|The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933 firstname.lastname@example.org|
December 16, 1884
Homicide at Blossburg
FATAL WORK OF HOT TEMPERS AND A HANDY REVOLVER—GEORGE H. BROWN KILLS CHARLES M. ELLIOTT IN A QUARREL ABOUT THE POSSESSION OF A HOUSE.
A little before noon last Thursday Mr. George H. Brown, a hardware merchant of Blossburg, twice shot Mr. Charles M. Elliott, a shoe dealer of the same borough, while engaged in a quarrel growing out of a dispute as to the right of possession of a house. Mr. Elliott died from the effects of the wounds in a little more than three hours after they were inflicted. Mr. Brown went to R. B. Freeman, Justice of the Peace at Blossburg, soon after Elliott’s death, state that he had shot a man and desired to give himself up. He was taken into custody and placed in the borough lock up. An examination was held in the case before Justice Freeman on Friday, and that evening Brown was brought to this borough and placed in the county jail to await the action of the law.
The details of the tragedy and the circumstances surrounding it are as follows. About two years ago Mr. Brown made a contract with Mr. Andrew Crowl for a village lot on Williamson Street in Blossburg. A little over a year ago Mr. H. J. Welteroth, who was then working for Mr. Brown, desired to build a dwelling house, and Brown turned the lot over to him. Welteroth built the house, but did not pay for the lot, and there were mechanics liens to a considerable amount on the property. About the first of this month Welteroth moved to Athens, Bradford County, and leased the house to Mr. C. M. Elliott.
Mr. Brown thought he had the right to the possession of the property, as he was still paying interest on the contract for the lot, and he was confirmed in this opinion by an attorney whom he consulted. Elliott also consulted a lawyer, and he was firm in the belief that he had a right to the possession of the premises under his lease from Welteroth. Elliott leased the house to Mr. DeWitt C. Robinson, of Covington, and took measures to put him in possession.
Brown heard of this on Wednesday, and that night he went to the house, entered it by a window, put new locks on the doors and fastened the windows down. He stayed there until about midnight, when he went away, leaving a lamp burning until about 8 o’clock Thursday morning, when he went back and put out the light, locked the house and went to his hardware store.
About 9 o’clock Thursday morning Elliott, accompanied by Robinson and a young man names Thomas L. Lewis, who was a clerk in Elliott’s shoe store, went to the house in dispute and kicked the door open, and the party entered. A stove and some wood that were there were moved out and another stove was moved in. Soon after this occurred Mr. Thomas Jones, who had been talking of renting the house of Mr. Brown, went into Brown’s store and told him that Elliott was in the house. Mr. Brown at once put on his coat, in the pocket of which was a revolver that he had placed there the night before, locked his store and went to the house. As Brown approached the door Elliott saw him and jumped for the door, apparently to fasten it, but before he could do so Brown burst in with the revolver in his hand. Elliott, who was much the heaviest man, forced Brown back on the porch, and at this point the revolver was discharged, the ball entering Elliott’s left shoulder. The struggle continued, and Elliott struck Brown knocking him down, and then the fatal shot was fired. The ball struck Elliott in the left breast about an inch to the right of the nipple and diagonally above it, passing just over the heart.
Elliott dropped, but at once rallied and walked to Dr. J. W. Glenn’s office next door and told the doctor he was shot and asked to examine him as quick as he could. Brown followed Elliott to the doctor’s office and then went for Dr. Palmer. The physicians found that the bullet had passed through Elliott’s body and lodged under the skin between the spine and the left clavicle. An incision was made and the ball was extracted. It was seen that the wound was fatal, and Elliott’s wife and two little girls were sent for. The wounded man insisted that he would get well. His wife remained with him until he died, about 3:15 in the afternoon, at Dr. Glenn’s office. It is stated that while in the doctor’s office Brown said to Elliott: "I didn’t mean to shoot you, Elliott, indeed I didn’t. But you were to blame; after all, you struck me." Elliott replied, "Did I? We’ll see about that."
On Friday an inquest was held, by Justice Freeman, acting as Coroner, and the following citizens of Blossburg as jurors: Alfred Jones, foreman, William H. McCarty, E. Dutcher, Stephen Bowen, A. J. Nash and G. H. Palmer. A post mortem examination had been made by Drs. Cleveland, of Canton, and Glen, Palmer, Humphrey and Jennings, of Blossburg. At the inquest Thomas L. Lewis and Dr. Glen were sworn, and after hearing their testimony they jury rendered a verdict that Charles M. Elliott came to his death by shooting at the hands of George H. Brown.
On Friday Brown has a hearing before Justice Freeman, the District Attorney and Mr. M. E. Lilly, an attorney of Canton, appearing for the Commonwealth and Henry Sherwood and J. B. Niles, of this borough, for the defense. No new facts were developed. The testimony of Thomas L. Lewis, the principal witness is reported as follows:
Am twenty one years old; was with Elliott on Thursday at the house in question; went to the house at Elliott’s request; heard him say before going to the house that he was going to get possession of the house and keep it. Think the door was fastened with we arrived. Elliott turned the knob and gave the door a kick. It flew open and we went in. We first moved a stove that Elliott said belonged to Welteroth. The we move in another stove. Then we moved out some wood that Elliott said did not belong to him. Between 10 and 11 o’clock Elliott, DeWitt Robinson and myself were sitting down in the north room. While there I signed my name as a witness to a lease from Elliott to Robinson. While sitting there Elliott said, "Here comes Brown now." He sprang to the door and tried to lock it, but before he could do that Brown pushed it in. As he stepped on the threshold I saw a revolver in Brown’s hands. Cannot tell which hand. Saw the cylinder and barrel. The barrel was pointed straight ahead. Elliott and he clinched, and Brown was forced out on the stoop. I saw no more; turned my back; did not want to see; was frightened and expected someone would get killed. Heard two shots afterwards. Don’t know how long afterwards. Don’t know how long after. Can’t tell how many I could count from the time they clinched until I heard the shots. Did not see Elliott have any firearms that day. Did not hear him say he had any. Did not see him have any weapons whatever. Did not see him have any iron, club, or stick of wood. Did not see Elliott strike Brown. Did not hear either of them say anything. After the second shot went I went out doors. Elliott was walking out of the gate and went into Dr. Glenn’s office. Brown was coming toward the gate from the yard. I was between him and Elliott. Did not see any mud on Brown’s back then. Afterwards saw some on his coat, down towards the hops on the left side. Brown went into Glenn’s place. I went after a doctor. Brown also went for a doctor.
