Contested Estate of Col. Thomas Snell

Picture of Col. Thomas Snell.June 28, 1907

Clinton Register

Will of the Late Col. Thomas Snell Will Not Be Probated for Three Weeks.

July 22 is the date set for filing the SNELL will in DeWitt county. The Register has not had opportunity to read its provisions, therefore cannot give them further than given by the Pantagraph Wednesday, which are as follows:

"The will of Col. Snell is remarkable in that the entire estate is left in trust to the executor for a term of years which, without unusual proceeding, might be ninety or one hundred. If the strict letter of the will is followed it is quite within the range of possibility that every member of the present Snell family would be long dead before any division would be made or any part of the estate expended except the small and few yearly annuities that the terms of the will direct are to be paid. A summary of the amounts to be paid as annuities shows that less than $5,000 a year will be paid out of the immense estate, the income of which will reach many thousands.

As stated in this paper of Tuesday, by the terms of Col. Snell's will, the entire estate is left in trust to the executor, Lincoln H. WELDON, and there is to be no division made until twenty years after the death of the youngest great-grandchild of the testator. The youngest great-grandchild, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. V. Dinsmore, is 6 years of age.

The vast income from the property goes also into the hands of the executor, to be invested by him and to pass into the estate and assist in the growth of the fortune which was made by Col. Snell and which he has, by his last will and testament, kept as entirely to himself for the next many years as the law will allow.

The heirs at law receive the following bequests: To Richard SNELL, the only surviving son of the testator, the body of the will, which was written in 1901, leaves $1,000 a year. By a codicil made three years later, this bequest is revoked and Richard Snell will receive the sum of $50 a year from his father's estate.

The Children of Thomas Thornton SNELL are better favored. By the original will each grandchild—Mrs. W. V. DINSMORE, Thomas Thornton SNELL and Harry SNELL—are to receive the sum of $1,000 each yearly for the first five years following the death of the testator. After that they are to receive $3,000 a year each. At the death of any of the grandchildren the share of that one goes to the immediate descendants or is divided among the surviving grandchildren.

The first codicil, dated 1904, gives absolutely to Thornton Snell 175 shares in the Elkhart bank and $6,000 in cash. These bank shares are worth $135 or $140 share.

Harry Snell is given absolutely 200 shares in the Elkhart bank, which shares are of the same value.

To Mrs. Lena Snell Dinsmore is given a half-section of land in DeWitt county. There are 320 acres, valued at $125 an acre. This is given absolutely to Mrs. Dinsmore.

The testator made no provision in his will for Mrs. Hanna SNELL of this city. The sum of $1,000 a year is given her, "as per a contract holding with her." This contract was made at the death of Thomas Thornton Snell and in the settlement of his estate. Mrs. Snell at that time waived her widow's dower in some land near Saybrook, belonging to her husband and Col. Snell, with the understanding that she was to have $1,000 a year for her lifetime, this amounting to a fair rental of her share of the land. This remains with her under the will, but there was no further provision made for her.

To a niece, Mabelle SNELL, of Kansas City, is left by the original will the sum of $400 annually. The first codicil raises the amount to $1,200 annually.

These are absolutely all the bequests made and the trivial amounts given away thus, will make little inroad in the whole, which will increase greatly each year by reason of the large income.

It is provided by the will that the executor build at once in the Clinton cemetery a suitable family vault to cost not less than $7,000 nor more than $10,000, and the executor is also instructed to erect some office buildings at Fort Dodge, Iowa, at a cost of $150,000. He owned a large amount of property, lots and lands near Fort Dodge. Other improvements in the way of tiling and improving of farm buildings are designated.

The estate, which will foot up to a million and a half, is almost entirely in real estate. There was no cash on hand and the only personal property lies in the rent notes to the amount of $25,000, which are now due. The constantly increasing value of farm land, and the fact that the executor is given power to expend the income on such improvements and repairs that are necessary, will make the estate of immense value by the time the distribution under the will is made."

It is said the heirs will contest the will and that suit for this purpose will be filed about the time the will is admitted to probate.


July 26, 1907
Clinton Register

L. H. Weldon to Resign as Trustee and Succeeded by Thornton Snell, Grandson of Col. Snell.

The will of the late Thos. Snell was to have been probated Monday but was postponed on account of John A. STERLING, a witness, not being present. It is believed to be contest proof. It is said attorneys passed upon it before it was signed. It comprises several typewritten pages, of which the following is a synopsis:

"I give, bequeath and devise all my property, real and personal, whatever the same may be to Lincoln H. WELDON and his successor or successors in trust, for the uses and purposes herein expressed and specified, until the time hereinafter named for the final distribution of my estate."

"It shall be the duty of said Lincoln H. Weldon to pay my funeral expenses and all of my just debts in due course of administration. And in case a contract for building a vault or tomb for myself and family, now in contemplation, is not let or made before my demise, I hereby authorize a contract, the plans to be not less than $7,000 or more than $10,000."

His daughter-in-law, Mrs. Hannah SNELL, of Bloomington, is to receive annually the sum of $1,000 on the first day of January of each and every year so long as she may live, in accordance with my contract with her. Also to his brother, Joseph SNELL, annually, so long as he may live, the sum of $400. To Mrs. Clara Bell DeLAND, annually, as long as she may live, the sum of $400. To his great niece, Mabel SNELL, annually, the sum of $400. To his son, Richard SNELL, the sum of $1,000 in the month of March of each year and every year, as long as he shall live, provided that no such annual payment shall be made prior to 1905.

Also annually the sum of $1,000 to each of his three grandchildren. Lena E. DINSMORE, Thornton SNELL and Harry C. SNELL, in the month of March, each and every year after the year of my decease, until improvements in East Ft. Dodge, Ia., to the amount of $150,000 shall have been made and paid for. Also annually, the sum of $3,000 to each of his 3 grandchildren above named in the month of March in each and every year, for the period of five years next after said improvements in East Ft. Dodge have been made and paid for.

In case any of the property in East Ft. Dodge is destroyed by fire, during the rebuilding of such, the annual payment to each grandchild to be reduced to $1,000.

The trustee is also directed to expend from the personal property, within four years from the decease of the testator, money to the amount of $150,000 in erecting business houses in East Ft. Dodge, Ia. The character and style of the buildings to be determined by the trustee and the three grandchildren, and be done as soon as is reasonably practical after the probate of the will. The testator also makes provision in case he had made improvements on the East Ft. Dodge property before his death, to have the amount expended by him deducted from the $150,000. The trustee is also authorized, with the written consent of the three grandchildren or any one of them after the improvements have been made at Ft. Dodge, to expend from the rents and profits of said trust property the further sum of $100,000 in erecting such buildings and making such improvements as they may agree upon with the trustee. The trustee has power to sell any promissory notes, whether due or not due, at their face value.

The trustee is given power to erect a $50,000 building in East Ft. Dodge, Ia., also to sell all lots in Chicago, in El Paso, Aurora, White Heath, Weldon, and all lands in Putnam county, Mo.; Sioux county, Ia.; Hancock co., Ia.; and Boone county, Ia.; and all lands in and adjoining Ft. Dodge, except some property in East Ft. Dodge. He also is authorized to lay out and plat any land lying near any city, town or village.

