The 3rd Family with Grace Stillwell

There is something about a bad boy and Grace Stillwell was truly drawn to one, 41 year old William Sutherlin was the one she was to marry at the age of 19 There was a 22 year age gap between them.

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Grace was born to Daniel and Mary Stillwell, 3 September 1884 in White County Indiana.  She was one of six children. Her father Daniel was a hard working man which you can see in the census records.  One year working at a saw mill and then other years as a teamster. 

By the time Sutherlin was released into the world from prison the Stillwell family was living in Warsaw, Kosciusko Co. Indiana, William’s old stomping grounds.  So a starry eyed young teenage girl met a dark bad man.  I bet the parents were so proud of their child.

William was forever more known as “the man that buried his partner under a skinned mule”. It was that way for the rest of his life and Grace just married into that on 4 March 1904 in Warsaw Indiana.  Not long after that they moved down to Cass County Indiana to start a family and farm life, probably hoping to start over, free from the skinned mule and murder.

Even though they had tried to create a new family life, five months later, 11 August, 1904,  William (probably drunk at the time) heard his ex-wife Edith was in Warsaw visiting with her father Lewis Ralston.  William armed himself with a pistol and expressed to a friend he was going to “Kill her if she didn’t return his property”.

When he arrived at the Warsaw home Bill did not find Edith there. The police were called and disarmed Sutherlin before any harm was done.  The officer ordered Sutherlin to leave Warsaw, which he quickly did. At the end of the article there was again mention of the murder and the skinned mule.

Their first child, Hazel, was born in 1907 followed by Willis in 1908.  Both were born in Adamsboro, Cass county Indiana but soon after Willis was born they moved to nearby White county, Indiana. I can only wonder if they were told to leave.

Then came 18 November 1909 where he lay dying in a St. Joseph county hospital of a stab wound to the intestines after a drunken fight with Charles Caley.  All of which occurred in a local wagon yard in White County Indiana.

Sutherlin demanded to know what Caley had said to his wife, Edith, and shortly the fight commenced.  Bill grabbed Caley by the throat with both hands and they both fell over the tongue of a buggy as Caley was striking Sutherlin about the head so Sutherlin would release him.  Two men there at the yards pulled Caley away and forced him into the office of the feed yards. 

According to the witnesses Sutherlin then got up and walked to the office, taking a knife from his coat, telling Caley to come out of the office so Bill could cut him to ribbons.   He walked back into the back of the barn where he was arrested and found to be suffering from a wound to the stomach then taken to St. Joseph Hospital.  They never figured out how he was stabbed or what it was that was used since Caley did not have a knife.

At the hospital he fought even further before allowing the doctor chloroform him for surgery.  The doctor said to him “Now Bill take good deep breaths and you will soon be on the road to Wellville”.  Sutherlin survived the operation and returned home a few weeks later.

What started the argument? It seems that the Sutherlins and Caley family had an ongoing for quite awhile. One rumor Grace may have help spread was a daughter of Caley buried a baby in Calley’s orchard. Soon after a rotting smell hung over the area. After digging up a spot in the orchard they found a rotting corpse of a skinned horse, no one beneath this time.

After returning home Sutherlin was arrested and tried for the fight. During the trial in early 1910 the prosecutor mentioned a shooting of William Crooks in Adamsboro Indiana.  If this did happen there doesn’t seem to have need a death or anything serious since there is no mention of it in any newspapers and he wasn’t returnd to his prison cell.

 It was about this time that their third child Willard was born in 1910 then Bertha in 1912, both probably in Cass County.  The last child born to Wlliam and Edith would be stillborn in Plymouth, Marshall county Indiana in 23 March 1920.  This is the same year Grace became mentally unbalanced for the remainder of her marriage to her husband Bill.


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Willis, Willard, Bertha, Hazel and Grace Sutherlin on their farm in White Co Indiana about 1919

I know nothing about the early years of their marriage but you can see by the photo above it looks difficult.  After the actions of Bill’s violence towards in White and Cass county they were probably escorted to the county line and promptly shoved to the other side.

In the 1920 census he was a “general teamer”  meaning he owned a team of horses and a wagon and hauled things when he could get a job.  The children  were constantly truant from school and after awhile the law just ignored them.  What could they do?

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Willard Sutherlin

March 10, 1920 “Willard Sutherlin was sent to the Indiana Reformatory for not less than one nor more than five due to the sale of some articles belonging to Wayne Booker, a second hand store in Plymouth owned by Thomas Moslander”. A couple years later Willard was released to his grandparents, Dan and Mary Stillwell and was attending school.

Then Oct. of 1920 took two of her children, and with another mother of six, without informing their husbands,  ran away from husbands and homes to Grace’s father’s home in Warsaw, Indiana. That night the father of the six children asked the police to locate his family. They were found and sent home like any dutiful wife.

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Willis Sutherlin

Willis got in trouble with the law in November of 1920 for grand larceny and he was sent to Indiana Boy’s School and  would be in and out of the Indiana boy’s School  for about six years on and of. Occasionally being allowed to return home for a few days. The description of little Willis is sad. He had accident at some time and his foot was crippled. He was “fair mentally”. 

“The parents own their own home and  have money in the bank. They are industrious and uneducated. They are careless in the care and training of their children. They seem to be very attached to them however”.

It was about this time on 25 November of 1920 Grace Sutherlin was taken to jail “to be cared for during a temporary fit of insanity”.   Bill was away and the newspaper stated she was staying with her son at his house.  I think the “son” may be Bill’s eldest son, Joseph Earl, by Julie Ann Nine Sutherlin since all other children were too young to have his their own homes.

