MURDER TRIAL, A. B. ELLIOTT.
A Thrilling Tale of Love, Romance, and Murder That Reads Like a Novel!
A Questionable Lover Gets a Double Dose of Turkey Shot
Administered By An Outraged Pa.
Instant Murder of Dr. Chastain by A. B. Elliott at Dexter.—His Heart Perforated.
A Much Married Southerner Whom Gentle Woman’s Charms Were Death.
The Murderer, A Wealthy Farmer and Old Settler, Gives Himself Up.
OUR SCRIBE ON THE SCENE.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, March 25, 1886.
The third love tragedy for Cowley County since last fall has been enacted. Monday at five o’clock p.m., Jim Nichols came in from Dexter with the intelligence that A. B. Elliott, a wealthy farmer and old settler of Dexter township, had put a double charge of shot into the breast of his daughter’s questionable lover, Dr. W. M. Chastain. Sheriff G. H. McIntire and Deputy Joe Church, who happened to be here from Dexter, left immediately for the scene, followed closely by Coroner Wells, Assistant County Attorney Lovell H. Webb, and THE COURIER scribe. At the home of George Dunlap, the victim’s boarding place, lay the body of Dr. Chastain, with his left breast in a jelly from a heavy charge of turkey shot.
was not unexpected. Chastain, since moving to Dexter, has clandestinely wound in the meshes of his love, Alma Elliott, the seventeen year old daughter of A. B. Elliott. Chastain came to Dexter from Cloverdale, fourteen miles northeast of Dexter, in Chautauqua County, accompanied by a bad odor as regarded the fair sex. Mr. Elliott investigated the matter, determined beyond a doubt that Chastain had a wife elsewhere, and determined to break the enchantment of his daughter, who had always gone with her enamorer without her parents’ consent. So Elliott sent his daughter to Benton, Arkansas, where she had a sister. A few days after, Chastain disposed of all his property in Dexter and took the train, obviously for California. He went straight to Arkansas. Now the
WAR OPENED IN EARNEST
and Elliott hurried to Arkansas and brought his daughter home. She had only been gone three weeks. The father and daughter arrived home last Thursday at noon. They took a round-about route by mistake, and in the meantime Chastain returned to Benton from two weeks at his old home, Elgay, Georgia, and finding the girl gone, set out after her, coming direct and reaching Dexter the evening of the day Elliott and the girl got home. The father was outraged at the dogmatic persistency of Chastain and still more so when the report came to him from his son-in-law at Benton, that Chastain swore Elliott must die, and perhaps he (Chastain) would have to clean out the whole family. Such threats also reached Elliott’s ears at home, after his return. The girl and Chastain hadn’t met or communicated since the return from Arkansas, though Chastain had repeatedly tried. He had told her that any time, while he was passing the house, if she wanted to elope, to come out and he would see that she got away. Yesterday at one o’clock, for the third or fourth time since last Thursday, he passed the house, which is only fifty feet from the road and a hundred feet from a little plank bridge across a slough that runs down to the Grouse through Elliott’s farm. He was riding Joe Church’s horse. Elliott saw him pass. Taking his
SHOTGUN IN HAND,
and with a revolver on his person, unbeknown to his family, he went down to the bridge and concealing himself under it, waited for Chastain to come back, which was in less than half an hour. There were no witnesses, excepting Bill Culp, who saw the smoke from a distance, and we have only
very recently told. “When Chastain was in twenty feet of the bridge, with my shotgun resting against the abutment, two feet from me, I stepped out and halted him. ‘Is that so what you said about me—that you were going to kill me?’ Like a flash he reached into his side pocket, as he said, ‘You g d d n s n of a b !’ and I saw his revolver. I grabbed my gun and fired. I didn’t have time to aim. I was in ten feet of him and he threw up his hands and fell backward off his horse, without a word.” One of Chastain’s feet caught in the stirrup and with a bound, the horse dragged him about forty feet, when he stopped, and parties soon came. They found Chastain dead. Elliott, without waiting to see the effects of his shot, darted under the bridge and down the gulch to the timber. Getting under a ledge of rock on the bank of Grouse Creek, he piled rocks around himself and prepared a fortress in anticipation of trouble from the crowd whom he knew were hunting him. On the arrival of Sheriff McIntire and Deputy Church, they continued the search, with precision. About 9 o’clock, as Sheriff McIntire and Joe Church were returning to the house, they ran into Elliott lying flat in the corn field less than thirty steps from the house. “Who’s there?” asked Elliott. “The Sheriff,” was the reply. “All right, here I am. I’ve been working my way to the house to give up. Is he dead?” Being answered, “Yes,” he said: “Bully, Bully! I’m ready to die now. They can swing me up or do anything they want to.” He was disarmed and taken to the house, where he remained overnight under charge of Deputy Church. At 9 o’clock this morning Sheriff McIntire started to Winfield with the prisoner, who is now in jail awaiting the preliminary, when, if the case is bailable, there are a number of men ready to go on his bond.
