Arrested, On Trial and Other Court Cases

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Murderer of Abraham Garver Claims That He Acted in Self Defense

Springfield, February 20Special: The Herald The case of the people vs. Johnson King, charged with the murder of Abraham Garver came to an end in the circuit court today was given to the jury. King was on the stand today am told his story which was to the effect that he had been forced to kill the old man in self defense.


Inasmuch as no one was present when, the killing occurred the state had few witnesses to offer. The witnesses the prosecution placed on the stand testified there was blood between the wagon and the point where Garver's body was picked up. This evidence tended to show that King had killed Garver while the old man was in the wagon and had then carried him to the spot where he was found.

The defense introduced witnesses to show that Garver was a dangerous man. It was shown that Garver hat been convicted of murder in the state of California, stabbing a man to death and that he was defended by the late Governor Oglesby. It was also shown that his sister, Mrs. Gannon, of Decatur, is worth 100,000 and that she refused to have anything to do with her brother.

Mrs. Nannie King, the defendant's aged mother, over whom the killing resulted, testified that Garver called at her home and demanded something to eat. Witness said she told the man she had nothing for him, whereupon she alleges, Garver told her that he already had killed two women and was prepared to kill another. At the same time, she says, he flourished a knife. Witness said she rushed into the house and that Garver followed her. She then called for assistance from the neighbors and later went into the field, where her husband and son were working, and told them of the man's visit. Her son secured a horse and, borrowing a revolver from a neighbor, went in .pursuit of the old man, she said, for the purpose of bringing him back to Riddle Hill and notifying the authorities to take charge of him. As King came upon Garver, who was driving a team of horses, it is claimed by the defense that Garver started after him with a stick and a knife. After being stabbed in one side the defense asserts, King, in order to save his own life, shot and killed Garver.

Decatur Herald, Decatur, Illinois, Saturday, 21 Feb 1903, pg. 1


Paulina Abrams, Lucy McGaffle, were before Esq. Goodman yesterday, charged with disturbing the peace. Three dollars and costs each satisfied outraged justice.

Daily Republican (Decatur), 5 Jun 1873

The elder John Brewer and James Abrams, the carpenter and fiddler, participated in a street racket last evening near the part on Water street. Abrams has a daughter named "Minxy", aged 15, whom, it is alleged, he drove away from home. She has been stopping with friends in the Brewer neighborhood, and the father thought she was being harbored by John. Accordingly Abrams wrote Brewer an insulting note, and the latter being wrongfully accused got hot about it. At said time and place the two men collided, and after a wordy warfare which lasted perhaps three minutes, Brewer struck Abrams on the temple raising a blister. Abrams had a dull hatchet in his hand, and he gave Brewer a blow over the head in self-defense, raising a bump as big as a walnut. The two men then clinched and rolled off the sidewalk into the gutter, clawing each other. Brewer in the scramble got one of his fingers into Abrams right eye, and might have disfigured him for life had not the men been speedily separated by a party of men who rushed to the rescue. Policeman Kearney took Brewer before Justice Curis on charge of disturbing the peace, and was fined $3 and costs. A warrant was immediately seorn out against Abrams, charing him with making a deadly assault on Brewer. The examination was had before Justice Curtis this forenoon, W.C. Outten, Esq., appearing for the city, and Captain J.S. Post, for the defendant. It was clearly proven that Abrams acted in self-defense, and he was accordingly discharged from custody.

Decatur Daily Republican, 24 Feb 1880


Verdict of the Jury at the Inquest on William Gross

Coroner PERL got back last night from Blue Mound, where he held an inquest on the body of William GROSS, whose death was caused by a stab in the breast inflicted by W.E. WESTBROOK, who has been a prisoner in the Decatur jail since last Saturday, the day of the assault. The verdict was that "William GROSS came to his death by a stab from a knife in the hand of W.E. Westbrook and recommend that he be held to answer to the next grand jury for murder, without bail."

The jurymen were W.S. McCONNELL, foreman; John W.K. McCLURE, A.M. GREEN, D.A. McCLUSKY, N. MACHIELS and J.M. SCOTT.

Dr. J.G. HARVEY testified: Was called to see William GROSS last Saturday; found him suffering from a wound in left breast one or two inches long, below the left nipple and four and a half or five inches to the left of the median line. On examination with my finger found a wound about three inches deep cutting through the cartilage of the 6th or 7th rib and completely severing the rib and penetrating the lung; he was bleeding profusely and breathing with difficulty. GROSS said he had been stabbed by WESTBROOK, but for what cause he did not know. Assisted at the post mortem examination this morning, and am satisfied that death was caused by the shock, loss of blood and inflammation caused by the wound.

Al CLEMENTS testified that he had seen GROSS and WESTBROOK fighting, and that both fell together, when GROSS got up and went to SCHWAB'S place, where he showed a wound in his breast. Henry SCHWAB saw the two men scuffling and afterwards met GROSS, who said he had been stabbed. The wound was bleeding freely. WESTBROOK was found lying on his back with the knife stuck in the ground at his side. The handle was bloody and there was blood on WESTBROOK'S right hand. Pearl BUNDAY and H. FERGUSON saw GROSS and WESTBROOK fighting. Dr. A.C. FOSTER and Dr. J.L. PRATT testified to assisting at the post mortem examination.

The funeral of Mr. Gross will take place on Saturday forenoon.

Decatur Daily Republican, 8 Jul 1887


William E. Westbrook, indicted for the murder of William Gross at Blue Mound last july.

Decatur Daily Republican, 21 Oct 1887


Witnesses on the Stand Testifying Against Westbrook

Tuesday, Jan. 25

The court room was well filled to-day while the attorneys were selecting a jury on the Blue Mound murder case, which was called up for trial by Judge SMITH last evening. It is the case of the People vs. William WESTBROOK, charged with the murder of William E. GROSS, who at the time he was stabbed was a saloon keeper at Blue Mound. State's Attorney VAIL is assisted in the prosectuion by I.A. BUCKINGHAM. The attorneys for the defendant are I.D. WALKER and the MILLS Bros.


Below are the names of the jurymen chosen to hear the testimony and return a verdict: O.B. SEIP, Joseph POWELL, Adam SEEFORTH, Michael CAVANAUGH, William FOOSE, Ed. C. DeHAVEN, William ARMSTRONG, B.V. HARLAN, Jesse HANKS, John SHRIVER, William L. PIERCE and Henry TROESCH.

The alleged crime was committed on July 2, 1887, at about 9 a.m. at Blue Mound, near the depot, and was the result of trouble growing out of an alleged blackmailing scheme on the part of WESTBROOK. It appears that GROSS, who kept a saloon, was accused of selling liquor to a minor, and WESTBROOK had written GROSS a letter offering to keep quiet about the matter for $25. It was while WESTBROOK, who is an orphan and quite young in years, was standing near the depot talking to a railway man, that GROSS came up to him, spoke a few words and struck WESTBROOK a blow that knocked him down. At the time of the assault WESTBROOK had a knife in his hand. In the fall GROSS was stabbed in the left side. He died five days after from the effects of the wound. WESTBROOK has since been jailed. The People charge that WESTBROOK stabbed GROSS with murderous intent. The defense will try to show that the wound was accidentally inflicted - that GROSS fell on the knife as he knocked WESTBROOK down.