Also to invest surpluses in land in DeWitt or McLean county, Ill., Vermillion county [Ill.] or Webster county, Ia. At the end of five years, improvements shall be made at the expense of those getting the annual income.

The will provides that should Richard Snell leave any heirs, said trustee shall pay annually to such heirs one-fourth part of that (unreadable) income from the rents and profits of the estate. And in order to give full effect to this provision, other provisions are modified, "That the income to each of my said three grandchildren, as provided, shall be reduced from one-third to one-fourth of the whole annual net income."

Upon the decease of my said son and all my grandchildren and of all my great grandchildren, who are living at my decease, I will and direct that all the principal of said trust property shall go to and vest absolutely free of trust among my descendants then living in equal parts, whatever may be their respective degrees of relationship. Such descendants taking per capita and not per stirpes.

The will also provides that upon resignation, death or removal of the trustee, the circuit court of DeWitt county may appoint "any competent person agreed upon by my three grandchildren, Lena E. Dinsmore, Thomas Thornton Snell and Harry C. Snell, or by any two of them, or if two of them cannot or do not agree, any person at the discretion of said circuit court, provided he be other than John W. Dinsmore. Upon the petition, with or without good cause, of any one of my grandchildren, said circuit court is hereby requested to remove any trustee under this will.

The will also provides that Lincoln H. Weldon shall not be required to give a bond, but any successor shall be required to give a sufficient bond. A reasonable compensation shall be allowed any trustee as directed by the circuit court.

It is my will, and I so direct, that any one of my said three grandchildren in accordance with the request of the others, may be appointed successor in trust, with or without bond.

The will also provided, in order to prevent litigation, that, "in case any of them shall by suit or other proceeding, seek to set aside the will, then all annuities for the benefit of such person shall cease and be of no effect. And all annuities for the use and benefit of such shall inure to those who do not make such contest."

The will was dated December 10, 1901, and was witnessed by J. M. Wilcox, J. R. Bosserman and Philip Wolf.

There are several codicils. By the first one the annuity for Joseph Snell is made $400, and that to Mrs. Clara Bell Deland $400. A great niece, Mabel Snell, receives $400. Joseph Snell, as long as he shall live, $600 a year.

A clause is here inserted revoking entirely the bequest to Mrs. Clara Bell Deland and raising that to Mabel Snell to $600.

A clause is here inserted revoking the legacy of the heirs of Richard Snell, and it is set aside. Richard Snell will receive annually the sum of $50 in lieu of the $1,000 a year mentioned in the will. There is left to the following children of Joseph Snell, Charles Bergen Snell, Elizabeth Stark Allen, Ida May Heller, Mary Isabell Rhyne, William Alfonso Snell, George Albert Snell, Leonard Lamont Snell and Laura Augusta Rayne, each $1,00 [$1,000?]; and also to each of them $2,000 to be paid at the end of three years. This codicil was dated November 28, 1904, and witnessed by L. R. Murphy, William Argo and George G. Argo.

A second codicil gives to Lena E. Dinsmore in fee simple 320 acres in DeWitt county, to Thomas Thornton Snell 175 shares of capital stock of St. Joseph Valley bank, Elkhart, Ind. Also to Thomas Thornton Snell a note held by the testator dated April 15, 1903, for the sum of $6,000, payable to testator and signed by T. T. Snell and T. Thornton Snell.

To Harry C. Snell is left in fee simple farm land, 160 acres in DeWitt county; also 200 shares of capital stock in the St. Joseph Valley bank and a note held by testator, dated June 1, 1905, for $1,500, signed by H. C. Snell. This codicil provides for $1,500 to be paid to the Clinton Cemetery Association.

It is said that when the will is probated L. H. Weldon will resign as trustee and that Thornton Snell will succeed him. Mr. Weldon will not resign as executor.

It is understood that suit to contest the will will be commenced soon as it is probated.


October 18, 1907
Clinton Register

Effort Will Be Made to Have a Deed Made by Col. Thomas Snell Set Aside.

Suit has been commenced in the DeWitt county circuit court to set aside a deed made by Thos. SNELL a few weeks before his death whereby he transferred to Mabelle SNELL, of Kansas City, land in Nixon township, valued at $6000.

It is alleged that he was mentally weak at that time and that undue influence was exerted over him to induce him to make the deed. It is also claimed there was no consideration and that for these reasons the deed should be set aside by the court.

Miss Snell is a grand-niece of the deceased millionaire, and his will provides that she be paid $1200 a year.

The defense will claim there was no undue influence and that if there had been it would have been as easy to have had a deed for a much larger number of acres.


November 1, 1907
The Herald
Arlington Heights, Illinois

Declare Kansas City Woman Has No Claim on Estate.

The latest development in the litigation concerning the estate of Col. Thomas SNELL, late millionaire capitalist of DeWitt county, is a suit filed by a grandson, Thomas Thornton SNELL, to prevent the transfer of any money or property to Miss Mabelle SNELL of Kansas City, who, the family asserts, is not a relative. Miss Snell is described as a bewitching blonde, about 30 years of age, always strikingly gowned, and of distinguished carriage. She claims to be a niece of the eccentric old man, who cut off his own son with $50 per annum and left her $1,200 per annum and valuable lands. Miss Snell is said to have visited Col. Snell several times, and he in turn visited his alleged niece in Kansas City and asked that all his mail be forwarded to her address. Richard, the only son, has filed another suit, asking that the will be declared invalid on the grounds that the testator was insane and incapable of making a proper division of the great estate. The will stipulates that if any heir contest it, he or she shall forfeit all share in the estate. Richard can afford best to fight the case, having everything to gain and but $50 per year to lose. It is said that all the central Illinois relatives are supporting him in this suit. While all, excepting the son, are handsomely remembered, the great bulk of the estate is tied up for 100 years and cannot be divided until after the death of the youngest grandchild, now an infant in arms.


January 1, 1908
The Daily Review
Decatur, Illinois


Bloomington, Ill., Jan. 1.—Next Monday at Clinton, before Judge COCHRAN, will be commenced the hearing of one of the suits connected with the settlement of the estate of the late Colonel Thomas SNELL. The suit ready for call at that time is the one brought to set aside the deeds to property given Miss Mabelle SNELL of Kansas City, who was one of the beneficiaries under the will of Colonel Snell. The case promises to be rich in interest. The members of the Snell family are ready to contest the rights of Mabelle Snell to share in the fortune of Colonel Snell and she is prepared to show that she has the right and intends to hold it. This case will be concluded in advance of the one pending, which is to set aside the will of Colonel Snell.


January 10, 1908
Washington Post
Washington, D.C.


Charged that Nonagenarian Lavished Money on Grandniece.
His Love Letters and Her Replies to Be Produced on Behalf of Son, Who Was Cut Off with $50 a Year.

Clinton, Ill., Jan. 9.—Testimony was begun today in the suit instituted by Richard SNELL, son of Col. Thomas SNELL, the late millionaire railroad builder, to break the will which cuts him off with an annuity of $50. The estate is worth about $2,000,000.

