THE MURDER ON THE DUBUQUE
Transcribed by Georgeann McClure
and Sue Rekkas
Researcher Sue Rekkas
November 13, 1903
He is here to testify in the Leonidas Damage suit
Tells of His thrilling Experience During the Burning of the
Steamer St. Louis Oct. 30 at St. Louis
Mate Breen, the man who shot the two Leonidas brothers in the
affair on the Dubuque here two years ago arrived in Davenport
yesterday and will remain in the city several days to testify in
the damage suit of the administrator of the estate of the younger
Leonidas against the Diamond Jo steamboat company.
When seen by a Times reporter Mate Breen was at the local Diamond
Jo office talking to Captain James Osborne. When questioned about
the trial and the shooting affair he said: “Well when two fellows
come on your boat and bother you for nearly an hour making threats
and telling you what they are going to do and then pull their guns
and tell you they are going to give you some of their medicine you
can’t be blamed for trying to protect your life. I wish to God
that some one else had done it, but I simply had to shoot, or be
Breen expects to be in Davenport, for a week, as the trial will
probably last that length of time. The trial of the case of the
elder Leonidas, which was decided in favor of the steamboat
company lasted eight days and it is said that the evidence in the
present trial will be very much the same.”
Tells Story of Fire
Mate Breen told a thrilling story of the burning of the steamer
St. Louis a week ago that Friday at St. Louis in which he nearly
lost his life.
was mate of the St. Louis” said Breen,” and we had come up the
river from New Orleans with a big load and had landed at St.
Louis. The boat needed some slight repairs and we took her down to
the ways about five miles below St. Louis and tied up.
“How the fire started we were not able to discover, but it must
have broken out somewhere in the stern on the boat. There were
five men on the boat beside myself and we all escaped except the
bartender, who was burned to death in his stateroom. The fire was
well started before we found it out and the captain and myself got
everyone off except the bartender. When we saw that he was missing
we went back on the burning steamer to look for him. We found his
stateroom and as the door was locked we broke in the door but he
was not inside and by this time the fire had become so hot that we
were compelled to get off the boat or be burned to death.”
“The bartender must have been sleeping in one of the staterooms
and have been burned to death where he lay. The St. Louis was one
of the biggest boats on the river. She was 305 feet long and had a
99 foot beam so that you can see when she was all ablaze she made
a terrible fire. After we left the boat the heat became so intense
that we could not get within a hundred feet of the shore. The
stacks fell over shortly after we left her and it was only a
matter of a few minutes till she was burned to the waters edge.”
ARGUMENTS ARE ON IN LEONIDAS CASE
Traveling Man Crary Testified Thursday Afternoon
When the Democrat closed its report of the Leonidas case on
Thursday afternoon, Dan Breen, the mate of the Dubuque who shot
the two Leonidases, was on the stand undergoing the rigors of the
mate was followed by Charles Crary, a traveling man, who had
arrived too late to testify in the case of the elder Leonidas.
Fearing that he would fail to appear this time a resort was had to
a bench warrant but it was not needed.’
Crary reported in person at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and
followed Breen upon the witness stand. On the direct examination
he testified that he was directly behind the mate at the time of
the shooting. He saw the elder Leonidas draw his gun just before
the mate shot. He heard the elder man swear, and testified that
the younger man did not plead for his father’s life, but pulled or
attempted to pull a gun just before the mate shot him.
Detective Mundt followed the traveling man on the stand. He
testified that the holsters of the guns were buckled at the time
the bodies of the two men were removed form the boat.
Frank Nagel, ambulance driver, testified to the same thing after
which attorney Frank Cooper was made a witness to prove that the
traveling man Crary had told him in his (Cooper’s) office that the
mate had done the shooting with his right hand.
Shortly after 3:30 o’clock the arguments began, Attorney F.
Dickinson Letts speaking for the plaintiff. This morning N. D.
Ely, Wm. M. Chamberlin, and Judge Lenehan of Dubuque, made the
arguments for the defense. Attorney Cooper will close for the
plaintiff and the case will doubtless be submitted to the jury
VERDICT IN LEONIDAS CASE
Awards Plaintiff thousand Dollars
“One thousand dollars for the plaintiff was the verdict brought in
at 9:45 o’clock this morning in the Leonidas case after the jury
had been out since 4:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon. This means a
victory for the plaintiff after a long and hard fight. The killing
of the two Leonidas men occurred a year ago last July and the
matter has been in the courts most of the time since then.
title of the suit was P. W. McManus administrator of the estate of
Ellsworth Leonidas vs. the Diamond Jo line of steamers and Dan
Breen, mate. The verdict as returned this morning was.
“We, the jury, find for the plaintiff, P. W., McManus,
administrator and assesses the amount of its recovery at ($1,000),
one thousand dollars.”