Dr. W. M. Chastain was a fine looking young man, six feet tall, straight and showing every mark of refinement. His culture and personal attractiveness were the remark of every acquaintance. He was a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and was twenty-six years old the first day of March. His father was at one time a member of the Georgia senate and later entered the Baptist ministry, and now has a charge at Elgay, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The father has been married three times and this son was the only child of the second wife. The Doctor was a graduate of the Georgia Literary and Medical College, and was exceptionably bright in many ways. As he told several intimates at Dexter, his exit from Atlanta was precipitate, and was related as an explanation of the story that he was married. Six years ago he got into a row, caused, he said, by a slander on the name of his two months’ dead mother. He disemboweled the slanderer over a butcher’s block with a steak knife; and nerving himself with whiskey, fled, passing the home of a girl with whom he long associated. She wanted to fly with him, and he took her. They came directly to Cloverdale, in which small place he began the practice of medicine and succeeded well. Three children were born to him. Finally, he learned that the man he thought murdered had recovered, and then he took this supposed wife back to her home and left her, returning to Cloverdale. Then he went in for another conquest, and paid many attention to Mrs. Tom Blakely, who moved with her husband to Dexter last fall a year ago. Chastain followed, and with a few thousand dollars competency traded in stock, etc., paying little or no attention to his profession. His Southern aristocracy and arrogance were pretty well tempered by a genial conversation and very slick ways. Here his attentions to Mrs. Blakely, who lived with her father, R. B. Noble, and at whose place Chastain boarded, became so flagrant that Blakely “got up and got.” Then Mr. Noble ordered him off the place. Chastain was exasperated and swore that he would go there if he had to walk over Noble’s dead body, and only by the interference of George Dunlap, who caught Chastain’s drawn revolver, was a shooting bee avoided. But Chastain quit going there and for a few months his female career was silent. He boarded last summer at the Central hotel and was never known to be without a revolver in his hip pocket, and slept with one under his head. The last time he went to Atlanta, just before coming to Dexter the last time, he brought home with him an affidavit of the officials of his home town, saying he was a single man and of good character; also another certificated, signed by 140 citizens down there, to the same effect. Dexterites were inclined to pronounce these forgeries, especially since Elliott and other parties had letters from Atlanta stating that Chastain had a wife and three children. They didn’t show well in the face of a deed to property sold to J. V. Hines, just before Chastain left for Arkansas. Hines refused to accept the deed without the signature of the Doctor’s wife. The Doctor said he had no wife legally; but last Friday it came back signed “Mary E. Chastain.” Since coming home from Arkansas, Chastain said Elliott had told in Benton that the Doctor would never come back to Dexter—he would kill him if he did. And that he was here, and there would be a funeral Monday (yesterday). Everybody understood that Chastain was desperately enamored of Alma Elliott. He swore he would have her or die. On one occasion, the only time he was ever at Elliott’s house, he went to Elliott to ask him for his daughter. Elliott refused to let him in; told him he would give his daughter to the commonest man of honor and holy love, but he would not sacrifice her for a scoundrelly libertine whose only ambition was lust. This made Chastain desperate. On his person yesterday, after the murder, were found two revolvers, a colts in belt and bull-dog in his hip pocket, and the Smith & Wesson which Elliott declares he pulled. It was in the road behind him. Also found was a deposit check on the First National Bank, of Winfield, for $1,100. It is thought Chastain had money loaned out. He had $113 in cash on his person.