Statements were made today by counsel for the plaintiff that Col. Snell spent no less than $300,000 upon women in the last ten years of his life, of which $75,000 went to his alleged grandniece, Maybelle SNELL, of Kansas City, Mo., now Mrs. McNAMARA.

Richard Snell, who is president of the DeWitt County National Bank, alleges that his father's will was the result of an "evil and wrongful influence" exerted by Maybelle Snell.

Col. Snell made his fortune building railroads, including 800 miles of the Illinois Central. During the civil war he commanded the 107th Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. He died over a year ago at ninety years of age. Love letters of Col. Snell will be offered in evidence. They reveal his love for his niece, who was then twenty-four years old at the time of the correspondence. That his affection was reciprocated is proved by the tenor of the replies. The evidence to be offered is said to include a long list of checks and sums of money which Col. Snell gave to his niece from time to time. The cash, it will be declared in court, amounts to $50,000, while real estate valued at $25,000 was transferred to her.


January 12, 1908
The Decatur Daily Review
Decatur, Illinois

There May Be Sensations Ahead.

Clinton, Ill., Jan. 11.—The twelve lawyers who are engaged in the SNELL will case met in the office of Ingham & Ingham Saturday forenoon for the purpose of letting all see the letters in possession of both sides. This meeting was in accordance with the suggestion of Judge W. G. COCHRAN, who is hearing the case. It was thought time might be saved by letting the lawyers have a day to look over the letters, for otherwise this would have to be done when they are offered in evidence in the case.


The meeting of Saturday morning resulted in accomplishing nothing, except that the lawyers had a slight falling out. Perhaps it will prove to be no more than a misunderstanding when Judge Cochran gets back Monday and gives a few directions. There was no umpire in the meeting of Saturday, for the judge was not here, and even lawyers cannot play long without an umpire to whom to appeal their differences for settlement.


Dick SNELL has in his keeping all the letters that were found in the late Col. SNELL's trunk in Bloomington after his death. These are letters that purport to be from Maybelle SNELL and others. Dick Snell was at the meeting and he had the letters with him. They were a good many; they were not counted, for that stage was not reached. Anyhow, Dick Snell was there with a big traveling suitcase and it was filled with the letters. In all there must have been several hundred. They were all the letters found in that trunk, but it is not stated that all of them were from women whose fancy had been won by the colonel. There may have been other letters in the collection.


Attorney C. W. WEBSTER was at the meeting, and he also had some letters. Those were letters written by Col. Snell to Maybelle Snell. The meeting broke up in a row, figuratively speaking, because Attorney Webster did not have more letters with him. He showed a package of them, containing probably 100 letters. He stated that was all the letters he had, all that had been turned over to him by his client, Maybelle Snell. So far as he knew those were all the letters in existence to her from the late colonel.


That would not do. Dick Snell's lawyers said there were more letters in existence and that all of them should be produced before the game could go on. They at least asked that Maybelle Snell be produced and made to say on her oath those were all the letters she received from Col. Snell. Attorney Webster, of course, would not produce Maybelle, and he had no further letters to show. There was a wrangle about the matter, and the meeting broke up with neither side getting a look at the letters held by the other side. Judge Cochran will have to unravel the tangle Monday afternoon, and likely it is the first matter that will be presented to him when he reconvenes court.


Lawyers for Dick Snell say that Maybelle must have 5,000 letters from the colonel. They quote Attorney Webster as having stated a few weeks ago upon a former visit to Clinton that Maybelle told him she had a barrel of letters from Col. Snell. Dick Snell's lawyers want a chance at a barrel of letters written from the colonel to Maybelle before they will agree to expose their hand by letting the lawyers for the will see the kind of letters the colonel was receiving from Maybelle Snell and others. That is the way the letter feature now stands.

If the lawyers for the will had been given a chance at the letters kept by Col. Snell they might have been busy two days or longer reading them. Also there would have been some revelations for even the lawyers in some of those letters.


Hints have been thrown out in some newspapers from time to time about these letters. For instance there was the statement in Saturday morning's Chicago papers that in the collection there was a batch of letters from the wife of a preacher, a woman who once lived in Clinton and who got on too intimate terms with the colonel. There was what purported to be a copy of one of the letters written by that woman to the colonel. Concerning this, Dick Snell stated Saturday:

"There is no such letter in existence as the one published this morning in the Chicago papers. I have all the letters that were found in the trunk after my father's death, and there is no such letter among them. I have been over those letters and I know this published letter is not in the collection."


"Further, I will say this," added Dick Snell, "a copy of any of these letters will not be published in any newspaper until after they are offered in evidence in court. You may see before that time what purports to be copies of these letters, but they will be fakes. The words of these letters will not go to the public until after they are offered in evidence. Until we get to it we do not know what letters we shall offer."


The following is to be depended on as a fair rough statement of what will be found in that collection of the colonel's letters if all of them are given to the jury and in that way get to the public. Anyhow, all the lawyers engaged in the case will likely be given an opportunity to look over them if Judge Cochran sticks to his first order, to turn over for the inspection of the lawyers for the will all the letters that were found in Col. Snell's trunk.


First there is the collection of letters said to be written by Maybelle Snell. They run the limit and then go over some. The proof that they were received by the colonel from her will consist of endorsements on the letters to that effect, and in his own handwriting. Much has been said about this series of letters heretofore and it is not necessary to go over that again.


Second, there will be a series of letters from a society woman of Clinton. She lives in that town now and is at the top of the social heap. The letters show that years ago she had a run with the colonel and she was then married. She did not need more money, but she felt that she ought to have more. She had enough on which to live in comfort, but she wanted to cut a dash. The colonel had a million and he could throw style on one of his girls that was beyond the reach of the husbands who had merely thousands. The letters from this married woman are vulgar and obscene.


Third, there are letters to the colonel from a preacher's wife. Yes, this is the same woman mentioned in the Chicago papers. But she did not write the letter they published on her. However, in this the papers did her no injustice of which she can complain, for the letters she really wrote are immeasurably more vulgar. This woman wanted fine clothes and jewels, and the colonel was the only man around who had the money and the disposition to come down.


The fourth set of letters show the saddest case in the list. This was a young woman, perhaps not twenty years old, who was to be married in a few months when she attracted the colonel's attention. She was a poor girl, pretty, happy and well liked. The colonel saw his chance in her poverty. He addressed her and proposed that he would fit her out in fine style for her wedding if she would only be his mistress for three months.

The girl fell and she was sorry for it. Her letters are in decent words. It seems she wrote from time to time during the three months. Her heart was torn by what she was doing, but she lived up to the contract, and the colonel lived up to his. These letters are said to be pitiful.


Why should a man keep those letters for years and read them and gloat over them, the letters from the young girl who kept her hard contract with him and then went to another man to be a bride? It must have taken a fiend of a man to enjoy letters of that kind. Yes, they were kept for many, many years; they remained among the treasured possessions of the colonel. It will be insisted that only an insane man could have done that.


The question is asked, when women are in love with an old man for a slice of his money do they always write him obscene and vulgar letters? The answer is that they write such letters only to the moral perverts among the old men, the men who demand that sort of thing, who will come down with more money if there is more obscenity.