During this moment of insanity the family called Dr. Conroy Elvey to see what should be done for her.  Mrs. Sutherlin had a butcher knife and tried to stab Dr. Eley in the back, so it is reported, but did not succeed in her attempt. The family not wishing to have her at their home over night called the sheriff, who took her to the jail and cared for her during the night. the next morning her husband took her from the jail to her home.  He says she is subject to these temporary fits of insanity, but they are not serious”.  This is the only time I see she is having her “temporary fits”. Bill’s love of his wife is shown in this small action.

Oct. 19, 1922 Grace filed for divorce from Bill.  For some strange reason he was telling his wife they were not  married and he was still married to Edith.  Grace stated that Bill was always intoxicated and would curse at her and it had come unbearable for her.  At this time both of their sons were still away from home.

Strangely on that same day of October 19, 1922 William L Sutherlin wrote his son Willis in the Boy’s School.

Wilis I want to know how your foot is is it so you can come home and go to school if so i want you home, tha (they) dont nead keap you down thair to screan (?) old Stevens (school super) for he has got his foot in it hear now let me no at wonce  Il (I’ll) tend to the rest if you (?) home at wonce  from your papa Wm L Sutherlin

The above letter is a bit difficult to understand but when you do read it you can hear how Sutherlin spoke.  Also it is confusing whey Grace filed for divorce (which never went through) on the same day.

In July of 1924 a letter of the Boys’ School to Talitha Gerlach, the Social Service Department head from the Superintendent about Willis who was at home at that time. Ms Garlach had requested that Willis be returned to the school so he could be taken to the hospital for his damaged foot and observation. The man sent “ran into a veritable tigress in the person of this boy’s mother”.

The man went to the sheriff for help in “taking possession of the boy. When he returned with the officer the boy and his mother had disappeared. The attitude of this family is deplorable.” Grace was a protective mother as you could see.

In January of 1925 a letter between J.M. Stelle and Frank S. Johnston (possible officials of Plymouth and the Boys school?) about the Sutherlin home.  It seems Willis is back home for a bit.  He is living at home with his parents but the home “invironmant is bad. His attendance at school is very poor.  His attendance at school is very poor but for some cause the authorities do not do anything. Guess they have become disgusted with the whole bunch.  He does nothing so very bad himself and I think the fault can be laid to his parents”








Lawrence William Sutherlin was born 24 February 1889 in Warsaw Indiana to William Sutherlin and Edith Ralston. While only 8 years of age he watched as his father was arrested. His mother was away at the time with his sister Nellie thus he was left alone at home for an unknown amount of time.  William Sutherlin said nothing to the his son or this captors as he was shackled and led away.    

Two months later the children took turns  sitting upon their daddy’s lap in court during the his long trial, listening as his father was accused of gruesome crimes against Edwin Fetters.  Edwin had lived in the same house for about tw and had probably become more like an uncle.

His papa was found guilty of first degree murder and most certainly  bound to spend the rest of his life in prison never to see his two small children, Lawrence or Nellie, again.

Soon after Lawrence’s father was sent off to prison his mother, Edith, divorced and married William Redman.  They then made the decision  to try to start over as a family  so the Redman’s  packed up the children and headed west to Scotland, South Dakota.

Sutherlin sued from jail to not allow the divorce to go through and even fought for his two children from prison.  At one time even saying he would rather see the children go into an orphanage than allow Edith to keep and raise them.  Even after Sutherlin was released from prison he attempted to retrieve his children, telling the courts Redman was running a brothel where the children were staying.  None of the courts would approve of Sutherlin’s keeping his two children.  He lost his two oldest children with Julia (his first wife) and now he lost two more.

To protect Lawrence and Nellie were given the last name of Redman but it seem not legally in the courts. In fact Edith and William Redman gave a different date of their marriage, the date of Edith and Sutherlins marriage, just to try to wipe Sutherlin out of their history.  Even though Nellie would eventually accept her father was William Sutherlin, Lawrence would never acknowledge Sutherlin and would go by the name of Redman for the rest of his life.

As he grew up he seems to have been a bright young man, never getting into any type of trouble. He was a hard working young man and became an equally hard working man.  IN 1907 Lawrence, along with another man, was running a short order restaurant when he was 23 years old.  Then 1912 took a job as a clerk in the Charles Hotel.

In 1914 he was living with his mother in South Bend Indiana where she was running a boarding house. While there he took a job driving mules for the J.C. Barret Storage Co. when the team of mules took fright while he was attempting to repair the tongue of the wagon.  His injuries were not heavy  with only the injury to his shoulder. Not long afterwards he traveled back to South Dakota for work.

In 1917 Lawrence signed up for the war (WWI) and soon after he quit a job he had held for in the Dunmire Brothers (family to his wife to be) stock yard for 6 months and headed to South Bend Indiana to be with his mother for a bit before he was called into service.

His army registration card showed that he was “tall and medium weight, eyes hazel and hair black” which sounded much like his own birth father in appearance. Lawrence was first stationed at Ft Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa and then Ft. Harrison, in Indiana, where he was discharge one week before his marriage to Elizabeth Ann Bardell of Bon Homme South Dakota.

Lawrence was still traveling back and forth to Scotland South Dakota visiting friends and his mother and possibly his sister in Iowa.  Lawrence and Elizabeth decided to settle in Sioux City, Iowa renting a house.  He worked as a fireman on the railroad which made it easier for him to travel  between Sioux City Iowa and South Bend Indiana with occasional visits to South Dakota.

Their son and only child, Charles Lawrence Redman, was born in Sioux city on 23 May 1919.  But then something unknown occurred between 1919 and 1927. Lawrence was back in South Bend Indiana and living with his mother and again working in trucking and would hold this type of job the rest of his life.