This morning the scribe called at the home of Mr. Elliott, who refused to talk. The home is a two story frame farm house denoting well-to-do occupants. The mother and daughter appeared in the sitting room, showing plainly the signs of a terrible grief. The mother is a sensible woman, conscientious, considerate, and is almost prostrate from this awful tragedy. Alma, the central figure in this dark romance, is the personification of the idea of “sweet sixteen,” though a year older. With small, blithe form, weighing about one hundred, raven hair and dark, liquid eyes, smooth features, and rather good complexion—she is what many would call quite pretty. A lack of maturity and an adventurous and rather giddy temperament are apparent. She shows a fair education and is a good talker. Warned by her mother to tell the whole truth,
“Last fall a year ago I came home from Pomona, a small town near Ottawa, where I had been living with my sister, Mrs. A. M. Wheat, who has since moved to Benton, Arkansas, and going to school. Soon after I met Dr. Chastain at a boating party down at the creek. We didn’t say much then. In a day or two I got a letter from him saying that he was smitten and would like to come to see me, and if he couldn’t do that, he would like to write to me. I like to flirt with the boys, and with this intention I answered, telling him it was not best to try to come to see me now, but that I would write. His letters were nice—well written and composed, and I got deeply interested. I met him at different places, but we didn’t go together. Pa found out I was writing and told me to never let that fellow come to the house. The first time I met with him was in January, when he drove up to Dunlap’s and took me in with another girl for a sleigh ride. I got to liking him more and more, and a little while after, I went to a neighbor’s and he took me riding again, and then was when he first told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. I gave him no answer—told him to wait. I loved him—I knew I did. He never came to our house to see me. When we met I always stole out and met him somewhere else. The first week in February I was going over to Winfield to a teachers’ examination. I went in the hack. He tried to get in, but there wasn’t room, so he went to Torrance and took the train. We stayed in Winfield three days. He never made an indecent proposal to me in his life. He was a wicked man, I knew, but I could do anything with him. He had told me up to that time that he wasn’t married and I believed him. In Winfield he wanted me to marry him and fly to California. I wouldn’t do it until he saw pa. I told him I believed pa would let us marry, if he would ask him. When I went home, pa was in a frenzy. He thought Chastain had ruined me. I started to run away from home, in the snow, but Mr. Merydith kept me from it and pacified pa. Then I was sent to sister’s in Arkansas. Before I got there, I wrote to Doc., but before he had time to get my letter, I got one from him. He had found out where I was and said he would come at once. In a day or so he came. He was there a week, and during that time he confessed that he was married and had three children; that he was drunk when he was married and didn’t know what he was doing, and that it wasn’t legal. He again wanted me to marry him and go to California and I told him now that he had deceived me and I knew he had another wife, I wouldn’t marry him at all. He said if he didn’t get me, he would kill me and pa too. We spent three days in Little Rock and Van Buren, but I preserved my purity and stoutly refused to marry him till he got a divorce. At Little Rock he left for Georgia and I went back to Benton, when I got a letter from pa, asking me if I would come home. I wrote back, yet, and stay till I was eighteen, for I had given Doc. Up for a while anyhow—till he straightened out the report of his other marriage. Before I started he wrote me from Tennessee, on his road home, to not go home, that he would be back in a few days. He had an influence over me that I can’t explain—it was wonderful. He said he would have me or die. My love blinded me. I would have married him if he hadn’t told me he had another wife. Then I thought he could get a divorce. My folks always warned me against him. Pa and ma said they would rather bury me than to have me marry that man. I couldn’t believe the mean stories about Doc. He always treated me like a queen.”
WEEPS OVER THE BODY.
After the murder Alma rushed into the road, but was prevented from making any demonstrations, and taken back into the house. Last evening she was taken to see the body. Throwing herself on her dead enamorer, she wept and cried and moaned piteously, with exclamations of wild grief. At the house, however, she showed no particular grief, but was very anxious to learn all that was being said or done.
A. B. Elliott came to Dexter eight or nine years ago and bought the Bryan farm, right up against the village, and one of the best farms in Kansas—all in the rich Grouse valley. He also owns another farm near and is considered one of that section’s well-to-do men. He had always lived peacefully until this racket and has a host of friends. He has ten children, four of whom are grown. Two sons-in-law, William Radcliff and Moses Williams, live near him. He takes this murder with great coolness. He doesn’t deny it. He claims self defense. Public sympathy is largely with Elliott, though all agree that his attacking in the public highway will be bad. Elliott is fifty-five years old.
At 9 o’clock Tuesday morning, Coroner Wells began the inquest, with H. R. Branson, J. H. Serviss, S. H. Wells, A. C. Holland, and C. A. Peabody as jurymen. Lovell H. Webb examined about twenty witnesses. The jury’s verdict found A. B. Elliott the murderer. A post mortem by Drs. Wells and G. P. Wagoner revealed thirty-six turkey shot in the left breast, six of which entered the heart. It was a revolting perforation.
HE GETS BAIL!
A. B. Elliott’s Examination for the Murder of Chastain.
Released on $10,000.00 Bail, Elliott Returns Home ’Mid Happier Family and
Love, Romance, and Tragedy.
Sworn History of the Latest Homicide in the Annals of Cowley!
Winfield Courier, Thursday, April 1, 1886.
The preliminary examination, before Judge Buckman, of Alfred B. Elliott for the murder of Wilborn M. Chastain, at Dexter, on the 22nd, closed at five o’clock last evening. The defendant was granted bail in the sum of $10,000, which was promptly given. The court room was thronged with anxious listeners. The interest was intense and when the case was declared bailable, signs of approbation were noticeable all around.