Will all these letters appear in the case, will they be given to the public? Not if it can be avoided. Dick Snell's lawyers will go the length they think is necessary to make out a case that will stand the test when it gets to the supreme court, where this case will go. It is the business of those lawyers to show that Col. Snell was such a moral pervert that he was insane and so incapable of making a will. It is not alone that he had a fancy for many women, but it is the sort of fancy it was and the quality of the pandering he demanded.


All the letters may go to the public through this trial, or some from each of the four series here mentioned. It may be that the lawyers will see their way to leave out entirely one or two of the series of letters. It is not thought that many papers will care to publish the letters; they are not that kind. The statement here made of their contents and their tone, one series of them pitiful in the extreme and the others vulgar and obscene beyond limit, is all that it is necessary for the public to learn.


Why did Col. Snell leave these bunches of letters? Three answers are given to that and two of them were heard in the court room in Clinton.

The first was in the opening statement made by Judge INGHAM Tuesday morning. He told that the colonel would go to that trunk and get out these letters and read them a half hour today and perhaps two hours another day. The colonel would chuckle, mumble and grin with delight when going over the letters... they were a means of intense pleasure to him.

The second answer is to be inferred from a remark made by Vespasian WARNER when he was on the witness stand last Thursday afternoon. Mr. Warner told that Col. Snell never destroyed a bit of evidence that might become of use some day in a lawsuit. Mr. Warner discovered this to his own chagrin when prosecuting suits against the colonel. Some of these women might have taken a notion to sue Col. Snell, that was a possibility. If they did, he had all their letters and was prepared to make it warm for them.

The third answer was turned in by a man on the streets of Clinton Saturday afternoon. He had known the colonel for forty years or longer. Said this man:

"The colonel loved notoriety. Perhaps he saved all those letters to make this lawsuit a hummer and to keep it in their memories that he had been here on earth and cut a wide swath while he was at it."


If all these letters are made public there will be serious trouble in several families. That is inevitable. The man who has a million or two can do a heap of evil that will live a long time after him. Colonel Tom Snell certainly lived up to the full possibilities of this opportunity.


January 13, 1908
The Daily Review
Decatur, Illinois

Declared Col. Snell Now Has a Daughter Living at
Armington—Lawyers Still Digging for Letters.

Clinton, Ill., Jan. 13.—This morning Judge COCHRAN stated that recently at the Magill House a responsible party told him that it was true that Col. SNELL had been married and divorced in Tazewell county before he came to DeWitt county and that at the present time he had a daughter living in Armington, the wife of the early marriage being dead. Judge Cochran stated that the man who gave him the information was a person whose word could be relied upon. Mr. Cochran would not, however, give the man's name.

The Snell will case was not called until late today, owing to the failure of two of the jurymen to arrive. These men had started for Clinton but their train got off the track near Waynesville and the men were forced to walk into the county seat.


Clinton, Ill., Jan. 13.—The first thing in the Snell will case when court opened this afternoon was a motion for an order setting aside a rule on Attorney C. W. WEBSTER, of Kansas City, to produce in court letters from old Tom Snell to Maybelle SNELL. A rule to produce such letters was discharged last week when he produced in court ninety-nine letters and said those were the letters in question.


Lawyers in the case present affidavits that Mr. Webster said Maybelle had a barrel of letters from the old man, and if that is true, more should be presented. There is an affidavit from Fred MAGILL, who while a clerk in the bank acted the part of secretary for the old man, setting out that in 1902 and 1903 he addressed for old Tom Snell to Maybelle at least 150 letters.

The attorneys against the will want to be sure that all of Maybelle's letters are turned over before they turn in the letters that they have.


Another rule they want is one enabling them to hold back some letters they have of people of good reputation in Clinton who have not yet been connected with the case and who may not be brought into it for the reason that it may be decided not to use their letters. The attorneys do not want the other side to see the letters if they are not used, and do not want to lose the right to present their letter if it may be found desirable to do so.


Rev. A. E. HAMILTON, whose letters to Tom Snell asking [for] money and setting out the friendship of his wife for old Tom Snell were filed in the case some days ago, was subpoenaed as a witness in the case, but on the first day of the term, Jan. 6, he filed an affidavit that his wife was ill and that it would be impossible for him to attend court. Attorneys here are now of the opinion that neither he nor his wife sill appear in the case.


A great deal of space is just being given by some papers to Mr. Hamilton's letters. They were filed with the circuit clerk Jan. 6 with a deposition by Presiding Elder S. H. WHITLOCK, of Danville, identifying the letters as in the handwriting of Mr. Hamilton. It has been erroneously stated that these letters were filed Saturday.

The purpose of the attorneys in filing these letters Jan. 6 was to identify the handwriting of Mr. Hamilton and prepare a way for bringing into the case letters of Mrs. HAMILTON, which have not yet been filed. Some of the letters of Mrs. Hamilton are attached to letters in Mr. Hamilton's handwriting that are identified by the Whitlock deposition.

Another purpose in putting the Hamilton letters into the case was to show that old man Snell was apparently easy to get money from.

These letters are not of a vile character and consist mainly in requests for money with which to buy clothes and a home. One of the letters wants money with which to buy a home in Decatur. The letters from Mrs. Hamilton were messages of love and usually accompanied those of her husband, sometimes being written in pencil on the back of her husband's communications.


In order to make identification of the letters doubly sure the lawyers had a secret meeting on Jan. 2 and summoned the Rev. S. H. Whitlock, who is presiding elder for this district, from Danville. The letters were handed to him for identification, and Mr. Whitlock was sworn. He formally identified all of the letters as having been written by the Rev. Mr. Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton is well known in Clinton, having had charge of the Methodist church here about eight years ago. He now is pastor in charge of the Methodist Episcopal church at Newman, about forty miles from Clinton.


There may also be presented several letters from Edna HAMILTON, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Hamilton. This is a young woman who is now attending the University of Illinois. All of her letters show that her connection with old Tom Snell was perfectly proper and in no way to her discredit; that she regarded him only as a dear old uncle, though he was no relation to the family. This she knew, but he had apparently been presented to her as an old time friend of the family, and she, from her letters, certainly knew him in no other way.

GOT $10,000.

There has been some speculation here as to just how much money the Hamiltons got from Tom Snell. It is calculated that altogether the amount is between $8,000 and $10,000. The residence on North Center street, worth $3,500 to $4,000, it is believed was given them by him. Besides that, he gave them various sums of money from time to time. He helped pay the expenses of the girl in school and made her valuable presents. The whole amount would not exceed $10,000.


Mrs. Hamilton, whose letters to Tom Snell asking him to help her financially and assuring him of her great love for him, calling him "darling," are figuring in the case, grew up in Clinton. She is 45 or 50 years old, the daughter of Philip WOLFE, of Clinton, and a sister of Mrs. French DeLAND.

The fact that she had a good many fine clothes and some diamonds and lived pretty well attracted some comment. It was said that she had inherited some money and this was accepted by some as the reason for her display of prosperity.


