When last we met, recently convicted murderer Quincy Cramblett had been granted a new trial, originally set for October 15, 1900, but would actually begin on October 22, 1900.
THIS is where Ross P. Frederick, my second great-grandfather and the seventh Juror in the title, comes in. The tree below shows how we are related:
“Many are called, but few are chosen as jurors in the Cramblett trial” ran the headline of a Steubenville Herald-Star newspaper story from October 25, 1900. “The twelve good men and true who are to try Quincey Cramblett for his life, have not yet been secured. At 2:30 o’clock this afternoon, only eight jurors were in the box, but the prospects are that the jury will be secured either this afternoon or tomorrow.” The sixty farmers summoned from Ohio’s Island Creek, Cross Creek, and Salem townships as potential jurors were whittled down. Old age and strong opinions, among other reasons, kept some from becoming jurors. Ross P. Frederick, a farmer from Island Creek township was selected because, “He said he had never served on a jury, and knew very little of the case, having only read three copies of the Herald Star which he borrowed from a neighbor,” stated the article. This was a feat in itself. The first trial had been well attended and publicized, becoming a National news story. To “know very little” of it, one would have to have been very good at minding their own business. Either way, Ross P. Frederick was named the seventh juror in the trial of Quincy Cramblett.
The morning of October 22, 1900, the Jury members who had already been selected as well as a few witnesses arrived at the Court house…and waited. Judge Mansfield, due to open court, did not arrive. He had made no public announcement that he would be absent. Finally, Judge Jesse W. Hollingsworth arrived in the city and it was announced that, to everyone’s surprise including all attorneys, he would be trying the case in place of Judge Mansfield, who was unable to attend due to personal family matters. Hollingsworth was described as a large, white haired and mustachioed man who was popular and impressive in manner.
Quincy Cramblett arrived looking thinner and paler than the last time the public saw him, but his nonchalant manner had not changed. His parents sat behind him in court, this being the first time his mother would make a court appearance. Cramblett also had two new attorneys representing him this go ’round: Emmett E. Erskine and Dio Rogers.
This time, the Defense ramped up its attack on Jeff Rainbow, one of the two alternative suspects it had thrown in the mix last time. This time they outwardly stated that Rainbow was the murderer instead of Cramblett. They argued that Jeff Rainbow and his father Sam had held grudges against Gosnell for years. Several witnesses were called to testify about his actions and behavior the night of the murder as well as their personal opinions of him (questions of this nature were consistently objected to by the State). Despite the objections, several witnesses would testify to seeing Rainbow out riding his horse the night of the murder. Jeff Rainbow’s mother would testify that she was at home when she heard the shots and went out on to the porch to see what was going on. She heard the Gosnell women’s screams and saw a horse coming quickly down the road from that direction. She said Jeff had been away from home that afternoon, but that he later came to the house and told her the news. The Defense asked what time that was, the State objected, and Mrs. Rainbow would never answer the question.
When it was time for Cora Gosnell to take the stand, Cramblett was described as expressionless as he watched her. She would elaborate on their romance. After their older brother Charley had married and left the home, Cramblett had taken to accompanying the girls to church, a situation their father was pleased with, by all accounts. A year before the murder, while returning home from church one day on horseback, Cramblett proposed to Cora for the first time. They had been speaking of Cora’s brother’s marriage and Cramblett segued this into a conversation about their own. Cora, about 16 years old at the time and experiencing her first marriage proposal, refused fearing that her father would object. Her oldest sister had married without the approval of their father and it had caused great turmoil in the family that she did not want to experience again. She would refuse all of his subsequent proposals for the same reason.
The Monday morning before the murder, she met Cramblett at the cow field gap. Still atop her horse, she leaned down to Cramblett and he kissed her. He proposed again with promises that he would take care of her and treat her well. When she refused again, he proposed that they kill themselves in a double suicide. She refused. He pleaded that she meet him on Saturday night (the night of the murder) and she refused this, too, thinking that her parents would not like it. She would confirm in court that indeed she had loved Quincy as he loved her, though she couldn’t remember if she had ever told him so.
On the night of the murder, Cora asked first responder Jeff Rainbow to get Cramblett, but he wouldn’t arrive until 1:00 or 2:00 A.M., roughly 5 hours after the murder. When he did, she said she threw her arms around him, sobbing. They went in together to see the body. Quincy would stay all night, but did not ask any questions about the murder nor would examine the window through which Gosnell was shot (though she would also say that she didn’t notice any other neighbors doing this, either). Mr. David Gutshall, a neighbor who arrived after Rainbow but before Cramblett, would later testify that he did notice neighbors checking the window, but said Cramblett did not. He said that Cramblett was not afraid to go outside like some of the other neighbors were, considering a murderer was on the loose.
The Gosnell’s old shepherd dog would sometimes bark at strangers, but Cora recalled that she had not heard him bark that night.