Signed Arthur M Diemer.
After the finding of the jury, considerable discussion arose as to
what subsequent action might be. It is thought by some that the
matter will be taken up by the grand jury and indictment may be
brought against Breen for the killing of the two men or at least
one of them.”
FINDS A VERDICT.
Plaintiff gets the Award
Leonidas Case Settled in Court
the jury, find for the plaintiff, P. W. McManus, administrator,
and assess the amount of the recovery at $1,000 (one thousand
dollars) Signed Arthur Diemer
coroner’s jury exonerated Breen, but P. W. McManus was appointed
administrator of the estate left by the two men, and he engaged
Letts and McGee and F. A. Cooper as his attorneys to bring suit
against the Diamond Jo line steamers and Dan Breen for $10,000.
verdict for the defendant was given in the case of the elder
Leonidas, tried before the spring term of court, there being
evidence in favor of Breen, but in the case of the young man, who,
according to some of the testimony given, was asking at the time
that his father’s life be saved.
What the subsequent action of the defendants will be is at present
unknown. They have the privilege of appealing the case. It is
thought by many that Breen will be taken before the grand jury to
answer to the charge of murder. William Chamberlin, Ely & bush of
Davenport and Judge Lenehan of Dubuque appeared as attorneys for
BREEN Asks for Another Trial
CLAIMS VERDICT AND Instructions at Fault.
Breen, one of the defendants in the Leonidas case, has filed a
motion for a new trial through his attorneys, Ely & Bush, claiming
that the verdict was not sustained by the evidence or by law, that
the court erred in its instructions and that the jurors were
is claimed that the court erred in ruling that Breen could not
answer as to the conversation which took place between him and the
two Leonidases prior to the shooting and that it was an error not
to allow evidence of Breen’s good character and the quarrelsome
disposition of the two Leonidases. It is further claimed that on
the face of the verdict it shows that it was a compromise and that
the same was a result of prejudice and passion.
HEARING OF DIAMOND JO CASE
Davenport Democrat & Leader
Ellsworth Leonidas Verdict Sought to Be Collected by Plaintiff
hearing of the issues between P. W. McManus administrator for the
estate of the late Ellsworth Leonidas who was shot to death by
Mate Breen upon the lower deck of the steamer Dubuque at the
Davenport levee in July, 1902, and the Diamond Jo company, began
in chambers. Judge House’s court at 2 o’clock this afternoon.
Messsars. G. W. Kreitringer, M. Gallager and Jr. J. Rooney of the
firm of Gretzinger , Gallagher and Rooney of Chicago, arrived this
morning to look after the defense of the case, in conjunction with
Chambers & Petersen, Frank A. Cooper and D. Letts will appear for
the plaintiff who secured the verdict for $1,000 the local court,
upon the trial of the case.
books and papers of the Dickey Grain co. which is alleged to be
the same company jointly with the old Diamond Jo Reynolds concern,
which the federal court adjudicated as sold under bankruptcy
proceedings, were produced in court this afternoon. These had to
be hauled to the court house in the St. James bus, and consisted
of half a dozen dress suit cases filled with books and documents.
LEONIDAS CASE IS DISMISSED IN DISTRICT COURT
W. M’Manus Will Not Be able to collect damages
Transfer Was Legal One.
case of P. W. McManus against Diamond Jo Line Steamers, et al.,
which was up for hearing before Judge House yesterday, was
dismissed by the court for want of equity. P. W. McManus,
administrator of the Leonidas estate, brought action against the
Diamond Jo line steamers at the time of the killing of Christopher
Leonidas and Ellsworth his son, on the steamer Dubuque, Mr.
McManus received a judgment for damages to the amount of $1,000,
but the fine has never been paid. Mary Reynold’s was the former
owner of the Diamond Jo line steamers, but upon her death, Jay
Morton, a brother, was appointed executor of the estate and upon
taking up the affairs of the company he found that they were in
debt many thousands of dollars and bankruptcy proceedings were
begun. The company was declared bankrupt in the circuit court for
the northern district of Illinois.
new company was then organized and they took control of all the
stock of the old company, everything being transferred to the new
left no way open for the collection of the judgment that had been
rendered against the Diamond Jo line steamers.
case just dismissed was one wherein the plaintiff, P. W. McManus,
was endeavoring to show that the transfer of the property of the
old Diamond Jo Line steamers to the new company was only a fraud,
in which case the judgment could be collected.
Case Dismissed shows that the court holds after the hearing of the
testimony that the transfer of the property to the new company was
legal and holds good.
M. Dickey was before the court yesterday explaining the
indebtedness of the old company by means of the books of that
Frank A. Cooper and Finger & Letts were attorneys for the
plaintiff, and Chamberlin & Petersen, Krezinger, Gallager and
Rooney were attorneys for the defendants.