Lawrence redman

Elizabeth returned to teaching to raise her child as a single parent.  Charles entered WWII and served in the Pacific.  I have not found divorce records or them ever meeting again.  Charles died in 1960 and Elizabeth in 1968, both were buried next to each other in South Dakota.

August 22, 1931 with the death of Lawrence’s sister he returned to Sioux City Iowa to take care of her one last time.  Nellie would be buried in the plot that her big brother, L.W. Redman, bought for her since her husband could not or would not do this final thing for her.

Lawrence returned to South Bend and his mother passed away in 1940 and three years later he met and married 53 year old divorced mother, Mamie Ottie Layman.  Their lives appears  to have been happy. Lawrence worked as a driver and Mamie was an employee at Studebaker in South Bend Indiana.

His sister/niece passed away in 1945 and suddenly he found himself alone. He probably knew nothing of his half siblings only living 30 minutes away from him. His birth father William Sutherlin was long gone and William Redman had left to start a new life.

Lawrence became a step father to grown children and eventually a step-grandfather.

lawrence and mamie redman

Lawrence and Mamie Redman at Holland Michigan

When the 1960’s came things became difficult for Lawrence and Mamie.  Lawrence had a stroke and refused to be taken to the hospital. He spent his time at home, slowly recovering, but he never went back to work and would spend his days sitting in his chair, smoking, becoming more and more black in his attitude with his life.

Shortly before his death, Lawrence, was diagnosed  with cancer. One day when he left home Mamie and her family decided that was the end of the marriage and all the door locks were changed to prevent her husbands return. 

So there was Lawrence at 75 years of age, kicked out of his home, no where to go. No family which he knew, dying of cancer.  Lawrence stood by the local tracks in South Bend one night of 18 August 1964 and calmly laid down on the tracks  as the New York bound train sped past.


Lawrence’s body was cremated but his ashes are lost. There is no mention on his resting place.  The funeral home could not give me any further information and the cemetery, where his mother is buried, doesn’t have any records of burial.

His only son, Charles, had died four years earlier. Mother and sisters were dead, birth father dead and step father also gone.  He seems never to have met his other siblings, did he even know of their existence?

Lawrence became a non person. No one would remember him.  According to his step-grandson everything was thrown out or sold off. 

The two children of William and Edith Sutherlin were gone without anyone to remember them.











Mysterious Pearl

In the last chapter, Nellie Poor Nellie, you met Pearl. She was suddenly discovered in an article, living at the Puck Hotel in 1926 in Sioux City, Iowa where Pearl Redman had just married Raymond Talbott (a.k.a Ray Hughes) who was over 40 years older than his new bride.  The article spoke of a friend of Pearl’s, Annie Ylito (aka Babe), who committed suicide  by “Lysol poisoning” shortly after Pearl Redman married and had returned from South Dakota for the wedding party.  No one knew of the love Annie had for Talbott. Annie went to her room in despair drank the poison but did not die instantly and she suffered long hours afterwards in the hospital with her best friend, Pearl, at her side.

Since Pearl was underage at the time of this sudden marriage and her “family member” (as the article described her) , Nellie, quickly decided to put a halt to it, had the new husband arrested and the marriage annulled. Pearl explained to  the police Talbot was “intoxicated and threatened her if the did not marry him”. After returning to Sioux city she went back home to the Puck and her sister.  Nellie had the marriage annulled and Pearl was then unceremoniously shipped off to her mother Edith Redman, who was now residing in South Bend Indiana.

In my research Pearl quickly became a mystery. Who is she and were did she suddenly come from?  According to a 1920 Indiana census she was born 19 December 1909 in Sioux City Iowa.  There is no birth certificate for Pearl Redman for that time and place or for anywhere else.

In 1909 the Redman’s are living in Scotland, South Dakota but again there is no birth certificate for Pearl there.  The 1910 census shows no Pearl Redman in either Scotland South Dakota or in Sioux City Iowa where the 1920 census claims she was born. Curious.

It seems Pearl has come to stay with her “sister” in 1926 and that is where she met her new husband, Raymond L. Talbott.  He was 23 years her senior and had run ins with the law a few times, some quite serious. Besides his marriage to Pearl  Talbott was married at least four other times throughout his life.

In 1927 Pearl came of age and raced back to Sioux City Iowa and Raymond Talbott and then on 29 March 1928 they remarried again in South Dakota.  But everything became to a halt before 1930.  Ray Talbott, aka Ray Hughes, killed William York in a brawl in the Midwest pool hall in December 1929. I wonder if this was one of the reasons the marriage was over.


Raymond Talbott aka Hughes

What we find about him during this time he was a “well known character. He was convicted in 1922 of breaking and entering and sentenced to the state penitentiary in Fort Madison”.  Talbott also served two years of a 10-year sentence on a charge of breaking and entering a store in Glenwood Iowa in 1921.

The 1930 census states that by this time Pearl is now going by the last name of Mielki, she is single and working in a mattress factory in Sioux City Iowa. I have not found a marriage certificate for Pearl and Mielki but I did find someone named Mielki in trouble with the law, yes another bad boy.

The only reason I know Pearl Mielke was the same Pearl Redman Talbott was she was again being married but this time in Iowa. The marriage certificate deepened the mystery of Pearl Redman because of who was named on it.

Mrs Pearl Mielke married Carl G Kreulen from Toledo, Ohio (more on him later). Carl was a salesman and was born in Michigan.  Pearl, as we know, was born in Sioux City Iowa and on the marriage certificate her father was William Redman and NELLIE SUTHERLIN.  William Redman and his step-daughter Nellie Sutherlin? The mystery deepens.

Nellie Murphy, aka Nellie Sutherlin Redman, was a witness to the marriage so she would had to have approved what was placed on the marriage certificate. Nellie would have seen it. When did  Pearl discover that her sister was in fact her mother unless Nellie had confirmed this. Edith was nowhere on the marriage certificate only her father, William Redman, and Nellie Sutherlin as her mother.

