Testimony of the witnesses before the coroner was substantially as follows:
RUE B. STONE: A brother of the deceased, being sworn, testified as follows: I lived in the same house with my sister, Maude Stone. She left home a week ago Tuesday to go on a visit to Mt. Ayr, to be gone a week or two. She seemed to be in good health. She left Kingston on the passenger train. Ira Hammond came to see her about once a week. The last time he was there prior to the time she left pretending to go to Mt. Ayr was on the Sunday before or a week from that day. I did not know that they were engaged to be married. Had noticed nothing wrong with my sister at all. She had not been away on a visit prior to the time she left home. Never heard from her after she left until after she was dead. I was at Jim Springer's that night and Frank Springer stopped there on his way to Leon and told about it. Went to Lamoni and found her dead at Dr. Crofford's. My mother, sister and Fair Springer were there and Mrs. Hammond and Ira Hammond. Did not talk with either Dr. Crofford or Mrs. Hammond about her death.
E.J. SPRINGER: being sworn, testified as follows: Live near Decatur City and am acquainted with Maude Stone. Have known her about seven years. Last saw her between Davis City and Bethany Junction a week ago yesterday. I was going to Oklahoma and went back to the ladies' car from the smoker and sat down beside her and talked probably five minutes. She said nothing about her health, and looked as well as usual. She did not complain and was in good spirits. I came back yesterday and learned of her death at the Junction. I had no knowledge of there being anything wrong with her condition physically.
M.F. SPRINGER, a brother-in-law of deceased testified: Have known Maude Stone about 8 years, been with her on an average of 4 or 5 times a week. Had long conversations with her and she never said anything to indicate that she was in poor health or in trouble. She seemed cheerful and I never heard anything through the family about her being in trouble nor have I seen anything that would indicate it. She kept company with young Ira Hammond about 18 months; she entertained him at home about every two weeks. I have the receipts for fare she paid on the train. Found them in her pocket book after her death along with other papers, certificates and money. The operator and train conductor told me one of the receipts indicated fare from Kingston to Leon. After Maude left home on Tuesday, the 22nd, the next I heard from her was Wednesday morning, the 30th, at 1 o'clock. Mother Stone's hired man had come over and brought me a letter. It was directed to Mother Stone and said: "Your daughter is very low at my sanitarium with appendicitis; come immediately. Dr. Crofford." I took the letter to my wife, who was in bed, and walked back in and said: "To hell with that letter, there isn't a word of truth in it; appendicitis, the devil!" I thought it funny if she had laid there a week and hadn't notified her folks. Think I could find the letter at home; it was written on a piece of tablet paper in lead pencil and looked like it might have been written in a hurry. We asked the hand what mother had done and he said she had gone to Lamoni. We drove to Leon and caught the morning train. When the train was going into Lamoni I showed my wife the sanitarium and said, "There is the building, it has a bad reputation and I don't believe we will find Maude alive." We cut across the lot and walked upstairs. An attendant met us and asked our business. I told him I wanted to see Mrs. Stone. Mrs. Hammond was there also and they said Maude was dead and of course that was all they could say for a bit. My wife says to Mrs. Hammond: "Why didn't you notify us?" she says: Mrs. Hammond, there is something wrong," and I walked into the room and says: "what's up anyway? there is something wrong" and she said: "No, there is nothing wrong." I called for the proprietor and they presented Dr. Crofford and I says: "There has been some devilish work going on," and he says: "No, there ain't, and I says: You come in here and give me a statement of what has transpired, anyway. "So we went in and shut the door and he says: "This young woman came to my place (I will not be positive whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday.) She took sick on the train and got off and came here and developed into a very bad case of appendicitis," and then he went on to tell about the doctoring he had done, how she had refused to allow him to notify her folks because her mother was very nervous and said that up to Monday she had done splendidly. She says: "You write a letter to Mr. Hammond and have him come over," and so the doctor wrote a letter to Hammond and he and his mother came. She rallied up that day and appeared to be very bright and took some nourishment. In the evening he said he went out to make a call in the country and when he came back said he went in and sat down on the bed and she smiled and looked very cheerful. He then went to eat some supper and the bell rang and before he got in there, her heart had ceased to beat. The direct cause of her death was heart failure. Mrs. Hammond came in and I went out. She wanted to go in and look at Maude, I said I didn't believe I had the nerve to do it. I turned around and said I might just as well go in now. I went in and would not have recognized her at all, she was so poor. If I had met the corpse out in the street I would not have recognized it. I said to Mrs. Hammond, "There is some terrible mystery some place; there is something strange some place," and she said no, there was nothing wrong at all. I went back in then and made some arrangements about getting a casket and transportation down to the Junction. Crofford telephoned for an embalmer. My wife didn't want me to do anything and I ordered that stopped. Then they insisted again. Mrs. Hammond thought it better to have her embalmed, and they insited on the hearse; said the roads were perfectly smooth. I gave up to that once and then decided not to do that. Then again somebody brought the word that I had better have her embalmed, that she wasn't going to keep. Then Rue came. He was her brother, and it was left to him to say whether we should go ahead and have an investigation or not. Just about that time, her cousin, Mrs. Spurrier, came and went up to the corpse, and says, "this thing has got to be investigated; this thing has been going on too much; that girl was killed right here." I went down to my brother who runs a livery barn in Lamoni and told him Maude was dead. He says "Where?" and I told him. He says "that whole damned outfit over there ought to go to the penitentiary." I asked him if there was anything wrong. He says "he has been to the pen once and isn't a damned bit too good to go there again." We went down to get Frank Spurrier. We couldn't find Dr. Derwent, so I saw Dr. Horner coming down the street and told him I wanted to see him in the office. He said he had no authority to go up there in that man's office and do any work and probably it would create prejudice. He said there was only one way to do and that was the right way. I saw Dr. Crofford and told him we were going to go and that I wanted to settle up my account and went up in the office with him. He never stopped to allow me to pay at all. He said there is talk about an autopsy and it is just breaking my heart. Now, he says, do you want that girl's character ruined by having an autopsy? I have done everything on earth I could for the girl. My little wife worked night and day with her. He says "It is just killing me to have such talk going on after I have done all I could. The girl requested my services and I doctored her, and now to have the people insinuate that we haven't been straight, it is bad. If you go to work and have an examination, think what a slur it will bring on your family; think what trouble it will be." I said "I am now here to settle with you, your bill!" He says $15." I was surprised, you know, at the small amount. "Well, he says, if she had got well we would have made a larger bill, but you have had bad luck and she has died here and we are going to be reasonable. We talked on and I says, "Dr. Crofford, if you haven't done anything wrong and the girl actually came to you for services, you have my deepest gratitude, but if you have done anything wrong you have got a fellow on your track that will follow you." He says, "Well I wouldn't do anything that might bring disgrace on the family." The next thing he says was down on the street a little while ago, and he says, "you have went and had an examination. Well, the family will have to suffer." That the family would be disgraced. He said she had appendicitis. Did not have a consultation. Said nothing about an operation. He said that was thirty cases he had had, and that was the first he had ever lost.
To be continued...
Decatur County Journal
January 31, 1901