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Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Ungrateful Fiend

Little Murders
(From Titusville Mornign Herald, Titusville, PA, February 11, 1873)

AN UNGRATEFUL FIEND

He Asks for Bread, and then Murders the Man who was Willing to Minister to His Wants.

The murder of Mr. John Flanders at his residence, near Brocton, on Saturday morning last, brief mention of which was made in our yesterday’s columns, proves to have been one of the most cold-blooded and diabolical deeds of villainy which has ever blackened the pages of modern history. The circumstances of the case are briefly told. About half-past eight o’clock on the morning of last Saturday a man called at the residence of Mrs. Anderson, who resides in a small brown house on the Lake Shore road one mile north of the village of Brocton, and a few rods east of Slippery Rock Creek, and

ASKED FOR SOME BREAKFAST.

Mrs. Anderson told the stranger that breakfast was over, but if he went to the house of Mr. John Flanders, on the other side of the creek, he would probably get what he wanted. Mrs. Anderson noticed that the stranger had a sliver ring on his finger. She also observed his general appearance, and she watched him cross the railroad bridge and go towards Mr. Flanders’ house. After this stranger made his appearance at the house of Mr. Flanders and asked for something to eat. Mrs. Flanders did not see the man, but heard him in the rear part of the house conversing with her husband. She told her husband to take the man into the wood-shed and ask him

TO SPLIT SOME WOOD,

as she did not believe in furnishing able-bodied paupers with meals if they were unwilling to work. Mr. Flanders went out with the stranger to the wood-shed, and in a few moments afterwards a sound as of

SOMEONE FALLING WAS HEARD,

and Miss Lucinda Jones the sister of Mrs. Flanders, opened the door and found the old man

WITH HIS HEAD CUT OPEN,

and the blood and brains protruding from the wounds, but the stranger had fled. The two ladies assisted the aged gentleman into the front room and sent for Drs. Dean and Rogers. Upon examination, the two wounds were discovered—one on the forehead, apparently afflicted with the sharp edge of an axe, and the other on the top of the head, where the skull was broken in which bore every indication of having been inflicted with the back of the axe. The physicians dressed the wounds and did everything in their power for the sufferer, but he died at two o’clock in the afternoon. The axe was found with blood spots on it, and clotted hair which adhered to the steel.

THE TERRIBLE NEWS SPREAD RAPIDLY,

and the surrounding farmers and villagers of Brocton scoured the country far and near in search of the murderer. A party of forty mounted men went out towards Westfield, where they got trace of a man answering the description of the murderer. Mr. N.S. La Dro stated that he had passed him twice on the road going to and coming from Westfield but he had not heard of the murder The party were soon on the right trail, and finally, about four o’clock,

THE MURDERER WAS OVERTAKEN,

two miles west of Westfield and was conveyed back to Brockton. He could give no rational account of himself and pretended to be unable to speak English. He gave his name as Philip Hemsteter, and acknowledged that he had passed through Brocton that morning. He was placed in charge of Constables Arnold and Osher, handcuffed and taken to the Brocton Hotel to await the investigation by the Coroner’s jury. When captured he had no ring on his finger, but a silver ring, similar to the one observed by Mrs. Anderson was found upon his person. That lady also identified he prisoner as being the same individual who had called at her house in the morning. Her little daughter, eleven years of age remembered seeing the man, observed the ring on his finger.

On Saturday night the excitement in Brocton had reached fever heat, and if there had not been a link wanting in the chain of direct evidence, namely that of an actual eye witness to the murder, the prisoner would undoubtedly have been lynched on the spot. A better feeling however prevailed, and it was thought more prudent to await the investigation of the Coroner’s jury. No further developments were made during Saturday, and yesterday morning Coroner John Furman empaneled the following jury:

Daniel Skinner, S. F. Bell, John G. White, David T. Taylor, C. W. Burton, E. C. Dewson, G. W. Thompson, J. A. H. Skinner, W. S. Cross, O. Brainerd, H. B. Crandall.

After viewing the remains the jury returned to the village school house, and Mrs. Fenders, Miss Jones, Mrs. Anderson and the physicians were examined, all of whom testified in accordance with the facts as tated above, and aobut 12 o’clock the jruy returned a verdict to the effect that John Fenders came to his death from blows of an axe in the hands of Phillip Hemsteter on the morning of the 8th of February, 1873. The prisoner was then taken back to the hotel where the Titusville reporters, who had just arrived, were seated at dinner. He was brought to the table handcuffed, but his keepers removed the handcuffs to give him an opportunity to eat. In appearance he is a thick set, medium-sized man, with light hair, blue eyes, long nose, and a very peculiarly shaped head. The expression of his face is anything but pleasing , and the reporters impressed with the idea that they had seen the face in Titusville somewhere, but could not place him. A photograph was taken of the prisoner after dinner, which will be sent to Chief of Police Ronse to-day . He appeared to understand English perfectly, and went at his dinner with an evident relish. In the afternoon he was arraigned before Justice Edward Elmore on the charge of murder, and was committed to jail at Mayville to await his trial.

Mr. John Flanders was one of the oldest and most respected farmers in that section of country. He was sixty-six years of age and leaves two sons and two daughters, all married. He owned the house and surrounding property on which he lived, and although not wealthy, was well off. His remains will be taken to Westfield to-morrow for interment.


Titusville Mornign Herald, Titusville, PA, February 11, 1873

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