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Obituaries   >   New Jersey   >   December 2,   1896

Showles Was Recklessly Handling a Revolver When It Went Off - Showles Held in $5,000 Bail-The Inquest to be Held on Saturday.

On Christmas night, shortly after midnight, Ansel Croft was shot by William Showles of Long Branch, who is widely known as the champion bareback rider of the world. The shooting occurred at the Union hotel on Wharf avenue and was the result of Showles's foolhardy conduct in flourishing a loaded revolver. The bullet struck Croft in the abdomen and penetrated the liver. He was at once put under surgical care, but he died the next day about noon from the effects of the wound. Showles was arrested for manslaughter immediately after Croft's death, and was bailed before Judge Conover in the sum of $5,000. Showles's father, Jacob Showles, and John B. Morris were his bondsmen.

Showles had driven over from Long Branch and had reached the Union hotel late in the evening. A number of persons were in the barroom of the hotel and after some manifestations of good feeling a game of pool was proposed. When the game was completed it was nearly twelve o'clock, and Showles began to prepare to go home. Showles took a revolver out of his overcoat pocket and began monkeying with it. Ansel Croft and others who were in the barroom told him to put it up, as they did not want loaded pistols around in the house. Showles declared that the pistol was his best friend and that he valued it above most of his other possessions. Ansel again told him to put it up, saying that he did not want to be blown to pieces. He was behind the bar at the time and Showles was in front of the bar, pointing the pistol across it. He had it aimed point-blank at Croft when it went off. Ansel sank to the floor under the shock, and in an instant everything was in confusion. Harry Badeau, Ansel's step-father, the proprietor of the hotel, was not in the room at the time. At the sound of the shot he rushed in and seeing what had been done he tore the pistol out of Showles's hand and struck him over the head with it, at the same time ordering him out of the place and telling him never to return there again.

Then everybody in the room turned their attention to the wounded boy. He was taken to the parlor, where he was laid upon a sofa, and was afterward transferred to his room. Dr. Armstrong was summoned, but he gave very little hope of saving Ansel's life. Ansel realized his condition, and said that he knew he could not recover. He stated that the shooting was an accident, and that he did not want anything done to Showles on account of it. He kept his courage to a remarkable extent.

In the morning a consultation of doctors was held and they decided that the only possible chance of saving his life was by performing the operation known as laropotomy, which consists in cutting through the wall of the stomach and thus repairing the injury to the internal organs. A room in the hotel was antiseptically prepared and at eleven o'clock the operation was performed. Dr. Edwin Field of Red Bank and Dr. Ned Taylor of Middletown performed the operation. Other physicians present were Drs. W. B. Warner, J. E. Sayre, A. G. Brown, W. S. Whitmore, W. Armstrong and J. C. Rush. It was found that there had been a great deal of internal hemorrhage, and Ansel died before he recovered from the effects of the anesthetics administered before the operation.

The funeral was held yesterday afternoon at Trinity church. There was a large attendance and a number of floral pieces were sent by the dead boy's friends. Showles sent a wreath. He was in Red Bank during the afternoon but did not attend the funeral. The church was crowded and many could not get in. The bearers were Al. Ivins, Paul Benton, George Bussel, Fred Gowdy, Wiliam Johnson and Al. Burrowes. The service was conducted by Rev. Robert MacKellar, and the interment was in Fair View cemetery.

Among the men who were in the barroom at the time the shooting was done were Amos Bennett, George Bussell, Fred Curtis, Francis Leonard, Sr. and one or two others.

Ansel Croft was the step-son of Harry Badeau and the grandson of the late James Atkins. He was not married and although he was 24 years old he had a very boyish appearance. He was very quiet and gentlemanly in his manners, and was extremely popular with every one who knew him. He was one of the best pool players in the state, and had won several pool matches for the championship of the county.


Job Meyers.

Job Meyers died at Belford on Monday night from lockjaw. Last summer he was in a hammock and fell out. He struck on his neck and the blow resulted in a malignant carbuncle. Two or three weeks ago this carbuncle became so bad that a surgical operation was necessary for its removal. The surgeons in attendance declared that it was the worst case of the kind they had ever seen. It was thought after the operation that Mr. Meyers would recover, but lockjaw set in and caused his death. During the last month of his life his sufferings were intense. He was 64 years old and leaves a wife and daughter. He was a member of the Belford lodge of American Mechanics, from which his family will receive a small death benefit. The funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon at half-past two o'clock at the Methodist church. The service will be conducted by Rev. William McGee, and the burial will be at the Belford cemetery.

