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Chapter XXIX


from Memoirs of a great detective:
incidents in the life of John Wilson Murray

compiled by Victor Speer

JOHN STONE was a cynic, an atheist, and an English gentleman. He came of an ancient and honourable family. His father educated him for the Church of England and his mother's heart's desire was to see him a clergyman. He graduated from Harrow (preparatory school only) and was famed among his classmen for his brilliancy. Instead of training for the pulpit he developed a yearning for the stage and he turned his back on the ministerial career planned by his parents, and devoted himself to the study of Shakespeare and the portrayal of Shakespearean rôles. He married a Miss Morley, a relative of the Right Hon. John Morley, and after loitering for a year or two he suddenly packed his trunks and sailed, with his wife, for America.

  "He settled in Texas," says Murray, "and bought a large ranch not far from Dallas. Subsequently he moved into Dallas and was elected Mayor of Dallas and was re-elected. He was such a remarkable man, with such a command of language, that it is not strange he should become involved as the central figure in an affair which drew the attention of the President of the United States, the British Ambassador, the Attorney-General of the United States, and high officials of both Canada and the neighbouring country.

  "Stone had a sister, a Mrs. Asa Hodge, who came from England to Canada and lived in Bearnsville, county of Lincoln, twenty miles from Suspension Bridge. Her husband was a fruit grower. Mayor Stone of Dallas made occasional visits to New York, and on one of these trips he called to see his sister. One of her children, Maud Hodge was a beautiful girl of sixteen at this time. John Stone when he saw her liked her so much that he took her back to Texas and kept her in his own family, educating her with his own children. Several years later Mrs. Hodge went to Texas to visit her brother and daughter. She did not like the look of things. Maude had grown to a lovely young woman of nineteen, and John Stone regarded her with jealous affection. Mrs. Hodge took her daughter away from Stone and brought her home to Beamsville, very much against Stone's wishes.

  "John Stone tarried in Texas for a short time, and then he, too, went to Beamsville, where Maude was living. He started a cheese factory, and moved his family from Dallas to Beamsville. Maude Hodge became his clerk in the factory. At that time Stone was a man about forty-five years old, of remarkable personality and amazing command of language. He was a man of refined appearance, with sandy-brown hair and grey eyes, and rather classic features. One of his chief pleasures was to inveigh against churches and clergymen, and to mock at the calling for which he had been educated. He proclaimed himself an atheist, a believer in no church and in no creed. He denounced Christians as pretenders and the Christian life as a delusion and a sham. Consequently, when Maude, his favourite, became acquainted with Miss Chapman, a very fine lady and sister of the Rev. I.M. Chapman, pastor of the Baptist church of Beamsville, John Stone was displeased greatly. As Miss Chapman's influence over Maude grew, the young girl began to weary of her uncle's employ and went to the factory reluctantly. At length, in January 1886, she stayed away from the factory, remaining at her own home with her mother. John Stone waited in vain for her return. On January 5th he went to her house. Maude and her mother were sitting in the kitchen, chatting, about two o'clock in the afternoon, when Stone walked in.

  "'Is Asa in?' he asked Mrs. Hodge.

  "Asa was out. Mrs. Hodge said he would return presently. John Stone stepped over to Maude, opened his coat, drew something from an inside pocket and held it out to Maude.

  "'Well, Maude, I guess you and I will close issues,' he said, as he opened his coat.

  "The girl saw him draw forth the revolver and offer it to her. She shrank back.

  "'Maude, shoot me,' said John Stone, holding out the revolver to her.

