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Thursday, 26 April 1866
Execution of Daniel BUSER and
John B. HOUSER
The Murder of Polly PAUL and
Cassie MUNDAY Avenged
Full and Connected History of
Reported especially for The Alleghanian.
On Friday last, 20th instant, at the hour of 12.12 p.m., Daniel BUSER and John B. HOUSER paid the forfeit of their ____ for the murder of Polly PAUL and Cassie MUNDAY.
The Murdered Women
The victims of the murder, one of the most attrocious and cold-blooded that ever darkened the annals of crime, were Polly PAUL and Cassie MUNDAY. The former was a maiden lady, 70 years of age. She resided on a farm belonging to herself, in ____ retired locality in Croyle township. A neglected by-road pursued its devious way through her premises, but this was a seldom traveled, and neighbors were so ____ and so far apart, that the old lady may be said to have lived almost totally isolated from the world. Here she tilled her ____ spot of ground, principally with her own hands -- raised and sold cattle -- dis____ of wood and timber to purchasers -- ____ through the exercise of strict economy she had amassed a considerable sum of monty. The exact sum possessed by the old lady is not known, and probably never will be known till the last great ____, when the archangel's trump shall call ____ red-handed despoilers to a bar of judgment in which there can be no con___lment. But as to the fact that she had money, and a considerable sum of it, there is no question. She had toiled from early morn till late at night for a lifetime, denying herself measurably of comforts and pleasures, that she might amass a compentency from which to draw a sustenance and support after that period when the muscles relax and the flesh becomes a burden, before the inroads of ___real decay. Perhaps she had a more ____bling purpose in view in hoarding her store -- perhaps the great central hope of her life was the endowment of a college or a seminary, the giving of alms to the poor, the amelioration of her kind -- God knows! But One thing is sure; whatever of money was possessed by the old lady fell a prey to the murderers, for it was all kept concealed within her humble tenement, and the pitiful sum of thirty-nine dollars was all that strictest search revealed after the enactment of the ____tible tragedy. The fruits of a lifetime equal to that of the Psalmist, a lifetime of labor and self-denial, were swept off at a stroke, and -- saddest, of thoughts! -- what was labored for so assiduously and treasured so scrupulously as a fountain of blessings, proved a curse and its posses____ destruction.
The other victim was a daughter of Mr. Martin MUNDAY, of Cambria township, and was only 17 years of age. Miss PAUL usually resided alone on her farm, but at the time of the murder, Cassie MUNDAY was living with her as an apprentice to the weaving business, in the mysteries of which business Miss PAUL was an expert. Cassie had served with her instructor a year, and in one more week would have finished her probation and returned to her father's house. In anticipation of her return home, her father had purchased for Cassie a loom, that she might exercise in her own behalf her acquired handicraft. But the remorseless hand of the murderer cut asunder at once and forever the warp and woof of the loom and the young life whose bloom and beauty would have transformed the bare ____imbers of the cumbrous machine into the embodiment of symmetrical perfectness, had thrown around them the halo of poetry.
Seventy and seventeen -- the January and June of life! Seventy, with its frosts and snows, its feeble pulse and halting ____, its bated breath and anxious glances over the river to where the pale boatman stands expectantly waiting; seventeen, with its beauty, and innocence, and confiding love in God and nature, its odor of sweet violets, its token of high and glorious promise as unfolded through a long ____ata of opening years of sunshine and happiness! Surely, surely, the heart that could conceive and the hand execute this cruel, deliberate murder, for money, of a woman with one foot in the grave, and of a girl whose youth and innocence encompassed her as a mantle -- both weak and comparatively helpless, and far removed from the possibility of sucoor____ have been animated by a spirit of hellish atrocity and fiendishness which devils might envy.
The murder was committed on Wednesday evening, 7th June, 1865. The two women were last seen alive by a neighbor at about the hour of five o'clock, p.m. An hour or more later, in the early twilight, a young girl, Mary STIBOLISKI, daughter of a neighbor of Miss PAUL, while hunting cows, heard some unusual cries, as of a person in distress, near the house of the latter. She drew closer, and beheld two men running toward the barn. Becoming greatly alarmed, she hid behind a stump til the men had got into the barn, when she proceeded swiftly home and related to her parents what she had seen, remarking that she believed the men were bad men and that there was something wrong at Miss PAUL's. Her parents, however, took the view that the two men were butchers buying cattle -- Miss PAUL was known to have had cattle for sale at the time -- and dismissed her fears as groundless. The next day, at noon, eighteen hours after the occurrence of the events here narrated, the little girl, from whose mind could not be banished the belief that the two men seen by her were on some direful errand bent, returned to Miss PAUL's to inquire into the condition of the household. On nearing the house, she found at once that something was wrong. No one was astir on the premises, and a general sense of desolation was everywhere apparent. As the little girl testified before the Court -- and it is a graphic description of the scene of desolation -- "the cows were in the orchard; there was no smoke in the chimney; could hear nothing about the house; and the calf was bawling in the stable." She again returned home and told what she had seen, and this time her note of alarum [sic] was not suffered to go unheeded. Her father raised the neighbors, and together, to the number of three or four, they repaired to Miss PAUL's.
The door of the house was ajar. The men entered, and found the house tenantless, and its contents in dire disorder. -- The chairs and tables were upset on the floor, the drawers of a bureau were displaced, and the beds were ripped open and their contents scattered about. It was self-evident that a general search had been instituted by some one for valuables. Pretty soon a club was discovered in the house. Had murder been added to the crime of robbery? -- had the miscreants been detected, in their work of spoliation, and, on the principle that "dead men tell no tales," had the two women been made away with? Where, oh! where were Polly PAUL and Cassie MUNDAY?
A systematic search was made from cellar to garret, but no indications of the whereabouts of the missing women could be discovered. The coal-house was next searched; then the spring-house, and finally the barn. In the latter structure, in a stall of the cow-stable, the dead body of Miss PAUL was discovered. Her skull had been dashed in, and she was lying in a pool of her own blood. Further search revealed the body of Cassie MUNDAY lying in the orchard, about fifty yards from the house. She was stone-dead, with hideous bruises on her head and person. A club, uniform in size and shape with the one found in the house, was discovered lying by her feet.
The presentiment, the foreboding fears of little Mary STIBOLISKI were more than realized. A deed of blood had been done, almost in her presence, so dark and hideous that it must have caused the angelic hosts around the eternal throne of God to shudder with affright, and to turn away their eyes from beholding the awful spectacle.