Nellie had put her fathers name down in the 1925 census as William Sutherlin not Redman. After further digging deeper, looking again at the newspaper clippings and all the other records, comparing the dates of the record I have on Nellie and Pearl I started putting two and two together.

There is no actual “ta da” moment of positive identification or any record stating all of Pearl was actually Nellie’s child.  No DNA to positively confirm this but the facts I do have must be the final decision.

The facts are:

In a Scotland South Dakota newspaper in November of 1909 it stated that William was escorting Nellie and Edith no farther than Chicago and Edith and Nellie would be going on to South Bend Indiana where Edith would be entering a sanatorium.  A couple months later in the1910 census William, Edith and Nellie were back in South Dakota.  Pearl was born in December of 1909 in Sioux City.  Over the next few months William Redman was back and forth between South Dakota and Iowa. Was he visiting his baby daughter Pearl? Did William Redman and his step daughter have a child?

So far there is not a birth certificate to be found for Pearl. Was she being cared for in South Dakota.

Edith would have been 40 years old never gave William a child  before this.  Suddenly a baby and a divorce.  Edith was in South Bend when the divorce came about. Edith accused William Redman of gambling her money away.  This happening in 1915 and found in the South Bend newspaper. Shortly after the divorce William headed to North Dakota and a new life.

After the William Redman decided to start over in North Dakota he met Mary Ellen Montague, newly widowed.  They married and he eventually became a father of five children. This shows he was very capable of fathering children but it appears Edith was not unable the 10 years they were together so where does Pearl come into this.

So it appears William Redman and Nellie, his step daughter, had a child together, Pearl Redman.  Redman’s new family knew nothing about Pearl.

He continued to gamble away family money and his new wife Mary (a young widow) had to keep a tight hold of the purse. They had five children together and he grew old and never seems to have contacted his previous family again.

And, another husband…..Carl Kreulen

And to continue with Pearl and her bad boy husbands.  Her latest husband was Carl Kreulen.  He was a World War I veteran and served in the Rainbow Division in France. By 1930 census he was listed at the Warrensville Correction Farm in Warrensville, Cuyahoga, Ohio. April 9 of 1930 Carl was back in getting married to Pearl but by the end of the end of the year it appears that Pearl has left and gone home to Edna in South Bend. The 1940 census shows him in the County Prison Hospital in Philadelphia City, PA both for unknown crimes.

So Pearl was without Carl by 1931 and in fact she found another true love.

Charles Lewis Frederick VanSkyhawk. He was born in 1902 in Wells Co. Wisconsin and appears to be the only decent hard working husband Pearl had ever had.  He is working as a clerk at the electric company and has even worked with charities and was never arrested.

When Edith Ralston Redman, Pearl’s “mother”, passed away April 1, 1940 both Pearl and Charles VanSkyhawk and Pearl’s brother Lawrence Redman were by her side.


Edith Ralston Sutherlin Redman


charlesvanskyhawk pearles husband

Charles F VanSkyhawk

Sadly when on July 14 1944 Charles died of chronic asthma and Pearl was now alone. But never fear, an old love from her past returned, it seems just moments later, Raymond Talbott fresh from prison in Nebraska for running a confidence game in Wisconsin.  Just a few years before he spent seven years in prison for manslaughter, possibly the same time he disappeared from Pearl’s life.



November 1939 Estherville Daily News Estheville, Iowa

It is only just recently I discovered Raymond Talbott/Hughes had a long history of crimes from Ft Smith Arkansas to Iowa, on to Wisconsin. Murder, con games and breaking and entering but this is the man Pearl always took back.  He also had other marriages and the last one was between crimes and incarcerations.

His current wife, Irene, filed for divorce in  January, 1945 in Des Moines, Iowa and with that Ray was free for a life with Pearl. Ray was in South Bend in 1944, about the same time Charles passed.   Raymond finally found an honest job, well as honest as Ray could get. He was now a bartender.

Sadly their happiness ended quickly one day in August of 1946 while suffering from hepatitis Charles reached for a bottle if medication to help him but the bottles were so much alike that Charles took an accidental dose of Tartar Emetic (Antimony), normally used as a mordant for dying. This was once used as an expectorant but was also a poison. He suffered for 2 days while in the hospital and died on August 4.  Pearl was alone.


Charles VanSkyhawk and Pearle E Talbott

Exactly three months later on November 4 1946 at the at of 36 years 10 months and 15 days Pearl Redman Talbott Talbott Mielke Kreulen VanSkyhawk Talbott died from peritonitis due to intestinal obstruction.  She was buried next to Charles VanSkyhawk under the name of Talbott.

Her brother (or uncle) Lawrence Redman gave the information of her birth.  Father William Redman and mother Edith Ralston. We may never be  positive about the true mother of Pearl but at least we know who her true love was.















Nellie Poor Nellie

After all of the research on William Lawrence Sutherlin I felt  there had to be more said and found about the lives of the children of William and Edith Sutherlin. Who were these people and  after such a difficult time with living through a murder trial with their father, divorce of their parents, remarriage of their mother and moving to another state how did they survive throughout their lives?

What happened to the Sutherlin children are something of a fiction novel. Everything William Sutherlin seems to have touched destroyed lives. With each child I have researched it is difficult to say which of them has the saddest tales to tell, but Nellie may be at the top of the list.

Most of the information found about Nellie and her life  was found through newspaper articles and census records.   Even though Nellie seems to have been first married to someone named Smith. I have not found records of marriage for either of them but will keep searching for the elusive husband.

