Monday, December 17, 2007

Murder Mystery, The Final Chapter?

Your humble servant and his chums the 3 tallest Snake agents in Cascade Division - written on the back of an old photo

Edward Lemuel Adams, 1872-1914

The top photo here has always interested me. The man in back is my great grandfather, but I have no idea who his "chums" are. Is one of these distinguished looking men Matt Snyder? As I read over the text of the newspaper clippings that follow I wondered about a few things. My grandmother, Len's daughter, described a nasty head wound, which she remembered as made by a bullet, yet the article indicates Adams was killed by a shot to his side. Was her 10-year-old observation wrong? Perhaps the wound she saw was the result of their fight. I wonder too about the detail that indicates nobody was called until an hour after Adams' death. Why wouldn't somebody summon the neighbors or the police sooner? Wouldn't one of the neighbor friends who attended Snyder's trial have heard a gunshot? My other thought is the fuss the papers made over Snyder's children, the baby who was in the county jail over night with the mother, the six-year-old boy delighted to be reunited with his father after the trial. Len was divorced, but he was also a father left a young daughter who grieved for him for decades.

Here are the last two clippings my friend in Fairfield sent this week.

Mt. Vernon (Washington) Herald, June 25, 1914


Logging Engineer Charged With Killing L.E. Adams, In Court To Answer, Self-Defense To Be Set Up

Matt Snyder, charged with the murder of L.E. Adams at Hamilton on the morning of May 24, following their return from a circus at Sedro-Woolley, was placed on trial at the superior court yesterday. In the absence of Judge Houser, who is too ill to sit, Judge Pemberton of Bellingham is on the bench.

All day yesterday was spent in an effort to obtain a jury. At 3:30 yesterday the state had exhausted all of its three peremptory and the defense had two remaining. A special venire was necessary and six more Veniremen, two from each district, were summoned.


Indications are that the case will be bitterly contested. Snyder's defense will be handled by Attorneys Straughton & Henderson, assisted by W.H. Morris, a well known criminal lawyer from Seattle. Prosecuting attorney C.D. Beagle and Deputy Prosecutor Lester Whitmore will look after the state's interests.

While no statement of the case has been made on account of the inability to obtain a jury, it was given out yesterday afternoon that the defense would claim self-defense as a motive for the shooting which resulted in Adams' death at the hands of Snyder. The state will allege that Snyder threatened to "get" Adams as the result of an old grudge and this was the first opportunity to carry out the threat.


Snyder's wife and baby are present at the trial, as well as a large number of Snyder's friends and neighbors at the logging camp.

The shooting occurred at Snyder's home and Snyder and adams, both intoxicated, had engaged in a dispute. Snyder, it is said, will allege that he was attacked by Adams with brass knuckles, and that he called to his wife to bring his gun that he might resist the efforts of Adams to do him bodily harm. Both were logging engineers.

Mt. Vernon (Washington) Herald, Thursday, July 2, 1914 Vol. 31, No. 19


Pathetic Scene in Court Room Following Reading of Verdict -- "We've Got a Daddy Now"

Matty Snyder, charged with the murder of L.E. Adams, walked from the courtroom late Saturday afternoon a free man, Snyder's wife and babies and friends from the logging camp crowded close to the white faced man and wept and laughed hysterically, while Snyder, tears rolling down his face, grasped each juror by the hand and tried hard to express his appreciation.

Where there were many who were not in sympathy with the findings of the jury, the big crowd of spectators was visibly moved when Snyder's little six-year-old boy ran to his side and cried: "We've got a daddy now."


The meeting between the accused man and his wife following the adjournment of court was pathetic, with arms outstretched the little woman who said she gave Snyder the gun with which to shoot Adams and who stood by her husband during the trying times that followed his arrest, ran toward him as he arose from his chair, and the two stood silent in a long embrace.

Snyder gathered up his clothing in his cell in the county jail, and after a conference with his attorneys, set out for Hamilton and home in an automobile driven by a friend who said he had brought it down before the trial began so as to be ready to take Snyder home.

The case was keenly contested. Snyder's defense was in the hands of Attorneys Shrauger & Henderson and Will H. Morris, the latter of Seattle.


While admitting that he shot Adams, Snyder contended that he did it to defend himself from an attack made on him by Adams with brass knuckles. The two men had quarreled repeatedly before they engaged in a fight in front of Snyder's house on the morning of May 24 following their return from a circus at Sedro-Woolley. Snyder had been placed on a run which Adams thought belonged to him on the logging road. Both men were locomotive engineers.

Snyder testified that when Adams got him down and commenced beating him with brass knuckles he shouted to his wife and asked her to bring him his revolver. It was dark, and before Adams could prevent him from getting the gun Snyder said he seized it from the hand of his wife and shot his assailant in the side. Adams died soon afterward.

The state laid great stress on that fact that it was hardly probable that Adams would permit Mrs. Snyder to give her husband the gun if he had such an advantage as claimed. Prosecutor Beagle also pointed out that Mrs. Snyder's failure to notify the neighbors until over an hour following the shooting made the circumstances seem arranged. Evidence was difficult to obtain on both sides and all who are familiar with it admit that Prosecutor Beagle had an extremely trying case to handle.

Snyder declared emphatically that justice had been dealt out.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Well, Sherry, this has been a fascinating read. I hate to see the story end!