After the hearing the Justice issued a mittimus, and Brown was brought to this borough on the train and committed to jail the same evening by Officers S. P. White and James Ryan, of Blossburg. The parting between Brown and his three boys, at the depot in Blossburg, just before the train left, is described as very affecting.
We understand that Brown’s attorneys will make an application to Judge Williams today for their client’s liberation on bail. It is expected that the case will be heard this afternoon at the Judge’s chambers.
The revolver used by Brown is a new five chambered, self-cocking 38 caliber weapon of the best make. When taken from Brown it had the tag still on the handle, indicting that it had been taken from his store, and two of the chambers were empty and three loaded.
MR. BROWN’S STORY
A reporter of the Agitator called at the jail Saturday forenoon and had an interview with Mr. Brown. He is a man decidedly prepossessing in appearance, about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, weighing about 150 pounds and 41 years of age. His complexion is dark, his hair black and his whiskers closely trimmed. When seen on Saturday the skin around his left eye was black and blue, apparently from a blow, there was a severe abrasion of the skin on his brow, and there was a cut over his right ear. He had the appearance of a man who had recently been through a pretty sharp fight. He talked freely with our reporter in giving an account of his life and of the unfortunate affair for which he is called upon to answer.
Mr. Brown said he had worked for the Morris Run Coal Company for seven years as clerk and Tinner at Morris Run. He went to Blossburg in November, 1880, and started a hardware store. In September 1882, he made a contract with Mr. Andrew Crowl for a building lot I that village on five years’ time. About October, 1883, he let H. J. Welteroth have the lot, and Welteroth built a dwelling house on the lot, paying only a small amount on it and leaving in a mechanics’ lien of $500 which is now in process of collection. About the first of December Welteroth moved to Athens, and handed the key of the house over to Elliott, making a verbal lease with him. He (Brown) thought as long as he was paying interest on the contract for the lot he ought to have possession of the house. He consulted Henry Allen, Esq., of Mansfield, about it, and he informed him that he (Brown) had the right of possession of he could get it and keep it. Allen advised him to change the locks on the house and shut it up. Following this advice, Brown went into the house by opening a window, put new locks on the house and fastened the windows down. He stayed there Wednesday night until midnight and then went away, leaving a lamp burning. Thursday morning about 8 o’clock he went back, put out the light and went to his store.
At about 11 o’clock that forenoon Mr. Thomas Jones, who had been talking of renting the house of Brown, came into his store and told him that Elliott was in the house. Brown had a revolver I his coat pocket, which he had taken from the case on Wednesday evening when he went to stay in the house alone. He took his coat from the peg where it was hanging, put it on and said "I must go up at once," and started out, locking up the store. He walked rapidly from the store to the house, a distance of about a block, and as he stepped on the porch he met Elliott in the door. Elliott grabbed for Brown’s throat and struck him with something—some say with his fists and others with an iron float, a tool used by shoemakers. In the scuffle both men went off the porch into the yard and to the sidewalk, Elliott being on top. Brown pulled out the revolver and as he lay on his back he fired two shots rapidly, the first taking effect in Elliott’s shoulder and the second in his breast just above the nipple and lodging near the spine.
After the shooting Elliott got up and walked to Dr. Glenn’s office followed by Brown, who got Dr. Palmer. Elliott lived about four hours and after his death Brown went to Justice Freeman’s office and to the Town Hall, where the justice was holding court, and gave himself up.
Brown informed our reporter that Elliott was a big man, weighing about 200 pounds. It was said that he was under bonds in Bradford County to keep the peace, and he was known about Canton as "Fighting Elliott". Brown’s family consists of his wife and three boys, aged 13, 10 and 7 years respectively, and Elliott had a wife and two daughters, both small.
THE MAN WHO WAS KILLED
We understand that Charles M. Elliott was in his 29th year, having been born in Scranton, PA, September 4, 1856. He was raised at Canton, Bradford County, his father, F. S. Elliott, being a prominent citizen of that borough. His family enjoys the esteem of all who know them, but the reports agree in speaking of Charles as a quarrelsome, fighting fellow and the "black sheep" of the flock. In 1877 he was married to Miss Wealthy Claflin, of Roaring Branch, and by her he had two daughters, now aged respectfully 6 and 4 years. He moved to Blossburg about two years ago and engaged in the boot and shoe trade, enjoying a profitable business. His father died a few years ago, but his mother and sister, the wife of E. J. Cleveland, Esq., still reside in Canton. It is said that he was connected with some of the best families in Bradford County. His funeral was held at Canton on Sunday.
