Pioneer History by Richard C. Schmal

A Murder in Lowell

(from the Aug. 29, 1990, Lowell Tribune)

It was half past nine on a Thursday morning in late March 1877 that a startling rumor spread throughout Lowell that Cornelius Blachley had been shot dead! The rumor was soon confirmed, for Blachley, a well-known citizen of Lowell, was murdered by John Myers.

The site of the shooting was the hotel and general store owned by Jonah Thorn (1813-1899), situated on Main St. in Lowell, across form the home of Melvin Halsted. Blachley's home was in the same area, and he had walked over to draw some water from Thorn's well. He was standing at the gate talking to Mrs. Thorn about the death of a mutual friend, Mrs. Purdy, when Myers came from the Union House, saw Blachley, and deliberately drew a gun from his pocket and coolly shot his victim. Blachley fell, and as soon as help was secured, the wounded man was carried into the Thorn residence, where he died in just a few minutes.

The terrible news spread like wildfire around Lowell, causing considerable excitement in the village. The murderer, a man 74 years of age, made no effort to get away, but gave himself up without hesitation.

Mrs. Thorn gave this account of what she saw: "I was standing in my door talking with Mr. Blachley, who was near the gate, about Mrs. Purdy's death; Myers came along the walk; Mr. Blachley was standing just inside the gate; spoke to Myers; said good morning; Myers then shot and Blachley fell; said 'Oh, my poor sick wife,' or something like it; I called for help; He was brought in and died within ten minutes from the time he was shot."

Another witness, Charley Hulinger, had this to say: "Got to Blachley immediately; when shot was against the gate; gate partially open; fell against the gate like and partially on his face on the sidewalk; Myers halted after shooting apparently to see if his victim was really hurt bad; appeared to smile, satisfied with the results; as Blachley fell he exclaimed 'Oh, my poor sick wife.' He lived but a short time after he was in the house, bid the boys good-bye, and died."

Dr. Carmer said: "Was in the hotel bar room; heard a shot; went to the door and found Blachley lying on the sidewalk; started toward him; met Myers returning toward the Union House; [he] said that he had shot Blachley and asked him where he was shot; he replied 'In my throat;' I opened his shirt and found that it was apparently through his lungs; told him I thought it was not fatal; he appeared cheered for a moment; he died, however, in about fifteen minutes."

Statement from James Moore: "Was at Blachley's shop and had just left him at his house; he said he would get a pail of water and then go to the shop; I then went to the shop and heard a pistol shot, and Mrs. Thorn scream; saw Blachley lying on the sidewalk; he said 'My God, I'm shot, Oh, my wife.' Took him in to Mr. Thorn's; he said 'I'm killed'; I replied, 'I hope not;' he then said 'Good-bye all' and died."

Dr. Davis had this to say: "The ball struck him a little above and external to the right breast, entering between the second and third rib, passing obliquely inward through the upper lobe of the right lung, probably severing the superior vena cava or arteria innominate or some of the large blood vessels near the heart, which produced immediate death." Dr. Bacon, whose office was across the street from the present police station, also made an examination and agreed with Dr. Davis.

Myers had been living at George Mee's hotel for several months before the murder. He seemed to be in sickly condition, and was annoyed easily. He was very unconcerned when taken before the Judge to be questioned.

To every question he answered that he deliberately planned the shooting of Blachley a year ago. He gave up his pistol, a five-shot, without hesitation. He said that the pistol was fully loaded and that he paused after the shooting to see if he had to shoot again to finish the terrible job. The gun would not have fired the second time, however, for the shells had fallen to the ground.

When questioned further, Myers said: "Have been meditating this a year; I got three pistols at different times, but the first two did not satisfy me; I was afraid that they would not do the job; I shot Blachley because he fooled me out of some money; he had the proceeds although he did not get it to me; am not sorry for what I have done; he is dead but has not suffered as much as I have; I prayed many times that I might die; but I have done the deed and am willing to suffer the consequences."

He was asked if he would have counsel, but he replied that he could not. The following statement was made before Justice of the Peace Chapman: "I shot C.M. Blachley on the morning of the 29th of March, 1877, in the town of Cedar Creek, Lake County, State of Indiana, in the village of Lowell, in the street in front of Jonah Thorn's house in said village." "Says he has premeditated shooting said Blachley for one year past, on account of said Blachley holding property from him that justly belonged to him." Signed, John Myers."

Myers was born in Maryland, and thirty of his years were spent in Ohio. He came to Lake County in about 1872 form Benton County, and worked steadily for John Hack and Frank Barton, at the harness making trade. He was peaceably inclined until that last year. He was taken to Crown Point to the county jail by Marshall McNay and M. Turner, to await the action of the court. No further records could be found as to the disposition of the case.

C. Blachley had been a citizen of Lowell for about twelve years, a vigorous, healthy man, and was a blacksmith by trade. He left his sick wife and two children. His tombstone in the Lowell Cemetery reads "Cornelius M. Blachley, died March 29, 1877, age 44 years."

His wife, Elizabeth H., passed away in 1919 at the age of 78. The newspaper account spelled the name "Blachley," while cemetery records show "Blachly".

Last updated on April 4, 2003.

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