Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Man Who Shot Mayor Richards

Photo: Mayor John Richards

Excerpts from the book, "The Man Who Shot Mayor Richards" by Carl L. Stanton.

Probably the most notorious event in Bunker Hill occurred in 1897, when Fenwick Y. Hedley, editor of the Gazette news, shot and killed John R. Richards, the city's mayor.  The story was sensationalized by big-city newspapers and the rival Bunker Hill News.  It was mentioned but briefly in the Gazette issues of 1897 and 1898, as one would suppose.

John R. Richards, Mayor of Bunker Hill was shot by Fenwick Y. Hedley.  The dead man, a bachelor, was 64 years of age. His assailant, who is now in jail at Carlinville, where he was taken at his own request to escape the threatened vengeance of a mob, was 50.

Mr. Hedley was married ten years ago to Miss Sanborne of St. Louis.

A woman was the cause of the tragedy.  Her name is Helen Alice Brown, she is is 26 years old.  She lives with her parents at the Monument House, of which her father is the landlord.  The direct cause of the tragedy was jealousy.

Photo: Fenwick Hedley

For several years, Mr. Hedley was organist of the Bunker Hill Congregational Church.  He was occupying this position when Miss Brown became the soprano.  Both interested in the world of medley, they grew to be interested in one another and a warm attachment was the result.  That this existed is admitted by the prisoner's relatives and friends, by those who where intimate with the Mayor and by the father and mother of the young woman.

Mr. Richards was infatuated with Miss Brown.  He had begged her to marry him, entreated her parents, and then had threatened her.  Richards accused Hedley of preventing the marriage and enmity between the men was the talk of the village.

The assault that had such a tragic ending was the third within six months.  In January, Hedley was knocked down by the jealous lover.  The attack was repeated in May, soon after Richards was elected mayor and yesterday came the third and to the striker the fatal blow, for the editor was prepared.

Shortly before noon yesterday Capt. Hedley, he was a captain in the Civil War, visited the G.A.R. Post in Bunker Hill, and he went there to sign a paper which had been issued at a meeting the night before.  Having done this, he walked downstairs and entered the store for a chat with James McPherson, the proprietor.  While they were talking the noon-day whistle blew.  A young woman came out of the Mayor's office and walked down the street.  She was Helen Alice Brown, who worked there as a stenographer.  She bowed to Mr. Hedley, who at this time was standing on the pavement.  She had gone but half a block when Mr. McPherson caught Hedley by the arm and exclaimed: "Look out, there comes Richards, and he had blood in his eyes."  "I am ready for him now" was all Hedley said.

The Mayor approached walking rapidly.  The editor stood still on the pavement.  The two were within reach of hands when the Mayor said: "Why don't you speak when you meet me on the street, Hedley"?  The reply was not overheard by those nearby.  It was followed by a blow delivered by Richards.

There was a cry from McPherson, "Look out!"  Hedley had a revolver and was taking steady aim.  Richard's hand reached into his hip pocket.  Still the editor did not fire.  The Mayor withdrew the hand empty.  He stooped down and seemed to be reaching for some plow points lying on the sidewalk.

Two shots in quick succession rang out and the Mayor staggered.  With an effort he started after Hedley who was walking rapidly up the street.  He shouted, "Coward, you coward."  Just then a cry was heard.  It was a woman's scream and those who had witnessed the tragedy looked down the street and saw Helen Alice Brown.

They carried the Mayor to his residence and Dr. Bley and Milton were summoned.  The Mayor had left instructions but a month before to telegraph at one a Dr. Mudd in St. Louis if ever he as seriously hurt or ill.

At 2 o'clock, Dr. H. H. Mudd, in St. Louis received the telegram from Bunker Hill urging his attendance, as the Mayor had been shot.  The train arrived at 4 o'clock.  A hasty examination showed the surgeon that the bullet wound was in the right side, just above the hip and had cut some of the vital organs.  The other wound, in the arm, was not of consequence.  An attempt was made to sew up the wound, but it was futile.  Dr. Mudd said nothing could save the patient.

The was the last testimony on the defense and the case was given into the hands of the attorneys.  Stirring and convincing speeches were made by both prosecution and the defense.  Thursday evening at 10:30 o'clock, the case was submitted to the jury.  Returns were brought yesterday morning at the opening of court.  The verdict read not guilty.

