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Mitchell, Illinois, Newspaper Clippings

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

EARLY HISTORY OF MITCHELL

 

MITCHELL - MAN SHOOTS TWO MEN, THEN KILLS HIMSELF
Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer, January 15, 1895
Louis Bancker shot Phillip German and Andy Welsh and then killed himself at Mitchell yesterday evening. William Gillham and Louis Banker went to Michell yesterday morning. They remained around the place all day, visited the saloons and drank freely. Toward evening they went to the Lake Park hotel, conducted by Fred Martin. Someone proposed to play a game of cards and a table was made up. A quarrel ensued and the game broke up. Gillham and Joseph Henk continued to wrangle and a combat seemed inevitable. German interfered when Bancker stepped to one side, drew a revolver and shot at German, the bullet entering the latter's throat. Mrs. Martin had come into the room and begged the desperate man to desist but this infuriated him still more and he pointed his revolver on the woman. Andy Welsh, a helper about the place, stepped up to defend the woman when Bancker leveled the revolver at him and fired on his second victim, the bullet entering Welsh's arm. German, who was shot first, had dropped, and when Welsh was hit, he also fell. Bancker, seeing his victims on the floor and blood flowing freely from their wounds, presumably concluded that he killed both. He went out on the porch and immediately another report of the revolver was heard. Several ran out and saw Bancker just as he sank. He still grasped the revolver which was smoking. Blood oozed from the right temple of his head. He had fired a bullet and killed himself. The Wabash west-bound train was drawing up to the station which is just opposite the scene where the tragedy occurred. Coroner T. W. Kinder and Supervisor Frank Troeckler were passengers, returning from the board meeting here yesterday. John Vogt, knowing that they usually returned on that train, hastened to meet them, and excitedly told the story of the deed. Coroner Kinder and Supervisor Troeckler went to the hotel and found evidences of the bloody work. A jury was impaneled by the Coroner and an inquest held. The jury consisted of M. S. Link, foreman; Oliver Pettingill, clerk; Barney Meinerling, Martin Nagel, Mike Noonan and Mat Marcum. The evidence of eye witnesses was taken. The verdict of the jury is that Banker came to his death by a shot from a 38 caliber pistol fired by his own hand. German, the first victim, is a blacksmith at Mitchell and is in a critical condition. Welsh, who is the second victim, has a dangerously shattered arm.

Tragedy at Mitchell
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 17, 1895
The little town of Mitchell is full of excitement on account of a fatal tragedy which occurred there Monday eve, resulting in the death of Louis Bancker, and the serious injury of Philip German and Andrew Welsh. Louis Bancker, a resident of Mitchell, well known and heretofore not given to quarreling, was the chief actor in the scene. Bancker, accompanied by W. J. Gillham, went into a saloon to drink. While there, Charles Moritz began a game of cards with a man named Philip German and his stepson. Gillham was by this time quite full of liquor, and began to quarrel with Joseph Hancks. In a fight which occurred, Gillham was worsted, as Hancks got on top of him and began pounding him severely. Louis Bancker went to the assistance of his friend Gillham. He attempted to pull off Hancks, when others were about to interfere. Bancker then drew his revolver and threatened to shoot anyone who interfered. Philip German advanced to take a hand in the affair, intending to take the pistol from Bancker. As he approached, the latter discharged his revolver at him, shooting him in the neck. Ferdinand Martin is the proprietor of the saloon, and his wife stepped forward to separate the fighters. Andrew Welch shouted out to Bancker not to shoot the woman, and tried to get between Bancker and Mrs. Martin, and received the ball in the arm intended for the woman. Welch at once fell to the floor and laid there, thinking he would be safer than anywhere else. Bancker, thinking he had killed Welsh, and knowing that he had mortally wounded German, went outside, and putting his pistol to his forehead, blew out his brains, dying instantly. Bancker, who is 26 years of age, was held in high regard by all who knew him. He has not been considered quarrelsome or a bad man in any way. He was led into the difficulty through the quarrelsome nature of Gillham, who was intoxicated. Phillip German was supposed to have been mortally wounded last night. But the representative of the Telegraph saw him after dinner today, when he was sitting up, and it is thought that, unless hemorrhage sets in, he will recover. German was shot in the neck. All the parties live in or near Mitchell. The Coroner's inquest over the body of Louis Bancker was held this morning. A verdict of suicide was rendered. The funeral will take place on Thursday afternoon.

