Perry Akers (1862-1887) & John O. French (1827-1887)
Posted By: Dorian Myhre (email)
Date: 12/12/2015 at 13:32:46
From Nevada Representative October 26, 1887
MURDER AND SUICIDE
At Maxwell, J. O. French killed,
T. B. Smeltzer wounded and
Perry Akers, the murder-
er, commits Suicide.
Probably the history of Iowa does not record as tragical an event as occured in Mawell on last Saturday evening, resulting in the almost instant death of one of its most prominent and respected citizens, the serous wounding of another, and the suicide of the assassin. Words can give but a faint idea of the scene, and those who were witnesses have impressions on their memory that will be retained for many years. Perry Akers, in the extreme of despondency, had fully decided to take his own life, and wishing to avenge some fancied wrongs, planned to perfection the taking of the lives of several prominent citizens, to end with his own death.
About 5 P. M. Akers entered the hardware store of Mr. J. Miller, and after come conversation in which he was very calm and collected, succeeded in borrowing a revolver, for the purpose of killing a dog. Passing out of the store he crossed main street, entered the butcher shop of T. B. Smeltzer, who was sitting on a stool to the right of the door, and drawing his revolver, said: "Tom are you ready to take your medicine," and fired. The ball entered the right cheek, glanced around the bone, came out under the cheek, entered the neck, and came out near the lower part of the right collar bone, making a dangerous but not necessarily fatal flesh wound. Akers then ran out of the door, turned south, passed east between the two buildings to the alley, south in the alley to Railroad avenue, a distance of about two squares, crossed to the lumber office of Mr. John O. French, the Mayor of our City, entered the office, and found Mr. F. sitting to the right of and near the door. Without a word of warning he drew his revolver and fired, the fatal ball entering the left cheek and lodging in the base of the brain. Mr. F. although unconscious, lived about 1 1/2 hours. His son, John Jr., was in the office at the time and the only witness of the horrible murder. Akers then recrossed the street to the Livery Stable, opened the door and looked into the office, ran through the stable to the alley to Broad street, west to main and north on Main street opposite the shop of Mr. Smeltzer, where a number of the citizens were collecting. Here drawing his revolver, he brandished it in defiance before the terrified citizens, drawing it and aiming at several of them, and at three different time place it against his own temple as if to take his own life, but seemed to conclude that his work was not yet complete, and appeared to be searching among the citizens for other victims. Guns were being loaded for the purpose of shooting him down, Akers looked north on main street and saw a man coming south with a gun. Perhaps thinking it was intended for him, he ran back of the hardware store and south to the steps leading to the I. O. O. F. hall. Ascending the steps, he sat down upon the platform and placing the revolver to his right temple, counted distinctly "one, tow, three," and fired, the ball passing through the brain, killing him almost instantly. For the sake of humanity the body was decently buried on Sunday evening.
The funeral of J. O. French was held Monday afternoon and attended by a large and deeply sympathetic audience. The entire local community with many representatives from various parts of the county were in attendance, more that filling the closely packed church. The services were conducted by the Rev. W. H. H. Smith, pastor of the Maxwell and Cambridge M. E. Churches, assisted by Revs. Brubaker and Walton, and, beginning with a brief service at the home were very appropriate and touching throughout. The address of Mr. Smith portrayed in simple but eloquent phrase the sterling qualities of character possessed by the deceased and bore testimony to his great helpfulness in the affairs of church and society and his hearty sympathy with and willing support of all movements calculated to advance and bless human kind. The Odd Fellows of Maxwell, of whom Mr. French was a brother, reinforced by representatives from sister lodges in the county, took a prominent part in the services and the act of burial at the cemetery was performed in harmony with the fitting and beautiful ritual of the Order. It was a sad day, and not only for the family and friends of the deceased, but for the entire community. All felt that a strong, active, valuable and good man had fallen, and that they had suffered a great loss.
Mr. T. B. Smeltzer is doing well and will undoubtedly recover.
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