The Woman Standing Nearby

From the Great Falls Tribune, October 17, 1919 –

The story of the world old tragedy of Cain and Abel is being vividly recalled this week in the district court of McCone County at Circle, Montana. It is true that a strict delineation of the biblical story is not being preserved but to make up for it in intensity of interest there is the usual woman in the case and the unwritten law is being invoked as justification for the taking of a brothers’ life.

Walter Swanson, a young man about 27 years of age, is on trial before a jury presided over by Judge Hurley, and is charged with the murder of his brother, Theodore Swanson, on April 18, last.

The killing took place at the homestead belonging to the mother of the two Swanson boys, located about four miles southwest of Sand Creek in northern McCone County. The dead man was about 32 years of age and was a widower with two children, who are being cared for by their grandmother.

The defendant, Walter, had been married about three years, his wife being the daughter of a well known woman now living at Brockway. The young couple lived at various places and spent last winter in Glendive, where Walter worked in the machine shops. The brother, Theodore, was an occasional boarder at the home.

It appears from time to time that the young man had suspected his brother of being infatuated with his wife, Dollie, and of being on more intimate terms with her than the rigid rules of ethics prescribe. It is said there had been several altercations over the matter, but no serious trouble had resulted.

When spingtime came Theodore went out to Sand Creek to put in a crop on the mother’s farm. Soon thereafter Mrs. Swanson announced that she was going to Brockway to visit with her mother. it was only a few days until Theodore came to Brockway and took her with him to the ranch to keep house for him during the farming season, and it is alleged by the neighbors that from that time up to the day of the murder they lived together as man and wife.

Word of this procedure finally reached Walter at Glendive. He resigned his position, armed himself with a revolver and took a train for Wolf Point. On the day of the shooting he walked from Wolf Point out to the neighborhood of his mothers’ ranch and took supper with a neighbor.

The evening repast over he started for the Swanson homestead with the intent, as he alleges, of inducing his wife to return with him. He claims that as he approached the shack he observed through the open door by the dim light both his wife and brother.

Theodore was in the act of washing and bathing after the work int he field and was stripped to the waist, the woman standing nearby preparing the evening meal. He claims he overheard an animated conversation between the two and learned that the talk was centered upon himself and that he was being roundly abused by the brother.

This so enraged him that he drew his gun, entered the doorway and called upon his wife to come out of the house. The frightened woman, with a scream, dashed past him.

(to be continued…)

‘The Woman Standing Nearby’

Camera: Argus/Cosina STL1000 (c1970)
Film: Kodak Eastman 250T (5294); x-mid 1980s

Circle, Montana


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