It is expected that two days more will be taken introducing evidence in support of the will, much of it like that that has been presented, showing that old Tom Snell was a good business man. On the other side, it will be shown that for the last ten years of his life the old man did little of his business himself, but had agents to represent him in the many transactions that are being cited to show his ability. All of his land was handled by agents. It is claimed that the purchases of banks in Kansas were made on representations of agents he sent to examine them and that he had little to do with the deals. The deals were good, but the attorneys will seek to show that the agents are entitled to the credit.

The case will last all next week.


Champaign, Ill., Jan. 13.—Edna Hamilton, whose name was brought out in the Snell case at Clinton Saturday, refuses to have anything to say regarding the case except to say that her father and mother were innocent of any wrong doing; that Colonel Snell was an old friend of the family and was looked upon as a relative.

Miss Hamilton is one of the most popular students in the school. She has always dressed well and wore diamonds and frequently has been heard to remark that a "rich uncle" furnished the money.


Mrs. Hamilton in Hospital in Champaign in Serious Condition.

Newman, Ill., Jan. 13.—Rev. A. E. Hamilton, who is being connected with the Snell will case now being tried at Clinton, and who has been reported as having disappeared, is now in Newman. He occupied his pulpit Sunday morning, but at the close of the sermon stated that he was in no condition to hold an evening service and dismissed his congregation for the day.

There was a rumor to the effect that the church board had a meeting Monday morning to consider the matter of asking for the resignation of the Rev. Mr. Hamilton. The board is considering the subject but at present thinks not enough is really known of the case to ask for the resignation.

Mrs. Hamilton is now in a Champaign hospital, and as far as is generally known, has been there for at least two weeks. She is in a serious condition. Some of the neighbors are of the opinion that she is losing her mind, while others think the woman is simply on the verge of nervous prostration.

The people here have often wondered at the minister's wife and daughter, wearing such good clothes and many diamonds, but it was told them that both the father of Mrs. Hamilton and Mr. Hamilton were wealthy and it was from this source that the money came for the fine dresses and diamonds. The Hamiltons have always been popular here and the people are reluctant to accept the story which is giving them such notoriety.


Clinton, Ill., Jan. 13—The lawyers in the Snell case had a very warm session this afternoon during the first hour of court. Mr. BERRY, one of the lawyers for the executor, made a motion that all the letters, papers, etc., in the possession of Dick SNELL that belonged to Tom Snell be turned over to the executor, Linc WELDON; that under the law they are the property of Linc Weldon and do not belong to the other side.

Attorney SWEENEY, representing the plaintiff, made a motion that the attorney for Maybelle Snell be compelled to come into court and produce some more letters.


There was also some talk about the proceedings last Saturday in the office of Judge G. K. INGHAM being horseplay and foolishness. Judge Cochran said that the trial of this case is not a piece of foolishness and that something must be done now pretty suddenly.

During the argument, Judge Cochran indicated by his questions that he would order all of the letters of Colonel Snell turned over to the executor.


The Lawyer for the unknown heirs stated that he wanted to see all of the letters right away, that both sides have trifled with him and he doesn't want that any longer.

Attorney Sweeney made a talk in which he said that all the letters, books, etc., which he and Dick Snell have in the case are pertinent and all would be turned over when the other people turn over the letters they have. He said Attorney Webster, acting for Maybelle Snell, was not complying with the rule in that he is not turning over all of the letters which Maybelle Snell received from Tom Snell.

Attorney John MORRISEY, of Bloomington, made a talk for the executor. He made the sharpest talk of all. Referring to the attorneys for the other side he said: "They have property, which, strictly speaking, was stolen." Thornton SNELL testified that he and Dick Snell went into the old colonel's trunk the night of the day he died and took these letters out. Attorney Morrisey claimed that they are the property of the executor, and that those who now have them had no business to take them.

Then Attorney Morrisey took up the meeting last Saturday morning and said it was dishonorable on the part of the lawyers to hold all the letters on a quibble that all of Maybelle Snell's letters were [not] shown. He said it was only a quibble and was dishonorable and dishonest, something he did not expect to find in the Clinton lawyers that represented the plaintiff. His talk was very bitter.

Dick LEMON replied to Mr. Morrisey, saying there was no bad faith and no dishonesty on the part of the Clinton lawyers; that it didn't look very well for Mr. Morrisey to represent them as dishonest. The Clinton lawyers, he said, were just as honest as the best of the lawyers in Bloomington.


Judge Cochran after hearing the motions in regard to producing letters in court made an order on the attorneys for Dick Snell to produce in open court all passbooks, checks, memoranda, books of accounts, and other documents belonging to Colonel Tom Snell that they now have. It is also ordered that all letters that the attorneys for the complainant expect to produce in the case be impounded with the clerk of the court and no copies of the same shall be made by anybody; any that are not used in the case to be returned to the persons that produced them.

The rule to order Attorney Webster to turn over more letters of Maybelle Snell is still being considered.


January 24, 1908
Clinton Register


The strongest evidence of the insanity of Col. Tom SNELL is the fact that he left his estate to be distributed after his death instead of attending to that duty while alive. Every rich man's heirs are ready to proclaim him crazy if he did not donate a big slice to them. Snell made every dollar of his fortune himself. He gave his children a good start in life and the balance should be his own to waste if he felt so inclined. It was silly to waste it when there are so many good uses to put it to, but that was Snell's business. He made his mistake in not giving it all away before death. There are other rich men in all communities who will make the same mistake. —Monticello Republican.


February 14, 1908
Clinton Register

Expected the Contestant's Evidence Will All Be In Today—Lawyers May Talk Two Days.

After over half a month's delay on account of the illness of Judge COCHRAN, who had been at his home in Sullivan, the famous SNELL will case was again put to grind Monday at 1:30. The Judge came Saturday evening, accompanied by his daughter, Miss Grace, who will see that her father gets better attention than can be had at the hotel.

Judge Cochran was willing that the trial should go over, but this was impossible and the work was on. The deposition of Richard BUTLER was read; that was the part of his evidence taken after Judge Cochran was taken sick that Butler might return to his home in Hamilton, Canada. There was little in it that has not been published in the Register.

The next witness was A. L. DOBSON, of Bloomington, an electric doctor. He said he was called by Mrs. Hannah SNELL to treat the Colonel after he returned from Chicago. He said he told him he staid four days at a house in Chicago and that he spent $500 while there. He said he would run about the room, jump on the bed and claim his debauch was causing his suffering. He said the Colonel told of his trips with a Kansas City woman; that they were expensive, but worth all they cost. He heard him say he would cut Dick and Thornt SNELL out of his will. That the former had beat him out of money and the latter was a sport and gambler. Said he would give his money to those who would take care of it. He thought the Colonel was not of sound-mind the way he talked about his relatives.

Patrick TOOHILL, of Bloomington, formerly a farmer of this county, had heard the Colonel talk about his son, and when he told him his son was honest, he told him he was a liar.

A. GAYHAGEN had heard him say his son Dick was a thief. He did not think the Colonel was sane.

John D. ROGERS thought the death of his son Thornton had great effect on the Colonel. Before his falling out with his son Dick he had heard him praise him for his ability to make money.

Judd McGOWAN went to Weldon with the Colonel to sell lots for him at auction. Two were sold, and he stopped the sale, but he did not pay the auctioneer. He thought his mind was not right.

