Miami Union

November 13, 1875

DAVIS, MRS. MINERVA - In the very heart of Piqua, through the square bounded by High, Caldwell, Ash and Downing streets, runs a narrow alley which has more than once attracted attention as a lurking place of suspicious characters.  It is only two blocks from the Public Square, and half a dozen churches are in the neighborhood, but still it is dark, narrow and forbidding.  At 9 o'clock on Saturday evening when the streets were filled with passers-by, several shrill screams were heard in this alley, but they were regarded as uttered by the unruly boys who have been making night hideous of late, and no attention was paid to them.  On Sunday morning as the bells were calling for the church goers to assemble, a farmer drove his spring wagon into this alley and alighted to hitch his horse.   As he walked forward, leading the animal by the halter, he almost stepped into a horrible

                                                              POOL OF BLOOD

 Lying directly before him was the gory corpse of a negro girl with her throat cut from ear to ear.  The unclosed eyes were staring up to heaven; the face wore the expression of death agony, and the hands were raised in the position where they had vainly sought to ward off death.  The clothing was soaked in blood.  With a shriek of frantic terror the man fled from the spot, his cries arousing the neighborhood.  The Union reporter was one of the first to reach the spot and the sickening sight which met his eyes will never be forgotten.  Strong men gazed and then with pale faces turned away, "I have seen the victims of negro massacres in the South," said a former Mississippian, "but never such a sight as that.  Coroner Kitzmiller arrived and removed the body to the City Hall where in the presence of a constantly increasing multitude the inquest was held.  A few moments showed the woman to be Mrs. Minerva Davis, a servant in the employ of Mr. Wm. Wise on High Street.  Hardly was this fact elicited before the Marshal arrived bringing as a prisoner, Oscar Davis, the husband of the deceased, under the charge of


 The testimony commenced, running about as follows: The first witness testified that the deceased was the wife of the prisoner, but had been separated from him for nearly a year.  Deceased was said to have been afraid of prisoner who was very jealous of her.  Deceased bore an excellent character.  This last statement was repeated by several other witnesses.  About a year ago prisoner charged his wife with attempting to poison him by giving him jelly filled with powdered glass.  The substance was proved to be crystallized sugar, but prisoner made threats against deceased.  A colored girl working for Mrs. H. A. Schafer, stated that she parted with the prisoner and the deceased who were in company, about a square from the fatal alley, shortly before 9 o'clock.  Robb. P. Nelson, who roomed with the prisoner stated that he (Davis) was not a home up to midnight on Saturday night.  The clothing of the prisoner was examined and was found to be stained with a substance resembling blood, but which he claims to be acids from the dye house of the Woolen Mills where he is employed.  His handkerchief had been partially destroyed by some acid with which it was still wet.  The coat bore the appearance of having just been washed.  The experts who examined the stains were unable to determine what they were and a chemical analysis will probably be necessary.  Slate Brown, foreman of the Woolen Mills, testified that he found the key of the rooms where the acids were kept, sticking in the lock instead of in its usual place.  Prisoner knew where the key was kept.  The physicians who examined the body stated that the wound was made by a sharp instrument; a knife or razor; and was a very deep one, severing the carotid artery, jugular vein and windpipe.  Oscar Davis, the prisoner, underwent no regular examination, but made some confused statements, acknowledging that he was with his wife Saturday night, but claiming to have been at home shortly after 9 o'clock.  Considerable other testimony was introduced, mostly to the same effect as the above.  The jury remained in session up to a late hour, the excitement continuing unabated, and finally returned a verdict charging the prisoner with the murder.  The Marshal immediately conducted him to the Station House.

                                                                HANG HIM!  HANG HIM!

 shouted several negroes in the crowd as he appeared, but there was no response to the cry.  During the evening he was removed to the County Jail.  Monday morning he was taken back, and waiving an examination was committed to jail to await the action of the Grand Jury.  Oscar Davis, the prisoner, is a Kentucky negro employed in the Piqua Woolen Mills, where he has always been regarded as a valuable hand, and peaceful and inoffensive man.  Public sentiment is strongly against him, however, especially among his own race, who swear vengeances against him should he ever be liberated.  Circumstantial evidence is strong against him.  The victim was buried on Monday, from the African Church, a large number of negroes being in attendance. 

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