Murder of Harry Summers, Jr.

December 29, 1899
Clinton Register

Harry Summers, Jr., Killed by "Doc" Marcum.

Shooting in a Room Where Card Playing Was in Progress—
Marcum Held for Murder.

The village of Weldon, twelve miles southeast of Clinton, has had its second fatal shooting within four years. The night of Dec. 28, 1895, Dr. W. H. TAYLOR was killed by J. A. PACE, which was so clearly a case of self defense that Pace was never arrested. That was four years ago and the people seldom speak of the sad affair; but it was brought vividly to their minds Monday afternoon. Christmas had brought its joys to the usually peaceful village, and all seemed to enjoy the day until it was turned from one of joy to one of sorrow.

In the forenoon a stranger to most of the citizens came to town, and his object appeared to be trouble. He began to take on a load at the village saloon, and was soon boasting that he was the best man in town and ready to test it with anyone who might question his claim. While in the saloon, which is owned by Baker & Reddick and conducted by the latter, he exhibited his revolver and boasted that he could hit a man's eye at quite a distance. He met C. C. MURDOCK, whose home is Watseka, Ill. This was perhaps the cause of his becoming involved in a quarrel that put the murderer's stamp upon his brow. About 3 o'clock he went into a room over the saloon where seven men were playing cards, among them Murdock. Soon after he entered the room Harry SUMMERS and Murdock had a little dispute about some part of the game and MARCUM, being drunk and acquainted with Murdock, joined in the dispute in Murdock's favor. This angered Summers who was quick tempered, and told Marcum that it was none of his business. Marcum replied that he would make it some of his business. Summers ordered him to leave the room, but he did not obey. After a few more passages of hot words Summers told Marcum he would put him out and started toward him, taking off his coat as he did so. When he was near him, Marcum fired at him with a 32-caliber revolver. The bullet entered Summers' clothing near the abdomen, broke the skin, passed to his left side and was found in his clothes. Summers then struck at Marcum. Some say he hit him, others say he did not. In return Marcum fired again, striking Summers in the left side of the abdomen, near where the first bullet broke the skin. Summers sank to the floor, one of the men catching him as he fell, but he did not speak after being shot. When the shooting began most of those in the room rushed out. Among the others in the room were Sam McNIER, Jr., Lew AYERS, Jas. JOHNSON, Geo. FAIRBANKS, Arthur DANISON and Dick GREENWOOD, who had charge of the room. McNier and Ayers grabbed Marcum, but in the excitement he escaped and ran south about two blocks when he was overtaken by the former and held until assistance came. He was taken to `Squire BROWN's office where he admitted doing the shooting. Excitement ran high and it was thought best to hurry Marcum to Clinton and place him in jail. Arch STONE, the constable, started to Clinton with him. Soon afterward there were fears of lynching and Jas. and Ed HUSTON followed to warn Stone and to have him make the trip as quick as possible. About 4:30 they arrived in Clinton and landed the prisoner in jail. At the jail quite a crowd assembled and he seemed to fear lynching. While there was some talk of such action in Weldon, there was no attempt made to organize for such a purpose.


Soon as the news of the murder was received in Clinton, State's Attorney FULLER, Sheriff SHUE and Deputy Coroner Stant EMERY left for Weldon in buggies. Soon as they arrived Dr. McMACKIN was engaged to try to locate the ball that entered Summers' body. Though a patient search was made, the ball was not found, and at 11 o'clock at night the coroner's inquest began and lasted six hours. The facts brought out were substantially as stated above. Some of the witnesses who were in the room at the time of the shooting are said to have been very forgetful as to what they were doing in the room at the time of the shooting, but it is said enough evidence was had to insure a general arrest of the sporting fraternity of Weldon, which is said to be large for a town of about 600 population. It is said all those in the room at the time of the shooting have registered a vow that they will never play cards again. It is said there are three rooms in the town where cards are played regularly for money.

The coroner's jury was composed of the following: J. D. BROWN, J. A. PACE, W. H. COSTLEY, R. L. ROCK, G. B. DAVENPORT, of Weldon, and Dell GRIFFITH, of Clinton. The verdict was murder, and it was recommended that the murderer not be released on bail.


The building in which the murder was committed is a two-story brick on the north side of the street and owned by Samuel BAKER, farmer, near Weldon. It is about 20 x 80 feet. In the first story is the saloon. The second story is divided into rooms that are reached by two stairways on the west, one leading from the street and one from the rear of the building. The front room has a billiard table in it and the second one a pool table. These rooms are reached by the front stairway. The rear rooms are smaller and are reached by the rear stairway. In the northwest corner is a room about 10 x 12 feet. It was in this room where Harry Summers lost his life, within two hundred feet of his home.


Harry H. Summers, son of W. H. Summers, also of Weldon, was born in Bloomington, Ill., Sept. 8, 1859, and was 40 years, 3 months and 17 days old. When he was young his parents moved to Logan county, where they lived about six years. They then moved to this county which had since been the home of the family, living many years about six miles southeast of Clinton. While living there, deceased was married to Miss Letha HOWARD, who died a few years afterward. The family moved to Weldon thirteen years ago, and deceased was married to Miss Emma SMALLWOOD eleven years ago last May. The wife and one child, a son 4 years old, survive. Besides them, the father and mother, two sisters, Mrs. P. M. SMALLWOOD, of Weldon, Mrs. Archie EAST, of Piatt county, and two brothers, Mack and Elmer, the latter of this city, are broken hearted over the sad death of the one they loved.

