Byron Francis SALISBURY

Harry Heaton SALISBURY


Family Links

1. Lillian "Lillie" Mae FORSHEY

Harry Heaton SALISBURY 3

  • Born: 14 Aug 1871, Kirkwood, Warren Co, IL 4
  • Marriage (1): Lillian "Lillie" Mae FORSHEY on 11 Feb 1892 in Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA 1 2
  • Died: 5 Aug 1904, Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA at age 32 4
  • Buried: Evergreen Cem, Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA 4

bullet  General Notes:

PHOTO: from

1880 NE CENSUS, Clay Co, Lewis precinct: Harrie H. Salisbury, 8, b. IL, parents b. IL. He was living with his parents, Byron F. & Luella Salisbury, and a brother.

Harry H. Salisbury
Harry H. Salisbury
32 YOA
Red Oak Creek
Red Oak, IA
Montgomery Co., IA
August 5, 1904
By Nancy Bowers
In 1904, Harry Salisbury lived at 101 W. First Avenue in Red Oak and worked at the pottery company on West Coolbaugh Street. On the night of Thursday August 4, he went to work as usual and was last seen at 2:00 the following morning at the end of the shift.
When Salisbury failed to come home for breakfast, his worried wife Lillian instigated a search.
About 2:00 p.m., Harry Salisbury's body was found lying below a footbridge across shallow Red Oak Creek, which meanders through town. He was lying in a small amount of water, although his mouth was not submerged. Salisbury's watch and money were missing.
At first, it was believed Salisbury took ill while crossing the bridge and fell in Red Oak Creek and drowned. However, from the beginning rumors persisted that foul play was involved. Several newspapers \emdash without putting the quote into context \emdash stated that a local woman heard a voice during the night say, "I fixed him and he won't bother me no more."
Salisbury belonged to the Knights of Maccabees, a fraternal order which offered legal reserve insurance that paid benefits to families of deceased members.
The group was particularly concerned about the cause of Salisbury's death because he held a $1,000 policy with them. Just before the funeral was to begin in the Salisbury home, the Maccabees demanded an autopsy. Salisbury's funeral continued and his body was taken to the cemetery and lowered into the grave. As soon as family and friends left, the body was brought up and autopsied; vital organs were removed and sent to Des Moines.
A Limited Investigation
The autopsy found no bruises on the body and no water in the lungs; the only signs of trauma were two scratches on Salisbury's head. Salisbury's stomach was examined by State Chemist Charles Noyes Kinney. Kinney's report \emdash which was not issued until the following October \emdash reported the presence of morphine and other poisons. Kinney tallied the exact amount of each substance, hoping that would lead to the person who sold or gave the drugs to Salisbury. Authorities concluded that Salisbury was given "knock-out drops" so he could be robbed.
Too Much Secrecy?
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors offered a $200 reward for information about the murder. But the case seemed to go nowhere, and some thought the local Sheriff wasn't looking very hard for the guilty party.
The Red Oak Sun reported on the secrecy attached to the investigation and connected the murder to two other unsolved deaths:
"The methods now being made [sic] to locate the guilty parties, and the progress already made are facts that the ones in authority will not divulge.
The opinion is growing . . . that the same parties are responsible for three mysterious deaths that have occurred in the city during the past two years, viz; that of the Jew who was found dead beneath a brush pile south of the railroad yards two years ago, the man who was found under the viaduct near the depot last spring, and the late Harry Salisbury. If there is any likelihood of any such deeds being the work of one man or set of men, there s
hould be a reward of no less than two or three thousand dollars for the offenders dead or alive."
A Tribute From Fellow Firefighters
Harry Salisbury was a well-respected volunteer fireman with the Harris Hook and Ladder Fire Brigade, which issued this proclamation:
"Whereas Death has claimed a member of the Red Oak Fire Department in the person of Harry Salisbury, who for more than ten years has been an active and efficient worker for the protection and welfare of our city. Therefore be it resolved . . . That the Department extends to Mrs. Salisbury, his widow, and his little son: its sincere sympathy in this their hour of grief, caused by the death of husband and father, who by his faithfulness to every duty imposed on him, and by his courteous treatment of his fellows, won the respect and good will of all."
Harry often played his fiddle at Fire Department social activities. A photo of Harry Salisbury in his fireman's uniform hung in the old Red Oak Fire Station as late as 1951. Its whereabouts now are unknown.
Family Lore
Since 1904, Salisbury's family has speculated on the motives and suspects in the unsolved murder.
One relative told others many years ago that on the morning he was murdered Harry played poker with his payday earnings at the end of the night-shift. After winning the pot, he set out for home and was accosted by a robber.
One version had him being struck by a hammer, although autopsy information that was made public mentions no such injuries.
Another relative remembered that Lillian Salisbury asked her to deliver a note to local physician Dr. O.S. Reilly, who performed Harry Salisbury's autopsy. She opened the note along the way and saw it said, "I know who killed Harry and you do too. When are you going to tell?" Some heard that Dr. Reilly knew who killed Harry Salisbury but would not reveal the name until all parties involved were dead. It's assumed he died before the guilty party did.
The spot near where Salisbury's body was found became a junk yard owned by a family member.
The Life of Harry Salisbury
Harry Heaton Salisbury was born August 14, 1871 in Kirkwood, Warren County, Illinois, to Luella Johnson and Byron Francis Salisbury. He had two brothers \emdash George Theodore Salisbury and David Russell Salisbury \emdash as well as two sisters, Francis Maud Salisbury Saddler Snyder and Kathryn L. Salisbury Chain.
When Harry was young, the Salisbury family moved from Illinois to Lewis in Clay County, Nebraska. By 1885, they had settled in Red Oak. Harry Heaton Salisbury married Lillian Mae Forshey in Red Oak on February 11, 1892. They had two sons, Frederick Salisbury \emdash who died at the age of 3 in 1895 \emdash and Harry Dale Salisbury, who was born in 1896.
After the autopsy, Salisbury's body was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Red Oak.
Information Needed
Questions and information about the unsolved 1904 murder of Harry Heaton Salisbury should be directed to the Red Oak Police Department at 712-623-6500.
"Boy Was Murdered," The Democrat, October 19, 1904.
"Death Due To Poisoning," Semi-Weekly Reporter, October 14, 1904.
"Funeral Is Stopped," Ireton Weekly Ledger, September 2, 1904.
"Harry Salisbury Was Poisoned," Des Moines Capitol, October 11, 1904.
"He Was Poisoned," Palo Alto Reporter, October 13, 1904.
"He Was Poisoned," Pocahontas County Sun, October 13, 1904.
"May Have Been Drugged," Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, October 11, 1904.
"May Have Been Murdered," Cedar Falls Gazette, October 21, 1904.
"May Solve Mystery; Poison In Stomach," Tri-City Star, October 11, 1904.
Melissa Hillstrom, Personal Correspondence, July 2011.
"Murder Mystery Solved," Iowa Postal Card, October 27, 1904.
"Murder Mystery Solved," Rake Register, October 21, 1904.
Red Oak Sun.
Roxann Wilson Brannan, Personal Correspondence, July 2011.
Salisbury family memories,
Sharon Dorrell Dodrer, Personal Correspondence, July 2011.
"State Items Of Interest," Cedar Falls Gazette, September 6, 1904.
"State Items Of Interest," Morning Sun News-Herald, September 1, 1904.
"Was Salisbury Murdered?" Cedar Rapids Weekly Gazette, August 17, 1904

Montgomery Co., IA WPA Graves Registration:
Harry H. Salisbury
(Obit: Independent Waverly 10-27-1904)


Harry married Lillian "Lillie" Mae FORSHEY, daughter of Samuel FORSHEY and Nancy Jane SHAMBLEN, on 11 Feb 1892 in Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA.1 2 (Lillian "Lillie" Mae FORSHEY was born on 12 Feb 1874 in OH,1 died on 6 Oct 1937 in Clarinda, Page Co, IA and was buried in Evergreen Cem, Red Oak, Montgomery Co, IA.)



1 1900 IA Census.

2 Info from Melissa Hillstrom.


4 Montgomery Co, IA WPA.

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