The examination of Alfred B. Elliott for the murder of Wilborn M. Chastain was begun Tuesday at 10 o’clock at the courthouse before Judge Buckman. The court room was crowded, Dexter being over en masse. Next to the defendant sat his wife; near her was Mrs. Rev. Elliott, from Missouri. Laura Elliott, of Torrance, a niece, and William Moses, a son-in-law, included the relatives present. Mr. Elliott listened to the testimony attentively and without the least nervous agitation visible. County Attorneys Swarts & Webb conducted the prosecution and Judge McDonald, Henry E. Asp, and James McDermott represented the defense. There was little cross examination. The witnesses sworn were: Lee Richardson, G. M. Hawkins, J. D. Ward, W. H. Culp, J. V. Hines, Joseph Church, G. P. Wagoner, H. L. Wells, L. C. Pattison, Geo. W. Dunlap, Geo. Callison, Frank Ross, and J. B. Nicholson.
WM. H. CULP
was the first witness called. He was several hundred yards east of the bridge when he saw the smoke of a gun. A man approaching the bridge whirled round to the west as the smoke arose, and instantly fell from his horse. I went to the place at once. It was Dr. Chastain. He was dead. His breast exhibited shot wounds and blood. This was about two o’clock. The horse ran into town, riderless, soon after the body fell to the ground. The body was taken, in a wagon, to G. W. Dunlap’s uptown. I saw nothing of A. B. Elliott till nine o’clock next morning, when he was uptown with the sheriff. Hadn’t seen Chastain and Elliott together for some time before the day of this deed.
TULLY G. HOYT.
Live at Joseph Ferhman’s, one mile north of Dexter. Have known Elliott for six years. Was not personally acquainted with Dr. Chastain, having first seen him last fall. Elliott lives about three-fourths of a mile north of Dexter. The culvert is northeast of Elliott’s house, about fifty yards. It is twelve feet wide and six feet high. The ravine runs to the southwest, across the Dexter and Winfield road, and right across Elliott’s farm. No trees are near the culvert or on the ravine till you get nearly to the Grouse. It gets wider and deeper toward the river. I was plowing on Ferhman’s farm on February 22nd, 137 steps from the culvert. I saw two men, one with a white hat, pass along the road going north, about ten o’clock. I had made but one round of my land, 80 rods long, after coming from dinner. They turned the corner at Peabody’s. In half an hour the man with the white hat came riding back. As he got to the bridge, I heard the report of a gun. I thought he had shot a rabbit. He fell off. Then I thought he had shot himself. I saw nobody else around. The man’s foot appeared to catch in the stirrup and he was dragged fifteen feet over the bridge. A wagon was standing in front of Elliott’s headed toward Dexter. A man and woman were in the wagon. Didn’t know who it was. Afterwards heard it was Mr. Hayworth. The gun report was sharp. I was about 90 rods from the wagon in the road. The horse the man with the white hat was riding was kind of a sorrel. I heard not a word said. I couldn’t leave the field. I had to hold my horses. Heard only one gun report. After Chastain fell I sat on the plow and watched. I didn’t want to leave my team. When I first saw Chastain he was about 100 rods from the culvert. I was looking at him when I heard the report. He appeared to be guiding his horse with his left hand. I saw a man covered with dust, lying with his head toward the north and feet to the south. His left breast showed shot wounds. He wasn’t bleeding much. His eyes were partially open. He was the same man who rode north with the white hat on. I next saw the body laid out at Dunlap’s. I didn’t see Elliott that day. Never saw Elliott and Chastain together. Saw a man taking revolvers off body.
Have lived at Dexter eight years and have known Elliott five years. I had seen Chastain around Dexter for a year or more. Saw Chastain that day. Met him a mile from Dexter riding west on a dark gray horse. This was about 2 o’clock. He had on a dark suit and white hat. He had just turned the corner at Peabody’s. Mr. Ross was with him. I next saw Chastain lying in the road one-half mile north of Dexter three or four rods south of the culvert, near Elliott’s. I didn’t see Elliott about there. Nobody else was there when I reached the body. I saw Foster Hayworth and wife in a wagon in front of Elliott’s going to Dexter. I was walking south to my work when I first met Chastain. I passed over the culvert; saw nobody there. Soon after I passed I heard a gun fire and saw smoke at the culvert. I heard Chastain hallow “Oh!” as he leaned forward to the left. Mr. Hoyt was the only other person in sight, eighty rods northeast. I was four rods from Mr. Hayworth in his wagon, and after the shot they went into town. I went into town and got Riggs, telling him Chastain was shot. He said, “I expected it—I saw his horse coming into town.” Chastain’s face was inclined downward and to the left, when I heard the shot. The smoke seemed to be two feet north of him. The horse moved away from the smoke. I was in the middle of the road; can’t tell which side the smoke was on. I was six or seven rods from the bridge. Didn’t see Elliott that day. Never heard Elliott say anything about Chastain. I live a mile from Elliott’s. Never saw Elliott with a gun at any time.