Nellie’s second husband was John Trotter “Charlie” Morris. Nellie was staying in Rock Rapids,  Iowa and met up with John Trotter “Charlie” Morris. Morris was born in Obion co., Tennessee in 1885.  There was a seven year age difference between the two.

According to a newspaper article in the Alton Democrat   4 September 1915


Morris had “secured a room as the Adams Cafe” to sell his bootleg liquor.  He was arrested in August for his business selection. He never denied his crimes and seemed rather proud of them.  There are to be other arrests in the coming years and it always seems to be for liquor. So after paying $50 dollars in fines he was freed.

Morris soon took himself down to Sioux City to start again. When he arrived there he wrote Nellie a letter to come to him because he had “a good proposition” for her. Nellie quickly traveled to be with Charlie Morris and then 21 Dec 1920 the couple raced to Dakota City, Nebraska to marry.

During this time in Iowa it is important to learn about the states history so we could understand what Nellie was up against. Prohibition. We already know Morris had been in trouble with the law in dealing alcohol.   Iowa was ahead of the prohibition, in fact there was a state wide prohibition in 1916, four years before the 18th Amendment took effect across the country.   But like so many places in the United States many, like Iowa, ignored the law.

The makers of the illegal “hooch” had an easy access to the main ingredient….grain. They could also make liquor anywhere away from towns and the law. Farms, old mines, sheds and any other place away from the large towns.   The popular red”Templeton Rye” found its way from Iowa to Chicago and on to New York.  This Templeton Rye was exactly the liquor Morris was peddling at his “sandwich shop”, The Adam’s Cafe.


Picture from the Sioux City Public Museum 1920

Little did Nellie know that the business deal that Morris had wanted to throw by her was prostitution.  Good old Morris also turned out to be an abusive drunk and constantly in trouble with the law normally  for bootlegging.

By 1925 things had become so difficult for Nellie she had tried suicide by “inhaling gas”.  In the same year the Iowa state census was taken and surprisingly Nellie stated her father was William Sutherlin.  After so many years of being called Nellie Redman this was a surprising discovery.  I don’t find anything of father and daughter talking or meeting.  Did Nellie still see herself as her daddy’s little girl?

3 June 1925

Early in May 1926 Nellie filed for divorce, which according to the judge turned out to be one of the nastiest divorces ever seen in Iowa up to that time.

The divorce was reported in the local newspapers and according to Nellie her husband kept her a prisoner in the hotel, taking her clothing from her and forced her with threats and beatings to “receive men”. Nellie had become a prostitute.

Morris counter sued, charging Nellie with adultery and abuse. His reason to fight the divorce was to get a share of the property.  He took the stand and stated that they had met in Rock Rapids and they spent the night together “upon her invitation”. She later came to Sioux City and had been there for some time and after a time “they were married only with the understanding that Mrs. Morris would give up the life she was living”.  He also denied ever taking money from her or “forcing her to play the Badger Game upon some of her admirers”.

Playing the Badger Game is basically a con game where a married person has an affair with someone (such as Nellie) and then may demand money from that person or she would tell the spouse of the affair.

The defendant, Morris, alleged that on two occasions he found Nellie with a male companion in room together.

A former night clerk, Clark C. Berket, “testified on behalf of Morris.  He charged that Mrs. Morris had sold liquor in the hotel.  Berket also told of a party which ended with a style show staged by Mrs. Morris and another woman.”  If this is true just how innocent is Nellie?

Officers testified that when Nellie first arrived in Sioux City that “this woman was handsome and attractive.  She spent 9 or 10 years supporting her husband who is a gambler and never made an honest cent.”

After two days of trial Judge C. C. Hamilton charged John T “Charlie” Morris with “the most scathing arraignments ever delivered to a defendant in district court here.” The Judge charged Morris with “being a panderer” and awarded Nellie Morris, proprietor of the Puck Hotel and gave to her the property owned jointly by the couple, estimated at about $4,000″ plus monies in the bank totaling a few thousand dollars.

The Judge continued….”I cannot understand how a man could get so low as to display affection for a woman and then peddle her person.  I cannot understand how this man, who says he does not care whether or not his wife gets a divorce just as long as he gets part of the money, could come into the court and hear her shame and his shame for a few paltry dollars.”

So on 13 May 1926 Nellie Sutherlin Redman Morris was a free woman with property, the Puck Hotel.

Husband Number three, Frank J Murphy

Then Frank J Murphy came into Nellie’s life.   Frank J Murphy was born in Illinois and was eleven years older than Nellie. While looking for information on Frank Murphy I came across Frank and Nellie in a 1920 census which would be strange since they would not be married until 1926 so there seems to be a problem.  It was a different Nellie and she owned and ran a hotel.

Nellie R Vanderwalker divorced Frank Murphy in 1922 and claimed cruel and unusual punishment. She also demanded, and received,  the lease on the Grand Hotel that she brought with her as alimony to the marriage. She next married Frank Mullen and she passed away in 1925.

On August 3rd 1926, not long after the Nellie and William Morris divorced,  Frank J Mruphy and Nellie L. Morris married in Elk Point,  South Dakota.  Elk Point seems to have been the go to place for marriage at that time since most people I have researched from this family living in Iowa went there to wed.

October 26, 1926 they are still at the Puck Hotel and a large article appeared in the local newspaper about a suicide in the hotel.  And with this article I found Pearl Redman. desmoinsnov71927

Pearl Redman was a surprise to me. After reading further I see her sister is actually Nellie Murphy.  The article tells that Pearl had married Raymond Talbott in, of course, Elk Point, South Dakota.  But the happy bride was underage and without permission from a parent to wed. Nellie demanded the arrest if Talbott. He was arrested and the marriage annulled.

