Cora: How Deceptive Appearances May Be (7)

Read the full Cora Stallman series here.


Friday-Sunday, Aug. 7-9, 1925. Coles County, IL.

On Friday morning, Edith Lilley hit her limit.

The question of how Cora Stallman did, or did not, die had hung over the Lilleys’ farm for a week. It pulled Edith’s husband, Bos, out of bed early the Saturday before, and brought him hustling back home for the telephone. It barged into their conversations and upset their schedules. It kept both of them from sleeping.1 It was a heavy summer haze, hanging over everything. A body could hardly move under it all.

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Cora: Her Face in the Water (6)

Read the full Cora Stallman series here.


Thursday, Aug. 6, 1925. Coles County, IL.

Mattoon Daily Journal-Gazette; Aug. 6, 1925
Mattoon Daily Journal-Gazette; Aug. 6, 1925

By the sixth day, the people of Coles County were tired. The suicide-or-murder question still hadn’t been answered. Cora Stallman’s curious death had made national papers, bringing 19 press agents to Mattoon. They chased the story, and the locals, like a honking flock of geese. For the journalists, too, their time in small-town Illinois was getting old. Telegrams in their pockets barked: Get a story or get home.

Fortunately for everyone, on Thursday, Coroner FS Schilling and the other investigators — State’s Attorney Charles Fletcher, Sheriff Tom McNutt, and Deputy Sheriff Frank Shirley — were ready to talk.

Continue reading “Cora: Her Face in the Water (6)”

Cora: What the Papers Say

Who Sent Out That Tip?

Just who is responsible for a “tip” to the metropolitan papers that a possible murder had been committed is a matter of conjecture. There were nineteen out-of-town reporters in this city on Saturday afternoon, it was reported by officials. All of these were from recent scenes of sensation and crime, equipped with cameras and prepared for a continued stay in investigating the Humbolt township tragedy to a finish. This city was their headquarters. Officials and citizens alike, town and country were the targets for questions and pictures, and details of which these people little dreamed were keenly illustrated in the work of the “newshounds.” Though the object of their search was not to be attained in the environs of this city on this occasion there was afforded a good closeup of metropolitan writers in action. A good idea was formed by many as to how sensational stories are written and the notes for them secured, a number of these questioned said today.

One of the city newswriters even went so far as to say that “he hoped this would hold on for another two or three days,” evidently intending to convey the impression that the assignments accorded them by their papers had proven a real “holiday.”

Mattoon Daily Journal-Gazette; 5 Aug 1925

Cora: The Bullet Hole (5)

Read the full Cora Stallman series here.


Wednesday, Aug. 5, 1925. Coles County, IL.

By August 5, Cora Stallman had been dead for five days, but investigators seemed no closer to finding out how that had happened. The truth continued to evade them like a silver fish in a summer pond, always a second beyond their grasp.

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Cora: Anna and Thomas (4)

The farmer takes a husband.

Anna
Whatever path Cora Stallman followed into Coles County, Illinois, it was her older sister Anna who had cleared the way.

Anna must have been formidable. I’ve only found one photo of her, and you can barely see her face. At Cora’s inquest in late August 1925, she told the news photographers not to take her picture — and they obeyed.1

Continue reading “Cora: Anna and Thomas (4)”