Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President, Transmitted to Congress December 2, 1895, Part II
Mr. Uhl to Mr. Young.
Washington, July 2, 1895.
Sir: I inclose for your information and files a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy of March 28, 1895, covering a full report of the commander of the U. S. S. Montgomery of his investigation of the killing of Mr. Charles W. Renton at Brewers Lagoon, Honduras.
The Department suggests your careful perusal of this report.
Upon the expiration of your present leave of absence you will proceed, en route to your post, to Tegucigalpa, and there learn as to the present status of the case all that you may be able, and personally impress upon the authorities of Honduras the confident hope of the President that the persons implicated in the murder of Mr. Renton may be speedily brought to trial and, upon conviction, made to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. The President has reason to feel a deep concern at the apparently unnecessary delay which has been permitted in this case. His just expectation now is that the Government of Honduras will act promptly and energetically in bringing to justice all persons guilty of this atrocious murder.
You will urge these views upon the Government of Honduras and report fully the situation there.
I am, etc.,
Commander Davis to the Secretary of the Navy.
Sir: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the Department’s order of February 19, and the subsequent telegram of February 26, I left Mobile on the afternoon [Page 891] of March 1. The weather was bad on that day, and as it was raining hard and very thick it was necessary to proceed with the utmost caution in the river and dredged channels, so that I did not reach the lower bay until after dark. The wind was blowing a gale from the southeast, and the sea breaking heavily on the bar, so I judged it prudent to anchor in the lower bay, and I did not get to sea until the morning of March 3. I reached Truxillo on the morning of March 7. Immediately upon my arrival I proceeded with the business of investigation in the Renton case. I appointed a board of three officers to assist me in collecting evidence, and in all cases in which it was possible and witnesses were willing to be sworn I took testimony myself under oath, availing myself of the authority conferred by General Order No. 441, of January 29, 1895, and submitting these sworn statements to the board. Their report is based mainly upon this sworn testimony. In no case did a witness object to testify under oath.
During my stay at Truxillo the official courtesies were exchanged. I visited the governor, who is a civilian acting in the temporary absence of the military commandante, and he returned my visit on the following day, and was shown over the ship. Among the papers at the United States consular agency at Truxillo is a copy of the will of the late Mr. Charles W. Renton, in which mention is made of the record of his title to his property at Brewers Lagoon. Before leaving Truxillo I deemed it advisable to ascertain if this record existed at Truxillo. I therefore called upon the governor for this information. This was the first intimation I had given the governor of the object of my visit to Honduras, though he must have become aware of it through common report. I found that no record of title existed in Truxillo. Mr. Renton held his land under a concession of the Government. His title was what is known as an agricultural title. The land had been part of the public domain, and the mere act of settlement was in itself a title during occupation, conferring, however, no right to sell or bequeath. Still, I am of the opinion that some record of Mr. Renton’s concession might be found at Tegucigalpa.
On the day before my departure from Truxillo I received, through the United States consular agent, a message from the governor to the effect that he hoped to see me again before I sailed. I waited upon him immediately. Upon the occasion of his visit to the ship he had informed me that he would telegraph the fact of my presence in Truxillo to the President of the Republic, and I had begged him to convey to the President the expression of my respects and compliments. He now showed me a complimentary telegram from the President, directed to me through himself, and he then informed me that he had received another telegram from the President directing him to commence at once a new judicial proceeding in the Renton case.
In the conversation that followed the governor admitted to me voluntarily, that the previous investigation or investigations of the affair had been one-sided and partial, and that no witnesses had been examined except those who would testify in favor of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, either through interest or intimidation. The governor also asked me if I would carry with me to Brewers Lagoon an officer to be detailed by him to conduct an investigation in my presence. This I refused to do. I had full confidence in my own power to collect sufficient information to place the facts in the hands of the Department, unaided by any act of the Honduras Government. I reminded the governor that I had made no request or demand upon him for any action in the matter and that such steps as the Government might now see fit to take would be regarded by me as purely voluntary and as evidence of a friendly desire on its part to fulfill the obligations of the treaty with the United States. I had already collected enough evidence in Truxillo to convince me that the murder of Mr. Renton was a deliberate and brutal crime, and that, up to the present time, at least, there had been a persistent effort on the part of most of the foreigners on the coast and on the part of the Government authorities to excuse and justify this outrage upon an American citizen. I ascribe this effort (and I think the evidence justifies the assumption) to the fact that the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company was not only the wealthiest and most prosperous concern on the coast, but that they had, by a course of high-handed lawlessness and perversion of justice to a certain extent terrorized the whole coast, so that even in Truxillo people were afraid to openly condemn their acts. But their career of domination seems to be near its close. Only two weeks before my arrival at Truxillo Fernando Eude, a leading member of the firm and one of the four murderers of Mr. Renton, had deliberately shot and killed the captain of a British schooner from Belize on the quarter-deck of his own vessel at Brewers Lagoon in a quarrel over a question of money amounting to about $30, and later in the same day he and Dawe (the manager of the company) had returned to the schooner, and, intimidating the crew with their pistols, had taken the body of the murdered captain into their canoe, carried it ashore, and buried it on their stronghold at Cannon Cay. Up to this time his murderous enterprises had taken the safe form of attacks on the defenseless Indians or the assassination and abduction of American citizens, but as this latest victim was a British subject Mr. Eude though, it prudent to abscond, and is now a fugitive [Page 892] in Nicaragua. Another brother and member of the company, Leo Eude, a resident of Truxillo, was arrested the day before I left Truxillo for smuggling. This man had been the company’s agent with the authorities. During the investigation of Mr. Kenton’s murder the commandante under whose authority the investigation was held, and whose power in the province is supreme, was a guest in Leo Eude’s house. The inference is sufficiently obvious, and the arrest of this man for the simple offense of smuggling would seem to indicate that the power of the company is on the wane. I mention these circumstances as having only an indirect bearing on the question under investigation, but as serving to establish the character of the perpetrators of the outrage upon Mr. Renton. The governor, in commenting on these crimes, intimated that the time had come when the Government must call the company to account. I had ascertained that it would be necessary for me to touch at Port Bur-chard and Tocomache on my way to Brewers Lagoon, in order to find certain witnesses whose testimony was of extreme importance to a clear understanding of the case. The governor was earnest in his solicitations that I would take his officer on board, and after discussing the question, and upon mature deliberation, I decided to assent to the governor’s offer so far as to carry this officer to Port Burchard, upon the distinct understanding that I did so at the governor’s own solicitation and as a compliment to him, and that I disclaimed all desire or intention of thereby interfering with or dictating to the Government in a proceeding which it voluntarily undertook, or of seeking the assistance of the Honduras Government in the prosecution of my investigation. There is no regular means of communication between places on this coast, and the officer’s journey would be indefinitely delayed, and I reflected that the proximity of a magistrate might facilitate the investigation on my own part at Port Burchard and Brewers Lagoon. Accordingly, upon my departure from Truxillo I received this officer on board, and landed him within a few hours on the same day at Port Burchard. This officer’s status was that of justice of the peace (juiz de paz), and his mission was to take testimony in the Renton case and to assist me in the collection of information should I call upon him to do so. I found no occasion to avail myself of his services and no difficulty in collecting sufficient evidence to make the case clear, and I had no further communication with him after landing him at Port Burchard (where I only stayed an hour) until my return to that place (where I had to touch again before final departure in order to discharge my Carib surfman), when he called upon me and offered his further services, which I declined. I consider that the act of the Government in placing this officer at my disposal was evidence of a desire to facilitate the object of my voyage and of a conciliatory spirit toward the United States, and in fact I consider that the moral effect of the presence of this ship on the Honduras coast has been extremely good.
As I had no great confidence that the steps proposed by the Government would lead to serious results or that any earnest effort to bring manifestly criminal parties to trial would be made without pressure, and as I had no authority to make such a demand, although the evidence collected by me would, in my opinion, have justified it, while every facility existed for the escape of the guilty parties should they become suspicious of further action, I decided before leaving Truxillo to send my cipher dispatch of March 13 and letter of confirmation dated March 13, 1895.
Before parting with the governor I notified him that in my investigation at Brewers Lagoon I might find it necessary to send my parties on shore with arms, and that such an action must not be regarded as an invasian of Honduras territory but as a precaution for my own safety, and he gave me full authority to land in force if I found it necessary.
I left Truxillo on the morning of March 13, touched at Port Burchard, and anchored off Tocomache the same afternoon. I reached Brewers Lagoon on the 14th.
There are no inhabitants at this place except the officers and employees of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, who occupy Cannon Cay and a cattle ranch on the south side of the lagoon, and a few Indians (Waikas) who live in scattered clusters of huts about the shores of the lagoon. When I reached Brewers Lagoon there were only two of the party implicated in the murder of Mr. Renton present, viz, Da we, the manager, and Jesse Kittle. Of the others, Isert, who was only a guest of the company but the self-constituted leader and captain in the attack on Mr. Renton, had been examined at Tocomache; Fernando Eude had absconded after the murder of the English captain, as above noted; Edgar Eude had gone to the United States in the last vessel which loaded at the lagoon, and Sandham was at Sarataska. Charles Johnson, who was wounded in the first attack on Renton’s house and was carried to the cay the next day by Dawe, was drowned about three months ago. The negro Johnson had left the service of the company and disappeared.
Immediately upon my arrival I addressed a letter to Dawe, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, offering to him and the others the opportunity to make any statement they might wish to have go on record in relation to the case. In a verbal message in reply Dawe expressed satisfaction that the matter was to be cleared up, and on the following day he and Kittle came on board and were examined. On the [Page 893] 16th, which by a coincidence happened to be the anniversary of the murder, I visited, with the members of the board appointed by me, the property of Mr. Renton on the south shore of the lagoon. On Sunday, the 17th, I sailed from Brewers Lagoon and left the Honduras coast for Mobile.
In regard to the investigation of the Renton case, I inclose herewith for the information of the Department the report of the board to me and the statements of the several witnesses examined on the coast, at Truxillo, Tocomache, and Brewers Lagoon. In regard to the report of the board, it has my fullest approval, and I desire to adopt it as my own. The evidence submitted will be sifted in the Department, and I believe it will be found that the simple statement of the facts is, in each case, fully borne out by the evidence, and that Mrs. Renton’s original statement is a literal and explicit account, and is true in every particular. It is fully corroborated by the testimony of Sam Davis, who is the most important witness. Mrs. Renton’s statement is the testimony of an eyewitness. Sam Davis had his story from the mouths of the murderers themselves. These two persons have not seen each other since a month before the murder, and have had no communication since, and their stories tally in every particular, because they are literally true. Contrast these two statements with the perjured evidence of Isert, Dawe, and Kittle, no two of which agree, and compare them with Dawe’s confession. Even the smallest points may serve to establish the truth or falsity of evidence. Mrs. Renton states that when the house was burned her trunks were left in it, and that she was only allowed one small trunk and a few clothes. Isert testifies that McCoy carried off Mrs. Renton’s trunks and appropriated them and their contents. I myself picked up in the debris of the ruins of Renton’s house a trunk lock and fragments of thin metal which I easily identified as trunk trimmings. The board calls out the fact that Renton had been subjected to a systematic course of annoyance and persecution for sometime previous to the murder. It points to the fact that the point seized by Dawe as an embarcadero was actually less convenient for the uses of the company than the western point, which was unclaimed land. I would go further than the board, and say that the evidence shows that not only this, but the use of the Indian trail across Mr. Renton’s land, which was a long way around to their ranch (see statement of Sam Davis), and the constant passing of armed men along this trail and within 20 yards of the house, were all a part of the system of annoyance which was deliberately planned to provoke Mr. Renton to the last pitch of exasperation and bring on open hostilities. One can imagine the effect of this upon a high-spirited man, who saw his business ruined and his home invaded and could get no legal redress because the law was bought by the other side. One can also guess what other causes of hatred might have existed from the fact that the aggressors and their apologists have sought to justify their crime by blackening the character of Mr. Renton and besmirching the reputation of his wife. Even the United States consular agent at Truxillo, who knew that these men invaded the property, burned the house, murdered the owner, and abducted the wife and niece, and who knew that one of these men was then a fugitive on account of another murder, testified that the company were honorable men and that the Rentons were bad people.
A very different character was given to the Rentons by Sam Davis, their staunch friend through all the trouble, and by their humble neighbors of the Indian village, who worked for them and who feared the company. And when the crime was finally consummated it became necessary for the perpetrators to set up a story at variance with the truth to justify their acts and to make it appear that Mr. Renton had fled—disappeared—after an open battle in which he had been the aggressor, and that Mrs. Renton had left the country of her own accord. They could intimidate the Waika Indians, who had been driven from their village on the day of the murder, with threats and abuse; they could terrorize the coast so that even reputable citizens at Truxillo became their apologists; they could buy the law so that its officers became their agents; but they could not invent a plausible story. Some color might have been given to the romance if Mr. Renton had been killed outright when shot on his own threshold by men in ambush on his own land at daylight on March 16. But, though grievously wounded, he lingered through the long hours of the day. He survived the plunder of his property, the burning of his house, and the carousal and dispute which must have attended what Isert calls the “council of war” which decided his fate—the forcible abduction of his wife and niece. And when the night was sufficiently advanced, and the village deserted by its terrified inhabitants, the four assassins—Isert, Fernando Eude, Sandham, and Kittle—dragged him forth before the smoking ruins of his desecrated home and murdered him in cold blood. Compare this statement of the truth with the flimsy fiction invented by Dawe, that when her husband ran into the bush Mrs. Renton begged for money to leave the country because she knew that he would not come back.