[Philip German and Andrew Welch both recovered from their wounds.]

 

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL COLLIDES WITH FREIGHT TRAIN AT MITCHELL
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 30, 1900
A frightful wreck on the Alton, on the curve one-eighth of a mile this side of Mitchell this morning, resulted in the death of one mail clerk, George M. Corson of Bloomington, and the injury of five others, members of the crew of the Midnight Special, which came into head-end collision with an extra freight train. The Midnight Special was drawn by engine No. 511, and the freight was drawn by engine No. 192. The crew of the passenger engine were Sidney L. Webster and George Heritage, both of Bloomington. The crew of the freight engine were Engineer Arthur Hannaford and Fireman H. L. Sorrels, both of Roodhouse. The wreck occurred at 9:35 o'clock this morning on a curve, and the Midnight Special was running 45 miles an hour, while the freight was running 20 miles an hour. The cause of the wreck is not known, but it is supposed to have been due to a conflict or orders. The Midnight Special was running over two hours behind time, and the freight train was given a clearance at Granite City, the crew not knowing the passenger train was on the road. On the passenger train were fifty passengers who were not hurt but were badly frightened. The crews of the two engines saw that a collision was about to take place and they jumped, the freight crew escaping unhurt. Both crews stayed with their engines until the last, and as they leaped from the cabs the crash came. Engineer Webster, in leaping to save his life, struck a freight car on a siding and fell on his hands and knees. Both his arms were broken, his head cut and he sustained internal injuries caused by striking the car. When he alighted, he rolled under the car and escaped further injury. Fireman Heritage leaped from the opposite side of the cab and landed comparatively safely, sustaining only bad bruises and cuts from striking the ground. Arthur Hannaford and H. L. Sorrells of the freight engine, struck the ground in leaping just as the crash came, escaping unhurt. In the mail car was the worst scene of the wreck. Mail Clerk Stewart was standing in the door of the car, preparing to deliver a pouch of mail at Mitchell, when he heard the crash and ducked his head, to which he owes his life. As he did so, a large shelf was hurled from in front of him and glancing off his head fell in the forward part of the car. He sustained a bad scalp wound. Four other mail clerks in the car, who were asleep, having finished their nights' work, were in very dangerous places. George M. Corson was sleeping on a rack near the middle of the car and was hurled forward in the car, falling where the tender of the engine, which telescoped the mail car, fell upon him. A mail sack partially supported the heavy tender, and he was taken from under it in a dying condition. His rescuers say that it would have been impossible to have moved him but for the mail sack, which was cut to pieces to relieve the pressure on him. In being hurled forward, Corson passed over the bodies of D. D. Elliott of Wilmington and William Stewart of Chicago, who were thrown backward and away from the place of danger. Elliott was thrown out of the top of the car, escaping with slight injuries by a narrow opening in the roof of the car. J. W. Murphy of Bloomington sustained cuts on the head and body. R. P. Himes of Normal was lying in the most dangerous place and was thrown forward to the front of the car. Father Meyers of Mitchell was an eyewitness of the accident. He was standing in his church door after the regular morning services, and noticed that the trains were about to collide. When the crash came, he says, there was a cloud of dust, wheat, and wreckage that rose high in the air, and then settled down. He ran to his mansion and procuring supplies that he thought would be needful, he ran to the wreck. There, he worked in pulling the men out of the wreck, and he ministered the last rites of the church to Corson, who was unable to speak and was dying. The priest's services were given without knowing what was the religious affiliation of the dying man. The other wounded men were cared for, and a message was sent to Alton for assistance. Drs. L. M. Bowman, Waldo Fisher, W. A. Haskell, J. H. Fiegenbaum, E. C. Lemen, W. A. Smith, and J. T. Kernan of Chicago hurried to the depot, where a special train was made up by Yardmaster Holder for the run to Mitchell. On arriving there, the relief party found a large crowd assembled and assistance was being rendered the victims, while a gang of men was working to clear the wreckage away. In a baggage car of the morning train from Springfield were placed the worst injured, Engineer Webster and Mail Clerk Corson. Corson's legs were cut off and his body crushed. The surgeons said he would die before he could be taken to East St. Louis, where the injured were taken by Dr. Fisher. The other injured were found to be slightly hurt. All the enginemen but Engineer Webster were able to walk around the wreck, and told their stories. A view of the wreck causes wonder that any of the enginemen and mail clerks escaped with their lives. The freight train was a heavy one, and the momentum was great. Engine No. 192 is a mass of wreckage, and had the enginemen remained in the cab, they would have been killed. The tender was raised upon the cab and a car loaded with wheat in the front of the train was demolished, and the wreckage piled high on top of the engine. The front of 192 is broken in, and the broken parts were entangled with the wreckage of 511. The front of 511 is smashed in, and the engine was raised from the track. The tender of 511 was raised from its trucks and crushed into the mail car, telescoping it fifteen feet. Inside the mail car where the men were asleep is a tangled mass of wreckage as it was left after the mail clerks were taken out. Pieces of the flesh and bones of Corson could be seen in the debris, and the sight was a sickening one. The slightly injured men were bandaged up and were sitting around telling the sight-seers how they escaped. When the collision occurred, there was a panic in the coaches among the passengers, but they were taken out and sent to St. Louis. The passenger train was in charge of Conductor J. Smalley, and the freight train was in charge of Conductor Dick Anderson. The train had run around over the P., D. & E. to avoid a bad wreck at Lincoln, Ill., in which the first Chicago train was badly damaged. Engineer Webster of the Midnight special has been on the C. & A. road 33 years, and had never been in a serious wreck before. He is 65 years of age.

