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The Murder of Joseph Tuttle - An Innocent Man

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser




On March 1, 1870, Joseph Tuttle was riding his horse through the streets of Venice, leading another horse. A remark was made by someone, that he appeared to be a horse thief. Tuttle passed the Venice ferry, and took the road leading to East St. Louis. While talking to a man from Edwardsville, Justice Robinson from Venice caught up with him, but rode on toward East St. Louis (supposedly to notify the police there). Unsuccessful, Justice Robinson turned around and found Tuttle near the Wiggins Ferry. He arrested Tuttle and took him to the jail in Venice. He left Tuttle in the charge of Deputy James Dickey, and left for Edwardsville with another prisoner, Anderson Reed. Tuttle was allowed to go to a saloon owned by Mr. Lammert, and passed some time away there. It later alleged that Tuttle went out of the saloon, and ran. Deputy Dickey followed and shot at him. A mob joined in the pursuit, also shooting at him. He soon fell into their hands and was thrown into a wagon. Tuttle was then hit with clubs and stones, and died at their hands. He was about 25 years of age. It was later found that he was engaged in stock trading, and was an honest, upright man. His body was never found.

Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, March 3, 1870
On Tuesday morning, March 1, 1870, about 10 o’clock, Mr. Joseph Tuttle was seen passing through the streets of Venice. He was riding one horse and leading another. The remark was made by some person that he had the appearance of a horse thief. He passed by the Venice ferry, and took the road leading to East St. Louis. When about halfway between Venice and East St. Louis, he was met by a man who used to keep a soda fountain and confectionary stand on Fifth Street in Edwardsville, and while talking to him, he was overtaken by Constable Lammert, who merely spoke a few words and passed on. Lammert alleges that he passed them for the purpose of going to East St. Louis and notifying the police. Not being successful, he returned and met them near the upper landing of the Wiggins Ferry Company. Here, he arrested Tuttle and took him back to Venice, confining him in the office of Justice Robinson. In the evening, he started for Edwardsville, having in charge of Anderson Reed, and leaving Tuttle in the charge of the Deputy named James Dickey. About 9 p.m., Dickey stated that Tuttle was desirous of going out to get a drink – first leaving a valuable watch (a gold one) in Dickey’s charge. He was allowed to go into the saloon owned by Lammert, and there passed a short time away, in amusing the crowd by playing the violin.

It is then alleged that Tuttle was allowed to go outside the house for a few moments. Immediately on getting into the street, he started to run. Dickey followed in pursuit, and shot at him. In a moment, a mob had joined in the pursuit, many having revolvers, and at least thirty shots were fired at the unfortunate young man. In the excitement, he attempted to get into a saddlery shop owned by Mr. Jasper. The door being locked, his progress was stopped, and he fell into the hands of the ruffians. Mrs. Ward, who lives nearby, states that at this point, Tuttle was struck with clubs and stones, and pounded with fists. His shrieks and pleadings for mercy, to be let live one hour longer, might have touched the hearts of savages, but he obtained no reprieve, and in a few moments, he was a corpse. It was nearly dark at the time of the murder, and so the exact details are not obtainable.

The body was thrown into a wagon and conveyed, apparently, towards the Alton road. Whether it was buried or thrown into the Mississippi, none but the perpetrators can tell. The murder of this young man in the streets of a thriving town is a most deplorable outrage, and every effort should be made to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Joseph Tuttle was about twenty-five years of age, and the following particulars respecting him are from a reliable source. He is stated to have been most respectably connected, and a relative of Colonel James M. Tuttle of Keokuk, Iowa. The summer before last, he was engaged as steward on the steamer “Sucker State.” Mr. A. C. Peckham, of Fifth Street, made his acquaintance while on a trip to St. Paul with his family. Mr. Peckham took a fancy to the young man, and subsequently gave him a situation, and found him honest and reliable. He was employed by J. W. Scott, No. 612 Washington Avenue, in November and December last, and regarded as honest and honorable. At one time, he was also steward on the steamer “Minneapolis.” Recently, he was known to be engaged in stock trading. He was in Edwardsville on Monday last, and had in his possession $1,000 or $1,500. There is no reason at all to believe he was in any dishonest practices, but all the evidence is quite to the contrary belief. If justice never reaches his murderers, some of them are at least sure to see this statement, and we hope the knowledge of the fact that they have ruthlessly killed an innocent and honorable man may at least put upon them the punishment of a lasting remorse. What adds to the brutality of the deed, is that the character of the young man had been vouched for by respectable parties on the same day of his death. Shortly after his arrest, Tuttle stated that there were parties in St. Louis that knew him, and on Tuesday a farmer came to the city from Venice and called on Mr. Peckham and Mr. Scott respecting the young man under arrest. Both of these gentlemen spoke well of the prisoner, and Mr. Scott gave satisfactory certificates of his character. The fact of certificates having been given must have been known in Venice and to the crowd who shot down and mashed the body of the ill-fated youth. We are told that the respectable citizens of Venice are much distressed at the scenes enacted in their town and vicinity, and well they may be, for they are disgraceful to that section of the country. It is to be regretted that the matter is removed beyond the jurisdiction of our city police, for it is very doubtful if any very active measures will ever be taken to arrest the perpetrators.

The parties who killed Anderson Reed and Tuttle were not concealed in any way, except by the dim light, and several are said to have been recognized. There is very little doubt but Tuttle had over $1,000 on his person when he was killed, and the question is what became of it? Did the men who shot him also rob the corpse? Are they robbers as well as murderers? This should be examined into in connection with the case. If the Madison County authorities fail to display a proper vigor in investigating the outrage, it is to be hoped the higher State authorities will take steps to prevent it passing into oblivion without any effort on behalf of the insult and outraged law.


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