Brimfield News
August 17, 1888

Transcribed by Claire Crandell. Thank you Claire!



Lincoln Heaton Stabbed and Instantly Killed by Will Sherman.

Monday, August 13th, the citizens of our usually peaceful little town were startled by the report that one of our citizens had been murdered in cold blood. The report proved to be only too true. The perpetrator of the atrocious deed was Will Sherman, a young man about 18 years of age and his victim was Lincoln Heaton, aged 21 years. Both parties resided in town and were members of rival butcher firms. Considerable trouble has existed between Shermans and Heatons for some time and numerous encounters between different members of the two families have taken place. All this served to intensify the hatred existing between them and led to the terrible crime committed last Monday.

The facts in the case are substantially as follows. Heaton, the murdered man, had been home to dinner and was returning to the shop with dinner for his brother who remains in the shop during the noon hour. As he was passing up the alley in the rear of Sherman’s butcher shop a stick was thrown over the fence by Will Sherman, whether purposely or not is not known, which came nearly striking him. Angry words ensued and Heaton finally passed on to his place of business. A few minutes later Sherman came up the alley and passed by Heaton’s shop on his way to dinner. Heaton, who was sitting on the steps, arose and called out: “Hold on, Pee-wee” (a nick-name of Sherman’s) and advanced towards him in a threatening manner. Sherman hastily drew a butcher knife and when Heaton came up to him thrust it into his heart and started up the street on the run. Heaton took a few steps northward, fell to the sidewalk and expired without uttering a word. All this happened in front of the post office.

The remains were then carried into Bowman’s warehouse. As soon as Sherman committed the deed he ran north to Pyle’s carpenter shop, thence east to the Presbyterian church yard where he crossed, ran south crossing Mr. Brooks’ potato patch and the alley and entered the rear part of his father’s butcher shop, passed through and sat down in front. Our town marshal, Chas. Moss, was on his track and coming up to him in a few minutes said: “Come with me, I want you. You are my prisoner.” Sherman said: “I’ll go along, I suppose I am gone to h—l anyhow.” Sherman was then taken to the lock-up and while the doors were being unlocked Sherman said: “If I had not struck that last time I would have been all right.” Sherman remained in the calaboose until the coroner’s inquest was held and was then taken to the Peoria jail by the sheriff, where he now remains.

The coroner and sheriff were immediately notified after the stabbing occurred and accompanied by the county physician arrived here about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. A jury was empanelled, a post-mortem examination made and an inquest held on the remains. Dr. Furry and Dr. Blanchard conducted the post-mortem examination and certified the cause of death. This is the testimony of the witnesses examined before the coroner’s jury.

Frank Bowman said that Sherman came up the alley and that Heaton went over to him. They had a few words and Sherman told Heaton not to touch him, but Heaton struck at Sherman who then stabbed him. Sherman then ran away and went on, after putting his arms to his breast, took a few steps forward and fell on his face. Witness was sitting on the steps of Heatons’ butcher shop.

Thomas German, aged 17 years, works for Shermans. He stated that Mr. Sherman, the father of Will Sherman, sent him and Will to grease the peddling wagon on the morning of the murder. The wagon stood in the alley east of the post office. They backed the wagon in the yard by Sherman’s smokehouse and Will Sherman picked up a stick and threw it into the alley and Lincoln Heaton, who happened to be passing, said that Sherman threw it at him. Heaton set his dinner pail on the ground and offered to fight but Sherman refused. Heaton then said that he would hammer him when he went past his shop to dinner. When he and Will started to dinner, Will was ahead. Just as he turned to go up the street past the post office Heaton jumped up and said: “Hold on, Billy,” and made a motion as if to strike Sherman. Sherman said: “Don’t touch me,” and witness thought Heaton struck Sherman on the muscle of the arm. Heaton then raised his arms as in fighting and Sherman stabbed him and then ran north past the carpenter shop. The knife was one which they used to stick cattle with.

Lee Pursell, aged 13 years, testified that he saw Sherman come up the alley and Heaton got off the post office steps and stopped him. Will Sherman said: “Don’t touch me.” Heaton then made a movement as if to strike Sherman, who stabbed him in the breast. Heaton then fell and Sherman ran away. He said that Heaton came out of the butcher shop a short time before Sherman came along and sat down on the post office steps, but he did not see Heaton have any weapon, nor did he see him strike Sherman.

George C. Paul, our postmaster, said he was behind the delivery window and for some cause or other happened to glance out and saw the Sherman boy, the one known as Peewee, have in his hand what looked like a butcher knife. Mr. Paul did not understand any of the conversation nor see any blows. He started out of the office as soon as he saw the boys and when he reached the sidewalk all was over. He saw Heaton start north as if he might be in pursuit of Sherman and soon after fall on his face. There was a gurgling sound and all was over.

Edward Heaton, a brother of the murdered man, aged 23 years, testified that he was sitting on the steps of his shop when Will Sherman came through the alley. Lincoln Heaton got up and went over to Sherman. They had a few words and then Sherman pulled a butcher knife out of his belt and stabbed Lincoln Heaton. Lincoln stood still a moment looking at Sherman running away, took about five steps and fell on his face. Before he fell he looked over his shoulder at the witness who yet remained seated on the steps.

Verdict of the coroner’s jury:

In the matter of the inquisition on the body of Lincoln Heaton, deceased, held at Brimfield on the 13th day of August; A. D. 1888, we, the undersigned jurors, sworn to inquire of the death of Heaton on oath do find that he came to his death from a wound inflicted by a knife in the hands of William Sherman and we do recommend that said William Sherman be held in custody to await the action of the grand jury of said Peoria county concerning said offence without bail.

C. W. Hamilton, foreman
F. H. Camp
G. L. Weatherwax
J. H. Carson
Samuel Snider
H. L. Fisher

The funeral services of Lincoln Heaton, the victim of Monday’s tragedy, were conducted by Rev. Morgan at the family residence, Tuesday afternoon, August 14th, 1888, the remains being interred in the family lot in the cemetery west of town. A large concourse of relatives and friends of the deceased attracted the last sad rites.


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