From the Expositor, September 25, 1893:
Two Young Lives--Offered as a Sacrifice to Frank (sic) Kuney's Infatuation, In Jealous Rage at theRefusal of His Suit, He Sends a Bullet Crashing into His Brain.
Beautiful Maude Brainard, After Passing the Terrible and Trying Ordeal, Sinks into a State of NervousProstration, and Her Gentle Spirit Passes to the Redeemer. 'Maud for God's Sake Come to Me!'
The Last Cry of the Desperate and Despairing Young Suicide. Did He MeanMurder?
The dark record of suicide which has of late so blighted the city's criminal history, wasadded to Sunday night by another terrible tragedy that claimed two lives for its victims.
Nelson Kuney, the 21-years-old son of Mr. and Mrs. James Kuney, who live on their farm aboutthree and a half miles west of the city, on the Telegraph Road, shot and killed himself shortly after 8o'clock, in a fit of jealousy, and Miss Clara Maude Brainard, aged 18, who was driving with him, died at6:30 this morning from the terrible nervous shock she received.
The shooting occurred shortly after 8 o'clock on Madison Street, just south of Michigan Avenue.
The story of suicide and attempted murder is best told in the words of the young lady, asrecounted by her to members of the household of Mr. J. S. Thrap, to whose home she was taken.
In hysterical sentences Miss Brainard put the family in possession of the details whichfollow:
Mr. Thrap's statement.
'I sat reading,' said Mr. Thrap, 'about 8 o'clock, I should judge, when my attention was attractedby the screams of a woman. I hurried outside, and saw a young woman running towards me. When I reached thesidewalk, she fell exhausted at my feet, and, in an incoherent manner, told me that Nelson Kuney was downthe road a little distance, possessed with the intention of shooting himself. She pleaded with me to go tohim and thwart his designs, but her own pitiable condition appealed to me so strongly that I led her intothe house, that she might compose herself and be properly cared for.
'We had gone about half way up the garden walk to the porch when I heard a shot. It was a clear andsharp report, that led me to believe the ball had been fired into the air. We had reached the porch whenanother shot was fired--this one muffled and indistinct.
'When taken into the house, the girl said that Kuney came for her at the home of her sister, Mrs.John Bowerfind, on Butler Street, about 5 o'clock in the evening, and asked her to go driving with him. Shetold him that it was to (sic) cold for her to ride far, but that she would take a short drive with him.According to the terrified girl's story, they had gone but a short distance, when Kuney impulsively told herthat he loved her desperately.
'She answered in an indifferent manner, "I am glad some one cares for me." He thenabruptly asked her to marry him Wednesday. She said she answered him, "I am not ready to get marriednow, and don't care too marry you any way." At this, he became infuriated, and said he would give herten minutes to decide yes or no, at the same time drawing a revolver, which he assured her, however, was notloaded. They had been driving up Michigan Avenue, and by this time had just turned south on Madison Street.
'Frightened by Kuney's strange demonstrations, the young woman demanded that he take her back home,but instead of granting her request he whipped his horse into greater speed.
'Miss Brainard said she grabbed the lines, and checked the horse's speed by reining him to the sideof the road. Then throwing the lap robe over Kuney's hands and the revolver, which he held, she leaped fromthe buggy.
'She ran toward our house, seeing a light, but only succeeded in getting about half way when Kuneyovertook her, and throwing his arms around his helpless captive, dragged her back to the buggy, preventingher from screaming. He repeatedly said he intended shooting her.
'When he removed one hand from the girl's mouth, in order to get some cartridges out of his pocket,she screamed. Her cries attracted Will Jewett, who was driving in the vicinity with a young lady, and hearrived just in time to save her. Kuney released her as soon as Jewett came up, and then she ran towards ourhouse, and I met her as I stated before.
'After the first shot, I heard Kuney cry "For God's sake, Maude, come to me!" There wasno outcry after the second shot, and from its muffled sound divined the man had accomplished his purpose.This I learned was true when I went back and found the man lying in the road with blood streaming from agaping wound in his head.'
What Mr. Boardman Heard.
