July 23, 1909 - Friday 
Clinton Register - Clinton, Illinois

Asher Arnold Is Killed in an Altercation Over Trivial Matter;
Poland, Sr., is His Slayer.

Ash [Azariah] ARNOLD, of North Grant avenue was shot and instantly killed at 8:20 Wednesday night by John POLAND, an Illinois Central brakeman.  The tragedy occurred in the street near the homes of the two men, and was the result of a quarrel over a horse which Arnold had been pasturing in a vacant lot adjoining that of Poland.

It is said four shots were fired by Poland, one of which took effect in Arnold’s forehead just over the eye and doubtless caused the death.  Several persons were witnesses of the tragedy, among them being Mrs. ARNOLD, Mrs. POLAND, E. E. Adams and others.

J. B. Phillips, who also saw the shots fired, was the first man to reach the body.  Arnold was still breathing but unconscious and Dr. G. S. Edmonson was hastily summoned.  On his arrival a few minutes later, Arnold was dead, and the body was removed to the house a short distance away.

In the meantime, the police were notified, Chief John Struble going to the scene and placing Poland, who had returned to his home, under arrest.  Poland was turned over to Sheriff Campbell and locked up in the county jail.

It was but a few minutes until the Arnold home was surrounded by a crowd of the curious, who entered the house and viewed the remains.

Coroner Thomas Milligan was summoned and took charge of the body, empanelling a jury with Uriah James as foreman, and instructing them to examine the body, which had been temporarily laid on the floor in the basement of the house.  The face was not recognizable on account of the blood which had coagulated and obscured the features, but a bullet wound was found just above the right eye and which doubtless was the cause of the death.

The facts leading up to the killing appear to be very simple.  According to the story of Mrs. Arnold and E. E. Adams, both of whom are acquainted with the circumstances, Poland came over to the Arnold home and asked for Arnold.  Mr. Adams and Mrs. Arnold told him that he had gone to the home of J. H. Sparks, who lives in the next house.  Poland met Arnold near the front of the Sparks yard.  Poland commanded Arnold to take his horse out of the vacant lot just across the street because it was reaching over the fence and eating the sunflowers which Poland had growing in his yard.  The men almost instantly began to have angry words, but Poland started away toward his own house and entered it, while Arnold followed to get the horse.

Arnold had got the horse and, it seems, was leading it into the street to take it to a barn near by when Poland emerged from the house again and the quarrel was renewed.  It is said that Mrs. Poland, who had stepped out into the yard, attempted at first to persuade her husband to come back, but in a few seconds she too became involved in the quarrel with Arnold and during the excitement said something sharply to Arnold.

Arnold replied to her statement: “You are a g-d---liar!”

“Don't you call my wife a liar,” Poland is alleged to have rejoined, and before anyone could realize what was happening, Poland raised a revolver and fired four shots in rapid succession at Arnold.  Spectators say that Arnold fell on the firing of the third shot, and one thought that the first shot took effect in Arnold’s leg, as he seemed to stagger but did not fall.

The men were about twenty-five feet apart when the shooting was done.

Poland calmly returned home after he saw what he had done.  Mrs. Poland fell in a swoon and had to be carried into the house.

Poland is the oldest man in point of service on the Clinton district of the Illinois Central.  His run is between this city and Centralia and he is about 60 years old.

The Arrest.

When Chief Struble went to the Poland home, which is just across the street and a little north of where the Arnold family lives, he was met with a pitiable scene.  When he arrested the father, and took him away, after taking possession of the 32-calibre revolver with which the shots were fired, the sobs and wailing of the children was heartrending and the family was almost frantic, while the mother was prostrated over the terrible tragedy in which her husband had played a leading part.  Friends of the family gathered in and immediately after the arrest closed the doors of the home against the curious.

Across the street at the Arnold home the scene was scarcely less pathetic.  Above the whispers and mumblings of the curious, scurrying crowd the wife of the dead man could be heard bewailing the awful fate of her husband, and wringing her hands in anguish.  Friends finally persuaded her to leave the basement where the body of her husband lay and go upstairs, where they attempted to calm her.

Close to where the body of the slain man was lying stood the supper table with the dishes and the remnants of the victuals still unremoved.

When the body of Arnold was taken in charge by Campbell & Oakman it was found that there were two bullet wounds—one just a little above the inner corner of the right eye and the other on the left side and well toward the back of the head, about an inch and a half below the crown.  There were no other wounds on the body.

Story of J. H. Sparks.

J. H. Sparks, a neighbor, in an interview Thursday said that Arnold was at his place sitting in a rocking chair on the lawn, between the two residences.  He, with Arnold and Jerry Weddle were conversing when Poland came along and inquired of Sparks, “Is Arnold here?”  Sparks says he thinks that Poland could not help but see Arnold, as they were sitting near each other.  Arnold got up and went out to the street.  It had been said that Arnold had a rock or brick in his hand, but Sparks says he saw no such weapon.  They began cursing each other and Poland said: “Put up that knife.”  Mr. Sparks says that Arnold, just before the trouble, had asked Jerry Weddle for a pipe full of tobacco, and is satisfied the pipe was what Arnold had in his hand when the altercation began.  They called each other names for some minutes, when Poland started home, and Arnold went to the lot and was going away with the horse when Poland and his wife came out.  It is alleged that Mrs. Poland accused him of stealing, to which Arnold answered by calling her a G-d-liar, then the shooting began.

