Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dr George and Judith Hockman continued 1874

Yesterday I posted the story of the Civil War soldier, Achilles Brown who was acquitted of murdering Dr George Routt (Dr. George)  in cold blood in front of a witness, and posed the question, why wasn't he found guilty.

In 1858 before the Civil War and before Archilles  had his troubles with Dr.  George, the Hockman family in Lawrence County had their own troubles with him.   Dr George  had ‘courted’ Judith Hockman for a few months and she had gotten pregnant. By agreeing to marry Judith the bastardy suit was dropped. 

Soon thereafter, George left the County and stayed away, failing to return to marry Judith and raise his son.   William Hockman,  Judith’s brother AND  Lawrence County Constable decided to bring Dr. George to justice. 

While the constable waited on the Lawrence County line, William Blackburn rode into Crawford County to get Dr. George and bring him across the line to Lawrence County so he could be arrested. The following is Mr. Blackburn's account of their short journey:

“ I was the man who told Dr, George  that there was a sick woman over in Lawrence County who desired his services. He told me that he understood that they were going to force him to marry Judith Hockman and said he was not going to do it. If any man attempted to arrest him he would shoot him down with his revolver, that he had compromised with her six months before by promising to marry her but was not going to do it. After I and Dr. George got down in the Lawrence County we saw some of my party coming and  he started off but I caught his horse by the bridle and told him to hold on, that he was the man that made that woman sick, and he must now marry her and take care of her and would do so that night if I wished him to.
On cross-examination at the trial, Blackburn continued his story: I went by myself over in Crawford County and at my request Dr. George went over the line in the Lawrence County. I let on to him that it was a great crime; he said it was not so great as I might suppose it was, that he had courted a girl over Lawrence County at one time and that she had become pregnant and they wanted him to marry her and he should not do it. The officer and two others remained in Lawrence County concealed about two or 3 miles north of Chauncey until I went for Dr. George and got him over the line into the County and got near them. It was after night but the moon was shining. When I arrived at Alexander Stewart's in Crawford County where Dr George was boarded, it was almost dusk. After the officer and man came up behind me after we got over the line, they took him. After they arrested him referring to his threats I said to him “Now.where do you bury your dead ?  He replied,  “Oh you know, we all say a great many things we never intend to do.”  I then laughed and went no further with them."

Once across the line in Lawrence County, Constable Hockman had his man.( And as the old country music song goes,-- the man who had done his sister wrong. ) The group proceeded to the Justice of the Peace, Isaac Potts’ house, and then on to the Hockman family home for the wedding.

Justice  Potts had this to say about that evening:  “ I have seen Dr. George twice in his lifetime; the first time I saw him he was brought before me on an arrest on a warrant for bastardy to compel him to marry Judith Hockman. The suit was compromised by him promising to marry her. Shaw myself, Brower and others were present at the time. The next time I saw him he was brought to my house at a late hour in  the night. I then went with them to Hockman's, one of Judith Hockman's brothers, and I then married Dr. George and Judith Hockman  and he was discharged from the arrest. There was no coercion used on him; if there had been I would not have married them. He was free to marry her are not as he pleased. 

They then returned to my house in the buggy that night --Judith Hockman, Dr. George  and the baby. The doctor  was stubborn and set by the fire all night. The woman and her child went to bed in another room. The next morning he went into her room and talked with her. He complained of her not keeping her promise to him. He claimed that she was not to prosecute him. She said that she did not want to do so but her friends compelled her.

The Doctor, Judith and the baby, Emery, apparently never lived together as a family. In 1860 Judith is back in court with Aaron Shaw as her attorney, filing for divorce on grounds of abandonment. George had chosen to live in Crawford County. He never bothered to show up for the court proceedings and Judith was granted her divorce after calling Dr. George ‘a heartless rascal’ as well as  $120 per year in alimony on April 6, 1860. Judith went on to marry Smiley Sumner on February 19, 1862.

So it would seem that the Lawrence County men on the jury already knew Dr. George Routt. His death at the hands of a jealous husband came as no surprise apparently, and that could be the reason that Archilles Brown was acquitted of cold blooded murder.  

Thanks to John K for doing this research.  (see The People of the State of Illinois vs A.M. Brown, Trial for Murder, 11 Aug 1874, Circuit Court Record, Old Criminal Book D, pages 203-204, Lawrence Co., Il, Clerk of the Circuit Court.)