George Blood incident
Five newspaper articles from Sioux County, Iowa; 1898-99.
Note the GPP Link to their respective grave markers.
Submitted by Terri Mindock.
Article from the Hull Index
A SHOCKING TRAGEDY!
This community was thrown into a fever of nervous excitement Wednesday morning early, by the report that Mrs. Alice Blood had shot and killed her husband. The report spread rapidly, and in a few minutes the entire community was made aware of the awful crime. An INDEX reporter hastened to the scene of the tragedy in order to learn the particulars. In the meantime the coroner was summoned and arrived from Rock Valley at about 11:30 o'clock. The body of the murdered man was found lying on his face in the dining room just as he fell after the first shot was fired. A number of men and women from neighboring farms had been summoned. We found Mrs. Blood prostrated from the fearful strain upon her mind after she had come to fully realize the horrible crime she had committed. The coroner empanelled the following jury: B. H. Tamplin, B. F. Hawkins, and M. F. Miller. The following witnesses were examined: Nellie and Bertha Blood, Oscar and Walter Blood, children of the deceased, also the hired man. Their testimony elicited nothing further than that they had heard the fatal shots; the first named having stepped in the room just in time to see her mother fire the second shot, while the father lay prostrate on the floor. The wife upon being questioned by the coroner before the jury, stated that the crime was committed with a premeditation. She stated that she had gone to her son's room, and unlocking his trunk, took therefrom his revolver, a 38 caliber, with the intention of doing the deed. In her statement she said that the revolver was loaded when she took it from the trunk. In the statement of her son Oscar, the revolver was said to not have been loaded since he had sent it from Camp at Chickamauga Park last summer. Owing to the extreme nervousness of Mrs. Blood, who lay prostrate upon her bed, it was not thought proper to further continue the examination since she had admitted the shooting and that it was not done in self defense.
The following is the verdict of the jury.
In commenting upon this horrible affair, we can not do so without a profound sympathy for the poor wife who it seems had been driven, through a desparation born of insanity, to commit the crime. We have never known a person in our life but that some word of commendation could have been said of him until we knew the one who so recently met a violent death. Absolutely nothing good could be said of him. He was not a good citizen neither a good neighbor nor a good husband or father. Those who have lived near him for years all tell of him in the same strain. It is a well known fact that he drove from his own door, at a time when the weather was inclement, an aged father who was too weak to make his own way alone. For over twenty years this poor woman's life has been made miserable through hard work, deprivations of many of the comforts of life; and by this, coupled with horrible and inhuman treatment she has been brought to a point of desperation and the verge of insanity. With a mother's heart she has sought to keep her children close to her side, and has beheld them abused by one who had less of the instinct of love and affection than was shown by the dumb brutes upon his farm towards their offspring. The inhumanity of husband and father however, did not justify the deed; yet we cannot look upon the rash act only in the light of one who had been driven mad by the unhappy condition of her household.
Those who know Mrs. Blood, know her to be a woman of refined tastes and tender emotions. Her social privileges having been abridged by her cruel and inhuman husband, but few knew her in social life. In comparing her unhappy life with the sad and tragic ending of her husband's life, the sympathy of the entire community is with the former without stint.
In the evening County Attorney Olmstead, in company with deputy Sheriff Henry, went out and placed Mrs. Blood under arrest. An examination was waived and she was placed in $5,000 bonds for her appearance. There were enough to volunteer to go on her surety if the sum had been placed at ten times the amount.
For fear of overtaxing the already overstrained nervous system of Mrs. Blood and her family, we refrained from making enquiries as to the past history of either Mr. or Mrs. Blood. We have however, gathered up a few facts which may be of some interest. Mrs. Blood was born and raised near Brandon, Vermont and is now forty-four years of age, her deceased husband being a few years her senior. Their marriage took place at her home when she was 22 years old. Oscar, the oldest child, was born a year after marriage; when he was a year old the family moved west and came to Sioux county and settled on a farm five miles due west of Hull. This was the old homestead of the father of Blood which was subsequently deeded to the son, just prior to his turning his aged father from the place. After living here a number of years during which time five children were born to them, they had succeeded by hard work and close economy in accumulating enough to purchase the fine farm of Mrs. Jane Denby, where he came to his untimely end. While on the old homestead a sad accident occurred to a little child which resulted in its death. The mother had left the little one in charge of Oscar, who was then about four years old, and went out to attend to some duties outside the house. The little child, holding out her apron, pleaded with her brother to drop some coals of fire in her apron, which was done and resulted in the death of the child. The inhuman husband, has, as a further means of torture to his patient and long suffering wife, been throwing this up to her in all the intervening years, charging her with taking her child's life. Nothing could be gleaned of the life and character of deceased prior to their marriage. The aged father, whom he thrust from his door during that memorable winter of '80-'81 is now an inmate of the county house of the county in Vermont from whence the family came.