AFTERNOON. G. M. HAWKINS.
I am acquainted with A. B. Elliott. I knew W. M. Chastain since a year ago last June. I didn’t see the defendant till 8 o’clock on the 22nd. I saw Chastain that day, after he was shot, about two o’clock. He was lying in the road. Maurer, Merydith, Hines, et al were there also. I approached first. The body was in the middle of the road, legs and arms extended, head to the north, left arm extended. His heart was beating. I looked at his chest and saw where several shot had entered and where the blood was oozing out. The shot were about No. 30. I heard no conversation regarding the Elliott trouble that day or before, excepting a day or two previous, Elliott was in my office when he said he had got his daughter home from Arkansas and said, “I think we are done with Chastain.”
Cross examination. I looked at the wounds. I saw one revolver lying on the ground very close to his head, a little to the right, and the right hand was fifteen inches from the revolver. There were three cartridges in the revolver. They said it was a 44-calibre bull-dog. I didn’t notice the position of the hammer. I suggested to Hines that he go through the pockets and take possession of property. Found a revolver in left pocket; also one, very large, in the scabbard. There was a small revolver on his person. It had one or two empty chambers. The large one was fully loaded. I had seen him have revolvers at various times. Never heard Chastain mention difficulty with Elliott.
Prosecution. Chastain’s head was 100 feet from bridge.
Defense. Elliott got home Friday. Chastain got back that evening. Elliott seemed relieved when he told me he thought he was done with Chastain.
J. D. WARD.
I have lived at Dexter two months. I knew Elliott a year more or less. Knew Wilborn M. Chastain a year or more. I saw Elliott the 22nd at 10 o’clock, going out of Riggs’ store. Chastain came up where I was building soon after Elliott started home. Saw him after he was shot, on the ground in the road, at just 2:30. A number were there when I was. Made no examination of the body. Saw the revolver which had been taken off body. Chastain was lying 15 steps from the bridge. I examined the ground with Tom Micholson and George Callison, in that vicinity. Saw one track under the bridge. Ground was soft and trashy. The track was rather large. We went down the branch and found more tracks 40 rods from the bridge. Didn’t see defendant there. Had no conversation when defendant was present about this matter. Chastain had on seal brown pants and dark worsted coat, light gray wool hat. Don’t know whether defendant has fire arms or not. Never was at his house but once. Never heard Elliott say anything about Chastain. I examined afterwards the revolvers. Two were not full and I think one load was out of the large one. There were one or two empty cartridges in the small pistol. One was Chastain’s, the Smith & Wesson was mine, and I don’t know who owned the big one.
Cross Examination. I came to Winfield with him Friday, after he got back from Arkansas. He picked my revolver up that day out of the buggy. “What do you carry this thing for?” said he. “I’ll take care of this,” and stuck it in his left hip pocket. He talked a great deal at different times, about Elliott. He said he would not be bulldozed. My pistol wasn’t loaded in full when he got it. He came up the 22nd laughing, as Elliott was going home, and said, “I’ll bet cigars I know where Elliott’s going.” Sunday he walked up to church with my wife and I and asked if we weren’t afraid his presence would bring stigma on our name. He had told me he would have the girl or die.
Prosecution. The trouble between Elliott and Chastain had existed two months. First met Chastain in February 1885. He always carried a revolver. He had the bull-dog since leaving the South. I heard Elliott had gone to Arkansas. I knew Chastain sold his property and left. I told some he was gone for good and some that he wasn’t; said it was nobody’s business where he was going. I knew nothing of a telegram sent to Arkansas. He told me he was going to California. A letter to Dunlap was the first I knew where he was. When he came back he said he had hired to his brother in Tennessee, a wholesale liquor man, to sell in Kansas. He told me he had come back to settle the trouble and get the girl. Said he was coming to Winfield. He asked the opinion in Dexter regarding his marriage. I told him few thought it so. Told him I didn’t know what to think myself. The day he got home he sent me a letter and told me to meet him in Burden and to get three good men to go see Elliott and try to fix the matter up. He told me he went to Arkansas and saw Alma. She told him to take no stock in what she had said. She had to say it; she would be true as death to him. Said when he got back from the south to Benton, she had gone. We came by Elliott’s coming to Winfield Friday. Chastain was armed with the bull-dog. He also went back by the house returning. He came over with Hands’ rig; he went back in hack. Usually went past Elliott’s, exercising my horses.
