Murder Trial at Salina

I told you I would let you know when I learned when the Odd Fellows broke up, and so I will.  F.J. Revere came in to the shop and told me that his grandfather, Robert O. Scott was an odd fellow.  At first I thought that was a peculiar thing to say of one’s grandfather, then I realized he meant Odd Fellow.  R. O. Scott told Revere that the Odd Fellows pretty well fell apart after the building of their new hall in 1924.  Apparently they had some financial problems, which led to the demise of most of these organizations.  Also, according to Ken McClintock, it was around this same time the lodge turned the Cemetery over to the city.

While researching the I.O.O.F. I found another interesting news bulletin, which I will share with you now.

From the Council Grove Republican December 14, 1905.  “One of the biggest murder trials in the history of Kansas has occupied the attention of Saline county district court the past two weeks, in which Mrs. Susan Caldwell is charged with killing her husband, Jas. F. Caldwell at their home near Salina on the night of September 31, this year.  The Caldwells were at one time residents of this city, and will no doubt be remembered by many of Council Grove’s present residents.  The case was given to the jury last Saturday morning and yesterday evening’s daily Salina Journal says that no verdict has yet been reached.  This was a most brutal murder.  Caldwell was killed in his own home while in bed asleep.  Seven blows were struck on his head with an axe, and Mrs. Caldwell was sleeping in the same bed and claimed she never knew a thing of the tragedy, however she was arrested for the crime.  The judge’s instructions to the jury was to either acquit or find the defendant guilty of murder in the first or second degree or manslaughter in first, second, third or fourth degree.  The Caldwell’s were well-to-do people residing near Menton,[Mentor] Saline county.  Mrs. Caldwell is 52 years old.”

In the following weeks paper I found a bit more about the Caldwell case.  Council Grove Republican December 21st, 1905, “At noon last Friday the judge discharged the jury in the Caldwell murder case at Salina, but not until it was apparent that an agreement was impossible.  The foreman of the jury said that he did not think a verdict could be reached at all.  The court asked the individual members of the jury if this was their opinion, and they each in turn stated that it was.  The jury stood ten for guilty and two for acquittal.  The case as given to the jury at 10:30 on December 9, and they were discharged December 15.  The case will now go over until the March term of court when it will be tried again.  The Salina Journal says there is considerable talk at this time of the inability to secure a jury in Saline county to again try the case.  In such an event Mrs. Caldwell would be discharged.”

I could find no further information on the Caldwells or their case.  They do not appear in any of the census records for Morris County nor do they appear in the marriage records.  They apparently did not live in Council Grove very long.  I have not found further reports on a second trial so I assume it probably played out as the Salina Journal predicted.

Although this is indirect Morris County history I found it interesting and hope the read does too.


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