The children of this unhappy family are, notwithstanding the evil influences which had surrounded them all these years, of refined tastes; they are intelligent and have shown a remarkable desire for education. The mother has sought to give them the advantages of the schools. Oscar, through extra exertions and through many privations, attended the Academy. Nellie, the oldest daughter, was at one time a student of the Academy, and until after she had made arrangements to assist at Dorcas Hall to pay her board, was forced to walk the five miles morning and night to and from school, although horse and buggy were standing unused at home. Bertha, the second daughter, had, through her mother, arranged to attend the Academy, but was refused the privilege of attending by her father because of feeling too unwell to go out in the field to husk corn.
Those who have been accustomed to meet the children have all spoke of them in the best of terms, and to them it was a mystery that they could be possessed of all the virtues accorded them, with the evil influences of their inhuman father surrounding them. The mystery could only be explained away by referring to the patient and forbearing mother, whose gentleness and refinement was always pointing them in the way of right doing and a higher and noble, life. We might continue to give instances of the cruelty of the deceased husband and father toward his family and toward those with whom he came in contact until page after page were covered, but it would be a sickening story. We close joining in the wish of the entire community that if the trial of the unfortunate woman results in a conviction and a sentence, however light it may be, that a higher than the court, will intervene and prevent the carrying out of the sentence.
From the testimony before the coroners jury in the Blood murder case, no one was in the room when the first shot was fired. Nellie, after hearing the first shot fired, rushed into the room just as her mother fired the second shot.
Drs. DeBey, of Orange City, and Cram and Wheeler of Sioux City, were Hull yesterday in company with county attorney Olmstead, and went over to the Blood farm to examine into the sanity of Mrs. Blood.
Article from the Hull Index
Court convenes at Orange City next Monday. The topic of interest this term is the trial of Mrs. Blood for killing her husband. Unusual interest is manifested in the outcome by citizens of this community because they are acquainted with all the circumstances leading up to the tragedy.
The plea of the defence will undoubtedly be insanity, as that is naturally the only one that could be made. The attorneys for the defence will endeavor to have the trial come off during the second week of the term. The INDEX will endeavor to give you as full an account of the trial as our time and space will permit. The main witness for the defence will probably be the attending physician, Dr. Owens, who not only waited upon the accused previous to the crime, but whose attentions have been necessary ever since. From what we can learn of the family connections of the accused, it is not at all surprising that she has suffered from mind failure and it is not to be wondered at that her troubles developed it until she lost control of it entirely.
Article from the Hull Index
The Blood Murder Case
Last Saturday Mrs. Blood and children went to Orange City to be present at the trial of Mrs. Blood for the shooting and killing her husband last November. The details of the crime were so fully explained in our issue of the 18th November that it is unnecessary to repeat them. It was expected that the trial would begin last Monday, but the Dr. Mosher case dragged until it had occupied Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, going to the jury on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Mosher was acquitted, the jury being out but 12 minutes. Yesterday morning the attorneys began selecting a jury.
John Orr is assisting County Attorney Van Oosterhout in the prosecution, and Hatley & Irwin are defending Mrs. Blood. Up to this afternoon, there had been 34 extra jurymen summoned and there still remains to each side four peremptory challenges. It is extremely doubtful if a jury will be secured before tomorrow, if then. The INDEX will endeavor to give its readers a full account of the trial as it proceeds next week. The court room is crowded to its upmost capacity. Mrs. Blood appeared in the court room on her couch and appears to be anxious to have the trial begin and end. The trial will occupy all the next week, if not more. The testimony of physicians and members of the family will occupy nearly all the attention of the attorneys.
From private sources we learn that Mrs. Blood's health is very feeble and
in such a condition that her demise would be no surprise.
The court house and court yard are crowded with people, all of which shows the unusual interest taken in the case.
