After 8-year-old Mollie King and her mother, Hannah King Snider, suffered identical mysterious, excruciating illnesses resulting in their deaths in the late summer of 1876, the Tipton County coroner had their stomachs sent to the Indiana Medical College for analysis. The results showed that both mother and daughter had died of strychnine poisoning, and the obvious suspect was Hannah’s opportunistic young husband, Dan.
The next day, a Tipton County judge issued an arrest warrant, and Snider was taken to jail, tried, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison. But in 1893, after he’d served 17 years, his supporters presented Indiana Governor Claude Matthews a petition, demanding that he pardon Snider. Surprisingly, the governor obliged, but warned Snider he'd best “keep his nose clean.”
Two years later, Snider blew it and was arrested in Grant County for stealing a horse and buggy. He walked out of the state prison for the second and final time in March of 1897, settled down in Tipton, took a new bride, and established himself as an upholsterer and carpenter.
His second wife, Emma Jane, lost her life in a gruesome, highly suspicious, kitchen fire in 1920, but Snider sloughed off speculation that he’d set it and moved to Russiaville. That is where, in the spring of 1929, he shuffled across the railroad track on his way to the fishing hole and was flattened by a train.
Snider is buried in the sprawling Russiaville Cemetery. I stopped there on May 30, 2017. It took me a while to find his marker. When I finally did, I couldn’t muster much sympathy for the loneliness I sensed from it. The grave sends a fitting message about its occupant—unimpressive and easily overlooked.
Mollie and Hannah occupy unmarked graves in Tipton’s Fairview Cemetery. Sadly, unless someone finds the records revealing the location of their graves, they will remain unknown. Mollie and Hannah’s stories, however, will not. •