The Trip to Battle Creek
HESE attacks of faintness, accompanied by rigidity of the muscles, were
due to a serious injury and could be cured only by the use of the knife.
Mrs. Fannie Stillwell, accompanied by Mrs. R. H. Stillwell and Dr.
Hearne, went to Battle Creek, Mich., to have an operation performed, which was
borne heroically by Mrs. Stillwell. She
was away a month or more, and after she did return, went very little into
society. Before Mrs. Stillwell
returned she wrote her attorney, R. E. Anderson, asking him to make arrangements
to rent her house, as she intended to travel and remain away from Hannibal for a
time. Before the house was rented,
she changed her mind and returned. The
operation was not entirely successful and she was not completely restored to
health. She saw, while passing a
hardware store, one day, a double-edged ax in the window and fainted. Some people were unkind enough to say that she was acting a
part, but they were willing to admit that she did it well. While at Spaulding Springs,
with her children and Dr. Hearne’s children, she was taken suddenly ill and
Dr. Hearne was immediately sent for. She
was constantly under his care. He
seemed to have wonderful power over her nerves.
While he was Mrs. Stillwell’s physician, Dr. Gleason was called in when
Mr. Stillwell or the children were complaining.
One year after the murder of Amos J. Stillwell, on December 28th, 1889,
Dr. Joseph C. Hearne and Mrs. Fannie Stillwell were married on the anniversary
of the night of the murder. The
marriage took place, at 4 o’clock, at the residence of the bride on South
Fifth street. The wedding was a
quiet affair. The persons present
were Mr. R. H. Stillwell, Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Perkins, Mrs. Brown, Mrs.
Stillwell’s children and Dr. Hearne’s children.
The marriage was performed by Rev. John Davis.
The happy couple left on the
C. B. & Q. at 5 o’clock for Chicago.
They went from there to New Orleans and from there to Florida. This marriage created great excitement and the streets were
crowded with men, women and children. They
were followed to the train by a mob and many insinuating remarks were made to
them as they got on the train; such as “Fannie, is that you?” and “Hit him
in the head with an ax and ax me no questions.”
Dr. Hearne was very much interested in Mrs. Stillwell before the murder
and remarked at one time “that if Mrs. Stillwell should ever become a widow he
would only be too happy to make her his wife.”
But Not Forgotten
Less than a year ago the citizens were startled by the announcement that
one of their best and wealthiest citizens had been horribly butchered in his bed
at home. The question is asked
almost daily, Why is not something done? Why
do not the members of the family further investigate the case, and why do not
the citizens take hold of the matter and offer a suitable reward?
Why do not his friends and business associates take an active part?
An investigation will hurt no innocent person; it will only remove
suspicion from the innocent and re-establish their fair name.
The citizens held a meeting and Col. Dan Dulany
offered $1,000 reward or $10,000 if necessary.
a relative of the Stillwell family, said that it was not necessary, as the
family had ample means to offer a suitable reward themselves, so the good
citizens dropped the matter, leaving it in the hands of the Stillwell family
awaiting the result. John E.
Stillwell, a nephew of the deceased and a member of the Stillwell firm, was
anxious to force a thorough investigation, but the prosecuting attorney refused
to render assistance, believing in the innocence of Mrs. Stillwell.
Mrs. Stillwell forced John E. Stillwell to retire from the firm.
They are now mortal enemies.
! Reward !
Hannibal, Mo., Aug. 25th, 1890.
On Sunday morning, Dec. 30th, 1888, (a little after midnight) the
residence of Mr. A. J. Stillwell, at 112 South Fifth street, was apparently
entered by a burglar seemingly with intent to pillage.
At about 1:45 o’clock a. m. Mr. A. J. Stillwell was awakened by a noise
in his bed-room. He roused, called his wife, (who was sleeping with her two
children in a separate bed in the same room.)
She awoke and saw the form of a man standing at the foot of his bed.
Through fear she covered herself and children with bed clothing.
While concealed in bed she heard the man strike a terrific blow and
quickly leave the room. This blow
was struck with an ax and proved fatal, causing instant death to Mr. A. J.
Stillwell. The ax, Mr.
Stillwell’s pocketbook and twenty-five dollars in money were found in the
alley at the rear of the residence, with the barn doors and the kitchen doors in
the rear of the house all open. The
burglar is supposed to have obtained about $60 and in his flight dropped the
above $25. Circumstances warrant
the belief that more than one person was engaged in the crime.
Ten Thousand Dollars Reward
Ten Thousand Dollars reward is hereby offered for the arrest and
conviction of the person or persons guilty of the murder, or for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of the guilty party or parties.
Any information given will be treated in confidence if so desired and
proper protection guaranteed to any one furnishing information.
