As the Coroner’s Jury in Colorado Springs was being released, nearly a thousand miles away William Dawson, caretaker of the 1st Presbyterian Church, diligently spent his paycheck paying bills at the kitchen table of his little five room cottage. The house was typical for the time. Originally a four-room cabin, a lean-to addition had been built on at some point in order to expand it. It was still a very small house for him, his wife Charity and his three daughters, Maud, Clarabel and Georgia; the youngest of William and Charity’s seven daughters. William had moved his family into the little house about eight years before, after having spent time in prison for horse theft. Clarabel and Maud had spent the day with friends and family outside of town and were going to stay the night with them as well. Georgia would be thirteen in a couple months and likely sat at the table with her father finishing up her schoolwork.
The Dawsons lived south of the railroad tracks that cut the little town of Monmouth, Illinois in half. It was the section of town referred to by locals as the “Colored” section and Dawson home was next door to the “Colored Church,” Cavalry Baptist. The congregation at Cavalry would eventually move into another building closer to the town square and that building is currently being torn down due to maintenance costs. I’ve already told the story of the discovery of the Dawson’s bodies on Oct. 1, 1911 so I won’t rehash it now but I can tell you the Dawson murders were the first to actually have a suspect arrested and put to a grand jury. Today we remember the victims, William, Charity and Georgia Dawson.