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Hamilton, Oliver David, 1875-1917


Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 2/3/2016 at 23:02:38

From the Rock Valley Bee, March 9, 1917:


Mr. and Mrs. S. Bellesfield received a message Monday advising them of the death of their soninlaw, O. D. Hamilton, at Becker, Minn. No particulars were given further than that he died suddenly. Mrs. Bellesfield and W. I. Murphy left the same day for Becker to assist the bereaved family in arranging for the funeral services. Mr. Hamilton was a resident of this vicinity several years ago and will be remembered by many of our people. He leaves a wife and five children.

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From the Rock Valley Bee, March 16, 1917:


The remains of O. D. Hamilton, whose death was mentioned last week, arrived in Rock Valley Thursday. Mr. Hamilton was shot and instantly killed by a section foreman James E. Murphy, at Becker, Minn., during a quarrel over a load of straw, in the presence of his wife. Murphy claims he acted in self defense, and Mrs. Hamilton claims there was no provocation for the murderous deed. Murphy was arrested and later released on bail of $10,000. His trial will be held next May.

Oliver D. Hamilton was born at Darlington, Indiana, July fourth, eighteen hundred seventy-five, where he grew to manhood, being raised on a farm. After coming west he spent a number of years at Akron and Hartley, Iowa. Later he came to Rock Valley, where he formed the acquaintance of Miss Effie Bellesfield, which culminated in their marriage, April 1st, 1903. To this union were born five children, Howard, Elenor, Ruth, Robert and Lois.

The continued to live in Rock Valley until 1906 when they moved onto a farm near Canton, S.D., where they lived for two years. In 1908 they went to Hitchcock, S.D., residing there for five years. In the fall of 1912 they went to Hancock, Minn., where they lived for two years, going from there to Becker, Minn., where they now live. He was a kind and loving husband and father with a happy and cheerful disposition and never before was he known to quarrel with his friends or neighbors. The deceased was forty-one years, eight months and one day old at the time of his death.

Besides his wife and children, he leaves to mourn his tragic death, two brothers and four sisters, also many friends, who join in sympathy wit the bereaved ones.

Funeral services were held at the Methodist Church at Becker, Wednesday, after which the remains were brought to Rock Valley. They were taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. Bellesfield, where on Friday afternoon at two o'clock, short services were held, conducted by Rev. W. P. Webb of the Methodist church, interment taking place in Valley View Cemetery. Words cannot express the sympathy felt for the bereaved wife and children in this time of sorrow and affliction, by the many friends.

(The Card of Thanks that follows is signed by Mrs. Effie Hamilton and children, S. Bellesfield and family, Mrs. A. H. Pickett, U. G. Hamilton, and Mr. John Shriver.

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From the Alton Democrat, March 17, 1917 (Rock Valley news):

[Announces his death and gives information about his funeral, burial, and early life similar to the Rock Valley Bee, then adds details about his current situation and killing]:

.... in 1912 [he moved] to Hancock, Minn., and later bought a small farm near Clear Lake, Minn., but met with some adversities and as a result lost the farm with the money he had accumulated. He then moved near Becker where he met his tragic death. The facts of his death are as follows: Mr. Hamilton rented a 400-acre farm two miles from Becker, and on the previous Friday to his death, which occurred on Sunday, March 4, he moved part of his belongings on this farm. On Sunday James Murphy, an old resident of Becker, sent two of his boys out to the Hamilton farm to get some straw, which was in his barn lot, and without asking permission they proceeded to take the straw when Mr. Hamilton objected, and informed them that he had a lease for the farm, and stated that nothing should be removed from the farm after the first of March, and that he needed the straw for feed, and told them that they could not take the straw.

They returned to town, and the father and two sons returned when the controversy was renewed. When Mr. Hamilton ordered him from the premises, and to enforce the order, he pushed Murphy with the fork when he [Murphy] drew a revolver and fired three times, each shot taking effect, killing him [Hamilton] instantly in the presence of his wife. He [Murphy] was arrested and placed under a $10,000 bond to appear in court in May. He [Hamilton] leaves a family of five children with limited means. The citizens of this community generously contributed $202 to aid the widow and children in their time of extreme need, which was appreciated by Mrs. Hamilton. It was a sad affair and unwarranted. The slayer and the slayed were strangers to each other.

Those who attended the funeral from abroad were Mrs. E. C. Klinger, of Hancock, Minn.; Mrs. Benbow and Miss Frances Thorp, of Sioux Falls; Mrs. Walter Thorp, of Harrisburg, S.D.; Miss Cynthia Bellesfield, of Ankeny, Ia.; C. B. Bellesfield, of Paullina, Ia.

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Hamilton's death was covered by Minnesota newspapers from the area, as well. The following is from the Brainerd Daily Dispatch, March 6, 1917:

Farmer Shot and Killed by Section Foreman

Becker, Minn., March 6.--Following a quarrel over some straw James Murphy, thirty-eight years old, section foreman, shot and killed O. D. Hamilton, a farmer living between Becker and Clear Lake. The shooting occurred on the farm occupied by Hamilton and was witnessed by the victim's wife and two sons. Murphy, who has lived in this vicinity all his life and is well known, is in jail here charged with murder. Hamilton was forty years old and has lived in this vicinity three years.

Murphy and his two sons went to the Hamilton farm to get some straw, which he says he purchased from Wilson Bailey, a tenant on the place prior to Hamilton. Murphy declared he did not use the gun he is permitted to carry because of his railway duties until Hamilton attacked him with a pitchfork. Mrs. Hamilton says her husband had a pitchfork, but never attempted to use it. She says Murphy shot without provocation.

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The Rock Valley Bee and the Alton Democrat note Mrs. Hamilton and children going to Elk River in May 1917 to attend Murphy's trial, which is to begin on May 14. The submitter did not readily find any information about the outcome of this trial in an online search of Hamilton's and Murphy's names.

Presumably Murphy was tried in the Sherburne County district court. The Minnesota State Archives holds the early records of the court, including criminal case files, registers of actions, judgment books, and coroner's records.

The Minnesota Death Certificate Index has Oliver David Hamilton, d. March 4, 1917, certificate # 1917-MN-013499.


Sioux Obituaries maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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