The Coroner's Inquest
A Coroner's jury was speedily summoned, and after a thorough investigation of the facts as they appeared, a verdict was rendered that the two women had been murdered by some person or persons unknown
A post-mortem examination of the bodies was made by Drs. BUNN and GARDNER. Dr. BUNN testified before the Court that upon examination of the body of Miss MUNDAY, he found the skull on the right side dashed in, and evidence of other injuries produced by a club, and that in his judgment her death was as instantaneous as though her head had been cut off; and that upon examination of the body of Polly PAUL, he found her skull fractured and injuries which would cause instant death. His testimony was corroborated by Dr. GARDNER.
The instruments with which the cruel deed was committed were each about two feet four inches long, one and a half inches thick at the larger end, and tapering to three-quarters of an inch at the smaller end. A knob was cut on the smaller end of each, to prevent their slipping from the hand when being used. They bore evidence of having been prepared with great care. A singular fact connected with the clubs is that no one person has been found who is able to give the proper name of the species of wood from which they were manufactured. The wood is very heavy, and is peculiar to marshy grounds. It grows in abundance in the neighborhood of Miss PAUL's.
Popular Excitement and Indignation
When the facts connected with the horrible tragedy became generally known, the excitement and indignation which agitated the county from its centre to its circumference knew no bounds. It was resolved as with one mind that the murderers must be apprehended and punished -- that earth should be allowed to contain no hiding-place sufficiently concealed to shield them from the stern retribution due a crime so unprovoked, so fiendishly cruel, so utterly abhorrent to the moral sense of the community. In obedience to the popular demand, the Commissioners of Cambria county promptly offered a reward of Five Hundred Dollars for the arrest of the murderers. This reward, we may mention in this connection, was some weeks since paid to Detectives HAGUE and MCKELVEY, of Pittsburg, who were mainly instrumental in effecting the capture of BUSER and HOUSER.
Arrested on Suspicion
On the Friday following the murder, one John REAM, a resident of Conemaugh, Cambria county, was arrested on suspicion of having been concerned in the murder. He had borne a rather bad character for some time previous, and some remarks which he had made several years before, to the effect that he believed Polly PAUL had a "heavy pocket-book," and that he could possess himself of the same by murdering her, were remembered to his discredit. It was also attempted to be shown that a penknife found in his possession, with a peculiar nick or defect in the edge of the blade, was the self-same knife with which the murderous clubs had been prepared. This was attempted to be demonstrated by cutting a piece of wood with the knife, and then comparing a ridge or roughness left by the nicked blade with a like ridge or roughness to be seen on the clubs, caused apparently in the same manner.
One David RIDDLE, a brother-in-law of REAM, who formerly resided in Cambria county, was arrested on the 22d June, at his residence in Jefferson county, on suspicion of being the other guilty party. He was present when REAM threatened to kill Polly PAUL for her pocket-book, and avowed his willingness to go "half" with him in that undertaking. The two men were committed to jail here, and at the regular September sessions of the Cambria county Court, were brought to trial.
Trial of REAM and RIDDLE
The indictment was laid before the Grand Jury on the 6th September, and in due course of time a presentment of murder was returned. On the 9th the case came up, when the prisoners elected to be tried separately. Ream was tried first. This case occupied the greater part of three days. Seventeen or eighteen witnesses were examined, and although some of the testimony bore heavily on the prisoner, yet he experienced no difficulty in proving an alibi, and the prosecution was abandoned. His honor Judge TAYLOR directed the jury to return a verdict of "not guilty" from the box.
Immediately after the disposal of REAM's case, that of RIDDLE was taken up. It occupied a little over a day in the trying, and resulted, like REAM's, in the abandonment of the prosecution by the Commonwealth. He established a clear alibi, and a verdict of "not guilty" was returned from the box.
Both prisoners were remanded back to jail to await trial on the charge of killing Cassie MUNDAY -- the indictment in the cases tried charged the parties with the murder only of Polly PAUL; but on the night of the 18th October following, they broke jail, since which time they have not been heard of.
A few days after the occurrence of the tragedy, a man named CASSIDAY was arrested in Johnstown, on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. He was committed to jail, where he remained till the 6th July, when he was taken before the Court on a writ of habeas corpus and accorded a hearing. No evidence appearing to connect him with the body of the crime, he was discharged from custody.
A Strange Story
About this time, a negro named MONTZ wrote from Pittsburg to the authorities here, stating that shortly before the murder he overheard two men in Pittsburg arranging a plan to come to Cambria county and rob and kill a maiden lady, and averring that he could identify the parties. He was immediately taken into custody, and brought here and confronted by all the prisoners in the jail, including REAM and RIDDLE. After a thorough scrutiny, he unhesitatingly declared that the two men were not of the number. -- When Buser and Houser came, he also failed to identify them or either of them. Although little or no dependence was placed in his story, MONTZ was held in custody till December Court, when he was discharged, without having been called upon to tell what he knew under the sanctity of an oath.
BUSER and HOUSER
A couple of weeks after the murder, Dr. CAMPBELL, Warden of the Western Penitentiary, wrote to District Attorney NOON (who was unremitting in his efforts to unravel the mystery, and to whose energy and determination the arrest and subsequent conviction of the murderers are mainly due) that a certain William MCCREERY, an inmate of the Penitentiary, had made a disclosure to him to the effect that he had overheard certain conversations in that prison which induced him to believe that Daniel BUSER and John B. HOUSER were the murderers of the two women. The District Attorney forthwith repaired to the penitentiary, and after several interviews with the man MCCREERY, in the course of which he learned many facts and circumstances going to fasten the conviction upon his mind that justice was at last on the right track, he ordered the arrest of BUSER and HOUSER. The two men were taken into custody in Alleghany city, their place of residence, on the 20th July, by Detectives HAGUE and MCKELVEY, and were on the same day removed here and lodged in jail.
The Nature of MCCREERY's Information
For several years prior to May of last year, BUSER and HOUSER were inmates of the Western Penitentiary, serving out a sentence for robbing a clothing store in Alleghany city. One Philip FULGART was also an inmate of the penitentiary at the same time. This FULGART was a resident of Cambria county and lived somewhere in the vicinity of Miss PAUL's. He was well acquainted with the circumstances of the old lady, and of her manner and mode of life. The nature of MCCREERY's information to the authorities was to the effect that he had had a conversation in the penitentiary with BUSER, in which the latter had told him that he had been informed by FULGART as to several places where "points" (money) could be got by robbing; and that he and HOUSER intended going after one of these "points" as soon as they got out of the penitentiary -- that FULGART afterward told him (MCCREERY) that one of the "points" spoken of by BUSER was at an old woman's who lived by herself, a weaver, Mary PAUL by name -- that he overheard part of a conversation between BUSER and FULGART, in which the former told the latter that if he was successful in making any of the "points" spoken of, he would use some of the money obtained for the purpose of effecting the liberation from prison of FULGART, while FULGART assured BUSER that he could make the "point" easy at the old woman, the weaver's, (Polly PAUL's,) -- and that HOUSER had given him to understand that he and BUSER intended going after one of these "points" as soon as they got out of the penitentiary. BUSER and HOUSER were released from the penitentiary on the 17th May, 1865. MCCREERY, who was serving a term in the penitentiary for burglary committed in Washington county, was pardoned out in December, expressly to enable him to testify in this case.
