Thursday, March 3

Shawville Tragedy, part 2 - the Inquest (Tabloid Thursday)

Tabloid Thursday: Where yesterday's news is today...

I wanted a weekly feature where I could showcase articles, those lovely little social news items (i.e. "Mrs. X and daughter visited Mrs. Y this weekend and will be returning home on Thursday..."), and other interesting newspaper "stuff" I've come across in the course of my research.  Thus, Tabloid Thursday...


Source: "The [Ottawa] Evening Citizen", Wednesday, 21 August 1907, p. 3, columns 1-4.
Accessed at Google News archive, 26 February 2011.

[click to enlarge]

Verdict in Death of Mr. Thomas McTiernan.
Understood no Criminal Proceedings Will Follow
(By Staff Reporter.)
      Bryson, Aug. 21.--The circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas McTiernan aroused considerable interest and excitment among the people of Bryson, Shawville and the district.
      There were all kinds of rumors of foul play. The deceased had left his home, a mile and a half from Bryson, on Monday morning, and it has since been ascertained that he walked to the village, where he had drinks and where he also secured a couple of bottles of liquor. In the afternoon his dead body was found beside the road, about two hundred yards from his home. There were indications of violence on the body and a sensational aspect was given the affair by the story of the two witnesses who said they had seen the deceased with his brother, John McTiernan, at the place where the body was found an hour or so later, and that they had seen John strike the deceased with his fists in the face. Another peculiar feature was that John McTiernan, when questioned by Mr. Hugh Matheson of Shawville, who found the dead body, denied that he knew the dead man and said it was a Frenchman from Bryson. Dr. Hurdman, corner, when he learned these facts, opened an inquest which was conluded last night. The inquest was held in the McTiernan home and the jury returned practically an open verdict, that death was due to violence though the nature of such violence was not known to the jury.
      Two constables attended the inquest and were prepared to make an arrest if the evidence warranted it, but nothing of this nature transpired and it is understood there will be no criminal proceedings instituted.
      There evidence showed that both the deceased and his brother had been drinking. The direct cause of death was a clot of blood on the brain but it could not be determined whether this was due to a blow administered at the hands of a second person, or to a fall by the unfortunate man.
      The late Thomas McTiernan was 49 years of age, and is survived by a widow and two children. He had lived for some time in the village of Bryson, but for the last couple of years had a hundred acre farm on which he was very successful and had built a comfortable home and outbuildings. He was respected and liked by neighbors and others who knew him, his one failing being his excessive drinking at times. The funeral took place this afternoon at the Bryson cemetery.
      The brother, John McTiernan, is 40 years of age and unmarried. He does not bear as good a reputation as the deceased and had no fixed place of abode.
      The inquest was opened by Dr. Hurdman on Monday evening and was concluded last evening [Tuesday].
      The widow of the deceased, in her evidence, said she had last seen her husband alive between nine and ten o'clock on Monday evening. He had been drinking since Saturday and left the house about ten o'clock. When he did not return she asked John to go after him. John went, and some time later came back and said his brother was down the road, but would not come home. Some time after, a man passing the house in a buggy told them that a man lying beside the road was in bad shape. John went down and a few minutes later she followed with her little daughter. She then saw the dead body of her husband. She did not know of any quarrel the brothers had.
      Much interest was centered in the evidence of John McTiernan, the brother of the deceased. John said he had slept in his brother's barn Sunday night, and about seven o'clock Monday morning commenced helping Thomas with the work. Thomas did not work long, but went away towards Bryson. When he went after him at the request of Mrs. McTiernan, he found his brother at the creek, about four hundred yards from the house. He was mixing water with highwines by dipping the bottle in the creek. He tried to bring him home. Just at the bridge, he said, Thomas fell and struck his head on a log, causing his nose to bleed. Between the bridge and where he left his brother, Thomas, he said, fell several times. He said when Thomas would not come home he left him beside the raod and returned to the house. The next time he saw him he was dead. John said he had never quarreled with the deceased and was positive he did not hit him on Monday. John said he had some drinks out of the bottle and did not remember what he had said to Mr. Matheson.