December 23, 1884
Last Tuesday afternoon George H. Brown, who is charged with the murder of Charles M. Elliott, was taken before the Court here on a writ of habeas corpus for the purpose of seeking his release on bail. The hearing was held in the court room, and there were many interested spectators present. Brown was represented by Messrs. Sherwood, Niles and Watrous, of this borough, and Mr. Roland of Blossburg, while the District Attorney and Mr. Packer appeared for the Commonwealth. The defendant’s counsel moved that he be admitted to bail for the reason that the commitment did not state the facts sufficient to constitute murder in the first degree. This point was sharply argued, but the Court held that commitment should not be technically construed, and that the burden of proving that the offense was bailable rested on the defense. No evidence was introduced, and Brown was remanded to jail to wait the action of the grand jury at the January term. Brown’s three boys were in the court room, and at the close of the proceedings there was an affecting interview between them and their father.
February 3, 1885
[several sections of this article are damaged and unreadable—I will attempt to transcribe as much as possible.]
The trial of George H. Brown, of Blossburg, indicted for the murder of Charles M. Elliott, of that borough, began last Wednesday morning. The events out of which the case grew took place of the 11th of December last and have already been fully detailed in the columns of the Agitator. The trial attracted many people from Blossburg and a great part of the time it was in progress, the court room was crowded with interested spectators. The District Attorney and Messrs. G. W. Merrick and H. B. Packer, of this borough, and M. E. Lilley, of Canton appeared as attorneys for the Commonwealth and the defendants interests were looked after by Messrs. Elliott & Watrous, Sherwood, and Niles & Niles, of this borough, and J. C. Horton, of Blossburg.
The indictment having been read the defendant pleaded not guilty, and the work of selecting a jury was immediately entered upon. This business was interrupted in the afternoon by the consideration of the applications for license to sell liquor, and up to 4 o’clock, but 4 jurors has been accepted out of the whole panel of forty eight. But the others were soon selected from the number whom the Commonwealth had directed to stand aside. The jurors thus finely selected and sworn were—
[some names are unreadable]
On Thursday morning the District Attorney opened the case for the Commonwealth and the taking of testimony was at once began.
Mr. E. A. Bryden, of this borough, was first called to the stand to show that he had surveyed the scene of the homicide and had made a map of the locality which he indicated. The house where the shooting was done stands at the right of the Williamson road leading from the borough of Blossburg to the tannery and it is over 100 from Mr. Brown’s [?].
The next witness called for the Commonwealth was DeWitt C. Robinson. He testified: I live at Covington, PA. I was at Blossburg on the 11th of December last and went to see Mr. Elliott. I found him at a house between Dr. Glenn’s office and Mr. Griswold’s building. I found Mr. Elliott at this house and with Mr. Thomas Lewis. They were in the front room on the wing side of the house. I had been at the home about an hour when Mr. Brown, the defendant, came there. Mr. Elliott, Mr. Lewis and myself were all that were at the house before Mr. Brown came. Mr. Elliot was [?], near the door which was from one third to half open. [unreadable portion—talks about position of Mr. Elliott and Mr. Robinson near the front door]. Mr. Elliott said, "Here come Brown now", and I sprang to the door to close it. I can’t say whether he locked it or not…he was a few feet out on the porch walking towards the door. He was walking with his right hand in his pocket. He come up to the door and gave it a kick with his left foot and drew his right hand out of his pocket and brought with it what appeared to be a revolver. Mr. Elliott stood in front of me and faced Brown. There were maybe 6 or 7 feet from each other. When Mr. Brown had stepped one foot over the threshold Mr. Elliott grabbed Brown and pushed him out on the porch. He then struck Brown once or twice with his right hand. He was grabbing with his left hand to get hold of Brown’s right hand. He struck Brown twice and then there was a discharge of the revolver. Mr. Elliott [?] Brown and then threw him off the stoop which was [?]. I had just got into the door when they fell off the stoop and Mr. Brown was on the ground and Mr. Elliott was on top of him and the revolver was pointed toward me. Mr. Elliott was trying to get Mr. Brown’s revolver. I gave a spring out on the porch. I jumped towards Brown [?] and rolled his hand over and the revolver went off. Mr. Elliott got up and said "You have gone too far…[?]…yesterday, you should keep off these premises…[?]" Mr. Elliott then went towards Dr. Glenn’s office. I didn’t get to the stoop until after the second shot was fired. Mr. Elliott, after he turned, placed his hands over his breast at the point where he was shot and walked to Dr. Glenn’s office. He then walked in and took off his coat and vest, placed them on the counter and walked into the back room and lay down on the couch. Witness remained there about an hour going in and out a number of times. I met Mr. Shattuck about 20 rods from the house as I was the one up to rent the house. He, Shattuck, turned around and we went to the house in question and he introduced me to Mr. Elliott. Mr. Shattuck then went away. Shattuck is a shoemaker. I was looking at the house with the notion to rent it. Mr. Lewis was in the room when we first entered. There was a couch in the room in front of the door on the back side of the room. Mr. Elliott sat down part of the time upon the couch. I think I sat down on the couch. We spent an hour examining the house, writing the lease and having it executed. We sent for pen and ink. Mr. Elliott wrote the lease and I signed it. The last time I saw the lease it was lying on the desk, just before Brown came in we had been talking about my leasing the house.