R. H. EDMISTON thought the Colonel had a strong memory, but his mind was not so strong. He had talked with him about becoming his agent, and he said he wanted him to move in the home house just north of Clinton; when he went to look at the house the daughters of Sam ARGO were living there. They were surprised, and when he told the Colonel next day he said no one should move there if they wanted to stay.

L. S. EATON had heard the Colonel say Dick had beat him out of $200,000; but he had no opinion as to him being of unsound mind.

Tom CACKLEY had heard him denounce Dick. He had taken fruit from his window and when he asked him to pay for it had threatened him.

Ed ALLYN thought the death of his son Thornton caused a change in his life. He thought he was more affected at times.

C. W. McCORD heard him say Dick had stolen $100,000 from him. Heard him say sporting had cost him $175,000; also that after a visit to Iowa he said he had $250,000 worth of property more than he thought he had.

Morris STURM had heard him say Dick said he could sleep in the stable with the horses. He thought a sane man would not talk about his family as the Colonel did.

Thos EWING thought the Colonel was not of sound mind the last years of his life. He had heard him say Dick had robbed him.

Ben HULL had heard him boast of Dick's business ability before they had fallen out. He thought he was not of sound mind toward the close of his life.

Judge HILL had heard him curse (rest of the sentence unreadable). He had asked to have made a copy of C. H. MOORE's will and tore it up when handed him because he did not like the yellow paper it was folded in; another was made and he tore it up. The Colonel and Sam Argo were at his office and the former charged that Dick had stolen two rent notes and that he would kill him; Argo objected and he struck him, saying he would kill him if he defended Dick. The Colonel had asked him to call to talk over a gift to the Baptist church; he went, and the Colonel refused to give, saying all preachers and church members were rogues.

James BUTTERWORTH had heard him denounce his son Dick, and refused an offer to assist in bringing about peace between them.

Rev. J. B. HORNEY had heard him call Dick names. He had visited him when he was sick. He thought his mind unsound, basing his opinion on the fact that he would be in good humor one day and would be mad and swear the next.

Philip A. KARR, of McLean county, formerly of DeWitt county, knew him about 40 years and thought he was insane on some things because he talked to himself and was peculiar. He thought every man insane on something.

M. B. NEAL, ex-sheriff of DeWitt county, who had been in the employ of the plaintiff in hunting evidence for this trial, said he heard the Colonel say he would give all his property if he had treated his family better; also that if it were not for his wealth he would be dead.

W. F. PARKER, a Snell tenant, said the Colonel told him about his trip south with Mabelle Snell, and that it cost him $1,800. Had said his income was $40,000 a year and that it was hardly enough for him to spend. In 20 years he had lived on Snell's farm, he visited it only once.

W. R. CARLE thought him capable of managing his own affairs, but would become mad and excited at the mention of Dick's name.

Geo. JORDAN, of Bloomington, had heard him accuse Dick of stealing from him; also heard him denounce the men at the head of the government; he thought all politicians were corrupt.

Circuit clerk HARROLD told of when the Colonel came into the court room when court was in session and said, "It is a lie"; also of another time when he struck Dr. DOWNEY. He said the Colonel came into his office a few years ago with one shoe off and coat off. He asked for Dick, saying he had stolen from him and he wanted to find him. They tried to quiet him by telling him Dick was not there, and he threatened to strike them. He did not think he was sound in mind.

Mrs. Hannah SNELL, widow of James Thornton SNELL, who died twelve years ago, was the first to testify Wednesday and she was on the stand most of the forenoon.

She said the death of her husband caused a change in him. He had abused her and struck her once. He was very uneasy of nights, singing and talking to himself. He would not allow his mail delivered at the house, but sent to the post office for it. He would call her a pauper and tell her she didn't know anything.

She had met Mabelle SNELL. She attended the wedding of her son Harvey in Elkhart, Indiana, and wore a fine dress that Colonel said cost $400. Her brother Ben also wore a fine suit the Colonel rented for him. The Colonel said he would not attend the wedding if Mabelle did not. Sometimes Mabelle would be kind to him and sometimes the opposite. He had told her Mabelle would tear up the checks he gave her when they were smaller than she thought they ought to be. She had heard him say Jesse James was a better man than Dick. Mrs. Snell denied that she was to receive several thousand dollars if the will was broken. Said no one had promised her money on that account.

Dr. J. C. MYERS had treated him and once he had said that he wanted medicine that would kill or cure. He had told him that women had cost him over $200,000, sometimes $10,000 a year. He offered to buy the Colonel's bank stock, and when Dick's name was mentioned he cursed and called Dick names. He thought he was not of sound mind.

Ben FRANK, of Bloomington, had known the Colonel over [?]0 years and thought the death of Thornton changed him greatly. He seemed insane when he came to Bloomington soon after his son's death. It took help to get him in a carriage.

The real sensation of the trial came Wednesday afternoon when some of the much-talked about letters were read. They were said to be the toughest batch of letters ever offered in court in this county, being so disgusting that many left the court room. They are claimed to have been written by Mrs. E. A. HAMILTON, wife of the Methodist preacher, who recently resigned his pastorate at Newman, Illinois, and the family is said to have gone to Florida. They were full of indecent suggestions and expressions and offers to surrender the daughter for money. Following are some of them with the rottenest parts out:

"1904, Nov. 15. Sunday evening—You are my darling; sweet darling. I love you; honest in loving you—more each day. I wish you were with me now. I am wild to see you. * * * * I go crazy, wild to see you. My Christian duty's to love you; you are all alone in this world; you need someone to love you. It is the close of another Sabbath day, all the rest are abed. I am going to sit up, love, for ten years for you. It is a Christian woman's duty. * * * * We can take Pet to Chicago. Pet would mistrust; go slow, write her nice letters, she will soon do anything for you. I tell her how you love her and how much you want her for your sweetheart. Write her nice letters. You will soon have her. * * * * Darling go slow. Her papa tells her. Write her nice letters. You were going to send her and me 50 or 100. I will soon have her where you want her, go slow. Give her some money. One year ago we went to Weldon Springs. * * * * My husband said I could (one line missing) I won't have to work so hard. If you would give me a home like you did B., how I would have loved you for it. Won't you, sweet darling, give me a home right away? * * * * Darling, you said last winter you would get me a coat this winter. My husband is willing. I know you are able to give me all the money I want. * * * * You ought to give me all the money I want. B. did not do much for you. Don't you leave them (or her) one cent, darling. Don't forget to fix that will. You ought to leave... for me. Won't you, won't you, sweetheart? It is 11 o'clock and I am still writing. Darling, do give me all the money I want, you have it or can get it."

"Jan. 10, '05—We should be together all the time. You could give me a home. My husband was saying he could take care of all your business. You ought to give me a home. You told me that over a year ago. You give me the money. You can come and live with us. Pet said we would be happy if we could be together. After Lota was taken away I think it is right for you to be with us. Why won't you give me a home? * * * * I have waited so long for a home. Give me the money to get me a home."

"It is now almost church time. I am just wild now. If I was not afraid someone would get my letters I would send you one that would make you crazy!"