The death was Pearl’s friend “Babe” Clark came as a shock to everyone. After attending the wedding the wedding party went back to the hotel and partied. No one knew that Babe was in love with Raymond Talbott. Babe quietly went to her room and drank lye.  It seems that Pearl was Babe’s only friend in Sioux City so Pearl went to the hospital with Babe and remained by her side until she died.

During all the elopement and suicide in the hotel Nellie seems to have been away. Pearl cried that she was forced to wed Talbott. The marriage was annulled and Pearl was sent to South Bend Indiana to live with her mother Edith. But it seems Edith may not have really been Pearl’s mother.

In December of 1926 their son, Donald Francis Murphy,  came into their lives at only a few days old.

I am not sure when Nellie gave up the Polk hotel. It may have been for reasons that the hotel was raided from time to time because of Frank’s problems with running bootlegged liquor from time to time.  In a 1928 directory he is seen running a cigar stand and living on S. Maple still in Sioux City.

In the 1930 census the Murphy family lived on 4th street in Sioux City where they had boarders. The Puck had been taken back my the Puck siblings, Lenora, James, Mabel and two others.  The hotel was still a place of liquor raids but it looks like the Murphys were away from that.

On August 22, 1931 Nellie passed away of kidney disease at the age of 39 years of age. She left behind her husband William and young son Donald of only 5 years of age.  At this time Donald’s birth mother reentered his life.

Mildred Anderson, Donald’s birth mom, found that Murphy was  a drunk an she reported him to the authorities that stepped in and took him from Murphy. From there Donald was sent to a private home in Sioux city.  Mildred found that Donald was being whipped and clothing taken from him and teased by other children.

Mildred heard about a school that would be perfect for her child Donald, Boys Town in Nebraska.  She wrote a four page pleading letter to Father Flannagan, the builder of the school.  After ten months she finally got her answer from the school and the father.  Yes they would take her son Donald Murphy

alumni card, Donald Murphy

In a few short five years Donald went from a birth name of George Roberts, jr to new parents William and Nellie Murphy and then to the new family of Boys Town. Occasionally he would be visited by his birth mother Mildred. Roberts was in fact not his father. After finding this persons other son there was a DNA test and it shows there is no link.  His birth father is not known.

Mildred tried to be closer to her son but because of many issues with her life style Boys Town was very careful about this. Donald grew into a fine young man playing in sports, music, crafts, everything a child needed to grow. He never saw William Murphy again.

1944, Donald Murphy, football(3)

 When World War II came Donald went to the Pacific to fight, where he was nearly killed after being bayoneted.

He went on to marry and have many children.  Donald Murphy died in Fairfax city Virginia in 1994.

William and Edith divorce and Their Children

Even though this started out as a murder,which a friend and I found in a local newspaper, I found that this story could not just be about the gruesome murder, the murderer or the victim.  Any crime effects the entire family and can often carry on down through the generations, touching each wife, children, grandchildren and beyond. While sifting through thousands of records and newspaper articles one family member after another struggled through their lives  with their parents legacy. Few remained untouched by the crimes of the parents, or step-parents.

The Sutherlin’s had two children. Lawrence William Sutherlin was born 24 Feb. 1889 in Warsaw, Kosciusko county Indiana. Nellie Leona Sutherlin was born March 1892, possibly in Warsaw Indiana.

Both of the Sutherlin children became part of the drama during the murder arrest and trials. On the night of their fathers arrest they were at home, watching as he was shackled and carted away to Knox, Starke County Indiana where the murder occured. He was thankfully calm and complying with those arresting him.  The young brother and sister were brought to visit him and even sit on their daddy’s lap throughout the trial, possibly an attempt to sway the jury by showing a loving family man.

Lawrence William Sutherlin was 8 years old when the murder and the first occurred and even though very young he may have still remembered some of the trial. He was sure to have been reminded of his fathers many crimes over the next few years by his fellow students or neighbors in town.

William Sutherlin was sent to prison in LaPorte Indiana for the murder of Ed Fetters. In 1899 Edith decided she needed to divorce her husband so a summons was sent to the prison for Bill. He was summoned to “appear in the Marshall Circuit Cort, before the Judge thereof at the Court House in Plymouth Indiana on the 14th Day of June 1899 being at the May Term, 1899, of said court. to answer the compaint Edith Sutherlin.

The next summons was for witnesses to appear at the court.  It is rather shocking to see their two children listed as witnesses, Lawrence was 11 and Nellie only 7, would be questioned for this divorce.

The divorce went through and Edith Sutherlin married her beloved, William H Redman. But  William Sutherlin would not let the divorce end there and tried to null the divorce by bringing the State of Indiana into Sutherlin’s games.

By 1901 Edith and William Redman had been married for over a year and now made their home in Scotland South Dakota, making new lives for themselves and their children.  Edith had to travel back to Plymouth Indiana where the divorce was affirmed by Chief Judge William Henley on 1 Oct 1901.   Case closed?

We come to 1904 and William Sutherlin is out of prison and he is demanding his children, Lawrence and Nellie.  This is rather a surprise to me since he never seemed to raise his children from his first wife Julie Ann Nine. They grew up without him.

So Sutherlin demanded another court trial, bringing Edith back from Scotland South Dakota. William was demanding custody of his children.  Court papers have him telling the court that Edith “has committed acts of fornication with said Redman prior to her marriage with him, i the same house in which said children lived and that said children knew and saw said parties bedding together.”

William Sutherlin is also accused  “plaintiff  keeps a house of prostitution in which said plaintiff keeps four girls, aside from herself, and that said children are also kept by her in the same house.” “That she will not permit said children to write to their father and will not allow the children any of his letters.”

He states further he “has a grand home and has promised property of that value of $1000 and is able and willing to take care of said children and send them to school.”  In the end Sutherlin was denied the children and they may have never seen or heard from him again.

