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The Rivermen Biographies





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The Davenport Daily Leader, Friday, May 29, 1903, page 8.





Their Marriage Was Opposed by Relatives and as Both Have Disappeared, an Elopement Appears Probable.

If reports of friends of the young couple are to be relied upon, Ross Scandrett, a well known young man about town and Miss Benetta Cook, one of the popular and estimable young ladies of the city, have eloped.

Miss Cook has been missing from her home, 326 East Fifteenth street, since last Tuesday and Mr. Scandrett has also been reported missing for a similar length of time.  As the couple were devoted lovers and had expressed a desire to marry which wish was opposed by the girl's family on account of their youthful ages, the natural supposition is that they have taken matters into their own hands and eloped.  Both of the young people attended school together and spent considerable time in each other's company.

Miss Cook is a niece of W. B. Wiley, the well known Davenport grocer, and also a sister-in-law of E. S. Warner, the real estate and land broker.  She has a host of friends in this city who will read with interest the announcement of her supposed elopement.

The Daily Times, Friday, May 29, 1903, page 9.




Ross Scandrett Also Missing and Two are Supposed to Have Left Together


What is claimed to be an elopement in younger circles of Davenport is said to have occurred the early part of the present week.  The parties whom names are associated together in the affair are Ross Scandrett, nephew of Governor Van Sant of Minnesota, and Miss Benetta Cook, 326 East Fifteenth street.

Miss Cook left home Tuesday night of the present week and has not been seen by members of the family since that time.  Scandrett left the same day.  Parties who know him claim that they saw him yesterday in Rock Island, but where he is today is unknown.  The two had been keeping company for some time.

W. B. Wylie, uncle of Miss Cook, in speaking of the matter to a Times reporter this afternoon said that his niece left home Tuesday evening.  She said she was going out to see some of the neighbors and left without her hat and took none of her extra wearing apparel with her.  She did not return that night and in the morning, Mr. Wylie went to look for Scandrett, thinking he might know something of her whereabouts.  He went to the residence of William A. Miller, 1015 Brady street, where Scandrett boarded.

The Millers today said they knew nothing of Scandrett's present whereabouts.  They said that he had left there several weeks before that time and left an unpaid board bill.

Mr. Wylie had seen or heard nothing from the girl since Tuesday night and her mother, who is widow, has been greatly worried about her.
Mr. Wylie says that his niece had been keeping company with the boy for some time.  He says that he objected to her marrying him as he did not consider him capable of caring for the girl.

Davenport Republican, Saturday, May 30, 1903, page 8.


Ross H. Scandrett Says He did Not Elope With Miss cook.


Ross H. Scandrett, who was accused of having eloped with a young lady and with being out of the city most of the week, called at the Republican office last night to make a general denial of an item published in an evening paper.  He says he was not out of the city during the week, except a short time last Thursday when he visited in Rock Island.  He says he was around Davenport as usual, and is surprised that anyone should accuse him of being absent or eloping with Miss Benetta Cook of 326 East Fifteenth street.  He says he has not seen her since Sunday evening and has no idea where she is.  Mr. Scandrett is unable to account for her absence from home, and will render all assistance possible to restore her to her parents.

The Davenport Democrat, May 31, 1903





The Jury Found She Came to Her Death by Drowning -- Rumors of the Past Week -- An Autopsy -- Burial Saturday Afternoon.

A sad affair of the past week was the drowning in the Mississippi, of Miss Benetta Cook.  Her body was found in the water at 7:45 Saturday morning by Peter Wulff, the plasterer, at the foot of Gaines street.  An inquest was held Saturday.  The verdict was death by drowning in the Mississippi but the jury did not pretend to say whether the death was accidental, by violence, or due to the young woman's own act.

For several days there have been rumors about the city to the effect that Miss Cook and Ross Scandrett, a young man with whom she had been very friendly, and keeping rather close company, had eloped.  Friday evening Scandrett appeared again, stating that he had been away on a visit of a few days, that the absence of Miss Cook had been in no way related to his movements, that he knew nothing of her whereabouts, and that he would be glad to aid in finding her if she were missing.  At that moment she was lying dead in the waters of the river.
Mr. Wulff, of course, did not know the identity of the body he had found.  He secured it, then notified the city authorities, and the coroner and Constable Rumsey were soon on the scene.  The body was removed to the undertaking establishment, where the inquest was held at 9:30 Saturday morning.

