Edson Benjamin- “A Cowardly Murder,” Part 4

"Murder in the First Degree" Part 1. The Hood River Glacier, April 19, 1901, Vol. 12, No. 48, Page 2, Column 1. Public domain. (Click to enlarge.)
“Murder in the First Degree” Part 1. The Hood River Glacier, April 19, 1901, Vol. 12, No. 48, Page 2, Column 1. Public domain.

The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, Oregon, continued the saga with results of the trial of Jim Green for the murder of Edson V. Benjamin on April 19, 1901, page 2. (Fast trials back then.)


    “Stevenson, Wash., April 13. – James G. Green was found guilty of murdering E.V. Benjamin at Wendorf’s near Underwood’s landing, March 24. The jury returned a verdict of murder in the first degree after delivering 45 minutes. Although the verdict was received in stolid silence by the defendant, he had broken down during the trial and had made an open confession of his crime. A new trial will be asked for. It was the sight of the widow of the murdered Benjamin with her great sorrow, that unnerved Green and caused him to alter his mind as to fighting the cause to the end. After the session of the first day he called his counsel and Judge Miller, and declared that he wanted to trial over as soon as possible, as he was unable to bear the sight of Mrs. Benjamin’s grief.

    “I killed Benjamin,” said Green, “and should receive the punishment. I want to plead guilty and hang here in Stevenson. Benjamin is dead, but I can’t stand the sight of Mrs. Benjamin in the court room.”

    “This being the desire of the confessed murderer to have the agony of the trial over, the prosecution cut short the testimony to be introduced, and this gave Green an opportunity to take the stand and tell his story. He began by stating that he was 31 years old, and then spoke of his visit to the Hayne’s home and his departure from there at 11 o’clock at night for his logging camp.”

"Murder in the First Degree" Part 2. "Murder in the First Degree" Part 1. The Hood River Glacier, April 19, 1901, Vol. 12, No. 48, Page 2, Column 1. Public domain.
“Murder in the First Degree” Part 2. “Murder in the First Degree” Part 1. The Hood River Glacier, April 19, 1901, Vol. 12, No. 48, Page 2, Column 1. Public domain. (Click to enlarge.)

   “When I came to Wendorf’s I saw a light. I looked in through the window and noticed Benjamin sitting there with Nellie Brown, and I raised my gun and shot him. I didn’t realize what I had done until I seen him fall back, then I went to Haynes’ and told what Mrs. Haynes swore to yesterday. We had emptied a couple of bottles of whiskey. I had one bottle with me, about at drank in it, which I finished on the road. I didn’t know there was a dance at Wendorf’s place nor the whereabouts of Benjamin. I was told he had moved to a logging camp on the White Salmon, 18 miles away. I had no trouble with Benjamin, nothing serious. We had trouble one time and fixed it up, and shook hands over it, and was as good friends as ever. I have known Nellie Brown for three years. Three months after I first met her we were engaged. This lasted until New Year’s of 1901.

    “Asked if Benjamin was the cause of the breaking of the engagement, Green declined to express himself, stating that he did not desire to make any exposures. When asked what his feelings were toward Nellie Brown, the defendant broke down and cried, replying that he loved the woman better than his life.

    “Counsel for the defense argued for a verdict of murder in the second degree, as he said there was no testimony showing the deed to have been premeditated. The prosecution demanded conviction in the first degree or acquittal. It required the jury but 45 minutes to return a verdict of murder in the first degree.

    “When he realized that his fate was sealed, Green’s desire to be hanged immediately at Stevenson underwent a change, and he requested his attorneys to fight the case as hard as possible, and ask for a new trial. Green has been returned to Vancouver pending the decision on the motion and sentence.”


Edson was my first cousin, four times removed, so not quite as distant as I first thought. He and Jennie had no children to carry on the story, and I learned of it through an email via Find A grave from a person who documents the area.  He had already done some research, and I had some in place, such as Edson’s parents and ancestors, plus I did more research and found the additional news stories. I am so glad that Edson’s story can finally be told!

We really don’t know much about Edson’s wife Jennie. She was the daughter of  James B. Munger and Julia A. (maiden name unknown, born Ireland in Feb of 1837). Jennie was born in Jan 1866 in New Jersey. She married Edson Benjamin 4 Mar 1887 in Polk Co., Nebraska. (Polk Co. Marriage Records vol 2, p 59) Jennie was just 34 when the Underwood Landing tragedy took her husband in 1901. She remarried  18 Feb 1908 to Alfred P. Slade (1867-1930) in Multnomah, Oregon; it was his second marriage as well. (He may have been married to Mattie MNU and had a step-child, Rebecka Clifton, living with them in the 1900 US Federal Census for Dayton, Yamhill, Oregon. This needs to be confirmed that it is the same person, as no occupation listed.)  Alfred was listed as an orchardist/fruit farmer in the 1910 and 1920 US Federal Censuses, and he owned his farm. By 1926 they had moved to 1588 Ellmore in Portland, Oregon, where Alfred was a tire maker at age 59. No children are listed in any of the censuses of Alfred and Jennie, and as they were both about 42 when married, they may not have ever had children.

Jennie died on 04 July 1927 in Aberdeen, Gray’s Harbor, Washington. Alfred became a boarder and was living in Portland still at the 1930 US Federal Census. He was a laborer doing odd jobs at age 62 in April of 1930. We have been unable to find death information for him, though an Alfred P. Slade is listed in FAG in Darke, Ohio, where Alfred was born; this person, however, may be his father.

[Editor’s Note re: updates-  See “I warn everybody to keep out of such scrapes.” – the murderer of Edson Benjamin, published 26 Feb 2015. Also, Ancestry.com has transferred Martha “Jennie” Munger Benjamin Slade’s Find A Grave memorial to me, so now that is updated as well.]


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Historic Oregon Newspapers:

The Hood River Glacier, April 19, 1901, Vol. 12, No. 48, Page 2, Column 1. Public domain. http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn97071110/1901-04-19/ed-1/seq-2/

2) 1910 US Federal Census for the Slades- Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: East Hood River, Hood River, Oregon; Roll: T624_1278; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0084; FHL microfilm: 1375291. Ancestry.com, accessed 10/22/14.

3) 1920 US Federal Census for the Slades- Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Hood River, Hood River, Oregon; Roll: T625_1494; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 77; Image: 826. Ancestry.com, accessed 10/22/14.

4) Portland, Oregon City Directory- Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed 10/22/14.

5) 1930 US Federal census for Alfred P. Slade- Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon; Roll: 1954; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0551; Image: 1109.0; FHL microfilm: 2341688. Ancestry.com, accessed 10/22/14.

6) 1900 US Federal census for Alfred P. Slade and Mattie MNU- Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Dayton, Yamhill, Oregon; Roll: 1353; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0166; FHL microfilm: 1241353. Accessed via Ancestry.com on 10/22/14.

7) Jennie Munger Benjamin Slade’s Find A Grave memorial # 62763729 has her name listed incorrectly, but the keeper of the memorial has passed on and I have been unable to get it changed over to correct and add information. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Benjamin&GSiman=1&GScid=38938&GRid=62763729&


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