With regard to the money indemnity claimed by Mrs. Renton, it is impossible to obtain a just estimate of the valuation of the property destroyed or stolen. Those who agreed in palliating the crime also agreed in undervaluing the property. I [Page 894] myself saw the evidence of thrift and industry at Kenton’s place. I saw many young cocoanut trees, and lemon, lime, and orange trees in various stages of growth. I saw the wire fencing, and the ruins of the house, and the foundation of the new house which Renton was building. My movements were watched from the cay, and when my boats were seen to leave the ship Kittle was dispatched at once to precede me, and the two mules were loosed from the company’s ranch and were grazing at their old home on my arrival. I learned from the Indians that they had been owned and used by the company and had appeared on Renton’s place that morning just before my arrival. I saw the neglected flower garden and the overgrown walk, and the gate hanging from its rusty hinges. I saw the cocoa patch and the cow corral, and the choked-up well. I saw the cooking stove and fragments of china and cooking utensils in the ruins of the house. I learned that the lumber destined for the new house, and the shingles siezed by Dawe and used by him to build a house on the cay for his Waika mistress, had been hewn out by Renton from the timber felled in the pine ridge by the labor of his own hands, and that only the sills and flooring were of lumber imported from the United States. I could not put a money value on these things. I know that Renton’s whole fortune was in this place, and that he was robbed and murdered, his property destroyed, and his wife driven forth from a country in which protection is guaranteed by a treaty to American citizens. Mrs. Renton’s statement of the crime is literally true and not exaggerated. I should incline to accept her estimate of the damages as true also.
The witness, Sam Davis, is an intelligent American negro, a blacksmith by trade. His evidence was straightforward and unaffected, and convincing by its simplicity. He had been by turns cajoled and threatened by the members of the company, and when examined in the investigation which followed the murder he was allowed to state only such facts as he had witnessed, and was quickly dismissed. Only a few weeks ago Edgar Eude offered him $150 to go with him to New Orleans in a steamer then loading at the lagoon, but Davis refused, though very anxious to reach home, because he believed that Eude would murder him on the voyage. After testifying to me, he believed that his life was no longer safe in Honduras and appealed to me for protection. I should have attached less weight to his apprehensions but for the recent crimes of the Eudes and the facility and impunity with which murder may be committed in this country; and I should have hesitated to withdraw so important a witness were it not for the fact that under the laws of Honduras, in trials for murder, testimony of eyewitnesses is alone accepted, and circumstantial evidence is not admitted. I believe that his fears were well grounded, and I could not resist his appeal for protection. He left behind him his tools, some little property he has in Truxillo, and a claim amounting to $700 for wages from the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company. This proves the sincerity of his fears. I have enlisted him on board this ship as a coal passer.
Another person whose testimony was taken, and whose statement also appears in the papers forwarded by the Department, is James Hardy, an American citizen. I found this man in the utmost destitution at Truxillo. Believing him to be a worthy object for protection, and on the strength of a consular certificate of distress, I have brought him to the United States and shall land him at Mobile.
* * * * * * *
I have the honor, etc.,
Commander, United States Navy.
Report of board to Commander Davis.
Sir: In obedience to your order of March 1, 1895, appended to this report, the board convened on board this vessel on Saturday, March 2, 1895, and proceeded to examine and consider the documents forwarded by the Navy Department under date of February 19, 1895. Subsequently, from time to time other meetings of the board were held to receive statements from and examine persons having knowledge of the circumstances, and to consider statements made under oath to the commanding officer relative to the matter under investigation.
The board also personally visited the property occupied by the late Mr. Charles W. Renton, at Brewers Lagoon, Honduras, and satisfied themselves concerning the locality and present condition of said property.
We find the facts of the case to be as follows:
Charles W. Renton and wife, citizens of the United States, about seven years ago went to Brewers Lagoon, Honduras, and settled upon a tract of land conceded to Mr. Renton by the Government of Honduras, on the southern shore of the lagoon, [Page 895] near the month of the Patook River, about 11 miles from the entrance of the lagoon from the sea. Mr. Renton appears to have been a very industrious man, of good and temperate habits, working to establish himself permanently in this new home which he had selected. He built a good-sized dwelling house, which was destroyed by the hurricane during the summer of 1893. At the time of his murder he was living in a 1-room house and was engaged in building a large 2-story house, of which the small one was to be a portion. The material for these dwellings he imported partly from the United States, and the remainder he cut in the pine ridge about 5 miles distant from his home. He laid out the grounds about his house, having a flower garden in front and a vegetable garden at the side, while in the rear was a pasture for his cows. He had inclosed his entire property by a substantial wire fence, and in front of the house he had a picket fence with swinging gate.
He had under cultivation a large number of orange trees of different ages, some of them having reached the bearing state. He had also cocoa plants, lemon, lime, and cocoanut trees. A great quantity of mining machinery brought from the United States was lying near the site of the house.
The Rentons had for neighbors a number of native Indians, whose huts were within earshot to the eastward of the house. From the statements made by these Indians, it appears that the Rentons always treated them fairly and paid them for their labor. The next nearest neighbors were the inhabitants of another Indian village about a mile to the westward.
Mr. Renton kept a store at his house and traded with the natives, buying their rubber, hides, sarsaparilla, etc., and seemed to be well liked by them all. It also appears that the natives preferred to do their trading with Mr. Renton to any other foreigner in the neighborhood.
From one to two years after the Rentons had settled upon their concession a company known as the Eude Bros. (Frenchmen) obtained a concession from the Honduras Government to cut and export mahogany from the vicinity of Brewers Lagoon. Upon first arriving, the Messrs. Eude lived at the house of Mr. Renton, and continued friendly until they had some personal disagreement, when they moved to Brewers Lagoon village.
This company continued in operation for about nine months, and after a lapse of about a year their concession was taken up by the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, of Balize, British Honduras, the Eude brothers receiving a certain part of the stock of the new company, the money for this enterprise being supplied from Balize and London. The management of the works of the company was given to a young Englishman named J. G. Dawe, who established the headquarters of the company on Cannon Island, in Brewers Lagoon, about 4 miles from the entrance from the sea. The company built houses and conducted a store for their employees, and for their protection mounted four cannon, found on the island, and supposed to have been left there by buccaneers.
The members and attaches of the company concerned in the affair under investigation are as follows: J. G. Dawe, Fernando and Edgar Eude, Arthur Sandham, Jesse J. Kittle, Arthur Isert, and a negro named Johnson.
Mr. Dawe is a man about 30 years of age, had a good reputation before he came to Cannon Island, but, being of a weak nature, was easily led by the unprincipled men who were with him. He married a woman, half negress and half Indian, from Balize, and besides, kept an Indian mistress, both living on the cay or island. In the presence of this board he confessed to having committed perjury, and acknowledged his complicity in the murder of Mr. Renton.
Fernando Eude appears to be a desperado of the worst type. He has terrorized the natives and Indians of the whole lagoon, and especially is this the case since the Renton murder, as, upon interrogating people of the neighborhood, fear of him was repeatedly expressed. His latest crime is the murder in cold blood, in the latter part of February, 1895, of the captain of an English schooner, on board his own vessel, and for which he is now in Nicaragua a fugitive from justice.
Edgar Eude appears to be a man of the same general character as his brother, and is especially notorious for having made threats against the Rentons before the final accomplishment of their desires, the murder of Mr. Renton and the seizing of his property; and since the murder he has been particularly active in attempts to silence all persons who might give unfavorable testimony. He has always openly expressed his satisfaction at the finishing of Renton, and his regret that Mrs. Renton and her child were not also done away with.
Jesse J. Kittle is an American from Texas, 24 years of age, a thoroughly unprincipled tool in the hands of his master, and innately a hardened villain. The fact of his having committed perjury is clearly shown by his sworn statement relative to the murder of Mr. Renton, when taken in connection with the confession made by Mr. Dawe.
The board did not have an opportunity to interrogate Mr. Arthur Sandham, but his low character is clearly established by the testimony of others before the board.
Each of the above-named men kept one or more native mistresses.[Page 896]
The negro Johnson was simply an employee of the company, capable of doing their bidding in any criminal matter.
Arthur Isert is an American from Pittsburg, Pa., about 40 years of age, and evidently of good education. He claims to have been educated in Germany as a mining engineer, and to have come to Honduras from California in 1889, being for a time engaged at his profession in the mines of that country, and finally drifted to the Gulf coast, where he has since been engaged in various callings. He now lives on a small plantation near Tocomache, and at the time of the Renton murder was sub-commandante of that district, and was then and had been for the previous three months, with his wife, on Cannon Island, as a sort of charity guest of the company. He is a desperado of the most dangerous type, clever and unscrupulous, and by his superior education has become a leader among the less educated and ignorant persons with whom he associates, and is generally feared by both natives and foreigners living along the coast.
Leo Eude, a brother of the above-mentioned Eudes, and a member of the company, is a resident of Truxillo. He has had great influence with the authorities at that place, the commandante at the time of the murder living at his house. He (Eude) is now in jail at Truxillo, serving a ten months’ sentence for smuggling.
Soon after the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company took up their headquarters on Cannon Island they had a dispute with Mr. Renton, who had, in addition to the land occupied on the south side of the lagoon, planted a number of cocoanut trees on the point which formed the eastern side of the entrance to the lagoon. The company decided that they wanted this land and proceeded to take it for use as a landing place for their mahogany in squaring their logs for shipment. In occupying this land they pulled up a number of Mr. Renton’s cocoanut trees. It may be noted in connection with this that the opposide side of the entrance to the lagoon was not claimed by anyone; was on the channel leading to the deeper water of the lagoon, nearer the island and also nearer the open seas; thus evidently offering many advantages for purposes of the company over that land seized by them from Mr. Renton. Mr. Renton protested and disputed the right of the company to seize his land, but they, with their influence with the local government, got a decision in their favor. This action of the company made Renton very unfriendly toward them and they in turn continued incessantly to annoy and injure him in every way possible.
Two years before the murder there was another dispute about the use of an Indian trail which led through Renton’s fenced land; the Government was appealed to and a decision rendered against Renton, after which the company had a free access to the trail. There were mutual charges from time to time of stealing and killing of each other’s cattle, but neither appears to have proved the correctness of the charges against the other until after the murder of Renton, when it is known that the company did appropriate to its own use Renton’s live stock.
Throughout all these annoyances Renton showed a sturdy front, a determination to maintain his rights, and a disposition to fight all encroachments to the bitter end.
It appears that the company then determined to do away with Renton and to obtain possession of all his property and rights and waited for the first favorable opportunity to accomplish this purpose.
This opportunity seems to have presented itself on the morning of March 15, 1894, when negro Johnson was sent with a pack horse carrying supplies to the company’s ranch in rear of Mr. Renton’s home, where they kept their work cattle. As this negro carried a rifle in passing Renton’s house and through his property, Renton objected to his going through with this rifle, and after some conversation upon the subject, the negro left his horse in front of Renton’s home and returned to the Indian village, about a mile back, to report to Kittle, who had charge of the work cattle. There he found Dawe and Fernando Eude, who had left the cay that morning.
Dawe instructed Johnson to go back, and said that they would follow behind in the bush and protect him, at the same time directing Johnson to entice Renton out of his house by means of threats and abuse. This the negro did, finally succeeding in causing Renton to come out, followed by Mr. Charles Johnson, an American, temporarily in the employ of Mr. Renton. Shots were exchanged between the negro and Mr. Renton and Mr. Johnson, but it is not clear who began the firing. Dawe, Kittle, and Eude immediately opened fire from their positions in the bush, not more than 50 yards distant, wounding Mr. Charles Johnson, the American, in the leg. Mr. Renton then dragged the wounded man into his house, where he remained upon the earnest solicitation of his wife. After waiting some time, the negro Johnson continuing his abuse of Renton, Dawe returned to the village and wrote to the cay for reenforcements, while Kittle and Eude crossed the lagoon in a boat to prevent Renton escaping from the other side should he attempt to do so. They finally brought up at Cannon Cay, after chasing a boat containing an Indian woman and child who were fleeing from the village, being frightened by the firing, and whom they suspected to be Renton escaping. At the cay they joined the remainder of the gang, and all left for the village where Dawe was as soon as the weather would permit, this being about 11.30 [Page 897] or 12 o’clock at night, all being well armed and prepared for the proposed work. To reenforce their courage they carried with them from the cay a demijohn of anisette.
The party now consisted of Isert, who took the lead, Fernando and Edgar Eude, Dawe, Kittle, Arthur Sandham, and negro Johnson. They divided into two parties, surrounded the house, and awaited the appearance of Renton. This was about daylight of March 16, 1894. When he came out to milk the cow, as was his custom, Renton had hardly stepped across the threshold of his door when they bred upon him, one shot striking him on the right side, passing out of the back on the left side below the heart. Renton fell back into the house, his wife closing the door, and in this act she received a wound in the wrist from a buckshot, evidently fired by Isert, who was the only one of the party armed with a shotgun loaded with buckshot cartridges.
There was then a parley, Mrs. Renton offering to give up the house if their lives were spared. Finally there was a complete surrender. The wounded men (Renton and Johnson) and Mrs. Renton and the child were taken to an Indian hut about 50 yards from the house, and there kept under guard. The house was then robbed of everything of use to the gang, Mrs. Renton being allowed only a few portable articles, and was then set fire to and burned to the ground. Soon after the burning of the house the wounded man Johnson was taken to the cay by Dawe, who, as the manager of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, later on supplied Mrs. Renton with $100 cash and an order on a Mr. Cockburn, of Cape Gracias, for $185, this being claimed by Dawe as payment for the lumber and shingles belonging to Renton, and which were afterwards appropriated by the company. This money was in Honduras currency.
About 7 p.m. of that evening (March 16) Mrs. Renton, with her niece, was forcibly sent away in a boat guarded by Edgar Eude, a negro named McCoy, and with some Indians accompanying them. She was taken across the lagoon to Patook, where she was detained a close prisoner for several days, while Eude held communication by means of messengers with his confederates on the cay; finally moving on to a place 12 miles to the eastward, where he was joined by Isert, Kittle, Sandham, and Fernando Eude. It appears that they intended to kill Mrs. Renton and the child, but becoming alarmed by the speed of the news along the coast that she was a prisoner in their hands, they concluded to abandon this idea.
