HOMICIDE AT DELASSUS
Washington County Journal, Potosi, Missouri, Thursday, August 4, 1870.
On Thursday evening last we learned, at
Delassus [St. Francois County], of a startling homicide that transpired but a moment
before our arrival. Upon the railroad company's platform lay the body of a young
man, apparently in the last agonies. The dying man was James Matthews, a
"section boss" in the employment of the Iron Mountain Railroad Company, and his
slayer 'Con' Harrigan, occupied a corresponding position on an adjacent section. The
two men had been on unfriendly terms for a considerable length of time. We did not
learn the cause of the difficulty further than was inferable from a few excited words
which passed between them just before the killing of Matthews. The latter, as we
there learned, approached Harrigan, charging him with levying blackmail upon him, with
reference to some little matter of scandal touching Matthews' character of which Harrigan
had become possessed. All accounts agree that the two had been drinking for several
hours and both were intoxicated when the fatal encounter took place. Harrigan's wife
was in company with him. Upon Matthews repeating the charge above referred to, high
words ensued, and he knocked his adversary down once or twice. Harrigan got up and walked
off, saying "all right," according to our information. Harrigan was armed
with a revolver, and on Matthews following him upon the railroad platform, he said to the
latter, "go away; I have taken enough of you today! Go away from me!"
Matthews replied: "I will not strike you; I am not troubling you!"
or words to that effect, still advancing upon the platform towards Harrigan.
The latter then drew his revolver and fired, without further warning, the ball entering
his left breast. The wounded man fell, and expired in a few minutes. Notwithstanding
a considerable number of spectators were gathered about the combatants, no attempt was
made to detain the homicide. Within a minute after the fatal shot he walked
deliberately off to the woods, and was soon safe from pursuit, under the cover of
night. The foregoing are such meager details of the affair as we were able to
gather, upon the spot.
A later report from Delassus suggests jealousy as the origin of the fatal encounter.
Harrigan is described in the Farmington Herald as about five feet, ten inches in height; has fair skin and light hair; he is rather red in the fact, owing to his habit of drinking; weighs about 140 pounds; has a down-cast look, even while talking.