Monday, June 10, 2013

Civil War soldier acquitted of murder in Lawrence County 1874

Civil War Soldier Acquitted of Murder in Lawrence County 1874

As our researchers discover when they do the life stories of the Civil War soldiers from Lawrence County, not only was there a conflict between the states but that often while the men and boys were gone, there was also trouble on  the home front. This was the case of a Crawford County soldier named Lt. Archilles M. Brown. 

While serving in Illinois Infantry company he received several letters from ‘concerned friends’ that things were not going so well at home with his young wife.  She was apparently socializing a little too much with Dr. George W. Routt  (Dr. George) and the neighbors were talking.  Archilles resigned his commission as Lieut. and headed home to straighten things out. And for a while things seemed to be good between the Dr. and the Brown family. The men became partners in a dry goods business i n 1866 but alas,  the rumors of a dalliance between Dr. George and Mrs. Brown persisted.

One fall evening in 1873 Mrs. Brown made an excuse to go out to the Orchard. Seeing that her husband had followed her, she returned immediately to the house.   The next day Archilles found boot prints under the fruit trees that he suspected belonged to Dr. George and began to believe that a meeting had been arranged.

The next day Archilles got his gun, went into town, talked to some people, and then walked into Dr. George's office. Once there he  shouted “I’ll teach you to make a whore out of my wife” and in front of Wilson Price, Archilles  shot the doctor in the chest.  As the doctor lay dying on the floor Archilles walked over and shot him in the ear with the bullet exiting the other ear.  

Mr. Brown was jailed for his own protection and after several changes of venue,  a trial was had in Lawrence County. After testimony that would make a grown man weep according to witnesses in court that day,  he was acquitted of the crime.  He went back to Oblong or lived on his farm with half of his children and Mrs. Brown moved into town with the rest of the children.

Now one might wonder how could a man who shot and killed another man in cold blood in front of a witness  be acquitted.   This just may be a case where the dead man's reputation in the community played a large part in the jury's decision, and some of them may even have felt Dr. George’s death was justified. 

See tomorrow's blog for the rest of the story......