R. H. STILLWELL,
The marriage of Fannie C. Stillwell to Dr. Joseph C. Hearne caused much
discussion. Immediately after the
murder detectives took the case in hand, but were somewhat unsuccessful in their
efforts to find the guilty party or parties. They arrested several men who lived in shanties along the
river. Several negroes were also
arrested on suspicion and detained for a number of days, but no proof could be
found against them, so they were discharged.
It is claimed by reliable persons that the detectives were not allowed to
follow up clues that pointed in the right direction.
The detectives traced it to the house, but Richard Stillwell told them
that if it implicated any member of the Stillwell family he would not pay out
another cent. His friends say that
he would give $50,000 to see his father’s butcher dangle at a rope’s end,
but that he loves his sister and little brothers too well to see them suffer for
a crime of which they are innocent. Before
Richard Stillwell offered a suitable reward, he imposed one condition - that the
detectives should not conduct an investigation upon the theory that the murderer
gained entrance to the house through the assistance of some one on the inside. Being thus discouraged the search was finally given up and
this horrible crime was allowed to pass as a mystery, although Hannibal’s good
citizens were never fully satisfied.
A Trip That Was Not Taken
Dr. Hearne and his wife had the outward appearance of being a happy
couple. The doctor seemed very much
devoted to his wife, but the world soon saw that all was not happiness in their
home. This sensational story came
from a New York paper: A lady came
aboard the Bremen steamer “Spree” with passage for herself, two
children and a nurse. She
requested that her presence on the ship be known under no circumstances.
She did not wish her husband to find her.
She said if her instructions were not obeyed she would leave the steamer
and go abroad by another line. The
lady retired to her state-room. Shortly
before the “Spree” was to sail a heavy-set man, inclined to be florid, came
aboard. He seemed very much excited
and demanded to see his wife without delay.
Permission was at first refused; he then stormed and raved, running from
one state-room to another, calling: “Fannie, Fannie! Only one word with you
and you can go. Please grant it.”
He was finally conducted to his wife’s state-room.
When she opened the door he took her in his arms and showered kisses upon
her face. Two of the ship’s
officers stood close at hand, fearing violence, but the doctor had no such
intention. He seemed to have a
remarkable influence over his wife, as she immediately consented to leave the
steamer with him. The nurse then
came upon the pair. When her gaze
fell upon the man she got livid with anger; she abused him, calling him a liar
and a scoundrel. After the girl
quieted down, preparations were made to leave the ship, the girl going with
reluctance. The husband and wife
proved to be Dr. and Mrs. Hearne; the supposed nurse was Mollie Stillwell,
daughter of Mrs. Hearne; the children were hers by her first husband.
Mrs. Hearne stated to a reporter that she had started to Europe with her
daughter, who desired to complete her education in Germany.
The doctor was opposed to this idea.
Taking advantage of the doctor’s absence at Decatur, Ill., where he was
attending a convention, Mrs. Hearne purchased tickets and started for New York.
Her husband in some way learned of her departure and followed her.
Dr. Hearne telegraphed Richard Stillwell to meet him in Chicago and take
charge of his rebellious sister, which he did.
Mollie Stillwell was placed in an academy for young ladies in Indiana.
Dr. and Mrs. Hearne went to St. Joe.
In a few weeks they and their children went to Los Angeles, Cal.
Various reports have come from there.
One was to the effect that Mrs. Hearne’s mind was giving away; another
that she was going to sue for a divorce. The
doctor wrote to a Hannibal friend stating that he is delighted with the climate
and that they are living among white people and the children are attending
Mrs. Dr. Hearne Granted a Divorce
Recently a statement was made on the street to the effect that Mrs. Dr.
J. C. Hearne, of San Diego, Cal., had been granted a divorce from her husband on
the grounds of cruelty and failure to provide. The complaint was filed July 21st, 1894, and a judgment of
divorce on the ground of cruelty and failure to provide was granted August 10th.
Mrs. Hearne resumed her former name of Fannie C. Stillwell.
Dr. Hearne insisted that the principal ground of disagreement between
himself and wife has been incompatibility of temperament, and says that his
wife’s daughter, Mollie, has had a most disturbing influence in the household. It was stated by friends of Mrs. Hearne that the doctor told
his wife that he would directly charge her with being the murderer of her
husband, Amos J. Stillwell, if she persisted in seeking a divorce.
She defied him and told him to tell all he knew, warning him that he
stood on dangerous ground. After the complaint was filed by his wife he went to La Jolla
and called at the cottage occupied by Mrs. Hearne and children.
He was denied entrance, but forced his way into the house and going to
the door of Mrs. Hearne’s room, which was locked, burst his way in with an ax.
They first located at Los Angeles, but the story followed them there and
they finally went to La Jolla.
Shortly after securing a divorce, Dr. Joseph C. Hearne and Mrs. Fannie
C. Stillwell were re-married by a justice of the peace.
Mrs. Stillwell was plainly dressed, while Dr. Hearne was ostentatiously
attired in black broadcloth.