Bio: Hanke, Carl  (Death - 1889)


Contact: Ken Wood



Surnames: Field, Hanke


----Source: Marshfield News  Thursday Nov. 21, 1889


Hanke, Carl (Death - 22 AUG 1889)




Field Murdered at Spokeville


The Supposed Principal in the Killing of Hanke Found Hanging Dead in His Barn.   Removed by Those Who Thought He Would Squeal


On Tuesday of last week the body of Marcinus Field of Sherman was found hanging dead in his barn, and it was first thought that he had suicided. Later developments however tend to prove that he did not died of his own hands, but was the victim of a deep plot.  The theory now is that Field was murdered in order to prevent him giving information regarding the killing of Chas. Hanke, the man for whose murder a warrant was issued against Field.


On the 22nd of August, Carl Hanke was found dead in a lumber camp, near Spokeville, with an empty rifle lying near him and a bullet through his body.  His death was supposed to have been accidental.  It is said that the death of Hanke was due to jealousy, caused by his frequent visits to a house in the neighborhood and the party jealous of Hanke’s visits may have fired the fatal shot.  He is closely watched by authorities and may be arrested.  On the night when Hanke was supposed to have been killed, Field and Hanke were together.  Hanke and Field parted, and the former was never seen alive again.  The theory is that Hanke returned to his camp, where he was shot by the jealous man, Field being a witness to the tragedy. The body of Hanke when found, was lying on its back, with legs spread wide apart, and both arms extended straight out from the shoulder, a position, old soldiers say, that is peculiar when a person is shot.  The body was exhumed and Dr. Reiniking was directed to dissect it and try to trace the course of the ball to see whether the course would bear out the theory of murder.  The doctor discovered that the ball struck the deceased square in the breast, passed through to the spinal column which it shattered, from which neither the course nor the ball could be found, owing to the decayed condition of the body.  He says the ball must have come from directly in front and from an elevation so high that it could not have been done by Hanke himself, either by accident or for the purpose of suicide.


The hanging of Fields adds to the mystery of the affair.  Ever since the death of Hanke, Field was easily startled.  If a person came upon him suddenly he would drop anything he might have in his hands and become greatly agitated.  There is pretty strong testimony showing that the suspected man had threatened to kill Field if he told where they were on the night Hanke was killed.  It seems Field told one or two of his acquaintances of these threats.  It is the opinion of the district-attorney and sheriff, as it is also of Dr. Mulvey, that Field did not hang himself.  It is the theory of the state Field was killed by some unknown person, and then hanged with a view to concealing the fact that he was a victim of foul play. The district attorney has caused Field’s stomach to be sent to Chicago for an analysis of its contents.

The theory of the district attorney is that Hanke was murdered and that Field knew all about it, with the names of the others implicated.  As a warrant was out for Field and he was about to be arrested, the other guilty parties, it is thought, feared he would turn informer and "removed him."


The settlers in the community are very quiet about the affair for fear that the suspected party will do them bodily harm if their suspicions are made public. Information of the most criminating character is in the hands of District Attorney O’Nei l (sic) of Neillsville, the development of which promises to show a deep laid plot in which it is supposed that Field played the part of a tool.


The evidence against Field and his connection with the Hanke murder is almost conclusive and a warrant had been issued on the day previous to the supposed suicide.


On the night that Hanke came to his death, he and Field took supper at the house of Henry Towns, a farmer in the neighborhood, and after supper Field and Towns went out and Hanke remained in the house for about half an hour talking with Mrs. Towns and then started home with a Winchester rifle he had in his possession.  He was about 27 years of age and formerly resided at Lynn, and was engaged in watching the camp of C.L. Coleman.  When Field was told of Hanke’s death he acted just as if he had previous knowledge of the affair and instead of appearing excited over the matter he heard the report with considerable calmness. Field was a short heavy set man and was in the habit of singing while at work, but from the date of the death his entire being seemed to change.  He stopped singing and his actions caused comment among neighbors familiar with his ways.  Time wore on and the suspicions of the neighbors increased. Field was a man of about thirty-five years old and owned a farm about half a mile from Coleman’s camp. He and Towns, who were adjoining neighbors, were on quite intimate terms, exchanging work frequently and when one was absent from home the other did his chores.  The last seen of Fields alive, that is known, was on Sunday night, the 10th.  On Monday, Towns visited Field’s place, as he says, to get his wagon that was there and use it to convey a load of potatoes to Field’s cellar.  He claims to have seem nothing of Fields either when he went for the wagon or when he returned with the potatoes.  The next morning, Tuesday, he went over again and watered the stock and when he came back he told his wife that Fields had not shown up. She told him he ought to go and hunt him up, and he then returned to the Field place and discovered him hanging from a beam in one of the hay mows.  The rope was a new one purchased for Field a few days before at Spencer by Towns.  When the body was found it was cold in death, his face seemed undisturbed, a calmness resting upon it that indicated death without a struggle.  The eyes were closed, the lips parted but little, the face showing no effects of strangulation.  It is supposed by some that Field was first poisoned and then places in the position in which he was found.  The matter is being probed to the bottom and if there has been any one else connected with the death of the partied the penalty of the crime is apt to overtake them.




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