Thursday, January 6, 2022

James Fisk, Jr., Shot -- January 6, 2022

Wheeling Daily Register, 08-January-1872

150 years ago today, on 06-Janury-1872, Edward Stokes shot his former partner Big Jim Fisk in Manhattan's Grand Central Hotel. Fisk died the next morning. Stokes was tried three times and eventually convicted of manslaughter. Stokes and Fisk's former mistress, Josie Mansfield, tried to blackmail Fisk with letters Fisk had written to Mansfield. Fisk had worked for Daniel Drew in their successful attempt to take over the Erie Railroad. Both men were deeply involved in corruption, but Fisk was respected by the common people of New York. 

New York, January 6. 
James Fisk, Jr., Shot.

Jas. Fisk, Jr., was shot by Ed. C. Stokes, his opponent in the well-known Fisk-Mansfield suit, at the Grand Central hotel, shortly after four o'clock this evening. Definite particulars of the shooting have not yet been ascertained, hut it is learned that Fisk has received three shots in the breast, and is now believed to be dying. His wife, who is in Boston, has been telegraphed for, to come on to this city immediately. Coroner Young has been notified to proceed to the hotel and take an ante-mortem deposition.

An urgent telegram has been sent to Mrs. Fisk at Boston, requesting her to come on, if necessary in a special train. Mrs. Hooker, Fisk's sister, to whom he is so deeply attached, arrived at the hotel shortly after the occurrence, and at once installed herself as nurse. Her presence seemed to greatly relieve the wounded man. Mrs. Stokes, who is a very estimable lady, is said be in Paris. The American Press reporter visited Mr. Stokes in his cell. The prisoner was found lying on a hard couch. In answer to the inquiry whether he wished to make a statement, he said, in a good-natured tone, "I am sorry that I cannot gratify your laudable curiosity ; but I have just had a consultation with my counsel, and his special request was that I should make no response to the reporters or even to the coroners."

The witnesses detained by the coroner are Thomas Hart, a guest of the hotel, the stage driver of the hotel, the door-keeper, and one of the bell boys.

At 11 o'clock this evening Fisk was sleeping under the influence of morphine with his pulse beating at 75. One of the physicians is of the opinion that the wound will not prove fatal, but his confreres are of opinion that the patient can't possibly recover. The shooting was doubtless caused by the way things were going in Court. The case at Yorkville this morning went against Stokes and it was intimated that the Grand Jury would probably indict both Stokes and Mrs. Mansfield as blackmailers. The wound is of a terrible nature. The pistol is a large-sized revolver and the wound is like that of a ball from a Minie rifle. The doctors have very little hopes of recovering the ball and mortification it is expected will set in. Fisk took his injuries bravely, never flinching from the sharp probe of the surgeon in the vain attempt to find the ball.

Later. -- The whole community was thrown into a state of excitement at a late hour this evening bv the intelligence that Col. Jas. Fisk, Jr., had been shot, and probably fatally wounded by E. C. Stokes. It appears that after the examination of the Fisk Mansfield case, this afternoon, Stokes left court room in a carriage and proceeded to the neighborhood of the Grand Opera House, in Twenty-third street, where he remained for some time. Shortly after Mr. Fisk left the Erie office in the Opera House building, entering his carriage. Stokes did not follow him, but immediately drove to the Grand Central Hotel, which he was seen to enter at about 3:30. Fisk's carriage arrived at ten minutes after four, and the Colonel alighted at the ladies' entrance to pay a visit to Miss Morse. He was ascending the stairs leisurely, when he discovered Stokes standing at the head of the stairs with a pistol in his hand. The door keeper states that almost immediately two shots were fired, and that Fisk leaned against the wall, saying "I am hurt; I am badly wounded." Stokes waited some seconds at the head of the stairs, then turned and walked coolly to ihe ladies' parlor, where he threw his pistol on a sofa, and then quietly descended the staircase leading to the office. The clerks and proprietor had heard the report, and were on the alert. As Stokes passed the office he turned towards Mercer street, exclaiming, "I guess there's somebody hurt upstairs, and then broke into a run towards a barber shop. The proprietor of the hotel shouted, "Stop that man!" to the hall-boys and porters, who started after Stokes, catching him just as he was turning into the barber shop, and brought him back and detained him till an officer arrived, when he was taken to the fiiteenth precinct station house and locked up in the captain's room.

A number of guests, porters, &c., meanwhile arrived at the scene of the tragedy, and Col. Fisk was lifted up and carried to room No. 113, where he was laid on a sofa. He was very cool and collected, and gave hasty instructions to send for a number of persons. In a few minutes he was undressed and had at his bedside Doctors Foster, Wood, Fryhlen, Taylor, White and Marsh. Severai other physicians arrived later. On examining the wounded man, the right arm was found shot through, and a wound was discovered three inches above the navel and two inches to the right of the medium line downwards, at an angle of forty-five degrees. The wound was probed, but the surgeons failed to discover the ball. The chances were pronounced to be against the Colonel's recovery, and his death from exhaustion or peritonitis is deemed probable. The wounded man heard the decision calmly, and immediately sent for David Dudley, who on arrival drew up Fisk's will, which was duly attested. Callers now began to pour in. one of the first being Wm. M. Tweed, who remained with him till a late hour. Jay Gould, Peter B. Sweeney, Miss Morse and her mother, whom he had come to visit, and several of Mr. Fisk's family were the only persons admitted to the dying man's chamber, but messages were sent flying all over our city and in every direction.

