26-year-old Coal Miner
Cause of Death: Faked Railroad Accident
Murder Scene and Date
Milwaukee Road tracks
March 29, 1897
By Nancy Bowers
From the 1850s through the first four decades of the 20th Century, Appanoose County was one of Iowa’s principal coal mining areas.
Mines in Clarksdale, Diamond, Mystic, Rathbun, Jerome, and Darbyville dotted Walnut Creek as it flowed through Walnut Township.
The coal removed in these mines was shipped out on the Milwaukee Road, officially known as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad.
Mining was a tough job performed by tough men. And sometimes — as on any job — arguments broke out, offenses were given and taken, and personalities clashed.
Through some means, Mystic coal miner Elmer Anderson, a 26-year-old Swedish immigrant who lived in Darbyville, developed foes.
On Monday morning, March 29, 1897, Anderson’s mangled body — “ground into a hundred pieces,” according to newspapers — was found on the Milwaukee railroad tracks near Mystic.Despite the condition of the body, Anderson could be identified.
Authorities told the public that Elmer Anderson was killed “by enemies in Mystic” and then placed on the railroad tracks to be run over.
Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.
- ☛ appanoosecounty.net.
- ☛ “Condensed Iowa,” Daily Iowa Capital, March 31, 1897.
- ☛ “Mangled Body Found,” Iowa State Bystander, April 2, 1897.
- ☛ miningartifacts.homestead.com, 2008.