Cross-examined [Robinson]: The door was closed up to an inch or so when Brown came up, it had been in that position but a few seconds. Mr. Brown got only one foot inside the door. He stood directly over the threshold. Mr. Elliott was trying to keep him out of the house. Elliott had hold of Brown’s shoulders. I can not say if Brown held Elliott or not. Mr. Brown did not touch Mr. Elliott till Mr. Elliott had shoved Mr. Brown out on the stoop. Mr. Elliott struck Mr. Brown once or twice. I did not see if Mr. Elliott had anything in his hand. Elliott’s back was towards me. I could see Brown’s face part of the time and his hands also. The first shooting was immediately after Elliott struck Brown who was standing on the stoop at the time. They clinched immediately after the shooting and Elliott threw Brown off the stoop on the ground. I did not say that Elliott struck as if he had something in his had. I told Mr. Whitney that I would have had a good job from Mr. Elliott if he had not been shot, but I did not say that I wished the Mr. Brown would be hung. I met Mr. Niles and Mr. Sherwood in the office of Henry Roland at their request to give them an account of the affair. I declined to do so saying that the District Attorney had requested me not to say anything to them except in his presence. At that time I had not been subpoenaed by the Commonwealth.
Mr. Thomas Lewis, of Blossburg testified: I am 21 years old. I was at the house in question on the 11th of December on Thursday, the day of the shooting. DeWitt C. Robinson, Mr. Elliott and myself were at the house. I was at the left of the door as Mr. Brown came up. I was in a chair about two feet from the door. I saw Mr. Brown when the door was forced open. Mr. Elliott was at the inside of the door trying to lock it. The door came open about a foot, a man could easily get in. I then saw Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown was on the threshold of the door trying to get in. He had a revolver in his hand and was holding it in front of him. Mr. Elliott was on the inside. Then both men clinched and passed out the door. I did not see them engaged after that. I heard the report of a pistol twice. I was walking around after the firing was done. I went out and Mr. Elliott was walking toward the gate. Brown was behind Elliott and both were walking towards the road.
Cross-Examined [Lewis]: I went there with Mr. C. M. Elliott that morning about 8 o’clock. We went to the door leading straight up from the porch and where the difficulty afterwards occurred. The door was fastened. Mr. Elliott forced the door open and I followed him in. The difficulty occurred about 11 o’clock. Mr. Robinson came about ten o’clock. I went to the house at the request of Mr. Elliott. I helped carry out a stove and some wood and put up another stove in the mean time. Mr. Elliott, after Mr. Robinson came, showed him around the house. I sat on a chair and was afterward sent after the lease at Elliott’s store and also witnessed the lease. I sat at the left of the door as you go in. Mr. Elliott stood nearly in front of the door which was closed as Brown came up. The door was kept closed all the time we were there except when used. Mr. Elliott was partly sitting as Brown came up. I think I said we were all sitting when testifying before the magistrate. I saw Mr. Brown in the face, only a small portion of his body was in the room. I could only see Brown and that was all. I testified that he was not past the threshold. After the door was partially opened by Brown, Elliott pushed Brown and that is the last I saw of him. I could not tell in which hand Mr. Brown had a revolver. I cannot tell where I was in the room when the shots were fired. I did not hear any striking on the stoop. I heard scuffling there. Elliott, when I looked out, had one hand over his breast and the other hand had hold of his hat. Elliott went towards Dr. Glenn’s office and I followed Mr. Elliott and Brown followed me towards the office. After we had passed out of the house other people came to look at the house. I heard both shots. There was some little time between the shots, not much time between them but they were not as soon as they could be fired.
Anson D. Harrington, of Blossburg, testified: I was on the road peddling meat. I was near Elliott’s dwelling house, not quite opposite, it is nearly opposite, the house where the shooting occurred. I was attracted towards the house and saw Mr. Brown and Mr. Elliott clinched. I think Mr. Elliott had hold of Mr. Brown’s shoulder. They were nearly at the edge of the stoop. As they were about going off from the stoop I heard a shot fired. They were next on the ground. Mr. Brown was under Mr. Elliott. The second shot was fired while Brown was on the ground. Elliott rose up and said, "I am shot". Before the shot Mr. Elliott struck Mr. Brown. I saw him strike him. Mr. Brown got upon his feet, revolver in hand and said, "I told you to keep off my property," Mr. Elliott replied, "Oh well, we’ll see about this". I stood nearly in the middle of the road opposite the house. I was weighing meat for Mr. Elliott. Elliott stood on the porch and gave me the order only a moment before. I was outside on the back end of the wagon. I could see by turning my head toward the house. I was from 8 to 10 feet above them. I stepped back a step and saw them scuffling. They were both clinched. Elliott struck Brown in the face while on the ground, that is the first blow I saw. Elliott was in a stooping position and with his other hand seemed to be reaching for something. Brown was not completely down but was in a somewhat sitting position. The first shot was fired as they went off the stoop. I saw something in Elliott’s hand. I stepped out into the center of the road and stood there. I did not say I heard all that was said. I first saw Mr. Brown on the street. He was walking quite fast going up the street. I saw Brown between Crowl’s store and the house and about a minute after my attention was called to the affair. I did not speak to Mr. Brown. There a fence in front of the house.
Dora Purcell sworn: I was in the kitchen of Barney Murray’s hotel sitting at the window. I had a view of the house in question. I saw parties going to and from the house. When the first shot was fired I was at the window. I started for the door and before I got there a second shot was fired. I heard someone say "[?]—you. I told you to keep off the house or premises, now take what you got".
Cross-examined [Purcell]: They were all strangers to me. The second shot was fired before I got to the door. I was going to the pump. I looked across and saw the parties. I heard the talk but did not know who said it.
Mrs. Anna Aylesworth, of Blossburg, testified: I was on the opposite side of the street from where the house in question stands. I saw Mr. Brown that morning coming toward the house, saw him go to the door, saw the door open, saw Elliott grab Brown, saw him strike Brown twice, heard the shot, saw them on the ground, and heard a second shot. I afterward saw a bunch on Brown’s head nearly as large as an egg and blood running from it and also from the back of his head.