The body appeared to have been in the water for possibly a week.  It was swollen and much discolored.  Identification was largely accomplished though the clothing, the jewelry, the color and texture of the hair, and such features and incidentals, slight in themselves but not to be doubted.  If identification had depended upon the features it could hardly have been accomplished.  The relatives of the drowned girl, with some of her friends, made positive identification of the remains.  The fact that the nail of the little finger of the left hand was missing was regarded as conclusive.  Miss Cook was well known to have suffered a minor mutilation of that character.

The fact that Ross Scandrett had been very friendly with the girl, and that he had been the subject or rumors of elopement, and that her body had been found in the river, was sufficient ground for his detention, Saturday morning, by the police, pending developments.  He was present at the inquest, recognized the body as that of Miss cook and answered such few questions as were put to him by the jury.  He said he had not seen Miss Cook since Sunday evening.  It has been current rumor that they were seen together last Tuesday evening.  This he denied.  He was not very closely questioned.  The circumstances in connection with the condition of the remains, and the disclosures of the autopsy did not appear to warrant the belief that he had caused the young woman's death.  He was not further detained.

The autopsy failed to show any marks of violence.  Death seemed to be due to drowning.  The circumstances are such as to warrant the belief that the unfortunate young woman, in distress of mind, was alone the agent of her destruction.

The funeral was held at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon from the home of W. B. Wylie, on East Fifteenth street, with burial at Oakdale cemetery.  The funeral was private.


Miss Benetta Cook was the daughter of Mrs. Mary Cook, widow of Clarence Cook, and sister of W. B. Wylie.  She was a younger sister of Mrs. E. S. Warner.  She was a bright young woman, a graduate of the Davenport High school class of 1900, and she had many friends in this city among the young people.  There is general sorrow over the tragedy that has terminated her life, and sympathy with her relatives who are left to mourn her untimely death.



Davenport Republican, Sunday, May 31, 1903









In a Fit Of Despondency She Throws Herself in the River and After Her Whereabouts Worries Her Mother For Five Days Her Dead Body Is Found Lying in the Mississippi At the Foot Of Gaines Street.



Tired of life and despondent through a disappointed love affair, Benetta Cook, aged 20 years, and one of the most popular young women of this city, committed suicide some time between Tuesday evening and Saturday morning by throwing herself in the Mississippi River.  Yesterday morning early three men, Peter Wolf, John Buck and J. R. Sutton, went to the river for the purpose of ascertaining the rise of the water.  Wolf and Buck entered a rowboat, while Sutton walked along the shore, all watching the rapid current of the swollen stream.  Suddenly, almost directly at the foot of what would be Gaines street if extended through, they saw what appeared to be the body of a woman swaying back and forth in the current.  A closer investigation was conducted, and their suspicions were verified.


They at once notified Undertaker Runge, who in turn secured Constable Rumsey and Coroner Lambach, and the party went to the place indicated at the river.  There they found the body of a young woman, lying face downward, in the water.  Through long lying in the water and exposure to heat, the face was discolored almost beyond recognition, and the whole body indicated that the body had long been in the water.

Furthermore it was bruised in places through contact with obstacles, indicating that it had floated for some distance down the stream.  The first thought of the men who recovered the body was that it was that of Benetta Cook, missing from home since Tuesday evening, and reported by some of the evening papers to have eloped.


Remains are identified. 


The body was taken to the Runge undertaking rooms in West Third street, and there Ross Scandrett, with whom Benetta Cook was said to have eloped, viewed the remains, as did E. S. Warner, a brother-in-law, and they both readily identified them as all that is mortal of Benetta Cook.  The identification was made though her features, the peculiar tint of her beautiful auburn hair, rings which she worn on her fingers and pins which she wore.


The identity established, an inquest was at once instituted with Deputy Sheriff Eggers, Albert Schultz and Roy Haskin as jurors.  The finding of the jury was that the unfortunate girl came to her death through drowning in the Mississippi river, but they left it an open question whether this drowning was accidental, suicidal or murder.


Funeral In the Afternoon.


Yesterday afternoon brief funeral services were held at the home of Miss Cook's uncle, W. B Wiley, where she, too, has made her home, 326 East Fifteenth street.  Rev. Melroy of the United Presbyterian church conducted the services, which were brief, but impressive and beautiful, and the remains were laid in their final resting place in Oakland cemetery. 


It was a sad blow for her mother and her uncle and his family to bear, and nearly every member of the household is prostrated with grief over the tragic affair.  Therefore, the services were made private and none but the members of the immediate family were present.


Must Have Been Despondency.


Although the coroner's jury left the matter of responsibility for Benetta Cook's death an open question, there can be little doubt but that she took her own life.  At about 8 o'clock Tuesday evening she left home, saying that she was going to a neighbor's.  She was without a hat and was dressed in an ordinary street attire, low shoes and black skirt and waist, and to all intents and purposes she was in an ordinary mood. 