After his acquittal, Hedley divorced his wife and he and Miss Brown went to live in St. Louis.

In the Nov. 8, 1898 issue of the Bunker Hill News: "With the Marriage of Fenwick Y. Hedley and Miss Brown, the finishing touches have been added to probably the most romantic as well as one of the most sensational affairs that ever involved men and women in real life."

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, January 3, 2013.

Carl L. Stanton. "Newspaper and personal accounts of the 1897 shooting of Mayor J. R. Richards of Bunker Hill, Illinois by the editor of the local newspaper" In The Man Who Shot Mayor Richards, 2003. Provided by the Bunker Hill IL Historical Society.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bunker Hill Song - Nelson D. Sweeny

Photo: Rev. Nelson D. Sweeny - Bunker Hill Song Author

Verse 1:
We have a splendid city with a good old fashioned name, -
A name which stirs the loyal heart with patriotic flame. -
Old Glory floats above the stand to music by our Legion Band, -
While Lincoln's statue lifts his hand, proclaiming freedom through the land. -
Our shady streets and pretty homes convince the visitor who comes,
A home in this fair city is the thing he'd like to claim. -

Verse 2:
Those stylish suits from Sessel's make you look like millionaires, -
Jacoby furnishes our homes with rugs and easy chairs, -
Gosch fits the feet with shoes so neat, Suedel has goods that can't be beat. -
Emery and Dillard's wares are sweet, Jim Highfill feeds us classy meat. -
First National's a trusty bank,
No wonder Bunker Hill takes rank,
Way up in G for that is the truth, everyone declares. -

Verse 3:
Ed Bauser's coal will warm you, so you will never get "cold feet". -
Our Creamery makes butter that we all delight to eat. -
Welch makes the groc'ry bus'ness spin, Klinefetters bargains bring them in. -
Jacobi's hardware "gets your tin", Gerdt's millinery all does win. -
Van Horn and Best, the place to treat,
Take bitter pills or sundaes sweet,
Come on lets go we have a great old town that can't be beat.

Bunker Hill, in good old Illinois, -
Hear the shouts of happy girls and boys. -
City of homes, churches and schools,
Sorrows depart and happiness rules.
Hooray! For the best old town in the U.S.A.
I'd like to live here forever and a day
If you want to be jolly and see a good show,
Go to the Opera House with William Fahrenkrog.
If rest and quiet is the lot you would choose,
Sit in your big arm chair and read the Gazette News, Bunker Gazette News.

Copyright 1923 by Nelson D. Sweeny, Bunker Hill, Illinois

Nelson Sweeny was born in 1868 and died in 1948.  For a time he was Minister at the Bunker Hill Methodist Church.  He was also an author.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 27, 2012.  

Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Photo: Moses True - Bunker Hill's Co-Founder

Moses True was born in Salisbury, NH, August 30, 1805.  He moved to Maine in 1823 where he worked in a grocery store.  In 1828, he secured a position as captain of a canal boat in New York.

On October 11, 1831, in New Hampshire, he married Ursula Pettingill.  During the summer of 1834, Moses and Ursula decided to come west.  They came by prairie schooner from Franklin, New Hampshire to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and portage by boat down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri, where they arrived on December 11, 1835.

Moses went to inspect the land which is now Bunker Hill, on December 25, 1835.  After Moses looked over the property, the following day he and John Tilden went to Edwardsville to the land office and purchased 3,000 acres of land at $2.00 an acre.  At the time, the land here was in the North West Territory and the Land Office in Edwardsville was the only place land could be purchased.  He went back to St. Louis and returned with Ursula on February 20, 1836.

Now that the land was available, True and Tilden put up a building where the weary traveler could get a meal and a nights lodging.  The stage coach route from St. Louis to Springfield, Illinois went past the tavern as it was called (not from the sale of liquor, but from a place to stay) and there was a continual flow of travelers coming and going.

Photo: Moses True Home - South Franklin St.

In 1839, the partners divided the acres purchased.  Moses took the southeast one-fouth, Luke Knowlton, the southwest one-fourth, Tilden, the northwest one-fourth, and Smith, the northeast one-fourth.  Shortly after this division, Moses built the two story brick house on South Franklin Street which had twelve rooms and a three story tower.  Moses sold the land to settlers at $3.50 per acre.

