Monday, September 8, 2014

Sister to Asylum from Abusive Husband; Brother to Jail for Murder

As I mentioned yesterday in "A Reason for Murder", I had spent hours trying to find another newspaper article about my great, great grandmother's brother, Ephraim Bennett, murdering his brother-in-law, Nathan L Buchannan, in 1893. As I concluded the post, I went back to and tried again. And, this time I got a hit!

I don't know if I tried different search terms or not. I narrowed it to "Missouri" newspapers and set the year to 1893. And then I searched for "Bennett" and "murdered." Anyway, I have a lot more information now!

A Terrible Crime, The Springfield Democrat, Springfiled, Missouri, 09 Jun 1893, page 5, column 4;
digital image accessed 07 Sep 2014)
I then found a third story... and just now I found a fourth! The last two are about the lynch mob, so I'll save that for another post. But, for now let me share the article about the murder.

A Terrible Crime, The Springfield Democrat, Springfiled, Missouri, 09 Jun 1893, page 5, column 4;
digital image accessed 07 Sep 2014)
[Note: The image is just a portion of the clipping because it gets really small if I try to add the entire article]

A Terrible Crime

Ephraim Bennett murdered N. L. Buchanan in West Dallas township, Webster county, on May 30. Buchanan's wife was Bennett's sister and some time ago began to show symptoms of insanity and finally became a raving maniac. While in this demented condition she told that her husband had mistreated her. Buchanan was a poor man and did not have the ready money to defray the expenses of sending his wife to the asylum, so he borrowed a sufficient sum of Bennett, and the demented woman was taken to Nevada. In a few days Buchanan executed and delivered to Bennett a mortgage on some land securing him in the loan of money made.

On the 30th of May Ephraim went to Buchannan's house some time soon after noon and talked business matters over with him in a friendly manner, leaving, it seems, about 2 o'clock. When Bennett left the house Buchanan and his little boy, who is 10 years old, went to the field - Buchanan to plow, the boy to pull weeds. They had not been in the field long before Bennett came, and having walked up to within eight to ten feet, began shooting at Buchanan. He fired five shots, one entering Buchanan's head, one passing through his right hand, two through his right arm, and one entering his side, probably after it had passed through his arm. After the shooting Bennett turned and coolly walked away, asking Buchanan's boy to come with him. Bennett then went to parties living nearby and  told them what he had done, remarking, "Buchanan threatened to kill me and I went and asked him about it and he tried to put his hand into his pocket, but I was too quick for him and fixed him." Bennett then went to W. R. Brooks, a justice in west Dallas township, and surrendered himself.

At the preliminary hearing the defendant did not introduce any evidence but submitted his case after the state had introduced its evidence. It is understood that the state has evidence to show that Bennett made several threats against Buchanan. After the trial Bennett was again lodged in jail.

This killing occurred within two and one half miles of the place where Lum Yandles [Columbus Yandell] was so dastardly murdered last spring, and excitement is running high.

So, what did I learn? 
  • Ephraim Bennett loaned money to his brother-in-law, Nathan L Buchanan, so Ephraim's sister could be committed to an asylum in Nevada (which is a town in Missouri)
  • Eprhaim might have killed his brother-in-law not as retaliation or revenge because of the abuse he'd done to Ephraim's sister, but in self-defense (as Nathan reached into his pocket) or for some other reason
  • Ephraim shot at his brother-in-law five times at close range, including a shot to the head
  • Nathan's 10-year-old son, who was Ephraim's nephew, was likely a witness to this shooting [this makes me sick to my stomach, but I also wonder what kind of abuse he'd seen his dad do to his own mom.... and perhaps he & his siblings were abused]
  • Ephraim immediately turned himself in to the authorities
Do we share common ancestors? If so, I'd love to talk! please leave a message or email me at

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