From the time she left the house she seems to have been swallowed up in the gloom of the approaching evening, for so far as has been authoritatively discovered no one saw the girl from that time until her lifeless body was found in the river.  Whether she proceeded down Farnum street and threw herself over the high bank into the river or whether she leaped from the government bridge or, doing neither of these, merely laid herself down in the river and sank into her last sleep, the sleep of death, will probably never be known.  God, in his infinite mercy, had drawn the shadow of mystery about all these gruesome facts, and the latter surmise, that she merely stepped from the river bank into the river, from life to eternity, is given as the most probable.


With the high tide of the water the body would float rapidly down the river and from evening time, when she threw herself into the river, until the dawn of morning was time for her body to have drifted to the foot of Gaines street where it was found.  There her skirt became attached to a protruding snag, and the stout fabric of which the garment was made held tight despite the constant tugging of the mighty river.  So, in the nighttime, she drifted by the sleeping city, and no one saw her.


The Case Of Scandrett.


The Republican yesterday morning published a statement from Ross Scandrett, a young man well known about town, to the effect that he knew nothing concerning the whereabouts of Miss Cook.  Scandrett was the acknowledged fiancé of the dead girl.  For five years he had kept more or less constant company with her, and on several occasions their marriage was openly broached, but always met with strenuous opposition from the mother and other relatives of Miss Cook, for which reason she has always refused suggestions at the elopement charged by an evening paper.


Scandrett has succeeded in giving a fairly clear account of his actions during the past week, and there seems little evidence to bind him in any way to the mystery of the death, although the friends of Benetta Cook will never forgive him for the part he played in her life.

He left town yesterday afternoon, presumably for LeClaire, and the affair is closed for a time at least.


The Davenport Daily Leader, Sunday May 31, 1903, page 6.








Had disappeared from Her Home Tuesday Evening and Nothing known of Whereabouts Until Discovery of Body.



One of the saddest drownings that has occurred in Davenport for some time, was that of Miss Benetta Cook, whose lifeless body was found in the Mississippi river at the foot of Gaines street about 8 o'clock Saturday morning.  It was discovered at that time about 15 feet from the shore by Peter Wolf and John Buck, who were engaged in hauling cord wood from the levee at that point.  These gentlemen notified Coroner Lambach and Constable Rumsey, who had the body towed ashore and conveyed to the Runge Undertaking establishment, where an inquest was held several hours later.


After being taken to the undertaking parlors, the body was identified by Ross Scandrett, the young man who has kept company with the dead girl for the past several years and also by E. S. Warner, an uncle of Miss Cook.


A jury was summoned, being composed of Henry Eggers, H. L. Haskins and Albert Schultz and these returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased met her death by drowning in the Mississippi river but assigned no cause.


Miss Cook left her home at 326 East Fifteenth street Tuesday evening, presumably to call upon some young lady friends in the neighborhood, since which time nothing had been seen or heard of her until the discovery of her lifeless body Saturday morning.  The body had the appearance of being in the water for several days and it is very probable that she met her death very shortly after her disappearance from home.


Ross Scandrett, the young man who was the acknowledged sweetheart of the dead girl, states that he had not seen her since last Sunday night.  Another report has been circulated to the effect that he was also seen with her upon the night of her disappearance.  A post-Morten examination was conducted by Dr. Lambach after the inquest, which revealed the supposed motive for the cause of her death.


Supposedly on account of his name being connected with that of the young lady, Mr. Scandrett left the city Saturday afternoon on the City of Winona for up the river and is now understood to be stopping at LeClaire.   


Miss Cook, the dead girl, had been anticipating with pleasure the prospect of an early marriage with Mr. Scandrett and had even expressed her intentions to a number of her friends.  Her untimely death comes as a shock not only to her relatives but also to her hundreds of friends as well, for there was no more popular young lady in Davenport then Benetta Cook.  Of a bright and cheerful disposition, she made friends with everyone whom she met and was a great social favorite in the circles among which she mingled.  She graduated from the grammar school and later attended the High School.  Both at school and in the home circle, she was always as a ray of sunshine to those around her and in her sad death the sympathy of the entire community is extended to her widowed mother, Mrs. Mary Cook and the other surviving relatives.


The funeral which was private, was held at 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon from the home of the uncle of the deceased, W. B. Wiley, 326 East Fifteenth street, with services conducted at the home and grave by Rev. Melroy, pastor of the Second Presbyterian church.  Interment was at Oakdale cemetery. 


The Daily Times, Saturday May 30, 1903, page 11.