 On August 11, 1842 Ursula died.  On January 9, 1843, Moses went to New Hampshire and brought home another wife, Sarah White, who died in 1845.

In 1846, Moses married Nancy Clark of St. Louis.  From this marriage there was one child, a son, James Clark True.  Nancy True died in October 11, 1875.

In 1876, Moses married Betsy George.  After some discussion, Betsy told Moses that she would marry him if he could send his son to some other location.  James Clark True was 30 years old and Betsy was 38 years old and it seemed to her that they were too close to the same age to be living in the same home.  On February 3, 1877, a daughter, Mary George True was born.  Moses True died on February 22, 1878.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 20, 2012.   

A Hard Road Through Bunker Hill

When the first homesteaders came to Bunker Hill, there were no roads as we think of them today.  You would just go out in the direction of your destination and go across country.  Over time, certain paths and trails were more heavily traveled and became the early roads.  There was no organized maintenance of these roads.  In dry weather, the dust was six to eight inches deep and in wet weather getting stuck in the mud was inevitable.  After many years of traveling this way, residents of the community began to complain.

The town council, for the purpose of keeping streets, alleys, and highways in repair, was authorized and empowered to require every able bodied male over twenty-one years of age and under fifty to labor on streets, any number of days not exceeding three in each year.

When the practice of oiling roads started, the neighbors would chip in and oil the roads.  This job was not done mechanically, but was done by manual labor.  In 1923, the city began to oil the streets.  The roads and city streets were very messy and the oil ran off the dust like water.

In 1925, Senator A. Cuthbertson, who was a former merchant and resident of Bunker Hill, initiated the idea of a hard road to the area that would replace the old stage coach road running north and south through town.

The road work started in Bunker Hill in 1927.  One problem that had arisen was that the state wanted to take the Lincoln Statue out when the road was put in, however, popular sentiment won out and the road was built around the statue instead.

Workers who helped on the road used over one hundred mules to haul materials to construct the foundation.  After the foundation was finished, the concrete was poured and smoothed.

In 1928, there was a big celebration to celebrate the opening of the hard road.  The old stage coach that had run the route through here on the Springfield and St. Louis route from 1822-1850 was brought here from Edwardsville for the celebration.

The final touches were made and the new Route 112 was finished in the early 1930's.  A few years after the route was completed, the hard road's name was changed to Route 159.  The highway is still a two-lane road as it has been for eighty plus years, but has been resurfaced and widened to fit present day needs.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 13, 2012.   

Wolf Ridge to Bunker Hill

If you had been one of those early settlers back in 1835-1836, the landscape would be very different.  You could stand at the top of the "hill" between what is now the flagpole and the Lincoln Statue, look in any direction, and see nothing but wide open prairie.  There might have been two or three buildings in the town, but the only trees would be far in the distance along the creek banks.

There were those who claimed you could look off to the northeast and not see a tree between here and Bayless Point, which was in the vicinity of Dorchester, just the prairie grass was covering the plains being blown by a breeze giving the appearance of waves on the ocean.

The site of the town of Bunker Hill was once known to the early settlers of Macoupin County as Wolf Ridge.  It was thus named because wolves lived in the area.  Some of their dens were located in the vicinity where United Community Bank and Dr. Belcher's office are - on the SE corner of N. Washington and Fayette Street.

The choice of the name, Bunker Hill, was not due to the existence of any great elevation, but rather to the fact that there is a hill here somewhat like that upon which the famous battle of the Revolution was fought and because those who gave the name came from a section of country in which Bunker Hill was familiar and held in great reverence.

The earliest inhabitants of the community of whom we have any knowledge were the Peoria, Kickapoo, and Winnebago Indians, who established an encampment near North Washington Street and West Morgan Street.  Another location was northeast of Bunker Hill near the Millville School area.

On their wandering north and south, they were accustomed to stopping here near a large spring for water, but with the advent of the white settlers, the red men disappeared and the last of them were seen was in the year 1826 when five wigwams, which stood at the head of the Wood River, were pulled down and they left for the country farther west.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 6, 2012.

--Cite this story: Redford, Carol, and Betty Triplett. "Bunker Hill History." In Reflections: A History of the Bunker Hill-Woodburn Area, 5. Bunker Hill: Bunker Hill Publications, 1993. Provided by the Bunker Hill Historical Society.