John Henry Vanderveer.

John Henry Vanderveer, a well known farmer living near Freehold, died on Monday from paralysis, aged 86 years. He was a son of Joseph I. Vanderveer and was born near Marlboro in 1810. He married Miss Jane S. Smock of Marlboro before he was of age. His wife died a few years ago. He was a deacon in the Freehold Reformed church. All of his eight children survive him. They are Mrs. Lafayette Schanck, Sr., of Freehold; Aaron S. Vanderveer and Garrett S. Vanderveer of Freehold; Miss Elizabeth Vanderveer of Holmdel; Mrs. John D. Vanderveer and Miss Hettie Vanderveer of West Freehold; Mrs. Jackson Thompson of Brooklyn; and Mrs. Charles Hendrickson of Marlboro.

Mrs Elizabeth Van Mater.

Mrs. Elizabeth VanMater of Scobeyville died at the home of her neice, Mrs. Jennie Mead, on Monmouth street, last Wednesday. She was 77 years old. About three weeks a go she was stricken with paralysis. She immediately took to her bed and was conscious only at intervals during her sickness. Mrs. VanMater was born at Scobeyville and was the daughter of Jacob and Ann Polhemus. Two sons survive her. They are John VanMater of Scobeyville and Henry VanMater of Red Bank. The funeral was held at the Reformed church at Colt's Neck on Saturday. The pall bearers were Daniel Shutts, Henry Brewer, Frank Wyckoff and Dennis Valentine.

Dr. George D. Pettingell.

Dr. George D. Pettingell, one of the pioneer residents of Asbury Park, died at that place of Bright's disease on Thursday, aged 62 years. He had been sick for a long time, but had been confined to his bed only three weeks. He moved from Philadelphia to Asbury Park in 1873 and opened a dental office in a building on the present site of the post-office. A widow and six children survive him.

Miss Kate Smock.

Miss Kate Smock, eldest daughter of ex-Sheriff Rulief P. Smock, died at Asbury Park on Monday, aged 40 years. Her death was caused by dropsy and a complication of diseases. She had been sick for over two years, but until about two weeks ago she was able to be about. Her funeral will be held to-morrow morning at eleven o'clock at the Red bank Presbyterian church. The interment will be at Holmdel.

Mrs. Minnie V. Wyckoff.

Mrs. Minnie v. Wyckoff, wife of John Wyckoff, died of consumption at Keyport on Monday of last week. She was 31 years old. An infant child survives her.


  • ASAY - At Long Branch, on Tuesday, December 15th, Walter Asay, aged 20 years.

  • CROFT - At Red Bank, on Saturday, December 26th, Ansel Croft, aged 24 years.

  • HIRNER - At Red Bank, on Friday, December 25th, Gotliob Hirner, aged 25 years.

  • KEEGAN - In Holmdel township, on Tuesday, December 22d, William H. Keegan, aged 41 years.

  • MEYERS - At Belford, on Monday, December 28th, Job Meyers, aged 64 years.

  • MURPHY - At Long Branch, on Monday, December 21st, Miss Bridget Murphy, aged 60 years.

  • PETTINGELL - At Asbury Park, on Thursday, December 24th, Dr. George D. Pettingell, aged 62 years.

  • PRICE - At Asbury Park, on Tuesday, December 29th, Ida L., wife of Edward W. Price.

  • SHEEHAN - At Keyport, on Friday, December 18th, the infant child of Jeremiah Sheehan.

  • SMOCK - At Asbury Park, on Monday, December 28th, Miss Kate Smock, aged 40 years and 6 months.

  • TRAVIS - At Long Branch, on Wednesday, December 23d, Mrs Eliza Travis, aged 52 years.

  • VANMATER - At Red Bank, on Wednesday, December 23d, Mrs. Elizabeth VanMater of Scobeyville, aged 77 years and 4 months.

  • WILLETT - At Colt's Neck on Tuesday, December 22d, Ruliff Francis, the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Ruliff S. Willett.

  • WYCKOFF - At Keyport, on Monday, December 21st, Minnie, wife of John Wyckoff, aged 31 years and 4 months.

    Wills and Estates:

    William W. Conover's Will.

    The will of the late William W. Conover was admitted to probate this afternoon. Its sole provision was the appointment of George O. Waterman as executor, with power to sell real estate. The will was made during his last sickness.

    Her Property Distributed Among Her Relatives.