The Prisoners Not Prejudged
Outside of the few immediately interested in working up the case, nothing was known as to circumstances which connected BUSER and HOUSER with the crime. -- Neither of the prisoners ever resided in Cambria county -- their antecedents were altogether unknown -- what was expected to be proved against them was kept sacredly secret. So that, they went into the dock when the trial came up, with the assumption entertained in their favor by nine out of every ten that they were innocent of the charges preferred against them. This is proved by the facility with which a jury in the case was obtained. -- Notwithstanding the extreme formality entering into the empanneling of a jury on a case of life-and-death importance, the requisite twelve men were obtained and sworn in, in the short space of one hour. Only thirty-five jurors in all were called, four of whom were disqualified by reason of entertaining conscientious scruuples against capital punishment, eight challenged for cause, eight challenged by the prisoners, and three challenged by the Commonwealth.
Following are the names of the twelve men sworn to try the cause:
The trial came up at the regular December sessions. A presentment having been returned by the Grand Jury against the two men for the murder of Polly PAUL, the case was called on Tuesday, 5th December. The Commonwealth was represented by Messrs. JOHNSTON, REED, OATMAN and BARNES. The prisoners appeared without counsel and without witnesses. -- The court appointed Messrs. A. KOPELIN, John P. LINTON and W. H. ROSE counsel in their behalf, and awarded a compulsory process for witnesses in their favor. The process was placed in the hands of an officer, and the case was held over to await his execution thereof. On Saturday, December 9th, the process having been served and the witnesses asked for produced in Court, the case was again called up, when the prisoners pronounced themselves ready for trial. They were arraigned in the usual form, and plead not guilty. Court adjourned until Monday, Dec. 11th.
Court met again on Monday, and the case was resumed. Geo. W. OATMAN, Ewq., made the usual opening speech for the Commonwealth.
Some twenty-five witnesses were examined, some of them at great length. We append a summary of the more important testimony elicited.
William MCCREERY testified in substance that the plot to rob and murder was formed in the penitentiary; that BUSER and HOUSER were informed in the penitentiary of the circumstances and unprotected condition of Miss PAUL by Philip FULGART; that FULGART told them that the old woman had plenty of money, which as she lived by herself, in a lone, unfrequented locality, could be easily got at, and that the money would most likely be found in the bed -- (in this connection, it should be remembered that the beds in Miss PAUL's house were found cut open and the contents scattered about, upon the discovery of the murder;) that in consideration of the information given by FULGART, BUSER promised FULGART that he would devote a portion of the money to be so obtained to the procuring a pardon for him; that both BUSER and HOUSER gave him (MCCREERY) to understand that they would rob, and if need be murder, Miss PAUL for her money after they got out of the penitentiary. -- This testimony, considered apart from its bearing on this case, possesses a deep and alarming significance. "It is, indeed, if true, a startling thought, and one which should excite public attention," said his Honor in his charge to the jury, "that the place provided and maintained by the State for the punishment and reformation of felons, may from defective construction, or any other cause, become a place where crime is concocted."
David MCKELVY and William MCCREERY testified that BUSER and HOUSER were discharged from the penitentiary on the same day, on or about the 17th May, 1865.
Miss Agnes DIMOND, Mrs. Mary HILDEBRAND, Mrs. Anna COBAUGH, William A. STEWART and Jacob GIFFIN testified, some of them so positively as not to admit the existence of a doubt on the subject, to seeing HOUSER in the immediate vicinity of Miss PAUL's on or about the 25th of May. He was at the time moving about in a strange and mysterious manner, the witnesses said, making inquiries concerning the Widow PAUL, (no widow PAUL lived in the neighborhood,) asking where she resided, whether she was at home, and whether she lived by herself or not.
Mrs. Elizabeth GRAHAM testified that BUSER and HOUSER came to board at a house where she was staying, kept by Mrs. MILLER, in Allegheny city, about the 28th or 29th of May, where they remained till the 5th of June; that on the latter day, they went away together, carrying with them a tin box containing instruments for cupping and leeching (the prisoners sometimes followed the profession of cuppers and leechers) and a black carpet bag.
Mrs. Susan PREALL and Mrs. Sarah PAUL testified that on the day before the murder, a man, whom they both identified as HOUSER, came to each of their houses, in the near neighborhood of the scene of the tragedy; that he carried in his hand a tin box, and gave out that he was a cupper and leecher; that he inquired concerning Miss PAUL, asking particularly if she was living by herself at that time.
James R. COOPER testified that on the afternoon of the day of the murder, he met two men answering the description of the prisoners near Summerhill; one of them carried a black carpet-bag in his hand; they were going in the direction of Polly PAUL's.
Mary STIBOLISKI testified that she was hunting her father's cows on the evening of the murder, close by Polly PAUL's residence; that she then and there heard cries of distress, and that she saw two men running toward the barn.
Mrs. GRAHAM testified that on the 9th or 10th of June, BUSER and HOUSER returned to their boarding-house in Allegheny city, when HOUSER's feet were sore and swollen, as though he had walked a long distance, while his general demeanor was that of a distressed, heartsick man; that in a conversation she overheard soon after between BUSER and HOUSER, at the boarding-house, the latter asked the former for his "share of the money," which the former refused to allow, saying "it might get them into trouble" to touch the money just then.
John S. Johnston testified that in a conversation he had with BUSER about the 5th of June, in Allegheny city, he understood from him that he and HOUSER were "going up the railroad, towards the mountain;" that before they left they had no money of account, but that after they returned from their expedition, BUSER offered to buy a house from him for $1,600, and pay $500 down.
Several witnesses were called to prove that Polly PAUL sold cattle, butter, lumber, &c., that she was economical, and that she must have been possessed of considerable pecuniary means at the time of her death; and the record of the administrator on her estate was given in evidence to show that the sum of $39.62 was all in cash that was found to administer upon as belonging to her.
A tin box containing instruments for cupping and leeching, which was found in BUSER's house by Detective HAGUE when he arrested him, was given in evidence. It was pronounced by Mrs. PREALL and Mrs. PAUL to be identical in size, shape and color with the tin box carried by HOUSER when he visited their houses the day before the murder.
