Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family Secret

I've known sometime that my great-grandmother, Hattie Jane See, was the daughter of David See and Anna Marilda Lowell. But I haven't know anything about Anna Lowell. This morning I'm searching for documentation for my DAR and came across an old piece of information mentioning the name Barnabas Lowell. So I did a search on and came across an online family tree by njlowell857. I learned lots of interesting information on Barnabas, including
  • He was born in England in 1796
  • Enumerated in Washington, Parke County, Indiana in 1850
  • Tried for murder in 1854 for the death of his wife in Story County, Iowa
  • Died at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison after being sentenced to death
Wow!!! Of course I've had to dig deeper. In the History of Story County Iowa by W.G. Allen (pages 55-56), I found the following under "Homicides and Other Items."

About August 1853, Barnabas Lowell lived in a cabin on East Indian Creek, north of the McDaniel saw-mill. He had quite a large family, and the older children slept in a rough addition to the cabin. One of the older boys was sent for the neighbors in the night with the story that his mother was sick, but when they arrived life was extinct. The children told some story about hearing disturbances between their parents, and though the body was buried before any investigation, it was afterwards exhumed and a post-mortem examination was made. The result was that the coroner's jury charged the death upon the husband, and he was arrested. The story that the Justice of the Peace before whom he was examined sentenced him to be hanged was started in mischief, but he was held for trial and committed to the Polk County jail. Judge McKay ordered a special term of the District Court, which was held in the cabin of E.C. Evans, then County Judge, which was about eighty rods west from where he now lives. There was great interest manifested in this trial. A grand jury, the first in the county, was impaneled and held its sessions in an unfinished log house, then in course of erection by Wm. D. Evans. The accused was indicted, the trial was called, and a change of venue was had, the case being sent to Polk County.... Lowell was afterwards tried at Des Moines, and sentenced to the State's Prison, where he died. This trial cost the county over $600--no great sum in these days, but with the money in the county treasury then it was regarded as being a heavy blow financially.

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