They then ordered her to proceed on into Nicaragua, and threatened to kill her if she should ever return to Honduras. The treatment of Mrs. Renton from the time of her forcible removal from her home to that in which she was left on the road to Cape Gracias was harsh and brutal.
Mr. Renton, shortly after the forcible removal of his wife, was dragged from the hut, in which he had lain wounded all day, by Isert, Fernando Eude, Kittle, and Sandham.
It is not clear to the minds of the board in what manner Renton was finally murdered, but we are convinced that his life was taken by the four men who dragged him from the hut between the time of such removal (about 8 p.m.) and their return about 4 a.m. of the following day without him. Renton was certainly alive up to the time of being taken away by the four men above mentioned, as persons have testified that they talked to him and furnished him with food throughout the day.
After a careful personal survey of the Renton property as it now stands, and from all evidence collected, the board is of the opinion that Mrs. Renton’s claim for $37,420 damages incurred is a just one. All the portable property on the place at the time of the murder has since been either destroyed or appropriated by the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, and the Honduras authorities have taken no steps whatever to prevent such destruction or appropriation.
We are further of the opinion that all legal steps taken by the Honduras authorities relative to the murder of Renton, the abduction of his wife and niece, the burning of his dwelling, and the robbery of his personal property were either half-hearted and farcical, or were smothered at the outset by bribery and corruption.
- J. H. Bull,
Lieutenant, U. S. N.
- Jno. A. Mudd,
Passed-Assistant Pan master, U. S. N.
- Thomas Washington,
Approved, March 20, 1895.
Commander, United States Navy.
Commander Davis to Lieutenant Bull.
Mobile, Ala., March 1, 1895.
Sir: A board is hereby ordered to convene on board this ship on Saturday, March 2, 1895, at 3 p.m., or as soon thereafter as practicable, for the purpose of aiding the investigation which the commanding officer is directed to make of the alleged killing of Mr. Charles W. Renton, at Brewers Lagoon, in March of last year.
The board will consider, first, the documents accompanying the orders of the Department of February 19. Upon the arrival of the ship at Truxillo the board will hear and record such evidence as may be available at that place, and in order to collect all possible testimony, the board will make diligent inquiry on shore and hold personal intercourse with all such as can or are willing to testify in the case. If any such are willing to testify under oath, their testimony will be taken on board ship, in order that the oath may be administered by the commanding officer, in accordance with General Order No. 441, of January 29, 1895. The same process will be followed at Brewers Lagoon.
The commanding officer will reserve the right to assist at the meetings of the board and to make verbal suggestions from time to time. The inquiry will include not only all the facts, but also the judicial procedure which has followed, and the board will state in its final report whether, in its opinion, such procedure has been as thorough as the case demanded.
The board will be composed of yourself as senior member, and of the following-named officers: Passed Assistant Master J. A. Mudd, U. S. N.; Ensign Thomas Washington, U. S. N. T, P. Greene, equipment yeoman, U. S. N., will act as recorder.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of consular agent at Truxillo.
The board went on shore at Truxillo, Honduras, March 7, and proceeded to the United States consular agency; listened to a statement from Consular Agent R. Boyce. Dr. Boyce first presented a letter which he received last summer from J. Grovesnor Dawe, a copy of which is appended to the record marked A; also a copy of a statement from Charles V. R. Johnson, sent by Mr. Dawe, appended and marked B. The consul had also in his possession letters to him from Mrs. Renton, and a daughter of Mr. Renton’s, Charlotte Renton Donnelly, of Salt Lake City, Utah. The consul states that Renton had lived at Brewers Lagoon six or seven years; that when he first came to the country he landed at Puerto Cortez, Honduras, and from there went to the capital at Tegucigalpa, where he stated that he was not married; that after he had been there for some time he was joined by a woman who called herself Mrs. Renton, but was known as his wife only by name. It was always understood that they were never married. From the capital the Rentons went to Brewers Lagoon, where they occupied a piece of property about a mile back from the beach, keeping a store and trading with the rubber men from up the river. He had seen Renton personally two or three times while living at Patook some four years ago, having resided there for six months. Renton was a man about 55 years of age; had a reputation of being a hard drinker and difficult to get along with. Mrs. Renton was a woman between 30 and 35 years of age; had been seen by him several times at Patook. She did not bear a very high moral character; had been seen by him drunk. His own opinion formed of her from observation at Patook was that she was a woman of loose character. The Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company established themselves on Cannon Island, in Brewers Lagoon, about 4 miles from where Renton lived, and some two years afterwards the concession for cutting mahogany was granted by the Honduras Government to the Eude brothers, whose nationality is French, and they in turn sold their concession to a syndicate, of which J. G. Dawe is manager, keeping an interest in the concern. He (the consul) said that he knew nothing against them, the people at Cannon Island, and the business standing of the company was good, as far as he knew. The consul seemed to have very little knowledge of the disappearance of Renton. He said that the place was 100 miles from here, with very irregular means of communication, and that he got most of his information from New York papers. The investigation which was held at Truxillo by the comandante some two months after the alleged murder of Renton was nearly completed before the consul knew that it was in being, and then he only incidentally heard of it; that Leo Eude, one of the brothers and the one living in Truxillo, [Page 899] came to him and told him that the investigation was going on, and that he could come if he wanted to. He went around to the place where the investigation was being held, but heard no testimony, and was himself interrogated if he, himself, knew anything about it. He understood that no evidence had been against the Brewers Lagoon people. He also stated that he was not asked if he wished to interrogate any of the witnesses. In his opinion, the proceedings were a farce; that there was no real investigation of the affair, and was done only to carry out the instructions from the capital.
[Note.—The consul’s remarks on the subject of this investigation and of his first intimation of the murder of Renton seem rather evasive or cloudy. The consul further said that, relating to this investigation, the before-mentioned Leo Eude was very intimate with the Comandante Arguello, who lived at Eude’s house; that the people from Brewer’s Lagoon were not arrested in any way—were simply called up to Truxillo by the comandante, and were at large during the proceedings of the court. The consul had never seen any record of the procedure of this court].
During the examination of Mr. Glynn he remarked that the murder had taken place so long ago that the details were forgotten by him (the consul).
Statement of Mr. John Glynn.
Heard the news of Renton’s death three or four days after it had occurred. That it was generally understood that Renton was killed by the people of Cannon Island, of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company. That the story as told was that one of the employees of this produce company entered the pasture of Renton and was ordered off, and that the members of the produce company organized a squad, went and murdered Renton, burned his house, and threw his body in the swamp. That Mrs. Renton was sent out of the country to Nicaragua, and was not allowed to come up this way, where she had friends. That the Rentons had done their business in Truxillo, and his opinion was she would naturally come up here had she been allowed. That the vessels from Brewers Lagoon came up this way, and it was nearer to get away in this direction than to get over the swamps to Nicaragua. Renton at one time did a very thriving business at Brewers Lagoon, buying his stores at Truxillo, where he paid his bill regularly and enjoyed a very good reputation in a business way. Later, owing to the loss of a boat load of goods in the surf, valued at about $2,500, he, after their loss, did [not?] pay for these goods. Renton first came to this country and was manager of a large gold mine near the capital, and that it was understood he had lost a great deal of money there, having the reputation of being a rich man when he came to the country. That after Renton had settled at Brewers Lagoon, they (the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company) made their headquarters on Cannon Island. They trespassed on Renton’s land; that he objected, and that bad feeling existed between the parties, and that the manager of the Brewers Lagoon Produce Company had sent men and had destroyed cocoanut trees belonging to Renton, as he understood, in spite. That Renton complained to the authorities (Honduras), protesting against these trespasses, and asked for protection, but never got any satisfaction. He said that Renton was sober, so far as he knew; that he never knew of Mrs. Renton’s drinking, having seen her very often at Truxillo, but knew that she was a woman of loose character. He considered that the investigation held at Truxillo after Renton’s murder was in the interest of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, and only such witnesses were examined as they brought, and none of the principals were examined. That Charles Johnson, who it was well known had direct knowledge of the murder of Renton, was sent to Ruatan Island until after the investigation was over. That Johnson was said to have been given a check, value unknown, to keep quiet, but the payment of the check was stopped before he could draw it. The check was on the Port Burchard and Honduras Fruit Company. He understood that Charles Johnson was found dead on the beach between two and three months ago at Black River, about 15 miles west of Brewers Lagoon. No investigation of his death was held, and the matter never inquired into. Another witness, Galenite, a Carib, offered to give testimony to the comandante as to where Renton was buried, and some facts relating to his murder; that the comandante told him that he would put him in jail and give him 100 lashes if he did not hold his mouth. Also that one Indian and two negroes were sent away to keep away from the court.
[Note.—He said that Sam Davis could tell who the Indian and negroes were; that Sam Davis would be a good witness if brought on board ship.]
He also stated that the mining machinery mentioned in Mrs. Renton’s inventory had been shipped by to Brewers Lagoon, and belonged to the Bija Mining Company.[Page 900]
United States Consular
Truxillo, Honduras, March 12, 1895.
Personally appeared before me, John Glynn, an American, and his statement, as above, being read over to him, makes oath in accordance with law that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge as bearing upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of James Gillespie.
James Gillespie, a Canadian, and more recently a resident of Los Angeles, Cal., states that he has been in the country some seven years, engaged on the canal to the Aguan River. States that he has never been at Brewers Lagoon, but knew all the parties that are said to be connected with the Renton affair. He knew that Renton has been at the lagoon for seven years, and knew him during that period, and remembers when the story of Renton’s murder was brought to Truxillo. He was in Truxillo, and living in Rodrique’s house at the time of the so-called investigation. Izert, Sandham, and Kittle came and stayed at the house during the investigation. He did not see much of them as he was sick in bed. Dawe did not come to the investigation. He understood that Johnson started with the party in a boat from Brewers Lagoon, but he was left somewhere on the way. Dawe came to Truxillo about Christmas, 1894, and came to see him at his house. Dawe offered his hand, but asked if he (Gillespie) was afraid to shake hands with a murderer; that he had known Dawe for a long time, so shook hands with him. He then asked about the Renton affair. Dawe told him that his people had been in the habit of going through Renton’s grounds to take supplies to the cattle people; that one morning the Carib was stopped by Renton and came back and told Dawe about it. Renton had drawn a rifle on him. Dawe stated that they talked it over on the cay, and they agreed to form a party and follow after him. That Renton fired at the boy when he came in sight and at their party, which was returned by the party. Dawe said that Renton ran for the bush, and that they chased him for half a day, but did not catch him. He asked Dawe if Renton was hit; Dawe said that he had hit Renton, and if he had died that he had killed him. Dawe said that the only mistake that he had made was that he had not made away with Johnson also. In connection with Johnson he has since learned, from a Mr. Wallbank, of Chicago, that Johnson was employed during the latter part of 1894 by Dawe to look after his cattle, and that he has since learned that Johnson was lost in a creek near Black River. Dawe stated that he heard Renton went to Caratasta Lagoon and was coming back with a party of Americans to clean them out, and he had gone with a party and laid in wait at a pass for two days, but Renton’s party did not appear. Dawe stated that he had paid Mrs. Renton a certain sum of money and had not taken it away from her. Dawe also said that Mrs. Renton was not wounded, but all other parties said she was. McCoy, a negro, who is now at Belize, was at the shooting, and brought the first news of it to Truxillo. He (Gillespie) thought that Dawe was afraid of Izert’s giving everything away, and from what Dawe said, that Dawe had quarreled with Izert. Sam Davis, an American negro, was at the lagoon at the time of Renton’s murder. He had known Renton personally, and there was no doubt that he had the reputation of having a bad temper; that Renton had some previous trouble with the Brewer’s Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, and had complained to the Government, and had asked protection through the United States consular agent; that the governor had sent an officer and six soldiers to Brewer’s Lagoon; these returned and stated that Renton had had trouble with the Musquito Indians whom he employed in digging post holes; that Renton would not pay the Indians, but compelled them to work by holding a rifle over them. This officer returned and reported that Renton was at fault, and the consular agent wrote him a strong letter. Never saw anything out of the way about Renton. He was always gentlemanly and quiet, but he must have been a little queer in the head. Dawe told him that it was nothing uncommon for Mrs. Renton to ask him to come over and sleep with her when Renton was away. He does not think that Pawe shot Renton, but Dawe takes the blame to shield others; states that the general opinion was that Renton’s murder was a dirty, willful affair; that they went out to Renton’s house and killed him; states that the Government and everyone is down on the Dawe gang. The Dawe company does not own Cannon Island, but has possession by concession from the Government; states that at the time of the Truxillo investigation the whole coast was under martial law, and the power of the comandante was law; stated that he thinks Mr. Allen, of Black River, looked after the burial [Page 901] of Charles Johnson, found dead a few months ago; he thinks that Johnson was murdered, and not accidently drowned; says that Mrs. Renton was a regular prostitute, and that she drank; that Renton did not drink; he heard the news of Renton’s murder two or three days after it occurred, at Truxillo; said that Renton had a good reputation in a business way, but otherwise unpopular.
U. S. S. Montgomery,
Truxillo, Honduras, March 11, 1895.
Personally appeared before me James Gillespie, a Canadian, and his statement as above being read over to him, makes oath in accordance with law that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge as bearing upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of George Hill.