  "Mrs. Hodge screamed and begged her brother not to shoot. Stone, without a word, fired three shots at his favourite. Mrs. Hodge ran out of the house shrieking. As she ran she heard a fourth shot, John Stone had walked to the door, put the pistol to his head and shot himself. Mrs. Hodge and several of the neighbours hurried to the house. Maude staggered out of the door and fell in the yard. She was carried to the house of a neighbour, Mrs. Konkle, and Drs. Jessop and McLean attended her, locating one bullet in the left side below the heart and another near the left shoulder blade. Stone was taken to his own home. The doctors thought both would die. Two constables were set to guard Stone at his own house, night and day. He hovered on the verge of death for five weeks, and suddenly, to everybody's surprise, he began to recover. Toward the middle of February the doctors said he soon could be removed to St. Catherine's gaol.

  "I talked with him at that time and he impressed me as one of the most fluent talkers I ever had heard. Words flowed in a ceaseless, unbroken stream. His vocabulary was remarkable.

  "'It was a high ambition; these things cannot always be accounted for,' he said, referring to the shooting.

  "In February a stranger, giving the name of Mr. Matthews, arrived in Beamsville. No one knew who he was or whence he came. He disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. John Stone also disappeared. This was on February 14th. One of the constables guarding him possibly was not so much surprised as some others over his escape. I went to Beamsville and traced Stone, where he had driven in a carriage to Suspension Bridge and had crossed to the States and had taken a train. There I lost him. I returned to Beamsville and learned that Mr. Matthews had a satchel with him marked 'H.W.M., Balto.' I prepared extradition papers and went to Baltimore and found that Hugh W. Matthews, a rich manufacturer, lived in a fine mansion at No. 263, West Lanvale Street, and was a prominent business man of high standing, in that city. On inquiry I ascertained that he was a brother-in-law of John Stone. It was March 5th when I arrived in Baltimore and I called on Chief Jacob Frey, an old friend. He detailed Detective Albert Galt to assist me. On March 6th Galt and I went to the Matthews's house and walked in and found John Stone lying on a lounge in he library gazing idly at the ceiling. I had laid an information before United States Commissioner Rogers, and Galt arrested Stone.

  "In a twinkling the whole household, servants and all, were around us saying John Stone was ill and we could not take him. Dr. Bacon and Dr. Harvey hurried in, summoned by a member of the household, and told us we must not lay a hand on John Stone, as it would endanger his life. Discretion was the better part of valour. Stone had seemed quite comfortable when we entered, but he seemed to sink rapidly in five minutes. It may have been due to his earlier love for the stage and acting. I was satisfied he was shamming, and I left Galt with him in case he tried to escape again. I went back to Police Headquarters and saw Chief Frey and told him what had happened.

  "'All right,' said Frey. 'If there he's ill, there he stays.'

  "Frey detailed two more detectives, Tom Barringer and Mark Hagen, to join Galt. The three detectives arranged their tours of duty in shifts of eight hours, and they watched John Stone, keeping him in actual sight day and night.

  "I called on Commissioner Rogers and on United States Marshal John McClintock. They said they could do nothing. I went to Washington and called on Sir Sackville West, then British Ambassador, and stated my case. Sir Sackville West called a carriage and drove me to the State Department. Thomas F. Bayard was Secretary of State. He was deaf as a post. We shouted the case to Mr. Bayard. He said he did not know what he could do until the case came into court. I returned to the British Legation with Sir Sackville, who was a very nice little gentleman. He advised me to get an American lawyer. He also gave me a letter to Dennis O'Donohue, at Baltimore, one of the oldest British Consuls on the continent. After leaving Sir Sackville I went to call on my old friend Senator Daniel W. Voorhees, of Indiana, who had been my counsel before in various extradition cases including the Meagher case in Indianapolis. He was living at The Portland and was indisposed, but he sent word for me to come right up.

  "Three justices of the United States Supreme Court were calling on Senator Voorhees at the time. They were Justice Gray, Justice Field, and another. It was March 22nd. Voorhees made me blush telling the judges of old cases and heaping flattery on me.

  "'What is it this time, Murray?' he asked. 'Out with it. These gentlemen have heard cases stated before now -- desperate cases, too, and desperately stated.'