In the 1900 census he is living at home and listed as a step-son of William Redman. He no longer has the birth name, Sutherlin, Lawrence is now a Redman but at that time still living in Plymouth Indiana.   He was sure to be hearing about his murderous father.

After a house they were living in in Plymouth burned to the ground They all moved to Scotland SD in 1903 and started their new lives

Seven years later the Redman family can be found in the 1910 census. Previously I wrote that 1909 Edith Nellie and William Redman were leaving for South Bend, Redman going as far as Chicago and Nellie and Edith going ahead where Edith was to enter a sanitarium. By 1910 they had returned to Scotland for at least once more.

Lawrence William Sutherlin Redman

In 1905 you can find Lawrence living in Scotland South Dakota with his new step father, William Redman and mother Edith and sister Nellie.  Lawrence is student starting over with a new name, new father, new school and new friends.

He can be found in local newspapers living the life of a well liked school boy.  In 1910 he was injured when an ice wagon rolled over his foot. This was the same time that his mother and sister Nellie were back and forth between South Bend Indiana and Iowa.  It was about this time or a bit earlier Lawrence would meet his wife Elizabeth (Lissie) Bardell.

In 1911 Lawrence has taken a position as a clerk at the Edwards Hotel in Scotland SD.  By now his step-father William Redman has sold off his business, mother Edith has returned to South Bend and Nelli….well that is another story.  Lawrence has now been left on his own at the age of 22.



By 1914 Edith and Lawrence Redman are found back in South Bend Indiana and injured. Reading newspapers of Scotland SD and South Bend Indiana I have found him traveling back and forth between the two states.

An article in the local South Bend News, 9 July 1914.

Lawrence is 25 and 217 W. Lasalle Ave.  He was driving a team of mules for his job at J. C. Barret Storage Co. The team of mules took fright and threw him to the ground. He was taken to the Epworth Hospital and found he was only badly bruised.

June 5, 1917 Lawrence joined the Army for World War One.  He told his step grandson he was sent to Hawaii for the duration but I have not been able to find anything to confirm that.  I have no idea where he served but I do know he did not see any battle.

January 1919 according to the marriage announcement lawrence was a fireman with the railroad.  Lissie and Lawrence married and for a bit lived in Sioux City Iowa for about a year and then in the 1920 census they were living back in Scotland South Dakota with their new son Charles Lawrence Redman.  Before Lissie and Lawrence married she had been a teacher in Scotland and she gave this up to raise Charles.

At some point Lissie and Lawrence divorced. Some time between the 1920 census and 1926 the marriage dissolved and  Lawrence can be found in South Bend in the city directory for 1926.

Charles stayed with his mother and Lawrence moved to South Bend Indiana and lived with his mother, Edith.  Lissie went back to teaching first in Scotland SD and then in Freeport Illinois in 1941.

Lawrence redman

Lawrence William Redman. South Bend Indiana

Charles Lawrence Redman 23 Aug 1940 in Chicago Illinois joined the air corps for service during World War II.  He served in the Philippines as a private and eventually becoming a Staff Sargent.  There is not much about him. I have not found a marriage or children.  Charles died November 7, 1960 in Illinois and was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Scotland South Dakota and eventually his mother would be laid to rest next to her only child in 1968.


Nellie Leona Sutherlin Redman

Nellie was was daddies little girl. Sweetly set upon her daddies lap during the trial for the judge, jury and public to view, showing them how much of a family man he truly was.  It didn’t work.

Nellie was born in Warsaw Indiana in March of 1892. Like her brother she became a Redman….probably not legally since at that time people would often change their names without the help of the courts.  “You are now Nellie Redman” would have been told her as they traveled to Scotland, South Dakota to start a new life.

Nellie Leona Redman, like her brother, became popular with friends in her new school. There were ice cream parties, birthday parties and just times for all the young people to get together and have fun.  These times were often found in the local newspapers describing what was served, worn and who attended.  No longer a daughter of a murderer, she could  become someone new and she did.

1909 is when things started going terribly wrong.  It was at 1909 when Nellie and mother Edith headed to South Bend, Indiana only to return in 1910.  There is some evidence that Nellie had in fact given birth to a daughter, Pearl,  in Iowa that eventually shows up in the 1920 census in South Bend as daughter to Edith and sister to the Lawrence and Nellie.  More on Pearl later.

On 31 May 1917 Mrs Nellie “Smith” better known as Nellie Redman is here from South Bend Indiana. Visiting at the A.W. Sweet home.  I have found no evidence of a marriage between “Smith” and Nellie Redman nor Nellie Sutherlin.

Not long after Nellie’s trip back to Scotland SD she can be found to have been married to John Charles “Trotter” Morris  living in Sioux City Iowa.  Nellie and John met in Rock Rapids Iowa and after John returned to Sioux City and shortly after he had written to Nellie to follow him because he had a “good proposition” for her.  Nellie left Grand Rapids to join John Morris and soon married in Dakota City, Nebraska, 21 December 1920. From there they moved into a hotel.

The 1920 census stated he was a cook in a hotel at 311 Texas St. in Sioux City where is the cook and she is housekeeper.  But in 1925 things seem to have again started going wrong for Nellie’s life and she tries to commit suicide by gas.

3 June 1925









Edith Ralston Wife Number 2

Edith Ralston and William  Sutherlin were married 5 November 1886. She was the daughter of Lewis and Rachel VanFerson. Born 5 Feb. 1869 in Indiana. I do not have a marriage date at this time but during their marriage she witnessed crimes and unhappiness.

During the murder trial she would sit dutifully behind her family, often with a child or two, thus showing he was such a kindly and lovingly family man.  Shortly after he was convicted, not once but twice, she decided to divorce William and turned to another man, William Henry Redman.