George Hill, an English subject, native of Belize, stated that he had been to Brewers Lagoon two or three times since the murder of Renton, first time about a month after Renton was killed, and the last time he left there only within a week. Said that he was well acquainted with Renton, and very much interested in Renton’s death, having at times stayed at Renton’s house when at Brewers Lagoon. He talked with a Mcaraguan, whose name he thought was Bias, who lived on the savannas not far from Renton’s place. This Mcaraguan had told the same story on two different occasions, the last time only a week ago. This in effect was that a party of seven men, consisting, as far as he could remember, of Dawe, Izert, Fernando, and Edgar Eude, Kittle, Sandham, and another, had gone to Renton’s place early in the morning, and when Renton opened the door at daylight they shot him, then tied him and dragged him out into the bush, beating him as they went with sticks, and Renton begged for mercy and promised to sign any paper that they might require if they would spare his life. They called him a traitor and finally blew out his brains. That Mrs. Renton was sent off to Cape Gracias, and he understood that she was paid $100 by them to go away to pay her expenses. Another man that was with Renton at that time, whose name he did not know, was shot in the leg, and had to beg mighty hard for his life. The Mcaraguan did not know what had become of this man. This Mcaraguan lives between Black and Plantain rivers, at Storr’s place, about 22 miles from Port Burchard.
Hill further stated the only people left on the cay were Dawe and Edgar Eude, and a man by the name of Brinton, who had come there recently. That Kittle cleared out about three months ago. A number of Indians are living at Renton’s place now, who may have been there at the time of the murder. Hill also stated, when Fernando Eude cleared out after the murder of the captain of the schooner Lizzie Susan last week, he rode a mule that had belonged to Renton. Every one was afraid of stopping at the cay, and it is very hard for the company to get people to work for them. People that live near will not work for them. People on shore talk very freely of the murder; those on the cay—they are afraid to speak of it. Sam Davis is at Fort Burchard, and it is understood that he has fallen out with the Dawe gang. Renton lived about 4 miles from the cay, and was considered by him tHill) as a good, honest man, very steady in his habits and a good man to work for; that Mrs. Renton was a good woman, as far as he knew.
That the trail was an old one, and that the public had a right to pass by. He knew that Renton had a number of cocoanut trees and a number of orange trees about the house, and a lot of shingles and lumber when he was there, five months before Renton was killed. On one of his recent visits he had seen the ruins of the house. He also knew that two and a half years ago Renton had 180 head of cattle, which he used for breeding but not for sale. He also knew that he had bought quite a number of cattle of Gross at Patook River.
U. S. S. Montgomery,
Truxillo, Honduras, March 11, 1895.
Personally appeared before me George Hill, a British subject, and his statement as above being read to him, makes oath in accordance with law that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge as bearing upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of James Hardy.
James Hardy, an American, from New Jersey, United States of America, appeared and heard read to him his statement before the United States consular agent at Blue-fields, dated April 26, 1894 (inclosure No. 2, papers from the State Department, United States), and declared it to be the truth in every particular. States that he had stopped at Brewer’s Lagoon the second time a few days ago on his way to Truxillo; that the people do not talk about the Renton case. States that Harry Rhodes is dead.
Does not know where Phillpott and Tennant are. Saw Sam Davis on his way up. Says that he saw Mrs. Renton at Bluefields after the murder; that he has his opinion of the wound. Did not look as if she was wounded much. Mrs. Renton was kind of skittish and every one knew her. He saw Johnson at the cay for the first time after the murder; he was kept in a hut, and it seemed to him as if he was detained there. Johnson told him that they would not let him leave the cay. Hardy offered his assistance and that of his three friends, but Johnson seemed afraid to go. He could not force anything out of Johnson about the murder; said that he was afraid, that was all. That he saw Izert lately at Tocomachie, and that he was kicking about trouble with the Brewer’s Lagoon people. At the time the witness saw Johnson at the Brewers Lagoon he was then lame. Stated that he was shot at the same time Renton was, but was afraid to say any more. That Sam Davis was now living with a negro woman, whose former name was Mrs. Francis. W. H. Davis, seeing that the Port Burchard Fruit Company was going under, left the country for Kentucky, his home. Said that he saw Kittle on his way up, and stopped at his house all night; that Kittle is still taking care of Dawe’s cattle.
U. S. S. Montgomery,
Truxillo, Honduras, March 11, 1895.
Personally appeared before me James Hardy, an American, and his statement, as above, being read over to him, makes oath, in accordance with law, that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge as bearing upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Truxillo, Honduras, March 11, 1895.
Statement of Alfonso Dillet.
Alfonso Dillet, native of Honduras, was commandante at Truxillo during the revolution of last year, being appointed by the revolutionary party, and served ad interim and until after the appointment of Mr. Auguello, which occurred shortly after the murder of Renton at Brewers Lagoon, in March, 1894. Immediately after notice of the murder, which was conveyed to him by Manuel Del Carmen Mena (Galanito), who would be an important witness, he telegraphed the particulars to the President, who ordered him to direct the arrest of the principals implicated and to hold an investigation. This was actually in progress when he was succeeded by Auguello, who suspended proceedings and discharged the parties. Auguello also found fault with him (Dillet) for what he had done, alleging that Renton was not dead. Dillet is of the opinion that an investigation fairly conducted would lead to an elucidation of the whole affair, and that there are, or at least were at the time, enough witnesses in the country to clear up the matter, and that the above could be produced by the aforesaid Galanito, During the investigation the suspected parties were not under arrest.
The aforesaid Alfonso Dillet, present in the consular agency of the United States at Truxillo, March 11, 1895, affirms to me that the above is a true statement. Further affirms that no trial was held, but only an informal investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of Mr. J. Yzaguirre.
Mr. J. Yzaguirre, of Truxillo, Honduras, a merchant, an ex-United States consular agent, stated that he had known the Rentons very well, having bought goods from him for their store at Brewers Lagoon, and they had had at one time credit with him; that he had received continuous complaints while acting as consular agent from Renton’s neighbors about Renton threatening them with his rifle, and that he had sent repeated warnings to Renton to behave himself. Finally, fearing that his warnings were useless and that some of these people, many of them Americans, too, would kill Renton, and that his credit would be a total loss, he wrote to Renton that he must pay his bill, and that he could no longer give him credit. Renton wrote that Mr. Jilia would settle the account, which was done. Renton came to Truxillo afterwards several times, and afterwards traded with Mr. Jilia, always passing by without speaking. Mrs. Renton would come to the store and buy for cash, generally purchasing a little more than she could pay for, sometimes as much as $20 worth, until finally the credit reached about $100, which stood against her when Renton was killed. She had sent a power of attorney, and also an order for a mule that was left on the property. He did not dare to give the power of attorney to anybody, fearing that some poor man to whom he might give it would also be a victim to these people at Brewers Lagoon. Renton, in his business with Mr. Jilia, had bought a large bill of goods valued at several hundred dollars, and in landing at Brewers Lagoon had lost them by the upsetting of the boat. He came back to Truxillo and begged for more credit. Mr. Jilia asked him if he could pay anything on the first bill, to which Renton replied no, and was then refused further credit. He cried about the matter, and Mr. Jilia took pity on him and sold him another bill of goods, which he understood was, with the first order, never paid for. Renton was not on good terms with the people about him, even with the Indians, as he complained that they went so far as to put poisonous snakes in his provisions. The Indians complained that Renton had taken their fruit trees and had driven them away with a rifle. Renton came to Truxillo and complained about the trespassing of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company on his premises, and he went in person with Renton to see the governor (Martinez), and made a complaint. That he also applied to the governor for a title to the land which he occupied, and was told that he could get no immediate title, but to continue to cultivate the land, and after a certain number of years he could get a title; which he did not think Renton ever acquired. Governor Martinez was a very systematic man and kept his papers in very thorough order, and if there was anything on file the present governor would know of it. Mrs. Renton was a very impulsive woman, and had the reputation of threatening with the rifle as well as her husband. He never had seen anything wrong about her.
The Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company had a good business reputation until lately—always paid their bills. That their reputation was so bad recently that he had concluded to close their account immediately. He considered Johnson’s death very suspicious. The governor (Refsman) of Iriona will know of Johnson’s being found.
Concerning the investigation of the Renton affair by the government (local), it was not done properly, being carried on in a very hurried manner. Judge Zuniga, who held the investigation, was about to be relieved, and this investigation was held within three days of his departure.
United States Consular
Truxillo, Honduras, March 11, 1895.
Personally appeared before me M. J. Yzaguirre, and made oath according to law that the above statement is a true and full account of his knowledge in relation to the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Letter of Mr. Dawe to Dr. Boyce.
Dear Sir: By the steamer that came from Mobile three days ago I received a newspaper cutting in which my name is rather unpleasantly mentioned. As there are always two sides to every question, and Mrs. Renton has stated hers, I now beg to trouble you with ours.
- First. In her story Mrs. Renton values her property at $35,000. You have been living at Partook for a few months and seen Brewers Lagoon; you consequently know as well as anybody the value of said property. Since your departure Renton [Page 904] sold his cattle to W. L. Bennett, esq., from Balize, and all the live stock known to belong to him are about five cows and two mules, of which Mr. Glynn claims one.
- Second. I need hardly mention the fact that I am accused of robbing her of $500 cash. My character and Mr. Renton’s are so well known to you that no explanation is required.
- Third. Mrs. Renton was treated with the greatest consideration, and every facility—food, horses, etc.—that the country affords was placed at her disposal by us the moment she expressed a wish to go to Cape Gracias after her husband’s flight. The company’s employees accompanied her nearly half way, and only returned when she dismissed them.
Now for the story: For some months past Mr. Renton has been threatening my life, killing the company’s working steers and eating them, abusing and holding up the Cop’s cattlemen, and in general going on like a madman. I took no notice of his threats except to apply to the superintendent for protection, who simply laughed at the matter. You must remember the way in which Mr. Renton used to talk about Messrs. Eude and Goff and our company.
On the 15th of March the company’s cattleman was going to the ranch leading a horse loaded with provisions. When he arrived in front of Renton’s house, where the road passes, he saw Renton and Johnson come out with rifles, using the worst possible language and forcing him to stop, prohibiting him from passing on that road, and further telling him that if he returned he (Renton) would shoot him. The cattleman came back to Mr. Eude’s house and told me what had happened. I ordered him to go back and pass by the road as usual, promising him our protection if anything happened. The man returned, and when in front of Renton’s house the latter started shooting at him. I was with Mr. Eude about 300 yards behind, and seeing the man drop rushed to his help. Renton and Johnson were out with their rifles, and not stopping shooting we answered, their fire. About six or seven shots were fired on both sides. We saw Johnson fall to the ground, and immediately after Renton made for the bush. On reaching the house we found that Johnson was shot through the leg. We carried him to the cayo and cured him. Mrs. Renton expressed her wish to go to the cape and back to the States, as she said that they were entirely ruined, and that after this affair Renton would certainly not come back. We agreed to accompany her as far as she required on her way to the cape.
Inclosed find copy of Mr. Johnson’s statement and the newspaper cutting.
Apologizing for troubling you, etc.
Statement of Charles V. R. Johnson.
My name is Charles V. R. Johnson, an American, of Key West, settler and planter at Sangrelaya. I was employed by Mr. Renton, and on the morning of the 14th of March, 1894, I saw the black cattleman Johnson going to the ranch on his way to Sieri. As the road to the ranch passes in front of Renton’s house, Renton, as soon as he saw him, called upon him to stop and deliver up a rifle which he was carrying; also if he passed again he would shoot him. Johnson then tied the horse and returned to the village. Shortly after he came back Renton, without saying a word, commenced firing with his Winchester; Johnson dropped on the ground, and I saw Messrs. Dawe and Eude, Fennando, come to his assistance; but Renton kept on shooting, which shots were returned by Messrs. Dawe and Eude. During the shooting I was wounded in the leg, and Mr. Renton, who was close to me, made for the bushes, and I did not see him again, for the next morning I was carried to the cayo by Mr. Dawe, who cured my wound and gave me in every way the kindest treatment possible. This is all I know of the whole affair.
Statement of Mr. Julia.
Mr. Julia, a merchant of Truxillo, stated that Charles Renton bought a bill of goods and lost them in the surf at Brewers Lagoon, and that he came back to Truxillo and reported the accident, stating that he had lost everything and his wife had barely got ashore in her chemise, and that the little girl had a narrow escape from [Page 905] drowning. Renton asked Mr. Julia to let him have another lot of goods, which he refused, but by Renton’s crying and out of pity for the man in evident distress, sold him $700 more in goods. The hill of credit stood on July 2, 1891, at $1,515.72, and has never been settled for since. Renton never came to Truxillo again, never answered my letters, and even though the services of a lawyer at Tegucigalpa were obtained it was impossible to get any payment. Mr. Julia endeavored to get a letter to him by a special messenger, but did not succeed. The account still stands.
Statement of Thomas Ford.