Frank Boardman, who lives just across the street from Mr. Thrap, and on the southern edge of whosepremises the tragedy occurred, was one of the first on the scene. To a TIMES reporter he told the followingdetails:
'I first heard a woman scream, and going outside, saw Kuney standing beside his buggy in the road,while the girl was lying or sitting on the grass to one side and about two rods to the north of Kuney.
'I went up to Kuney, and asked him, "What's the matter?" but he wouldn't answer me. He hada revolver in his hand, and was loading it.
'The girl was hysterical and kept saying, "He's going to shoot himself." She afterwardsran down the road and I followed. I heard Kuney fire the first shot, and I thought it was only a bluff,because it sounded as though the revolver was shot into the air. He cried, "Maude, for God's sake cometo me!"
'Elder Thrap took the girl into his house, and after getting my hat, I went over to the elder's toget a key to the college, so as to be able to telephone for the sheriff. Just as I came out of the house Iheard the second shot. I thought he was bluffing again, because just after the report I head him distinctlysay "Whoa, boy," to his horse.
'I then went to the college, and when I got back Kuney was lying on his back in the road with hisfeet under the buggy. He was bleeding from a wound in the head. Chas. Saunders was standing over him. Heseemed conscious of our presence, and to understand our conversation. When we commented over the deed he hadcommitted, he would try to say something, but could only make a few inarticulate gurgling sounds. We lefthim there until the sheriff came, and then carried him down to Dr. Seger's house.'
Will Jewett's Story.
Will Jewett furnished the following account:
'I was driving down Madison Street with a young lady, shortly after 8 o'clock, when I heard awoman's cries for help coming from a point down the road some distance ahead. When we reached the spot, bothKuney and Miss Brainard stood beside the buggy. The man had both arms wrapped around the girl, and held arevolver clasped in both hands in front of him. I ordered him to release the girl, which he did. She randown the road. As I drove on, he started to load his revolver.
'I had gone about one hundred yards when I heard a shot. Driving back I found Kuney beside the buggy,with a bullet hole in his head. I spoke to him, but received no answer. I knelt down beside him, and fellinghis pulse, found it to be feebly beating. Fred Tayler and Frank Boardman coming up, I went down town afterthe sheriff, and afterwards conveyed Miss Brainard to her home. She was extremely hysterical, and made onlyrambling references to the events which proceeded the shooting.'
Sheriff Wilson at the Scene.
It was about fifteen minutes after the fatal shot had been fired, that Sheriff Wilson reached thescene, quickly followed by Dr. Fred Seger. The dying suicide was then removed to the office of Dr. A. W.Seger, who resides at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Madison Street.
The nature of the wound showed that the suicide had placed the muzzle of the revolver close to hishead, as the hair was scorched from the discharge, and a wound an inch in length torn in the temple.
By the two physicians revealed a fatal injury, a 32-calibre ball having penetrated the temple just about theright ear, and lodged on the opposite side of the head, where the bullet could be distinctly felt, and alarge bunch had gathered.
The young man was breathing when brought to the office, but was unconscious, and only lived abouthalf an hour.
The father and mother who had been apprised of their son's awful act, reached the doctor's only to findtheir boy dead.
Although the father succeeded in controlling his emotion, and facing the ordeal bravely, the poormother was distracted, and gave way to a perfect frenzy of grief. Her cries were pitiful in the extreme.
The doctors did not disturb the ball.
Young Kuney lived about 50 minutes after sending the bullet into his brain.
Undertaker Conklin removed his body to the home of the parents at 12 o'clock last night.
The father interviewed.
James Kuney, father of the suicide, was seen by a TIMES reporter, and questioned as to whether hisson had ever intimated the possibility of his resorting to such terrible measures as he took.
'He told me week before last,' said Mr. Kuney, 'that he was going to get spliced the next week. Butlast Monday Chas. Sheridan came for Nelson to go to Seneca and help him bale hay, and the boy went. Heremained until Saturday.
'When he came back his mother asked him how it was that he didn't get married that week, as he saidhe was going to. The boy said he put it off on account of the job, and would be married this week Wednesday.
