Jealousy and Bad Whiskey, Day 3: Witness Isabelle Stewart, Femme Fatale

Good evening, jurors. It’s day 2 of testimony and today we’ll hear from the love interest, Isabelle STEWART. She went by several names including Isabelle (and other spellings like Isabel and Isabella), Elizabeth, and Irene (and probably at least one other but these three I’m sure about.) I’m choosing Isabelle as that was the most common one I found. Testimony today will be short and sweet. Here’s a photo taken around 1908-1911 of the Montgomery County, Kansas courthouse to get you in the mood. Grab a dessert and a cup of coffee and let’s get to it.

Preston Seely blog Montgomery Co KS courthouse ca 1911.jpg
You can find more courthouse pics at Courthouse History.com.

Are you wondering, like I was, what type of girl a 21-year-old supposed party-guy would like? Look no further. And if you thought the reporters didn’t like Press or his family, just wait until you hear what they had to say about Isabelle. Isabelle was the daughter of Charles and Laura (SMITH JOHNSON) STEWART. Charles was an employee at the smelter in Dearing, Kansas. Isabelle liked the attention of men- at least, that’s how she was portrayed by the media outlets of the day. (Note: I tried telling this in first person, as if Isabelle herself was talking to you but I didn’t feel right putting words into her mouth when we really have no way of knowing how she truly felt. Therefore, I’m telling the story as it was written in the papers.)

ISABELLE E. E. IRENE STEWART’S TESTIMONY:
Isabelle was 14 years old when the murder happened. Some reports say 15 or 17- but she really was just 14 according to census data. She was mistaken for being older because she was a big girl. She was described using words and phrases such as “very large for her age”, “very robust”, “gritty”, “inclined to waywardness”, and “tolerably good looking”. The year before the murder, she had run away from home. Her father contacted the police and asked them to find her. They did- in a “rooming house” in Coffeyville which, as far as I can tell, was either a hotel or an apartment. She did not seem to mind the attention of men at all. And the former brother-in-law (Andrew MEDFORD)- he’d only been married to Isabelle’s half-sister (Zelpha JOHNSON) a short time. What was he doing there? We may never know, but I have to wonder if he may have had eyes for Isabelle, too.

Some say that at the time of the murder Isabelle was getting into the buggy with Willie PETTY and Andrew MEDFORD. Some say she was already sitting in the buggy with them- that Isabelle was sitting on the dashboard. Either way, everyone agrees she was talking to the two men (among a group including her mother and at least one other man) in front of her house on the evening of 25 March 1914. One reporter referred to Willie as “her lover”. Once the fighting began, Andrew turned to protect Isabelle and get her out of the wagon. As he was trying to get her out of the buggy, Willie turned and shot wild. The shot went through Andrew’s hand and into Isabelle’s stomach. She cried out, “I’m shot! I’m shot!” Isabelle was partially out of the buggy when she screamed this. She dropped down as if suddenly paralyzed. The men initially told her to calm down and that she wasn’t seriously injured. It wasn’t until she began vomiting that they discovered she had been shot. She was carried into her dad’s house. She was operated on soon after at Kruggs Hospital and it was decided she had been shot twice (once in the abdomen and once in the leg) which would support Willie’s testimony. Some reports said she had been shot once and that one bullet pierced her intestine in 5 places. Another report says she denied being shot twice and that one bullet pierced her intestines 3 times. In any case, she was shot and the bullet entered her abdomen, punctured the intestines, and lodged in her back muscles. Area doctors including Dr. FLACK, Dr. George PEARN, Dr. Samuel McDONALD, and Dr. Albert KRUGG, chose not to remove the bullet but no reason was given as to why. In any case, they did not give her much of a chance of surviving her injuries. One reporter said Isabelle bore her suffering and injuries “heroically”. Her injuries required at least one operation immediately following the shooting. By April it was reported that she was beginning to heal and get better.

Ms. STEWART’s testimony will be cut short today. Judge Lisa reserves the right to call this witness to testify again in the near future. You’re dismissed early today, jurors. Thanks for doing your duty as a citizen.

Note~ I decided to go ahead and post Isabelle’s story today even though I haven’t heard back from her family member. I’m still holding out hope the relative will check her Ancestry messages and get back to me. Even if she doesn’t, you will be hearing from Isabelle again in a few days. She’s got more to say that can’t be said today. Very mysterious! So do the little poll below. It’s the same type of poll you’ll use to submit your jury vote at the end of the trial. It will help me figure out what to do/not do on the final poll. Plus, it will help you pass the time until our next witness takes the stand. I’m hoping to post Andrew MEDFORD’s story tomorrow but he may get bumped. If we don’t hear from Andrew, we’ll hear from Charles SMOLEY. Scheduling difficulties! 😉 One more thing- I think I got the murder date wrong yesterday so I may have to go back and edit a previous segment in this story. Just letting you know…the dates in this post are the correct ones, though. On to the first poll:

(NOTE: Go to the next post which is only the poll. I have not had any success so far getting the poll to show up in this post.)

Until tomorrow,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

Resource list:
The Coffeyville Daily Journal
5 July 1906; 15 November 1907; 30 October 1908; 7 November 1908; 29 April 1910; 4 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 9 December 1910; 28 December 1910; 15 November 1911; 10 January 1912; 17 January 1912; 3 February 1912; 7 February 1912; 30 March 1912; 26 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 5 June 1915; 12 June 1915; 15 September 1915; 9 February 1916; 17 February 1916; 23 February 1916; 13 May 1916; 12 February 1917; 27 February 1919; 31 March 1919; 21 April 1919; 3 July 1919; 23 December 1920

The Coffeyville Weekly Journal
22 July 1910; 4 November 1910; 18 November 1910; 9 November 1910; 17 March 1911; 24 March 1911; 29 September 1911; 15 November 1911; 17 November 1911; 24 November 1911; 8 December 1911; 15 December 1911

The Arkansas City Daily Traveler
29 May 1920

The Evening Star
26 March 1914; 27 March 1914; 28 March 1914; 31 March 1914; 1 April 1914; 13 April 1914; 15 April 1914; 13 February 1915

The Daily Republican
17 November 1911; 17 November 1913; 26 March 1914; 10 January 1916

The Hutchinson News
26 March 1914

The Parsons Daily Sun
24 June 1905; 26 March 1914

The Oxford Register
2 April 1914

The Alma Enterprise
3 April 1914

The Leavenworth Post
26 March 1914

The Chanute Daily Tribune
26 March 1914

The Wichita Daily Eagle
27 March 1914

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