Theory of the Prosecution
The theory of the prosecution, deduced from the mass of testimony, and claimed to have been fully proven, may be said in few words to have been about this: That the specific plot to rob and murder was formed in the penitentiary; that HOUSER's appearance in Cambria county within a few miles of Miss PAUL's during the latter part of May, was an exploration of the neighborhood preparatory to carrying into execution the plot so formed; that on the 5th of June, BUSER and HOUSER left Allegheny city together; that they came to Cambria county, and that on the 6th HOUSER again explored the neighborhood of the murder; that on the 7th, the murder was committed by BUSER and HOUSER; and that on the 9th or 10th, they arrived in Allegheny city on their return from the expedition. The failure of the prisoners to show, or to attempt to show, where they were, or to give any account of themselves for the period comprised between Monday and Friday of the week of the murder, was also claimed by the prosecution as presumptive evidence of guilt for it was argued, and on high legal authority, that if they were in another county (as they alleged) during this time they could without difficulty prove the fact.
It will be observed that the evidence against the prisoners was purely presumptive or circumstantial. No eye save the eye of Omniscience beheld the two women stricken down by the remorseless murderers; and to the end of convicting and punishing the guilty, it became necessary to resort to the establishment of certain independent facts, which facts, unexplained and unaccounted for, should form a chain of evidence so strong and confincing as to exclude every other hypothesis save and excepting that of guilt.
Circumstantial evidence is defined by WARTON as "the presumptive proof, where the fact itself is not proven by direct testimony, but is to be inferred from circumstances which either necessarily or usually attend such facts."
Said C. J. SHAW: -- "The necessity of resorting to circumstantial evidence ... is obvious and absolute. Crimes are secret. Most men conscious of criminal purposes, and about the execution of criminal acts, seek the security of secrecy and darkness. It is therefore necessary to use all other modes of evidence beside that of direct testimony, provided such proofs may be relied on as leading to safe and satisfactory conclusions; and -- thanks to a beneficent Providence -- the laws of nature, and the relations of things to each other, are so linked and combined together that a medium of proof is often furnished leading to inferences and conclusions as strong as those arising from direct testimony ... In a case of circumstantial evidence, where no witness can testify directly to the fact to be proved, you arrive at it by a series of other facts, which by experience we have found so associated with the fact in question, as in the relation of cause and effect, that they lead to a satisfactory and certain conclusion; as when foot-prints are discovered after a recent snow, it is certain that some animated being has passed over the snow since it fell; and from the form and number to the foot-prints, it can be determined with equal certainty, whether it was a man, a bird or a quadruped. Circumstantial evidence, therefore, is founded on experience and observed facts and coincidences, establishing a connexion [sic] between the known and proved facts and the facts sought to be proved."
Said C. J. GIBSON: -- "Circumstantial evidence is in the abstract nearly, though perhaps not altogether, as strong as positive evidence; in the concrete it may be infinitely stronger. A fact positively sworn to by a single witness of unblemished character, is not so satisfactorily proved as a fact which is the necessary consequence of a chain of other facts sworn to by many witnesses of doubtful credibility."
The Fatal Chain
Viewed in the aggregate, the independent facts proved, and going to establish the guilt of the accused, formed a chain from which not a single link was missing. The expressed plan, purpose and motive of the prisoners in the penitentiary; the well attested presence and conduct of one of them in the near neighborhood of the scene of the tragedy the latter part of May; the disappearance of both from their boarding-house on the 5th of June, carrying with them a tin-box filled with cupping and leeching instruments, and a black carpet-bag; the reappearance of HOUSER in the neighborhood of the scene of the tragedy the day before the murder, having with him a tin box purporting to contain cupping and leeching apparatus; the presence of two strange, suspicious-looking men near Summerhill on the evening of the murder, who were going towards Polly PAUL's, and one of whom carried a black carpet-bag in his hand; the fact that the murder was committed by two men; the reappearance of BUSER and HOUSER at their boarding-house in Allegheny city on the Saturday after the murder; the condition at that time of HOUSER's feet, and his distracted, distressed demeanor; the difficulty between the two concerning HOUSER's share of "the money," and BUSER's avowal that it would get them into trouble to divide it then; the fact that BUSER declared himself possessed of $500 in cash when he returned from thisexpedition, whereas he had no money of account when he started away; the fact that when they started on the expedition, they said they were going up the railroad towards the mountain -- all these facts, proved by competent witnesses, and taken in connection with that other fact that the prisoners refused to account for or attempt to account for or explain their actions or whereabouts from Monday till Saturday of the week of the murder, formed a complete chain of evidence whose irresistible tendency was to "convince the mind, satisfy the judgment, and fix belief."
His Honor's Charge to the Jury
The taking of the testimony in the case was concluded at noon on Wednesday, 13th December. The balance of that day and the whole of Thursday were consumed by the pleas of counsel. On Friday morning, the Judge delivered his charge to the jury. The document was printed in full in these columns, and will be remembered as a calm, careful, exhaustive review of all the evidence in the case, with an elaborate linking-together as in one chain of the more material facts elicited, and a fair and impartial application of the law thereto. It consumed one hour and twenty-two minutes in the delivering.
The Jury Retire
Immediately after the conclusion of the Judge's charge, the jury retired to their private room for deliberation. We have it on good authority, that upon reaching the room, the twelve men upon whose decision hung suspended the life or death of two fellow-men, remained in solemn communion each with his own soul for fifteen minutes before the silence was broken by a single word. A vote was then called for; when each juror deposited his ballot, carefully folded to conceal its authorship from his neighbor, in a hat. Upon examinatioin of the vote, it was found that each and every juror had recorded his conviction that the prisoners were "guilty of murder in the first degree!"
Return With a Verdict
At 10:45 o'clock, a.m., the jury returned to the Court-room with their verdict.
The Clerk asked the question -- "Gentlemen of the jury, in the issue joined between the Commonwealth and Daniel BUSER and John B. HOUSER, how do you find?"
The response, low and mournful, came from the box -- "Guilty of murder in the first degree!"
The jury was polled, and did severally answer that they found Daniel BUSER and John B. HOUSER guilty of murder in the first degree.
Motion for a New Trial
Mr. KOPELIN, of counsel for the prisoners, thereupon moved the Court for a new trial, and filed his reasons in support of the motion. The Court refused to grant the prayer.
At 3 o'clock, p.m., the prisoners were brought into Court to receive sentence. Before proceeding to pass sentence, his Honor asked --
"Have you, Daniel BUSER, anything to say why the sentence of the law should not be passed upon you?"
The prisoner replied, in quick, nervous, tones --
It is alleged that I have been in this county, and that I committed this murder; it is not true, as I was never in Cambria county till I was brought here by Sheriff MEYERS."
In reply to the same question, HOUSER said, in broken English, and in an excited manner --
"I am innocent. I never was in the county till brought here by Sheriff MEYERS." [ Here he was prompted by BUSER, and added:] "I was in Beaver county at the time of the murder."