The court room was so crowded that court was adjourned to meet at the town hall at 5 p.m.
Article from the Hawarden Independent
MRS. BLOOD IS DISCHARGED
When the Doctors Testify to This the County
The trial of Mrs. Alice A. Blood GPP photo for the murder of her husband, George A. Blood, last November, a full account of which appeared in the county press at that time, came up for hearing before Judge Hutchinson at Orange City last Wednesday afternoon. Two days were occupied in opening the case and selecting the jury, when, on motion of the state's attorney, the frail woman was discharged on the ground of insanity. The Sioux County Herald issued an extra containing a full account of the proceedings, from which we excerpt the leading features:
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, just after the Herald had announced the verdict in the Mosher case, strong attendants were seen bearing a muffled figure up the stairs in the rear of the court room. They brought their burden into the presence of the court - as the law demands - it was the wasted form of Alice A. Blood, charged with the murder of her husband at Hull Nov. 16, 1898. A mattress had been placed directly in front of the judge's desk and upon it the prisoner was placed. There she remains during the progress of the issues that have already been joined between the state and the accused. Once in a while Mrs. Jones, who has come from Vermont to attend the trial of her daughter, tenderly lifts the slight figure to a sitting position and places her in a big rocker that stands by the side of the couch, but the most of the time Mrs. Blood is either asleep or in a state of indifferent unconsciousness. The writer has watched her face for hours in the court room and not seen a variation of expression or the movement of a muscle.
Mrs. Blood, by her attorneys, G. T. Hatley and C. A. Irwin, pleaded not guilty. The court assigned John E. Orr to assist District Attorney P. D. Van Oosterhout in the prosecution.
The work of securing a jury was at once entered upon. District Attorney Van Oosterhout went very minutely into the business and social relations of each man in the box. The prospective juror was asked his age and residence, if he were married and attended church, had he ever been interested in any case in which insanity was the issue, did he know Doctors DeBey, Plumb, Coad, McBride or Owens? These doctors have been summond by the defense as expert witnesses. The juror was also asked if the fact that the accused was a woman would bias him in rendering a just verdict, if he had any conscientious scruples against rendering a verdict of capital punishment, or life imprisonment, where the evidence would justify it; if he knew the witnesses for the defense; if he traded at Hull; if he read the newspaper account of the killing; if he had talked about the killing; and, finally, if he had a fixed opinion such as would require evidence to remove. If so, a challenge for cause resulted and was usually granted. The district attorney has a bland and almost cordial way of attacking the prejudices of a would-be juror. There isn't the least suspicion of the browbeating tactics that used to be considered essential to the successful lawyer, but the truth is usually arrived at without diminishing good nature in any quarter.
Mr. Hatley had few questions to ask. After a witness had been passed by the state for cause, counsel for the defense asked: "Have you any conscientious scruples as to the defense of self defense, to the defense of insanity, or the law of reasonable doubt? If accepted as a juror could you, and would you, give that little woman as fair a trial as you would ask for your own mother, or for yourself, if you were in her place?"
Provided the answers to these interrogatories were satisfactory the juror was usually accepted.
Friday a little tilt took place between the counsel for the defense and the judge. The state asked the court for an order from the court giving Dr. Mead, Dr. Cram and Dr. Huizenga permission to examine Mrs. Blood in presence of the family physician, Dr. Owens. Mr. Irwin strenuously objected on account of Mrs. Blood's condition, contending that the state had had three months in which to examine her. Mr. Irwin interposed very strongly and wished to be heard. Judge Hutchinson began: "Let the record show that permission is given these physicians to see Mrs. Blood," when Mr. Irwin said: "We don't consent to it."
The Court - "But the court consents."
Mr. Irwin - "But the court can't consent, the constitution forbids it."
The Court - "The court has consented, and will take care of the constitution. Adjourn court, Mr. Sheriff."
Friday afternoon the jury was complete and the twelve men good and true, stood up and took the oath to justly try Alice A. Blood for the murder of her husband. The jury, as it stood, was as follows: P. Schnee, of Floyd; P. Austin, of Sioux; W. J. Meyer, of Floyd; Wm. Wiersma, of Welcome; John Carter, of Reading; John Hoefler, of Floyd; John Brink, of Nassau; M. Johnson, of Center; L. Noethe, of Nassau; J. H. Schilmoeller, of East Orange; Jonas Klein, of Rock; C. Tillema, of Floyd.
