The Coroner’s Inquest – George A. Barclay’s Death

Coroner's Court

Coroner’s Court

I was interested in the actual proceedings of a Coroner’s inquest and found some information at the County of Adams, Illinois website, here is a summary:

1.  A Coroner’s Inquest is an inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death, conducted by the Coroner or Deputy Coroner with a court reporter and six jurors present. The jurors are citizens of the county in which the death took place. 

2. The jury is to determine the cause and manner of a death whether Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Natural or Undetermined.  

3. Witnesses are summoned who have pertinent information concerning the incident such as the person who found the deceased, witnesses to the incident, a direct relative.

4.  When the jury has concluded their deliberations, they will issue a verdict. The Corner’s verdict has no civil or criminal trial significance. The verdict and inquest proceedings are fact-finding in nature and statistical in purpose.

5.  If a person is implicated as the unlawful slayer of the deceased or accessory thereto, an arrest may be affected. 

6.  The testimony presented at the inquest is sworn and under oath and properly documented and/or recorded. 

Based on the above description, it looked like Mr. E. R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner took the necessary steps to preside over the inquest into the death of George A. Barclay.  He took several actions:

  1. October 31, 1898 subpoenas for Louis Bebout (?), Joseph DeJerrold, R.C. Workman, R.B. Dunsmore, Eugene McMahon and John Doe.  (by E.R. Sundberg).
  2. October 31, 1898 – Listing the names of jurors to appear at the Barclay Hotel  for service on November 1, 1898 – (by E.R. Sundberg) The jurors for the coroner’s inquest were R.D. Holden, John King, J.B. Spencer, B. O’Connor, Peter Dennis and John A. Wilson.
  3. November 1, 1898 subpoenas for Mary Aitkin and Mrs. Louis Bebo.  They are being asked to appear on November 2, 1898. (E.R. Sundberg).
  4. November 1, 1898 – Sundberg requests the Sheriff to attach the body of Louis Bebo and bring him to the inquest. (by E.R. Sundberg).

The inquest took place on November 1-2, 1898 at the Barclay Hotel.  This was about 2 full days after the shooting that took place on Saturday, October 29, 1898 at about 7:10 to 7:30 pm.

October 1898

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  1  2  3    

Here is a transcript of one of the subpoenas listed above.

Pine River Hotel

Pine River Hotel

State of Minnesota, County of Cass:

The State of Minnesota to R.D. H[olden], Peter Dennis, John Wilson, J.B. Spence, John King, & B. O’Connor you and each of you are hereby summoned to be and appear before the undersigned and to constitute a coroner’s jury for the purpose of holding and inquest upon the dead body of George Barclay, which inquest will be held at Barclays Hotel, Pine River, in said county, on the First day of November, A.D. 1898, at 9 o’clock in the forenoon.  Hereof fail not at your peril. Given under my hand this 31st day of October A.D. 1898, E.R. Sundberg, Justice of the Peace and Acting Coroner. 

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