Maggie Cox’ husband, Elmer Ellsworth Barner, executed for murder
Elmer E Barner
born: 13 June 1865 Susquehanna, Juniata, Pennsylvania
died: 23 July 1901 Harrisburg, Dauphin, Pennsylvania
Elmer E Barner was hanged in the jail yard at Harrisburg at 10:10 o’clock Tuesday morning for the murder of his brother-in-law, Isaac Miller in Halifax, Dauphin, Pa. 15 Jan 1900. He and Miller married sisters and lived as neighbors in Halifax for nine years prior to the spring of 1899, when Barner removed to South Dakota. While there he formed an opinion that his wife had not been true to him and like all similar delusions, the more he brooded over it, the more positive he became that Miller had seduced his wife.
To set matters right, she agreed to come back to Dauphin County with him. They arrived at Millersburg, this county, 15 January 1900 from where they went across the county to Miller’s home, after the children had gone to bed. Barner unburdened his mind. Miller, entirely innocent as is generally believed, indignantly denied Barner’s charges when the latter drew a revolver and shot him dead.
He was arrested, tried and convicted. Nothing else but conviction could be expected, so unmistakable and unjustifiable was his crime. A new trial was refused, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court where the judgment of the lower court was confirmed and as a last effort to save the man’s life, the case was taken to the Board of Pardons, who refused to commute the sentence.
His execution was without incident save the indifference with which he met his fate. Accompanied by his spiritual advisor, Rev. Isaac W Bagley, dressed in the same suit that he wore when he shot Miller. He slept well during the night and for breakfast, drank a glass of milk and ate some ice. The balance of the time preceding his execution was occupied with Rev. Bagley in prayer and song, the last hymn they sang being “In the Sweet By and Bye”
By his request, the officers did not handcuff him in the march to the gallows. He made no dying statement and his death was due to strangulation, so pronounced by the physician in attendance fifteen minutes after the trap door had been sprung by Sheriff Reiff. Barner’s brother and sisters came to see him Tuesday but none witnessed the execution. His father died at his home near Liverpool, this county, last January. At the same hour, his sister, Mrs Grisom, died in Rye, New York. Both bodies were buried on the same day at Barner’s Cemetery in Liverpool Twp.
Elmer Barner was born in Susquehanna, Juniata, Pennsylvania. His parets were Mr and Mrs Henry Barner, highly respected citizens. He and Maggie Cox were married 24 Dec 1889, her father being Thomas Cox, a well known citizen of Seven Stars, Juniata County, adjoining the Perry County line. Isaac Miller and Sarah A Cox, Mrs Barner’s sister, were married 27 Feb 1876 by Rev A Stapleton. The body of Barner was buried yesterday in Barner Cemetery near Liverpool.
The close student of human beings has little doubt that Elmer E Barner had an insane delusion when he came all the way from South Dakota to kill his brother-in-law, Isaac Miller. If anything were wanted to confirm this belief, it was his mental condition at the time of his execution. He was an impotent child but he was without fear. He expressed no regret for his awful deed, had no sorrow, no sentiment in his impotent soul, but indifferently went to his death without affection for those living whom he should have loved and with suppressed hate for every person that ever impeded his selfish course in life, real or imagined.
While it was quite difficult to prove him insane from the standpoint of stereotyped medical jurisprudence, he was doubtless possessed of an insane delusion. In the hurly burly of his untutored intellect, the probable inheritance of generations of antecedent indifference and neglect, we imagined that he gleefully killed after traveling hundreds of miles with no other purpose in view.
Source: Newport News 25 July 1901 on microfilm at Perry Historians, Lenig Library in New Bloomfield, Perry, Pa.