Ex-Coroner J.A Fisher testified that he measured both the tracks near the fence, suspected to be that of the murderer’s horse, and later the tracks made by Quincy Cramblett’s horse after he saw him out riding. They matched exactly. He later found out that Cramblett’s horse had a shoe missing. He went back and examined the assassin’s horse tracks and notice a shoe missing with a piece broken out of the hoof. He examined Cramblett’s horse’s feet and found they matched. The former Coroner stated that he had not examined anyone else’s horses but Cramblett’s. Deputy Sheriff D.S. Masters testified that he spoke with Quincey before his arrest and let him know that his horse’s feet matched the tracks outside Gosnell’s and whether he knew that people suspected him. He said Cramblett replied that his horse may have been there, but he was not. Cramblett also denied to Masters that either of the Gosnell girls was his sweetheart and that their relationship was strictly neighborly.
30 or so character witnesses, including a couple reverends, would consistently testify to Quincy Cramblett being of good reputation with a character that was peaceful, quiet, and humane. Some had attended Sunday school with him in the past.
The cross-fire/left handed shooting argument came in to play again. With the assassin being assumed to have shot right handed, this was a major point of Cramblett’s defense. Harry Paxton testified that he had known Cramblett for 15 years and that he always shot left handed, though he admitted on cross examination that Cramblett was right handed when he worked. 8 other witnesses, including the constable and the marshal of Smithfield, testified to Cramblett shooting left handed. One of the witnesses stated Cramblett shot this way because he couldn’t shut one of his eyes.
Finally, on November 10, 1900, with the State and Defense having rested, the Jury would make their decision. The trial had lasted 3 weeks, but it only took 4 hours for the Jury to decide Cramblett’s fate: Not guilty. Cheers went up in the courtroom after the verdict was read and people began to line up to shake Cramblett and his attorneys’ hands. News spread through the streets. This was the verdict most had been waiting for, the majority of public support having gone to Cramblett throughout the entirety of his arrest and trials.
This was the verdict that seemed inevitable. Statistically, 9 out of 10 people in Jefferson County accused of murder would be acquitted. The very strong reactions against convicting someone without physical evidence and distaste for capital punishment attest to why the scales would generally sway that way. Truly, it makes me feel good when reading about the case, that the people of Jefferson County (and, I’m hoping, my ancestor included) saw the need for solid evidence when a man’s life was on the line.
The trial had been the longest on record for Jefferson County and, in fact, it had depleted it monetarily. The two trials cost the county about $10,000 (about $300,000 in today’s coin).
9 out of 10 lawyers believed the evidence pointed to Cramblett’s guilt, while the public generally thought him innocent.
So what happened to the major players afterwards?
Jeff Rainbow: Though the Defense had accused him of being the murderer outright during the second trial, he would never be arrested or charged after Cramblett’s acquittal. Ultimately, it appeared to be more of a clever defense tactic than a serious accusation. The public honestly did not believe that Rainbow had anything to do with the murder and nothing was pursued. Rainbow would continue living a normal life with his large family and died at the age of 86.
Cora Gosnell: The question on everyone’s lips after Cramblett’s acquittal: Will Cora Gosnell now marry Quincy Cramblett? The answer was a resounding no. Though the members of the Gosnell family who testified tended to speak positively of Cramblett when on the stand, they were said to be afraid of him outside of court. Newspapers after the second trial reported that the Gosnell family feared for their lives after Cramblett’s release and generally believed him to be guilty. Whether this was true or not, Cora would not go on to marry Quincy. Instead, 5 years after Cramblett’s acquittal, she would marry her cousin George Gosnell and have a son with him. She died at age 79 in 1962.
Quincy Cramblett: 9 years after he was acquitted, Cramblett married Nannie Caldwell, about 20 years his junior. That marriage produced a son and lasted 4 years, ending in her death in 1913. Cramblett then married a woman named Jennie Blackburn, a marriage that would last until his death. Cramblett passed away in 1947 at age 79.
As for my 2nd great grandfather, Ross P. Frederick, well that’s a story for a different day…
“Many Are Called but Few Are Chosen as Jurors in the Cramblett Trial.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 25 Oct. 1900, p. 5.
“Cramblett on Trial for the Murder of James Gosnell.” The Steubenville Herald-Star, 2 Apr. 1900, pp. 5–8.
“Cramblett’s Love Affairs.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 29 Oct. 1900, p. 5.
“Horse Tracks Near the Gosnell House Are Described by Defendant’s Witnesses.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 1 Nov. 1900, p. 5.
“The Evidence Submitted in the Cramblett Murder Trial.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 30 Oct. 1900, pp. 4–5.
“State Rests in the Cramblett Murder Trial This Morning.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 31 Oct. 1900, pp. 2–5.
“Unsatisfactory Verdict.” The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, 10 Apr. 1900, p. 1.
“The Jurymen in Cramblett Murder Trial Will Lose Their Votes.” The Steubenville Herald-Star , 5 Nov. 1900, pp. 2–5.