His Honor then proceeded to pass sentence upon them, as follows:
"You have been tried and convicted by a jury of your countrymen, and in conformity with that verdict we are under the painful necessity of passing sentence of death upon you. You have had counsel appointed for you by the Court, who, to say the least, have conducted your case with ability and energy. You had the process of the Court and the power of the county to bring witnesses here in your behalf, and when the officer who executed that process returned with the witnesses you had named, you expressed your readiness to be put on trial. The case was deliberately heard by the jury after everything had been done for you that could be done. After a full argument of the case, the jury, without any hesitation, pronounced you guilty of murder in the first degree, and it only remains for us, in the line of our duty, to pass the sentence of the law upon you. We exhort you not to be deceived by any false hopes of mercy or of escaping death, but to prepare yourselves immediately for your appearance before a higher tribunal.
"The sentence of the law is that you, John B. HOUSER, and you, Daniel BUSER, be taken hence to the place from whence you came, in the Jail of the county of Cambria, and from thence to the place of execution, within the walls of the yard of said Jail, and that you, and each of you, be there hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your souls!"
Application for a Writ of Error
An application for a writ of error was subsequently made to the Supreme Court by the counsel for the prisoners, and the case was argued before that Bench at Philadelphia on the 15th of February. The result was that the Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the lower Court in every particular complained of, and refused to grant the writ.
The Death Warrants
The death warrants were signed by the Governor on the 17th March, and a few days after were received by Sheriff MYERS and were read to the condemned.
Deportment of the Prisoners
The deportment of the prisoners from the day of trial up to within a short time of the execution was careless and fool-hardy. BUSER, particularly, was reckless in the extreme. Instead of seeking to make his peace with God, before whose awful throne he knew he must surely appear after the waxing and waning of a very few moons, he devoted his scanty stock of time to cursing the witnesses who testified against him, and to asserverating in violent terms his innocence. He appeared to be possessed of a mania for letter-writing, and his correspondence, which was entirely devoted to matters pertaining to his professed innocence, was most voluminous. For a time, he sent and received more letters, probably, than any other single man at this post office. -- These letters were all submitted to the scrutiny of the Sheriff. He also wrote a review of the evidence of certain of the witnesses who testified against him, which was, at his request, published in The Alleghanian in January. It will be remembered as a violent attack upon the credibility of the witnesses and upon the material points of their testimony. His object in thus pertinaciously proclaiming his innocence was evidently to the end that he might stagger the fixed judgment and belief of the public. He was a shrewd, sharp man, and he hoped by frequent repetition of a specious tale of persecution and purjury to create a doubt as to his guilt; and the doubt once raised, he well knew that the wedge was entered which would lead to an indefinite prolongation of his life, and possibly to his ultimate restoration to personal freedom. But the public knew and remembered that he had had every available opportunity afforded him to establish his innocence before a tribunal sworn to dispense equal and exact justice to all, and that he had failed to make even the attempt, and they closed their ears against his weak after-defence [sic].
HOUSER was a mild, inoffensive, weak-minded sort of man, with hardly a will or aspiration of his own. We always thought, up to within a week or two of the execution, that he could scarcely comprehend the terrible situation in which he was placed -- and perhaps this will account for the seeming spirit of carelessness and disregard of consequences which he manifested at the first. He was unlike his confederate in every respect. While BUSER was nervous, sanguine, and determined, and he fought a hopless fight to the last, he was dull, stolid, and unimpressible, and allowed things to take pretty much whatever course they chose. With a mild, blue eye, and a contented, happy disposition, giving trouble neither to himself nor to others, he seemed the last man in the world who would commit murder. Speaking not trumpet-tongued, like BUSER, but in low and measured tones, he contended that he was innocent; and in this he was consistent throughout.
Attempt to Commit Suicide
On the night of Tuesday, 10th April, BUSER made a desperate effort to commit suicide. With a bit of tin about three inches long and a half inch wide, ground down to a razor-like sharpness, he opened an artery in his left arm. Fortunately for the ends of justice, he remained on his feet after cutting the artery, until, through loss of blook, he fainted and fell to the floor. The noise of his falling attracted the attention of the vigilant guard, who speedily summoned medical aid and had the flow of blood staunched in time to save the life of the wretched man.
Was it a Sham?
When BUSER had been restored to consciousness, instead of thanking those instrumental in rescuing him from a suicide's grave, he fell into a violent rage because that he had not been permitted to destroy his own life. To the Doctor he said, "When they went after you to come here, why didn't you refuse to come, or pretend that you couldn't find your boots, or trump up some excuse that would have kept you too late!" He raved and stormed after this manner for a time, when he apparently became delirious. While in this condition, the burden of his maledictions fell upon George BLANCHARD, who, he said, was one of two that committed the murder. "George BLANCHARD," he said with profanity unparalleled, "you hard hearted, infamous, infernal fiend, if I had known you would have killed those poor, harmless women, I would never have given you my map; I wouldn't have had anything to do with you." There are those who profess to believe that the attempt to commit suicide was a sham, and the subsequent ravings of BUSER not delirium, but part and parcel of a deep-laid plot. Prior to opening the artery, BUSER wrote and gave to Rev. Mr. WILSON a letter, wherein he averred, as his dying confession, that HOUSER was totally innocent of connexion with the murder, and that he, himself was only guilty to the extent that he had knowledge that the crime was to be committed on the 7th June. Those who hold to the theory that the attempted suicide was a sham, maintain that BUSER's object was to clear HOUSER, and possibly to induce the authorities to commute his own punishment to imprisonment in the penitentiary; for, they argue, if he was sincere in his attempt to kill himself, why did he not lie down before or immediately after he opened the vein, instead of remaining standing till he fell from weakness, thus attracting the attention of the guard? -- BUSER had for several days been giving out vague threats of suicide, and it is held that by this means he had fully prepared the guard for some untoward event and prompted them to unusual watchfulness.
HOUSER Would not Commit Suicide
A couple of days before the attempted suicide, BUSER furnished HOUSER with a bit of tin similar to the piece used by himself, and advised him to open a vein in his arm. HOUSER refused to do this, saying that "God gave him his life, and God alone had the right to take that life away."
