Martin Fortner Branstetter

This Account of the death of Martin Fortner Branstetter was published in The Weekly Standard, Eureka, California, dated Saturday, January 8, 1876.

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Main Street. Ferndale, Ca.

A Horrible Affair -The recent cutting affair in Ferndale, incurring the death of M. F. Branstetter, has not its equal in the history of Humboldt County, and the more facts ascertained concerning the case a darker hue grows upon the whole. As before stated in the Standard, John Hendley and M. F. Branstetter in Ferndale, last Tuesday, got into a dispute over twenty-five cents while playing at a came of cards, when the latter rose and slapped Hendley in the face, who instantly grasped Branstetter by the shirt bosom near the collar, and drawing a knife, which had a blade seven inches in length, and stabbed his antagonist nine different times. The first gash disabled the unfortunate man, the blade having entered the shoulder and then passing down the arm to the elbow, severing the flesh clear to the bone the entire length of the cut. There were three other gashes in the same arm and two in the right, and one six inches in length across the stomach, severing his entrails in six places. Another took effect in the left breast, and the ugliest looking one of all in the back. All this work was accomplished almost before the bystanders could realize the horrible tragedy being enacted. At the preliminary examination we understand that witnesses testified that Branstetter kept retreating, evidently endeavoring to free himself from his murderer, and when a chair was put between them it was with difficulty that Hendley could be induced to let go of his hold. It seems he then started for the stable and asked for his horse, but an officer immediately took him in charge, thereby frustrating all motives of escape. The condition of Branstetter was revolting, his gaping wounds, his entrails protruding from his bowels, the human blood running over the floor, presenting a scene that many could not stand to witness.  In this fearful state he lingered twenty-eight hours. His family and a physician were summoned to the residence of P. F. Hart, where the already dying man was carried. But their efforts could not stay the hand of death, and after hours of intense agony M. F. Branstetter breathed his last. He was the father of eleven children, one being married, and all living. Being a man of more than usual nerve, he was resolute and suffered his pains like a martyr, and seemed perfectly conscious of his immediate death, telling those around him that he knew he was going to die, and there was no use of them concealing the fact. At times it became necessary to put him under the influence of chloroform that he may be quiet, and then again it would require the efforts of four strong men to hold him down.  Hendly is a single man, and has been known to carry a knife for several years, and has engaged in a row almost every time he came into town. His preliminary examination came off before a Justice of the Peace, when he was directed to await the action of the Grand Jury on a charge of murder. The prisoner was brought into the city yesterday, by Dave Roberts and P. Fulmer, and remanded to the custody of Sheriff Bulkjey, who immediately placed him in the County Jail. Hendley did not seem to be unnerved in the least, and dismounted from his horse, tied the animal to a railing and then conversed freely with some acquaintances, who happened to be present, while the Sheriff was reading the commitment.

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