Mrs. Barney Murray, of Blossburg, said: I was in my house standing at the door. Brown said "I will learn you to take possession of this property". This was after the shooting.
Cross-examined [Murray]: I heard shots. I stood still till I heard the last shot. I was only a step from the door. I was standing near Miss Purcell and have told all I heard of the conversation. I heard the words as Elliott rose up. Mr. Brown was on the porch as these words were spoken.
Mrs. Anna C. Snyder testified: I was preparing dinner on the second story of the Griswold house. I heard the report of a revolver. My daughter was at my sided. I heard a second report and my daughter called me to the glass door. Mr. Elliott was just getting up from Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown went to the porch and picked up his hat and went to the gate. I heard no more.
Cross-examined [Snyder]: I noticed Brown had a bunch on his head. I noticed it when he put his hat on, he put his hat on the back of his head. Mr. Elliott had a necktie of a bright color in his hand.
Dr. S. F. Palmer, of Blossburg, testified: I was in my store on the 11th of December. I was called by Mr. Lewis to see Mr. Elliott. I found him sitting on a settee. One gunshot wound was 2 and one half inches from the nipple towards the chin. The ball did not pass out but was under the skin and made a knuckle looking bunch. It passed through the body. I made an incision and Dr. Glenn took the ball out. The wound in the shoulder was a flesh mere wound. The ball that hit him in the breast passed through the vest, not through the coat. He was very pale and it was very hard for him to breathe and he did so with a gurgling sound. I laid him down at twenty minutes to twelve and he died at a quarter to three. He breathed harder and harder until he died. In my judgment the first shot struck him in the shoulder and the second produced death.
Dr. Abel Humphrey testified: I took part in the post mortem examination of Mr. Elliott. Dr. Glenn, Dr. Palmer, Dr. Jennings, Dr. Cleveland and myself were there. The witnesses gave a full technical explanation of the post mortem. The ball passed through the lungs and passed out between the 7th and 8th ribs. We found the lungs full of blood. The ball did not touch the heart. Hemorrhage was the immediate cause of death. I should judge the last shot the fatal one.
Dr. W. M. Jennings testified that he was present at the autopsy which took place about 4 o’clock in the morning of the day following the shooting. He made the incision.
Dr. Palmer recalled: I met Brown opposite the United States hotel. He turned around and went back with me. He said "I have made quite a jam or hit." It was raised up like half a hen’s egg. I thought it had been made by a man’s fist. I also saw blood on the back of his head near the neck. I asked Brown what sized bullet he had shot him with and he said 32. He said he shot him in the breast.
On Friday morning Miss Addie Snyder was called to the stand for cross examination by the defense. She said she saw Mr. Brown all the time after the second shot but she did not see him go to the stoop after that shot.
Mrs. Snyder recalled: When I saw Brown he was down and Elliott was just getting up. I was watching Mr. Elliott part of the time and did not see all that Mr. Brown did.
Thomas Jones, of Blossburg, testified: I was in Blossburg on the 11th of last December. I was Mr. Brown’s place of business about 11 o’clock a.m. that day. No other persons but he and I were there. He was in the work shop at the back part. He put on his coat and left this place locking up the store. He went south in the direction of the house in question. He walked middling fast. He went in at the gate of the Welteroth house. I followed on behind him not very near him. I could not see him after he passed through the gate.
Cross-examined [Jones]: He put his coat on and went immediately out, did not stop to do anything.
Mr. E. A. Bryden being recalled said: the distance from the Welteroth house to B. Murray’s house is 104 feet.
Mrs. S. F. Elliott was called and said: I live at Canton. I am 60 years old. C. S. Elliott was my son. I was at Blossburg the evening of the day of the shooting.
Mrs. Charles M. Elliott testified: I reside at Blossburg. I am 24 years old. Mr. C. M. Elliott was my husband. We went to Blossburg one year ago last August. I was at Blossburg on the 11th of last December. I heard of the shooting about 11 o’clock a.m. I saw my husband at Dr. Glenn’s office. Dr. Palmer came after me. My husband was on the couch in the back room. They were removing the ball from my husband’s back. I remained there most of the time until his death. His children were brought there at his request. They are 6 and 4 years of age. He kissed them good bye. He died about an hour afterward. My husband had on dark clothes and a dark neck tie with light at the time of the shooting. I took charge of his clothing. We had been married 7 years prior.
The revolver used was placed in evidence. It is a self locking 32-claiber revolver with 7 chambers, two of which had been discharged and five were loaded.
S. P. White, Constable at Blossburg sworn: I took this revolver from the hand of George Brown about twenty minutes past eleven. Five chambers were loaded and two discharged. Witness showed the action of the revolver to be that of a self locking weapon. On the cross-examination he said Mr. Brown gave it to me voluntarily. After we got into the store Mr. Brown reached his hand back into his hip pocket and took out the revolver and said "Here, you had better take this and keep it."
H. J. Welteroth sworn: Before last December I lived at Blossburg. I am a tinsmith. I was in Mr. George Brown’s employ for 15 or 16 months.
Joseph Mitchell testified: I have lived in Blossburg some 17 years. Mr. Brown was in my place of business the night before the day of the shooting. He asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to rent a house. I asked, "What house have you got to rent?" and he said, "the Welteroth house", and I said, "Why Charles Elliott holds that house." Mr. Brown said, "No, I have the rental of that house." He said, "I have got possession of the property and my lawyer told me I could hold it if I could get peaceable possession." Brown further on told witness that he intended to hold the property either right or wrong.