Decatur Daily Republican, 25 Jan 1888


Progress of the Westbrook Murder Case - Damaging Testimony

The Cause of the Stabbing at Blue Mound and How it was Done

The prosecution in the case of The People vs. William WESTBROOK, indicted for the murder of Wm. E. GROSS at Blue Mound last July, are still introducing testimony, some of which is of a damaging character. The fact that GROSS was stabbed by WESTBROOK is not denied, but the defense will endeavor to prove that GROSS had followed the defendant from his saloon to the railroad to provoke a quarrel and that the wound was inflicted accidentally by GROSS' fall on the defendant after he had been knocked down by the deceased.

The trial attracts a large number of interested spectators, many of whom are from Blue Mound and that vicinity. Good order in the court room is preserved by the sheriff and bailiffs.


The prosecution introduced the following letter which caused the assault. It is postmarked Grove City, Ill., June 28, and addressed to Charles GROSS, brother of the deceased, who was in the saloon business with his brother. The letter is given verbatim: June the 27th 1887 - Mr. Charles GROSS sir, I saw you on last Friday the 24th day of June sell to a minor whisky and beer and if you want to pay me $25 dollars and not say anything about it all right. If not you will have to pay more because I will report you to the gran jury - I mean just what I say. - W.E. WESTBROOK, Stonington, Christian Co.

Young WESTBROOK occupies a chair near the attorney's table and calmly listens to all the testimony, occasionally speaking to his lawyers. He seems but a boy in years. He wears no beard.


The following is the substance of the testimony thus far offered on behalf of the prosecution:

Charles GROSS, Jr., testified. I live at Blue Mound. On the 2d of July was engaged in the saloon business in partnership with my brother, Wm. GROSS. I know WESTBROOK. On 29th of June I received a letter from him stating that he had seen me sell liquor to a minor and that if I would give him $25, all right, if not he would report me to the grand jury. Next saw WESTBROOK at Blue Mound on the 1st of July. Next met him at the depot. H. SCHWAB was with me. I asked WESTBROOK if he wrote the letter. He answered "Yes". SCHWAB told him that he was laying himself liable for blackmailing. WESTBROOK said he didn't care, he wanted the $25. Saw my brother a few minutes after he was cut. He was pale and very weak. Said WESTBROOK stabbed him. We took him home and laid him on the bed. He was not out of bed any more, died on the 7th of July.

G.W. DRYSDALE, occupation, postmaster: Know WESTBROOK. He was in the postoffice on the 1st of July. Called for a letter. I told him there was none for him. He asked me if I knew whether a letter had been sent to Stonington for him. I could not tell him. Defendant said he saw GROSS sell liquor to minor and if he did not give him (defendant) $25 he would fix him.

P.P. CHAPPELL, occupation, barber. Heard WESTBROOK say in my shop that if GROSS did not give him $25 he would give him away, or do him up, can't say which expression he used. This was the night before the stabbing.

Lon FERRE, farmer. Heard WESTBROOK say if GROSS did not give him the money he could cut his heart out.

Mathias MEIDEL, saloon keeper. Heard defendant say if SCHWAB laid hands on him he would cut his heart out. This was at the depot the night before GROSS was cut. SCHWAB and C. GROSS were talking to WESTBROOK about the letter.

H. SCHWAB, saloon-keeper. Know WESTBROOK. Saw him at depot about dark on 1st day of July. Had a conversation with him regarding the demand for $25. Told him he would get to the penitentiary for blackmailing. Defendant tried to go away, put my hand on him and told him to stop. Then walked away and left. On the morning of the stabbing was in my saloon, heard some one say there was a fight outside. I said let 'em fight. Two men were drinking at my bar. After they left I went out, met GROSS at front of saloon. He said that WESTBROOK stabbed him. Took him in back room, opened his vest and raised his shirt and a large clot of blood dropped to the floor, and saw blood and foam oozing out of the wound. I then went out and found WESTBROOK on the ground with a knife in his hand, blade of the knife sticking in the ground, helped take the knife from him.

Robert ZINK, Wabash engineer. Was in SCHWAB'S saloon, heard some one cry "help, help," looked out, saw two men fighting, told my fireman to go out and separate them; paid my bill and went out, met GROSS coming toward the saloon, his right hand on his left breast, saw blood on his hand, GROSS said, looking back, "he stabbed me." WESTBROOK was lying on the ground groaning and crying, two men picked him up. I saw a knife in his hand and said to the men who were holding him, "look out he'll cut you," and the told WESTBROOK to drop the knife and he did so.

A.S. CLEMENTS, printer. Was at SCHWAB'S saloon touching up some graining, was standing in the door holding the screen open with my foot, heard a noise, looked toward the engine, saw two men fighting. They struck several blows, then clinched and fell. GROSS pulled himself up over WESTBROOK and dealt him several blows on the head, then got up and walked toward the saloon, he met me and said WESTBROOK had stabbed him. Opened his vest and saw blood and foam flow out at ever breath.

J. SHOEMAKER, farmer. Heard WESTBROOK say if GROSS Bros. did not give him $25 he would put them up.

Dr. PRATT described the character of the wound, and testified that the stab caused the death of GROSS.

Dr. Alva FOSTER, Blue Mound. Six years practice. Called to see GROSS, found a wound in left side, blood and foam blubbering out of the wound, length of wound about 1 1/2 inches, nearly parallel with medial line. In post mortem examination found that the knife had penetrated the lung inclining slightly up, one of the intercostal arteries severed, wound caused his death. Was shown knife, thought the blade was about the same length as the wound, thought if wound had been inflicted at the beginning of the fight GROSS could not have kept up the fight.

E.T. CLEMENTS, who took down the dying statement of GROSS testified. Questions and responses were as follows in the statement. Who hurt you? Ans - W.E. WESTBROOK. What did he strike you with? Ans - A knife. What did he do it for? Ans - I don't know.

Dr. J.G. HARVEY, 25 years practice, knew GROSS, who was a farmer up to April, 1887, he was a strong healthy man. Have known WESTBROOK all of his life. Saw GROSS after he was stabbed, found wound in left side about 2 inches long, penetrating left lung, pointing slightly upward, severed rib about three inches from medial line, blood and air or foam was escaping from the wound. Told GROSS he was dangerous and had better make a dying statement. GROSS told me that WESTBROOK stabbed him; did not know why he did it. About an hour after written declaration was made GROSS told me that he did not know Westbrook, "saw him standing by the engine whittling; approached him form the rear, laid his hand on his shoulder; asked him if he wrote the letter; said he did and then struck me and I struck him, and we went down." I think he was struck while standing. The wound caused his death.

Cross-examined. Run the forefinger of my right hand full lengh into the wound; could not tell from the examination whether the knife struck below the rib and passed up through it or above and then passed down.

Dr. HARVEY is still on the witness stand.

Decatur Daily Republican, 26 Jan 1888


Completion of the Evidence in the Blue Mound Murder Case

Will the Jury Believe that the Cutting Was Done Accidentally?

It didn't take the defense long to conclude their evident in the murder case of The People vs. William WESTBROOK, by whose hand it is alleged that William GROSS lst his life at Blue Mound last July. Both sides got through offering testimony before noon to-day. The lawyers are now talking tot he jury. The case may go to the jury this evening.


The following additional testimony for the People was introduced:

Dr. PRATT, cross-examined. Thought the wound not necessarily fatal, thought Gross could not have received the cut in the beginning of the fight.

John McCLURE. Heard of the stabbing and went over to the crossing, saw WESTBROOK standing, two men holding him. I took WESTBROOK to our office. On the way he said, "The son of a -- struck me and I cut him."

