106 years ago this day in the thriving railroad village of Villisca, Iowa, Josiah and Sara Moore spent their last day together with their children Herman, Katherine, Boyd and Paul. Katherine's friends Lena and Ina Stillinger spent the day in town getting ready for the Presbyterian Church Children's Day evening service and were given permission by their sister Blanche to stay the night with the Moore family.
A Timeline Leading up to the June 10, 1912 Villisca, Iowa axe murders
Henry Enarson calls the Reverend Ewing home to ask if visiting minister, Reverend Lyn George Jacklin Kelly can stay with Reverend and Mrs. Ewing this evening. Ewing agrees to host Kelly.
From his field, Joseph Stillinger sees Lena & Ina Stillinger walking toward Villisca for Sunday School.
The Methodist Church bells are ringing and it is a bright, sunny day. Alice Willard is sitting on her front porch.
Mrs. Glackmeyer prepares for the morning program at the Methodist Church. She and Miss Letha Jones have charge of the program.
The Peckham family are walking to their Christian Church. Unlike the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, it will not hold evening services.
Sunday School begins at the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.
Bruce Stillians opens his father's drugstore for business. He cleans up the store, opens the mail, then goes for lunch.
Morning worship and sermon begin at the Presbyterian Church. Morning preaching service begins at the same time at the Methodist Church.
Sara Moore's friend, Mrs. Meyers, attends the Methodist Church in the morning. The Moore family attends the Presbyterian Church.
Lee VanGilder is walking in front of the Stillians place when he sees one of the Stillians boys go over to talk to Joe Moore.
Bruce Stillians heads to K.P. Club Room after eating supper. He stays until 7 pm.
Ed Selley goes to work at the Joe Moore Implement Store, as usual (no five-day/40 hour week in those days).
Mrs. Meyers went out on her lawn and did not notice any strangers around. She notes the air is damp. Mrs. Sara Moore stops a while to visit before walking over to the Presbyterian Church to drill the children for Children's Day exercises. Mrs. Meyers is good friends with the Moores.
Mrs. Ewing, Sara Moore and Miss Hugis work with the children on the special service to be presented at the Presbyterian Church. Lena and Ina Stillinger are there rehearsing along with Herman, Katherine, Boyd and Paul Moore. They drill until 4:00 pm.
Reverend Kelly preaches at a school house in District 10 in nearby Arlington.
H. A. Glackmeyer, insurance/real estate loan agent, lies on a couch reading at home after a satisfying dinner. It is a pleasant day. His wife clears away the dishes and notices a man going past their house. She calls to her husband, "Get up and see what is the matter with that man." He was looking over all of the houses along the street. Glackmeyer gets up, but misses seeing the man. His wife said, "You are too late, he has just gone out of sight to the north." The Glackmeyers live next door to Albert Jones. Albert lives in the first house north of the alley behind Joe Moore's house.
He sees neighbor Albert Jones painting his home's windows yellow.
Ed Selley sees Joe Moore on the south side of the square on the street near the Post Office.
Harry Himiller and his wife go to C. A. Moore's to visit.
Ed and Ethel Landers and their boys are in Villisca from Shenendoah visiting Ed's mother at her home. Ed is a Real Estate man. Mother Landers lives across from Joe Moore's home. There is a vacant lot west of her house where a pasture of rye grows.
Sara and Joe Moore and their four children go to visit his parents, as they do every Sunday.
Ed Selley has dinner at his brother-in-law's home.
EJ Mann, manager of the Fisher Hotel in Villisca, is on duty this evening.
No time specified:
Ethel Landers helps Mrs. Posten, her sister in law, serve up the evening meal at the restaurant. Ed Landers joins in.
The supper hour begins at Mrs. Poston's Café.
Blanche Stillinger receives a call from Joe Moore asking if Lena & Ina can stay the night at their home. The girls are afraid to walk to their grandmother's in the dark. Blanche gives permission.
Sisters Lena and Ina Stillinger.
Katherine and the Stillinger girls bring milk to Mrs. Ewing. They are in a hurry due to other deliveries. The girls are excited and tell her that they are planning on staying over night at the Moore's home.
Mary Peckham says she sees the Stillinger girls at the Moore house and learns the girls are going to stay the night.
Lawrence Gridley, 17, drives his horse and buggy into the alley and begins to unhitch it with the help of Fred Fryer and Vern Robinson--they put the horse in the barn they rent in back of Churchhill's property. Joe Moore has pigs in a fenced in area in a vacant lot in back that he rents and he is doing chores. Gridley had just purchased the buggy 6 weeks prior from the Joneses. Albert Jones and Joe Moore walk up and look over the horse as Lawrence unhitches it. They take the horse to the barn to feed him. Albert Jones says to Gridley, "A pretty good looking rig you are driving." Joe and Albert chat back and forth while looking over the horse. Gridley had seen Albert and Joe out doing their chores at the same time, many times. Joe and Albert talked a bit about the buggy business. Joe said, "I came pretty near selling that fellow a buggy." Albert said, "Did you?" Joe says, "Yes, sir."