"Dec. 14, 1904—Oh, my darling, I send you one thousand kisses. I am dying to be with you. I want you to send me something nice. I did not receive anything from you [for] my birthday. You must come very soon. I cannot stand it any longer. You can start from home and go from here to Kansas City. Nobody thinks anything about you being here. So you can come at any time. My husband will be away one week and you can come then. I never loved any man like I do you. I must see you, sweet darling, the night of the 20th. I keep everything to myself and do not tell Pet. She would never tell her father if you came over."

"You are mine, my own darling. I bought that ring but went in debt $50. I paid the $100 you sent me on it and gave it to Pet. I never thought that I would buy a ring but you let me have the money to pay for it. Can't hardly wait to see you, Darling. I will do everything you want me. My husband thinks so much of you and will let me go anywhere with you. I wish that we had been together oftener. Oh how sweet it would have been. I will do, darling, everything that I can to make Pet hug and kiss you as much as you want her to. She does love you and I will get her to pet you. She is not a child to hug much. We must go on a trip to Chicago. My husband said we can. What will we do with Pet at night? I do love my ring so, because you gave it to me. It seems like part of you. Oh, how I will pet you darling. Come over next week. If I come Monday I will dispatch you."

"Monday, 9 a.m.—I sent you a dispatch saying everything was all right. Worked so hard this morning. Did my washing this morning. Visited poor woman. Won't you get me a coat this winter? My husband said he would trust me with you any time. Pet wrote you Saturday; you ought to send us $100 apiece. That would be right. Darling, fix that will. Won't you send me some money? By-by; send me some money."

"November 16, 1904—My Darling Dearest: I received your letter, a most heavenly letter. Received your $10 apiece for me and Pet. You wrote to Pet and to me. I have had opportunity to meet lots of men, but you know how to be nice to a woman. Pet write you. Did you enjoy the letter I sent you Sunday evening? We are so much alike. We like the same things. I wish you would have done what you spoke of the time we went to the Springs. We will have to go slow with Pet.

I sent you a dispatch yesterday morning. Won't you give me a new coat? I love you so. I need a coat so bad. Write me and tell me you will get me a home. You ought to get me one right away. You can live with us all your life. You promised me a home a year ago, and you got your niece a home since then. And say, sweet one, don't put me off longer. You have helped all the rest of them."

"January .., 1905—Think what a risk I run in writing you such plain letters. If any one should get one of your letters to me it would just ruin me."

"You ought to have remembered me in your will for I do love you so."

A letter marked June 22, 1905:

"I will get Pet all right with you. But my darling you must give me something for doing this for you. You can have my child for your sweetheart. Pet shall be yours. Send me 100 dollars right away. Pet is yours. Remember you must be good to me. Send me some money."

(June 10, 1905)

"I will give you my girl, as much as I love her. That is doing more for you than you would do for me. You sent me V, you ought to send me 500. Pet will love you for $200."

(January 12, 1905)

"We were made for each other. We should have met 20 years ago. How can you refuse me when I love you so much? I love you as much as if I was your wife. You are so wealthy that you will never miss what you give me. You should remember me in your will and you should write and let me know what you will do for me. I gave the diamond ring to Pet, as you directed, so please send me the money to get another. I could not find the letter Pet wrote you. She loves you sure and we will have a good time when we get together. Leave everything to me and it will be all right. Could you come right away? Send me a check in your next letter. I do so love you. I am wild to see you. Send me a check.

I told Pet that you might come over and she said: `I would do anything and everything to make him happy.' We could have the nicest time in this world if we all could be together. Pet said that she would do everything to make you happy. Pet is the best player on the piano. She is the best girl in town and she would be sure to make you happy."


"I never did know what it is to love anyone until I knew you. Oh how I do want you. You are the only one I care. I send you a big hug and kiss for that $5 you sent me. B. has everything. I have been so blue lately. Please do everything to cheer me up. I am a good woman and love you so much. It is a pure love; I put all my money into the house and went in debt. Come over next week when you come back from Fort Dodge. My husband does not object to our meeting and is willing to let us stay together as long as we please. Darling, we love each other. You have a perfect friend in me. This old house just worries me to death. I love you better every day. Did you see me at Clinton? Come next week and we will plan to make you happy next summer. Thank you again for that $5. I was glad to get it."

Wednesday evening about 20 other letters, claimed to have been written by Mabelle Snell, were offered in evidence and the defense objected. The jury was sent out and the lawyers cited law, but the decision as to their admission went over till next morning.

The defense objected to the letters because they were incompetent and had been stolen from Col. Snell's room after his death. After much argument, the admission of the letters in evidence was denied, and more witnesses were called.

Dr. A. E. CAMPBELL thought the Colonel insane because he had called his son a thief and cursed in the presence of women. His was a form of circular insanity.

Dr. T. D. CANTRELL, of Bloomington, had heard him say he thought some people were trying to rob him. He thought he had a delusion that his best friends were against him.

A. R. SHUE had heard him say he spent $500 to $1,000 a night with women; also that he had given Mabelle Snell $18,000 worth of property. He tried to arrange with him to look after his property at $75 per month, and then decided he was insane. He was not sure associating with lewd women was evidence of insanity unless large sums were spent.

Dr. CHURCH, of Chicago, had been present when the letters, claimed to have been written by Mrs. Hamilton, were read. From what he had heard of the evidence of Col. Snell, he thought he was not of sound mind. He said he was paid $300 a day by contestant to come to Clinton and had been here two days.

Dr. GREEN, superintendent of the state asylum at Kankakee, was another expert witness. He too had heard the letters read, and heard some of the evidence, and believed Col. Snell was insane on some things.

Dr. S. A. GRAHAM, of Clinton, had a similar opinion. He first came to this conclusion in 1904, but since hearing the evidence he thought he was insane as long ago a 1900.

J. F. DeLAND told of the purchase and sale of the Emporia, Kansas, bank. It paid 27 percent while Snell owned it and was sold at a profit of $10,000.

(Two lines missing.)

Mrs. F. E. DOWNEY, A. L. WARNER and several other witnesses testified this morning. The contestant's evidence will all be in today, and the defense will have some rebuttal testimony. It is thought the case will be completed this week except the arguments of the attorneys, which will probably occupy two days, so that the case may not go to the jury before next Wednesday.


February 21, 1908
Clinton Register

The Result Was Expected by Many Who Had Heard All of Trial; Will Be Heard Again.

It required about fifteen days to try the SNELL will case, and so far as settling the matter it concerned, it is no nearer settled than when the trial began. The evidence was all in soon after noon Friday. It had been expected the defense would call several witnesses in rebuttal, but it did not, which made it possible to get the case to the jury Saturday evening.

The defense asked that the evidence of Drs. CHURCH and GREEN be taken from the jury, but the motion was overruled. In passing upon this, Judge COCHRAN referred to the Mabelle SNELL letters being excluded and the HAMILTON letters admitted, and said that if he had made an error it was in allowing the Hamilton Letters to go in as evidence.

The defense then asked that the jury be instructed to find for the defendant, claiming it had not been shown that Col. Snell was insane or had been influenced in making his will. The motion was overruled.

