Monday 28 May 2012

May 29, 1876

“On Saturday afternoon, at two o’clock, Wm. Nesbitt’s saw and shingle mills, situated near Lynden, Beverly, were completely destroyed by fire.”
Hamilton Spectator      May 29, 1876
It was a tremendously damaging fire, although, thankfully no one was killed or seriously injured.
However, the immediate and loner term impacts to nine families were grim :
“A village of eight houses, a store and a blacksmith shop, was also burned, together with 250,000 feet of lumber and 250,000 feet of saw logs. The loss is estimated at $12,000. The property was only insured or $2,000. The fire burned with such fury that the occupants – nine families in all – were unable to save anything, and are not only out of employment, but are destitute of a house. A meeting is to be held this evening in the Town Hall, Rockton, to devise the best means of alleviating the distress which is sure to follow this disaster.”
A troubling case of sexual and workplace harassment was reported in the Spectator of May 29, 1876:
          “On Saturday afternoon, Julia Hewitt, a milliner by trade, laid an information against L. H. Brooks, the manager of the glass works, for assault. He had followed her through the city, and finally overtook her near her boarding house on Macnab street, when he caught her by the arm and insisted that she should meet him some place. Brooks did not appear this morning, and the case was adjourned.”
          The major story of the day was a shocking attempted murder and subsequent suicide resulting from a domestic dispute in Waterdown:
“Yesterday morning there was enacted in Waterdown one of the most terrible tragedies that ever occurred in this part of the country. At about ten o’clock in the forenoon, the inhabitants of the village were thrown into the highest state of consternation by the report that Dr. Walker, a dentist well-known in the village, had shot his wife and then committed suicide. The report proved only too true. The scene of the tragedy was Baker’s Hotel, and soon after the news had spread abroad, a large crowd of people had gathered round. From what can be learned the particulars of the sad affair are as follows : It appears that yesterday morning Walker and his wife were in upper room at the hotel in which they were stopping, when an altercation took place between them. It commenced concerning some trifling thing and Mrs. Walker taunted her husband with having
                                      ANOTHER WIFE
somewhere. This apparently enraged Walker and he drew a revolver and fired two shots at his wife. Mrs. Walker was standing in such a position that she received both bullets in the side, but too far forward to be anything more than flesh wounds. Immediately after being wounded, Mrs. Walker ran out of the room and downstairs screaming
                                      “DOC HAS SHOT ME!”
Walker remained in the room in company with his son, a little boy of seven years of age, and as soon as his wife disappeared, shot himself twice and died almost instantaneously. Dr. Philip and McGregor were soon in attendance, and on examination found Walker himself quite dead, and Mrs. Walker suffering from the effects of her wounds, which, however, were soon ascertained to be not necessarily fatal. The medical men gave their attention to the wounded woman, and ina short time had extracted both bullets, which were found to be lodged in the breast.
                                      THE WOUNDS
          At the time Walker fired the shot at his wife, she was standing with her left side towards him. One bullet passed through the fleshy portion of her left arm and thence through the left breast, lodging against the bone about the centre of the chest. The other passed along just below the left and lodged about three inches below the first one.
          In the body of the deceased, there was one wound about the center of the breast, opposite the upper portion of the heart and some of the large blood vessels; the second wound was about four inches below the first. As it was evident that death had resulted from these wounds, it was not deemed necessary to hold a post mortem examination.
                                      DR. ALBERT WALKER
or, as he was familiarly called, “Doc Walker,” was a man about 35 years of age, of medium stature, dark complexion, and one the whole rather fine looking. He married the woman whom he yesterday attempted to murder, about ten years ago, and shortly after came to Hamiltonh to practise his profession. He remained here for some time then went to the States. After remaining there for some years, he returned to Canada, and latterly he and his wife have been living, sometimes in Hamilton, and sometimes at the residence of Walker’s father-in-law in Waterdown. Deceased, who was considered a skilful workman, at one time worked in the office of Dr. Filgiano, and subsequently in that of Dr. Bastedo. Respecting the
                                      DOMESTIC LIFE