Prosecution. It was Friday before the deed we came to Winfield when he got my revolver.
L. C. PATTISON.
Knew Chastain in Cloverdale; saw him about noon in my blacksmith shop. He stayed only a few minutes. He was dressed in a dark suit and a light hat. I saw him next in the road dead at 2 o’clock. I saw two revolvers, one in his belt. Hawkins had one in hand. Didn’t see which one was on the ground. I saw Elliott for the first time that day a little west of his house, about 9 o’clock. Church and McIntire were present. “Is that you, Joe?” he asked. Joe went up to him and was holding him by the hand when he got up. Elliott said, “Is Chastain dead? All right, you can take me and do what you please with me, hang me if you want to.” In the house he handed his pistol to Mrs. Elliott. It was a new pistol, a Smith & Wesson, No. 30. I saw no other arms. He or the boys have some shot guns. His sons-in-law had shot at several shooting matches. I was helping to hunt for Elliott and had a warrant. I first saw him in plowed ground, saw no shotgun there. He stayed at home all night with Church. I never saw Elliott and Chastain have any trouble. I got most of the story of the trouble from Chastain. Elliott talked some before he went to bed, after giving up to the officers. He said Chastain was 20 or 30 feet off when he shot, that he stepped out and asked Chastain if he was going to carry out his threat to kill him (Elliott). Elliott said the first barrel snapped and the next one did the work. Elliott talked only as we asked questions.
Cross examination. I heard Chastain say several times that Elliott was acting the fool and would get into trouble if he didn’t watch. Chastain said on the Sunday before he would have the girl or die, and Elliott had better not cut up too much. Chastain had a family at Cloverdale; a woman reputed to be his wife. He was always armed at Dexter and boasted a great deal about his wickedness with a pistol. He also bragged of his power over women. I heard of threats against Elliott, that Chastain would kill Elliott if he didn’t give up the girl. Chastain was a good shot. His pistol was a short bull-dog. He always carried it. Mr. J. C. Phelps owned the big revolver, a 44 Colt, 8 inches long. Chastain and others often practiced at targets. He could strike the center well at 20 paces. He never missed far and always beat his competitors. The marks were different sizes, big as your hand, etc., usually set it against a building. The center target was the size of a dollar. Some were relieved, I am satisfied, when he was killed. Target shooting was whenever pleasure occasioned. A good many participated. Chastain was mostly present; his pistol was mostly used. It was a general sport when Chastain wasn’t there that we used shotguns. Trouble between Chastain and Elliott began two months ago. He wasn’t in the habit of carrying more than one pistol; always tried to leave the impression that he was bad with a pistol. He said nobody could shoot him, even through the heart, without him being quick enough to get a shot in return. I had heard of him killing men. He said he had cut a man up in Georgia. He had quarrels at Dexter with H. E. Noble and W. E. Meredith, the latter but a few weeks before this scrape. He attempted to shoot Noble.
G. W. DUNLAP.
I knew Elliott and knew Chastain about 18 months. I was in Winfield the 22nd. Got back at sundown. Saw Chastain at breakfast; he boarded at my house. I had frequent conversations with Elliott regarding Chastain, nothing of much importance. I went down several times to try to settle the trouble. Never heard Elliott say he would shoot Chastain. Elliott was much aggravated. Sunday a week ago I had a long talk with Elliott. Went down for Chastain, who sent word that he wanted to shake hands with Elliott, make up, and get the girl. Elliott said he would never consent and talked rough about Chastain. Said he was a scoundrel and swore he never should have Alma. This conversation was near his home. He talked three hours. Elliott said Chastain had another wife and was a mean man; the other wife was the main objection. Chastain had affidavits from Georgia signed by 140 citizens giving him good character and saying he was single. I read them to Elliott after much persuasion. He said these papers would do no good; he knew Chastain had lived with a woman at Cloverdale. Chastain told me Hines had refused to take a deed without the signature of his wife. He said “I have no wife, but the girl I lived with is on good terms with my folks and will sign the deed.” He said this woman kept house for him at Cloverdale three years; said only one of the children was his. He defied anybody to find a record in the United States that he was ever married. He didn’t deny he had lived with her. He never offered to go away if Elliott would let him alone. His only term of settlement was possession of the girl.