Thomas Ford, English, examined at Fort Burchard March 13, 1895, states that he has been on this coast for fourteen years; is a clerk in the store of the Fort Burchard Honduras Fruit Company. Says that he knew Mr. Renton personally. That Renton was a very queer man, cranky and quarrelsome. Mrs. Renton was about 35 or 36 years of age; she had a reputation as not that of a virtuous woman, but does not know anything about her being a drinking person. She was quick-tempered, smart, and a good business woman. States Mr. Dawe is a very fine man—honest, truthful, and not the kind of a man to commit murder unless pushed. States the Eudes are quick-tempered and liable to carry away quickly if pushed or made angry. Says Mr. Charles Johnson was half crazy, and you could not make head or tail out of what he said. He was a very hard man to get anything out of. Says that Johnson never made a statement or gave anything in the way of a statement or of testimony regarding the murder of Renton in his presence. Never heard Johnson speak of the murder except to say that he (Johnson) was there. States he knows nothing whatever concerning any statement or letter written by Mr. Dawe to the United States consul at Truxillo, nor of any statement of the murder ever having been made by Johnson to Mr. Dawe or anyone else. [Note.—This refers to statement of Johnson sent by Mr. Dawe to United States consular agent at Truxillo, of which Ford was witness.] States there is an alcalde at Brewers Lagoon, a short distance from where Renton lived. Neither Renton or Mr. Dawe would appeal to the alcalde to settle their disagreements, but would take matters into their own hands. Dawe was not wealthy, and most of the cattle controlled by him were work cattle for drawing mahogany logs. The trail leading by Renton’s house was an old one, and everyone had aright to use it. States that Renton had about 100 or 150 cattle and sold all but a few to Mr. Bennett, of Balise. He had a lot of cocoanut and orange trees, but does not know how many. Never saw Renton’s trees, but thought his cocoanut trees were worth a half sol each and his orange trees about one sol each. Renton had some hides when he died, but does not know anything about his having lumber and shingles. Renton owed Mr. Burchard a sum of money, and after his death Mrs. Renton told Mr. Eude to take the hides and pay Mr. Burchard, which was done. In leaving this country the usual way is to go by Truxillo, but if you are going to New York the best way is by Cape Gracias a Dios, as you would be more likely to catch a steamer. Thought a great deal about the way in which Mrs. Renton left the country, and considered it very extraordinary. Never heard of a case where a person left property as she had done. Thought she must have been made to leave the country, and for reasons of their own not allowed to go to Truxillo by those who made her leave. Foreigners are always having trouble with the Honduras Government. There is continually civil war and change of laws. British subjects have less trouble than Americans, as the British consul looks after their grievances, and the Government is therefore afraid of interfering with them, but the Government is not afraid of Americans. Refsaman, the present commandant at Iriona, is a first-rate fellow, and better than the usual run. Knows Lacaye, the Nicaraguan, and considers that he has a good character as a Spaniard. He is intelligent. Lett this country about six months ago. States that very few foreigners have good titles to lands. Lands are usually held by concession, and generally revert to the Government. Mr. Renton did not have a full title. Had a concession, but it had never been surveyed as required by the law. Renton could not transfer the lands he claimed to Mrs. Renton; could only transfer the improvements. He held only an agricultural title. States he believes if Mrs. Renton had remained to claim the improvements and the land held by Renton that she probably would have been killed by those who sent her away. Mr. Charles Johnson, who was wounded at Mr. Renton’s house, was drowned last fall, sometime in November, probably. He was buried by Mr. Conger, an American living at Tocomache. Never heard of Mr. Dawe or any of his associates having given Mrs. Renton any money. That is a business the men concerned would not likely say anything about. Mr. W. M. Davis, who visited Brewers Lagoon shortly after Mr. Renton’s disappearance, is now living at 140 West Fourteenth, [Page 906] street, New York City. He left here about the end of September, 1894. States that he considers the investigation held at Brewers Lagoon to have been a farce. It was held during civil war by soldiers. The subsequent investigation was a better one. States that he has never spoken to Mr. Dawe about the murder, and never wanted to know anything about it. Thinks from his knowledge of the people concerned in this affair that it is best not to try and find out anything or to talk about it. Says he knows absolutely nothing about Mr. Charles Johnson or Mr. Dawe ever having written to or sent statement relative to the Renton affair to the United States consul at Truxillo. In the fight at Renton’s place Mrs. Renton is said to have been wounded in the wrist. Mr. Renton was a fearless man and a good shot. Does not think he would have been caught napping if the party that shot him had given him notice of the intention to shoot him. They must have taken him unawares.
Tocomache, Honduras, March 13, 1895.
Statement of Arthur Isert.
Name is Arthur Isert, born in Pittsburg, Pa., but educated in Germany. States that the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company had had difficulties with Renton for two years or more previous to March, 1894. That when the trouble culminated on or about March 15 it was begun by Renton and Johnson opening fire on Dawe’s party. That after the shooting of Renton he (Isert) gave Mrs. Renton $200 out of his own pocket. He gave her an open check for the amount, which was indorsed by Dawe as manager of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, and this check was cashed by Cockburn at Cabo Gracias (Cape Gracias a Dios).
States that he (Isert) was at that time subcommandant for this district. That it was his duty to inspect Renton’s store, as latter was Government agent for sale of monopolies. After the murder of Renton did so inspect, but found no Government property except one box of cigars. Did not think at the time that it was his duty as subcommandant to arrest anyone for the shooting of Renton, but is sorry now that he had not made arrests. He was on the cay (Cannon Island) when the fight at Renton’s took place. Dawe and Fernando Eude, with the negro Johnson, had been fired on and had returned the fire at Renton’s house. Dawe sent down to the cay after the fight, asking for reinforcements. Those who were still on the cay went up to Renton’s in answer to this call. He arrived at Renton’s house at about 4 p.m. On his way up he met Dawe returning to the cay. Dawe was very pale and excited, pleaded fever as an excuse for his return to the cay, but he (Isert) thinks that Dawe was frightened. Dawe was a coward. The time when the fight took place must have been about 8 o’clock in the morning. A negro (Johnson) had been sent with a horse and a load of provisions from the landing at Brewers Lagoon to the company’s cattle ranch. The road led through Renton’s place. Renton threatened the negro with a rifle. The negro tied his horse and returned on foot toward the landing. Renton cut the horse loose and drove it away, and the provisions were lost. The negro returned with Mr. Dawe and Fernando Eude; both of whom were armed. He learned from Johnson afterwards that the Rentons were at breakfast when this party-appeared. Renton looked out and exclaimed, “Here are those sons of bitches from the cay,” and siezed his gun and ran out. Johnson followed. He felt bound to do so, because both he and Renton were Masons, and he (Johnson) admitted to Isert afterwards that he was foolish to take any part in the fray. He also stated that Renton fired first. Johnson’s gun (a Winchester) was out of order. The lever was rusted and it would not work. He could not fire it. In the exchange of shots Johnson was wounded through the fleshy part of the leg, and dropped. Renton was shot through the entrails. The shot entered one side between the navel and the groin and came out on the opposite side of the back. Isert believes that Renton’s wound must of necessity have been fatal; that he could not have lived, much less run away. However, if he had escaped why had he given no sign in the year that had elapsed since then? Nevertheless, felt no curiosity as to Renton’s fate, and asked no questions about him when he reached the place at 4 p.m. Felt great sympathy for Mrs. Renton and the child. Believed that Renton lay in a Waika hut when he reached the house, but did not know whether dead or alive, and asked no questions. Renton got no more than he deserved. Besides, the Dawe gang were masters of the situation, and he felt that it was prudent to be circumspect and not incur their animosity. Believes they were desperate. When he reached the house at 4 p.m. the cay party was holding what he called a council of war to determine what to do with the house and property. States positively that Mrs. Renton was not wounded. The council ended by [Page 907] removing all portable property worth saving from the house, and set the house on fire. At the burning of the house Edgar Eude was leader. Those present at this time were Fernando and Edgar Eude, Sandham, Kittle, and self; negro Johnson had returned to the cay with Dawe, who pleaded illness. Charles Johnson, who had been shot through the leg, had been carried to the cay for treatment. He (Isert) thinks that Dawe was unnerved by the fight and was frightened. Mrs. Renton watched the burning of the house and joked and drank with the party. They had anisette. Mrs. Renton remarked of the fire, “What a splendid bonfire it makes.” She used those words. Thinks her behavior was callous and heartless. Thinks she must have seen Renton during the fire. He had been carried into a Waika hut as above stated.
He (Isert) wanted to take the child to his wife, and Dawe also had offered to take care of the child until Mrs. Renton could send for it, but the latter would not part with it. Mrs. Renton begged him (Isert) to take her also to his wife, but the latter replied that this was absolutely out of the question. The child was puny and delicate, and not bright. He (Isert) thought the child simple and witless. Renton was not fond of the child, and was harsh with it. The child seemed ill-cared for. It was not the Rentons’ child, but the child of a sister. He (Isert) had always great sympathy for the child. Its dullness was accounted for by the report that Renton had, in a fit of anger, struck it on the head with a heavy stick.
After the fire he (Isert) returned to the cay. It had been arranged that Mrs. Renton should leave under escort of Edgar Eude. That same night Dawe received a letter from Eude, sent from Patook by a sambo, saying that it was reported that a party of Renton’s friends was on its way from Carataska and that he feared an attack, and asked for reenforcements. Dawe was completely unnerved at the receipt of this letter and displayed fear. Sandham, Fernando Eude, Kittle, and self started in answer to this summons. They did not overtake Edgar Eude at Patook, but received a message from him there saying that he was waiting for them at Tabaconti. They walked to Tabaconti, and there overtook Edgar Eude and Mrs. Renton. They held a council and decided to release Mrs. Renton and allow her to go on alone. He (Isert) asked her if she had money and she said no, and he gave her $200, as above stated. Never expected to have this money returned, and gave it out of pity, but has a receipt for it, which is among the papers left at the cay. Mrs. Renton was afraid she was to be killed, and would not cross the river for fear that she would be shot at, but she had a rifle and was a good shot herself, and he (Isert) told her to take her rifle and that he would stand unarmed on the bank, and that if she saw a movement on the part of anyone to shoot her she might shoot him (Isert). She then crossed the river and went on with two Spaniards (the white natives of Central American States are known to foreign residents as Spaniards) and one Indian. Does not know who they were.
States that he entered the house before it was set on fire, and that the walls were lined with rawhides—two or three thicknesses of them—with bedding piled inside, as if an attack were expected.
States that Renton had been making threats against the Dawe party for a long time previous to the shooting. On account of the bad blood between the parties, wonders that the difficulty did not culminate in bloodshed long before.
States that he (Isert) received from Patook a power of attorney, signed by Mrs. Renton, for the administration of the property. This paper is also among those left at the cay. Did not wish to accept this, but did so at Dawe’s solicitation. Used some part of the property to cover a debt of the Renton’s at Port Burchard. A power of attorney can be drawn anywhere in Honduras with stamped paper and two witnessess, though to make it strictly legal should be drawn by a magistrate.
States that the distance from the cay to Renton’s house is about 8 miles.
States that he believes that Fernando Eude actually set fire to the house. Knows he had a grudge against Renton.
States that there was no property of any value in the house, and no stock about the place. Renton was actually bankrupt. He had no title to the land, but held it under a concession from the Government, which bound him to clear and plant so many acres, which he had not done.
Knows that Renton had planted between 3,000 and 4,000 cocoanut trees. The orange trees had belonged to the natives, and Renton had appropriated them. Anyone looking at the trees now could see that they could not have been planted by Renton within the time he had lived on the place.
States that the sambos were treated unmercifully by Renton and had no redress. Waika Indians were called sambos.
States that at the time of the murder Renton had one cow and two mules. The cow was claimed by Mrs. Renton. Supposes that these and all other property were “annexed” by the cay party after the murder, on the principle that “to the victor belongs the spoils.”
States that, acting on the power of attorney received from Mrs. Renton, he (Isert) paid the Port Burchard (Honduras) Fruit Company $85, but what the debt was for [Page 908] he (Isert) does not know. This sum was afterwards reimbursed by Dawe toward settlement for property taken out of the Rentons’ house. Of the hides taken out of the house by the Dawe party some were sent to Truxillo and sold.
States that he does not know why Mrs. Renton was not sent out of the country by the way of Truxillo, which is the most expeditious and direct way.
States that the trouble between Dawe and Renton must have come to a head sooner or later. At one time Dawe had offered to buy Renton out, but Renton wanted too much money—$10,000, he thinks. The land in question was about 12 acres. It was beach land, and Dawe wanted it for his business. Renton was quick tempered, and would fight on the drop of a hat.
States that Renton shot cattle belonging to the sambos, because they encroached on his land.
States that he wrote to Mr. Davis about the power of attorney and offered the hides at Renton’s place to liquidate the debt owing him by Renton. Davis did not answer. He (Isert) had no time or inclination to attend any further in the matter of the power of attorney or to look into the matter of the murder.
States that other property on Renton’s place was about 3,000 shingles, some lumber, and some mining machinery belonging to the Vijin Mining Company. Supposes that the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company “annexed” these also.
States that he had no love whatever for the people of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, but did not care to express himself particularly against them.
States that he does not suppose that the Government will do anything in this case, as in this country to prove murder there must be two eyewitnesses, and that there are no witnesses.
States that Mrs. Renton’s reputation was not good, and that he (Isert) had never seen her but twice before the murder, and once she was drunk.
Thinks that the investigation held at Truxillo was all a farce. That all were drinking with the commandante and magistrate. Does not know why Charles Johnson was dropped on the way to the investigation, but was surprised when he did not appear there, as he knows that he started with the party from the cay when summoned.
Does not know why Dawe paid Johnson to keep out of the way, but supposes that Johnson’s absence was “more convenient” to Dawe. Johnson was erratic and contradictory in his statements, and he (Isert) thinks he was weak in his head.
Does not think that there was anything suspicious in Johnson’s death by drowning a few months ago. Thinks that Johnson fell into the water when stepping into his dory, and drowned.
States that there is no court of record at Iriona or Port Burchard, and that at best records are irregularly kept in this country on account of frequent changes of government.
Does not know why Johnson did not leave the country. Heard that Johnson did not have to beg for his life. No one knows who shot Johnson.
States that all fighting and shooting occurred on one day and at one time, and that Johnson was not shot on the day previous to Renton’s murder, but that both were shot at the same time.
States that Dawe refused to go to Truxillo when summoned for the investigation unless the Government would give him security for the business, as vessels were expected at the lagoon to load.
States that at the time of the fire Indians reported that they saw Renton taking to the bush, and that several times during the year reports have reached him from the Indians that Renton has been seen up the country, but does not believe these rumors and believes that Renton is dead, and was killed at the time of the shooting.
States that nobody except Johnson has told him about the shooting of Renton.
States that he (Isert) was never in the employ of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, but stayed on the cay once two months on account of scarcity of provisions in the country, and that at the time of the murder he was engaged in hauling up a schooner belonging to the company, which had been stranded on the beach. That there was no one else available with enough engineering skill to do this, and that he did it as a favor and without compensation.
States that Sam Davis is not to be believed, and that if brought to testify any statement he may make will certainly be a lie, on account of the grudge he bears the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, and that he (Sam Davis) was on the cay all the time during the murder and house burning and knows nothing whatever about it. [This was a purely voluntary statement on the part of Mr. Isert, not in answer to any question, though most of the previous information had to be drawn out by questioning.]