Miss Bertha RAUPP. Was standing in the front yard at our house, about 150 feet from the engine, looked that way and saw two men fighting. They were standing facing each other, struck several blows and then fell, could not see them strike any after they went down.

Lute WOOD. Was standing near northeast corner Williams' elevator, saw GROSS passing going north. When just beyond pilot of the engine he stopped and faced eastward, remained in that position an instant, took a step backward and then stepped forward and struck out with his right hand as though strking at some one could not see the man in front of him. I stepped back in the engine room, stopped the engine and went across the track, saw GROSS going toward SCHWAB'S saloon. Two men were holding WESTBROOK. Heard him say if he struck GROSS he did not know.

Eton T. CLEMENTS was recalled to tell what the defendant had said at the close of the preliminary examination before Jusrice KETCHAM four hours after the tragedy. The justice had spoken to WESTBROOK, telling him if he had anything to say about the attack, he then had an opportunity to do so. Mr. CLEMENTS was sitting near WESTBROOK in the office. WESTBROOK had no counsel and CLEMENTS, seeing that the prisoner did not appear to understand the justice, leaned over and whispered to him that he could make a statement to the court. The prisoner replied to CLEMENTS "What shall I say? Shall I say I cut him?" CLEMENTS replied, "Tell the truth." Then WESTBROOK stood up and stated that he was standing near the engine whittling when GROSS came up and asked him if he had written that letter. Defendant admitted that he did when GROSS struck him and knocked him down, at this time showing cut and blood on his head. Defendant said he didin't know he had cut GROSS - that if he was stabbed he must have fallen on the knife.

Henry HURST. Saw GROSS going north pass William's elevator, said he was going home he crossed the railroad, faced east, made motions as if striking some one, could see no one in front of Gross but thought he saw a hand thrust at GROSS, engine shut off view of antagonist.

Here the prosecution rested their case.


Wm. BORELAND, farmer, 9 miles northwest of Blue Mound. Was in Blue Mound on the 2nd day of July, was on the north end of NEWBEGIN'S dump south and in front of engine saw the engineer and fireman get down off the engine, saw WESTBROOK go to them, they stood there half minute, engineer and fireman went towards saloon, saw GROSS going north, he stopped and turned toward WESTBROOK and struck him two or three times, saw WESTBROOK raise his hand and strike and then both went down, looked to me as though WESTBROOK pulle GROSS down on him, could not see them after they were down.

Allison WESTBROOK, brother of defendant. Saw Dr. HARVEY at his office on last Saturday, he said that GROSS said he did not know why WESTBROOK struck him.

Perl BUNDY, 11 years 10th next month, live at Blue Mound. Remember the day GROSS was killed, was standing on the fence at Mr. SCHWAB'S saloon close to the porch, saw an engine on the railroad track, saw a man standing by engine whittling, saw two men to to SCHWAB'S saloon, saw ice wagon, didn't see Al CLEMENTS on SCHWAB'S saloon porch.

Rosa SCHWAB, 11 years old, testified. There was a large high board fence north of SCHWAB'S saloon, remember the day GROSS got cut, was on the fence, Perl BUNDY was with me, saw the ice wagon coming toward the saloon from toward the hotel, did not see Al CLEMENTS in the door, don't know whether Al CLEMENTS was in the door or not, I was watching the horse.

J.P. NICHOLSON. Live in Decatur, was a member of grand jury that found bill against WESTBROOK - Question, Did Dr. HARVEY testify before that grand jury that all that GROSS said about the stabbing was that WESTBROOK stabbed him but did not know why - question objected to and objection sustained.

Robert ZINK, the Wabash engineer, testified that he did not see Al CLEMENTS at the saloon door when he went in.

E.P. VAIL was asked as to the whereabouts of GROSS dying statement. He could not tell, didn't know whether it had been lost or not. He couldn't find it. He gave the substance of the paper, to the effect that GROSS said WESTBROOK had stabbed him with a knife, but didn't know why he did it.

Allinson WESTBROOK, brother of the defendant testified that the prisoner was 22 years of age.

Decatur Daily Republican, 27 Jan 1888


Young Westbrook and the DEATH VERDICT

Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock Judge SMITH was on the bench in the circuit court to hear the argument on the motion for a new trial in the case of the People vs. William E. WESTBROOK, against whom the jury had brought in a verdict of guilty of the murder of William GROSS, saloon keeper at Blue Mound, fixing the penalty at death by hanging. There were but few spectators in the court room. After the prisoner had been brought over from the jail, Judge SMITH stated that he was ready to hear the arguement.

Attorney I.R. MILLS arose and stated that owing to the brief time allotted, the defense had been crowded to look up law points that they desired to present to the court in support of the motion, and that even at that time they were poorly prepared to properly present their argument to the court. Mr. MILLS thought that more time should be granted the defense in which to prepare for the arguemtn, and he would ask for further time if the prosecution seriously objected to a re-hearing of the case, (at this juncture State's Attorney VAIL spoke up "we will most seriously object to a new trial in the case," and I.A. BUCKINGHAM who sat near Mr. VAIL, repeated the remark with emphasis). After brief reflection Judge SMITH stated that he would not consult his own convenience in the matter, but would return to Decatur on Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock and then hear the argument. He directed the defense to file their written reasons why a new trial should be granted by nine o'clock Monday morning so that the prosecution would know what they would have to answer. Court then adjourned to 3 p.m. to-day.

The severity of the verdict in this case has aroused a great deal of feeling in all parts of the city, and much sympathy is expressed for young WESTBROOK, whom some believe innocent of the crime and others think in a measure justified in stabbing the deceased if he really did do it. He claims that the fatal wound was accidentally inflicted by GROSS falling on the knife. This theory of the case the jury did not accept. They looked at the black-mailing letter, the threats the defendatn had made and the alleged dying statement of GROSS who said that WESTBROOK stabbed him.

The verdict was not only a surprise to the defense but also to the prosecution, neither Mr. VAIL or Mr. BUCKINGHAM expecting more than a penitentiary sentence of a few years, while the defense who held that the evidence was largely of a circumstantial nature, thought that the prisoner would be acquitted or at the most a disagreement would be reached.

In less than 30 minutes after receiving the instructions the jury had agreed upon a verdict. The first vote was unanimous for conviction, and the second ballot was for inflicting the death penalty, one man being weakly in favor of a verdict of manslaughter. All signed the death verdict and as soon as the court could be notified the verdict was announced, and the jury discharged. The jurymen were O.B. Seips, Joseph Powell, Adam Seeforth, Michael Cavanaugh, William Foose, Ed. D.DeHaven, William Armstrong, B.V. Harlan, Jesse Hanks, John Shriver, William L. Pierce and Henry Troesche.

Attorney Mills states that the defense is hopeful of securing a new trial, but if it is not granted the defendant shall never hang on the present verdict, until the supreme court has passed on the case, no matter if he has to pay the expense of taking the case up out of his own pocket.


The jury's verdict in the Westbrook case was a genuine surprise to the people of this community. But very few if any persons expected more than manslaughter, and not a few believed Westbrook would be acquitted.


Several relatives of Westbrook arrived in this city this morning from Christian county, and called upon the prisoner at the county jail. There were two brothers and two sisters in the party.