Mr. Thomas Jones recalled: Prior to meeting Brown I went down past the Welteroth house and saw Mr. Elliott at the door. I went down and told Mr. Brown that Mr. Elliott has possession of the house and a couple of minutes after I told him that he (Brown) left the store.
Stephen Bowen testified: I live at Blossburg and was there the day of the shooting. I saw Mr. Brown between 11 and 12 o’clock on out Town bell. He came there and in reply to a question he said he had shot Elliott. I asked him how he came by the bunch on his forehead and he said Elliott had struck him with his fist. I heard the Justice tell the Constable to take charge of Brown and that he had shot a man.
E. H. Mosher corroborated Mr. Bowen’s testimony as to what Brown said.
A. M. Spencer, of Canoe Camp, testified: I know the defendant. I was in to see him once after he had been placed here in jail. He handed me a letter to carry or mail to Mr. Frank Kohler, who is a hardware merchant at Mansfield. I gave the letter to the Sheriff and saw it opened. It was written in ink, I think. I see now that it is in pencil I left it with the Sheriff, I heard it read.
Harry Baxter testified: I am Sheriff of this county. I received a certain letter recently from Mr. A. M. Spencer.
The letter being handed, the Sheriff then identified it by a private mark. Mr. Elliott, counsel for the defendant, objected to the letter being admitted in accordance on the ground that it related to an entirely separate offense—that of seeking to get rid of certain evidence which had already been given. The Court overruled the objection and the letter was admitted. The envelope was addressed: Mr. Frank Kohler, Mansfield, PA. The letter was read as follows part of it being omitted.
Brother Frank. I wish you would go up and make some arrangement with Andrews [?]…if Thomas Lewis could not be sent to [Kansas?] get a ticket from Cap. Bucker and if it is not used to be returned it might be worked up that way or have them get Alf Lewis, Thomas brother, [?] and if can be worked, Alf is owing me for a stove [?] or part of the debt, any way to get Thos. Lewis [?] as little money as can be but some will have to be used. Thos. is the worst witness [?] as his would not be as bad if he had not given his [?] and has got to stand to what he has said.
Now see what can be don’t. If H. Phelps wants any money send him to Rowland I do not know how he will work with Robinson whether it will be necessary to send him or not or else you might hire Thos. Lewis for a while to Clerk for you, get him down there then you can do what you have a mind with him send him where you have a mind to. I will pay you trouble and expense. Yours &c. Geo. Robt. [?] was here we had a talk.
Sheriff Baxter further testified: The oldest son to Mr. Brown was staying in jail with his father and when he came out I searched him and found another letter which is now given me for identification.
H. J. Welteroth recalled: I have seen defendant write quite often and am familiar with his signature.
Witness was handed the letter held by the Sheriff and partially identified that handwriting of the defendant, but not positively. Counsel for the defendant objected to the admission of the letter but it was admitted. The envelope was addressed "Mr. Frank Kohler, Mansfield, PA." The letter read as follows:
Brother Frank—I wrote you Saturday. Since I have been thinking the best way if possible for you to go to Bloss & here. Thos. Lewis for to Clerk for you for a while then send him West before he is [?] if you can, if not send him any way.
Mrs. Elliott has sold [?] and she going to move away so now there will not nearly be as much [?] him there.
Never mind the cost [?] it as cheap as you can. But that’s the cheapest way a [?] wants to be done still you can get the money of Kate of else get Thos. to admit as he said he was scared so that he will admit that he did not know whether he saw the revolver or not & if he does that then get Henry Allen to come in and hear him say it. Make money [?] or the other [?] & as soon as possible get it a going. Geo.
Frank Kohler testified: I live at Mansfield. Mr. Brown’s wife name is Kate.
The Commonwealth here rested and Court adjourned for dinner.
After dinner Henry Sherwood opened the case for the defense.
John C. Horton, of Blossburg, was called to testify to the correctness of a map which was introduced as evidence. From the stoop of the Welteroth house to the kitchen of the Murray hotel is 240 feet.
Dr. J. W. Glenn testified: I am a physician and surgeon. My office is 5 feet [?] in the Welteroth house. It was close to 11 o’clock when my attention was called to the shooting. I should judge there were 2 seconds between the shots. I saw Mr. Elliott coming towards my office. He passed me and went into the office and into my back room to the settee. He said he was going to faint. Brown was looking on when I made the examination and saw it all. I told Brown to go for Palmer and he went right away. Brown suggested about going for another physician first then I told him to go.
Counsel for the defendant offered William Thompson as a witness, but the Commonwealth objected to his admission because his unbelief.
George Morgan was called to testify to Thompson a competency and said: I believe in a hereafter in a future punishment and in a God. I know William Thompson and have heard him say he did not believe in a God, heaven or hell.
Counsel for defendant then withdrew Thompson for the time being.
Dr. Glenn was recalled and a screwdriver was handed to him. He said he first saw it on the window in his office near the settee where Elliott lay. Witness found it the next morning after the difficulty. Placing the screw driver under his coat so that it stuck out witness said. That is the way Elliott looked when he passed me. I cannot say if this screwdriver caused his coat to stick out or not.
Cross-examined [Glenn]: I found the screwdriver on moving the settee. I think Elliott had his hat on when I saw him, when he passed me. I saw the initials C M E when I found the screwdriver. I saw him have his neck tie on. It was a short one.