States that he had been shocked to learn that Sam Davis had accused him (Isert) of being the actual murderer of Mr. Renton, and reiterates that the shooting must have taken place at about 8 a.m., and that he did not reach the place till 4 p.m.
Considering the lawless state of the country and the bitter feeling between the parties, considers the act committed as justifiable. Trouble was bound to culminate, [Page 909] and one party or the other must go under. Knows that Dawe had applied to the authorities of the province for protection from Renton, and failing to receive it had warned those that he would he blameless if trouble ensued.
States that Mrs. Renton had in the house trunks filled with articles of value, and that McCoy took these and sold them, and that only one trunk remained, which contained only a few articles.
U. S. S. Montgomery,
Tocomache, Honduras, March 15, 1895.
Personally appeared before me Arthur Isert, an American, and his statement, as above, being read over to him, makes oath, in accordance with law, that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
Statement of Samuel Davis.
Samuel Davis; born in Charleston, W. Va., May, 1859. Came to Honduras in the latter part of 1889. Went to Truxillo. Was under contract with Eude Bros. The contract was made in New Orleans, and was to run nine months at $50 a month in United States gold. They fulfilled the contract. The Eude Bros, broke up, and I went to Belize, where I stayed one year. A new company, the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, was formed. They hired me as blacksmith and carpenter for twelve months. This contract was made on the 13th of November, 1891, and I was to be paid by piecework. I went to Cannon Island, where I furnished my own tools and provided my own self. I worked for the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company until the 17th of March, 1894. I had a disagreement on the 17th of March, and left Cannon Island on the 18th and went to Port Burchard. I went back to Cannon Island on March 26, Good Friday, with some troops. An officer and 15 soldiers went with me, on account of the murder of Renton, while I went to get my things. I did not take my things, because Mr. Dawe said that I must not go, as the rest of the men would leave if I did, but that I could go after two or three months. I was really detained by force. When I came with the soldiers I went off to the cay in a dory and tried to get a boat sent to the shore for Gallenita; the Spanish officer (Honduras) got a boat and came to the cay. Dawe took the Spanish officer to his house, and I took off Gallenita to my house. Dawe gave the Spaniard something to eat and drink, and took him to the store, where I saw him (Dawe) give him at least 50 sols for himself and soldiers. Dawe said to the Spanish officer there was nothing in the murder; that it was Mr. Renton’s own fault that he got killed. Gallenita wanted me to go to Brewers Lagoon village to see where the house was burned, but the other officer said no; that he could not go; that he would not seek into the case; that it was too large a firm (the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company). Then he put his soldiers into the boat and left. After they had left, Dawe told me that I would have to stay, and that he would not kill me unless I fooled with his wife or Indian girl (all have Indian girls); that I must go to Truxillo, but I must not know anything. I said that if I must go there I must tell the truth; I will not tell a lie. Same day Edgar Eude, Kittle, Sandham, Brinton, Isert, Dawe, and Fernando Eude called me into the store. They shut the door, and Edgar Eude then said that I ought to have better sense than to say anything about the Renton case—they were all excited—and if I kept my mouth shut I would be treated right. Then he brought a letter from the safe and told me to read it. It stated in the letter that Mr. Renton and several Americans were coming from Caritasca to kill all of the company’s cattle. It was signed by Mrs. Renton. Dawe asked me, “Do you believe it?” I said, “No; anybody could write such a letter under the point of the bayonet, especially a poor woman who was imprisoned two weeks in Patook.” Edgar Eude then stepped up to me and said, shaking his finger in my face at the time, “Do you know what will become of you if you don’t keep your mouth shut? They will not do anything for killing an American nigger in this country.” I told him to open the door and let me out of the house. Isert spoke, and said, “I understand that you called me a hired murderer, Sam.” I said, “No, sir; I have never mentioned your name at all.” He asked me what I did say. I told him that I told Mr. Dawe that it was a cowardly murder; that I mentioned no man’s name. He said, “I will be ready for you on the first sight we meet.” I said, “I hope that it would be in the daylight and not in the dark, like that of Mr. Renton’s.” Mr. Dawe then got up, told them to open the door, and let me go out. Edgar Eude said, “No; Sain, come let’s take a drink. We brought you to this country, and we are going to take you back home. Don’t make a fool of yourself. If they had left it to me, I would have hung Renton, [Page 910] Mrs. Renton, and all of them to a tree, and broken their necks.” They opened the door, and we all went out. I went to the shop to work making truck bolts. Next morning Mr. Dawe came into the shop and told me if I left the place all the Caribs would leave; he was going to make me a fine present if I kept my mouth shut. I said it was all done; I had no more to say about it. Then the next day the schooner Lizzie Susan came from Belize with the president of the company, Mr. Price, on board. They took me up to Mr. Dawe’s house to have another court with me, Mr. Isert and all who were in the affair. Mr. Price told me to state everything I knew about it. I told him all I knew about it. Mr. Price said to me, “That is all; you will not be hurt.” They adjourned, and I had no more to say. They had nothing more to say to me, and i left the cay on the 15th of July and walked to Truxillo; but they sent me a letter telling me to leave the cay and the country as soon as possible, or I knew what the consequence would be. Mr. Dawe refused to pay me the full amount due me, $972.52, which I claimed as owing me. He had charged me for goods that I had never received, overcharged or charged twice for others, and, according to their account, made up almost a balance. This I sued for before the commandante at Port Burchard, but got no satisfaction. This amount is still due me.
Only last week Mr. Edgar Eude offered me $150 if I would go to the United States with him on a Norwegian steamer then loading at Brewers Lagoon and say no more about the Renton case, as I was the only one living that could testify, now that Johnson was dead. (This refers to the drowning of Johnson.) I have never received any money from the company since I left the cay, except $10 that they paid me for my house, and $9 for a sack of flour which I had paid for in cash and they had charged for on the bill besides, before I left the cay. Fernando Eude, the same who murdered the British captain two weeks ago, threatened me if I did not keep my mouth shut I would get the same as Renton got. Since I left the cay I have done such work as I could, making rinds or spurs or harpoons for the Caribs, carrying bananas, or cutting passes in the bush. After I left the cay I sent for my tools, which are now in Port Burchard.
Asked to tell all the Renton affair—
I first knew Mr. Renton in 1890. He was living at Brewers Lagoon, at the same place where he was killed. Mrs. Renton was also there. Renton had put out an orange orchard and cattle ranch, and he had a large store at that time, trading with the Indians from up the Patook River, for their rubber, hides, and sarsaparilla. He had a few cocoanut trees then. He had fenced the land in with a wire fence, the fence running about 9 miles back, and along the lagoon it was very narrow, but widened after passing the Mosquito Indian village huts. Davis drew a plan of Renton’s place, which is attached to the back of this statement. The hurricane of the 5th of July, 1893, destroyed his first house, as it did every house about the coast. He started to build a two-story house, and first put up a small one-story one, which the family occupied. The lumber for the big house was on the ground, some of it having been imported lumber from the United States.
I went to Renton’s house the first week after I came to Cannon Cay, and I constantly traded with him. I always found him a square man. He never tried to cheat me or bully me, and I always felt safe when I went to the house. They were very hospitable to me. Mrs. Renton was always very kind when I went there. When I first came to Brewers Lagoon, Fernando and Edgar Eude lived at the Renton’s, and finally wanted Mr. Renton to come in under them, as they had the concession for the mahogany of the whole district. Mr. Renton would not go in with them, and they had a falling out. About this time Mr. Renton was taken sick, and Mrs. Renton sent down to Fernando Eude for medicine at Brewers Lagoon village. Eude sent word back that he would give her nothing. I was stopping in the village myself with the Eudes at the time. One thing led to another, until there was hard feeling between the Rentons and the Eudes. When I would go to buy of Renton, the Eudes would tell me not to go there, as the son of a bitch would rob me. I often went up when Renton was sick and waited on him, and the Eudes would curse me for it. Never thought that Mr. Renton had a bad temper. Never saw Mr. Renton threaten the Indians with his rifle or any other way. Renton had great power with the Indians and Caribs, and they sold their rubber, sarsaparilla, and hides to him in preference to anybody else, paying in goods or cash as the Indians preferred. This incensed the Eudes. I never saw Renton drunk, but he did drink moderately. I never saw Mrs. Renton drink anything other than wine or beer. I sometimes brought her beer from the cay. When I returned with the Dawe people, or soon afterwards, Mr. Dawe wanted to take Mr. Renton’s point to make a landing place, as it was handy for shipping. At first Renton refused, and stopped the log hauling, but after a few days Mr. Dawe, Sandham, and I came to the embarcadero (I was to measure lumber) and pulled up the cocoanut trees (they were 2 years old). At Brewers Lagoon village Renton told me that I had pulled up his cocoanut trees; but when I told him that I was ordered to do it, he seemed satisfied as far as I was concerned. Mr. Dawe had said that he had bought the place, so I obeyed the order and pulled up the trees. Renton said [Page 911] that he would have his revenge by suing before Mr. Tomaya, comrnandante at Iriona. Before he had got through with it, Mr. Tomaya had gone away from Iriona, I was the only one who ever went from the cay to Renton’s. Everybody used the trail, but never went to the house. Renton never objected to the use of the trail. About a week before Renton was killed I was building a house at Plantain River. At this time Renton went to Port Burchard for stores, and on his return to Plantain River I met him. I came to the Brewers Lagoon bar with him on foot. Renton’s dory, which he had left at the bar when he went to Port Burchard, had been taken to the cay. There was a small dory there, which I took and went to the cay. When I got to the cay, I told Edgar Eude that someone had stolen Renton’s dory and taken it to the cay, and Renton was sitting at the bar still. He said, “Let the son of a bitch stop there; let him die; we are going to kill him anyhow.” Renton had given me money to get him some sardines at the store. As I was going back to Plantain River Edgar Eude said, “If you go over in the dory I will send a man with you to bring it back; let the son of a bitch stop there.” I said to him, “If one of the company’s dories were over there, and I was in Mr. Renton’s place, I would take the dory and go home anyhow.” He said, “Shut up your mouth; American niggers stand no show in this country, nohow.” Sandham was there and said to me, “Renton is no friend of yours; what do you want to stick up for him all the time for?” I left the store and went in the boat, and they sent a Carib with me to take me over the bar. When I reached the bar Mr. Renton had got a Waika dory and gone home. Renton never got his own dory back. It remained at the cay until after he was killed. I went to Plantain River, fixed my tools, and then returned to the cay. I went to Mr. Dawe and told him that I had finished work on Edgar Eude’s house and wanted my pay. Mr. Dawe said, “Sam, I have got to go to Sicre, and I want you to stop here until I return—I will only be gone three or four days.” Dawe and the black boy Johnson left the cay on the evening of the 14th and went to Brewers Lagoon village, where they met Mr. Kittle and Fernando Eude. Dawe told me that they had sent the boy Johnson on with the provisions, to carry them to the ranch. This boy in passing in front of Renton’s hcuse let his mule run away, and he went off into the savanna. On the morning of the 15th they sent the boy back, loading his Winchester, and giving him 11 cartridges, and Dawe, Fernando Eude, and Kittle followed through the bush. Dawe and Kittle both said to me that Johnson went in front of Renton’s house and called Renton names, calling out such expressions as this, “Come out, you red-headed son of a bitch,” having been instructed to do this. By vexing Mr. Renton, he and Mr. Charles Johnson came out of the house. As they got out of the house Dawe and Eude said that they fired at Renton and Johnson and struck old man Johnson. Mr. Dawe said that Renton wheeled and fired at where he saw the smoke come out of the bush and the bullet passed right over Dawe’s head. Renton fired two shots at the boy and the boy fired one at Renton but his rifle jammed and he did not get any more shots out of it. Dawe sent a Creole, Stevens, with a message to the cay for all to come to Brewers Lagoon village and bring their arms and a keg of powder to blow up Renton’s house. Fernando Eude and Kittle went round the lagoon to prevent Renton getting away that side, and Dawe stayed with the negro Johnson on the Brewers Lagoon village side for the same purpose. Finally, Fernando Eude and Kittle reached the cay about dark on the 15th. Party called for by Dawe had not left because the breeze was too heavy. When Eude and Kittle arrived they were very wet, and said that when they were coming across they had seen a dory coming across the lagoon, so that they went to the bar, but saw no footsteps and came back to the cay. The dory had contained a Waika woman running away from the firing. Eude and Kittle said in the store at the cay that they had sent the negro Johnson to tantalize Renton, and they had seen Charles Johnson jump up into the air when they shot, and Renton and Johnson had gone into the house. They laughed at Dawe’s trembling in the bush so that he could not shoot his revolver. Fernando said that he had shot Johnson with a Winchester, 38 caliber. Edgar Eude made fun of them for missing at such a short distance while hiding behind a cocoanut tree. Isert said, “We have started this thing, we have got to go through with it.” Edgar Eude said, “All right, bring up the (demijohn and all take a drink.” He said, “Sam, get your lantern and give us a light until we get away.” They examined, their guns. Isert had a shotgun, 12 gauge, and 12 cartridges loaded with buckshot. I saw them loaded—10 buckshot to a cartridge. Sandham’s was a .44–caliber Winchester. Edgar Eude had a .32 Winchester, long cartridge. Fernando Eude had a .38–caliber Winchester, and Dawe had his.44–caliber Winchester at Brewers Lagoon village. Besides these they had .44–caliber Colt revolvers. All made ready and got a keg of powder to blow up the house. They wanted to draw straws to see who would set the powder off under the house. Sandham said he would be damned if he was going to set it off. Kittle said that he was not going to do it. Fernando Eude said he would not. Edgar Eude said, “Isert is captain, he must do it.” Isert said, “I will be God damned if I will do it. Renton might shoot me through the cracks of the house.” Edgar Eude said, “Leave the powder; I will send a note to Mrs. Renton to warn her [Page 912] and Johnson and the little child to he sent out of the house by 4 o’clock.” He did not want anybody’s life but Renton’s. I said, “Mr. Edgar, let me go and take the note over to Renton’s.” He said, “No; I won’t let you go, for you are trying to get Renton away, for he is an American just like yourself.” I said, “You ought not to kill Mrs. Renton and the child, because they are particular friends of mine.” He said, “Be careful how you talk.” Isert then ordered the Waikas to get ready to start to go to Brewers Lagoon village before daylight could catch them, as the village was 12 miles. It takes three hours to get there. They took two Waikas and two Creoles and started between half past 11 and 12 o’clock at night for Brewers Lagoon village. On the morning of the 16th, about 8 o’clock, I went to the top of the cay, and there I saw the smoke of the burning of the house, as it was agreed the night before to take everything out and burn the house about 10 o’clock. I saw a dory coming across the lagoon to the cay. When it came to the cay I saw in the boat Mr. Dawe, negro Johnson, and Mr. Charles Johnson, the last in the bottom of the boat. Mr. Dawe took him into the store and told Brenton to dress his leg. Then I said to Mr. Dawe, “Did you shoot Mr. Renton?” He said, “Yes; he will die before sundown.” He said, “He has got a hole in here (pointing to the right-hand side below the ribs), one here (back), and one here (on the left side below the heart). I asked Mr. Dawe if I should go and make a coffin for him. He said, “No; there are plenty of us who will bury him.” Dawe said, “Take Charles Johnson into the cabin next to the store and dress his wound.” I asked Johnson if Renton was dead. He said, “No; but he is shot all to pieces; I expect he will die.” He said, “When Renton went out of the house to milk a cow this morning they all opened fire upon him at once. Mrs. Renton was shot in the wrist. Johnson was up in the house on the hides.” Before this Mrs. Renton had sent a note to Dawe to come and take them and have no more shooting. Before the Waika woman could give them the note they opened fire. Johnson said that they came and hauled him off the hides and he begged for his life, and a Creole put him in a boat. Mr. Dawe went into the house and directed about taking everything out—hides, rubber, and all that was worth saving. They set the house on fire and closed both doors, but the house would not burn because there was no draft. As soon as the house was on fire they took Johnson to the cay. Johnson said that he saw a Creole named McCoy take Renton into a Waika hut. McCoy is a very strong man. He returned and pulled Johnson down off the hides. Johnson told this the same day when he was lying on a bed at the cay. Creole McCoy is now at Belize. When McCoy came back from Patook he asked me where Mr. Renton was. I told him that Mr. Dawe had said that Renton had gone to Patook. McCoy said that Dawe told him that Renton had gone to Port Burchard. But McCoy afterwards said that a Waika named Coca told him that she had hidden under a fallen orange tree, being too old to run when the Waikas deserted the village, as they had been driven out by Mr. Isert and had fled when the shooting began, being naturally timid of firearms. Coca was the only one of the Waikas that remained, lying within 10 yards of the hut where Mr. Renton was dragged. She saw the whole of the subsequent proceedings. She saw Isert, Fernando Eude, Sandham, and Kittle about midnight drag Renton back through the field, he groaning and crying for his life. From where she was hid she crawled through the grass to see the last of Renton. They dragged him to the left of the graveyard, and she heard Mr. Renton crying and begging for his life, and they chopped him with a machete and put him in a hole in the ground. She told McCoy that she would show him the place. McCoy also said that he and Edgar Eude took Mrs. Renton to Patook bar, going in a pitpan (flatboat) across the lagoon. McCoy said that Mrs. Renton fell down going along the beach and was crying, and the child was crying, saying that they had put her father in a hole in the ground. Mr. Renton was very fond of the child. It was a clean bright child and fond of Renton, who was very devoted to it.