In arguing the motion for a new trial the counsel for the defense will endeavor to show that the court erred in admitting to the jury the alleged dying statement of Gross, claiming that the proof failed to show that that statement was made at a time when Gross certainly believed that there was no hope of his recovery. The defense will also present affidavits, showing that Michael Cavanaugh, one of the jurymen, expressed a positive opinion as to the guilt of the defendant before his examination as a juror. The general claim for a new trial is that the verdict is against the evidence.

At the close of the Young Women's Temperance Union meeting held in the lecture room of the First M.E. church Sunday afternoon, A.F. Smith, of the State Sentinel, offered a resolution that Judge Smith be petitioned to grant Westbrook a new trial. There were about 300 people present and nearly everybody voted in favor of the resolution without discussion. Mrs. McDowall had closed her address when Mr. Smith presented the resolution.

Decatur Daily Republican, 30 Jan 1888


Judge Smith Refuses Westbrook a New Trial and Passes Sentence on the Prisoner

Friday, March 30, Fixed as the Day of Execution

In the presence of a large crowd at 11 o'clock this forenoon, Judge Smith delivered his decision, resuing William E. Westbrook a new trial and sentencing him to be hanged on March 30, for the murder of William Gross at Blue Mound on July 2, 1887.


The circuit court room was crowded Tuesday afternoon for nearly five hours to hear the arguments of counsel on the motion for a new trial in the William E. Westbrook case, the defendant having been found guilty of the murder of William Gross, at Blue Mound July 2, of last year, the penalty fixed by the jury being death by hanging. Every chair in the room was occupied, and people had to stand near the door and at the sides of the room. Several baliffs brought Westbrook into the room, and placed him near the attorneys' table, where his brother was sitting. The bailiffs sat at the rear of the prisoner to prevent his possible escape. Judge Smith was on the bench to hear the argument, Judge Wilkin occupying a chair near him. Inside the bar were about fifteen ladies who listeneed attentively to the speeches.

Attorney I.R. Mills made the only argument for the defense. It consumed over three hours time and was a strong appeal, an exhaustive presentation of the law bearing on the case and an able argument throughout. He argued that the court erred in admitting the alleged dying statement of Gross to the jury, quoting decisions of the supreme court in support of his proposition; Mr. Mills further argued that the alleged dying statement and the testimony of Dr. Harvey who swore that Gross said to him, "I went up to Westbrook, spoke to him, and he turned around and stabbed me," were inconsistent with the account of the affray as told by witnesses for the prosecution. He also pronounced it very singular that no one had been introduced by the People to corroborate Dr. Harvey, although the Doctor had testified that there were several other parties in the room at the time. He reviewed the evidence at some length, placing considerable stress on the inconsistency of the People's testimony with reference to what Gross is alleged to have said about the affray. The attorney had nothing to say against the jury. He believed it to have been an exceptional jury; and yet he believed that the whisky influence had perhaps unconsciously got into the box. In the outset the People had asked the first juryman examined if he was whisky or temperance man, but there was but one interrogation of that kind. mr. Mills said he felt convinced in his own mind that the whisky influence had come to the surface in this case as it had in many others. He appealed to the court in touching words to balance evenly the scales of justice for the young man who was without friends and without money. In closing Mr. Mills asserted that he had the affidavits of three witnesses who heard one of the jurymen, Michael Cavanaugh, declare before the trial of the case that Westbrook ought to be hanged. The court had subpoenas issued at once for the parties, that they might be brought into court forthwith.

State's Attorney Vail stoutly resisted the motion in a speech of half and hour's duration, uring that the verdict was just and should stand. He pointed out alleged mistakes Mr. Mills had made in his argument, closing with an earnest appeal to let the verdict stand. Mr. Buckingham dwelt briefly on the condition of Gross at the time his statement was taken, showing that there was every evidence that he might die shortly. He also held that the verdict was just and should remain unaltered.


The arguments being concluded the court called up William McGoodwin, Stephen W. Burkham and Albert McGoodwin, who had made affidavits that they had heard Michael Cavanaugh, one of the jurymen, express an opinion as to the guilt of the prisioner. The Judge didn't call for the affidavits. he had the parties sworn and then had them put in separate rooms during the examination. William McGoodwin, the father of Al, stated that one night in January Cavanaugh and Burkham came to his house, coming in to get out of the rain. They remained there till nearly 12 o'clock. There were also present Al McGoodwin and his white wife, Malinda. All the parties sat around the stove and talked about gambling, murder cases and Mrs. Woodworth. Mr. Cavanaugh stated that he had been drawn to serve on the jury at the present term of court, when Al spoke up and said something about the murder cases that would come up. Cavanaugh spoke up and said he didn't want to serve on a murder case and would like to hear about the cases so he couldn't serve. He knew something about the Maroa case. Al McGoodwin, who had read the account of the Blue Mound case in the papers, proceeded to relate the account as he read it. At the conclusion of the narative Cavanaugh said: "D--n him, he ought to be hanged." The old man added that after further discussion all agreed that Westbrook should be hanged unless some evidence to break down the story was introduced. Mr. Burkham was then called in. He didin't appear to know what had been said at the McGoodwin house that night, because he asaid he was talking most of the time to Al's wife. There was some talk about a murder case, but he though it was the Maroa affray. On cross-examination it was brought out that Burkham had been working for Cavanaugh, and that since the trial the witness had made two contradictory affidavits, one for the prosecution and one for the defense, neither of which it appeared the witness had read, but he had sworn to both and affixed his signature. Al McGoodwin was next called in. He gave a detailed account of the conversation, and corroborated his father's story of what Cavanaugh had said with remarkable correctness. In no particular did the father and son contradict each other. Al said that during the trial when he saw that Cavanaugh was on the jury he had casually spoken of what Mike had said at his house, and after the trial he had accosted Mike, telling him he had done what he said he would. Judge Smith hauled Al over the coals vigorously, getting him to tell how often he had been indicted and how many times he had been in jail. Court adjourned at 8:30 a.m. today, without rendering a decision.


The morning hour was spent in a statement by Mr. Mills concerning the arrest at Colfax, Ill., on yesterday, of the witness, John Bigler, whom the defense had not been able to find. The introduction of witnesses to impeach the veracity of the McGoodwins, who had filed affidavits against the juror Cavanaugh, followed, after which Mr. Mills made the concluding argument, and then the court suspended for a few minutes, while Judge Smith retired to a jury room with an armful of books and, ominously prophetic of the result, an almanac. The court room was crowded to its utmost capacity, many ladies being present, when the judge resumed the bench and began the delivery of his opinion, which consumed about twenty minutes of time. He complimented the attorneys of both sides of the case for the able manner in which they had discharged their duty, dwelling especially on the zeal, learning, patience and ability of the counsel for their defense. He spoke in complimentary terms of the jury, and said that a better one had never sat in Macon county. He disposed of the attack upon juror Cavanaugh by saying that it cam from "an unclean crowd, a fould nest, not entitled to credence." Upon the main question involved in the motion for a new trial - the alleged error in admitting as evidence the dying statement of Gross - Judge Smith swelt at length, saying that he could not perceive that there had been an error. He then formally denied the motion for a new trial and proceeded to pass sentence in the following language:


William E. Westbrook, stand up. The sentence of the court is that you be taken to the county jail of Macon county and be there securely confined until the 30th day of March next, and that on the said 30th day of March you be hung by the neck until you are dead, and that you pay the costs of this prosecution.