  "I told the case right then and there, the whole story, while the four men, three justices of the United States Supreme Court and Senator Voorhees listened.

  "'Is he dying?' they asked.

  "'I think he is feigning,' said I.

  "'Suppose he pleads insanity?' said one of the justices.

  "'It would not be upheld,' said I.

  "'But if the Commissioner decided against you?' he asked.

  "'Murray would appeal, so beware, gentlemen, beware,' said Senator Voorhees.

  "The three justices departed, and I asked Senator Voorhees to take the case. He said he could not.

  "'But as an old friend I'll assist you in every way,' he said.

  "I explained to him that Stone, through his rich brother-in-law, had retained William Pinckney White (former Governor of Maryland), ex-Judge Garey, W.M. Simpson, and Governor White's son, four able lawyers and influential men, to fight his case for him. Voorhees instantly told me not to be anxious, but to call the next morning and we would go to the Department of Justice. I did so, and Senator Voorhees and I called on Attorney-General A.H. Garland.

  "'Mr. Murray is a particular friend of mine, an officer of Canada, who has come here after a refugee from justice named John Stone,' said Senator Voorhees.

  "The Attorney-General questioned me, and I told him I was morally certain Stone was feigning. Mr. Garland dictated a letter to Marshal McClintock in Baltimore, and suggested a commission of United States surgeons be appointed to go to Baltimore and examine Stone, and see if he could be removed with safety. The letter of the Attorney-General of the United States to Marshal McClintock read:

'WASHINGTON, March 23rd, 1886.
  'United States Marshal,
  'Baltimore, Md.


  'It has been brought to my attention that John Stone is under arrest on an application by the Canadian authorities for extradition, and fears are entertained that Stone may make his escape, and avoid the investigation necessary to his extradition. I hope you will see to it, and take every precaution to that end that he is safely kept until that examination is had. You will spare no pains to effect this.

  'I am more particular in this matter than ordinarily, because last summer, on an application by this Government to the Canadian authorities for the extradition of an offender against our laws, every facility was afforded us and everything done by those authorities to enable us to bring back the offender, which we did, and I cannot afford to put this Government into the attitude of lacking in the proper comity towards those people. If any additional expense is necessary order, to which Marshal McClintock would reply with to secure this man's attendance, it will be paid by this Department.

  'I have written to the Treasury Department that they request Surgeon Meade to make the examination which you desire.

'Very respectfully,

  "Two United States surgeons proceeded to Baltimore after our call on the Attorney-General. I went on the same train. They drove to the Matthews' house. There they were joined by the family physicians, Dr. Bacon and Dr. Harvey two or three others. The civilian doctors already were in favour of the prisoner, for Stone was a prisoner in the Matthews' mansion. After the examination, the opinion of all the surgeons was that the removal of the prisoner would be dangerous, and any undue excitement might cause a rush of blood to the head and rupture a blood vessel, causing death instantly. The two United States surgeons returned to Washington and made a report to this effect. I also returned to Washington and saw Voorhees, and induced him to take the case. We called on Attorney-General Garland again, and saw him and his first assistant, Heber May, of Indiana, a friend of Senator Voorhees. Then Senator Voorhees and I went to Baltimore, and the three detectives who were watching Stone night and day told Senator Voorhees that Stone was feigning.

  "Senator Voorhees, as counsel, had a writ of show cause issued on Marshal McClintock to produce John Stone in Court before Commissioner Rogers. The Marshal appeared with the affidavits of the doctors that Stone could not be moved. Matters went on, the three detectives keeping John Stone in sight every minute of the time. Sir Sackville West sent me a private note to call on him at the Legation. I did so, and stated what had occurred, and he was greatly pleased over what had been done. Senator Voorhees and I went to Baltimore again and again and again, for over four months, each time getting a show cause order, to which Marshal McClintock would reply with affidavits of the doctors.

  "In June I called on President Cleveland, whom I had known in Buffalo.