Following is the letter to Mr. WILSON before referred to. It is highly important as being the only public confession made by BUSER:
Ebensburg, Apr. 9th, 1865
Mr. WILSON: -- They think they have the ones that done this deed, but God forbid. -- They have not. Those that done this are far away. Now, good sense and reason will tell you that we are not the men, and in particular poor HOUSER. He don't know anything about it whatever. You will bear in mind I have always told you that we had no hand in killing those poor women, and I tell you so again. We had no hand in killing them. I will tell you, though, what I did do; I gave to George BLANCHARD my draft or map. He lost the one he had. He had one of the same kind as mine, and he told me he lost his in the woods, and if he lost his the time he was up here or not I cannot say. He got out (of the penitentiary) before I did, and he knew of the thing as well as I, and I met him on Troy Hill on Sunday, the 21st of May, and he wanted to know if I was going to come up here. I told him that I had sworn off going on the cruise and he wanted me to give him my map, but I did not give it to him. -- Then we set to meet again on the first of June, and again on the 6th, and on the afternoon of the 6th, I gave to him my map. Now I will tell you that the men that were seen by James COOPER, they were the ones. They had a carpet-sack, but no box. Now, Mr. WILSON, the time that Mrs. GRAHAM saw us go away was on the 15th of June; then we had started for Oil City. Now, please take notice I made it my business to stay in Allegheny from the second of Jun till the 9th, because I did know that the robbery was to go on on the 7th of June. Now you see that I was at home at the time, and I done all this behind poor HOUSER's back. So you see he don't know anything of the matter whatever. He is innocent in deed, and as for him being up here hunting is all a humbug, for I know it the best. He never was up her in all his life till the Sheriff fetched him here. This is the honest truth. And now if Mary MILLER can recollect that I told her I had to go to Pittsburg on the 6th of June, to meet a man, I went on the 6th, 7th and 8th, for I was to meet him (BLANCHARD) from his return, but I have not seen him since, and I never heard anything of the robbery. I bought the German paper, and I never found anything in it, and I thought he gave it up and had not done anything.
The key to the foregoing important disclosures is as follows: After BUSER found that all his efforts to stay the hand of justice were unavailing, he changed his tactics and made the admission that he was possessed of certain guilty knowledge connected with the murder. Though denying that either he or HOUSER did the foul deed, he acknowledged that he knew the murder was to be committed and knew who the murderers were. George BLANCHARD was one of two parties whom he criminated. This BLANCHARD bore a striking resemblance to HOUSER, so BUSER said, and was the identical man seen in the neighborhood of Miss PAUL's the latter part of May. He was an inmate of the penitentiary at the same time with BUSER and HOUSER. The maps referred to were maps of the locality of the murder, and were drawn up in conformity with a rough draft furnished by Philip FULGART in the penitentiary. This draft was drawn by FULGART on the dust-covered floor of the cell, and was copied on paper by BUSER and BLANCHARD.
A Respite Asked For
Although BUSER's confession, in so far as it related to the vital question involved, was well-nigh universally disbelieved, some few attached credence to that part of it which declared the innocence of HOUSER. A petition praying for a respite of thirty days for HOUSER was drawn up and signed by these, and forwarded to the Governor, but that functionary refused to interfere.
Three other letters were handed to Mr. WILSON by BUSER the evening before the attempted suicide.
The first asseverates his own and HOUSER's innocence, and declares his intention to commit suicide --
Ebensburg, Apr. 9th, 1866
Mr. WILSON: -- I must tell you that I feel as though I cannot hold behind what I know, and I will tell you in the second letter. (The one printed above.) But I give you my hand and heart, and my honest word that poor HOUSER and I never did this deed. I will answer this before Jehovah for to be the truth, and I have the best right to know. -- But now, as it is, they shall not lie on me any more. They have lied enough on me already; and they shall not have the pleasure to hang me up like a dog, and then say that BOOSER was hanged for killing two women. They shall not lie on me after I am dead. Mr. WILSON, I have told you that I have been persecuted of many people in my time, and it is so, but I will put a stop to it, and now I beg you not to think hard of it, for me doing so. -- Please do not think I am going to hell. No, I found another place. I found one that said, come, and leave the world behind. I shall find an easy death. I shall not be cursed of God for being hanged on wood. One died on the Cross for us all, yes, this is the One that said, come, and I can scarcely wait. I have overcome all my trouble. I am ready, yes, I saw more last night than I ever did. I cannot describe to you how happy I was, and I feel sure of it, that I shall have more pleasure there ever I had, and I now beg of you to feel satisfied with what I tell you to be the truth. And now, Mr. WILSON, I know that you feel sorry for me, but be sure that I am happy, and I believe that you are not satisfied in regard to our guilt, and you are right. -- You can tell by the letters you have seen with me.
Yours, most respectfully,
The second letter breathes out slaughter and destruction against certain unnamed "rulers" --
Mr. WILSON: -- What you preached to me to-night revived me very much, and I have been the prodigal son, but I have found my father and he received me, and I want you to feel sure of the matter. I also seen, to-night, in your eye, that you have a great doubt of us being guilty, and I must say that you are right. We are not guilty. Neither one of us ever had a finger on them; only I feel sorry that I ever gave my map to George. I am very sorry for it, but I can't help it now. I must also tell you, and I will not keep it hid from you, but you will see that some of these rulers will be slain, by some of my friends, because I could not write to them without my letters being read. But this will learn these folks something, never to read a man's letters when they get a prisoner in jail here. I would have put a stop to it if they wouldn't read every letter that goes out of here. I will give you a few of these names that will take revenge, if they can get it -- Abby LAMON, Charles ROE, Edward FREECE, Henry HOLMES and David S. ROLAND, but they go under other names. David L. WALKER is a very bad man to set fire to anybody's houses, barns, and the like, if any one offends any of his friends, but I have often prevented him from doing so, and now I cannot write to him to stop it. Now, Mr. WILSON, if ever you speak about me to any one that you don't know, don't say anything bad about me, for fear they might hear of it and you would be in danger. This is a form for you to go by to avoid injury. Mr. WILSON, if ever any of these men will come across any of those that swore against me, their cake is dough. Sure this is true what I tell you. But I am now going to rest forever with One that I would sooner have than my liberty, that is this One, Tetragammation; Jehovah. Daniel BOOSER.
The third letter is descriptive of a vision --
Mr. WILSON: -- I seen a place last night, and it seemed to me I saw a man in a white and blue dress, it looked to me like a robe, and he said to me, come here, and I went to him, and I seen a staff in his hand, one-half of it was like though it was full of beads, red and white ones, and the other half looked like gold, and he pointed to this Court House and said, woe to you, and he said, come here, and I went. He said, this is the second he had got to-night, this is the first heaven, come here, and I went into a large room, he said to me, your trouble is over, and your washing is paid for, stay here till I come again, and then I saw a great many that were dressed in blue robes, and they did sing, the like I never heard, and then I awoke.