Bailiffs Dillehunt and Harris took the condemned man over to the county jail and locked him up. He was nervy to the last, with but 59 days to live. On leaving .the court room several temperence ladies stepped up to the prisoner and told him to put his trust in God. He replied, "I will." He walked over to the jail without faltering, and trotted up the stone steps and went behind the bars with a firm step. The young man will change his manner in a few hours when he realizez that the day of execution is close at hand.


The attorneys for the defense say they will apply at once to one of the Supreme Court Judges for a supersedeas to secure a stay of execution until a record of the case can be made for submission to the full bench of Supreme Court Judges. If the supersedeas is granted and the Supreme Court fails to grant a new trial, then the only hope for commutation of sentence to imprisonment will be with the Governor of the state.

Decatur Daily Republican, 1 Feb 1888


Notes on the William E. Westbrook Case - Not Without Hope

William E. Westbrook, condemned to be hanged on March 30th, is behind the bars in the county jail, but Sheriff Mauzy does not keep him in his cell except at night. He is given the liberty of the corridor on the west side of the double tier of cells, and with the admonition to behave himself, he mingles with the other prisoners.

He will be locked up every night in one of the upper cells. He slept well last night and looked fresh and nervy this morning when he appeared for breakfast. Joe Mauzy, the sheriff's son, who officiates as turnkey, asked his father yesterday is he should have the prisoner heavily ironed and put in charge of a "death watch," a man to sit on a stool at the prisoner's cell door, keeping constant guard day and night to prevent the prisoner from doing himself any bodily harm and guard against any attempt to escape. The sheriff has ruled against this extreme notion, believing that some time will elapse yet before the sentence will have to be carried out.

Since the sentence was passed, the Sheriff has been thinking frequently where the execution will take place, in case there is no commutation of sentence. He don't like to hang the man in the body of the jail, and he regrets that it is his official duty to perform the act of the hangman. But if the man is to hang he will do the work to the best of his ability. He would like, however, to have the execution occur outside of the jail. Perhaps the board of supervisors will be asked to erect a scaffold on the lot adjoining the jail, the same to be enclosed from public view by a temporary building.

The Sheriff has received a number of letters from different parts of the county since the murder was committed, asking about the prisoner. One letter came from a lady in Indiana, who inquired after an absent and wayward brother; she thought that +possibly Westbrook was the absent one who had not been heard from for a number of years. She was given a decription of the prisoner and was assured that possibly Westbrook was the absent one who had not been heard from for a number of years. She was given a description of the prisoner and was assuref that Westbrook was not her brother. A similar inquity came from an anxious woman living in Missouri. Other letters came from parties wanting particulars of the deed and trial, and asking for passes to witness the execution.

It is not the purpose of the Sheriff to make the execution, if it becomes necessary to carry out the sentence, in any sense a public affair. He will issue cards of admission to one representative of each of the Decatur papers, but beyond the reporters and necessary officers he is not now prepared to promise any courtesies. in fact he doesn't care to talk much about the execution.

The reporter had a chat with Attorney I.R. Mills this morning. He says he is now making speedy preparations to apply for a supersedeas to give the prisoner a final hearing before the supreme court. The expense of making the transcript of evidence and preparing the record will not be less tha $600 or $700, but he says the expense will be met in some way. A number of parties have already volunteered to contribute liberally to the fund. Mr. Mills added that he is not actuated by sentiment in the matter. He feels that a great responsiblilty rests upon him, and that he cannot act conscientiously or secure that full peace of mind given the attorney who know he has done everything in his power for a condemned client, until he has exhausted every possible hope of securing commutation of sentence for Westbrook. Mr. Mills says he honestly believes that Judge Smith erred in admitting the dyint statement of Gross to the jury, and will not rest satisfied until the supreme court has reviewed that question and has given its judgment. There is no doubt but that one of the supreme court judges will grant a supersedeas as a case of such importance, which of course will put off the day of execution until the case can be presented before the full bench with the evidence and beliefs.The story is abroad, started by some one unknown, that Westbrook is wanted in Missouri for killing aman, and that in case the prisoner had been acquitted, Sheriff Mauzy ahd the papers in his possession to rearrest Westbrook. There is no truth in the yarn. The Sheriff says he never had any such papers, and that so far as he knows the prisoner was never before implicated in any stabbing or shooting affray.

Decatur Daily Republican, 2 Feb 1888


The Supreme Court in session at Ottawa has been petitioned by Attorneys Mills and Walker to grant a writ of supersedeas and stay of execution in the William E. Westbrook murder case, in order that the court may have time to look into the case and decide whether or not the defendant, who is sentenced to by hung on Marh 30th, is entitled to a new trial. The court was to five its decision this forenoon but up to noon no word has been received from Attorney Mills, who is to leave Ottawa for home to-day. There is but little doubt but that a supersedeas will be granted. It is the usual course in all such cases where there is any chance for discussion as to the ruling of the trial judge.

2:30 pm - News has just been received from Ottawa stating that the court has granted a supersedeas. The court will pass on the application for a new trial next June.

Decatur Daily Republican, 7 Mar 1888


The Mills Bros. and I.D. Walker are preparing the briefs and abstract of evidence in the William E. Westbrook murder case to be presented to the supreme court at Ottawa on June 5th. All of the matter must go before the court in printed form when they will consider the case and decide whether or not the defendant should be granted a new trial. Westbrook, it will be remembered, was convicted on the charge of murdering William Gross, a saloon keeper at Blue Mound, and was sentenced by Judge Smith to be hanged on March 30th, but through the efforts of his attorneys a stay of execution was granted until the supreme court could pass on the points presented in asking for a new trial.

Decatur Daily Republican, 30 Mar 1888


Order of the Supreme Court in the Blue Mound Murder Case

How the Welcome News was Received by the Young Prisoner

William E. Westbrook, sentenced to be hanged at the January term of the circut court, for the murder of William Gross at Blue Mound on July 2, 1887, is the happiest prisoner in the county jail to-day. The supreme court has reversed the finding of the jury and Judge Smith in the case and has granted the prayer of the prisoner for a new trial. The opinion was written by Judge J.W. Wilkin and was filed yesterday with E.A. Snively, clerk of the supreme court at Springfield. This morning the defendant's chief attorney, Mr. I.R. Mills, received a telegram giving the substance of the decision of the court; and it was at the jail, who in the presence of the REPUBLICAN reporter took Mr. Mills by the hand and exclaimed with some emotion: "I'm so glad; I'm so glad." He looked it. Later the prisoner, who is 23 years of age, and has gained 45 pounds since he was put in jail, stated that he had a true friend in Mr. Mills who had stood by him in the case like a brother and that he would never forget him. He again denied that he had struck at Gross with the knife, but said that Gross came up to him first, began the quarrel, struck him, and that in the fall the knife the prisoner had in his hand penetrated the body of the deceased.

The particulars of the tragedy and trial are yet fresh in the minds of the public. It seems that Westbrook, whose home is near Grove City in Christian county, had incurred the enmity of Gross, who was running a saloon, by sending him a letter said to be of a blackmailing character. In the letter Westbrook is charged with having written that he knew that Gross had sold liquor to a minor, but for $25 he would say nothing about it. This is aid to be the cause of the quarrel which ended in the death of Gross. Sincly July Westbrook has been in jail. He had his trial at the January term of the circuit court and was prosecuted by E.P. Vail and I.A. Buckingham. The prisoner's counsel were the Mills Bros. and I.D. Walker, Judge Smith presideing. After a long trial, the jury brought in a verdict of murder, fixing the penalty at death by hanging. Judge Smith refused to throw out the alleged ante-mortem statement and the testimony of Dr. Harvey as to what Gross said to him before he died and accordingy denied the motion for a new trial. The prisoner was therefore sentenced to be hanged on Friday, March 30, of the present year. The prisoner's attorneys applied to one of the Judges of the supreme court at Ottawa and secured a supersedeas and stay of execution. In June defendant's counsel went before the the full bench at Springfield and filed the abstract of evidence and brief in the case, and now comes the opinion of that honorable court, giving Westbrook another chance for his life at a second trial, which will not be had until the next January term of court.

