Something Concerning the Exercise of Executive Clemency in Illinois.
A List of Pardons Issued to Prisoners Under Sentence for Manslaughter and Murder
Clarissa Baldwin; April 1868; murder; 14 years; White County. Pardoned January 1875, Served 7 years. This pardon was granted on request of the Penitentiary Commissioners upon the certificate of the prison surgeon that she was unable to work because of atrophy of the left arm, caused by injury; and further that she was gradually becoming demented. Her conduct in prison was uniformly good. Longer imprisonment could serve no good purpose. [Inter-Ocean Springfield, January 17 1876, submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer]
DECLARED TO BE DAN BENTON
The Remarkable Case of the Alleged William Newby Decided.
Springfield, Ill. July 24,- The most remarkable case of fraud and pretended identity in the history of American jurisprudence closed when the jury in the federal district court for the southern district of Illinois pronounced Dan Benton, a Tennessee mountaineer pauper, a fraud and worthy of a long penitentiary sentence. The case has attracted widespread attention because of the question of identity involved. William Newby,a White county, Illinois, farmer, enlisted in the Illinois volunteers in 1861, and was believed to have been killed at the battle of Shiloh. Comrades swear they buried him. The report was received at home and his wife secured a pension. In 1891 the wreck of a man appeared in White county and claimed to be Newby. He was accepted as such by the wife, mother, and others. Some did not believe him. He applied for back pay and board, for according to the records he was never discharged; also a pension, in all amounting to about $24,000. The authorities investigated and decided that he was an impostor declaring that the was Rickety Dan Benton, a convicted horse thief and poorhouse inmate of Tennessee and the jury has decided them right.
One hundred and fifty old farmer, neighbors and war comrades positively identified him as Newby, though perhaps fifty did not. The defendant appears to be about 50 years old, while Newby would be 68. Their appearance was much alike and body scars and marks corresponded wonderfully. Expert testimony introduced to show the cause of the defendant’s physical condition differed widely and was of no effect. The defendant will be sentenced this week. Public opinion is widely at variance. A full account of the defendant’s return to White county in 1891 was printed in these dispatches. Source: Rock Island daily Argus (Rock Island, Ill), Date: July 24, 1893, Image: 1, transcribed by: Debbie Oberst
A MURDERER CAPTURED AFTER THIRTEEN YEARS.
[From the Denver News.]
Sheriff Thomas J. PORTER, of White County, Ill., arrived here Monday evening, having in custody a man named John AIKEN, who is charged with the murder of one Tesh STUART, in While Co., Ills., in 1864. The crime, which was committed so long ago, was one of unusual barbarity; in which this prisoner had as associates two men named Thomas and Andrew GLIDE. The victim was a wealthy farmer, and the killing was prompted by the hope of securing a large amount of money which he was supposed to have in the house. AIKEN confessed his crime, and was to have been executed, but he succeeded in breaking jail before the day arrived for the hanging. Coming at once to Colorado, he has since resided in the Territory and State for some years living in Custer county, where he has a cabin, from 75 to 100 head of cattle, and a family of nine children. The officer and his prisoner left yesterday on the east bound train. Sheriff POTTER thinks there is but a slight chance to escape the gallows, as there are still living two of the murdered man’s children and a hired man who witnessed the shooting.”
This John AIKEN, spoken of above by the Denver News, was well and unfavorably known in Williamson county, and, it is supposed, wrote a few pages of our county’s history in blood. In Erwin’s History we read of AIKEN’s as follows:
“After George AIKEN was frustrated in his efforts to sell out the 128th at Cairo, he went to Missouri and got Allen GLIDE and Charley GLIDE and came back here. These, and his son John, are the ones supposed to compose the “AIKEN gang” This gang flourished here in the spring of 1863, in the north part of the county, during which time several murders were committed, and no less than fifty of our citizens robbed. Dr. BANDY was taken out and whipped unmercifully, and George COX was attacked in his house and fired on several times.”
One by one the outlaws are coming to time, and the law being honored by sacrificing the wretches upon the altar. There are yet others at large who in the fullness of time will receive a “just compense of reward.” [July 19, 1877 , Volume 4 Number 4 - submitted by Shauna Williams]
Carmi: Monday night a freight car standing on the track of the Wabash road at Carmi was broken into and a quantity of new clothing taken therefrom, consisting of two vests, four coats, and a pair of pants. On Tuesday night the yard master of the road at Carmi unexpectedly entered the caboose of a freight train that had just came in and noticed that the conductor and a brakeman on the train, named James McKay and Frank Key, were hastily hiding some new clothing. He had not heard of the burglary then and the actions of McKay and Key did not arouse his suspicions, but news of the crime reached him Wednesday and he at once suspected them as the guilty parties. He came down here and together with several officers made search for the goods which they found in a down town saloon, placed there for safe keeping by the men named, who upon being arrested yesterday, were found to have checks for the goods. They deny having taken the goods, Conductor Key claims that the check for the goods was given him for safe keeping by another brakeman under him named Bradford Newlin, who in turn denies all knowledge of the affair. The value of the goods is not large enough to send the prisoners to the penitentiary on a charge of larceny and the charge of burglary can not be brought against them in the courts here because the offense was committed in another county. It is deemed best, therefore to send the prisoners back to White county where the crime was committed. In view of the fact that the Alexander county jail is nearly full of transient criminals and the burden of trying them will be very heavy there ought to be no hesitation about making White county bear the expense of the trial of McKay and Key, more especially since in that county alone the full penalty of the crime can be inflicted. [Source: The daily Cairo bulletin (Cairo, Ill), Date: February 09, 1883, Image: 4 transcribed by: Debbie Oberst]
ED WHENTON AND FRANK TORRICELLI
Two men who robbed bank at Springerton, Ill., and escaped from White county Jail last Saturday night, captured. [Source: The day book (Chicago,Ill), Date: January 24, 1914, Last Edition, Image: 31, transcribed by: Debbie Oberst]