BUSER Becomes a Catholic
BUSER was brought up a Protestant, but was a member of no church. At his request, Rev. Mr. WILSON, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Ebensburg, attended him in his cell as spiritual counsellor for several weeks prior to the 9th instant. On the evening of the 9th, at the conclusion of devotional exercises, BUSER handed Mr. WILSON the letters we have published, telling him not to open the same till the next day. A conversation followed, of such a nature on the part of BUSER that Mr. WILSON became convinced that the prisoner meditated suicide. Entertaining this conviction, Mr. WILSON did not hesitate to open the letters the same evening, when he discovered that his suspicions were well founded. He immediately apprized the Sheriff of the fact, who directed the guard to be sleepless and vigilant. BUSER was saved from the awful fate of a suicide; but so far from being grateful for this, he took the view that Mr. WILSON had betrayed the confidence reposed in him by opening the letters, and refused to see him more. On the 17th, he sent for Rev. CHRISTY, of the Catholic Church, and was baptized in that faith. Mr. CHRISTY continued to wait on BUSER till the last, the latter showing toward the end a penitent, contrite spirit. -- HOUSER was born, as he died, a Catholic.
The Last Night
Rev. R. C. CHRISTY, of Ebensburg, and Rev. Giles CHRISTOPH, of Carrolltown, the spiritual advisers of the two men, were in constant attendance at the jail on Thursday. The whole of that day and the major part of the night were devoted to religious exercises. Both men were calm and resigned to their fate. HOUSER retired to bed at 10 o'clock, and slept soundly till morning. BUSER also retired at that hour, but became restless and feverish. -- At about one o'clock, he arose from bed and requested Rev. CHRISTY to join with him in a prayer. Devotional exercises were continued for about an hour and a half, when the condemned man again went to bed and slept till morning.
The morning of the fatal day broke in cloudless splendor. From the east, the glorious sun came forth in a glow of liquid fire, as though by the very fervor of his glad beams he would diffuse universal happiness. But into the dark, dank dungeons of the condemned men the blessed beams might not come, or, coming, could not remove the dead weight which lay heavy upon their souls. What to them could be the sweet sunshine of heaven, when there, just beyond the prison-bars, its beams glimmered and danced athwart the timbers of the hideous instrument which in a few short hours would crush out in disgrace their lives! No; earthly happiness was not for them -- beyond the grave was their only hope of rest and peace. In the evening, two or three hours after the execution, black clouds gathered in the west and the flood-gates of heaven were opened. Was it distressed nature weeping over the sad scene, and endeavoring to obliterate recollection in a torrent of tears?
Early in the morning, strangers and those living in the adjacent rural districts commenced flocking to town, singly and in squads. At 10 o'clock, the Branch train came in, loaded down with passengers. Of the many hundreds who came, actuated by that indefinable curiosity conveniently styled morbid, only a comparatively small number were admitted inside the jail-yard. Those refused ingress ranged themselves outside the walls, as near thereto as possible, and, though they could see nor hear aught of what was transpiring within, retained their position, beneath a broiling sun, for several weary hours.
At 7 o'clock, a.m., a guard of thirty armed men was stationed around the jail, to preserve order. Their presence served to keep within bounds the excitement natural to an occasion of the kind, and not the smallest disturbance occurred.
We entered the jail at 11 o'clock. -- Less than fifty persons, all told, were admitted inside the walls. Of this number, five or six were of the jury which convicted the two men, eight were representatives of the press, two clergymen, two medical gentlemen, &c. The press was represented by Messrs. COOLEY and PENNIMAN of the Pittsburg Gazette, LOCKE of the Pittsburg Chronicle, HOUSTON of the Pittsburg Dispatch, IRVIN of the Pittsburg Commercial, WOODRUFF of the Johnstown Democrat, KITTELL for the Ebensburg Dem. & Sent., and the reporter for The Alleghanian. -- Mr. Martin MUNDAY, father of one of the murdered victims, applied for admission but was denied.
The gallows had been erected in a temporary enclosure adjoining the jail on the east. This enclosure was about 50 feet long by 20 wide. The gallows was composed of two uprights 15 feet high, with cross-bar of 7 feet; the platform was about four feet from the ground, and was 10 feet long by 9 feet wide; the trap was cut in the centre of the platform, and was 4 feet long by 3« feet wide. The trap was supported by an upright post, connected by a rope with a weight in the opposite end of the enclosure. When the trigger was touched, this weight fell forward, drawing the upright post with it, thus removing the support of the trap. -- The drop was thirty inches. The entire machinery was constructed under the immediate supervision of the Sheriff. The rope was manufactured in Reserve township, Allegheny county. It was of hemp, a half inch in thickness, and cost twenty-five dollars.
Looking to God for Mercy
The last hours of the condemned men were spent with their spiritual advisers in prayer. The public was not admitted to their cells, but we are informed that each professed to have made his peace with God.
BUSER Desires to Make a Statement
There is good authority for saying that BUSER expressed a desire to say a few words on the scaffold in vindication of HOUSER's innocence, but was dissuaded from so doing on the ground that his last moments could be more profitably employed in prayer.
The Hour Arrived
A few minutes before 12 o'clock, Sheriff MEYERS proceeded to the cells of the condemned men, whom he found on bended knees engaged in prayer. They instinctively divined the object of his errand, and rose to their feet. The Sheriff said that he regretted more than words could express the disagreeable duty imposed on him by the law, but it was a duty, and must be performed. BUSER made answer by clasping his arms around the Sheriff's neck and kissing him. HOUSER likewise embraced and kissed him, thanking him for the uniform kindness extended him during his long confinement. The arms of the two were then securely pinioned, and the sad procession to the gallows was formed. Father CHRISTY supported BUSER, and Father GILES performed the like office for HOUSER.
At precisely 12 o'clock, the procession reached the gallows. BUSER and HOUSER both ascended the three or four steps leading to the platform with buoyant, elastic tread. Not the tremor of a muscle -- not the slightest approach to fear, was visible in the mein or carriage of either. They walked up to the grim instrument of death as brave men walk up to the cannon's mouth in battle.
BUSER was deathly pale, but this was owing wholly to loss of blood experienced in his attempt to commit suicide. HOUSER retained his natural color.
On reaching the platform, BUSER cast one swift glance upward at the gallows, and another at the little knot of silent beholders in front. HOUSER apparently looked into space.
The prisoners knelt on the platform, while the men of God recited the impressive prayer for the dead. During the continuance of the prayer, HOUSER once or twice looked forward upon those there assembled.
All this time, the lips of both moved unceasingly in silent prayer.
At the expiration of ten minutes, the clergymen arose and presented a crucifix to the lips of each prisoner, shook hands with them and kissed them, and then retired from the scaffold.
At this juncture, HOUSER called forward Dr. BUNN, the prison physician, and Mr. E. R. DUNEGAN, one of the County Commissioners, and bade each an eternal adieu, asking them to pray for him.
BUSER spoke to nobody.
The Sheriff then stepped forward and adjusted the ropes to the necks of the two men, first pinioning their legs. Not a tremor of fear in either!
