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










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