Pearl Bryan didn’t deserve it! Part 4

Jadon Gibson

Sheriff Plummer and detectives Crim and McDermott felt they were “on a roll” and went to the home of Pearl Bryan’s parents outside of Greencastle, Indiana. It must have been between two and three o’clock, yet after a moderate delay they were welcomed in and taken into “a sitting room.”

The sheriff had a small carrying case with the clothing that Pearl Bryan was wearing the night of her murder. He opened it and removed the skirt.

“Oh, my poor Pearl,” her mother exclaimed immediately upon recognizing her daughter’s clothing even in the pale lantern light. She then cried. Sheriff Plummer felt he had best present the items, one after another, and Pearl’s sister readily said something about each item as she identified them as being her sister’s.

The mother offered that Pearl may have given the items to another girl who then was unfortunately killed. When the sheriff showed the two hairpins the mother cried convulsively. They had been the sister’s before she passed them on to Pearl. She knew her daughter was gone. The sheriff described the wart on her finger and the fused toes. It left no doubt. Their darling Pearl was dead.

Plummer hated to be the bearer of bad tidings but he was relieved that he knew the name of the victim and possibly that of her assailant. It was extremely late when the lawmen returned to their hotel. The last thing the sheriff did was send a telegram to Phillip Deitsch, Cincinnati Chief of Police. In it he identified the dead victim as Pearl Bryan of Greencastle, Indiana, and requested that his men arrest Scott Jackson, a student at Dental College of Ohio, and hold him for questioning. Likewise he told Chief Deitsch, if he could locate William Wood, to arrest and hold him for questioning.

William Wood, the son of a Methodist minister, was a second cousin to Pearl. His family lived near the Bryan farm. He and Pearl were near the same age and were in school together, even remaining close after graduating.

Scott Jackson was the son of a noted sea captain who took him on many voyages throughout the world. The Jackson’s oldest daughter married a Greencastle doctor. After the mariner died, the mother moved to Greencastle to be close to her daughter.

Her son Scott Jackson remained in New Jersey where he had found work as an assistant clerk in accounts receivable for the Pennsylvania Railroad. One of his jobs was to open the daily mail, tally the checks and prepare them for deposit. On weekends he accompanied his boss to the night life of Jersey City. After his boss noticed the young ladies were attracted to Scott Jackson the carousing became more frequent. It was an expensive habit. Not long thereafter they concocted a plan to steal funds for their nighttime carousing, weekend visits and wagering at the horse tracks. Eventually the thefts totaled well over $30,000 and this was at a time when a normal wage in America was about $5 a week. The books were audited when their active lifestyle came under scrutiny and their embezzlement was quickly discovered and prosecuted.

The trial ended in a hung jury but more evidence came forward against Jackson and he leaped at a plea deal, he would turn evidence against his older accomplice rather than move into “the big house” in an apartment of concrete and steel. He high-tailed it out of town and soon arrived in Greencastle, Indiana, to live with his mother and start anew. The folks in Indiana wouldn’t have heard of any of his activities in the east. It would have been looked on as small crime when looked at from a national perspective.

Jackson’s sister was the wife of a prominent doctor and professor at DePauw University. With connections such as this Scott was welcomed into the best homes of Greencastle. He decided to become a dentist and enrolled in the Indiana College of Dentistry in Indianapolis. He invited a newfound friend from Greencastle, William Wood, Pearl’s cousin, to come to visit him in Indianapolis.

Once in Indianapolis Scott resumed his former activity, carousing in bars…this time in the Indiana state capitol. Will Wood visited him regularly joining his nighttime adventures. When Scott returned to Greencastle for a visit Will introduced him to his cousin, Pearl Bryan. She was smitten by him. He was different from everyone she had met. He had an eastern charm and oft-used lines, lines that she fell for. Her parents, the Bryans, felt that Jackson had a good future, a good match for their youngest daughter. They approved of him visiting whenever he came home and even allowed them to visit in their “sitting room,” often to early morning hours. This was generally unacceptable to Indiana residents in their social standing in that era. Everyday life was much different then. Most of the conveniences of today were only dreams at that time. Copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson

Editor’s note: Things take a quick turn in the next segment of From the Mountains. Read more next week. Jadon Gibson is a freelance writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature and can be read periodically at Don’t miss a single posting!

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