Decatur Daily Republican, 27 Sep 1888


Westbrook Again on Trial for His Life - The Prisoner in Court

A Sketch of the Case - Judge Hughes on the Bench


Judge Hughes arrived this morning from Mattoon and convened court to try criminal cases Judge Vail cannot hear. One is the Westbrook murder case, which was placed on trial this afternoon.


Judge Hughes direcred Sheriff Mauzy to summon 75 good men to be examined as to their competency as jurymen in the Westbrook case. The regular panel includes 36 men, which with the 75 will make a total of 111 for the lawyers to question at the outset. Possibly an _ number will be required.


Westbrook was brought into court this morning as it was supposed that all parties were ready to proceed with the trial. He was returned, to be brought back this afternoon. The young man, now in his 23d year, is looking quite healthy. He requested that he be weighed and Bailiffs Dillehunt and McWhinney granted it. When Westbrook was put in jail in July, 1887, he weighed 135 pounds. Now he weighs 191 pounds, a gain of 56 pounds.


The only case on the criminal docket to command the interest of the general public is the second trial of William E. Westbrook for the murder of William Gross, saloon keeper at Blue Mound the alleged assault having been made on July 2, 1887, the injured man dying within five days. At the first trial it will be remembered that Westbrook was convicted mainly on the admission of the alleged dying statement of Gross, supplemented by the evidence of Dr. Harvey, the defense taking exceptions to the admission of both damaging statements. The jury fixed the punishment at death, and Judge Smith sentenced the prisoner to be hanged on March 30, 1888, but a supersedeas was secured and subsequently the supreme court reversed and remanded the case for another trial. At the first trial State's Attorney Vail, since elected judge, prosecuted Westbrook, assisted by I.A. Buckingham. The court appointed the Mills Bros. and I.D. Walker to defend the prisoner.

The circumstances of the tragedy are familiar to all readers of the REPUBLICAN. The killing of Gross was really the outgrowth of a trick in the liquor business at Blue Mound. The Gross brothers kept a saloon, and they procured their license from a license board of trustees which exceeded their authority so held by granting a license beyond the time for which they were elected. In the spring of 1887 the town went anti-license, but the outgoing board took the money and gave the Grosses a license extending to August. The hands of the new board of trustees were tied. They didn't know what to do to close up the saloons. Decatur lawyers told them that they could not revoke the licenses except for cause, and thereupon a close watch was kept upon the saloon keepers to nab them for any violations of the village ordinance. Of course the saloon keepers were guarded in their conduct. The latter part of June William Gross received a letter signed by William E. Westbrook, the prisoner, stating that he had knowledge that Gross had sold whisky to a minor, but for $25 he would keep quiet about it. The receipt of the letter of course caused something of a sensation. Westbrook's home was at Grove City, in Christian county. He went to Blue Mound on July 1st and staid there until the next day. On the evening of July 1st when accosted on the depot platform he told Gross that he had written the letter and that he wanted the $25. There was no violence offered by either party, Gross simply asking Westbrook if he didn't know that blackmailing a man was a penitentiary offense. The next day while Westbrook was standing near a Wabash freight train with a knife in hand whittling a stick, William Gross came along in his shirt sleeves and turned out of his way to come up to Westbrook. The two men were alone. They engaged in an altercation about the letter. They came to blows and the melee ended in Gross receiving a mortal wound, the knife in the hand of Westbrook penetrating the lower lobe of the left lung. The prosecution at the first trial endeavored to show that Westbrook stabbed Gross with the knife with murderous intent, the defense holding that the wound was inflicted accidentally by Gross falling on the knife as both men fell to the ground, Westbrook underneath his assailant. The dying statement of Gross was taken by E.T. Clements the day of the tragedy, but the copy of the statement was lost and could only be repeated at the trial from memory. Gross talked with Dr. Harvey and in those conversations said Westbrook had stabbed him.

The prosecution will be conducted by A.G. Webber and Mr. Buckingham, and I.R. Mills, I.D. Walker and A.H. Mills will look after the interests of Westbrook.


Westbrook had his first trial in January of last year. It began on Wednesday, January 25, and a verdict was reached on Saturday, January 28. It was announced at 1:30 p.m. The jurymen then were O.B. Seip, Joseph Powell, Adam Seeforth, Michael Cavanaugh, William Foose, Ed DeHaven, William Armstrong, B.W. Harlan, Jesse Hanks, John Shriver, W.L. Pierce and Henry Troesch.

Decatur Daily Republican, 28 Jan 1889


The Jury Out all Night, Coming in with a Verdict for Manslaughter

The Prisoner is Grateful - He Says: "Thank You, Gentlemen." - Closing Notes of the Trial


This morning when the court opened in the persence of less than 100 spectators, the jury in the Westbrook case filed in and Judge Hughes read the verdict as follows:

We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of manslaughter, and fix his imprisonment as 12 years in the penitentiary. F.W. Myers, foreman; J.B. Culbertson, L.F. Harmon, J.W. Wilkinson, George Tucker, S.D. Leedy, Andrew Bennett, B. Nein, James Chance, William Lyons, Simon Gisinger and B.F. Wallingford.

"So say you all, gentlemen?" was the customary inquiry of the judge, and each juryman nodded his head in reply. At this juncture the defendant, who had been watching the proceedings closely, turned in his chari toward the jury and said: "Thank you, gentlemen." The Judge thanked the jury for their patience and work, and discharged them for the term.

Mr. Buckingham, for the prosecution, was in the court, and so were I.D. Walker and A.H. Mills, for the defense. Shortly after defendant had conferred with his counsel, Mr. Mills informed the court that the defense desired to enter a motion for a new trial. This was the last incident of the celebrated case for the present, and it is doubtful if the motion for another hearting will ever be argued. Westbrook will receive his sentence under the verdict and go to Joliet, and while there will learn a useful trade. By good behavior, Westbrook will regain his liberty in 7 years and 3 months. So far as we are able to leanr, the verdict meets with general approval.


When the jury took their first ballot last evening on entering their room they stood: 3 for murder, 5 for manslaughter, and 4 for acquittal. There was no material change in the subsequent ballots until 5 o'clock this morning when the verdict of 12 years for manslaughter was agreed upon. After the jury had agreed upon a verdict of guilty, the punishment ranged from 1 years to 25, finally resulting in agreement at 12 years.


