Evans Fritz, the first in succession of undertakers in the Smith Funeral Home & Chapel lineage, was coroner in January 1884, and was charged with the task of investigating a murder at Tully’s saloon in Stringtown, which would later be renamed Oakwood.
An article in the Jan. 6, 1884, edition of the Quincy Daily Whig offered information on the crime, as reprinted from the Hannibal Journal.
“It seems that a young man named Edward Balling was playing 15-ball pool with a wood-hauler in Tully’s saloon, and Balling having eight balls in the pocket, the game, according to the rules, was terminated, but as Balling continued to play, John H. Liles, one of the proprietors of the saloon, went over to the pool table, and taking up the balls placed them in the rack ready for a new game.”
A scuffle ensued over possession of the pool stick. Mr. Liles received an injury to the left side, and subsequently died, according to the newspaper report.
Mr. Fritz called for a coroner’s inquest, and the empanelled men ruled that: “The deceased came to his death from a wound in the left breast by some sharp instrument, said wound being inflicted by the hands of Edward Balling, with said sharp instrument.”
The coroner’s jury consisted of: C.H. Edmondson, foreman; H.H. Cook; John R. Flowerree; Richard E. Dye; Philip J. Ketsdever; and Jos. Bowling Jr.