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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Iowa: Warren County

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Crime in Warren County ~ Mary Henderson and Mrs. Elizabeth Wellons
Posted by: Deborah Brownfield - Stanley (ID *****1616) Date: April 21, 2004 at 19:54:29
  of 439

The Chariton Leader, Chariton, Iowa
Saturday, April 3, 1880

Last Monday morning, the 22nd inst. the usually quiet village of Hartford was suddenly thrown into a fever of excitement from the intelligence that a most horrible crime had been committed in our midst. The first impression was from the vague and unsatisfactory reports that were being circulated, that the crime was abortion, but further development proved it to be even more horrible. As further disclosures were made, the excitement became more intense, and, had surrounding circumstances permitted, it is not improbable that mob law would have again desecrated the name of Warren.

The history of this crime from its incipiency, the time it must have been plotted till its tragical culmination, is dark, scheming and atrocious. Last fall suspicions were entertained by many that MISS MARY HENDERSON, the deceased mother, was en(?)ent. In fact her mother, MRS. ELIZABETH WELLONS, indirectly admitted the fact privately, and we are informed, even tried to secure medical aid to procure an abortion. In this she signally failed but received some wholesome advice as to her duties in the premises, which had she entertained and been guided by, would have averted a terrible calamity.

About the beginning of winter, she stated that her daughter had gone to Des Moines, to work, and denied her condition. During the winter several parties claimed they caught glimpses of her through the window of her mother's residence. Many doubted her going to Des Moines at all. The mystery deepened, and no further disclosures were made until a physician was called in professionally. At first she denied the cause of her illness, but finally admitted having been confined, stating it took place in Des Moines and that the child was there. Fully a week elapsed after confinement before it became positively known to the public that she was at home.
When the situation was made known, everything possible was done to relieve the poor girl but it was too late. From inattention and want of medical attendance at the proper time, it soon became evident that she could not live but a short time. Weighed down with grief and remorse and the certainty that her end was near, the dying girl made a full confession, disclosing some startling crimes, which seem too horrible and diabolical to be true. During the winter the girl secluded herself in a dark room, and when her child, a little girl babe, was born, in order to conceal the shame, they plunged it into a red hot stove. Its agonizing cries were soon hushed by its fiery grave, and the deed was done, the most heartless, cruel and revolting ever perpetrated in this county.

Scarcely had the last clod been placed on the young mother's grave, when the older sister, JANE, and MRS. WELLONS were arrested. This was Wednesday the 24th inst. and the preliminary examination was set for the following Friday.

During the interim a quantity of ashes was noticed in the privy vault, and upon further search the bones of the infant were found, burned and discolored; some entirely gone, yet easily recognized as belonging to a human being.

On the first information the two parties arrested, were charged with infanticide, and the case against the young lady dismissed. The old lady was arrested upon another information, charging her with murder in the first degree. She waived examination to a charge of murder in the second degree and her bond was put at $5,000, in default of which she was sent to jail. Thus, has been enacted, in our midst a tragedy that has cast a gloom over our peaceful village. There are other members of this family who are unquestionably innocent and we hope the sympathy of all good people will manifest itself in this their greatest sorrow.

-- Indianola Herald.


Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
April 20, 2004

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