Young Woman Who Was Thought to Have Eloped Drowned in the River






Inquest is Held at Which Her Disappearance is Explained-

 -Her Funeral is Held Today--Ross Scandrett

     Leaves Town



What yesterday was presumed to be an elopement, turned out in the chill driving rain of this morning to be a most pitiful tragedy.  Miss Benetta Cook, one of the Tri-City social belles was found bruised and battered in the still waters of the Mississippi, where she had lain since Tuesday night.  Ross Scandrett, her sweetheart, who at first was believed to have run away and married Miss Cook, has been located in Davenport, where he has been to the certain knowledge of many acquaintances every day for the last week.  He apparently knew nothing of the disappearance until it was made public though The Times last night and like the members of the unfortunate girl's family is completely unnerved.


Discovery of the Body


The body was discovered by three men who had gone to the river for the purpose of ascertaining the height of the water.  The finders, Peter Wolf and John Buck, were in a boat and J. R. Sutton, another in the party was walking along the shore at the same time.  The three men saw the body simultaneously, only the back of the head was visible, the body lying face downward a few feet from the shore.  The girl's clothing had caught on a snag.  Coroner Frederick Lambach and Constable Rumsey were at once notified.  The body was taken from the river and removed to the Henry Runge undertaking establishment on West Third street, where an inquest was held.


Result of the Inquest


The finding of the inquest jury which was held by Deputy Sheriff Henry Eggers, Albert Schultz and Roy Haskin was to the effect that Miss Benetta Cook came to her death by drowning in the Mississippi river.  The jury's findings have created some discussion as they did not state whether the deceased came to her death by accidental drowning or by violence.  It is the general supposition, however, that Miss Cook took her own life by jumping in the river, possibly from the government bridge as the spot where the body was found was thought to be about the natural place for it to have landed, if the unfortunate girl had sought to end her life from that point.


The condition of the body showed plainly that it had been in the water a few days.  The features were badly distorted, being bloated as well as discolored and bruised.


Body identified by a Ring 


It was quickly identified by Ross Scandrett; also E. S. Warner, a brother-in-law of the girl.  The main points of identification were a ring on her right hand which was engraved with the initials "B. E. C.", and a pin, evidently that worn by the graduates of the Davenport high school in 1900 as it was marked "D. H. S.,1900".  Another pin in a triangle shape, with a yellow border, which proved to be a memorial pin from the state university was fastened to her collar.  It bore the inscription, "State University of Iowa, 1847."  A missing finger nail on the little finger of the left hand, gave conclusive evidence to Miss Cook's relatives that the body was that of Benetta's beyond cavil.


Scandrett Talks


A representative of The Times spent the morning with Mr. Scandrett.  The latter talked freely of his last meeting with Miss Cook and his horror at the unexpected turn of affairs.  He said in part:


"Miss Cook had been receiving my attentions for the past five years and we had figured on being married two months ago.  Her uncle, W. B. Wiley, objected, and though Miss Cook observed his wishes in that particular, I still continued to call.  In fact, I was at the home on East Fifteenth street last Sunday night.  We often spoke of an elopement and sometimes Miss Cook took a favorable view of it--again she would object.


Have Lover' Quarrel


"I regret to say that we had a slight difference at parting, but I hardly think that it was serious enough to upset her.  It was nothing more than a quarrel as to what night I should see her again.  I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday about town and positively knew nothing of her disappearance until I had been shown a newspaper clipping last night.  I immediately called up Mrs. Cook, who has been a second mother to me since the death of my own., five years ago, and informed her that I knew nothing of Benetta's strange actions.


Searches For Her


"I spent the rest of the evening in calling on various relatives and friends of the girl, with whom I thought she might be staying.  I knew that at times the opposition to me of her uncle and brother-in-law was such that it made her home life rather unpleasant.  I spent the entire night in hunting for her, as you know without success."


Scandrett Views Body


Accompanied by J. W. Seaman of the law firm of Seaman & Seaman, and a representative of the Times, Mr. Scandrett as soon as he heard of the finding of the body went at once to the undertaking establishment.  The inquest was being held.  At the request of Coroner Lambach, Scandrett crossed the street and entered the shed at the rear of 815 West Third street where the remains of Miss Cook were lying.  The awful tragedy of the affair was heightened by the blinding rain storm and the ghastly surroundings of the place.  When the attendant threw aside the rubber sheeting in which the remains had been enshrouded, a sight was revealed which, if laid to the account of Scandrett, will forever leave his name surrounded with odium.


Stands as One Transfixed


Scandrett stood before the sight bewildered.  He was as one transfixed.  The sight was too fearful for words.  Later in the day his shaking voice and total oblivion to surroundings gave ample evidence that he was grief sicken as well as stunned.