After the shooting Lee Arnold, a brother, had five men to examine and find the amount of damage done by the horse in Poland’s yard.  They found three sunflower stalks broken off, the ends being dried as far down as two or three inches.  They also found one stalk of corn which showed that it had recently been bitten off.

It is said that Arnold and Poland had previously had trouble over this vacant lot, which belongs to a man by the name of Hadley of Chicago, and was in charge of Lee Arnold, who suggested the horse be staked out on the lot to assist in keeping the grass down.  The horse belonged to Lee Arnold.

It is said that the two men were so loud and abusive that the neighbors tried to telephone to police headquarters for an officer, but on account of the service it was impossible to get connections until too late.  Neighbors say that prompt service on the part of the telephone would have probably prevented the tragedy.  As it was, Chief Struble arrived on the scene just as Arnold was breathing his last a very few minutes after the shooting.

Poland and His Family.

He arrived home from his run Thursday at 3:30 and was about the place the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  He is an old resident of Clinton and the father of John Poland, Jr., Cora, Stella, Minnie and Frank, all of Clinton, and Jessie Poland of Peoria.  A daughter, Rosa, was killed about two years ago by an Illinois Central train directly east of where the tragedy took place.  John Poland, Jr., has just recovered from a long illness and had returned yesterday to his work with the American Express Company.

Mrs. Poland, who is a sufferer from heart trouble and who fell in a faint when she saw what her husband had done, is in a serious condition.

The Slain Man.

Ash Arnold was 68 years old and was engaged for several years in such odd jobs about the city as he could find.  He was twice married, his first wife dying fifteen years ago.  By her he had four children as follows: Mrs. Lowry MATHERN and Mrs. Ada SMITH, of Decatur, and Mrs. Belle BOWMAN and John ARNOLD, of this city.  He was married to his present wife about nine years ago.  She has two children by a former marriage, Pearl C. SMITH and James C. SMITH, both of Clinton.

Arnold was a veteran of the civil war, serving in Co. D, 172 Ohio.  He was well known in this city, where he lived for many years.  One brother, Lee Arnold, resides here and another, David Arnold, at Smyrna, O.

Arnold was a native of Ohio, being born in Guernsey county, and on the breaking out of the civil war enlisted and left the state.

The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at four o'clock p.m., Rev. G. W. Flagge to conduct the service.  The G. A. R. Post will attend in a body.  The interment will take place in Woodlawn cemetery.

No Statement by Poland.

Poland refused to make a statement today except that his justification for the killing was in self defense.  He has always borne a good reputation, is popular among railroad men and well known among Clinton people, not one of whom has heretofore had a word to say against him.  It is rumored that when the case comes to trial it will be shown that Arnold had a rock in his hand with which to kill Poland just before the tragedy occurred.  Poland will probably engage the law firm of Lemon & Lemon to look after his interests.

The statement is made that John Fuller and A. F. Miller will assist State’s Attorney V. F. Browne in the prosecution.  Sometime before 3 o'clock, the hour set for the inquest, the circuit court room began to fill with people and by the time the coroner and jury had taken their places the assembly room and galleries were crowded.  States’ Attorney Browne, assisted by A. F. Miller and John Fuller had charge of the prosecution while the defense was represented by Frank Lemon of the firm of Lemon & Lemon.  A large number of persons had been subpoenaed but only six were called to the witness stand.

James Phillips, who was first to reach Arnold after the shooting, gave practically the above account with fuller details of the affair.  He was followed by Dr. G. S. Edmonson, John Struble, J. H. Sparks, Mrs. J. W. Poland, Jr., daughter-in-law of John Poland and Henry Hill whose testimony coincided with facts already given.

After an hour’s deliberation over the testimony, the jury returned a verdict that Asher Arnold met his death by a bullet wound in the head, inflicted by the hand of John Poland and that Poland be held to the grand jury without bail.

Funeral of Arnold.

Asher [Azariah] ARNOLD, the slain man, was born in Guernsey county, Ohio, over seventy years ago and when the war broke out he enlisted with Co. D, 172 Ohio. For many years he has resided in this county, the last ones being passed in Clinton where he was engaged in various occupations.

He leaves surviving from his first marriage, three daughters, Mrs. Lowry MATHERN and Mrs. Ada SMITH, Decatur; and Mrs. Belle BOWMAN and one son, John, of this city.  He also leaves a wife and two step children, Pearl and Jas. SMITH.  Lee ARNOLD, of Clinton, is a brother, also David Arnold, of Ohio.  The funeral was held this afternoon at four o'clock, Rev. G. W. Flagge of the M. E. church officiating.  Services were in charge of Frank Lowry Post and the W. R. C.  The remains were interred in Woodlawn.

See the obituary of Azariah Arnold.