[Note: George M. Corson is buried in the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. He was 31 years old.]

 

FATAL ACCIDENT AT MITCHELL - TWO PEOPLE HORRIBLY KILLED
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 5, 1911
H. E. Knolle and a young woman named Miss Maud Reed, both of St. Louis, were instantly killed Sunday night by being struck by an interurban car on the A. G. and St. L., which was on its way to Alton carrying a party of Granite City members of the order of Moose. The couple attempted to cross the track ahead of the car at the Long Lake trestle, just below Mitchell. The couple were hit so hard that Knolle, who was an officer of a chair factory in St. Louis, was hurled off the trestle down into the deep water of Long Lake. He doubtless was instantly killed. His woman companion was dragged about 200 feet, her body dismembered, her head cut off, and she was otherwise horribly mutilated. At first it was reported the motorman was drunk, but this was denied. The motorman, John Ball, did flee immediately after the accident, but he said that he was warned that he had better make his getaway while he had a chance, as threats were being made to lynch him, and the friends of Knolle were in an angry frame of mind. Ball walked back to Granite City and the car was brought on to Alton by John Bowers. The mother of Knolle identified him, but it was not until today that the body of his female companion was identified. It was said that Knolle was engaged to marry her. Coroner Streeper was summoned and he took the bodies of the man and woman to Granite City, where an inquest will be held this evening. A searching inquiry will be made into the facts in the case, with special reference to the statements made that the motorman was not in proper condition to handle the car. Traction officers explained the car running such a long distance before being stopped by saying the car was going at a high rate of speed. This, however, is disputed by some of the passengers who were on the car. A second woman, who was with the couple, became hysterical, refused to tell her name or that of the dead woman, and she left very soon after the accident.

