Friday, November 30, 2007

Murder Mystery, Part 3

Grandpa Adams and his engine

The man from the Skagit River Journal of History and Folklore who is helping me research my great grandfather's death sent me another bit of the puzzle. It came in the form of a photocopied clipping from the May 14, 1914, Mount Vernon (Washington) Argus.

Little Baby Snyder Laughs and Coos in Jail While Father Waits Trial on Murder Charge.

I went down to the jail last night to get the story of the killing of Ed Adams by Matt Snyder at the English Camp near Hamilton last Saturday night. And I walked in where the mother was nursing a six months old baby girl of the "killer" and the soft, sweet little angel put out her tiny hand and grasped me so I couldn't and I wouldn't get away. I didn't want the story of one who killed Adams; I didn't want the story of why Adams was killed; I wanted to take that pure sweet innocent baby out from the bars and bolts of jail and let her spread the sweet influence of infancy upon the whole lot of us sophisticaed men of affairs who are really respected.

There was a circus in Sedro-Woolley.

People came from miles around.

Saloons are operated in Sedro-Woolley by common consent of the best citizens.

Matt Snyder got drunk.

So did his friend, Ed Adams.

They went home to Hamilton together.

A trivial matter brought on a quarrel.

The quarrel brought on blows. From blows a killing resulted and a jury must say whether the "killer" was justified or must spend his life in a prison cell.

Let the verdict be what it will, there is still a little cooing babe close up against its mother's breast that loves every human being that comes within its touch and yet must bear the everlasting stigma of a drunken father's act.

He may be guilty.

His wife may have acted rashly in handing him the weapon.

The little blue eyed babe is still cooing in a cell in the Skagit county jail and the state or county or city that licensed the father to kill must answer to that baby if they can.

In addition to this florid bit of reporting (a temperance editorial?) , there was a short quote from a biography of Matt Snyder that his granddaughter wrote:

"During that time he got into a drunken argument and shot a man to death. There was a trial ad he was acquitted on the basis of self-defense. Matt was not a very big man, but Nam (grandma Anna, Matt's second wife) said in later years, that after the trial nobody ever fooled around with Matt Snider again."

Indeed. I wonder if my great grandmother kept clippings of the death of her first husband. I wonder if she felt vindicated in leaving him, sad, or perhaps a bit of each. I'm sure that the publicity must have been humiliating to the woman so proper she wouldn't be seen out in daylight while she was pregnant. I wonder if she ever missed him.

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