The Death Of Luther Halsey

April 22, 1892
Clinton Register
Clinton, Illinois

An Old Feud Between Two Prominent Families Ends With Fatal Results.
C. E. Brock, the Man Who Did the Shooting, Now in the Clinton Jail.
The Final Ending of a Feud of Twenty Years’ Duration—
The Son Instantly Killed and the Father Dangerously Wounded.

Tuesday afternoon Sheriff Murphy was notified by telephone from Heyworth that a terrible crime had been committed in this county, about four miles southwest of Heyworth.  The sheriff, his deputy, Geo. Gambrel, and State’s Attorney W. H. Booth hastily left for the scene of the tragedy.  Arriving at Heyworth they learned that C. E. BROCK, who committed the deed, with his father had left for Clinton a few minutes previous, on a freight train, to give himself up.  The sheriff telephoned to William Fruit to meet them at the depot and take Brock in charge until his arrival.


The sheriff, his deputy and the state’s attorney then went to the scene of the shooting.  Arriving at the home of Alexander HALSEY, they found a sad scene.  Alex Halsey was suffering from a dangerous wound and his son, Luther, aged 14 years, was cold in death.


The death of young Halsey and the wounding of his father was the result of an old quarrel between the Halsey and Brock families.  About twenty years ago the trouble commenced, and has never died entirely out.  The origin of the quarrel that had such a sad ending was about a two-acre piece of land which Alex Halsey bought of Mr. Buck.  Mr. Elias BROCK had a claim on the land and a dispute arose over it.  From that time there has been lawsuits between the families in the courts of this and McLean counties.  Last fall one of the cases was heard by ’Squire McHenry of this city, and he remembers the deep hatred that existed.  As he expressed it: “I could almost see blood in their eyes.$#8221;  In November there was a big slander suit in the McLean country court between them.  The whole tendency of the trouble seemed toward such a termination as came Tuesday.


The Halsey and Brock families live in this and McLean counties.  Alex Halsey and Elias Brock live in McLean county, about half a mile from the county line and less than a mile apart.  C. E. Brock, who fired the shots, lives in this county, a few rods from the line.  He is about 32 years old; has a wife and two children.  Alex Halsey and Elias Brock are each about 60 years old and are both well preserved men for that age.


Tuesday afternoon between 1 and 2 o'clock Brock was alone building fence along the road a short distance south of his house, when Alex Halsey and two of his sons, Luther and Oscar, came along each with a wagon going to haul corn to Heyworth.  The quarrel between them was revived and resulted as before stated.  Brock claims Alex Halsey began the quarrel and the Halseys claim Brock commenced it.  Brock’s story, as reported, is that the Halseys were after him with clubs and that he shot in self defense.  The Halseys claim Brock shot at Alex Halsey while he was in the wagon, and that the boys started back to their father, who had jumped from the wagon, and that Brock fired at them, killing Luther, and then shooting his father twice.  Brock claimed he shot at Alex Halsey and the boy jumped in the way to save his father.  The bullet struck the boy just below the right shoulder and entered the heart, causing instant death, only a shriek escaping his lips after the shot was fired.  A shot at the other boy missed him.  Alex Halsey was shot through the end of the nose, and in the head just back of the right ear, the ball lodging in the throat.  As no preliminary hearing has been held, it is not known what evidence will be given.  Coroner Cyrus Jones went to the Halsey home Tuesday evening and held an inquest Tuesday night, the verdict being in accordance with the facts as given above, and charging Brock with murder.


Public opinion is divided in the neighborhood as to whether the Brocks or the Halseys are to blame.  Both families are old residents, the Brocks living there for over fifty years, and are said to have had no trouble except with the Halseys.  The neighbors of the families say they have expected the trouble would result in the killing of some of the parties to the quarrel and therefore were but little surprised at the shooting.

The funeral of Luther Halsey was held Wednesday afternoon, the burial being in Longpoint cemetery.  The firm of Moose & Warner of this city has been retained as counsel for the defense.

