Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Scott Case

From the Pine County Pioneer, November 30, 1888: 

The grand jury of this county convened at the Court House in this village [Pine City] on Tuesday, at which time the case of H.H. Scott, held for the murder of S.K. Erwin at Hinckley last week, was brought before them. After examining a number of witnesses a bill of indictment was brought in against Mr. Scott for murder in the first degree, and he was arraigned and the indictment read. During the reading of the indictment Mr. Scott showed but few signs of emotion, although his confinement, together with suffering from the wounds he received in the tragic affair, had rendered him quite pale. When asked if he had procured counsel, his answer was in the negative, and as he had but a short time in which to enter his plea, a plea of not guilty was entered, the court granting him the privilege of changing his plea. He was then remanded to the county jail in Washington county for safe keeping, where he will remain until the first Tuesday in January, the time set for his hearing, and he was taken down on Wednesday noon train. It seemed to be the general opinion in the village that he would change his plea to guilty in some of the other degrees of murder or manslaughter.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Hinckley Murder

From the November 23, 1888, Pine County Pioneer: 

Sidney K. Erwin Shot and Instantly Killed by a Neighbor. 

A Family Misunderstanding is the Cause of an Old Soldier Losing His Life. 

The Story of the Deed from Those Who Best Knew How It Occurred. 

Thursday afternoon at about a quarter after two our village was startled by a report that S.K. Erwin had been shot while at his work at the pump house in the Eastern Minnesota Railway yard. Being on the streets at the time, a reporter for the Pioneer followed the man who gave the information and found that the shooting was charged to H.H. Scott, who was then in his house on Main Street. The Village Marshal went to the house and learning that Scott was in the house and was not likely to escape, he started for the scene of the horror. Arriving at the spot, we found the body of Mr. Erwin laying prostrate in the sand at the side of the railroad track and about ten or twelve feet form the south-east corner of the pump house in which he had been working. The body laid face downward, and when turned over by the Marshal, the face was covered with sand and a spot of blood on the forehead showed where a ball had entered the skull, about an inch above the right eye and in front of the right temple. This was the only wound visible at the time. He had on no coat and his vest was unbuttoned and fell back from his breast. There was but one man on the scene who knew anything of the matter, and he refused to speak on the subject. 

The news struck such terror to the people of the village that they were almost speechless. A few moments before the shooting took place, Mr. and Mrs. H.H. Scott were seen walking through the town in the direction of the Eastern yard and a few minutes later Scott was seen coming back on the St. Paul & Duluth track. As he passed the depot he told Sam Norton that he had had trouble with a man and used a revolver on him. Mrs. Scott came up the street and at Mr. Booth's residence inquired for him, but afterwards found him down town. When she reached home she found Scott there and dressed a wound he had over the right eye, and it was while she was dressing the wound that the Marshal left him to go and look after the body of the murdered man. 