Judge Cochran then announced that each side would be allowed five hours to present the case to the jury. MORRISEY, of Bloomington, spoke first for the defense and was followed by SWEENEY for the plaintiff. A night session was held when W. H. BOOTH spoke for the defense and LEMON for the plaintiff.

Saturday morning WEBSTER of Kansas City, spoke for the defense and was followed by HERRICK also for the defense. INGHAM followed for the plaintiff, speaking two hours before noon, and twenty minutes after noon, which was almost twice as long as any other had spoken; Booth and Webster each spoke about half hour, the others from an hour to one and a half hours. BARRY, of Bloomington, for the defense, closed the argument, speaking about an hour. While the attorneys were limited in time, their addresses were all considered strong.

The instructions were then read by Attorney MILLER at the request of Judge Cochran. The defense presented 43 and the plaintiff 7 instructions.

The jury went to its room about ten minutes before 4 o'clock and the first ballot was 8 to 4 for breaking the will. Judge Cochran remained up till midnight, and he announced that should the jury agree on a verdict he would not hear report until Monday morning; but it didn't report a verdict, even for Monday morning. About 9 o'clock the jury was brought in and reported no verdict and no probability of one. The twelve tired men were sent back to their room to try again.

After being out seven hours longer they were brought into court at 3 o'clock. They reported no verdict, and each expressed his belief that it would be impossible to agree on a verdict.

Judge Cochran expressed regret at the failure to report a verdict, and said he would give more time for deliberation if he thought anything would be accomplished, but under the circumstances, he felt it would be useless to send them to their room again, therefore would discharge them.

The jurors seemed glad they were free, but each seemed sure he had voted right. In the morning it was reported the jury stood 11 to 1 for breaking the will, but soon as they were free it was soon known they quit as they began, 8 to 4, in all about a dozen ballots being taken. They made no secret of it that they had a strenuous 47 hours of it, and that at times much feeling was shown. It was also told who were for and who against breaking the will. The latter were J. W. PERRYMAN and Charles WILSON, Abe LIGHTHALL, and Wm. MARKS.

But one vote was taken as to the insanity of Col. Snell, and it was 10 to 2. Two of the jury contended he was sane when he made the will and that what happened after that time could not be considered. Following is the list of the jury men:

Henry MUSSON, Clinton, proprietor Carpet Cleaning Works.
William MARKS, DeWitt township, farmer.
John ARMSTRONG, Harp township, farmer.
William PERRYMAN, Clinton, clerk in Fullenwider & Staley's hardware store.
Ira PRICE, Wilson township, farmer.
G. A. FORBES, Clinton, clerk in furniture store.
Hamilton BARTLETT, Clintonia township, employee of Illinois Central.
R. M. HALSEY, Waynesville township, farmer.
John TACKETT, Wapella township, farmer.
Charles WILSON, Clinton, bookkeeper at John Warner & Company's bank.
J. M. PENNINGTON, Midland City, farmer.

(There are only eleven names. Abe Lighthall, mentioned above as voting against breaking the will, is not listed.)

J. M. Pennington was foreman and Charles Wilson clerk.


October 2, 1908
The Daily Review
Decatur, Illinois

Mabelle McNamara Files Answer to Bill of Thornton Snell.

Clinton, Ill., Oct. 2.—Mabelle Snell McNAMARA, the alleged pseudo niece of the late Colonel Thomas SNELL, the Clinton millionaire, after more than a year's silence, except through vague refutations through her attorneys, today made a sensational denial of the authorship of the "Snell letters," as well as the $100,000 gift of money from the senile millionaire.


The denial is contained in Mrs. McNamara's answer to the bill recently filed by Thornton SNELL of Elkhart, Ind., trustee of the estate, to have deeds to certain valuable properties in DeWitt county given her by Colonel Snell set aside. The answer in voluminous and denies practically every accusation made against the Kansas City woman by the contents of the will in the recent trial. Maybelle brands as an absolute falsehood the charges.


The answer contains a sweeping denial of the authorship of any infamous letters telling of disgraceful escapades in which she figured with her benefactor. A notable feature of the answer is that it contains neither denial nor affirmation that correspondence was carried on by Colonel Snell and his niece. The DeWitt county property involved is worth about $2,000. Attorneys interested in the case say that the entire matter will be settled at the coming term of the circuit court.


February 22, 1909
Edwardsville Intelligencer
Edwardsville, Illinois

Contestants Are Left Without One Ray of Hope.

Springfield, Ill., Feb. 20.—The supreme court decided that the DeWitt county circuit court erred in its decision breaking the will of millionaire Thomas SNELL.

The court's opinion leaves not one point on which the contestants can go into court and succeed in breaking the document which gave away several million dollars.

The aged millionaire cut off his son Richard with $50 and allowed Mabel Snell McNAMARA, of Kansas City, a life annuity.


July 23, 1909
The Cook County Herald
Arlington Heights, Illinois

Jurors for Second Time Set Aside Last Testament of Millionaire.

The third contest over the will of Col. Thomas SNELL, of Clinton, Ill., the eccentric old man who died leaving an estate of $2,000,000 and cutting his only son off with an annuity of $50, was ended Friday when a jury decided that Col. Snell was insane at the time he made the will. This decision sets aside the bequest of several thousand dollars to Mabelle SNELL McNAMARA, the aged colonel's affinity. The jury was out a little more than an hour and took but one ballot, which resulted eleven to one for the contesting son, Richard Snell. The dissenting juror changed his vote without the formality of a second ballot.

The first trial of the contest resulted in a verdict that Col. Snell was insane, but a higher court set aside the verdict and remanded the case for another trial. If the will had stood, the legal heirs would have received, all told, annuities aggregating $5,000, and not exceeding $1,000 in any single case, while the residue of the fortune would have been held in a weird trust agreement for heirs yet unborn. On the date set for a final distribution, in the terms of the will, the estate would have grown probably to $100,000,000.

The Snell will case will go down in American court annals as furnishing one of the most amazing instances of the depths to which women have descended to gain money. The most sensational feature of all three hearings of the case was the introduction of letters from nearly a score of women, young and old, all of whom professed to love the aged millionaire madly. To cater to a degenerate tendency, which appeared to be one of Col. Snell's senile vagaries, the women interlarded their letters with unprintable obscenities. The more vulgar the tone of the letters the better pleased the old man appeared to be, and it was found when the letters were exposed that he had formed the habit of marking them with his impressions. Scarcely a letter was written to the doting old man by any of the women which did not demand gifts and money.


April 8, 1910
Cook County Herald
Arlington Heights, Illinois

Court Orders Administrator to Turn Over Funds to Will Breaker.

In the DeWitt county court Judge HILL appointed Richard SNELL administrator of the estate of his millionaire father, Col. SNELL, and called on L. H. WELDON, of Bloomington, formerly administrator, to turn over all property to his successor. Young Snell's bond was fixed at $130,000. The personal property is estimated at $65,000 and the realty at $2,000,000. One of the first claims to be filed will be that of the lawyers engaged by the executor in his vain effort to defend the will. Their bill is said to be $50,000. There may be a disposition to contest this claim as excessive.

Submitted by Judy Simpson