Mr. Enarson arrives at the Ewing house in his automobile with Reverend Kelly. Kelly wants to take the early morning train in order to get home to Macedonia.
William Lear escapes from the Clarinda asylum heading toward Creston.
One mile east of Villisca, dairyman Mr. Talbet sees a man come, "...out of the timber and went toward Villisca." His wife and their servant girl also saw him. The family were on their way into town for church and passed the man on the road a short distance east of the Moore home.
The first bell rings for the young people's services at the Presbyterian church.
Dan Stillians and his friend Goldie Mitchell sit in his parents' front room and look at a postcard album together.
Joe Moore's brother Fenrik Moore arrives at the Villisca Depot on the No. 2 and goes to visit his parents.
Rev. Ewing and Reverend Kelly head to the church for the "Young People's Meeting" service.
The "Young People's Meeting" begins in the rear room of the church.
The "Young People's Meeting" begins at the Methodist Church.
The Advent Church gets ready for the Holy Roller Preacher in town to come and preach at their church. The church is lit up and waiting. He never shows.
Henry (Mike) Overman, night watchman, comes on duty. He meets Hank Horton on the street and they proceed to the jail where they talk a while. They walk back down through the park. Horton is to meet his wife on the corner after church. Overman continues on his rounds, checking doors and the alleys. He goes from the Bank to the Depot and then to the square to the stores ensuring the doors are locked.
Bruce Stillians leaves the K. P. Club Room and walks to his girlfriend's house. He stays until around midnight.
Mary Peckham sees the Moore's walking to church. The Moore house had been quarantined for small pox until just prior to this. It was the second time the house had been quarantined.
Mrs. Ewing sees the Moores & the Stillinger girls head up the street to church.
Joe's brother Ross Moore and his wife Jessie stay home for the evening with guests who are visiting their home.
Mrs. F. F. Jones and her daughter, Letha, call on Mrs. Glackmeyer to ask if she would like to go to the Presbyterian service with them. A holy roller minister was scheduled at the Methodist Church, so they opted to see the Children's Day program in the Presbyterian Church. Letha went to ask if her sister-in-law Dona would join them, but she and Albert had just returned from Clarinda on the train and decided not to go. The three women head on to the church.
The church bells ring signaling the beginning of the services.
Reverend Ewing seats Reverend Kelly on the south side of the church in the south section of seats, either the first or second seat from the rear door--the rear seats were short seats, enough for one or two people to set in them.
Children's Day Service at the Presbyterian Church begins a bit late.
Rev. Wesley Ewing sits behind Sara Moore, on the north side of the church about the second seat from the front. He recalls Joe sitting on the north side of the church along the north aisle two or three seats from the rear. Ewing notes that the church is full.
A son is born to Mr. & Mrs. Fred Fishor, 7 miles southwest of Villisca.
After 8:00 pm:
Mary Peckham retires for the evening a little after 8. Her bedroom is upstairs in the south room (facing the street). Her son's, Ernest, is in the east room. Ernest kept late hours, so no one knows when he went to bed.
Mrs. Poston, calls supper off at her restaurant. After cleaning up, the Postons and the Landers visit about the Landers California vacation news in which they had just returned for days ago. The Postons lock up the restaurant, and walk with Ethel and Ed Landers. They walk together as far as the Poston's home, then they make their way past the show on the east side of the square and then past the school house, then turn down the street to his mother's home where they are staying. Ethel Landers does not see anybody on the street, nor on the porch of the Moore's house.
Next door neighbor H.A. Glackmeyer sees Albert Jones in the yard with his chickens, and then sees him go into his house. Glackmeyer is playing with the children in the yard and can see the Jones' parlor. He can see Dona and Albert Jones working at the dining room table.
9:00 pm-10:00 pm:
Mrs. M. A. Landers said that she and her son's family retired for the evening at 9pm. She had no electric lights in her home, only lamp light. When she was alone, it was her custom to leave her lamp burning down a little bit. "The clock struck nine after Ed and his wife went upstairs."
The Children's Day program at the Presbyterian Church ends. Rev. Ewing noted that the Stillinger girls walked in to church on Sunday mornings from their country home 2 1/2 miles away.
An unidentifiable man passes by Horton and nightwatchman Overman by the west side of the park. He is a small-sized "fellow" with "heavy shoulders", and wears a bell-top cap. Horton says it was "very dark", no street lights on, no moon shining, cloudy. Hank Horton tries to speak to the fellow. He tells Overman "Why don't you throw your light on that fellow?" Overman replied "I don't think it is necessary." Horton said, "I always make them speak to me."