'Saturday afternoon, he insinuated that unless the wedding did take place that day, he might dosomething rash. He left home Sunday morning about 10 o'clock saying he had been invited to HubbardPaulding's in Adrian township for dinner.
'I have learned since then that he went there and stayed until 4 o'clock and then went to town.
'That's the last I know of him.'
May have been intoxicated.
Sheriff Wilson is confident that Kuney had been drinking, as he noticed the odor of liquor on hisbreath before he died.
The weapon which discharged the fatal bullet is in the sheriff's keeping. Kuney borrowed it fromEd West, a friend.
He asked West Saturday night, when he met him down town, if he had a revolver he would loan him,stating he wished to use it in killing a couple of dogs near Clayton.
West told him he had a revolver he could take, and Kuney called at the farmer's home on Sundayafternoon for the pistol, and also asked for and was given two cartridges.
The empty shells of these were in the pistol when the weapon was found under the prostrate body ofthe dying young man.
These features of the affair lead to the theory that the act was premeditated.
Miss Brainard's death.
The tragic fate of Miss Brainard is the saddest phase of the awful affair.
She was brought to the home of her sister, Mrs. John Bowerfind, at 17 Butler Street, about 9o'clock, and died there at 6:30 this morning.
Death undoubtedly resulted from the severe shock which the terrible experience induced, heartfailure having ensued from the intense nervous excitement and fright.
No apprehension was felt for her sister's safety by Mrs. Bowerfind until toward morning, when hercondition became alarming, and Dr. Jewett was summoned.
When the physician arrived, at about 5:50, he saw at a glance that the young woman was dying. He atonce administered a heart stimulant, and then hastened back to his office for other drugs which he needed.
When he returned the doctor found his patient unconscious, and so prostrated as to be beyond all aid.The young woman lingered about fifteen minutes longer, and then passed away at 6:30, standard time.
Idle stories that the unfortunate young lady had committed suicide are emphatically contradicted byDr. W. W. Jewett and Dr. Mina Logue, who state there were not the slightest signs of poisoning.
A story that Kuney had given her poisoned candy to partake of is pronounced as equally improbable.
Mrs. Bowerfind Interviewed.
A TIMES reporter elicited the following information from the dead girl's sister, Mrs. John Bowerfind:
'Mr. Kuney came for Maude about 5 o'clock, and she first went out for a short drive, taking my babywith her. Returning in about an hour they left the child and started for Mr. Kuney's home, it being theirhabit to frequently go there on Sunday.
' Maude told me last night that when they got as far as Dr. Seger's house, she felt cold, and requestedMr. Kuney to drive her back home, in order that she might secure a heavier wrap.
'This he refused to do, but on the contrary whipped up his horse. Maude says she caught the linesand pulled the horse to one side of the road.
'As she did so, he drew an empty revolver, and snapped the trigger. She then leaped from the buggy,and was taken into a neighboring house.'
Ignorant of the Terrible Act.
Miss Brainard was not aware there her escort had killed himself, and died ignorant of the result ofthe act which he had threatened.
Mrs. Bowerfind stated that her sister was engaged to be married to young Kuney, and did not knowthat anything had occurred to break the betrothal.
The engagement ring still encircles the dead girl's finger.
The couple had been keeping company for about nine months.
Miss Brainard was 18 years old, and the daughter of Francis Brainard, of 7 St. Joseph Street.
For some time she has been acting as clerk in Fox's confectionery.
She was amiable, attractive and estimable girl.
Young Kuney was a person of nervous temperament, and of late has been continually brooding over hisill-starred love affair.
The funeral of Nelson Kuney will be held at his parent's home in Madison at 10 o'clock Tuesdaymorning, and at the Dover Center Church at 11 o'clock.
The obsequies of Miss Brainard will probably be observed on Wednesday, but the hour has not yet beenarranged.
Nelson C. Kuney
b. Nov. 3, 1871 in Madison Twp., Lenawee Co., Mi.
d. Sept. 24, 1893 in Lenawee Co., Mi.
Clara Maude Brainard
Francis Asbury Brainard Mary Alice Hall Brainard
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