The defense moved that witnesses be excluded from the court room until after they had testified, expecting to keep out the experts. The state resisted the motion and the court overruled it. Exception of defense. The court room at this time was packed to suffocation. People were jammed and wedged in the aisles and the attorneys found it impossible to move about or do business, while the air was insufferable. Judge Hutchinson finally called Chairman Dealy of the board of supervisors to him and explained that business of any kind was impossible and that he was going to order the sheriff to provide the town hall. Chairman Dealy agreed with the necessity, and a recess was taken to 5 o'clock.
IN THE TOWN HALL
At 5:15 p.m., in the town hall, Judge Hutchinson recommenced court and called for the opening statement of the state. County Attorney P. D. Van Oosterhout arose and said:
C. A. Irwin is well known to the bar and the people of Sioux county. He made the opening statement for the defense. Mr. Irwin said:
The Court - "Proceed."
Mr. Van Oosterhout - "Your honor, please, the record is now made up and I wish to call the court's attention to the statute which says that whenever there is a question of insanity, the court may order an investigation. This is the only question before the court, if we lay aside the brutal allegations of counsel touching the life of Blood, who is dead and in his grave, whose lips are sealed and who cannot answer the aspersions upon his character. I don't want to try a woman who is insane or on the verge of the grave. I think further proceedings ought to be stopped and a special jury called to try her sanity. If this woman was afflicted Nov. 16, last, with paretic dementia, she is worse today than ever. If this woman is insane is it not necessary that she be sent to an asylum? She has shown dangerous proclivities, has shot her husband, and should not be allowed to remain at large. It is a momentous question we are about to decide. If she is insane we ought to have a jury to determine if she can go on with this case." The county attorney read at length from the statute and reports the law bearing upon the question. "I move, then," said Mr. Van Oosterhout, "that further proceedings be suspended and a jury impaneled to pass upon the question of her sanity."
The defense, by Mr. Irwin, objected and was about to submit argument when the court interposed that the motion was overruled.
Recess of 10 minutes taken.
Attorney John E. Orr, for the state, after brief examination of Doctors Mead, De Bey and Cram, then moved the court to dismiss in a neat address, recounting the difficulties under which the prosecution had labored. The court granted the motion.
The decision to dismiss was reached after a report by the experts for the state, Dr. Mead, of the Yankton asylum, and Dr. Cram, of Sheldon, that the prisoner was afflicted with locomotor ataxia, which had extended to the brain and rendered her mentally irresponsible. Under such a situation, to proceed farther was useless, or worse than useless. The county attorney, whose conduct of the case thus far had been no less than masterly and had elicited the warmest praise from the eminent counsel opposed, did not wish to prolong the matter at the expense to the county of several hundred dollars per day, and, after the examination of one or two experts, dismissed.
Thus ends a notable and unfortunate chapter in the annals of the district court of Sioux county. It is to be hoped that the irresponsible condition of Mrs. Blood will prompt her friends to take such measures as may prevent a repetition of last November's tragedy, which shocked even the enemies of the deceased man.
Article from the Hull Index
The Blood Murder Case
As we went to press last week the jury in the Blood case had been secured and at 5 p.m. the trial proper began. Its sudden abrupt ending caused a feeling of relief to pass over this community. Had it continued through the week a detailed account would have been given. The bervity of the case has caused no little comment but we believe the county attorney did the proper thing. It would have been better had he not allowed it to proceed as far as it did and thus saved a large amount of expense to the county. His action however, in giving it up as he did, will in no way discredit him or his ability as prosecuting attorney. We clip the following account of the opening of the case from the Orange City Herald.
County Attorney P.D. Van Oosterhout's opening remarks were as follows:
C.A. Irwin is well known to the bar and the people of Sioux county. He made the opening statement for the defense.
