William Edwin B Fetters, born May 13, 1853 to Daniel and Elizabeth Carr Fetters in Goshen, Elkhart, Indiana. Third of four children Ed was raised on the family farm in northern corner Marshall County.
Who was William Edwin B Fetters? During the Sutherlin trial his brother Chauncey Fetters testified that he was commonly known as “Ed”. “He was born in 1853 and was of a sandy complexion, small in stature and not heavy for his size”. According to to the coroner Ed was about 5’8″ tall and approximately 120 pounds. He had a large scar on on e cheek which was caused by scalding water which happened as a child. It was also at the time of his death he sported a mustache.
On 31 December 1880 Ed Fetters married Emeretta (Etta) Duff in Plymouth, Marshall County. The newlyweds moved into the Fetters farm owned by Edwin’s parents, Daniel and Elizabeth (Carr) Fetters. About 2 years later the farm house burned to the ground, it was not insured. In 1882 Peter built the new home which still included Ed, his wife and children.
Over the next eight years their family would grow to five surviving children, William Clarence, Josephine Dawn “Josie”, Bessie Viola, Pearl Delilah and Nellie. For the past two years I have attempted to track each child, trying to find out what became of the children. The only child I have not found is Nellie. But the stories about the children will wait for another time.
Fetters brother in law, Rev. Mow, described Ed as “shiftless” but was entirely harmless. Five years before Ed was murdered Etta divorced Ed claiming he was often cruel. She packed up the children and moved into her fathers home in Monterey, Pulaski County, Indiana and 4 of the children were scattered to other families to be raised.
After Edwin’s father passed the farm of course went to his mother. Over the next few years as he lived there he did his best terrorize his mother to sign the farm over to him. He knew when his mother died the farm would be split amongst all the Fetters children.
Over the next year Ed would drive his mother out of her house as he brandished knives and threatened to kill her.
It was also about this time that Fetters and Sutherlin became close friends and work partners and Ed would move into the Sutherlin home. Their business ranged from games at local fairs a it of farming and horse trading and skinning.
I have tried to find the reasons for Fetters turning on family. His parents were considered to be very upstanding and social people. We may never know the change in a person, did something happen behind closed doors while Ed was growing up? One brother, Benjamin Fetters, seems to have had mental issues according to the Elkhart Truth on March 14 1890
It appears that Fetters was more of a follower than leader. After his mothers death he sold his share of the farm to Sutherlin shortly before the murder. Fetters moved into Sutherlins home with his wife and children and even grew a large mustache just as Sutherlins own black one. They were always together and always in some type of trouble.