Monday, April 26, 2010

Drunken Brawler, Yes; Murderer, No

(Click on images to enlarge)
Advertisement from the Hobart Gazette of December 14, 1906.

As saloon stories go, this is a sad one. I'm assuming it is a saloon story, because it involved Ainsworth and it involved liquor.

George Young, whom we've already met, spent Saturday, October 6, 1906, in Hobart on business matters. Toward evening he set out for home. Since his farm lay south of Ainsworth, he had to pass through the village, and like others before him, he wasn't able to get through without stopping.

Duffy DeFrance happened to be in Ainsworth that evening, too. George and Duffy were well acquainted, since they both were active members of the Odd Fellows and the Foresters.

They had always been on good terms before, but somehow this evening things went sour. Witnesses said that "both men were under the influence of liquor." A fight broke out between them, earnest and brutal, and by the time it was over the 54-year-old George had been "quite severely pounded" by Duffy, some 25 years his junior.

George was taken home, where his only daughter, Carrie, had been keeping house for him since his divorce, and Dr. Richard Mackey was called in.

Dr. Mackey found George in alarmingly serious condition. He attended him throughout Sunday, and by Monday morning he believed his patient was beyond saving. And, indeed, George died at 3:00 Monday afternoon.

At about that time Duffy was in Hammond, consulting with attorney Joseph Conroy. When he came back to Hobart that evening, he was met by Marshal Young of Crown Point, who was armed with a warrant for his arrest on charges of assault, attempt to kill and murder. The Marshal, accompanied by several other men, took Duffy to Crown Point to appear before Judge Harry Nicholson. A preliminary trial was scheduled for later that week, and Duffy was released on $20,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mackey, assisted by Dr. Cyrus Bulhand of Hobart, performed a postmortem on George. They concluded that his death resulted from "inflammation of the bowels, the small intestines and one lobe of the liver being badly congested." On Tuesday evening, the County Coroner went to George's home with four other doctors, who performed a second postmortem and agreed upon acute peritonitis as the cause of death.

The preliminary trial took place on October 10, and the State made a poor showing. First of all, the eyewitnesses had toned down their statements — it isn't reported exactly what was said, but apparently the two "telephone men" who had seen the fight placed less blame on Duffy in court than they had during the investigation. Secondly, while the doctors all essentially agreed on peritonitis as the cause of death, none of them could give a definite cause for the peritonitis. They could not testify under oath that "death was due to any kicks or pounding administered by Mr. DeFrance."

Nonetheless, Judge Nicholson considered the evidence sufficient to set the case for trial by the Circuit Court. Duffy was again released on $20,000 bond.

The final trial was held on November 30, 1906. The State made an even worse showing this time. The two eyewitnesses had left Indiana and did not testify. Other witnesses were called, but they could not make a case. After brief deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

♦    ♦    ♦

George W. Young
George W. Young (from the Lake County Encyclopedia).

A little bit about George: he was born in Porter County on February 25, 1852, to David L. and Lovina (Guernsey) Young. His parents farmed in Lake County; his father also carried mail and kept a hotel in Hobart.

When he was about 24, George moved to Chicago. He stayed there for the next 11 years, working in the ice business. After selling his business, he returned to Hobart in 1887 and briefly kept a saloon, then moved to the farm south of Ainsworth where he spent the remainder of his life.

In 1876 he had married Susan S. Cunningham. They had six children: Carrie, George, Delbert, Harry, Louie, and Joseph (who had died before his father). Susan died in October 1890. Two years later George married Ophelia, his brother's widow. They had one son, Isaac.

He is buried in the Guernsey cemetery. I don't know where that is.

♦ "Duffy DeFrance Acquitted." Hobart Gazette 7 Dec. 1906.
♦ "Geo. W. Young Died From Accident." Hobart Gazette 12 Oct. 1906.
♦ "Obituary." Hobart Gazette 12 Oct. 1906.
WWI Draft Cards.


"swooz" said...

Just fyi--Geo. W. Young is interred at a small family cemetery of Youngs and Guernseys on W 38 S off of S. Co. Line Road in Porter Co. His mother was a Guernsey, as you know. He lies next to his first wife, Susan under a very ornate headstone.

Ainsworthiana said...

Thanks for the information! Some day when I have time, I ought to go find that cemetery.