The white caps were then drawn down upon their faces.
In that dread moment, with the portals of heaven or the jaws of hell yawning to receive them, what were the thoughts of the two men, who both denied the justice of the punishment they were about suffering? Let us not seek to draw asunder the veil.
Twelve Minutes After Twelve
the Sheriff touched the fatal trigger. -- There was a quick, jarring sound, as the trap fell to the ground; there was a sudden shooting downward into space of two bodies, each containing an immortal soul; there was -- nothing more!
It was a terrible scene, never to be effaced from the recollection. We pitied and prayed for the two wretches dangling at the ropes' end, while at the same time we thought of the two poor females so cruelly sent to their long account without a moment's warning to make their peace with God.
HOUSER's neck was broken by the fall, he died without a struggle.
BUSER suffered more; he died of strangulation. He gasped twice for breath and struggled for several seconds before strength and consciousness forsook him.
The pulse of each ceased to beat in about 15 minutes.
The bodies were allowed to hang ____ minutes, when they were taken down and placed in their coffins, which had been prepared by Robert EVANS, undertaker.
HOUSER's face in death appeared ____ and placid; BUSER's was violently distorted.
At 1:30 o'clock, seventy-eight minutes after the drop fell, the bodies were ____veyed to the Catholic cemetery and ____ried.
And thus passed away from off the face of the earth, ignominiously and unmourned by so much as a single tear, Daniel BUSER and John B. HOUSER. They were solemnly adjudged by their fellow men to have been a disgrace to the world and so ____ to society, and fit only to die.
They have died, and the murder of Polly PAUL and Cassie MUNDAY is avenged.
Neither BUSER nor HOUSER made a formal statement for the public. It is ____ understood, however, that they both went on the scaffold protesting their innocence, HOUSER declaring he knew nothing whatever of the murder up to the ____ he was taken into custody by the officers of the law, and BUSER admitting his guilt only to the extent of acknowledging that he knew in advance that the murder was to be committed.
The Dress of Death
BUSER was dressed in a black cloth ___ gray pants, white shirt, and well pointed shoes; he was cleanly shaven. HOUSER was similarly attired, with the exception that he had on a pair of soldier pantaloons. He wore a mustache.
Not a single relative or friend of either of the men was present at the execution to shed a tear over their sad fate, or glimpse their eyes in death. They were buried by public charity.
The Gallows Taken Down
A couple of hours after the execution, the gallows was taken down and the temporary wall enclosing it removed.
Shortly before the execution, HOUSER bequeathed a set of beads and a crucifix to Mr. John MCMULLEN, watchman of the jail. He also gave a crucifix to Miss Beckie HADSE, a young lady living in ____ jail.
John Baptiste HOUSER
HOUSER was a German by extraction and was about 38 years of age. He was born in Illinois, but his parents removed to New Jersey while he was yet an infant. He learned the trade of glass flattener in New Jersey. In 1850, he removed to Pittsburg, which place he called his home up to the time of his arrest. In 1851, he married -- "married into a bad family," he himself said. Through the persuasion of his father-in-law, he was induced to commit a robbery shortly after he had married; he was caught by the police in the act, an was sent to the penitentiary. During this his first term of imprisonment, he became acquainted with BUSER, who was also an inmate of the penitentiary at the time. Shortly after he had served out his term and had been discharged, he fell in with BUSER, who had got out first. -- While taking a walk in company, the two were arrested by the police of Pittsburg on a charge of burglary, and again sent to the penitentiary. HOUSER assured us that he had no hand in this crime. Emerging from the penitentiary in May last, entirely penniless, he went with BUSER to Mr. MILLER's, in Allegheny city, where he stayed a week or two. He then borrowed $5.00, and started on a cupping and leeching expedition to Beaver county. He was in that county the day of the murder, he stoutly asserted. He returned to Allegheny a couple of days after the murder, and was shortly after arrested by HAGUE and MCKELVEY. He said he had no knowledge whatever of the murder until after he was committed.
The Pittsburg Dispatch makes the following mention of a bit of sharp practice on the part of HOUSER: "He had been raised a Catholic, but had fallen out of the pale of the church through his misdeeds. One day he met the pastor of the St. Michael's Church, in Birmingham, which structure was then being built, and after narrating a pitiful story of how he had fallen from grace, expressed a willingness to reform. But he desired to do good first, and if the good priest would accept a charitable donation towards the Church, he would make one. The priest signified his readiness to accept the proposed aid, whereupon HOUSER handed him a hundred dollar bill, requesting the clergyman to take half of it. The priest did so, giving him fifty dollars in gold as change. Imagine the astonishment of the unsuspecting prelate when he found that he had been victimized. He had but recently landed from Germany, and was blissfuly ignorant of the currency of the country. HOUSER had given him a note cut from one of the old-fashioned, yellow-plated bank note reporters."
BUSER was also a German by extraction. He was born in Berks county, and was about 40 years of age. He was a butcher by trade. We are not much acquainted with his history, but know he resided in Pittsburg for a number of years prior to his arrest for murder. At one time he was Constable of Duquense borough, a position which he filled to the entire satisfaction of the citizens. He was a bold, bad man -- you could see it in his glittering, snake-like eye -- and competent for any work of wickedness. The influence he exercised over HOUSER was wonderful. -- HOUSER was his pliant, supple tool, and registered his every edict with unquestioning alacrity. It was undoubtedly owing to this fatal influence exerted over him that HOUSER came to his ignominious end. Of himself, we do not believe he was a bad man.
The name of Philip FULGART is very prominently connected with the murder. If the evidence in the case is to be believed, he planned the murder while the others executed it. The grave question naturally presents itself -- ought he not to be tried for his life as an accessory before the fact? -- We con____d the whole matter to the consideration of the District Attorney and ____ the public.
Since the foregoing report was prepared, we have come into possession of some information of the greatest importance. -- This information, upon what pretext we know not, has thus far been kept carefully concealed from the public by those to whom it was immediately entrusted. We recognize the right of no one to conceal, and see no eartly necessity or excuse for attempting to keep back from the public ____ startling disclosures made. The indication is entirely trustworthy and re____.
On the morning of the execution, HOUSER sent for a young lady residing in the jail to visit him in his cell. She went; only after binding her by a solemn vow to reveal nothing of what he told her till after he was no more, the condemned man proeeded to make a statement of which the following is the substance:
He declared as his last dying confession that he himself was innocent of any and all connexion with the murder -- that he was in Beaver county on the day it was committed, and knew nothing whatever to the plot, plan, or purpose to rob or kill -- that BUSER admitted to him that he (BUSER) murdered the two women for their money killing both with one club! There ____ developments connected here____ but they are in such a confused ____ that we cannot give them to the ____
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