Dr. Phebe Rogers testified. I heard shots fired. I was in Dr. Glenn’s office. I should judge that there was two seconds between the two shots. Mr. Brown followed Lewis into the back office of Dr. Glenn. I noticed he had a large bunch on his forehead nearly as large as a small hen’s egg. I have seen the screwdriver before. Dr. Glenn showed it to me the day following the shooting.
Dr. Glenn recalled: I noticed a bunch on Brown’s head.
S. P. White was recalled and identified the screwdriver as the same one give in to his custody.
Joseph Allen also identified the screwdriver.
Mrs.—Bunn testified: I was at the house where Mrs. Snyder lives and was standing to the right of the glass door and heard both shots. Not over 5 seconds intervened between the two shots. I went out on the stoop and saw both Brown and Elliott were on their feet. Both were starting for the gate. I afterward saw Brown going down the street from Dr. Glenn’s office. I noticed a big bunch on Brown’s head, about the size of half of a hen’s egg. I noticed it because his hat was not down on his head. I also noticed blood on the back of his head.
Cross-examined [Bunn]: I saw something flexible in his hand, could not say what it was.
Mrs. Snyder recalled: Mr. Elliott went out of the gate and around to Dr. Glenn’s office. Brown followed in the same direction. I saw Brown come out of the office and go down the street, and soon he came back with Dr. Palmer.
H. P. Erwin, of Blossburg, was called and shown a shoemaker’s iron instrument called an "iron heel" which he identified as the one he had picked up in the yard of the Welteroth house. It was on the ground on the north side of the house, and was picked up on the day of the shooting.
Thomas Hall testified: I saw the iron heel before Mr. Erwin did and called his attention to it. It was lying on the ground between the board walk and the porch.
Cross-examined [Hall]: There were quite a number of people around. It was between 11 and 12 o’clock of the day of the shooting.
J. P. Monell testified that he found the iron heel and drew Mr. Hall’s attention to it. It was lying about a foot from the stoop on the ground.
R. B. Freeman, Justice of the Peace at Blossburg, testified that the iron heel was placed in his possession by H. P. Erwin about 11:30 and after the defendant had delivered himself up.
Mr. A. R. Shattuck was called and said he was working for C. M. Elliott, at Blossburg. The heel shown is part of an iron jack. I do not know to whom it belongs. I never saw it before. It is a shoemaker’s tool. I saw it yesterday. I had not seen it in Mr. Elliott’s store or shop.
Joseph Hyland testified: I saw Mr. Elliott about 8 o’clock in the morning go south from his own store door. I saw something in his hand—an iron which is used to flatten down heels. The witness stated that the iron handed him was similar to the one he saw in Elliott’s hand that morning. Witness is a carpenter and was working on a building near Elliott’s store when he saw Elliott that morning.
On cross examination the witness said that Elliott showed him the iron heel by putting his hand out with the iron in it as he caught sight of the witness.
Dr. W. W. Webb, of Wellsboro, testified: Dr. Thompson and myself examined Mr. Brown’s head in the jail the day after he came here. The wound had the appearance of the head having been hit by some hard substance—as if some one had struck his head upon the sidewalk or a stone. In my judgment the wound upon the forehead was not made by a fist.
R. B. Freeman recalled: I saw George Brown in the Town Hall about 11:15 after the shooting. He came in towards me and I observed his condition. There was a bunch on his forehead. I saw his coat was soiled on the back with dirt. He placed himself in the seat behind me and said, "I give myself up. I have shot a man." Mr. Morgan asked him who he had shot and he said "Charles Elliott". He (Brown) said, "He was pounding me and I shot him." This was the first I had heard of the affair.
Dr. C. R. Thompson, of Wellsboro, testified: I found a bunch on Mr. Brown’s forehead. It extended out somewhat. I hardly think the bunch came from a blow of a man’s fist.
At the opening of the Court on Saturday morning, DeWitt C. Robinson was called by the defense for further cross-examination. He said: I am acquainted with Samuel O. Putnam. I did not tell him that I did not see the pistol in Brown’s hand before Elliott struck him. I did not tell Josiah Harding that Elliott jerked the door open and struck Brown. The shots were not very far apart.
Josiah Harding testified: I live at Covington and know DeWitt C. Robinson. I have talked to him about this affair. Robinson told me that Brown came to the door and tried to get in and that Elliott then jerked the door open and struck Brown.
James Talleff testified: I know Robinson. I heard Robinson say that he did not know where the revolver was when Brown was standing in the door.
Cross examined: I asked Robinson if Brown came there with the revolver in his hand and Robinson answered he did not know.
Samuel O. Putnam sworn: I asked Robinson if he saw the revolver in Brown’s hand before Elliott struck him. He said " I cannot say positively." The statement was made two weeks ago yesterday in my barn.
James S. Ryon, a Constable at Blossburg, was called and said: I was acquainted with C. M. Elliott. Mr. Elliott was a large heavy man. I think he would weigh from 190 to 200 pounds. He was broad chested. I should think George Brown would weigh 150 pounds. I should think Elliott was from 35 to 40 years old and Brown about 38 years old.
The defense offered to show the character of the deceased, that he was a man of bad reputation, of quarrelsome disposition and on the habit of carrying deadly weapons. This was objected to by counsel for the Commonwealth on the grounds of incompetency. The question was argued at great length by counsel and numerous authorities were cited. The Court sustained the objections showing the general bad character of C. M. Elliott, but overruled it as to any recent information received by the defendant as to the deceased being armed or in possession of deadly weapons prior to the time of the shooting.
