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TOMMY DUNCAN'S BODY FOUND

DUNCAN, CORNETT, MILTHORPE, CULBERTSON, SCHREIBER, HOWARD, WILSON, DOUGLASS, DUNCAN, DAVIS

Posted By: Nancee Seifert (email)
Date: 10/28/2009 at 13:08:18

The Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Iowa
Thursday, June 6, 1912

The boy who disappeared from his home here on May 3d, and who it was feared
was drowned in the Chariton river, although some of his playmates claimed
that he had run away from home, was really drowned on the day he disappeared
his body being found by RAY CORNETT last Thursday about noon, on the flat
land this side of the river, south of the Chariton cemetery. The drowning
took place when the river was out of its banks and covering the flat land,
and the body was probably lying just where it had first sunk. The river had
receded, leaving the body lying on the muddy ground, and it had decomposed
fearfully.

The drowning of TOMMY DUNCAN is one of the most mysterious that has ever
occurred here, and the full truth may never be known, because the boys who
were with him have told so many different stories that no one knows just
what the truth is. A coroner's jury composed of CLINT MILTHORPE, HOWARD
CULBERTSON and WALTER SCHREIBER was impaneled by Coroner JOHN STANTON
Thursday as soon as the body was found, and with the assistance of Mayor
LARIMER, Sheriff ENGELBRETSEN, County Attorney COLLINSON and others, the
whole afternoon and much of the next day was spent in an effort to get the
boys who knew the truth of the drowning, to tell what really happened. From
different sources it is gathered that it happened about like this.

Six boys who should have been in school, played truant on Friday, May 3d,
and went down to the river south of the cemetery. They were LLOYD HOWARD,
13 years of age, FRANK WILSON, 14, OTIS WILSON, 12, RAYMOND DOUGLASS, 13,
LESTER CORNETT, 14 and TOMMY or PAT DUNCAN, 14. They met MARION DAVIS going
south in a wagon, and asked to ride across the bottom, as the water was knee
deep or more. He let them ride, and when they got across he asked them how
they were going to get back. They told him they would get back all right.
They evidently started to play in the water, as most of them were good
swimmers. They did not have their clothes off, and in crossing the flat
bottom land on the north side of the river, going towards the matthews
railroad camp, TOMMY DUNCAN got into a hole and the cold water gave him a
cramp. He called to the other boys and one of them at least, the little
DOUGLASS boy, went in and tried to help him out, but could not do it, and
fearful that he himself would be drowned, the DOUGLASS boy got back to his
companions and the DUNCAN boy was drowned. The five boys then made a
compact not to tell of the drowning, for fear they would in some way be
blamed, and they kept their word so well that though it was suspected that
the boy was drowned, and that some of his companions knew about it, nothing
was known for sure until the body was found and the coroner's jury worked
for a whole day to get the truth from the boys. Other boys who were
suspected of being implicated were -- EMMETT MATHENEY, REX HICKMAN and
WALTER EGGERT. They were at the river the same day and probably knew of the
drowning but no evidence showed that they were with the crowd that saw the
drowning.

The glibness with which some of the boys who were on the witness stand swore
to one lie after another was shocking and appalling, and made it very hard
for the jury to learn the truth. There are still some mysterious phases of
the affair that have not been cleared up. One of the boys who was present
at the drowning says he told his older brother of the tragedy, and his
parents probably knew of it too. Why then, if it was but an accidental
drowning, did the older folks not notify the authorities or the parents of
the boy at once, instead of waiting until the body was found, after lying in
the water and mud for nearly two weeks? A purely accidental drowning is not
usually concealed by people old enough to know better.

The drowned boy was one of eight children of Mr. And Mrs. THOS. DUNCAN and
would have been fifteen years next November 3d. Funeral services conducted
by Rev. Father McGillan, at Calvary Cemetery, on Friday morning. The
stricken parents and family have the sympathy of the whole community in
their terrible bereavement.

-- Chariton
Herald-Patriot.
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Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey)Seifert
October 20, 2009
iggy29@grm.net


 

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