of the unfortunate pair, there is reason to believe that for some years, it has been most unhappy. After they had been married about a year, it appears that another woman made her appearance and claimed Walker as her husband. She, however, went out of sight soon after, but apparently not out of mind, at least as far as Mrs. Walker was concerned, and the subject was one which caused great bitterness between her and her husband. Whether Walker really had another wife is not certain, but he evidently could not endure being charged with it, and yesterday on the mention of it by his wife, he, in a fit of desperation committed the rash act, which resulted in his own death, and the serious wounding of his wife.
                                      THE REVOLVER
which was used is a small, seven-barreled Smith & Wesson, and when picked up a few minutes after the shooting had four chambers discharged, and three still loaded.
                                      THE INQUEST
          At eight o’clock this morning, a jury comprised of the following gentlemen, Charles Sealey, foreman; James McMonies Jr., W. D. Misener, John Baker, Chas. W. Brown, W. Lee, Hiel Truesdell, John Fostner, Joseph Foster, G. H. Rymal, Jas. Young, George Rymal, and Ed. Brown, which had been summoned by Dr. Philip, met at the house in which the tragedy took place, and having viewed the body, took the following evidence :
(The testimony of the wounded Mrs. Walker was taken in her room, she being unable to get out of bed.)
Mrs. Mary Walker, sworn – Yesterday morning my husband and me had a talk about a silk dress which I had not worn in his sight, we also talked of his clothing and of taking a walk together; I mentioned to him about his other wife, and of her being in Hamilton; I also spoke to him about him giving me a bill of divorce, which he said I would never get; he became annoyed, and the first thing I was aware of was the report of a pistol; I looked around and saw that he was shooting at me; he fired twice at me and then I fled downstairs and cried out “Doc has shot me”: I met my mother at the foot of the stairs; my little boy was also in the room where the affair took place.
Master Freddy Walker, seven years of age, son of the deceased, was the next witness examined. He said :I was in the room when my pa shot at my ma; I saw him do it; he fired two shots at ma and two at himself; he fell part of the way down after firing the first shot at himself, and then he fired again; my mother ran out of the room after the shots were fired at herself, and then pa shot himself.
Mrs. Louisa Ann Baker sworn : Am mother of Mrs. Walker; heard two pistol shots fired in the house yesterday morning, and immediately after, heard my daughter scream, “Doc has shot me”; I ran at once to the foot of the stairs and found my daughter coming down, holding her hand to her side and repeating “Doc has shot me”; I took her into the kitchen, supporting her; I sent at once for Dr. Philip to come and see her; I then went upstairs to see Walker and found him lying on the floor, but did not speak to him.
Francis Scott Sworn : Came to this house yesterday morning at half-past nine o’clock; sat a while and then inquired for Dr. Walker; the hired girl told him that I was in waiting for him; after waiting a short time, I heard two pistols shots fired, and Mrs. Walker came down, crying “Doc has shot me”; just afterwards I heard two more shots, followed by something like a man falling on the floor.
George Byrens, sworn : Live in Hamilton; knew the deceased and his wife; they stopped at my place in the city sometimes; after Mr. and Mrs. Walker had been at my house sometime, I was informed that the doctor had another wife; I made it my business to inquire, and I asked my sister-in-law, Mrs. Walker, about it, and she said she had asked her husband respecting that matter, and he said that if she threw that matter up to him again he would put two bullets through her heart; this conversation took place after a woman claiming to be Dr. Walker’s wife had stopped at Mr. Walker’s house for two nights some years before.
Harris Crocker, sworn : When I heard of the affray yesterday morning, I went at once to the room in which it had taken place, and found Dr. Walker lying on the floor, and the revolver produced lying quite near his right hand; lfe was extinct; think it was about two minutes after the shooting took place; the revolver now produced is the same one I picked up; it is in the same condition as when I found it – four chambers discharged and three undischarged.
Wm. Channel, sworn : I was about the first person that saw Dr. Walker after he shot himself; think it was about a quarter to ten in the morning; saw his wife, who said that her husband shot her; went upstairs and found the deceased lying on the floor; his shirt was on fire and I put it out; I turned the body over on the side and saw two wounds ; there was no movement of the body, but saw the last gasp; saw the revolver lying on the floor.
After hearing the above evidence, the jury returned the following
That the deceased Albert walker came to his death from the effects of two bullets discharged into his body from a weapon by his own hand.
          At latest accounts Mrs. Walker was progressing favorably under the care of Dr. Philip, who has strong hope of her speedy recovery.

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