John Nelson was the second person to be hung in Marion county. Invitations were issued to the hanging, which occurred on the 28th of Feb., 1896, in an enclosure near the Marion county jail at Palmyra, Mo. Witnesses were Francis McCabe, M.D., Silas Sanford, M.D., James Clark, M.D., W. B. Arnold, J. T. Hansbrough, A. J. Gibson, L. H. Sharp, Preston V. Mathews, L. V. White, A. Banks, H. H. Markell.
John Nelson and his wife Lavina, were jointly indicted “as principal and as accessory, shooting with revolver, one John Stull in Ralls county on venue to Marion county.” John Stull at the time of his death was living about 100 yards south of Salt River Switch, a station on the Hannibal and St. Louis railroad, three miles north of New London and six miles Southwest of Hannibal in Ralls county. Stull lived in a two room house, with his old mother, “Mrs. Hughes,” who was feeble and nearly blind, his daughter Mary, age 14, and his son Willie, 8 years of age. John Nelson and wife, in the spring of 1893, located their tent about 360 feet south of Stull’s home. Not long after, Samuel Minor and wife came in a covered wagon and lived near the Nelson tent. Mrs. Minor was the Mother of Lavina Nelson. Mrs. Minor became ill and Nelson pulled the wagon with the sick woman into a slough. Then Stull took the sick woman into his house and his old mother cared for her wants. Stull and Nelson quarreled over the matter. Nelson and his wife went to the Stull home. He had a revolver in his hand, and Lavina had a heavy piece of iron. Lavina assaulted Stull, striking him on the head. Then Nelson fired the revolver. Mm Hughes fell with a bullet hole in her head. Nelson fired again striking Stull in the abdomen. He fell and died in a few minutes. The boy Willie was the only witness. H. Clay Heather was the prosecuting attorney. The jury returned a verdict of murder in the 1st degree.