J. V. HINES.
I have lived in Dexter 13 years; known Elliott six or seven years; Chastain two years. Didn’t see Elliott on the 22nd. Saw Chastain in the morning and at noon when he came in my office. He cashed a check for Merydith. Next time I saw him, after dinner, riding north with Frank Ross. Chastain rode an iron gray pony. Saw him next after he was killed. Went down in hack with R. C. Maurer, W. E. Merydith, and Dr. Hawkins. Body was on the ground. Saw pistol on the ground. Got Smith and Wesson out of left pocket. Didn’t go to bridge. Have had no conversation with the defendant since the deed. Before this row heard Elliott talk about trouble with Chastain. Elliott said he believed he would arrest Chastain. He afterward said Chastain had shielded himself from the law. Chastain had no office. He boarded at Dunlap’s, only a few steps from my office. Saturday morning Elliott met me in the post office and said, “I don’t know what to do; it seems like I’ve got to do something. I believe I had better take the start. I’ve got to kill him or be killed, with likely some of my family. He won’t let my family alone. I wish you’d let me have the key to your office so I can stay there at night.” I wouldn’t do it. He said, “I don’t care. I’m going in there. You can have me arrested if you want to.” He was excited. I thought about it and concluded to arrest both and put them under bonds. I sent for Church, and he said he would make a complaint. Chastain heard we were going to do this. Chastain called Church out and said there was no use of any arrests; he wouldn’t shoot Elliott unless attacked. Church saw Elliott and he said the same thing. Elliott never said what he wanted to use my office at night for.
Defense. I hadn’t been very friendly with Chastain. He was suspicious of me, as being Elliott’s friend. It was believed, from what Chastain said, that he would kill Elliott if he didn’t get that girl. Chastain made me two deeds signed by May E. Chastain. The last one went off for signature of wife just before Chastain left for Arkansas. He said he wasn’t coming back. When he did come back, he said he went to Georgia to get these certificates of good character and thought he’d make another trial. He protested that he wasn’t married, t hat he had told me he was married just because it was easier for me to believe that than anything else. His reputation was bad. He had separated Tom Blakely and his wife. I heard the Sunday before the murder that Chastain had taken a walk with Littleton and said he was going to get even with the fellow who had been lying about him, that there would be a funeral Monday, that the trouble between he and Elliott had to be settled. According to his own word, Chastain was bad with a revolver. When I saw body in road, the revolver muzzle was pointed toward the head. I took charge of revolvers and what was on the person. Doug. Ward said, “Give me my pistol.” I gave it to him. Gave the one on the ground to Sam Nicholson, who said, “Two balls had been shot out.” It was a self-actor—one Chastain had carried ever since he’d been in town.
Cross examination. Heard no additional threats after I said I would arrest them both.
DR. G. P. WAGONER.
I know Elliott; knew Chastain. I was six miles east of Dexter on the 22nd until 1 o’clock. Saw Chastain’s body at Dunlap’s. The next day made a professional examination. Found thirty-six shot in body: two in hand, three in abdomen, six in heart, and balance in left chest. Wounds were made by a shotgun, from low range. Shot ranged upward, penetrating heart and lungs, sufficient to produce instant death. Chastain died from the effects of the shot. Any one of fifteen or twenty shot might have caused death. We saved several shot (producing one, a turkey shot). I know nothing of the shooting itself.
Have known Elliott seven years; knew Chastain two years. Was in Winfield on the 22nd. First saw Elliott that day about 8 o’clock. McIntire and I went over, at word of the murder. We just left Elliott’s house in search of him when I heard a noise and then, “Is that you Joe?” It was Elliott. He was in the path leading to the house. Elliott said he hadn’t run off, had nothing to run for. When he got into the house and learned Chastain was dead, he said that he was glad of it, he would get some rest now. Elliott said that he saw Chastain come along and took his (Elliott’s) shotgun and hid under the bridge and when Chastain came back, Elliott said he stepped out and asked Chastain if he meant to carry out his threat of murder. Chastain said, “G d d n you!” Elliott said Chastain pulled his pistol. “I then fired and ran down the ravine.” The bridge is a small bridge or low culvert. It was five feet high on the east and six on the west. It was a hundred and fifty yards from Elliott’s. Elliott said he had to kill Chastain, that “one or the other had to die.”
