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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Who Killed Hilbert?

JULY 14, 1897 Heathsville is horror-stricken over the tragic death of John Hilbert, who has been making his home with Wm Long for several years. Saturday afternoon he left home to spend the night at R.B. Smith's. He first came to Heathsville, however, and left here with the intention of going to Mr. Smith's, but changed his mind and went to the Russellville saloon. He left Russellville about 9 o'clock for home. Sabbath morning his horse and buggy and his dead body were found before Mr. Long's barn-yard gate. The body was horribly bruised, one rib was broken and two bad scalp wounds. His hat was found by Phillip Monk and his false teeth by Isaac Cannon. The supposition is that he either fell asleep and dropped between the wheels and was dragged to death, or that he was foully murdered. His watch was not disturbed, but his pocket-book and $25 were gone. Coroner McGuire held an inquest, the jury bringing in a verdict of death from two blows on the head, by some unknown blunt instrument. The affair has cast a lasting gloom over Hades, the saloon.

SEPTEMBER 22, 1897 Russellville Was John Hilbert murdered, or did he meet and accidental death? The grand jury made strong efforts, assisted by States Attorney Bogard and detective John McAndrews of Vincennes, to solve the mystery. It will be remembered that John Hilbert, an old soldier residing with Wm Long in Montgomery Township, was found lying by the roadside at Long's barnyard gate and his horse and buggy near by. The back of his head was crushed and there was a wound upon his forehead. He had gone to Russellville the day before and left there for home that evening. It was first thought that he had been killed in a runaway, but the conviction soon became general that he was murdered.

Dr. Maxedon had paid him $25 that day, which he might have displayed at Russellville, and it was known that he was preparing to make an extended visit. This probably led to the presumption that he had considerable money on his person and furnished a motive for the crime. The body had been dragged for miles at the side of the buggy. His head had rested between the shaft and the front wheel of the vehicle. The hub was worn smooth by the man's wrist lying across it, and the paint was worn from the spokes by rubbing against the dead man's head. One foot was in the buggy and the other dragged on the ground. Yet, at the gate the body had very strangely been disconnected and lay prone upon the ground.

Detective McAndrews made an effort to ferret out the mystery. He was before the grand jury and his theory of the crime is that Hilbert had been assassinated and the body bound to the buggy by the murderers with the lines and the horse driven home and that on reaching the gate the body released. The names of the suspected persons have not yet been revealed to us, but we hope that the "murderer will be found out" and that the assassin of poor old John Hilbert may yet be brought to justice.

(No further information has been found about this crime.)


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