At a quarter of five, after the occurrence, the hotel was thronged by the multitude for intelligence, and a large force of police was detailed to preserve order and to prevent intruders from penetrating the wounded man's chamber. Nearly every politician of note in the city was in the vicinity of the building during the evening. At 6 o'clock Superintendent Kelso, learning that Fisk's case was desperate, telegraphed to the twenty-eighth precinct station house for Coroner Young, who arrived and immediately proceeded to take the Colonel's ante-mortem statement. The following is an ante-mortem deposition of Jas. Fisk, Jr. Being sworn, he says: I feel I am in a very critical condition; I hope I will recover. This afternoon at 4:10 I drove up to the Grand Central Hotel; I entered by a private entrance, and when I entered the first door I met a boy of whom I inquired if Miss Morse was in; he told me Mrs. Morse aod her youngest daughter had gone out, but he thought the other daughter was in her grandmother's room. I asked him to go up and tell the daughter that I was there. I came through the outer door and was going up stairs, and had gone up about two steps, when on looking up I saw Ed. Stokes at the head of the stairs. As soon as I saw him I noticed that he had something in his hand, and in a second of time I heard a pistol, saw a flash and felt a ball enter my abdomen on the right side. The second shot was fired immediately after, which entered my left arm. When I received the first shot I staggered and ran towards the door, but noticing a crowd gathering in front I ran back on the stairs again. I was brought up stairs in the hotel. I saw nothing more of Stokes till he was brought before me by the officers for identification. I fully identify Edward Stokes as the person who shot me.
[Signed] Jas. Fisk, Jr.

The jury found a verdict in accordance with the facts.

New York, January 7, 2 a. m. -- At one o'clock this morning Col. Fisk was in a sound sleep, anodynes having been administered to him. About midnight a consultation of physicians was held, and they decided not to attempt to probe the wound again, for fear inflammation would set in. The wound is healthy in appearance and no blood is passed by the victim. At eight o'clock to-morrow morning another consultation will be held. Dr. Carrectan states that the wound is very critical, but there are hopes of his recovery, as all the symptoms are favorable. A crowd surrounds the station where Stokes is confined.

Wheeling Daily Register, 08-January-1872

Death of Col. Fisk.

New York, January 7. -- Col. Jim Fisk, Jr., died at 11 o'clock this morning from the injuries received yesterday afternoon at the hands of Ed. Stokes. Early this morning the first ominous change appeared in the patient's condition. He had lain upon his side during the entire night, breathing heavily, but up to 6 o'clock he had not developed any alarming symptoms save that around his eyes were dusky rings that seemed to show some danger. About six he grew a little restless ; his face assumed greater pallor, and his breathing was less easy and regular. On feeling his pulse, Dr. Fisher found it had grown more rapid, marking one hundred.

A half hour later Col. Fisk said something in a broken tone, and then closed his eyes. The change in his face had grown more apparent; the pallor was more death-like, and the moisture appeared upon his forehead. His pulse was over one hundred, and the physicians stood by the bedside watching the patient anxiously. At 7 o'clock it was first announced that the danger of his demise was very great, and when, a quarter of an hour later, his wife with her father and one or two friends arrived, the doctors could give her but little hope.

Long after the usual hour Saturday night the hallways, corridors and parlors of the Grand Central Hotel were thronged by eager crowds, anxious to obtain the latest particulars regarding the dying prince. The solicitude evinced for the restoration of the heir to the English throne could not be more sincere than that for Jim Fisk. Men of sterling worth in business circles and in the professions declared that few could be so badly spared as he, and spoke with the utmost concern of the great and positive loss to the community which his death would occasion.

Frequently during the night waiters and officers of the house were sent to seek chamber No. 214, and returned with cheering news of the condition of the sufferer. Gradually, however, when it became known that he slept and that no important change was expected during the night, the least interested watchers thought it most prudent to retire to their homes and await the result that the wound might bring forth. Unfortunately his condition verified the predictions of the most ill foreboding. At 11 o'clock a consultation of the most distinguished surgeons resulted in a conclusion which, though not positively holding out to any certainty, was regarded as of good omen and favoring the possibility of escape. Drs. Wood, Sayers, Crane, Steele and Fisher made a most careful examination of the wound and finding that the bullet had passed far beyond reach did not dare to continue to probe for it. The ball was extracted from his arm about the bend of the elbow; it was a most murderous missile; was as large a? a rifle ball and had been discharged from a navy Colt revolver, four-barreled, and is now in possession of the coroner who will produce it at the inquest.

