Downtown Villisca, Iowa, circa 1910.
103 years ago on June 10, 1912 the bodies of eight of Villisca, Iowa's own were discovered in the small white house of Josiah Moore at 508 East 2nd Street. Joe and his wife, Sara, their four children and two overnight guests had all been brutally murdered with an ax. When looking through the historic records (the Coroner's Inquest, the 1917 Grand Jury, the Villisca Review, detective reports, etc.), do we find anything unusual about Saturday, June 8th, 1912? Does anything out of the ordinary stand out?
Joe and Sara Moore's neighbor, Mr. O. Peckham, rises as he does every morning (Monday - Saturday) to go to work in the Villisca cemetery.
While at her mother-in-law's home (just across the street from the Moore's home), Ethel Lander's sees two men come to the door. They ask to clean the wallpaper in the house. One of the men is short, the other stout. She notes that there were a large number of peddlers in town. Her husband Ed Landers takes them out to the porch and talks to them.
Joe Moore arrives at the store for work. Moore's employee Ed Selley is already at the store beginning the day's work.
Alice Willard is at Gertrude Lott's property picking roses when she sees two men passing Joe Moore's house.
Bruce Stillians walks downtown to open his father's drugstore up for business.
Mrs. Ethel Landers goes to her sister-in-law, Mrs. Posten's restaurant to help out. Mrs. Posten runs a restaurant on the south side of the square, near the post office.
Ed Selley leaves the Joe Moore Implement store to take his lunch break.
Fay Van Gilder (Sara Moore's sister) is accosted by a stranger near the high school and asked a peculiar question. She tells Sara, and Sara said the same man passed her home a couple times.
Three-year-old Carlton Harris is nearly devoured by a herd of pigs when he trips and falls.
Miss Mable Freeman and Ed MacCrae (a traveling salesman for a novelty company in Chicago) arrive by automobile at Alice Willard's in Villisca. Alice was at the post office when they drove in on the south side of the square. Ed joins Alice at the post office to buy stamps.
Ed Selley and Joe Moore close the Joe Moore Implement Store. Joe pays Selley with a check.
Mrs. M.A. Landers has spent most of the day watching her grandchildren. Her son Ed and his wife Ethel arrive home after working all day at Mrs. Posten's restaurant downtown. Mrs. M. A. Landers did not see anyone or hear anyone around her place, or around the Moore house this particular evening. Ed and Ethel head to bed for the evening.
J.W. Konly registers at the Fisher Hotel. He eats dinner at the south side restaurant. Some think they saw this same man at the school house near Joe Moore's earlier in the day.
A dark complected man with a foreign accent asks Mr. B. C. Hullinger about directions to surrounding towns near Villisca.
Joe's brother, Harry E. Moore, has worked all day at the clothing store downtown.
After 9:00 pm:
Joe Moore leaves his store for the night and heads to his home at 508 East 2nd Street. Tomorrow will be a big day at the Presbyterian Church, as it is the big Children's Day service that Sunday evening and he knows his four children will be excited when he arrives home.
Ed Landers hears rustling in the high grass back of the old building near his mother's home where he and his family are visiting.
Between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm:
Ed MacCrae and Mabel Freeman bid Alice Willard goodbye after their brief visit with her. They drop her off at the gate of her home. They head to Creston to stay with friends of Mabel's.
It seems a typical Saturday in the bustling railroad community of Villisca where approximately 2,500 residents would wake the next day for church services, family gatherings, work, and play. Little did they know that life as they knew it would never be the same.