 

LONG LAKE - PETRIFIED BREAD FOUND
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 21, 1912
While excavating near Long Lake for the Alton, Granite & St. Louis Traction Company yesterday, Foreman Edward Ward of the repair crew unearthed what is believed to be a loaf of petrified bread. The formation is perfect, and has the appearance of having been sliced on one end. What appears to be fingerprints in the bread show in several places. It weighs about 10 pounds, says the Edwardsville Intelligencer. Several days ago, while working in the same vicinity, Ward unearthed a pot containing about 200 beads, evidently placed in the pot by people who inhabited that section of the county many years ago. Ward will have the formation examined by experts, in an effort to discover whether it really is a loaf of petrified bread or a stone of curious formation and size.

 

FIRE DESTROYS OLD MITCHELL HOME
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 8, 1913
Word came to Alton today that fire had destroyed the old time Mitchell home at Mitchell, which was on the farm sold by the Mitchell family to an Alton syndicate, headed by S. H. Wyss, C. H. Seger. The origin of the fire is unknown. The house was insured for $1,000. Fire broke out while all the tenants, who are employed on the farm, were away from home. They had in the house considerable money, all the clothing except what they were wearing, and other possessions. The family of Edward Corey occupied the house and kept the farm hands. Corey lost $120, and each of the men working there had small sums of money in their clothing stored in the building. Whether or not the fire was due to someone having robbed, then fired the place, is not known. C. H. Seger said the building was over fifty years of age. It was erected by William H. Mitchell, who lived there for a time many years ago. The house was a well known old landmark. Since the purchase of the farm by the present owners, the house was used as a place for the housing of the farm hands.

 

FIRE DESTROYS HOTEL OWNED BY CHARLES HACKETHAL
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 7, 1916
The big frame building at Mitchell, owned by Charles Hackethal, was destroyed by fire about 2 o'clock Friday morning. The loss was about $7,000, about half covered by insurance Mr. Hackethal said. Shortly before 3 o'clock the members of the family were aroused by the sound of something falling, and Mr. Hackethal, believing a burglar was in the house, rose, got his revolver, and started to make an investigation. He then noticed the smell of smoke and discovered the building was afire. The building was occupied as a hotel, a grocery store, and a saloon. Besides, there was connected with it barns and stables and warehouses, all of which were destroyed. In the hotel there happened to be just one boarder, Andrew Luchesi. He was overcome by heat and was about to fall from the second story window to a concrete walk when he was rescued by men who climbed a ladder to get him down. All Luchest, a barber, saved out of the fire was his trousers, vest and undershirt. Even his shoes and hat were burned, and all the barber tools and equipment he kept in the shop. Very little could be saved by the Hackethals. Mr. and Mrs. Hackethal and their child escaped from the building before the danger became very acute. The fire was witnessed by some Altonians. The Bell Telephone Company maintains a monitoring system over its lines to guard against wire thieves. The system adopted is, whenever a break appears in the lines, to start automobiles in the direction where the break occurs to be. The break was noticed in the telephone lines between Alton and St. Louis....Instead of finding that wire thieves had been at work, they discovered the Hackethal Hotel was being destroyed by fire and that every line of the Bell and Kinloch between Alton and St. Louis had been burned in two. During the time the fire was going on, it was said that the popping of vinegar barrels and other tight containers in the building as they would explode, caused considerable noise. The heat became so intense that the buildings across the road were set fire. It is said that when the fire was reaching its climax that bats estimated to number many thousands which had been staying in and around the eaves and garret of the hotel, flew away. The men at the fire declare, however, that there was not a single bat observed to leave the building and whether the rats all perished or got out before the fire started, as some of the spectators verily believe, is not given.

NOTE: Charles Hackethal, born in Nebraska in 1886, came to Mitchell with his parents when very small. He attended public schools in Mitchell, then engaged in railroading in the offices of the Frisco railroad in St. Louis. In 1910 he began his hotel business in Mitchell, which burned down in 1916.

 

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