The intense agony endured during the surgical examination was relieved by opium and morphine. The relief from the powerful action of the drug was instantaneous, and whenever its effects were dying out the patient craved for nn increased supply. Under its influence he dropped into a heavy slumber, and it was arranged that the doctors should watch by the bedside of Fink during the night. None were admitted to the room save the necessary attendants, and his immediate friends retired. The sufferer was awakened every half hour, and a little water administered, after which he would immediately relapse in his death-like sleep. At 4 A. M. he awoke of himself and designated his condition as very comfortable. He attempted to rise on his pillow for the purpose of more comfortable adjustment, and upon being enjoined of the necessity to keep absolutely quiet and immovable, he smilingly remarked that it was rather hard, but supposed he would have to submit. Dr. Fisher described his demeanor as most stoical and appearing utterly indifferent to the danger. The medical attendants sought to avoid conversation, and with a view of quieting his patient answered in monosyllables the questions put by him about the crowd, the excitement and the manner in which his wounding was received by the public; he did not once allude to Stokes, and after a broken conversation of this character had continued for about a quarter of an hour he aroused as if from a deep thought, and turning eagerly to the physicians, asked, "Do you think it an even thing that I will live?" Dr. Fisher, wishing to encourage him, replied, "Most assuredly I do; and if you only keep up the courage and manly fortitude you have hitherto exhibited, there can be no doubt of your recovery." Gratified by the favorable views, Col. Fisk appeared to settle down in a peaceful sleep; a few minutes passed and the watchful doctor detected heavy, stentorious breathing, which was not auspicious; placing his hand on the shoulder of the patient, he endeavored to arouse him. He rolled his head from side to side and adopted all the expedients be could resort to for the purpose of awakening him, but to no purpose. The state of comatose became more confirmed, and an examination of the dilated pupils of the eyes showed they were irresponsive to the light. Dr. White came in this moment and having consulted for a moment with Dr. Foster, he was of opinion that death must immediately ensue, at the farthest within a few hours. Messengers were at once dispatched, and the telegraph brought into requisition to summon his friends and relatives. In the meantime no effort was spared to break up his insensible condition, and though the physicians knew what was to be expected, they labored steadily till death seized the victim, at 10.47 in the morning. At different times between 4:30 and the moment of dissolution, his relations and friends were constantly arriving, among them being Mrs. Fisk, who had been hastily summoned from Boston; a female friend, Mrs. Harriet; Col. Fisk's brothers-in-law, Messrs. Sanderson and Asterin; Mr. Baldwin, surgeon of the Ninth regiment, and others. Mrs. Fisk was entirely overcome and had to be borne into the sitting room attached to the bedchamber where every attention that could be paid was devoted to her further relief. By her urgent request she was led back to the bedside of her husband, and was present when he breathed his last.

Within a brief time news of his death was known all over the city, and an immense crowd gathered in the vicinity of the hotel. Police were stationed at the bottom of the main stairway of the hotel, and no one was permitted to enter without permission from the proprietor, until the remains had been prepared by the undertaker. A plain, rosewood casket was prepared in which the remains were placed. The face looked as natural as in life ; no expression of pain was visible, and his moustache was waxed, &c., precisely as when the Colonel was alive. The body was laid out in state for some time, and the public were allowed to view the remains during the afternoon. The body was removed from the hotel to the late residence of Mr. Fisk. At 9 o'clock to-night a post mortem examination of the remains was made. The funeral takes place to-morrow from St. Mark's Church, and the remains will be conveyed to Brattleboro, Vt., for interment.

Stokes was removed to the Tombs this morning where he is now confined. The building is guarded by a strong force of police, the idea having gained credit that the members of the Ninth regiment, of which the deceased was Colonel, would attempt to lynch the prisoner. Stokes will not see any reporters, and remains silent on the subject of the murder. He thinks he will be out of prison before three weeks are over.

The murder was the all-absorbing topic of conversation in the city today, and in the streets and railroad cars and places of public resort no other subject was thought of. At the Grand Opera House and other offices of the Erie Railroad flags were displayed at half mast, and on every side expressions of sympathy for the victim were to be heard.

Considerable anxiety was felt to night in regard to the safety of Stokes. At times it was rumored that a large body of employes of the Erie railroad would come to the city and attempt to lynch him; also that members of the Ninth regiment would sack Mrs. Mansfield's house. General Shaler, commander of the National Guards, had an interview with the police authorities this evening. A large force of police was sent to Mrs. Mansfield's house with instructions to admit no one to the premises nor permit Mrs. M. to depart. The Tombs is also strongly guarded and by to-morrow it is thought the popular indignation against the murderer will have subsided. The driver of the coach which took Stokes to the Grand Central Hotel has been found, and not the slightest evidence is lacking to convict the murderer. The will of Col. Fisk was made public this evening. He leaves the bulk of his property to his wife; to his father and mother he leaves each an annuity of $3000 ; to his sister he leaves $100,000 in stock of the Narragansett Steamship company, and $2000 per annum to each of the Morris sisters until such time as they marry. The funeral services will commence at half past one o'clock, and it is expected that the entire First Division will follow the remains, although no official programme has been made public.

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