  "The Department of Justice ordered a second commission of United States surgeons to examine Stone. They did so, and reported that Stone could be moved with safety, from the fact that wherever the bullet was, it would be imbedded permanently now, and not apt to cause any trouble. This examination was held on Friday, July 9th, and the report was made the next day. Tuesday, July 20th, was set as the date for the hearing before Commissioner Rogers. It was a memorable hearing in the history of extradition cases. For the prosecution appeared United States Senator Daniel W. Voorhees, Assistant Attorney-General of the United States Heber May, Paul Jones, a nephew of Voorhees, and United States District Attorney Thomas Hayes. For the defence appeared ex-Governor William Pinckney White, his son, and ex-Judge Garey, and W.M. Simpson. The hearing began on Tuesday, and continued every day until Saturday. The defence, as the Justice of the United States Supreme Court had foreseen, advanced the plea of insanity. To this the prosecution objected, and very rightly, stating that was for a jury, and not for a Commissioner, to determine; and I believe that the Justices of the United States Supreme Court would have taken this view of it. The defence brought witnesses and doctors all the way from Texas to prove John Stone did remarkable and irrational things.

  "They swore John Stone imagined at times that he was Napoleon, and that he rode with a cloak and sword on the prairies, that he reviewed imaginary armies, and that he delighted imaginary audiences. They swore Maude Hodge, the girl whom he had shot, and who had recovered, and her mother, Mrs. Maloma Hodge, who swore that on the day of the shooting John Stone's eyes were like those of a raving maniac. Hugh W. Matthews and Mrs. Matthews also were sworn. When it came to the arguments, a two-horse waggon would not carry off the law books used by counsel. I got a post-graduate course in extradition law that I never will forget. Commissioner Rogers decided John Stone was insane. I went to Washington.

  "'You'll appeal, won't you, Murray,' said Attorney- General Garland.

  "'Yes,' said I, 'but I must see the Attorney-General of Ontario first.'

  "I returned to Toronto, and conferred with Premier Mowat. He thought we had done all in our power, and it would appear too vindictive, as if we were after blood, to push it further. If I had foreseen this I would not have conferred with him. I went back to Washington to settle up the matter. I called on Senator Voorhees, and we went to see Attorney-General Garland.

  "'Murray's come here with a pocketful of Canada money,' said Voorhees to Garland jokingly. 'What shall we do; take it away from him?'

  "'Oh, no,' said Attorney-General Garland. 'In respect to our friend, we'll bear the burden of these expenses, and his Government of course will appreciate the splendid work he has done!'

  "Attorney-General Garland directed that all expenses, the Commissioner, Marshal, witnesses, doctors, and detectives, amounting to several thousand dollars, be paid by the United States. The three detectives were on duty watching Stone one hundred and thirty days. They received $5 each a day, or a total of $1,950. Chief Frey and his staff gave a banquet for me before I left. He and his men stood true through the entire case, and could not be swerved. They are of God's own people in the police business.

  "John Stone was discharged in Baltimore. He went to Texas, as well as ever. Two years later eczema broke out, and shortly thereafter he died. The bullet was found imbedded in his brain. After hearing this, I investigated the matter of foreign substances in the brain. I found a case reported in New Hampshire where a man was blasting, the charge hung fire, he tampered with it, and the crowbar was blown up to the top of his head, so that two men had to pull it out, and yet he lived. A German case was reported where a man, desiring to commit suicide, drove two chisels into his head with a mallet. They caused him such pain that he yelled, and help came, and pulled them out, and he lived. Marvellous things happen to the brain, and the persons still live.

  "The case of John Stone was remarkable, not alone for the bullet in the brain. John Stone was a remarkable man, with a brain full of stranger things than bullets, but we were entitled to a jury trial of his case, and in this I feel that my opinion would have been upheld by the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. I do not, of course, mean to say that I know whereof I speak. I heard Stone died in the midst of vain imaginings."

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