At Patook, Edgar Eude put Mrs. Renton in prison, taking a house by force from a Creole man and boarding it up. After the 26th I went to Patook especially to see her, but was not allowed to see her. They prevented Mrs. Renton from getting word to anyone. Eude sent a letter to Dawe saying Renton and a party of men were coming from Caratasca Lagoon to take Mrs. Renton from them, and wanted them all to come to Patook to help him. Isert and Kittle left the cay to join Edgar Eude. When they got over there they started over to Caratasca, but got frightened at some Waikas coming along the beach, and thinking they were the Americans left Mrs. Renton to go on. I heard this from Edgar Eude, who also said that he was sorry that they had not done as they intended—made away with Mrs. Renton and child. There would have been no more of it. This was said when they got the newspapers from the United States I thought that the long delay at Patook and the sending for the others showed that Edgar Eude was afraid to go on with his part of the affair to do away with Mrs. Renton and the child at the river 12 miles beyond Patook. When they all returned from Patook they did not say much. Mr. Resfman, the comandante at Iriona, told them to get ready and go to Truxillo. He took my name, and Mr. Dawe’s also. Mr. Dawe said that he would not let me [Page 913] go, as I was Mr. Renton’s witness. Dawe paid Stevens $50, so Stevens told me, not to testify at Truxillo against him. Charles Johnson left with the party from Truxillo. Isert was on the cay from Christmas, 1893, till after the murder. After he went to Truxillo he came to the cay for his wife, and she went to Allen’s to cook. After they all came hack from Truxillo they did not talk much. A man from Belize named Allen Davis, working for the company, was sent by Dawe, in the boat Lucia, to get the hides and rubber at Renton’s, and to bring them across the bar to the schooner Lizzie and Susan. This schooner took them to Truxillo, and she brought back 5 tierces of liquors, wine, and anisette, contraband; brought them from a bark that was lying off Truxillo. I said to the captain of the boat when he returned, “What did you bring?” He said, “I brought back Renton’s rubber and hides turned into liquor.” They sent me after the shingles and lumber, and I brought them to the cay to the store. Dawe and Edgar said that they were paid for; they had a receipt from Mrs. Renton. All the cattle, mules, etc., were taken by the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company. One of the mules, a big gray one, I saw ridden by the boy Johnson after the murder. I think that Mrs. Renton’s schedule is very fair. The mining machinery did not belong to Renton, as he had said so when I asked him about his selling parts of it. I understood that there was some money in the house; I do not know how much. Mr. Eude told me that he gave Mrs. Renton $80, and she gave him a receipt. I saw Mr. Dawe take $150 out of the safe, saying that Mr. Renton asked him to give this money to Mrs. Renton, to go to the United States on, by negro Stevens to Brewers Lagoon.
Q. When did you last see Mrs. Renton?—A. I saw her about a month before the murder. Mr. Renton had written a letter over to the cay to me that he wanted some tea and Mrs. Renton wanted a broom. He said he would pay me on the delivery of the things. They would not sell to the Rentons from the store on the cay, nor to me for them if they knew it. I got the things and delivered them. They did not pay me, as they did not have the change. This was the last time I saw Mrs. Renton.
Q. When did you last see Mr. Renton?—A. The last time I saw Mr. Renton was about a week before his death when he was coming home from Port Burchard with some flour, salt, and soap. He stopped all night with me at Plantain River and took supper and breakfast. He was making the journey on horseback.
Q. Do you consider that it was necessary for the cay people to use the old Indian trail across Mr. Renton’s land and walk a mile along the beach to reach it in order to get to their ranch?—A. No, sir. They could have gone to their ranch across the savanna from the first village by another way altogether. It would have been a shorter way.
U. S. S. Montgomery, March, 1895.
Personally appeared before me Sam Davis, an American, and, his statement as above being read over to him, makes oath in accordance with law that this is a true statement of all within his knowledge upon the case under investigation.
Commander, United States Navy.
J. G. Dawe,
Manager Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company.
Sir: The U. S. S. Montgomery, under my command, has been on the Honduras coast for several days, and I have been investigating the circumstances attending the disappearance of Mr. Charles W. Renton, which occurred in March of last year.
As your name figures to some extent in the evidence collected, I offer you the opportunity to make any statement you may wish to place on record in relation to this affair. I also extend the same offer to the following-named persons, or as many of them as are still in your employ, viz, Messrs. Edgar and Fernando Eude, Mr. Arthur Sandham, Mr. Jesse Kittle, and —— Johnson (negro”).
Should you or any of those above named decide to avail yourselves of this offer, I shall expect to see you on board this ship at the earliest possible moment, and request that if convenient to you, you will return with the officer who delivers this, I agreeing by these same to land you again at Cannon Island, should you prefer to use the ship’s boats.
The same officer will hand you an order, signed by Mr. Arthur Isert, for certain papers left by him in your possession, which please deliver.
Awaiting an immediate reply, I am, etc.,
Commander, United States Navy.
J. G. Dawe, Esq.
Dear Sir: Yon would confer a great favor by letting Captain Davis, U. S. N., have the power of attorney issued to me by Mrs. Renton; also the receipt of the B. H. F. Co., and all other papers relating to the matter. Matters will be greatly simplified by doing so. It is a question of damages raised by Mrs. Renton before the United States State Department, and anything you can do to assist Captain Davis in his investigation I am sure will be appreciated by that gentleman and also will relieve us of the odium of the case as it stands.
Statement of John Grosvenor Dawe.
John Grosvenor Dawe, manager of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company, an English subject, sworn, testified as follows:
Difficulty had been going on for two years. About two years before the Renton affair happened we started to try cattle raising. The old trail from Brewers Lagoon village led to the land we took—led through Renton’s land. This trail Renton closed up, and it was the only way to the cattle field, and we wanted to use it. He refused our use of it, and resisted by force; drove away our cattle, and threatened our people with arms. We appealed to the Government and sued for the right of way. The court held that the trail should not have been closed, and I won the suit. This caused bad blood. Renton continually threatened me and the cattle men. On the particular day the fight occurred I left the cay to go to Brewers Lagoon village and the ranch. There are three separate villages. One or 2 miles east of Renton’s I met two cattle men—the negro Johnson and Kittle—in a state of excitement, and was informed by them that Renton and old Johnson had come out and threatened negro Johnson’s life. Negro Johnson had taken a horse loaded with provisions to the ranch. Renton said that if any of the cattle men passed his house on the trail he would shoot them down. Asked the man if he was afraid. He said no, that he only wanted other people with him. I promised him if he went I would follow him and protect him. These occasions had always before dropped without a fight, and I thought that there would be no trouble. He started down, and we followed six or seven hundred yards behind. When the man get opposite the house Renton and old Johnson rushed out of the house and began shooting. Hearing shots and cries, we rushed on as quick as we could and called to Renton to stop shooting. He then turned around and called me “a son of a bitch.” Johnson and Renton each fired once. One bullet missed my head and one fell at my feet. We (Kittle, Fernando Eude, and Dawe) then returned the fire, and old Johnson dropped. Renton then, seeing Johnson drop and we getting rather close, ran away behind some bushes. We followed up, and more shots were exchanged. As he was in shelter, we kept at a respectful distance. We then followed him, and then he went to another shelter, and then we followed him on for two hours and then stopped. If we had caught him we would have killed him. We then sent over to the cay and called for more assistance. In returning I went to the house where Mrs. Renton was and spoke to her, and she said that it was what she had been expecting for a long time, and she said that we were very lucky that the men that Mr. Renton had sent for at Caratasca to clean out our cattle ranch and move the cattle to Nicaragua had not turned up in time; that Renton was a fool to commence shooting too soon. She asked me to give her money to get away, as she had no money or hardly anything left. She did not think Renton, after all, would fight. She asked if I would not help her to get out of the country and to the United States and to her brother. I agreed to give her some money to get home with, and also to furnish an escort to see her safely through. I then returned to the cay with the wounded man Johnson. Edgar Eude, Fernando Eude, and Isert—they agreed to accompany her down as far as Cape Gracias. I told them of the coming of the other party expected to come, and said that I did not believe it. A day or so after, as they were traveling down the coast, they met Renton’s courier returning. My partners (Fernando and Edgar Eude) wrote up and said that they could not stand up against eight; that a dory was coming from sea, working round from the cape, loaded with provisions and gear for the men. I wrote and asked Mr. Sandham and Kittle, and they went down, and I stopped at the cay to defend the place. An Indian, having passed through in the night, said they were coming down to fight; that he had met them on this side of Caratasca Lagoon; that they knew that there had been a fight, and that they were coming down to fight oui party. Our party ran away, and Mrs. Renton [Page 915] then went on to Gape Gracias. Our party returned to the cay. Isert was not in the employ of the company, hut was staying there, having offered to take a schooner off of the beach, it having got there partly through his own fault. I have never heard of Renton since; have hunted for him, and know nothing of his whereabouts. The date of the fight was the 15th or 16th of March, and it all occurred on one day.
Statement of Isert was then read.
Dawe said that of the money mentioned ($200) half was in cash and half in an order. He disagreed with Isert’s statement about the burning of the house. Do not know why Mrs. Renton was kept at Patook. Have not touched anything but what I think I paid for with the $200. Renton shot the cattle of the company. At least, the cattle were shot and it was credited to him. About the piece of land that they had taken for a landing place or embareadero for mahogany, I took a piece of land on the point, about half an acre. The governor said that it was not Renton’s, so I took it. The Government had not given it to Renton and he had paid nothing for it.
That almost about the beginning of the trouble about the road Renton sent to the cay and asked for a passage on board my schooner for his wife to go to Truxillo, and asked if he could put her under my charge, as I was going up. I first refused, but afterwards agreed to it. On the way up to Truxillo Mrs. Renton made advances to me, and asked me to take her under my protection, complaining of illtreatment. I declined, as I was married, and my wife was at Balize. She took a violent dislike to me then.
On the way back one of the company’s employees, Theodore Goff, was a passenger on the boat. One day, just before we got to the cay, when the cabin was shut on account of its raining very heavily, I caught him with Mrs. Renton in a very peculiar position in the cabin. I said nothing; but a few days afterwards it was reported to me that Renton said he would shoot me on sight, as I had taken liberties with his wife. I have been informed that our crowd are not the only ones that Renton threatened to shoot. I had an altercation with Renton on the beach, and Renton started to draw his revolver, but I drew mine quicker, having a shorter one. I never carry arms now except on the beach, where I very often see tigers and alligators, as we travel a great deal at night.
