Iowa Old Press
THE LONG GROVE TRAGEDY
Another Day of Inquest
Excited Thousands about the Court House
QUITE IMPORTANT TESTIMONY
Elder Exley's Interviews with the Prisoner - More Evidence from A.W. Brownlie -
Johnson's Purchases of Shot - His Ride on the Dubuque Road
Although a week and three days had elapsed since the murder of Mrs. Brownlie and her child, at Long Grove, was committed, public feeling over the tragedy never exhibited itself as it did yesterday. It will be remembered that the Coroner's inquest adjourned from last Thursday afternoon till 10 o'clock Saturday forenoon; and as early as eight o'clock yesterday morning people commenced assembling at the Court House and by nine o'clock the Court room was completely packed with men, while hundreds were crowding the outside steps and inside stairs, all impatient to hear the day's evidence at the inquest, while other hundreds gathered in the square. Sheriff Leonard saw that it would be utterly impossible to continue the inquest in the midst of such a multitude, and at half-past nine he ordered the Court room cleared - it was done. Very few men left the square, however, but crowds gathered here and there, within the enclosure and on the outside walks, and in every group the murder was the subject of discussion. By a quarter to 10 o'clock, from 2,500 to 3,000 men had assembled at the Court House. There was a possibility of the recalling of Lewis Johnson - and the city police were sent for to preserve order. Men lined the two or three paths, one of which Lewis must use in going from the jail to the Court room. And late in the day our reporter was told by reliable individuals that there were ropes in the pockets of several in the crowd! We do not believe, however, that any illegal proceedings would have been resorted to had Lewis made his appearance, but that he would have been allowed to go directly to the Court room. A number of men were on the ground from the vicinity of Long Grove, but they were bent on keeping matters quiet rather than in making threats. Lewis was not summoned, however, and so the mutterings in the wind were soon silenced. At 10 o'clock the
was resumed in the presence of about a hundred men in the court
Mr. Spencer Clapp was the first person sworn. He had lived in Sheridan township for sixteen years, his home being a few rods over a half mile from A.W. Brownlie's place. He had been hunting for the gun since the morning after the murder, and about one o'clock P.M. on Thursday last he discovered it. Mr. Clapp gave a succinct account of the discovery - a diagram of the place and its surroundings being of service to him. The spot was among high weeds eighty-three feet north of the lane to A.W. Brownlie's, sixty-five feet east of the Long Grove road, twenty feet west of the D. & St. P. track, and ten feet west of a rail fence which is twenty feet west of the railroad. Along the fence were tracks from the lane to the place the gun was found. No officer came until the ones from Davenport, and the gun was not taken up until they came. The snow was five or six inches deep and hard. Witness went after other persons, and went back with Robert Brownlie, Mr. Richie, and Martindale. Several others came. Mr. Clapp described the tracks seen, and the recognition of the gun by James, Andrew and Robert Brownlie. When Lewis came he said "the gun is found," to witness, and walked back into the road. The gun was covered with rust - had been rubbed off. Saw no tracks of animals- rabbits or rats.
Robert K. Brownlie was recalled, and told how and where he first heard of the gun being found. He afterwards met his father and Lewis Johnson, and stepped right in front of the latter, and noticed he "was all a tremble." Lewis said, "Robert, the gun is found." "Yes, Lewis." He asked, "Any news from the corpse?" "No, Lewis." Lewis referred to the remains of witness's brother-in-law expected from Georgia. Witness also gave clear account of the place, tracks, and proceedings. Witness saw no other tracks than those heretofore described. Lewis' voice trembled when he spoke, as if he wanted to say something and didn't know what to say. Witness went to H.M. Thompson's - they all jumped up when he went in, and he told them the gun was found, and then A.W. Brownlie said, "where, where, was the gun found?" Witness said the gun was the same as described by him before as hanging on the porch. There was chicken shot in a shot pouch and a leather sack next by, but they were not disturbed - both sack and pouch were exhibited.
Moses Bush, a colored man, who lives on Farnam street, four doors north of Locust, testified that he is a laboring man, and has lived where he does for seven years. He had known Lewis for three years. He spoke of engaging the pigs from Lewis and how Lewis used to make his house his home on coming to town and Lewis was there Saturday night, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week the murder was committed. leaving on the latter day at two o'clock. Witness has a wife and three little girls. The chief portion of the witness's testimony was concerning Lewis going to Third and Harrison streets (Berg's) about the second of January, and buying some shot - 15 cents worth, and put it in his pocket, it being wrapped in a small piece of paper. Lewis told witness he wanted to shoot wolves. Witness had heard his little girl speak of finding a gun cap on the floor on Wednesday and handing it to Lewis. Witness said Lewis spoke in the highest terms of the Brownlie family. Mrs. Brownlie was a clever woman, and treated him well - he eat at the same table with the family, no matter how many went there.