Returning to the coroner's inquest, he was called upon to do nothing more than identify the body of his sweetheart.  Scandrett was not questioned as to his whereabouts on Tuesday night and so far his name has not in any way been linked directly with the drowning.


Her Mother Prostrated


At the home of Miss Cook, 326 East Fifteenth street, the mother was found prostrated this morning by a Times reporter.  She was not in any condition to talk other than to hysterically deplore the awful happenings.  Since Tuesday night she has done nothing but walk the floor in the wildest grief.


A careful search among the effects of the daughter failed to reveal any farewell missive.  Neither has Scandrett, according to his frequent statement, received any intimation that Miss Cook had contemplated self-destruction.  The grief of Mrs. Cook is shared by an uncle of the deceased, W. B. Wiley, the Third street grocer, with whom Mrs. Cook and her family had made their home for many years.  Mr. Wiley, during the past few days, has left nothing undone in his attempts to locate the missing girl.  He was very fond of his niece and while opposed to her marriage with Scandrett, held her in most affectionate regard.


Leaves Home Hatless


When Miss Cook left her home about 8 o'clock Tuesday evening, she was hatless and had remarked that she was going to visit friends in the neighborhood.  No one can be found who saw her from the moment she said goodbye, until her body was found swishing to and fro in the eddies of the Mississippi this morning.


Was Highly Respected Girl


Miss Cook was a member of the Calvary Baptist church and the Miriam club, and without question was one of the most popular and well liked girls to be found in this city.  No entertainment among the younger set was complete without her and her grief stricken friends can be counted by the score.


A few of the latter had rather looked forward to a wedding announcement from the Cook family in the near future, as Miss Benetta had been collecting numerous trifles of a domestic nature and had even confidentially told a few of them that she would have a surprise for them at an early date.


Ross Scandrett is a relative by marriage of Gov. Van Sant of Minnesota, his father and mother are both dead.  He has been employed both in local haberdashers and as a clerk on a steamship.


Motive Disclosed 


After the jury held the inquest, coroner Lambach held a postmortem examination.  It disclosed the motive for suicide.


Is Buried Today


The funeral of Miss Benetta Cook was held this afternoon at the residence of W. B. Wiley, at 326 East Fifteenth street, at 4 o'clock, Rev. Meloy, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, officiating both at the residence, and at the grave.  The funeral was private and interment was made in Oakdale cemetery.

[Benetta, Daughter of Mary Cook, Died May 26, 1903.  Age 22ys. 5 ms. 15ds.]


Scandrett Leaves Town


Ross Scandrett left Davenport this afternoon on the steamer City of Winona for the north.  He was greeted at the landing by but one friend, who bid him good bye.  His destination is unknown but it is thought that he is going to Le Claire to stay with friends there for a while.



The Daily Times, Monday June 1, 1903, page 9.








Persistent Report That the Two Were Out Boat Riding That Fatal Tuesday Night



W. B. Wiley, the Third street grocer, the uncle of Miss Benetta Cook, who met her death by drowning in the Mississippi river last week and whose body was recovered last Saturday morning near Gaines street, has not let the matter end with the inquest which found that drowning had caused the termination of the life of the beautiful and popular young lady, who made her home at the residence of Mr. Wylie and was in all respects regarded by him as though she was his own daughter.  Mr. Wylie has the actions of his niece and Ross Scandrett during the early part of last week under investigation, and he is awaiting further developments before acting in the matter.  One of the clues heavily followed is the story that Ross Scandrett and Miss Cook appeared at a boat house on the Davenport side of the river and engaged a boat in which they took a ride on the river Tuesday night, the night of the disappearance of the young lady, whose whereabouts were not known again to any living person, except possibly Scandrett himself, until her body was found floating in the river Saturday morning last.


Working on This Theory


With this and other reports as the basis, Mr. Wylie had formed the theory, that Ross Scandrett may know much more of the drowning of Miss Cook than he has been willing or will be willing to tell.  Ross Scandrett it will be remembered by the readers of The Times, denied all knowledge of the whereabouts of Miss Cook, since he saw her the Sunday before her disappearance, and expressed great solicitude regarding the inability to locate the young woman.  Scandrett, it will be also remembered, was so inconspicuous about town the early part of last week that he was believed to have also disappeared.  Finally he showed up and denied the story of the elopement, declaring he, too, was beside himself with apprehension.


Mr. Wylie Interviewed


When seen by a Times representative today Mr. Wylie made no secret of the fact that he has detectives on the case and that he is leaving no stone unturned to discover all the facts of the doing of his niece and Scandrett the Tuesday night in question.  When asked regarding the story of the boat ride he declared that the report had come to him.  He would not affirm or deny belief in its truth.