The Moore's stay after the service while flower bouquets for the sick are prepared. Sara plans to take one to give to a family across the street from their home.1
14-year-old Ervalene Curtis and her family walk the Moore family and Lena and Ina Stillinger out of the church and bid them good night. Ervalene said, "I think we were the last to see them alive."
Rev. Kelly waits around the church for the Ewings to finish up. Kelly speaks to no one and Ewing introduces him to no one. Ewing felt "a little bit guilty that I had not asked Kelly to take part in the services."
Albert Himiller, 14, and his girl Hazel Winters leave the service and go buggy-riding.
Mrs. F. F. Jones, Letha Jones and Mrs. Glackmeyer leave the service on foot for home. The walk Mrs. Glackmeyer to her door, "It was a very dark night and I said at the corner that I would be on one side and they on the other and that I wouldn't be afraid, but they said they wouldn't, and they took me to my door going home." The street lights fail to come on at dusk.
Ed Selley leaves his brother-in-law's house for home. Once he arrives home, he turns in for the evening.
After 10:00 pm:
Mr. and Mrs. John Montgomery and their two sons (one 16, the other 10) retire after an entire evening at home. Mr. Montgomery is a miller. They reside on the SW corner of Fourth and Fifth Streets.
Ed Landers said he positively did not see anybody around the Moore house that evening.
Young Floyd & Orville Watt walk the Moores and Stillinger girls home to the Moore's house. The house was dark. They boys see Joe take a key from his pocket, as the door was locked. One of the little girls says she sees a man behind a tree.
Dan Stillians, 18, goes to VanCamp's restaurant for a meal. He talks with several other boys there, as he usually does. He is joined by "Franky Robinson", 16. About half an hour later they leave the restaurant together and start goofing off and playfully arguing. Then they run a foot race from the southwest to the NW corner of the square.
Mr. and Mrs. Glackmeyer are up with their two year old son much of the night, as he has whooping cough. They hear no strange noises.
Andy Sawyer buys a nickels worth of meat at a market in Osceola and cooks his supper around some ties, where two other hobos join him. They are told to leave town by a marshal. They get on a train heading to Creston.
The Ewings, with Mr. Kelly, are the last to leave the church. They have two children: a girl, 2, a boy, 9. Rev. Ewing lights the house and he, Mrs. Ewing and Rev. Kelly sit and converse about the exercises of the evening, Kelly's ministerial work, and English customs.
Mr. and Mrs. Poston turn in for the night after a busy day at the Café.
After chatting with Rev. Kelly, the Ewings hold a devotional prayer and then retire for the evening. Ewing says Kelly did not betray any signs of nervousness this night. They show Kelly (with his one grip in hand) to his room with the balcony, and get him an alarm clock which they set for 4:30 am.
The Ewings go to their tent outside where their children are already sleeping. The night is cloudy and chilly.
Albert Himiller, 14, drops his girlfriend, Hazel Winters, off at her home after finishing their buggy riding. He heads into Villisca passing the cemetery north of Villisca, and then down the street along the east side of the city park. As he drives his rig south on Fourth Avenue, he sees two men standing on the intersection of the sidewalk on the corner Southwest of F. F. Jones home. His pony is acting shy at something. He throws his flashlight on the men's backs, they are about 40-45 feet from him. There were no street lights on. The street is not paved. Himiller continues down town to find a restaurant. They are all closed, so he goes home.
Sometime before midnight:
Dan Stillians arrives home after having a bite to eat at VanCamps Restaurant, and goofing of with Frankie Robinson. An electric light is lit in the sitting room of his house. He turns it off and goes up to the north room of his parents' home where he and his older brother Bruce, 22, share a room.
The Ewings have a restless night of sleep, as their little girl is somewhat sick during the night, which keeps them awake.
Lee VanGilder leaves Villisca from Porter Marsh's restaurant at midnight. He & Joe Beason ride their horses out of town, down to the corner of the First National Bank, heading east out of town to the first road north to Farmer Peter House where he works.
Kelly stands on the Ewing porch balcony outside his room. He thinks he hears something that later he describes as the thud of an axe.
Bruce Stillians leaves his girlfriend's house and walks to Billy VanCamp's to sleep in the tent--it was customary during the summer months--this would change after the murders.
Mike Overman, after making his rounds, goes to Miller's restaurant down by the depot. He sees two young fellows there that have no place to sleep for the night. Overman takes them up to the jail on the north side of the square to the beds. Each man had his own cell. Overman leaves the jail and walks to the park and sits on the corner where he can watch everyone. It was a very dark night. There were no street lights. "We didn't have any burning at that time; it was trouble [with] the council." He sits there until 2:00 am.
The Josiah Moore home in Villisca, Iowa where 8 people were found murdered on June 10, 1912.
Eight members of the Josiah B. Moore family and two visiting Stillinger girls are murdered with an axe while they slept between midnight and 2:00 a.m. June 10, 1912.
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