    The will of Mrs. Mary Muldoon of Wickatunk was admitted to probate last week. The will was made at Freehold in 1892, and was witnessed by George H. Adams, J. H. Lewis and William Heyers. She cut off one of her sons, Frank Muldoon, with a dollar. He contested the will but afterward withdrew his opposition.

    Mrs. Muldoon left to her daughter, Josephine Crine, and her son, William Muldoon, her farm in Marlboro township for life. At their death the farm is to be sold and the proceeds divided among all of her grandchildren, including her step-grandchildren, Lillian Pearsall and Laura Sidell. To her son, Wm. Muldoon, she left $1,000, to be paid when her mortgages became due, he to receive the interest until then. This bequest is to be paid to him at his marriage. She also left to William Muldoon the rent from her farm now occupied by Annie Muldoon. Her daughter, Josephine F. Crine, was left $1,000 if she made no demand for services rendered. If she make such demand then the amount so demanded is to be deducted from the $1,000 and the balance paid her when certain mortgages shall come due. One thousand dollars was left to her son, James V. Muldoon of Freehold, who has died since the will was made.

    To John Muldoon and Emma Sidell she left $500 each, and to her grandchild, Edward Muldoon, Jr., she left $500, to be paid him when he becomes of age. In the meantime his father is to be his guardian and is to use the interest of this money for his education. To her sons, Henry Muldoon and Thomas Muldoon, she left $200 apiece, and to Edward Muldoon, Sr., she left $5. William Muldoon was also bequeathed the bedstead and bedding in Anna Muldoon's house, while all the household goods except those otherwise provided for were left to Josephine F. Crine.

    One hundred dollars was left to Lilian Pearsall, to be paid when she becomes of age, and the rest of the estate, except $200 left for the care of her burial plot at Flatbush and $150 for the erection of headstones for her father, her husband and herself, is directed to be divided among her children. The late James V. Muldoon and Dr. Cyrus Knecht of Matawan were named as executors.

    The Wager Was Made With a Fellow Baker and Was for a Bottle of Wine - He Broke Through a Streak of Thin Ice.

    Gotlieb Hirner, a baker employed by Joseph Child, was drowned on Christmas day in the river. He had made a wager with a fellow workman of a bottle of wine that he could walk across the river and back. He started on the trip about three o'clock in the afternoon. He was three-quarters of the way across when he reached a streak of thin ice, where a schooner had pushed her way up the river two or three days before and had made a passage through the ice to reach her dock. Hirner was seen to try this ice before he ventured on it. He made a few steps on the thin ice and then broke through.

    When Hirner broke through the ice he grabbed hold of the edge of the ice and screamed for help. He was heard by the people on the Middletown shore and also by some on the Red Bank side of the river. Frank S. Payne was at work on an iceboat on the shore near his house and he was one of the first to hear Hirner's cries for aid. He ran to the Monmouth boat club house, and with the help of William Hessenger and Ferd White he pushed a rowboat over the ice and launched it in the hole made by Hirner when he broke through. Before they reached the place Hirner had become exhausted and had loosed his hold on the ice and sunk. His body could be seen in the water, lying in the bottom of the river.

    Payne had a screw hook in his pocket and this he fastened on the end of one of the oars. The screw was caught in Hirner's watch chain and the body was pulled to the surface and taken into the boat and the boat was dragged to the shore. The body was taken to R. T. Smith's undertaker shop on Front street and Coroner Theodore Anderson of Keyport was notified. He viewed the body and as there was no question as to the manner in which Hirner met his death, he gave a burial permit.

    On Saturday Peter Giner, Hirner's brother-in-law of Woodbridge, took the body to that place where the funeral was held on Sunday. Hirner was about 25 years old and was not married.

    Committed Suicide in the West.

    Mrs. W. H. Reid of Tacoma, Washington, committed suicide on Tuesday of last week by shooting herself in the head. She had been sick for some time and was despondent. She formerly lived at Keyport.

    A Man Found Dead.

    George Kleiner, who was employed by Claude Johnson of Centerville, was found dead in the wagon house on Mr. Johnson's place last Wednesday night. Kleiner was lying at the foot of a flight of steps and it is supposed that while drunk he fell down the steps and broke his neck. He was about fifty years old.

    A Manasquan Vessel Wrecked.

    The schooner Calvin Orcutt owned by Captain George Bailey of Manasquan was wrecked off the Massachusetts coast on Thursday. Capt. Edgar Pearce, the commander of the boat, and Capt Louis Curtis, who was on the boat with him were drowned. Both lived at Manasquan.

    Source: Red Bank Register, December 30, 1896

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