Note: Luther was buried in the Halsey/Hougham Cemetery, not Longpoint Cemetery.


September 15, 1893
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois

The Jury Said Brock Was Not Guilty.

After two trials in the circuit court, and at a cost of nearly $2,000 to the taxpayers of this county, Cassius BROCK was acquitted by the jury of the charge of manslaughter, for which he was on trial.  On the first trial the jury could not agree.  On the second trial the jury was out about twenty-six hours.  On the first ballot they stood eight for acquittal and four for conviction, and so continued till Saturday afternoon when the four for conviction surrendered and made it unanimous for acquittal.  It is doubtful if ever any jury could be had in this county that would convict Brock, and under the circumstances it may have been for the best that the case was finally ended.  Alexander HALSEY, the prosecuting witness and the father of the murdered boy, lives in McLean County.  Cassius E. Brock lives just inside the DeWitt county line, and the murder was committed opposite Brock’s farm.  As a matter of fact, DeWitt County had no interest in either of the parties, yet it had to pay all the costs.

The history of the case began forty years ago instead of the time when the two families were plunged into grief.  It was an old feud between Elias BROCK, the father of Cassius Brock, and the father of Alexander Halsey, and from both families it has been handed down from father to son.

On the 19th of April, 1892, the day of the fatal encounter, Alexander Halsey and two of his sons, Oscar and Luther, were hauling corn from their farm to the railway depot.  Between one and two o'clock on that day the three Halseys were passing Cassius Brock’s farm, Oscar driving the lead wagon, Luther the middle team, and the father bringing up the rear.  Brock was repairing a fence on the roadside, and when Alexander Halsey’s team was passing by the feud of years broke out with renewed bitterness, when Brock pulled out a revolver and began shooting.  He claimed on the witness stand that Halsey had got out of his wagon and made a deadly assault upon him with a pole, and feeling that his life was in danger he opened fire.  Oscar Halsey swore that the pole spoken of was in his (the front) wagon, and was part of some machinery, and therefore it could not be true that his father had assaulted Brock with it.  Two of Brock’s shots took effect on Alexander Halsey, one wounding him in the nose and the other in the neck.  Oscar and Luther Halsey jumped out of their wagons and ran back to the defense of their father, when Brock fired another shot which struck poor little Luther HALSEY in the back and killed him instantly.  Brock had a five-shooter and he emptied its contents at the Halsey family, three of the shots taking effect.  After the battle was over, Alexander Halsey lifted his dead fourteen-year-old boy into his wagon and took him home to his mother.  The coroner’s jury decided that Brock had committed murder; the grand jury toned it down to manslaughter.

The case was first tried at the March term, and after a hard fought legal battle the jury failed to agree.  Colonel Pash Warner represented Brock, while R. A. Lemon and State’s Attorney Fuller conducted the prosecution.  The second trial closed last Friday, and on Saturday afternoon the second jury brought in a verdict of acquittal.  Brock can thank his stars for the ability of his attorney to watch all the corners and his power to convince the jury that Brock was not really responsible for Luther Halsey’s death.

Alexander Halsey is unfortunate in having the enmity of his neighbors, for nearly every one of them went upon the witness stand and swore to his vicious character.  Probably the old feud had embittered his life, and as he is surrounded by Brock’s friends it was not hard for them to find an excuse in swearing against him.  Halsey has not a bad face and no one would take him for a bad man.  In point of intelligence he will rank above the average, and as a farmer he has been successful.  The best thing he can do for the peace of mind of himself and family is to leave that locality and go where life will be more congenial and pleasant.

The same may be said of Cassius Brock.  There is nothing unpleasant about his face, and until this unfortunate affair he was never known to do an unkind act.

Alexander Halsey and Cassius Brock are simply the heirs of an old feud that began with their fathers forty years ago.  Halsey will go through life mourning the untimely death of his youngest son, while Cassius Brock will ever have the unpleasant thought that he killed a fellow being.