The courts allowed the divorce but William fought it, even taking it to court and eventually fought for the children Lawrence and Nellie.  Even after Edith and Bill Redman married and moved to Scotland, South Dakota he fought for custody of the children making Edith return to Indiana to fight for her rights.

He was still in Indiana State Prison while fighting for his rights to the children. He was listed as widowed in the 1900 census.  The court papers accuse William Redman of running a brothel.  Even after this the courts ruled in favor of the mother Edith.

After following the trail of everyone concerned I do not think he saw Lawrence or Nellie again…..But the trail continued for me and William Sutherlin’s  children.

After marriage Edith and William Redman headed to Scotland, Bon Homme, South Dakota and changed the childrens names to Redman….probably not legally.  They went to school and live lives like we would hope for any child.

William Redman is found in the local newspapers as a building contractor with many jobs for cement or concrete. Taking on job after job and making a name for himself in contracting.

William, Edith and the children seemed a happy family, the children attending school and Edith in womanly activities.  But not all was happy, so it seemed.  In a small mention in the local newspaper, 02 December 1909, William Redman was escorting his daughter, Nellie and wife, Edith to South Bend Indiana where Edith would be entering a sanitarium.  William was going as far as Chicago Illinois. But in the 1910 census Edith and Nellie were back to South Dakota.

Looking at William Redman’s own early life can tell a lot about the man.  His mother was Jemima Smith.  Jemima was married at least 3 times. The first was to Adam Gandy. To that union there were two children. According to the divorce papers Jemima was abusive and left the marriage, leaving the children behind to be raised by their father.

She next married Silas Redman/Redmond, their son, William Henry Redman was born Oct 1871 in Marshall county, Indiana.  This marriage ended in divorce and Jemima moved on to the next husband Franklin Osborne/Osbourn.  To this marriage came two children, Harrison and Josephine (Margaret Ann).  Franklin ended up going to prison and Jemima attempted to have divorce papers served on him there but the prison authorities could not find him. Was he released or did he escape?

In the 1880 census Jemima and her three children, William Redman, Franklin and Josephine are found in two different places in Plymouth, Marshall Co. Indiana. First living in a home where is shows Jemima is a servant.  The next place is the poor house in Marshall county Indiana.  Even though she came from a large Smith family it appears that none of them would take Jemima and her children in to their homes.

Jemima disappeared after the 1880 census and according to a distant family member William was cared for by an uncle but there may have been abuse.  He kept running away from his uncles home and the farm he had to work on.

Shortly after the 1910 census it seems Edith had had enough of William and traveled back to South Bend Indiana to stay.  In the South Bend New-Times on 28 August 1933 the following was printed

SEED DIVORCE  Charging that her husband gambled away the money she earned, Edith Redman sued for divorce Thursday from William H. Redman.  The coule were married July 2 1898, and separated May 20 1911.

The date of the marriage was incorrect by a year. They had been married 1899 not 1898.

The next William Redman is seen is in North Dakota and now married to a much younger widow, Mary Ellen Montague Welch, nearly 20 years Redman’s junior.  Mary’s first husband was suddenly killed shortly after they married, crushed between two railway cars during his job.

To the marriage of William and Mary Redman came 5 children.  William died in North Dakota in 1951 but he never gave up his gambling ways. Mary was always careful to keep a close eye on her husband and the money for their entire marriage.







The families of Bill

I am leaving the courts behind for now and introduce William Sutherlin’s families.  William married three times and divorced as many.  As I researched each person I have found how each of them went through life.  Wives, children and eventually grandchildren.  I can only assume most of their lives with and without William.

William’s first marriage was to Julia Ann Nine.  According to census she was born about 1860 in Van Buren, Kosciusko County, Indiana to John and  Martha Tom Nine.  Martha was 13 to 14 years of age at the time of her marriage  and through the years gave birth to at least 5 children, Julia being the second.

Bill Sutherlin and Julia Ann Nine met and married 30 October 1878 and resided in Kosciusko county Indiana. Not everything was a happily ever after and they divorced on 22 February 1885 in Warsaw, Kosciusko county Indiana.

During their marriage they had four children. Joseph Earl, Clara Luella, Maud (she died in 1883) and an infant. Even though their parents divorced Julia was able to keep the surviving children at a time when children are often given over to the father.

Julia passed away sometime between 1885 and 1890.   According to Clara Luella’s obituary from April 1933, “Her mother died when Clara was a very small girl so she was taken to the Wayland Home near Warsaw, where she lived until about 13 years of age, when she came to Noble County and lived in the George Hines home in Jefferson Twp.”  The Wyland home appears to be the Wayland family, Julia’s aunt Catherine.

When Clara was 13 she was sent to live and work in a home as a servant of the George Haines home which turns out to be right next door to her future husband, John Schauweker.  They would later adopt a young girl, Ethel May Phillips.

Son Joseph Earl Sutherlin may have been the only child of Bill Sutherlin that had anything to do with him up until William’s end. As of yet I have not been able to find where he ended up after his mothers death. He too may have gone with a family member but at this time it appears he was not with his sister, Clara.

Joseph was the older brother of Clara and the eldest child of William and Clara.  He was born 9 November 1879 in Kosciusko county Indiana. He appears in the 1900 census at a boarder and working as a farm laborer.

Joseph went by the name of Earl and it was even on his gravestone as such. Whenever something happened with his father Joseph would be contacted…..”have you heard about” or where is he and then William’s death.

Joseph seems to have led a quiet life with his wife and children. He was able to keep away from the drama his father caused throughout his life. Loving family man and father, something his father would never be for him or Clara.

Sadly his other marriages went eve worse than the one with Julia.  They all divorced but he made more of a mark on each of the wives and children that would continue on throughout their lives and beyond.