Sunday, December 16, 2007

Still More of a Murder Mystery

postcard image of a logging train

It's Christmas card time, and my most interesting mail came from Fairfield, Washington. One of my grandmother's cousins, who has been looking through microfilm of old Skagit River area newspapers, turned up two more articles about my great-grandfather's shooting in 1914. These clippings send me scurrying to the internet to search for more, and while I haven't found anything about Grandpa Adams, little by little a picture of the area at that time is emerging. I learned, for example, that two kinds of entertainment for men in the Hamilton, Sedro-Woolley area in 1914 were visiting the saloons (this is just six years before Prohibition), and attending the circus. Saloons in logging towns provided a place to socialize, play cards or shoot pool, drink, smoke, and often they were the location of the only public toilet in town. Evidentally the Al Barnes Circus visited the area yearly, complete with acrobats, a freak show, and a menagerie of wild elephants. In 1922 a huge elphant named Tusker escaped from the same circus and rampaged downtown Sedro-Woolley. That's another story. One writer, describing the logging town suggested that it resembled the town in the film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. These tid-bits are helping me form a mental picture of the time and place in which my great-grandfather lived and died.

Here is the first article.

The Mt. Vernon (Washington) Herald, Thursday, May 28, 1914.
Vol. 31, No. 14


Matt Snyder, a logging engineer in the employ of the Hamilton Logging Company, shot L.E. Adams, also a logging engineer, to death about 1:30 o’clock Sunday morning following their return from a circus at Sedro-Wooley where both became intoxicated and started a quarrel. Both men are old in the service of the company and both are well known in the Hamilton district. Snyder has a wife and baby and the wife says she handed her husband a gun with which to kill Adams after Adams had thrown Snyder to the ground and was beating him with brass knuckles. The tragedy occurred in front of the Snyder home in Hamilton.

The two men had been on bad terms for some time, owing to a disagreement over their work, Adams thinking he was entitled to the train run which had been assigned to Snyder. When they met at saloons in Sedro-Wooley Saturday they had words and continued to quarrel until the tragedy occurred on their way home the next morning.

Mrs. Snyder and her baby accompanied Snyder to the county jail and spent a night in jail with him. She was held temporarily but later released, Prosecutor Beagle having no fear that she might try to escape.

The shooting was not reported to Superintendent Lyle McNeil, of the Hamilton company camp, until an hour and a half following the tragedy.

Snyder will be tried at the June term of court when 20 other criminal cases will be heard.

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