William Thompson, who was the day before withdrawn on account of testimony showing his belief, was placed upon the stand and in answer to a question asked by the Court said he would consider an oath as binding on his consequence. He said he believed in a God and in a state of future rewards and punishments. He was then sworn and testified: I stood on the day in question, a little south of the porch of the Welteroth house in the road. I heard the report of a revolver and turned around and took one step north and saw Mr. Elliott and Mr. Brown down on the ground. Mr. Elliott was bent over Mr. Brown. I saw Mr. Elliott strike two blows. The shots were from 3 to 5 seconds apart. I do not know if the blows hit Brown or not. Elliott afterward got up and went to Dr. Glenn’s office and Brown followed Elliott into the office. I heard Mr. Brown say, "Some one go for a doctor". I noticed a bunch on Brown’s forehead and saw blood in front and behind his ear.
At the opening of the afternoon session Alonzo Aylesworth was sworn. He testified: I was in front of the J. Aylesworth’s house, 100 feet from the Welteroth house about 9 o’clock on the morning of the shooting. I saw C. M. Elliott on the stoop of the house in question and Shattuck on the walk in front of the house. I heard Elliott say to Shattuck, "Come in and don’t be a d—d fool and a coward. I have a boot heel in my pocket."
Joseph Hyland recalled: I had a conversation with the defendant some time last August regarding Elliott’s carrying arms or dangerous weapons and using them. I told the defendant that Elliott was in the habit of carrying arms.
Lucy Aylesworth testified: I live at Blossburg. I heard of the affair about 11 o’clock. I saw Mr. Brown that day. I heard the shots. It was about 15 to 20 minutes after the shots that he came to his home. I was there when he came. He had a very large bunch on his forehead, about the size of a hen’s egg. Blood was running from it and blood was on the back of his head near his ear. His face was muddy. Mr. White, the Constable, went away with him about 11:30.
The iron boot heel was offered into evidence.
William Thompson recalled: I never told George Morgan that I did not believe in God, heaven or hell.
Twenty seven witnesses including: B. J. Guernsey, T. B. Anderson, Henry Hollands, R. B. Freeman, W. L. Richards, A. T. James, Rev. F. K .Fowler and others of Blossburg. Thomas Keefe, Matthew Waddell, W. R. Gilmore and Robert Martin, of Morris Run. Philip Williams, N. A. Elliott, A. M. Pitts and others of Mansfield. A. M. Spencer, of Canoe Camp and Associate Judge Lamkin of Covington, were called to testify to the defendant’s good character.
With the conclusion of this evidence the defense rested and the case was closed so far as the taking of testimony was concerned. The Court then at about 4 o’clock adjourned until 9 o’clock Monday morning.
The entire session of the Court yesterday was devoted to the summing up by counsel. Mr. Packer opened for the prosecution and he was followed by Mr. Niles for the defense. After dinner Mr. Niles made his plea for the defendant and Maj. Merrick closed with an argument for the Commonwealth. Each of these speeches was an ingenious and effective presentation of the case from the speaker’s stand point. At the conclusion of Maj. Merrick’s argument the Court adjourned until 9 o’clock Tuesday morning.
As the Agitator goes to press this morning Judge Williams is delivering his charge to the jury. It is thought the jury will not agree upon a verdict before tonight or tomorrow morning.
February 10, 1885
Mr. George H. Brown, after being acquitted last Wednesday for the shooting of Charles M. Elliott at Blossburg, returned to his home the same afternoon. The Blossburg Register says that Brown at once took to his bed and will probably remain there some time, and the severe mental strain proving too much for his constitution.
February 10, 1885
We notice that the Mansfield paper talks about the "treachery of the Sheriff" in the Brown case. The fact is that the Sheriff did his simple duty in that case, as he has in every other case, so far as we have ever heard.
March 3, 1885
Mr. George H. Brown, of Blossburg, has so far recovered from his nervous prostration incident to the recent trial as to be able to attend to his hardware business again in that borough.
Other News items concerning George H. Brown
June 2, 1885
Mr. George Brown, of Blossburg, is assisting Mr. Frank Kohler in his hardware store.
December 22, 1885
The Blossburg Register says that last week
Monday evening about ten o’clock Mr. George H. Brown went to his barn to
look after his horses and carried a hand lamp from the house. He made a
misstep and fell from the loft into a manger of hay. The oil from the lamp
flew out up on the hay, and in less time than it takes to tell it the barn
was all ablaze. Mr. Brown, although being badly burned about the face,
arms and hands, and his whiskers and eyelashes being scorched off, at once
liberated his horses and cow, and these together with a couple of wagons
and one stove were all the property saved. The barn with a quantity of
hay and oats and three or four new stoves were totally destroyed and also
a small barn on E. J. Bosworth’s premises, standing within a few feet which
was unoccupied. The fire department responded promptly and succeeded in
saving the surrounding buildings. Mr. Brown’s loss is $125 and he had no
insurance. Mr. Bosworth had no insurance and his loss is nearly $100.
Other news items concerning Charles M. Elliott
January 13, 1885
Messrs. G. W Ingalls & Co. have purchased the shoe store of the late Charles M. Elliott, at Blossburg.
Mrs. Charles M. Elliott, of Blossburg, has purchased a house and lot at Canton, Bradford County, for the sum of $900, and will hereafter reside in that village.
Estate of Charles M. Elliott, deceased, --Letters of administration on the estate of Charles M. Elliott, late of Blossburg, Tioga County, PA, deceased, have been granted to E. J. Cleveland, Esq., of Canton, Bradford County, PA, to whom all persons indebted to said estate are requested to make payment and those having claims or demands will make known the same without delay. E. J. Cleveland, Administrator. Canton, PA, Dec. 23, 1884.
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