse on which she rode about the place while thus engaged.  She was out in the fields as usual Thursday afternoon, but not returning in the evening at the customary time, Mr. Gerard's people began to feel a little alarmed about her, and at last instituted a search.  It proved unavailing, as they discovered to trace of her whereabouts, and the neighbors were called out to assist in the search.  The dry upland of the farm was gone over very thoroughly, but finding nothing the party concluded to patrol the banks of the river and the low slough land adjoining, and for that purpose they separated, one half going on either side.  They had not proceeded very far when at about three o'clock yesterday morning the girl's lifeless body was found lying upon the wet ground and resting upon her face.  It is supposed that she had been thrown from her horse, and striking the ground forcibly with her face downward, she had been rendered insensible and perhaps smothered to death.  The saddle that she had used was lying near but entirely disconnected from her, and her horse was grazing in another part of the field.  Coroner Henry Reed held an inquest yesterday afternoon but no important additional facts were elicited, we believe.  Miss Huntley was a daughter of Mr. Asa Huntley, an old resident, and has many relatives in this vicinity.  Their sad bereavement will call forth the hearty sympathies of the whole community. - [Rochelle Register.]


Sterling Standard, 2 October 1873

4. Dana B. Seger for jury fees, holding inquest on body of Frederick Knapper.



A frightful railroad accident occurred at Roscoe, on Thursday, the 11th inst.  The regular afternoon passenger train had arrived at the depot on time, and as a "wild train," was approaching on the same track, the passenger was switched upon the side track, which is very seldom done at that station.  On one side is a cattle-yard, with a contrivance for loading stock, and is therefore, very close to the cars.  The space between freight cars and the post is about six or eight inches, and to passenger coaches, which are much wider, the space is far less, being not over three or four inches.  As the train backed in, Jas. Wright, a lad 14 years of age, was sitting with his head out of the window, entirely unconscious of the horrible fate that awaited him.  As the car was passing the posts his head was caught between them and the car, and his body drawn through the window, and cruised into an almost shapeless mass.  The young man was travelling with his parents to Duluth, from Canada.  The remains were removed to the village and an inquest held, the verdict being in accordance with the facts of the above statement. - [Pecatonica News.]


Sterling Standard, 10 April 1875

Coroners' inquest expenses.


Sterling Gazette, 11 March 1876

London Inquest; Man killed by a Mouse. South London, no other details.


Sterling Gazette, 17 March 1877

Confused story of riot and unreliable evidence.


WILLAMETTE FARMER (Salem), 14 September 1877.

Eureka, Sept. 5. - The coroner's inquest to-day, on the dead road agent, fully identified him as A. J. Davis the noted highwayman and stage robber, and leader of the gang that plundered the C. P. express train at Verdi in 1867.


Sterling Gazette, 29 March 1879

From Erie.

March 20. - Last Saturday there was a sad accident happened about three miles from, Erie in Newton township.  George H. Montague was accidentally shot while out hunting.  He was getting over a fence, and by some cause his gun went off, the charge going through the clothing an d striking him below the lefty eye and tearing the left side of his head in a shocking manner.  He was unconscious from the time he was shot, and lived about two hours.  Coroner Newlen was summoned and held an inquest Sunday morning.  He was buried from Lebanon Church in Fenton Tuesday.  A large number of people assembled at his burial.


Sterling Gazette, 7 June 1879

Long suicide story; 2 inquests


Sterling Gazette, 7 August 1880

Wm. Elliott, aged about forty years, of Lyons, Iowa, was fishing in a boat in the Mississippi river, Sunday, when he was drowned.  Too much whisky is the supposed cause.  His body was recovered Tuesday in Dead Soldier's slough on the Illinois side of the river.  The Coroner from Lyons came across and towed the body over to the Iowa side of the river, then the Whiteside county Coroner went across the river and towed the body back and held the inquest on this side of the river.


WILLAMETTE FARMER (Salem, Or.), 2 December 1881

Decatur, Ill., 12 Nov; Shooting of Dr. Rosewell W. Shaw by James Toby Ward. [Old Oregonian]

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School