In last evening's issue the REPUBLICAN left the cast at the point where the defense had waived their right to present any argument to the jury, and under the rule the case went to the jury with the instructions of the judge. The attorneys for the prosecution, especially Mr. Buckingham, ahd made a vigorous kick against Judge Hughes limiting the time of the arguments to three hours on each side; the attorney wanted at least three hours for himself, but the judge was firm and ruled that three hours for each side was sufficient time. The attorneys for the defense had nothing to say, and Mr. Webber for the prosecution opened the case, talking one hour and ten minutes, leaving one hour and fifty minutes for Mr. Buckingham to consume in the closing speech. It was expected by everybody that Mr. B. had loaded himself for "the greatest effort of his life," and that he would have a great effect upon the jury. But the speech, whatever it might have been was not delivered, simply because the defense in the outset had decided not to present any argument to the jury. The announcement by Mr. Mills at the conclusion of Mr. Webber's address, that the defense would not present any argument, was a surprise to the court, while to Mr. Buckingham it was a crusher. Mr. Mills at the beginning of the trial had consumed over two hours in his statement, and he had nothing more to add. He felt that he had got in his work pretty well on the first day, and he didn't feel there was anything to gain by further argument. He did not believe that the jury could be influenced greatly by argument, and it was the opinion of the three attorneys for the defense that they had a good case and were willing to let the jurt take it without argument. Opinion varied as to the wisdon of this course. The members of the bar, who are perhaps the best judges of such a plan of action, credit the defense with a large measure of shrewdness, and such is the general feeling about the city.

About two hours were consumed in the preparation of the instructions to the jury, which were read by Judge Hughes; he consumed 35 minutes in this duty, and at 5:10 p.m. they jury retired in company with Bailiffs Dillehunt and McWhinney, the court announcing that he would return at midnight to learn if a verdict had been reached. He did so, and then in the absence of a verdict adjourned the court until 8:30 o'clock this morning, when as already stated the verdict was read.

The court room was densely crowded for four hours yesterday afternoon, spectators standing up in all the available space and crowding the steps near the Judge. Inside the bar all the best seats were given up to about 75 ladies, who had expected to hear long arguments but were disappointed.

The instructions of the court clearly defined the legal definition of murder and manslaughter, and the punishment for each. For murder, death or imprisonment for any term from 14 years to life; for manslaughter, imprisonment for any time from one year to life. The attorneys for the defense made their speeches in the instructions, quite a number of the sections being thrown out by the Judge on the inspection. The instructions as submitted were considered quite fair for the defendant, and under the instructions a verdict of acquittal would have occasioned but little surprise.

On Sunday the jury were photographed in a cabinet group by Haws, and this morning the jurymen got their pictures. One was presented to Westbrook. The jurymen also received their checks for service, each getting about $20.

Decatur Daily Republican, 7 Feb 1889


The departure of William E. Westbrook last night for Joliet, where he will be doing the state some service for a term of years, brings to an end a case that has agitated the people of Macon county for a year and a half to a very considerable degree - probably largely for the reason that the jury in the former trial had convicted him of murder and affixed the death penalty. No man has ever been legally executed in this county, and the case of Westbrook was only the second one in the history of the county in which the jury decided in favor of the death penalty. Westbrook was a poor boy, with no parents living and no wealthy or influential friends. His defense was conducted by attorneys appointed by the court, and the earnest and faithful manner in which they fought for his life and the skill and perseverence which they gave to a case that had not a dollar of reward in it will always stand as a monument to illustrate the fact that professional pride and the high regard that they showed to the duties and responsibilities they had taken upon themselves in choosing the law as a profession weighed more with them than the hope of remuneration. There was a good deal of sympathy felt for Westbrook in the community, not because any considerable number of the people have any sympathy for law-breakers or criminals, but simply because he was without the means necessary to make a fight for his life, and because he had grown up entirely without the care and restraints common to boys who have parents to bring them up properly. Nobody believed him to be an essentially bed or depraved man, but rather an ignorant and untutored boy who had grown up in the woods without care and training. Nobody wanted, particularly, to see him escape the punishment that his crime deserved, and yet nobody thirsted for his blood. Therefore it is, that the verdict is so satisfactory to all good people, and it is doubtful if justice has ever been administered with less of a spirit of revenge and more in accordance with the divine principles upon which all justice ought to rest. The law has been vindicated and everybody is satisfied.

Decatur Daily Republican, 8 Feb 1889


After consultation yesterday the attorneys for William E. Westbrook concluded that inasmuch as the prisoner was satisfied with the verdict, and the further fact that he had as fair a trial as he would ever get, Attorney I.R. Mills addressed Judge Hughes and withdrew the motion for a new trial that had been entered on the docket. Thereupon Westbrook stood up before his Honor, and having nothing to say, he was sentenced to 12 years in the Joliet penitentiary. The prisoner was then removed to the county jail.


At midnight Sheriff Mauzy and son, Joe, left for Joliet with four convicts in charge. They were: Westbrook, manslaughter, 12 years; Samuel Dorsen, burglary, 3 years; James S. Wright, forgery, 2 years, and Robert Moore, perjury, 1 year. The prisoners were linked together in pairs, Westbrook and Wright and Moore and Dorsen walking side by side. Westbrook was in a jolly state of mind, and talked freely about the able defense given him by the Mills Bros. and I.D. Walker. He is very grateful to them for their sacrifice of time and trouble. He said he would pay them with he regains his liberty.

Decatur Daily Republican, 8 Feb 1889


Sheriff Mauzy and son Joe got back last night from Joliet, where they safely delivered Westbrook and three other convicts to the warden of the penitentiary. They did not linger at Joliet ong enough to learn the occupation to which Westbrook was assigned. They visited Chicago, were there four hours, and came home by the shortest route. On they way up Dawson, the burglar, tried to pick his hand-cuffs with a piece of wire, but of course made a failure. It was learned at Joliet that Dawson had just finished a term of five years in the Iowa penitentiary before his arrest in Decatur.

The verdict of the jury in the W.E. Westbrook case meets with the approval of a majority of the people in Blue Mound and vicinity. A few, however, still insist that Westbrook should have been hung, while another few think the verdict should have been acquittal.

Decatur Daily Republican, 9 Feb 1889


William E. Westbrook, sent to Joliet for 12 years for killing William Gross at Blue Mound, has written a letter to the Mills Bros., his attorneys at the trial, thanking them profusely for what they did for him. Westbrook is anxious to secure a pardon, but he will hardly secure it. He is engaged in the granite department of the prison, serving out his sentence at hard labor.

Decatur Daily Republican, 23 Mar 1889

While at the prison (Joliet) Constable Midkiff had a chat with William E. Westbrook, who was sent up for 12 years for killing William Gross, of Blue Mound. Westbrook is greatly changed in physical appearance. When he donned the stripes a year ago, he was the picture of good health and weighed 196 pounds. Now he weighs but 130 pounds and is a shadow of his former self. His complexion is sallow, and his spirit is broken. He was first put at work cracking stone, then he was connected with the cooperage department, but lately he has been given a lighter occupation, that of a messenger in the warden's office. It is now his duty to go from one department of the prison to another and carry messages. The physicians tell him that he will never again be in physical condition to perform manual labor, and that he will not survive many years. At times he experiences a strange sensation in his breast - a rattling noise that causes him considerable alarm. He has been tapped three times for dropsy.

Decatur Daily Republican, 13 Nov 1889


Next Saturday William E. Westbrook, whose knife caused the death of Mr. Gross, saloon keeper at Blue Mound, will be released from the penitentiary at Joliet. Ex-Gov. Fifer granted his application for a pardon, fixing the termination of the sentence for Feb. 11.

