Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sabbath Tragedy At Indian Lake, St. Clair County, Illinois – A Hunting Excursion – One Of The Party Shot Dead

A horrible affair occurred between seven and eight o’clock yesterday morning, at Indian Lake, on the line of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, about five miles east from St. Louis.

At 11 o’clock Saturday night, four young men of this city, Germans, crossed by the [illegible] street ferry to the Illinois shore, with the view of hunting for ducks and other game in the vicinity of the lake named.  The youths were John Scantkraft, George Schmitzmeier, Christian C Poeper and Frederick Mueller, of ages ranging from seventeen to nineteen years.  The expedition resulted in the death of Schmitzmeier at the hand of Scantkraft, whose account of the matter is as follows:  Having walked to the lake, the party built a bonfire and sat chatting around it till four o’clock in the morning.  At this hour they commenced looking for game, and about seven o’clock had bagged several birds.  The young men then drew together, all their guns being loaded, and stopped to rest and converse, Poeper was standing and the others were sitting.  While all were thus good naturedly talking and joking Schmitzmeier sportively tossed some fine stones upon Scantkraft, hitting him in the face, but without inflicting serious pain.  He regarded it as a trivial matter, and in a similar vein threw back some particles in return. – Schmitzmeier, still in fun, responded by saying, “I’ll shoot you,” and rising to his feet leveled his gun, which was full cocked, directly at Scantkraft.  The parties were within five yards of each other.  To carry out the amusement Scantkraft replied, “no you won’t,” rose and drew his gun, taking deliberate aim at his friend’s breast.  The weapon was “half cocked,” and at once discharged – he not having touched the trigger.  The contents, a heavy load of duck shot, entered the victim’s breast, shattering the sternum and riddling him through and through.  A portion of the charge probably pierced the heart.  He instantly fell, exclaiming, “O! Johnny!  I am killed!” and immediately expired without uttering another word.  His horrified companions tore open his vest and shirt; and contemplated, aghast, at the awful issue of their Sabbath morning’s sport. – St. Louis Dem.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 2

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