Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Death of Young John Cullen - Conclusion

A trip to the courthouse was needed to look at any final documents on the case of State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch. The clerk's office was very helpful in helping me find any other information on this case. Unfortunately from the fire of 1873 part of the documents must have been lost. Two different documents was all that was left that pertained to this case.

In the Order Book in the Clerk's office on June 22, 1885 a warrant was issued for the arrest of George Fleener. The warrant was postponed 2 more times. The last one was for July 10, 1886. No other documentation was found after that date. George Fleener must not have showed up or was not found by the authorities so he could be brought before the court. The only other document found was for the November term 1873 where Joseph McClung was appointed an attorney for his part in the case. Nathan Fritch must not have been charged in the death of John Cullen. From the witness testimony he played a very small part in the fight.

One final thing I wanted to get cleared up was an exact date for John Cullen's death. There were no death records required in Indiana until 1882 and there was no burial information that could be found for John Cullen. There were Coroner's reports that did go back to 1866 in Brown County but these were spotty at best. John Cullen was listed in the index but the records could not be found. I've found this before. Usually if you check the court records the Coroner's report turns up in the court case files. One final attempt was made to go back through the doctor's testimony. It being tedious and the details pretty grueling it was worth it in the end.

The fight occurred on April 12, 1873. Using the date calculator on my genealogy program and the doctor's testimony of the events of that week the exact date could be calculated. According to the doctor's testimony, Cullen came to see him on Saturday, which turned out to be the same day of the fight. The doctor said he stayed with him until his death which was the following Thursday. That made John Cullen's death date April 17, 1873. This is probably the only place this young man's date of death was ever documented. No other documentation could be found except maybe if a family bible was kept. As best as could be done these drastic events could be put together. Nothing of George Fleener was ever turned up again.


Anonymous said...

This 2002 post quoting a 1900 Bloomington Newspaper indicates that George Fleener was found.

Rhonda said...

Thanks for this tip from a volunteer, more info was found on this case:

Bloomington Morning World, September 13, 1900, p. 1

George Fleener, who disappeared from Needmore in 1873, after a fight in which John Cullen lost his life, has been located in Texas and may be arrested. The fight was the outcome of the rivalry of Fleener and Cullen for the hand of Gabrielle Robertson. Several men took part and Fleener it is charged stabbed Cullen. At the inquest Dr. Duncan contracted blood poison and died.

Vicki Stuart said...

Here is John Cullen's gravesite.

Thanks for writing this! My ancestress was Gabriella's younger sister who died when my great grandma was one, and this is the first I've heard of this family secret.

My Friend's Couch said...

Also, it is interesting to note that John Cullen's brother Peter had a daughter Mary Catherine Cullen, who married Gabriella Robertson's half brother Clarence Centennial Robertson (s/o Claiborne Robertson and his second wife Sarah Brown Dillinger.) Gabriella's mother, Mary Stephens, died the year before John Cullen was killed. Gabriella was named after her aunt Gabriella Stephens who married Claiborne Robertson's older brother William Riley Robertson. My suspicion is that the two Stephens sisters married two Robertson brothers, but so far I have not found proof of this.) It was Gabriella's young sister Amanda (who was 9 in 1873) who wrote to her niece Esther Callahan to tell her that Gabriella did not marry George Fleener. Gabriella's Uncle William Riley Robertson, her widowed grandmother Jane Leeper Robertson, her uncle Moses Robertson and her Uncle Charles Robertson all moved to Mahaska County, Iowa by 1865. Gabriella's brother George and her sister Amanda both ended up in Oregon. It is interesting that there are several Fleener families who live in very close proximity of the Iowa Robertsons. But I still have found no trace of Gabriella and no record of any further relationship with George Fleener.