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Grinnell shoots Cornell, 1890


Posted By: S. Ferrall (email)
Date: 12/29/2007 at 17:23:11

The Warning Not Heeded. Shot Dead in his Hotel by an Angry and Jealous Husband.

Dubuque, Iowa, April 17 - A tragedy occurred at North McGregor last night. About midnight George Cornell of this city, engineer of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad between Dubuque and McGregor, and son of Roadmaster Cornell of the same road, was shot by Jay G. Grinnell, official stenographer in Judge Granger's court.

Grinnell has been for years a member of Dubuque's fashionable society, and, although known by many to be a man of evil habits, managed to conceal his character from the knowledge of the general public. Several years ago he was married to Miss Glenn of Clayton County. They resided in McGregor and have a boy about seven years of age.

Grinnell, after his marriage, apparently abandoned many of his former habits, and was not only greatly devoted to his wife, but insanely jealous of her. About two months ago he first became aware that his wife was receiving attention from Cornell. He called on Cornell's father several times and received from him positive assurances that the son should cease his attentions to Mrs. Grinnell, and at last, hoping to break up the relations between his wife and Cornell, he removed to this city and engaged rooms at a boarding house on Main-street.

Cornell's run on the road kept him in McGregor over night, and by bringing his wife to this city Grinnell believed he could bring about a separation between his wife and her lover. He sent word to Cornell that unless he discontinued his attentions to Mrs. Grinnell he would shoot him on sight, but Cornell paid no attention to the threat.

About two weeks ago Grinnell was called by his official duties to McGregor. His wife accompanied him to the station, and as she kissed him good-bye Cornell, who was standing at a second-story window in the building, remarked to a companion as he pointed to Grinnell: "There is a man who swears he will shoot me on sight."

A few days later Mrs. Grinnell drove to the station to meet her husband on his return. Cornell was standing by the buggy conversing with her, when his father came along and warned him to go out of the way, as Grinnell was coming on the approaching train.

The next day Grinnell left for McGregor, taking his boy with him, and it was reported he and his wife had separated and that she was going to relatives in California, but she still remains at her boarding house in this city and was driving about the city this morning in company with a stranger, wholly unconscious of what had occurred last night in McGregor.

Cornell left Dubuque last night on his engine and arrived at McGregor shortly after 11 o'clock. He went to the hotel of his uncle, and while washing he looked into the mirror and saw Grinnell approaching him. He turned, and as he did Grinnell fired, the ball passing through Cornell's head. Cornell fell to the floor, and Grinnell was walking cooly away when he was seized by the spectatiors. He made no resistance, and was kept in the hotel until this morning, when he was handed over to the authorities.

Roadmaster Cornell left for McGregor on the early train this morning and brought his son's remains to Dubuque to-night. Cornell lived until to-day about noon, when he expired.

The dead man was twenty-nine years of age. He was married in Belleview about three years ago to the daughter of George G. Banghart. It was a runaway match, and a few months ago they separated. Mrs. Cornell returning to her mother's home, in Cascade, where her two children reside. For the past two weeks she has been visiting her brothers in Chicago, where she is at present.

Grinnell's friends are already setting up the plea of insanity. They claim that his plan was to avoid publicity of the scandal by sending his wife to California, but that she declined to go, and that brooding over his troubles he resolved to take the life of the man who he believed to be the destroyer of his happiness. Grinnell, in his younger days, led a wild and reckless

~New York Times, April 18, 1890

Telegraphic News.
A Sensational Shooting Affair Occurs at McGregor, Iowa, Caused by Jealousy.

Dubuque, April 17 -- A shooting affair occurred at a late hour last night at North McGregor which contains much of a sensational character. George Cornell, a young man of 29 years, is an engineer on the Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, and a son of Roadmaster C.H. Cornell of that road, a well known citizen of Dubuque. Cornell arrived at North McGregor at 11 o'clock p.m. and was met after leaving his locomotive by J.J. Grinnell, who was evidently waiting for him. Grinnell walked up to him and with out a word discharged two bullets from a revolver, entering the head just above the eyes. Cornell had not died up to 6 o'clock this evening but is unconscious and it is impossible for him to recover. Grinnell, who did the shooting, has been for years official reporter and stenographer of the district court of McGregor district and is well known. It is alleged that Cornell had been paying too much attention to Grinnell's wife. Mrs. Grinnell has been stopping in this city, although her home is at McGregor and better opportunities have been presented for meeting. On being interviewed this afternoon she declared she loved Cornell and that he loved her.

~Bismarck Daily Tribune, Bismarck, North Dakota
April 18, 1890


Public Sentiment With Him.
Dubuque, Iowa, Dec. 10 -- The trial of Jay J. Grinnell at North McGregor in April last has commenced in the district court of Clayton county at Elkador. Grinnell was a shorthand court reporter. His wife, a young and handsome woman, formed the acquaintance of Cornell, who was an engineer running on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul road. The intimacy became criminal and the husband warned Cornell that unless it was ceased he would kill him on sight. Cornell paid no attention to the warning and Grinnell shot the engineer. The defense will set up the claim of temporary insanity. Public sentiment is largely in favor of the defendant.

~Sandusky Daily Register, Sandusky, Ohio
December 11, 1890


Acquitted of the Charge.
Dubuque, Iowa, Dec. 16 -- Grinnell, who has been on trial at Elkader during the past week on the charge of murdering George Cornell last August [sic - the murder was in April 1890], at McGregor, was acquitted Saturday morning. The defense was temporary insanity, produced by the knowledge that Cornell had deliberately ruined Grinnell's wife and broken up his family. The verdict of the jury is generally satisfactory. Grinnell is a shorthand reporter in Judge Grayon's [sic Granger] court and Cornell was the son of the master mechanic of the St. Paul railroad.

~Morning Review, Decatur, Illinois
December 16, 1890


A reconciliation has taken place between J.J. Grinnell and his wife. About a year ago Grinnell killed George Cornell for undue intimacy with his wife. Mrs. Grinnell recently met her husband at Elkader, and the result is that they are together again as man and wife. Both have gone to Oakland, Cal., where they will reside.

~The New Era, Humeston, Wayne co., Iowa
February 11, 1891

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