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Penneton murder 1883


Posted By: Sharyl Ferrall
Date: 11/23/2003 at 02:45:00

The murder of a bachelor by his twin brother.
The principals to this sad tragedy are John and Michael PENNETON, who have resided on their farm in Highland twp. 9 miles west of Elkader, for over twenty years. They jointly owned the farm, were over 70 years of age, have neither ever been married and have lived alone doing their own housework since the death of their aged mother some years ago. The final cause of the unnatural murder was that John, or Jack as he is called, was anxious to get married, a step to which Mike made most strenuous objections. The dispute had a final and fatal ending on Friday, just after the brothers and their hired man had partaken of supper. Mike was washing the dishes, when a heated discussion took place. Jack finally suggested that enough had been said, and rising from his chair and pushed it against Mike, who seized a butcher knife and plunged it into the left side of his brother. Withdrawing the knife, Mike picked up an iron poker and struck him over the head and then ran up the stairs. Poor Jack died within a few minutes, from internal hemorrhage. On Saturday a warrant was issued and Michael PENNETON was placed under arrest and incarcerated in the county jail. Since the killing the murderer has scarcely ate or slept, and verily looks the picture of despair. The funeral of poor Jack PENNETON took place on Sunday at the Elkader Catholic cemetery.

From the Dubuque Herald - reprinted in the Postville Review (Allamakee Co.)
November 24,1883


Added by Reid R. Johnson 2/12/2017

Just over the line from Boardman into Highland township, for a number of years past have resided the Penneton brothers, John and Michael, two bachelors, who have lived there alone since the death of their mother, which occurred some years ago at the advanced age of 107 years. Here they owned and worked a farm in partnership, did their own cooking and housework, and for years been the closest companions, putting their earnings into the common purse, and purchasing land for their common benefit, but on Friday evening last all this was ended, and in a fit of passion, Michael killed his brother, by stabbing him in the left breast, about two inches below the heart with a butcher knife, and then completed his bloody deed by striking him over the head with an iron stove poker. The knife used was an old butcher knife, long used and ground down to a narrow blade of almost lancet keenness. From a hired man employed by them we learn the following in regard to the cause of the tragedy.

John, or as he was more familiarly known, Jack Penneton, had tired of his long life of single blessedness, and had wooed and won a lady residing in the same township, and was to have been married before long. He announced his determination to his brother Michael, and this state of affairs led to a series of quarrels between them. During the day on which the homicide occurred, the two brothers and a hired man, Jack Whalen, were at work in the field husking corn and quarreled frequently. At the close of the days work they went to the house and had supper, after which, while Michael was washing the dishes the marriage was again brought up, and John rising from the chair in which he was sitting, took it up and pushed it against his brother, saying:

"I don't want to hear any more of this, words only make trouble."

At this, Michael, who was wild with passion, seized the butcher knife, (Which with the poker he had laid on the table), and before the hired man could interfere, struck the fatal blow.

Withdrawing the knife he seized the poker and struck John with it over the head, the two inflicting injuries from which John died within a short time. As soon as the blows were struck the hired man ran to the house of another brother, not far distant, and with him returned to the house, where they found Michael vainly endeavoring to make the wounded man sit up, and as they came in, he said

"He is just putting this on."

When assured that his brother was actually dead, he gave away to the most violent grief, and retired to the upper part of the house, where he remained until arrested on Saturday by Constable John Friend, of Elkader. After his arrest he was given a preliminary examination, and bound over to await the action of the grand jury, in the sum of $1,000, on the charge of manslaughter. He is now in the jail at this place.

The funeral of the murdered man occurred on Sunday last, his remains being laid away to their final rest in the Catholic cemetery, Elkader.

At the grave, Michael, who had been permitted to attend the funeral in charge of an officer, again gave away to his grief, and there was a most heartrending scene. He threw himself beside the grave of his brother, and called upon heaven to witness the fact that he did not intend to kill his brother. It was only with difficulty that he could be induced to leave the grave.

Elkader Register, Fri., 23 Nov. 1883


District Court:
State vs M. Penneton; manslaughter, trial by jury and a verdict of guilty returned. Judgement will be rendered on the last day of the term.

Elkader Register, Fri., 25 Jan. 1884


District Court:

M. Penneton, convicted of killing his brother was sentenced to one year at Anamosa, and fined $10 and cost of prosecution. Defendant appeals, and bond placed at $500.

Elkader Register, Fri., Feb. 1, 1884

(Note: Nothing more could be found about the case.)

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