Henry Lewis Stephenson from Dr. Craig Stevenson's History compiled 1984
By 1893, twenty-year-old Henry Stephenson was a handsome and popular young man. On the evening of Saturday, October 21, 1893, Henry was walking down what is now called Wauponsee Street in Morris, Illinois. He encountered a neighbor boy crying and learned that the boy’s father was having a fine time in Arnson and Olson’s Saloon and would not leave. The boy asked if Henry would go into the tavern and bring out his father so they could go home. Henry entered the saloon, looked around, saw that the boy’s father was not there, and turned to leave. At that moment he was hit behind the left ear with a heavy bottle thrown by a man who had just entered through the alley door.
A later inquiry revealed that earlier in the evening a quarrel had occurred in the Arnson and Olson Saloon between Daniel Murphy, Jr., an Irishman, and Martin Enger, a Norwegian. (It was common knowledge that the Irish and the Norwegians did not get along well in Morris). The intoxicated Murphy was thrown out of the establishment by the owner, Mr. Olson. However, Murphy only continued to drink and built himself into a rage. One man who saw him on the street during this time, asked Murphy about a lame horse. Murphy supposedly replied, “To hell with the horse, it is the Norwegian I’m after.” Eventually Murphy found his way back to the alley behind the saloon. There he picked up a heavy prescription bottle laying on a barrel. He entered the open door of the saloon, which led to the alley, and hurled the bottle at Mr. Olson, the owner. The bottle missed Olson, but hit Henry Stevenson.
Initially Henry’s injury did not seem serious. He was taken to his home in northern Grundy County, but by Tuesday night his condition grew worse. By then Henry was deaf, paralyzed, and suffering from convulsions. On Thursday, October 26, 1893, he died of the cerebral hemorrhage caused by the blow. On Saturday, October 28, he was buried at Osmundson Church.
On the night of Henry’s mishap, Dan Murphy went home unaware that he had inflicted a fatal blow. In the early part of the next week, the police went to Murphy’s home to arrest him on a charge of assault. They were unable to locate Murphy and did not have a search warrant. Realizing that there was a warrant for his arrest, Murphy left town and walked to Peoria, arriving about noon on Friday. Murphy went to the home of his mother-in-law in rural Peoria.
After Henry’s death, the police began an intensive search for Murphy. The Morris police followed Mrs. Murphy to the train station on Saturday, October 28. They wired the Peoria police that Mrs. Murphy was enroute. When she arrived in Peoria, Mrs. Murphy placed her children, aged one and two, in a buggy, and wheeled them the five miles to her mother’s home. The police watched the house all day. In the evening, they surrounded and entered the home. Murphy was found hidden under a pile of clothes in a closet.
On Monday, October 30, Sheriff Daniels was scheduled to arrive in Morris with his prisoner at 11:29 a.m. One of Henry’s brothers waited at the station to meet his brother’s murderer. However, Murphy and the sheriff were not on the morning train so the brother returned to the farm. The prisoner finally arrived on the 4:35 p.m. train and was placed in the Crundy County Jail to await trial. On Thursday, March 23, 1894, at 9 a.m. the murder trail of Daniel Murphy, Jr., began. A jury was selected and the testimony started at 1 p.m. After testimony from witnesses and doctors, the jury retired at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23. They returned at 10:45 p.m. with a verdict of manslaughter. Daniel Murphy received the maximum sentence, fifteen years in prison, for the murder of Henry Stevenson.
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