Decatur Daily Republican, 8 Feb 1893


William E. Westbrook who on July 2, 1887, fatally stabbed William Gross at Blue Mound, and was subsequently sentenced to the penitentiary 14 years for manslaughter, was in Decatur yesterday on his was to Stonington in Christian county. Westbrook has been a county and state prisoner for nearly six years, but he doesn't show much evidence of wear and tear. He is fleshier than ever, and is in pretty good spirits. At his first trial the jury brought in a verdict inflicting the death penalty, but it will be remembered that his case was taken to the supreme court and he got a new trial. Before going out of office Governor Fifer reduced Westbrook's term of service, so that he could be released this month. Westbrook was in the court room yesterday and had a talk with the court officers and Judge Vail. It is not known what Westbrook's plans are, but he will probably go to work in the country or in Decatur.

Decatur Daily Republican, 10 Feb 1893


In a Quiet Little Saturday Game


Transferred the Play to O.W. Smith's Court

Another little Saturday afternoon poker game was spoiled by the police Saturday about 3:30 o'clock. The game, too, was in a place which has come in a good deal of notice lately. It was in a room over the saloon of Julius BLACKBURN, who was one of the saloon men whose license was revoked by the council last Monday night. Then men arrested were Edward SMITH, Albert CAIN, William A. BLAND and Oscar PURCELL.

The game was not a swift one. There appeared to be very little money in sight and judging from the appearance of the men who were arrested there probably were not any big rolls of money in the crowd. The checks it was understood were worth 2 1/2 cents each.

The game was raided by Officers MUTHERSBAUGH, CROSS, LEECH, and RICHARDSON. The last two named went up the front stairway and MUTHERSBAUGH and CROSS went up the back stairs. The officers at the front were barred out by two separate doors, but those at the back got into the rooms easier.

There was nothing in the room pertaining to gaming except four men, a table, several packs of cards and probably 400 or 500 checks of the red, white and blue variety with engraving on both sides. They were checks which had evidently been used at some time in a gambling house and were a little the worse for wear. Men, tables, cards and checks were all taken to police headquarters and the apparatus was left in the office while the men were taken to the office of Justice O.W. SMITH.

Edward Smith pleaded guilty to gaiming and was fined $23 and costs. He didn't have the coin to pay the fine so he was given a little time. Albert CAIN, William A. BLAND and Oscar PURCELL had their trial set for next Wednesday and they gave bond. Against PURCELL there were two charges, one for gaming and the other that of maintaining a game.

Ex-City Attorney J.M. LEE appeared in behalf of the gamblers and Julius Blackburn, over whose saloon the men were arrested, was also in the court room and occasionally consulted with the defendants.

It was nearly 6 o'clock before the city cases before the justice of the peace were settled and in the meantime _ information had been filed in the county court against each of the men. When they fixed up their business with Justice O'MARA the Sheriff sprung a capias on each of the men and they were again arrested on the state cases. They again gave bond for their appearance in the county court Monday morning at 9 o'clock.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 22 Apr 1900


Come to Town and Have a Day in Court

A rather interesting _ entry and _ case came up in Justice McCOY's court Saturday. It was started at 10 in the morning and lasted all the rest of the the day and the arguments are yet to be made.

The case came from Warrensburg. It first went to Justice O'MARA and was taken to McCOY's court on a change of venue.

It was the case of D.W. HURSH vs. W.A. FRANCIS and the suit is for possession of a house and lot in Warrensburg.

Nine of ten years ago Sam RITCHIE owned the place. FRANCIS moved onto the place, RITCHIE claims as a tenant agreeing to pay $8 a month rent for it. FRANCIS claims he moved on as a purchaser under an oral agreement that he was to pay $_ for the place on the installment plan. He claimed that he paid out on three years and is entitled to a deed.


A number of witnesses were put on the stand to impeach RITCHIE's oath. _ LOVELL, Stephen SHENEMAN and John LUCAS testified that they would not believe RITCHIE under oath. RITCHIE presented as evidence the fact that all receipts for money given FRANCIS by him read 'for rent'. In December or January RITCHIE sold the place to D.W. HURSH and the latter wants possession.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 9 Mar 1902


Judge VAIL Disposes of Nearly 40 Cases in Short Order

Very little business was transacted in the circuit court today, aisde from disposing of cases to be tried at the June term and striking other cases from the docket:

People vs. Frank SMALLWOOD and Charles POTTER; conspiracy to commit murder. Continued with alias.

Decatur Daily Republican, 24 February 1891


Frank SMALLWOOD In the Toils of The Law

Taken Through Decatur to Jacksonville to Answer The Felonious Charge

This afternoon the city marshal of Jacksonville, Illinois, passed through Decatur en route to Jacksonville, having Frank SMALLWOOD of this city in custody on a charge of forgery. He was arrested at Hume, in Doublas county this morning, and will have to stand trial on the felonious charge.

Five or six months ago Frank SMALLWOOD was at Jacksonville where he had a job of work carrying a hod. He got a check for $4.00 as payment for his work. He is charged with having raised the check to $24.50, presenting it at the bank and getting the money. Of course he did not remain at Jacksonville long, and since the forgery was discovered the authorities have been trying to locate the young man. Inquiries were sent to Marshal MASON and other offices, and in this manner young SMALLWOOD was located. The state warrant was issued on August 18, 1891, the day the crime was committed, by Justice DAVENPORT, at the instance of William BATZ. The check was presented at the bank of M.P. Ayres & Co. and Charles RICHARDSON identified SMALLWOOD, stating that he was his son. The firm name to the raised check was Montt & Libby. RICHARDSON is now under arrest.

SMALLWOOD when seen at the depot this afternoon was handcuffed to the officer. Attorney LEFORGEE was seen in brief conversation with the prisoner. It is understood that Mr. LEFORGEE will leave for Jacksonville to-night to look after the interests of young SMALLWOOD. He may be admitted to bail, if anybody can be found who will go on his bond.

Frank SMALLWOOD is the young man who about a year ago, with the assistance of a chum conceived the diabolical scheme to murder his father, Joseph P. SMALLWOOD who is now in the south looking after horses. Frank, it will be remembered, had hired a man in Chicago to kill his father, but the party by the merest chance happened to be a detective, who promptly exposed the plot, but not before getting enough evidence of a documentary character to convince the father that the son intended to carry out the scheme. Then it was that Frank was cornered in Decatur by his father and Attorney C.C. LEFORGEE, and the boy confessed that all charges made were true. The plot was to inject chloroform into Mr. SMALLWOOD'S sleeping apartment with the purpose of producing death, the object being to put the estate, valued at about $75,000 in possession of Frank, who is an only child. The exposure came and Frank fled. He was gone for months before he was heard of in any quarter. The grand jury brought in indictments against Frank and his associate, and the cases remained on the dockets until the September term when both cases were dismissed with leave to reinstate. A few months later, Frank was heard of as being at work on one of the farms near Hume, Douglas county, owned by Mr. SMALLWOOD; later it became known that the young man married Miss Lora SANDERSON of Tuscola, Ill. Miss SANDERSON was the young lady to whom Frank was attentive in Decatur before he was compelled to leave the city. The couple have been living on the SMALLWOOD farm near Hume.

Decatur Daily Review, 20 February 1892

James Finley, Aged 65, Delivers A Terrific Wallop

James Finley, 65 years old, was arrested by Officer Ryan Saturday evening on compalint of Harry Burstein, who charged him with assault. He hit Burstein on the nose at the latter's store, 650 East Eldorado street.

Daily Review(Decatur), 12 August 1915


Background by: The Olden Times Historic Newspapers Online

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