The following questions were put and the answers were given:
Q. How long after you left the cay was the fight, and when did you leave the cay?—A. About four or five hours; we left the cay at daylight.
Q. Did it ever occur to you that negro Johnson himself was at fault, and allowed his mule to run away through negligence, and then took advantage of it and blamed it on Renton because he knew of the trouble between you?—A. No; the halter was cut when we found the horse at the ranch afterwards. When the trail question was decided Renton opened a new trail back of his house.
Q. Was it not possible for Johnson’s mule in running away to trespass on Renton’s land?—A. He might have passed off the trail in going to the ranch; there was a fence along the trail for quite a distance. The land fenced in was about 2 miles across at the widest part, and one of the fences ran back about 3 miles.
Q. Did you not hide along in the bushes behind negro Johnson, so that you could fire at Renton when he came out?—A. No; we came along the trail, and when the firing took place were in the open about 70 or 80 yards off.
Q. What arms did you have?—A. Revolver only, caliber .38, Colt’s double action.
Q. Did negro Johnson have his rifle, and how many cartridges did you give him?— A. He had a rifle and I gave him five or six cartridges.
Q. Did you suppose that you were recognized from Renton’s house?—A. We were near enough to be recognized; I suppose that he did know me, for he called me “a son of a bitch.”
Q. How many shots were fired?—A. Don’t know how many shots were fired.
Q. Who did you send to the cay for reenforcements?—A. Don’t remember.
Q. Why did you send for these men?—A. Because I was afraid of having more trouble on account of the men coming from Caratasca that Charles Stevens brought the news about.
Q. Why did you want them armed?—A. To defend our lives from the party coming from Caratasca.
Q. Why did you write for a keg of powder.—A. Did not write for a keg of powder.
Q. Did you consider Mrs. Renton equal or more than your match in brave?—
Was told that Mrs. Renton was a good shot. She took no part in the fight.
Q. Was Mrs. Renton in sight when you had this fight?—A. I don’t know.
Q. Did you want to kill her with the rest of the Rentons?—A. No.
Q. How long after daylight before the fighting occurred?—A. Four or five hours.
Q. Did you see the party from the cay bring a demijohn of annisette with them?—A. Yes.
Q. Do you consider that the crime of murder is liable to be punished in this [Page 916] country?—A. Certainly; but not with capital punishment—ten years imprisonment, I believe.
Q. Did you have the arms in the house delivered up?—A. Not to me.
Q. Did you know of Renton being wounded?—A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. It has been testified to that you described the wounds that Renton had received when you came back to the cay.—A. Do not remember saying so.
Q. Where was Johnson when you went into Renton’s house?—A. Lying on the ground outside.
When asked about details about chasing Renton up into the bush, he changed his statement and said that he had gone into the house before going after Renton.
Asked about the discrepancy of his leaving the cay, and returning to it the same day, from the statement of others, admitted that he had made a wrong statement— that he had waited in Brewers Lagoon village during the night—and said that he would like to change his statement.
Q. What time did the party come from the cay to Brewers Lagoon village?—A. Could not say what time the party came, as I had fever.
Q. Who were in the party?—A. Isert, Sandham, and Fernando and Edgar Eude.
Q. Did not Fernando Eude and Kittle go around the lagoon and bring up at the cay before the rest of the party left?—A. Yes.
Q. Did you take $150 from the safe when you got back to the cay?—A. I took $100.
Q. Who did you send it back to the Renton’s by?—A. Don’t remember.
Q. Did you say that Mr. Renton asked you to give Mrs. Renton this money to see her to the United States?—A. Did not make such a remark; only sent it to Mrs. Renton.
Q. Have you not been afraid of everybody interested in this matter since?—A. No; I have tried and asked to have the thing straightened up.
Q. Did you not know that Renton all this time was dead?—A. No.
Q. Why, then, did you write to Edgar Eude, at Patook, that they had finished Renton?—A. I am sure that I never did write such a letter.
Q. How much did you pay the officer in charge of the soldiers who came to the cay on Good Friday?—A. Nothing. Yes, I did; I paid him $80. This was money sent from the Government estanco, at Patook Bar, belonging to the Government, and I gave it to Captain Fortin.
Q. Was there not a Carib officer named Gallanita with the party?—A. Yes; he was with them.
Q. Why did you stop the payment of the check which you gave to Charles Johnson on the Port Burchard Company?—A. I stopped it because he had not gone out of the country.
Q. How much did you pay him altogether to go away?—A. Forty or 50 sols. Q. Then the company paid Johnson 40 or 50 sols to go away?—A. Yes. Q. How much did you pay Stevens not to give testimony at Truxillo?—A. Nothing. Q. How much did you pay McCoy?—A. Nothing; he owes the company $150, and he ran away after Good Friday.
Q. You were glad to have him go, were you not?—A. No.
Q. Was he not present at Renton’s?—A. He was not; he accompanied Mrs. Renton, but came with the party from the cay.
Q. Why were you all so anxious to have all these people out of the way?—A. I don’t know that we were anxious.
Q. Did not Edgar Eude go to Port Burchard and try and get Sam Davis to go to the United States on board a steamer from Brewers Lagoon?—A. Edgar Eude never told me about it. I discharged Sam Davis for drunkenness. He sued me for an account of $700, and it was decided by arbitration in my favor.
Q. Did you ever try to induce Sam Davis to keep his mouth shut about the Renton affair?—A”. No.
Q. Did you not hold a court on Sam Davis in the store at the cay?—A. No. What did happen was this: Sam Davis accused Mr. Brinton of having said that we were a gang of murderers; Brinton denied it. Sam said that Brinton did say it. This was at my house, and Mr. Price was present—the only meeting ever held at my house.
Q. Did you take statements from all those people?—A. Yes; from old man Johnson, Stevens, and negro Johnson. The last-named man has left our employ.
Q. Why did you detain Johnson at the cay?—A. Did not detain him.
Q. Why did Johnson say so, then, to the people that came to the-cay?—A. He talked a good deal and told different stories to different people. He was grateful for the treatment he received at the cay. He gave a statement about the affair immediately after it occurred.
Q. Did he go to Truxillo with the party?—A. Yes; he started there and I do not know why he was left on the way.
Q, Why were Davis and the negro Johnson left behind?—A. Do not know; the judge did not take their names.
Q. Did you not have a letter from Mrs. Renton, after the first shooting occurred, [Page 917] asking to settle the affair amicably, all parties going to the cay f—A. The only letter was one from Mrs. Renton to Mr. Eude, from Caratasca, detailing the organized raid.
The witness was here told by Commander Davis that his statement was directly at variance with the statements of other parties received by the investigation before coming to Honduras and having been proved by evidence taken in Honduras, the parties who made these statements having in the meantime had no communication with others, proving conclusively that there was foundation for these statements. The account of the shooting on the two successive days of March 15 and 16, and the story of the murder of Renton and the abduction of Mrs. Renton and child, as it had been brought out by the investigation, was then recited to him in detail. On its completion Dawe broke down completely and asked permission to make another statement. This privilege was granted him, and he was told that he was given the opportunity to make a statement in the first place, and he had expressed a desire to straighten the matter out. The witness said, “It is rather hard to have to criminate one’s self.”
Commander Davis. As you were told in the beginning, your statements here are purely voluntary testimony. I have no power or desire to compel you to testify. I say the same to you now. When I wrote you yesterday offering you the opportunity to make a statement, you expressed yourself as pleased that the matter was to be cleared up. You were willing to be sworn.
Dawe. Yes; but now I have lied under oath; I am guilty of perjury.
Commander Davis. You could not be held for perjury if you retract under examination. You are given the opportunity to correct your statement. That saves you from perjury.
Dawe then made the following statement:
The story as the captain has told it is true except in some particulars. The fight did take two days. After the fight on the first day I returned to the other village, where I had fever, which lasted for some hours. During the night, about 2 o’clock, the other people arrived from the cay. I was then in the sweating stage of fever, nearly over the fever, but I went with them before daylight and climbed through the swamp. Part of the party went one way and the other part went another. From the party I went with, there was only one shot fired; from the other party there were two shots fired when Mr. Renton appeared at his door coming out of his house. I did not see the shooting, as I was behind. One shot hit Mr. Renton—hit him on the right side [pointing below the ribs]. The house was surrendered, and I saw Mr. Renton with the wound. I proposed to take him over to the cay with Johnson to cure him. I wanted to do so, but the others decided differently and prevailed. I protested against the burning of the house and the destruction of the property, but I was sent away with Johnson. I considered that my life had been in danger from Renton, and knew that he had singled me out during the first fight, one bullet having passed by my head and another striking at my feet. At the second fight I was unnerved myself, and did not fire. I was too far away and did not see the shooting.
Dawe also stated that the papers called for in the order of Isert’s delivered him, with my letter, were in Edgar Eude’s trunk, locked up, and that Eude was absent. He did not feel authorized to force open the trunk, and could not produce the papers.
Statement of Jesse J. Kittle.
Jesse J. Kittle, of Comanche County, Tex., age 24 years, sworn:
I am in the employ of the Brewers Lagoon Wood and Produce Company. Mr. Dawe told me to send a horse and provisions to Sicre. I sent a horse and boy in the morning. Mr. Dawe came over from the cay with Mr. Fernando Eude. About the time they reached the village the boy came back and said that Renton had threatened him with a rifle; had taken his horse from him; tried to take his rifle. Mr. Dawe told Johnson to go back and they would go with him. When he got up to Kenton’s, Renton and Johnson came out and told him to stop, and Renton fired, and the boy dropped on his knees and returned the fire. Dawe and Fernando ran up to the boy, and Renton ran away. He did not see the affair. Dawe came back to the village and told what had occurred, and Edgar Eude came over the next morning and all went up to Renton’s house about 8 o’clock. Mrs. Renton said that the only money she had was $7. She gave her power of attorney for the property, and it was agreed to take her to the cape. We took Mrs. Renton to Tabaconti. Mrs. Renton said then she did not know what had become of Renton. She had no way to find him.
Kittle was given an opportunity to correct his statements, and was told what the evidence was regarding the case in possession of the United States Government. He said that he did not know anything different, and could only tell the truth.
Statement of Gregorio Torres.
Native of Honduras, and living at the Indian village alongside of the site of Renton’s house. Was interrogated in the house where he lived, and stated that he had lived at the place for nine years; that he knew Mr. Charles W. Renton very well, and worked for him at different times during the seven years that Renton lived there; that he had helped build the fence on Mr. Renton’s land. When asked if Mr. Renton had compelled the Indians to work for him at the point of a rifle, he ridiculed the idea. Said they were always paid. He found him always just and fair in his dealings. Never had any trouble with him, and that he was liked also by all the Indians about there. Mrs. Renton was also liked by the Indians. Renton bought sarsaparilla, rubber, and hides from the Indians, and always paid them. He said he made a trip to the capital, when Renton went there to see about his land. That an American, whose name Torres did not know, but described by him as a large man, went with Renton to see the President of the Republic. Renton told Torres that the President gave him a concession of the land to cultivate and do what he pleased with it, and he saw a paper which Renton had, giving him a title to the land. He was absent from the village when Renton was killed, but he heard from other people living there about Renton’s death. That Renton after being shot was carried into his (Torres’s) house, and was kept there until they took him away that night about 8 o’clock. Renton owed Torres at the time of his death, but he knew that he would have been paid if Renton had not been killed.
Statement of Roberto.
Roberto, an Indian, stated that he went with Edgar and Mrs. Renton and the little girl and McCoy to Patook; that they took a pitpan across the lagoon, and walked the rest of the distance. That they left Renton lying wounded in the waika hut. He stated that he saw Mrs. Renton’s wound in the wrist.
Statement of Charles Stevens.
Charles Stevens, a native of Jamaica, colored, stated that he was present on the ground when the first day’s shooting took place; that when the negro Johnson came by Renton’s place Renton did not abuse him, but objected to his going through his trail and passing his house with a loaded rifle, and told him that he was an American and ought to be a friend of his instead of working for the Dawe people, who were his enemies. He also said that he saw the shooting, and showed the place where the parties stood when they fired at Renton, demonstrating that these parties were not in sight of Johnson and Renton, but were well concealed behind the bushes and trees which stood between the house and the beach of the lagoon. He said that only one shot was fired from Renton or Johnson, but ten or twelve shots were fired by the Dawe party, when Johnson was wounded; and that Renton pulled Johnson into the house and shut the door. The next morning he came in a dory to the beach close to Renton’s house, just after the firing took place, and he saw Arthur Sand-ham behind one of the trees in front of Renton’s house. He showed where the other people stood when they laid in wait for Renton, firing from the two sides when he (Renton) came out of his back door. He stated that he saw Renton after he was wounded and while he was lying in the waika hut; that he did not consider Renton’s wound very bad, but one that easily could be cured. He said that he (Renton) seemed very cheerful at the time, as he then probably did not have any idea that they were going to finish him. He says that Mrs. Renton was in the hut also, as he talked with them both. Renton ate some soup which McCoy prepared for him. He was not present at the rest of the proceedings, but he remembers seeing Mrs. Renton’s wound; that it looked as if she was shot through the wrist by a buckshot. [In Sam Davis’s testimony Arthur Isert carried a shotgun and cartridges loaded with buckshot, and in Mrs. Renton’s statement Arthur Isert shot her.] He had heard since from negro Johnson, who was with the gang of murderers that night, the night of the 16th, that the party after hauling Renton out of this hut after dark killed him and chopped up his body, put it in a dory, and dropped the pieces one by [Page 919] one in the lagoon as they went across, and finally they buried the head and trunk on the embarcadero. He knows of his own knowledge that the party came to the cay about 4 o’clock in the morning. He also stated that Jesse Kittle’s waika girl refused to wash out the bloody shirt which he brought back to the house, agreeing with the well-known idea of the Indian not to touch human blood.