The Daily Times, Tuesday June 2, 1903, page 5.








Report That He Used Telephone to Inquire if He Was Wanted in Davenport -- Other Stories



Every possible clue in the doings of Ross Scandrett during the time between last Tuesday afternoon and the hour of the finding of the body of Miss Benetta Cook floating on the waters of the river Saturday morning is being sought.  All that can be done is being done to solve the mystery of whether Ross Scandrett knew that her body was in the river at the time he was declaring to his friends and others that he had no idea where the young lady was, and was as much up set by her sudden disappearance as any of Miss Cook's relatives could possibly be.

If the report of the boat ride Tuesday night has been fully verified by the detectives working on the case those professional gentlemen, noted for reticence at all times, are keeping it to themselves.  Their finding of the truth or falsity of another report is also not known except to themselves.  The story is that on the night of Tuesday a young woman called at the house where Ross Scandrett was living, called for him, and remained outside in the dark until he had been summoned from within, that he hurriedly secured his coat from his room and rushed out, not being seen again that evening by the people living there.  This story, which came to Mr. Wiley indirectly as a rumor, has been investigated by him, and he is authority for the statement that the family with whom Ross Scandrett roomed, has positively denied the truth of the story.

Other reports have gained circulation and if fully confirmed may tend to show the condition of mind of Ross Scandrett between Tuesday and Saturday and leaves (unreadable) that he had some reason to wish to be out of sight of those who know him.


One of these reports is that Scandrett was at a certain cigar store on East Third street for a part of Wednesday, that he came in and went at once to the rear of the place, telling those in charge that if anybody called for him they should say he was not in.


The Daily Times, Wednesday, June 3, 1903, page 4.








Adds Further Details in Regard to His Relation to Miss Benetta Cook and Her Family



Ross Scandrett, the young man who has been the central figure of many fantastic rumors and conjectures since the dead body of his fiancée, Miss Benetta Cook, was found floating in the Mississippi river on Saturday last, has again been located by a representative of The Daily Times and induced to talk freely of his whereabouts on Tuesday night, May 26th, the date set by the Cook family as the one upon which the young social favorite went out to her death.  Mr. Scandrett was found in a neighboring city, whither he had gone Saturday after identifying the remains of his sweetheart.  The young man talked straight from the shoulder.  He said in part:


Tells Where He Was


"The Tuesday night in question I spent in the business district of Davenport, in constant company of one friend (giving his name) and certainly in sight of at least twenty down-town acquaintances.  I took supper at the Davenport Restaurant, and about 6:30 o'clock met the young man with whom I passed the rest of the evening.  We stopped in a cigar store on Third street and watched the billiard and pool games for an hour or two.  Then we went to the cafe next to the Downs Hotel after which we immediately returned to the cigar store mentioned.  I don't suppose we had been absent fifteen minutes.  The billiard games occupied our attention until somewhat after 11:30 o'clock.  My friend and I started at that time for Brady street and I walked with him as far as Fourth and Brady.  As he was going up the hill, I turned along West Fourth street to go to my lodgings.


Stopped at Keeler Livery


"While passing the Keeler Livery stable I noticed a light inside and recognized the night watchman as an old friend of mine, I stepped inside to chat with him.  We had been talking probably more than an hour when a man came in and asked to borrow a hatchet.  He was accommodated, and not returning it immediately, the watchman and I fell to speculating as to what his motive was in requesting the loan.  We determined to (unreadable the time to watch) and became so interested that another hour or two must have elapsed unnoticed for just at break of day (about 3:45 to 4 a. m.) the stranger came in, loaded with cigars, an overcoat and such truck that he would pick up in a grocery store.

"When morning came and a robbery was reported we tipped it off to the police where the robber could be found.  I understand that they jailed him.  Now you have the story of my actions on Tuesday night.  Rather unusual, to be sure, but nevertheless accurate.  As Miss Cook was seen at her home as late as 7:45 Tuesday evening, and I started out in other company at 6:30 o'clock, I believe that sober judgment will not further connect my name with her actual disappearance."


His Hair Turns Gray


The tragedy of the past week and the fearful three minutes that Ross Scandrett spent amid the ghastly surroundings of an unkempt shed while identifying the mutilated body of Miss Cook, has turned his hair gray.  The change is particularly noticeable about his temples, where the effect is heightened by waves of jet black hair, which has made his figure a familiar one in the Tri-Cities.  In speaking of the fact to a Times reporter who had noticed the gray hairs, and called Mr. Scandrett's attention to them, the latter replied:


"Well, I think it is enough to turn any man's hair gray to be waked from a sound sleep, informed that his fiancée had been drowned, called on to identify her, find her almost chopped and bruised beyond recognition, done up in a rubber blanket in a stable, and then turn away to find that you are accused by innuendo of having made away with the girl."


