We Were Here

Issac Edwards
February 1, 2012
by Konrad Stump, contributing writer to The Logan Daily News

It feels as though Hocking County has seen more than its fair share of murder in recent history. Something so tragic is always hard to believe, but in a place like Hocking County, it feels particularly unnerving. Certainly, something like this doesn't happen here. But murder has been happening here for almost as long as Hocking County has been a settled part of Ohio. John Fox was murdered by Elias Primmer in February of 1856. John Krinn was murdered by George Blackburn and three other masked men in September of 1890. But these were both crimes for money. Though there was surely a baser reason to the committal of the Fox and Krinn murders, the crimes we have seen of late don't seem to have any motives. They are crimes committed out of rage, anger, passion, and desperation. We are touched by them, and they will stick somewhere in our minds for the rest of our lives. But, they will leave the news, they will stop being the topic of discussion, and we will be left to think of them in passing, or even when we think of our own lives and the lives of those we love. When we are gone, it will be left to history.
History, as we know, is selective. Having the opportunity to write this column, in a small way, I get a say in history. I choose to tell the story of Isaac Edwards and Sallie Sellers. Their story, like all of our stories, deserves a chance at preservation, and at remembering.
Sarah "Sallie" Sellers with her husband, and Isaac Edwards with his wife and two children, all came to America from England several years before the murder occurred. At first, they settled in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Edwards died and was buried there, and the Sellers took in the children to raise and Isaac boarded with them. The Sellers decided to move to Murray City in about 1887, and the Edwards came along with them and continued to board with them. In December of 1892, it was intimated to Sallie's husband, James, that Isaac and Sallie were too intimate. John sent Sallie on a trip to England, hoping that she would lose any affection she might have had for Edwards, and Edwards was sent away as well. Sallie returned home in March of 1893, at which point the rumor of she and Isaac reached her ears, causing her to refuse to allow Isaac near the house. According to witness testimony during his trial, Edwards made his home just down the street from the Sellers' home.
That June, Isaac came to the house and asked Sallie to elope with him, but she refused. After this, Isaac spoke poorly of Sallie's character. On Wednesday, July 5, 1893, Isaac had been filling up on bad whiskey and beer at Ike Hawkin's saloon. He went to Sallie's home about three o'clock, armed with a 38-caliber bull dog with all five chambers loaded. He went to the rear porch where Mrs. Sellers was peeling potatoes and began firing. Sallie died two days later, on July 7, 1893. She was 37 years old.
A Dr. Pritchard, of Buchtel, was called to the aid of Sallie the day she was shot, and Sallie gave the following statement to him: "I was sitting in my back kitchen door peeling potatoes when I heard someone hallowing and swearing on the railroad track. I did not pay any attention to him, and when he came to the front porch I heard Isaac Edwards swearing at me, swearing that he was going to kill me. I sent my nephew to the front porch to send him off. He came around the house and never said a word and shot me while I was peeling potatoes. I endeavored to run but could not get up, so I tried to crawl away from him. I had reached the door leading to the front room when he shot me again. He was standing near the kitchen door when he shot me the second time. I had not spoken to him for several weeks. I don't know what motive or cause he had in shooting me."
Isaac was arrested at his home and brought to Nelsonville on the labor train, and from there taken to Logan and lodged in the jail. The case went on for more a year before a final determination was made. In February of 1894, a reporter for The Journal-Gazette interviewed Isaac in his cell. He made an effort to be cheerful, and when asked how he was feeling, replied that he felt first rate. When the interviewer asked Isaac about his sons, there was a perceptible change in his countenance. He said that one was about old enough to take care of himself, but the younger one would need some attention. When asked about his hope for a new trial, he didn't desire to say what he thought about it. He did say, though, that he was crazy when he committed the crime and if he had not been he would never have done it. The reporter noted that Isaac had lost a considerable amount of flesh, and did not look so strong and vigorous as when he first came to the jail.
On Sept. 17, 1894, Isaac Edwards, after months of deliberation, was hanged in the annex at the Ohio penitentiary. The last and about the only word said by Isaac was "goodbye" just before the trap was sprung. Before being hanged, though, he gave the following keepsakes to his sons: To Isaac, his younger son, he gave his album, a book, sleeve holders, brushes and a looking glass, as well as a watch and chain which had been in the family for several generations. To Thomas, his older son, he gave half of the pictures in the album.
It is hard, for me, to not feel something for Isaac. What drives somebody to such an action? How does one reach that point? I just can't imagine so much pain. Perhaps I feel because of his sons. Where did their lives go? What did they do with what they had survived? But what I find more sad, is that Isaac is the one we have an image of. Despite the fact that he cut Sallie's life short, we know what he looked like, but we have no idea what she looked like. If there is anything I could do for her, it is to put her name out there, to remind people of what happened to her, and to reproduce the only words I know her to have spoken. She had a voice. She was here. We were all here.
Reprinted here with the permission of the author, Konrad Stump.

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