Edward D. “Ed” Neil

Birth
USA
Death 9 Oct 1891 (aged 24–25)
Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA
Burial Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA
Memorial ID 99436066 · View Source
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Edward D. Neil (probably not his real name) was convicted of the Februay 1, 1890 murders of Allan and Dorothy Jones at their farm home southwest of Omaha, Nebr. on October 25, 1890 and sentenced to hang. His attorney William F. Gurley appealed his conviction to the Nebraska Supreme Court but lost. He then attempted to persuade Governor Thayer to commute the sentence to life in prison on the grounds that the evidence used to convict Neil was circumstantial. Thayer reviewed the case and even visited Neil in jail but refused to commute his sentence. Three weeks before his execution Neil confessed to the crime to the county sheriff and confessed again on the scaffold minutes before his death. He was hanged at noon on October 9, 1891, at the age of 25 years. Birth year calculated from age at death. See the Morning World-Herald, October 10, 1891, pp. 1 & 2 for additional details and two pen and ink drawings of Neil.

Neil was received into the Catholic Church the day before his execution.

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Morning World-Herald (Omaha, Nebr.), October 8, 1891, p. 1, col. 7

NEIL IS RESIGNED

Father Rigge Believes Him Ready to Meet His Fate.

Father Rigge, who has acted as Neil's spiritual adviser for several months, will stand with Neil upon the scaffold. In speaking of the affair Father Rigge said:

"I greatly regret the painful duty that devolves upon me, but I feel it is a duty, and I do not shrink from it. Neil is a young man of more than ordinary ability. He has a fine mind, but his moral fiber has been deteriorated by his early reading of such writings as Voltaire and Tom Paine.

"He impresses me as being a young man who was early cast upon the world and allowed to grow up without guidance or advice – allowed to grow up wild like the weeds. With proper teaching he would have made a useful citizen. He is a great reader, and is fond of logical works, and I have supplied him with many books of this class. He has read them with avidity and I have spent many hours with him arguing questions from books that he has read. He is a ready reasoned and wonderfully quick to see a point.

"I have always avoided any reference to the crime when talking with him. I did not want to give him a chance to prevaricate to me. Whatever he has told me under seal of the confession is, of course, locked up in my breast. But Neil has never spoken to me of the crime.

"It is sad that a young man of Neil's ability should come to such a death, but it is the law. I favor capital punishment. It is in line with the divine command, and there are crimes where the death of the criminal at the hands of the law scarcely suffices. I think Neil is resigned to his fate and will face death without flinching."

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p. 2, col. 1

PREPARING FOR THE END

The Bishop Visits Neil - He Embraces Christianity

At 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon Neil was visited by Bishop Scannell, Fathers Colaneri and Rigge, and two Sisters of Charity from the Sacred Heart convent.

The usual religious ceremonies attendant embracing the Catholic faith were performed. Bishop Scannell received the prisoner's confession, after which the confirmatory services were held.

The Sisters of Charity decorated the altar placed at the east side of the cell with a white linen cloth. Upon this was placed two candles and three vases filled with flowers. On the wall near the cell door was placed a picture of the Virgin Mary.

Neil's demeanor during the religious experience was wholly that of a suppliant, and it is said that he evinced a great change of heart and participated fervently in the prayers offered in his behalf.

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Sunday World-Herald, October 11, 1891, p. 8, col. 3

THOUSANDS AT THE MORGUE

But Few Curious Ones at the Funeral of Murderer Neil.

The funeral of Ed Neil was held at St. Philomena's cathedral at 9 o'clock yesterday. The hearse, preceded by the funeral director's carriage, left Heafey's morgue shortly before that hour. At the corner of Ninth and Farnam streets a carriage containing Jo Clark, her landlady and another woman dropped in behind the hearse and followed it to the cathedral.

The Clark woman and her landlady were the only ones wearing mourning.

The casket was carried into the cathedral by the director assisted by the three carriage drivers.

On the coffin were floral devices of a cross, anchor and star placed there by the hand of Jo Clark.

The services at the church were very simple and quiet, consisting of a low requiem mass said by Father Rigge, who had been the spiritual adviser of Neil.

The congregation was small, composed chiefly of communicants who had lingered after the morning mass. A few persons only seemed to have been attracted by curiosity.

At the conclusion of the services the remains were followed to the cemetery of the Holy Sepulchre by the women named and by Fathers Rigge and McCarthy, and after a brief burial service, all that was mortal of the murderer of Allan and Dorothy Jones was consigned to the earth.

Before the corpse was taken to the cathedral the public was allowed to look at it again. Several hundred persons filed through the morgue to look on the dead face.

The numbers of persons who saw Neil's remains at the morgue Friday afternoon was 23,000.

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Morning World-Herald, February 12, 1892, p. 4, col. 7

HIS GRAVE MARKED "WELLS"

The Last Resting Place of the Executed Murderer Neil is Designated.

………………………………………

CHARLES E. WELLS
BORN April 13, 1866
DIED October 9, 1891

………………………………………

This is the inscription on a tablet in the Holy Sepulchre cemetery, west of the city, over the grave in which the body of the executed murderer, Ed Neil, is supposed to rest.

The word "supposed" is used advisedly, for the sexton admits that for fear medical students would resurrect it for a "subject" for dissection the grave was watched for a time and then the body was secretly removed to another grave and then taken back.

The stone which has recently been erected is in the form of a plain Roman cross, and is set in a blue stone base. It is said to have been erected by a woman in this city who was a friend of Neil, but upon this point also the sexton is an oyster.

Correspondence between a friend of Neil shortly prior to his execution led to the belief that he had come from Jackson county, Missouri, the home of the noted "Poke" Wells gang of outlaws, and that he had married and been divorced there.

It transpires that the reason the sexton knew nothing about the tombstone is that it was set-up in the night by persons unknown to him.


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  • Created by: Scott
  • Added: 23 Oct 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 99436066
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edward D. “Ed” Neil (1866–9 Oct 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 99436066, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Scott (contributor 47643415) .