Is Not in Hiding


When Mr. Scandrett was located last night he was found at a hotel quietly smoking.  A glance at the register proved that he has been assigned a room under his correct name.  He was clean shaven, carefully groomed and had the appearance of a man who had at last taken a tumble to himself.  He read the newspaper clippings proffered carefully, and in addition to the remarks quoted above said:


As to His Debts


"There's a number of nasty little insinuations there that I would like to reply to.  Take the question of unpaid debts."

Here Scandrett took out his pencil and after a moment's figuring, continued:

"Twenty-five dollars will cover every cent I owe to anyone in Davenport.  Under the circumstances there was nothing for me to do but leave town and naturally I didn't have the ready cash both to take me away, and settle up.  I shall do so at the first opportunity.  I guess there are not so very many young men who if they were compelled to strike a balance tonight, could do any better.  What grimly amuses me most is the howl that some of these people with whom I have spent hundreds of dollars are making over a few cents.


Parted Sunday Night


"Another thing, I swear that I had received no word from Miss Cook of any nature since that Sunday night before the tragedy.  True, we had a little tift at parting, but it was no more than a quarrel over a kiss.  Mrs. Cook informed me that she, too, had not found any farewell message.  I draw from that, that the poor girl's actions were not premeditated.


Their Engagement


"I have also noticed that there has been numerous remarks about the question of our engagement and the disappearance of the diamond solitaire which I gave Miss Cook upon our betrothal.  We were to have been married on April 5th last.  Mrs. Cook was informed of our intentions and in turn spoke of it to Mr. Wiley.  She offered no objection.  He promptly vetoed the project and informed Miss Cook that if we were wedded she would be cut off without a cent.  If not, she would get all that he had.  It's a pretty serious thing to take a girl out of a good home like hers on prospects, and we put it off for the time being to further discuss the matter.


The Poker Story


"I meanwhile cast about to run down a report that I had heard to the effect that a prominent grocer in Davenport had told Mr. Wiley that I had dropped $50 in a poker game Christmas eve.  I succeeded in treeing my man, and finding Mr. Wiley and him together a few days later, took occasion to make the other grocer eat his words.  He acknowledged that the statement was not correct but the incident instead of helping matters, only further strained the relations between Mr. Wiley and myself.  And to think of it, that very grocer who started the poker story had been time and again to my father when he was alive, begging food and clothes, never in vain.  At the time the poker game was set down for, and long after I could truthfully say that I had not touched a card hereabouts for over three years.


The Ring Again


"As for the ring.  I don't know where it is, but were I to make public my firm belief there would not only be a libel suit instanter, but I would further embarrass indirectly Mrs. Cook, for whom I have the most affectionate regard.  I first noticed that Benetta was not wearing it about two months ago, while calling at the house.  She had been in the habit of leaving it in a cut glass dish on the sideboard whenever engaged in work about the house and had missed it a day or so before.  Mrs. Cook, the young lady and myself made a careful search, but failed to find the ring.  I told Benetta that I would get her another one in time and we let the matter drop.


"It worried me, of course, for the opposition to me by E. S. Warner, the brother-in-law, and W. B. Wiley, the uncle, was constantly asserting itself in diverse ways.  The latter and I never clashed openly and I never avoided him on the streets.  We met frequently in the cafes.  Perhaps that's why he didn't like my presence in the house.


"Not many summers ago I found out that an attempt had been made to hit off a match between Miss Cook and a relative by marriage, Fred Warner.  Fred and I had been chums and when he found that he had been encouraged to make advances under the impression that Benetta and I had broken our engagement, he wrote me frankly just how he had been led into the misunderstanding.  I still have the letters.


"I mention these little details to impress upon you that there are two sides to this affair, and if mental torture drove Miss Cook to a watery grave, there are many sources from which it could arise.  I guess it would have been better if they had let us go it alone and get married.


Denies Boat Ride


"As for the boat ride rumor, it is all bosh.  Three or four years ago we used to take a skiff up to Hampton, with another couple and float down the river of an afternoon and evening, taking our suppers.  One time we were nearly spilled out and since then Miss Cook had rather avoided the water.


"Naturally, the light has gone out of Davenport for me, and since Benetta is dead, I shall put many miles between myself and the scenes of many happy days, blotted out in a twinkling by that fearful Saturday."


