Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Talk

Taking the stand on Friday, May 8, 1914, were four Fort Wayne police officers and their sergeant—all tasked, one night nearly two years prior to that date, with investigating the death of Patrick Phillips, Wabash Railroad employee.

Of course, these city policemen were not testifying in their own hometown Allen County court system, as the high profile case had undergone a change of venue to nearby Wells County, Indiana.

By now, the trickle of news reports on the case seemed to be increasing with the string of articles beginning two days prior. This report, published the following Saturday morning in The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on page 7, took care to name the names of each officer and their superior—and even dared to intimate that Patrick Phillips was “killed” rather than “died.”

Still, not much more was added to the tale. It was as if the newspapers were biding their time while awaiting the big word: would Mary Kelly Phillips receive the $10,000—or $20,000, or $25,000, depending on which report you believe—in damages which she was seeking?

If nothing else, this confirms to me the need to not only add historic newspapers to the mix in researching family history, but to access all court records available. Yes, there will be many dull details to sift through, but the few nuggets that can be captured through that process will be worth the effort.

While I’ll continue the story with the conclusion of this matter based on material I already have on hand, this will definitely be a vignette out of the Kelly-Phillips saga that I will need to revisit, once the rest of the documentation is in place.
Sergeant Grimme and Officers Eisenhut, Buuck, Fry and Kavanaugh were at Bluffton yesterday as witnesses in the damage suit brought by Mrs. Patrick Phillips against the Wabash railroad company, for the death of her husband, who was killed here two years ago. The officers picked up the body and investigated the affair. The case was venued to the Wells circuit court from the Allen circuit court.


  1. Four police witnesses? One would have thought one side or the other would "stipulate" that they all saw the same thing. But that had to be a powerful "statement" to the jury... having the gory story repeated over and over.

    1. I thought that was a large number to include on the witness stand from that one agency, too. Let's just presume they each had their own assigned post, and brought a different perspective to the full story.

  2. There always seem to be more material to sift through, or things that one thinks of later.

    1. Grant, whether that's true for someone taking the stand, or for me in researching all these details later, I'm not sure. But I'm amazed at what can be found, taking my time and not glossing over the details. Of course, it always helps to have broad hints from many talented fellow researchers :)


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