As soon as Scott was lodged in the jail, he was interviewed by the reporter, and to him he gave the story of the deed. Of the cause which prompted the act, Scott refused to speak. He said it was a matter which effected no one but themselves and that it did not concern the public. He said he had not been drinking heavily and asked if he did not talk rationally. “I had no more intention of killing Sid Erwin than I have of killing you this minute,” he said, “but went down to see him about this matter and spoke to him of it. He denied the matter and I called him a d----d liar, when he struck me with something he had in his hand. I was standing in the door of the pump house and we fell out across the railroad track. I told him to get up, and so did my wife, but he would not do it. I then drew my revolver and shot under him as he was on top of me on the track. I then reached over his neck and shot again. He had hold of the wrist of the hand in which I held the revolver.” When asked how he came to have the revolver in his pocket at the time, Scott said that he carried it a great deal. “I bought it on Seventh Street in St. Paul about two years ago,” he said, “and we kept it in the store. I frequently put it in my pocket when I went out. That is the same revolver Booth took away from me once in the spring when I had a row with the Swede. After I went home I re-loaded the revolver, and when Booth came I gave it to him. I shot three shots at Erwin; one striking him in the breast I think, and the other in the head. I tell you a man cannot stand everything. I did it, and under the circumstances would do it again.” Scott had a cut over the right eye about an inch in length and which was held together with adhesive plaster, and from which the blood had trickled down the side of his face. He complained of a pain across his back where he had fallen across the rail and the reporter loosened the prisoner's clothes and found a scar across his back just at the lower rib which gave evidence of having been caused by the fall across the rail. From the jail we went to Scott's residence and found his wife. Mrs. Scott was sitting at the end of the table in the dining room, and when told of the reporter's mission said she would tell all she knew of the case. “Henry is not in his right mind,” she said, “and this many of the neighbors know. It is no new thing. He has acted strange for some time.” Of the cause for the deed she said that at different times lately he had made remarks of a damaging character in regard to Erwin and herself and that he claimed that Erwin had been at the house and knocked on the window the Saturday evening before and that although she had denied any knowledge of the fact and stated that she did not believe anything of the kind he persisted and Thursday afternoon he asked her if she would be willing to go down to see Erwin about it. At the time he had a revolver in his hand and she told him No! Not if he took the revolver. He went behind the counter and presently came back showing his empty hands and said, “Will you go now?” Supposing the revolver was where they usually kept it, she consented. Upon reaching the pump house, they found Mr. Erwin sitting on a stool talking with another man. She told Mr. Erwin that they wanted to see him alone, whereupon the other man withdrew, going she knew not where. She immediately asked Erwin if he was at their house and knocked on the window Saturday night. He replied that he was not, and Scott said he was a liar. Some angry words passed and Scott drew the revolver from his pocket. Upon seeing the revolver, she was so badly frightened that she could not speak a word. Erwin caught Scott by the wrists and they both fell out of the door struggling with each other. As soon as she could recover her self control, she stepped to the door and said “Quit that, both of you!” Erwin still had hold of Scott's wrist, and while they were grappling with each other, the revolver was discharged. She thought three shots were fired. She knew that Erwin had been shot. She immediately went to town and told Marshal Booth to take care of her son, fearing that Scott would shoot him. She then dressed Scott's wounds before he gave himself up to the Marshal. She said, “God knows that Henry never had any reason to be jealous, and so do all of my neighbors. I have been physician for Erwin's family and have treated them as I have all other families I have doctored.” While relating her story her face was wet with tears, and the trying ordeal through which she was passing showed very plainly in her manners. Mrs. Scott is a lady in every sense of the word and those who know her best, and who have been most intimately acquainted with her say they do not believe a word of Scott's accusations of infidelity. She may have enemies, but not one [word] has ever been said against her character, nor do we believe there can be. Mrs. Scott's statement at the coroner's inquest at seven o'clock the same evening was the same as is here given. Her story was also corroborated by the man who was in the pump house at the time they went in. He did not see the first part of the row but says he saw Scott shoot Erwin while he was laying on the ground, he holding the revolver in both hands, directly over Erwin's head. 

At the inquest in the evening, it was found by an examination conducted by Drs. Paquin of Pine City and Collins of Minneapolis, that the blood stain on the forehead was not where the ball had entered but was only a blood stain. The only ball that entered the body passed in near the left nipple and passed through the aorta which must have caused instant death. The bullet was found lodged in the right lung. 

Scott was brought to Pine City on Friday morning and arraigned, but he waived examination and was committed to await the action of the Grand Jury which will be called for the 27th inst. 

Sidney K. Erwin was an old resident of the village of Hinckley and was well known having worked in town during the time he lived there. He served in the “Pennsylvania Buck Tail” regiment during the war and was a member of the B.F. Davis Post, G.A.R. of Pine City. He leaves a wife, a son aged about seventeen, and two daughters aged about fifteen and thirteen. The family have the sympathy of all in this sad hour. The funeral will be held at Rush City Saturday afternoon, under the auspices of the G.A.R. post.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Drowned in the Kettle River

From the Pine County Pioneer, August 5, 1887: 

The inhabitants of our village [Hinckley] were horrified last Sunday evening by the report that Carl, eldest son of H.H. Scott, had been drowned in the Kettle River that afternoon while bathing. The particulars as far as can be learned are as follows: In the morning a party from the village hired Mr. Scott's team to take them out in the country to spend the day picnicking in the woods and Carl accompanied the party in the capacity of teamster. Arriving at Kettle River the male portion of the party indulged in a bath, while Carl was engaged in looking after his team. Finishing his task, he also repaired to the river and in company with a boy of about his age, went into the water. Carl could not swim but was endeavoring to learn, using for that purpose a raft, which he would take hold of and letting go paddle up to it again. The raft floated into deep water, when by a sudden motion of the current, it was bourn away and Carl was left in the water. Being unable to swim, he was drowned before assistance could reach him. Immediate search was made for the body, which was soon recovered and returned to the home which he had but a few hours before left so full of buoyant hopes. No news of the sad calamity had preceded them and the sorrow, when the lifeless body of a dearly beloved son and brother was returned can neither be imagined nor described. 

Carl was at the time of his death thirteen years, seven months and twenty-seven days old. He was a bright, smart, active boy, always gentlemanly, and we do not fear contradiction when we say that he was one of the most promising boys in Hinckley. Even at this young age he had developed a wonderful mechanical genius and books and papers were his constant companions. Thus has a promising young life been cut off 'ere it had hardly reached its sphere of usefulness. 

The body was taken to Pine City Tuesday morning for interment in the Union Cemetery. A large number of friends and teams joining the sad company at that place and assisting in the obsequies. 

[Note: Carl's mother was Dr. Mary Scott, who practiced medicine in Hinckley. His father, H.H. Scott, was a prominent citizen. The family owned a store in Hinckley.]