      Mr. Hugh Matheson of Shawville, said he was driving along the road about half past three o'clock on Monday afternoon with his daughter, Mrs. McKinley, when they met John McTiernan about a hundred ards from where the body was found. John spoke to Mrs. McKinley and the witness but did not mention his brother. After they had passed the body Mrs. McKinley asked her father if he had noticed the blood on the neck of the man lying beside the road and he replied that he had not. At her suggestion he returned to move the man farther from the road as his legs were on the road and liable to be run over. Just as he came back, John McTiernan had also come back to the place. Mr. Matheson asked John who the man was and received the reply that he was a Frenchman from Bryson and that he was very drunk. John said he did not know the man's name. Mr. Matheson who is an aged man, tried to move the body but could not. John McTiernan then caught hold and canted the body over with the remark that he was dead. A few minutes later Mrs. McTiernan came along and in reply to Mr. Matheson said the body was that of her husband. Mr. Matheson then notified the coroner.
      Mr. Slack Caldwell gave evidence that he had seen the deceased lying by the road and had told John McTiernan that the man was in bad shape. He could not say whether life was then extinct or not.
      The evidence as to the deceased being struck by his brother, was given by Mrs. James McLean and her son, George, of Bryson. Mrs. McLean said they were driving home along the road about two o'clock from Wilson's Mills to Bryson and noticed the two men sitting beside the road in the place where the dead body was later found. They were a little distance apart and two liquor bottles were on the ground between them. As they approached, Mrs. McLean said Thomas raised his hand and John caught him roughly by the shoulders. As they passed George bade them the time of day and both men looked up and nodded in reply. Mrs. McLean said she did not then notice any blood on the face of the deceased though she had a good look at him. After they had passed a short distance Mrs. McLean said she turned around and saw Thomas lying on his back with John kneeing beside him. Just as she looked John struck Thomas in the face with his closed fist. She did not see if he struck more than once and as they did not stop driving the men were soon lost to sight around the bend in the road. It was over an hour later that they saw the dead body in the same place. John, she said, was not sober, though she would not say about Thomas. This evidence was corroborated by George McLean. He said he had seen John strike Thomas two or three times with his fist in the face. The blows were straight punches not swinging blows.
      The post mortem was conducted by Dr. Gaboury of Bryson and Dr. Armstrong of Shawville. The report was given by Dr. Gaboury. The external marks consisted of a number of scratches and abrasions over the eyes, on the neck, arms and legs, non of them large. One eye, an ear and the bridge of the nose were bruised and black. There were clots of blood in the nostrils and blood on both hands and on his clothing. The internal examination disclosed a clot of blood, about 2 1/2 ounces, pressing on the upper right corner at the back of the brain. The pressure of this clot, Dr. Gaboury said, was sufficient to cause death. There was no fracture or mark on the skull over the seat of the clot. The hemmorhage which caused the clot, he thought, was due to violence, a blow or a fall. Violence on any part of the head might have caused the injury and it might have been from the same violence that caused the black eye especially if the head was on the ground. If the hemmorhage was due to excessive drinking along, Dr. Gaboury said the clot would not likely be found where it was but at the base of the skull. he would not say whether the violence was a blow or a fall. There was evidence of further violence on the abdomen which might have caused death by shock but this was not positive.
      The evidence of the various witnesses was considered by the jury for about an hour after which a finding was returned "that his dead was brought about by the pressure of a clot of blood on his brain caused by violence, but after weighing carefully all available evidence this jury is unable to decide the nature of the violence."


Kathy Reed said...

Where is a CSI when you need them? I am really surprised with this much eyewitness testimony that they could not find the brother guilty.

Laurie said...

A fascinating story - thanks for sharing!