Commentary

Disciples


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Sunday, August 2, 1891

     Did not see W. today—but on my way to Philadelphia stopped at Post Office where they gave me a letter from Baker, reading thus:
Law Office, Robert G. Ingersoll
45 Wall Street
New York, Augt 1st 1891

My dear Traubel:

I write to reply to your message of the Lippincott of August—but I have, really, not the chance now, in detail, [illeg.]. I simply want to say that I have pondered your report of the W. W. celebration and I have no criticism to offer. It is unique, manly, descriptive to nature, and worthy of W. I wish I had been there to absorb it all.

The Col. is away. Won't be back till lst or 2d w'k Sept. But never mind. Things go on.

Yours always

Baker


Frightfully startled a few minutes later, looking through papers, with accounts of the tragic encounter at Croton: MAY PROVE A MURDER.
Anderson Claims He Shot Baker
to Prevent Being Wounded Himself.

Caused by Women's Tongues.
Had Mrs. Baker Let Her Husband and Anderson Alone and Not Said She Had Been Insulted, All Would Have Been Well.
Croton Landing, N.Y., Aug. 2. Nine-tenths of the inhabitants of this village, including the women and children, are to-day discussing the duel between Isaac Newton Baker and Orville Anderson, that took place yesterday on the main road leading to the Croton Dam. Of one thing all are agreed, and that is if Mrs. Baker had known enough not to interfere with two angry men, her husband would not be lying on what

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may prove his deathbed, and young Orville Anderson would not be a prisoner in jail.


Mr. Baker is 56 years old; his wife at two years younger. He is an expert stenographer. For more than twelve years he has been private secretary to Colonel Robert Ingersoll....

The Andersons are from Louisville.... [Mrs. Anderson] answered Mr. Baker's advertisement for half a house in the country, within easy distance of New York, and early in April Mr. and Mrs. Baker took possession of their half of the house under a verbal lease that was to be good for a year....

[E]arly last week Mr. Anderson wrote to Mr. Baker, telling him that he would like to terminate their agreement. It was late in the season and he could get no other tenant, but he would be pleased to pocket that loss, if Mr. and Mrs. Baker would leave. The letter was rather curt. In reply Mr. Baker said he had been put to considerable expense moving furniture and things to Croton, and he thought if he vacated the premises he was entitled to compensation.

The men had several arguments on the subject, but could come to no agreement....

The train that reaches Croton at 5.20 P.M. from New York carries the mail. It was by that train that Mr. Baker came home each evening.... Anderson was on his way to ask for letters when he met Baker, who was going home. Here is his version of what happened from the time they met until Baker was shot.

Anderson's Version.
"I was walking on the road, and Baker called me over to the sidewalk, and said: 'Let us finish our interrupted conversation of the other day.' I said: 'Yes, let us try and arrange things.' We were talking quite a little time. He angrily about our having broken faith with him, as he said, and I trying to pacify him.

"He had calmed considerably when Mrs. Baker, who had come to meet [him], and who had come up unseen by either of us, stepped up and said, 'That man insulted me this morning; he laughed in my face.' I did not deny it. It was a childish thing to do, but she had made herself intensely disagreeable, and I did 'ha ha' at her. Baker said something, I don't remember what, and pulled out his revolver.


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"Either he stepped behind his wife or she ran between us, for, by the time I had my pistol in my hand, and it did not take a second for me to get it, his hand holding the pistol over her arm or shoulder was pointing straight at me. I could not shoot for fear of hitting the woman, and jumped to one side. Our right arms crossed and I felt the muzzle of his pistol against my coat when I fired.

"I heard only one report. I felt that my revolver had missed fire and that I was wounded. I pulled the trigger again and again, each time hearing but one report. With the idea that my gun was no good, I dropped it and grabbed Baker's wrist. I thought I was hit and I did not know that I had wounded Baker. I turned his wrist up and shouted if he would drop his pistol, I would let him go. Just then Mrs. Baker grabbed me by the shoulders and we all fell together. Baker underneath and Mrs. Baker on top of me...."

Doctor T. J. Acker and C. P. Byington, of Croton, and Dr. W. Helm, of Sing Sing, are in attendance on Mr. Baker. They consider his condition serious, but say that he has a good chance for his life. He was stronger this evening than they expected he would be. The bone of his right arm is shattered by a bullet that went through the muscle and lodged in the flesh at the back. It has not yet been extracted, but has been located. Another bullet went through his left forearm and glanced upward. The third bullet, according to the doctor's diagnosis, entered the left side immediately over the region of the heart, and came out at the edge of the right armpit.

Anderson's weapon was a 32-calibre Smith & Wesson self-cocker. Baker's pistol was a 22-calibre nickel-plated, of a cheap pattern. It had not been discharged....

Mr. Baker took a turn for the worse at midnight. He was resting easily until shortly after 11 o'clock, when he commenced to spit blood, and the doctors...fear traumatic pneumonia. Should it set in, nothing can save him.

[Phila. Press, Aug. 3, 1891.]

Everybody I meet inquiring about it.

     Mailed papers (Posts) to Johnston last night.

     Quite a walk with Anne—to Grand Ave. bridge—where we took one of the Fairmont steamers—then to Riverside, from which point walked to Mt. Pleasant.


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