Free Press, Thursday, August 23, 1917

DOUBLE TRAGEDY AT WHITEBIRD RESULTS IN DEATH OF JOHN NEVINS

 

Mentally Deranged, Arthur Freeman Shoots Down John Nevins, Popular Business Man and Citizen - Then Kills Self.

A sad tragedy was enacted at Whitebird last Saturday when John Nevins, well known Salmon river business man, banker and leading citizen was shot to death by Arthur Freeman, laborer of the river country, who took his own life after killing Nevins.  Laboring under the delusion that he was avenging a wrong, Freeman shot down in cold blood this popular citizen and brought a cloud of grief to the entire county.  The shooting occurred at noon as Nevins was on his way home and resulted in the almost instant death of the victim of perturbed mind as letters left by Freeman plainly indicated he had been brooding over an imaginary grievance for some time.

Killed on His Way Home

Nevins had left his place of business along about the noon hour and was on his way to his home when just opposite the Methodist parsonage Freeman walked across the street and covered Nevins and a .38 special army Colt.  Rev. Anderson, who was the only witness to the tragedy, stated Nevins was reading a paper at the time. Freeman covered him with the gun and had no chance to realize his position.  Freeman uttered some words and Nevins apparently made a reply but the conversation of both was inaudible.  Freeman, who was less than ten feet from his victim immediately fired two shots, one bullet entering the left shoulder of Nevins and passing through the back, the other the left arm.  Nevins fell and struggled to get up but Freeman was at once upon him and fired at close range, a bullet entering just below the right eye and the other shot the right temple.  Freeman then walked to the Methodist church steps, about fifty feet from where Nevins fell and fired a bullet into his own brain, dying several hours after.

Lives But Briefly

Immediately after the shooting, Rev. Anderson rushed down to the office of Dr. Foskett and in company with the Doctor and others, returned to give attention to Mr. Nevins, who passed away several minutes after the arrival.  Freeman was carried to the home of his sister, Mrs. Meyers but never regained consciousness, passing away several hours after the shooting.

Victim of Deranged Mind

Upon the body of Freeman was found a letter dated August 17, and addressed to his sister, making certain requests as to the disposition of his body and referring them to two letters he had written and left in his grip at the home of his sister.  These letters, which were dated August 13, showed the murder was a premeditated one and that Freeman had been laboring under an imaginary wrong.  In the letter to his people he spoke of the sorrow such a tragedy would bring to them but felt it his duty to kill Nevins.  One was addressed to the county attorney and was similar in tone to the one he left his people.  According to reports, Freeman has been having more or less trouble with Nevins and other members of the school board, holding them responsible for the non-retention of his sister, Mrs. Meyers, as a teacher of the public schools down there and had acted in a way in times past as to indicate he was not in a normal mental condition.  Later he left the country and went to Cascade to work and none suspected when he returned to Whitebird last week that he was bent upon killing Nevins.  He had made preparations for his burial, having placed his best clothes out upon the bed and also made suggestions as to his burial.  Saturday morning he appeared at the stage barn and assisted in the work, remarked he felt fine and to all was in a normal mental condition.

Nevins Held in High Esteem

The tragedy was a terrible blow to the Salmon river people who looked upon John Nevins as one of their very best citizens.  Out of respect for the deceased all the business places of the town were closed following the shooting and here and there could be seen little knots of people bemoaning the fact that the life of so good a man should be taken. No man in the entire river country had as many good and true friends as John Nevins.  Your troubles were his troubles, your welfare his welfare, the people, the country and the development and happiness of the community were placed above his personal interests.  Coming from good, old Irish stock to this country when a young man, he has experienced all the vicissitudes and hardships incident to a pioneer country and through his kindly way and self-sacrificing spirit made friends from one end of the the river to the other.  He was a common man in his way but far above the average in his accomplishments.  Working first as a miner and packer, he finally entered the mercantile, business in a small way, running a small store at Slate Creek originally and building up until he finally became the head of a chain of stores up the river known as the Salmon River Stores and recently branched out in the banking business, his business judgment and standing in the community resulting in his selection as president of the Whitebird State Bank.  Nevins was known and truly appreciated not only in his home country but Grangeville, Lewiston and other points where he had made many lasting friends.  He is survived by a wife and three children, the oldest of which is thirteen.

 

 

 

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