The victim of the murderer's bullet was a carpenter and a useful man for his town. Though quick-tempered he seldom quarreled with anyone and it is said he had not come to blows with anyone for many years. He was a member of the village board and highly respected by his friends. He was a member of the A. F. & A. M., and had held important positions in the lodge.


Of Doc T. Marcum, the man who killed Summers without cause, but little is known here. He says he came from Somerset, Ky., last February and had worked for Thos. JOHNSON, near DeLand, in Piatt county, the first station east of Weldon. He wears neither beard nor mustache and claims to be 25 years old. He is nearly six feet high and has a florid countenance. On the side of his face is a long scar that would indicate he had been in trouble before. He has engaged Judge INGHAM to defend him, and he advised him not to talk to anyone about his trouble, especially reporters. He claims his father is rich and will put up money to defend him. As the grand jury has had its session, he will remain in jail until the March term of circuit court, and perhaps longer, before his case comes to trial.


The revolver with which Marcum did the shooting could not be found to be shown at the inquest, nor has it since been found. No one seems to know anything about it, though the people believe some of those who were in the room got it and still have it. It is evident Marcum did not have it when being chased or he would have stood his pursuers off under threat of death. He had no unlawful weapon when captured. The people of Weldon believe two of the men who were in the room know where the revolver is, but for some unreasonable reason refuse to tell where it is.


Marcum claimed he did not want to shoot Summers but had to in self-defense, and there seems no doubt but this will be the plea when the case is tried. Marcum claims Summers knocked him down, and that he shot while on the floor. The evidence of the witnesses and the course of the bullet disprove this. The search for the bullet showed it had ranged down after striking the spine, instead of upward, as it would have done if Marcum had shot while down. There seems no reason whatever for the use of a revolver. Marcum is fully as large a man as Summers, who had no unlawful weapon and made no threat of using one. Marcum was clearly the aggressor as he joined in a dispute that did not concern him. Whether he will be convicted of murder and made to pay the legal penalty of his cold-blooded deed, remains for the future. No man has yet been put to death for a murder committed in DeWitt county, though some of them have been deliberate and premeditated. If the custom of the country is not broken, Marcum will go free and be given a term in the penitentiary; and yet when a murder is committed the people will be told to let the law take its course; but there will be no promise that justice will be meted out.


Deputy Sheriff BRYANT informs us this morning that some boys found a revolver yesterday, under the edge of the building on the west of the one in which Summers was killed, while looking for bottles. It was brought to Clinton and Marcum identified it as the one he shot Summers with.

Note: Harry's parents were William H. and Rachel (Morrow) Summers. His son's name was Hollie.

(See obituary)

Submitted by Judy Simpson


March 16, 1900 
Clinton Register


Mrs. Emma SMALLWOOD [SUMMERS], widow of Harry SUMMERS, who was killed at Weldon Dec. 25 by "Doc" MARCUM has brought suit against Samuel BAKER, of Weldon, and Baker & Reddick, also of Weldon, for $5,000 damage. Baker owns the building in which was the gambling room where Summers was killed, and Baker and Geo. REDDICK run a saloon in the same building where the gambling room is, and where it is alleged Summers got whiskey that made him drunk and unable to exercise ordinary care in his own behalf. A Decatur lawyer has charge of the prosecution, and it is thought the case will come up at the March term of court in Clinton. It is also believed Marcum will be put on trial at this term.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


April 6, 1900
Clinton Register

The Slayer of Harry Summers a Free Man—
DeWitt County's Record for Freeing Murderers Unbroken.

The trial of "Doc" MARCUM for the murder of Harry SUMMERS, at Weldon last Christmas, was called in the circuit court Wednesday forenoon and a jury was not secured until afternoon. There were 15 witnesses for the prosecution and 19 for the defense. By holding a night session the examination of witnesses was through by 11 o'clock yesterday. About 4 o'clock the attorneys, John FULLER for prosecution and Judge INGHAM for defense, finished their arguments and the case went to the jury, which was composed of the following: Geo. HARROLD, Wm. WEST, H. C. HENSON, W. A. KEPHART, O. J. SNYDER, J. T. MADDOX, James H. PRICE, Victor GAMBREL, Lawrence MORRIS, R. A. JEFFRIES, G. W. SMITH, and Isaiah JACKSON.

Readers of the REGISTER have been informed of the particulars of the shooting, making it unnecessary to repeat them now, further than that the killing was in a gambling room in Weldon; the two men were strangers, and the trouble arose over Marcum meddling in a game of cards that Summers and others were playing, Marcum being out of the game. Though Summers had no weapon and made no threats to use one, Marcum claimed self-defense. Some of the witnesses swore Summers struck Marcum with his fist and some that he did not. Both were under the influence of liquor at the time.

The jury was out all last night, and was reported this morning to be 7 for acquittal and 5 for conviction. About 9 o'clock a verdict of not guilty was returned, and Marcum was at once given his liberty.

Submitted by Judy Simpson