Mrs. Moses Bush also testified as to Lewis stopping at her house, giving pretty full particulars. She spoke of the gun cap, and how the little girl found it and Lewis said he had dropped it, and so put it back in the pocket of his overcoat. Never heard Lewis speak ill of Mrs. Brownlie. Lewis did not talk against Mrs. B. but praised her highly.
when the rain had kept many people away. But more than a
thousand men were in the court yard, however, when the court room doors were
again opened. The afternoon testimony was very important and we give it in full.
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John R. Thompson sworn - Am son of Hugh M. Thompson. Live at Earlham, Madison county, Iowa. Was not here when the murder was committed- got a dispatch about it the next day, and reached my father's on Friday morning's train. Have had slight acquaintance with Lewis Johnson for five or six years. I think he is a little taller than I. I have walked from the Long Grove Church to where the railroad crosses at Dubuque road. Left the church gate at 8:8, stopped four minutes at Robert Brownlie's and got to the middle of the Dubuque road at 9:52. I had to wait during that time for the train to pass at the cut. When a man is not encumbered he can walk the distance very comfortably in an hour and twenty or thirty minutes. I discovered a track about forty rods south of first cross road that crosses north of Farber's field - near Claus Kiehl's. It is north of the brick school house on the Dubuque road. It was larger track than mine. The party had stumbled a little at the east side of the railroad and that was the first that I had noticed. I followed it towards Mt. Joy and wherever the new snow hadn't blown too deep I could follow it. I did not point out these tracks to anyone else. There had been a good deal of travel on the railroad north of Claus Kuehl's. Followed the track to within forty or fifty rods of the place where the railroad crosses the Dubuque road. I saw the window where the shooting was done - saw the powder mark on the sash; and I tried the range from the outside, and found that to shoot the gun in the window with the muzzle on a level with the powder mark, would require me to stand tip toe unless the stock of the gun was very crooked. The black spot could not have been made by the explosion of a cap.
Jennie Jackson, daughter of Mr. Bush, 6 years old, told of her picking up one cap on the floor as related by her mother, and gave it to Lewis; he said it was his, and put it in his over coat pocket.
Jonathan Boothe sworn - I live at North Davenport; keep a store; have lived there 16 year; keep shot for sale. Have known Lewis Johnson four or five years; been in my store frequently; he was in my store a week ago last Wednesday, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon; no one beside myself was in the store. He asked if a party had called for him that he expected to find there. I told him no. He went out, came back in a short time, asked for the man and I told him he was not there; he said it was late, and he would go out and if the man came to tell him he had gone on to Steffen's. The man came, and seemed disappointed at not finding Lewis there; Lewis had been gone half an hour; Lewis bought five cents worth of shot, and said something about killing something that was destroying eggs in the barn. The man that called seemed to be on foot. I was not A.W. Brownlie - I know him; don't know that I ever saw the man before; he had sandy whiskers, trimmed close around his face; has mustache inclined to red; looked like an American. He seemed to be expecting Lewis, and kind of stood at the door as if debating whether he should go on or not. Lewis frequently stopped at my place, calling as he was going out. Know all the Brownlies- the man was not any of them. Lewis asked if there had been a man stopped here for him. The man called was about my size, but not so tall as Lewis by a head. I didn't look to see what kind of conveyance he had - if asked the question whether he had a team or not, I should say no. I should say the man was afoot. He said nothing about Lewis wanting to ride with him. After I told the man what Lewis said he kind of held the door knob in his hand as if thinking. He had a short sack coat, no overcoat, and a kind brown, sunburnt [?}; I should say his coat was brownish. His hair was not so much inclined to red as his whiskers - straight and short hair. Nothing was in his hands. I said to Lewis "I expect there is a good deal of game out your way." He said "yes, there is, but I don't go out very often, " and spoke of killing something that destroyed the eggs; John Keating came and asked me if Lewis had purchased shot at my place. I remember very well that it was Wednesday that Lewis bought them. He bought no other ammunition. It was under a pound of shot - only five cents worth; it would answer for two charges and a half. It was No. 2 shot. I gave some to Mr. Keating, Lewis made no objection that they were too small.
--- The Davenport Gazette; Davenport, Scott, Iowa; March 1, 1874
Submitted by: C.J.L.
Iowa Old Press