I had talked to Chastain three times before about the trouble. The first time before the girl was taken to Arkansas. Chastain said it was as good a thing as he wanted. He would go down there and if Elliott followed, he (Chastain) would kill him. I went and told Elliott that Chastain was going down to Arkansas and that he had better not follow, but telegraph and have the girl come back and let Chastain go there and not find her. Again, afterward, Elliott said, “I don’t know what to do; I can’t get any rest. I wonder what they would do with me if I took my gun and killed him.” I said, “You would go the pen for life.” He answered, “My God, I don’t want to go to the pen for such a scoundrel as he.” I told him to be careful; Chastain had sworn he would kill him and for him to be on his guard. He didn’t like the idea of the peace bond; said it was just giving Chastain a license to kill him. Elliott had told me that when the girl was of age, Chastain could have her, if she said so. He said, “I won’t do anything then. I will never, never give my consent if she is forty. If the girl must go with him, though, I’d rather it would be now. I have done everything I can.” This was just a day or so before the row. I stayed all night at Elliott’s, the 22nd, guarding him.
Cross examination. I told Elliott, I think, that Chastain had said he would kill Elliott if he bothered him in getting that girl. On Sunday before the murder, Elliott intimated that perhaps they had better give the girl up, as it was getting very serious.
Here the state rested and the defense introduced
who said he knew both parties in this matter. I went with Chastain about 2 o’clock on the 22nd, down the road past Elliott’s. I was in the hotel when he came along and said, “George, let’s take a walk.” I said, “All right, I’ll go with you.” As we passed Elliott’s he said, “Elliott has forbid my coming on his place. I’ll walk just as close as I can to keep off.” We walked to Peabody’s. Chastain told me Elliott had threatened his life. He said, “I’m going away in a week and I may be back in a month and I may not be back in three years. If you hear of Elliott’s sudden death, don’t be alarmed.” He walked next to Elliott’s coming back and held a pistol in his right hand. When we got to Wagner’s stable, he read a piece he had written in reply to a piece that had been published about him. Next I saw him and Ross riding down the street. Chastain had told me before that he would have the girl or die.
Cross examination. When he read this letter, he said that he had money enough to board him in Dexter three years; and if necessary, he would stay there that time to write for that paper.
I rode out of town with Chastain on the 22nd. I was going out to take some mail to my brothers. I was getting my horse. Chastain said, “Where’re you going?” I told him. He said, “I’ll go along as far as the creek.” He got Joe Church’s horse. Chastain rode next to Elliott’s. We talked about the racing qualities of our horses. We parted right in the creek. I said, “Come go long.” He replied, “No, I’ll go back.” I said, “Well, be good to yourself and I’ll see you this evening.”
Cross examination. Chastain didn’t go along by my invitation. Saw nobody at Elliott’s as we passed by. It is half a mile from Elliott’s to where we parted in the creek. We didn’t say a word about Elliott.
This was the last witness called. The Judge said the evidence warranted the charge of murder in the first degree and the prisoner would be held. “I believe the prisoner is entitled to bail and as he is able to give sufficient bond, I will place his bond at $10,000.”
The crowded audience arose and the preliminary was over. Mr. Elliott was warmly congratulated at his fortune in getting bond. All over the audience and especially among the Dexterites, could be seen a strong leaning in favor of Elliott. The attorneys for the defense immediately prepared the bond. Plenty of men were on hand to sign the bond. The bondsmen are: Alfred B. Elliott, Rowland C. Maurer, John B. Harden, S. G. Elliott, John R. Smith, Azro O. Elliott, Isaac H. Penis, Tully G. Hoyt, George M. Hawkins, John M. Reynolds, J. Wade McDonald, James McDermott, H. R. Branson, and J. M. Jackson—fourteen names. The bond was approved. The bondsmen were not required to qualify. The bond aggregates big wealth.
As the District Court meets next Tuesday, Elliott’s bond only avails him a few weeks at home before the trial, which will be an immense nervous strain on himself and family.
Alma Elliott, the central figure of the tragedy, remained at home, to the disappointment of the many anxious to get a glance at her.
Rev. and Mrs. S. G. Elliott, a brother, of Aurora, Illinois, were here since Saturday, returning home this morning over the Frisco. They are a nice looking, intelligent couple, quite aged.
Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Elliott returned home today, much happier in the temporary release of the husband and father.
A. B. Elliott has every appearance of a farmer with a fair competency. He dresses plainly but neatly. He is six feet tall, rather stoop shouldered, with a keen dark eye and dark complexion. He was apparently as cool during the trial as any spectator and listened very attentively, smiling with the rest when there was anything to smile at. He is fifty-five years old and the father of ten children.
Mrs. Elliott is a robust woman of great activity, bright, dark eyes, dark hair, and sensible in converse and of emotional nature. The beauty of younger days is plainly visible yet, though traced by the furrows of years.
This was the first important case under the new County Attorneys, Swarts & Webb. They conducted the examination thoroughly. Nothing slipped by that would assist in establishing their case.
In twenty minutes after the examination, the defendant’s attorneys, Judge McDonald, James McDermott, and Henry E. Asp had the bond made, signed, and approved.