ROSS SCANDRETT AND BENETTA COOK
Transcribed and Researched by
The Davenport Daily Leader, Friday, May 29, 1903, page 8.
YOUTHFUL LOVERS MAY HAVE ELOPED
ROSS SCANDRETT AND MISS BENETTA COOK MISSING.
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,
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.
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.
TO BE AN ELOPEMENT
MISS BENETTA COOK NOT HEARD FROM SINCE TUESDAY
Ross Scandrett Also Missing and Two are Supposed to Have Left
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.
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.
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.
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.
STORY OF ELOPEMENT
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
A TRAGEDY DISCLOSED BY THE RIVER SATURDAY
THE BODY OF MISS BENETTA COOK FOUND IN THE WATER.
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
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
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
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
SOUGHT WATERY GRAVE
MISS BENETTA COOK ENDS HER LIFE IN THE RIVER.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Case Of Scandrett.
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.
left town yesterday afternoon, presumably for LeClaire, and the
affair is closed for a time at least.
Davenport Daily Leader, Sunday May 31, 1903, page 6.
DROWNING OF MISS BENETTA COOK
LIFELESS BODY FOUND IN THE RIVER SATURDAY MORNING.
disappeared from Her Home Tuesday Evening and Nothing known of
Whereabouts Until Discovery of Body.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Daily Times, Saturday May 30, 1903, page 11.
MISS BENETTA COOK DEAD
Young Woman Who Was Thought to Have Eloped Drowned in the River
BODY FULLY IDENTIFIED BY HER LOVER
Inquest is Held at Which Her Disappearance is Explained-
-Her Funeral is Held Today--Ross Scandrett
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
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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
Searches For Her
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
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.
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.
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
Leaves Home Hatless
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.
Highly Respected Girl
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.
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.
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.
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
[Benetta, Daughter of Mary Cook, Died May 26, 1903.
Age 22ys. 5 ms. 15ds.]
Scandrett Leaves Town
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
Daily Times, Monday June 1, 1903, page 9.
WHERE WAS SCANDRETT?
HE WITH BENETTA COOK TUESDAY NIGHT
Persistent Report That the Two Were Out Boat Riding That Fatal
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
Working on This Theory
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.
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.
Daily Times, Tuesday June 2, 1903, page 5.
ROSS SCANDRETT'S RESTLESSNESS
SEEMED APPREHENSIVE OF BING LOOKED FOR
Report That He Used Telephone to Inquire if He Was Wanted in
Davenport -- Other Stories
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daily Times, Wednesday, June 3, 1903, page 4.
SCANDRETT'S HAIR TURNING GRAY
TELLS TIMES MAN WHERE HE WAS TUESDAY NIGHT
Adds Further Details in Regard to His Relation to Miss Benetta Cook
and Her Family
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
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
Stopped at Keeler Livery
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.
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."
Hair Turns Gray
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:
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."
Not in Hiding
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:
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."
Scandrett took out his pencil and after a moment's figuring,
"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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Denies Boat Ride
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
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.
reports have been made public as yet by the detectives that Mr.
Wiley has engaged.
Davenport Democrat And Leader, Wednesday, Dec 7, 1904, page 6.
ROSS SCANDRETT DIED UP NORTH
Word Comes from LaCrosse of Death of Former Davenporter.
Young Man Had Been on the Hershey During Past Summer--He Will Be
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.
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.
Daily Times, Wednesday, December 7, 1904, page 6.
ROSS SCANDRETT DEAD AT LACROSSE
WORD RECEIVED IN DAVENPORT OF HIS DEMISE
Brother Will Accompany Remains to Davenport, the Former Home of the
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.
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.
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
30, 1821 Aug. 5, 1887
28, 1838 Aug. 20, 1899
29, 1862 Jan. 5, 1868
Clyde A. Scandrett
4, 1860 Nov 24, 1895
Ross H. Scandrett
May 8, 1880 Dec. 6, 1904
Grace M. Wertz
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.
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.
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
Tri-City Star, Friday, December 9, 1904.
ATTENDS SCANDRETT BURIAL
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.
FUNERAL OF ROSS SCANDRETT
Governor Van Sant of Minnesota One of the Pall Bearers.
Services Held This Morning at Boies Undertaking Parlors Were Largely
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.
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.