He Seems Sincere


Mr. Scandrett lends truth to the color of his statements by the matter of fact way in which he gave them.  In speaking of general Davenport friends and acquaintances he avoids any uncomplimentary expressions, and contrary to the run of young men placed in his position, is not making any attempt to blackguard any one.  He rose at the sight of the newspaper man, greeted him cordially and seemed relieved at the opportunity to defend himself.


No reports have been made public as yet by the detectives that Mr. Wiley has engaged.



The Davenport Democrat And Leader, Wednesday, Dec 7, 1904, page 6.





Word Comes from LaCrosse of Death of Former Davenporter.



Young Man Had Been on the Hershey During Past Summer--He Will Be Buried Here.



Word received by Seaman & Seaman, this afternoon from Miles Scandrett, was to the effect that his brother Ross had died at LaCrosse, and that he would be here tonight with his body.


Ross Scandrett was the son of a former prominent Scott county family, the parental farm being located in Pleasant Valley.  Both his parents are dead, but he has several brothers and sisters.  Miles, who was steamboating with him on the Hershey during the past summer, is living at Lansing, Mich., while three sisters, Mrs. Lush, Mrs. Wirtz and Mrs. Miller live in Davenport.


The Daily Times, Wednesday, December 7, 1904, page 6.








Brother Will Accompany Remains to Davenport, the Former Home of the Young Man



Word has been received in Davenport that Ross Scandrett is dead in LaCrosse.  The telegram was received from his brother, Miles Scandrett, today and simply contained an announcement of his death without giving any of the particulars.


The telegram states that the brother would accompany the remains to Davenport and that the body would arrive in this city tomorrow morning at 6:45 o'clock over the Burlington road.


Ross Scandrett was well known in Davenport, having resided here until about a year ago.  He was one of the younger society men of the three towns and had many friends.  He left Davenport some time ago and since that time has been in the Wisconsin city.





William B. Scandrett

Nov. 30, 1821   Aug. 5, 1887


Jane R. Scandrett

Aug. 28, 1838     Aug. 20, 1899


Emma A. Scandrett

Mar. 29, 1862   Jan. 5, 1868


Clyde A. Scandrett

Mar. 4, 1860     Nov 24, 1895


Ross H. Scandrett

May 8, 1880    Dec. 6, 1904


Grace M. Wertz

Oct. 5, 1867     Aug. 29, 1905



Tri-City Evening Star, Thursday, December 8, 1904





SCANDRETT, Ross.  The body of Ross H. Scandrett reached this city this morning.


The remains were accompanied by M. J. Scandrett, of Lansing, Wis., brother of the deceased.  Mr. Scandrett's death was caused by typhoid fever.  The funeral services will probably be held tomorrow morning.



Tri-City Star, Friday, December 9, 1904





SCANDRETT, Ross O.  Funeral held this morning from Bois undertaking rooms.  Interment at Oakdale.


The pallbearers were Governor Van Sant of Minnesota, Captain James Osborn, Captain Walter Blair, Captain Frank Kitchen, Captain James Steadman and Captain George Tromley, all connected with the river some time or other.


The Rev. Mr. Lemon of St. John's church spoke at the exercises and the choir of St. John's church sang "Lead, Kindly Light" and "Nearer, My God, To Thee."  Mr. Scandrett is survived by four sisters and one brother, Mrs. Lush, Mrs. Marian Miller and Mrs. E. L. Wertz, all of Davenport, Mrs. E. G. Skewves of Minnesota, and Captain Miles Scandrett.



Tri-City Star, Friday, December 9, 1904.





Governor Sam Van Sant of Minnesota is in the city today attending the funeral of Ross Scandrett, his nephew, which took place today.


Davenport Democrat And Leader, Friday, December 9, 1904, page8.





Governor Van Sant of Minnesota One of the Pall Bearers.



Services Held This Morning at Boies Undertaking Parlors Were Largely Attended.



Funeral services over the remains of Ross Scandrett, whose death from typhoid fever occurred several days ago at a LaCrosse hospital, were held at 10 o'clock this morning from the Bois undertaking parlors on Perry street.


There services were conducted by Rev. Lemon, pastor of the St. John's M. E. church.  There was a large attendance of sorrowing friends and many beautiful floral offerings in evidence.


Captain Sam Van Sant, governor of Minnesota and an uncle of the deceased, was present at the funeral and officiated as one of the pall-bearers.  The remaining pall-bearers were as follows: Captain Walter A. Blair, Captain James Osborn, Captain Frank Kitchen, Captain James Stedman and Captain George Trombley.


Interment was at Oakdale.


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