Mr Irwin said, "Gentlemen of the jury: I beg you to note that the defendant, on trial for her life, only wishes justice at your hands. The state has an interest in this case because it must punish crime. I protest in the name of that justice which the county attorney invokes against his arguing this cause in his opening statement. The defense in this case does not ask for sympathy. It will show that for 22 years Alice A. Blood was a martyr to the damnable cruelty of her husband, whose favorite epithet was an oath and whose ordinary caress was a kick. She was patient and enduring, but had the misfortune to belong to a family of mental and nervous diseases. We expect, gentlemen of the jury, to show that on both sides of the family, as attested by nearly twenty examples, that Mrs. Blood inherited a mental disease, appearing prominently about two years ago, and which on Nov. 16 last had overthrown her reason. We shall show that defendant was the victim of excessive cruelty, so persistent that the mind gave way under the strain. The husband often called her a _____ ______ _____, threw swill and sour milk at her, who gave him naught in return but kindness. She might not use a good buggy and when Blood found her doing so he horse-whipped her. The human mind may be compared to a beam of steal. Its strength depends upon its character and the pressure put upon it. A sound mind in a sound body will stand more pressure than a diseased mind or a diseased body. Between the ages of 40 and 50 women undergo peculiar physiological changes which render them particularly susceptible to mental diseases, and the books show that the great majority of cases of this kind occur within that period. Mrs. blood was 43 years old and just at the age most susceptible to disease.
An own sister became insane thirteen years ago and has since that time lost her mind and labored under delusions, talking about building hospitals when she never owned $400 in yer life. A cousin died insane, a second cousin committed suicide and another killed her baby. But these are only circumstances, showing the facts as they existed on November 16 last. About the age of 41 the health of this woman began to give way. She conplained of headache, and along with bodily disease, the cruelty of her husband was intensified, who had no more sympathy with her than he would have for a dying dog. One instance would prey upon the mind of a naturally sensitive woman. Years ago, in that house where occurred the awful tragedy of Nov. 16, another great grief came to the family. For one day Oscar and one of the little babes were playing and the baby's dress caught fire and she burned to death. The inhuman husband often told this defendant that she had set a trap to kill her child. Again and again he said "_____ _____ ___, somebody has got to die in this family and I don't propose to die alone." This treatment, inhuman and cruel, went on until the wife became sick and a physician was called. He looked at the wasted form, prescribed a drug, and then called the husband aside and said, "George, this is a case where kind words will do more than anything else." On Nov. 15th she walked to and fro with hands upon her head, crying to her daughter, "I don't know what I'll do." And on that fatal morning, after Blood got up, she went to the side of the bed, knelt down and asked God what her duty was. She thought she got an answer and the inspiration was --death. No one knows what happened --somehow the children were in the kitchen-- a shot was fired-- and then another-- and the deed was done. She was a religious woman, with a life above reproach, and endured his kicks and scoffs and reproaches all the time until her mind gave way. Another thing -- the very act was an insane one. For after the killing --five minutes after-- she tho't she heard George groan and went back and fired the second shot to end his suffering and then staggerek to her bed, tossing back and forth, crying. "George, why did you make it necessary?" Insanity is a symptom of a diseased mind.
We shall show show that Mrs. Blood's disease was paretic dementia, a form of insanity, not necessarily violent, but one where the patient feels herself irrisistibly compellek to some act." Mr. Irwin spoke at some length, elaborating the theory of the defense in great detail and with great earnestness and eloquence. He began at 5:30 on Friday, closing at 10;35 Saturday.
Mr. Van Oosterhout -- "Your honor, please, the record is now made up and I wish to call the court's attention to the statute which says that, whenever there is a question of insanity, the court may order an investigation. This is the only question before the court, if we lay aside the brutal allegations of counsel touching the life of Blood who is dead and in his grave, whose lips are sealed and who cannot answer the aspersions upon his character. I don't want to try a woman who is insane or on the verge of the grave. I think further proceedings on this indictment ought to be stopped and a special jury called to try her sanity. If this woman was afflicted Nov. 16 last with paretic dementia she is worse today than ever, for the disease is a progressive one. If this woman is insane, is it not necessary that she be sent to an asylum? She has shown dangerous proclivities, has shot her husband and should not be allowed to remain at large. It is a momentous question we are to decide. If she is insane, we ought to have a jury to determine if she can go on with this case." The county attorney read at length from the statute and reports the law bearing upon the question. "I move then," said Mr. Van Oosterhout "that further proceedings be suspended and a jury impaneled to pass upon the question of her sanity."
The defense by Mr. Irwin objects and was about to submit argument when the court interposed that the motion was overruled.
Recess of ten minute taken.
Attorney John E Orr for the state, after brief examination of Drs. Mead, DeBey and Cram, then moved the court to dismiss in a neat address, recounting the difficulties under which the prosecution had labored. The court granted the motion.