Cora: The Rain and the Corn (8)

Read the full Cora Stallman series here.


 

The wind and the corn talk things over together.
And the rain and the corn and the sun and the corn
Talk things over together. — Carl Sandburg

Aug. 10-27, 1925. Coles County, IL.

Coles County had rolled into the deepest part of summer, with days of 90 degrees or more.

The heat had to be endured — there was just too much to do. There were church picnics and family reunions, orchestra dances and club outings. At the tiny town of Dorans, about a mile west of Anna Seaman’s farm, a nightly tent revival meeting ran for two weeks. “Our services are short during the summer weather,” advertised the First Christian Church.

The electric fans never stopped rumbling.

Continue reading “Cora: The Rain and the Corn (8)”

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.

Continue reading “Cora: How Deceptive Appearances May Be (7)”

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: 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.

Continue reading “Cora: The Bullet Hole (5)”

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)”

Cora: People Are Talking (3)

More evidence than answers.

Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 3-4, 1925. Mattoon, IL.

Cattle and crops can’t go untended, so it didn’t raise eyebrows when Anna and Thomas Seaman returned from Cincinnati immediately after Cora Stallman’s funeral. She was buried on Monday afternoon, Aug. 3; they were back in Mattoon that night.

Perhaps more unusual: Once they returned, Thomas took to his bed.1

Continue reading “Cora: People Are Talking (3)”

Cora: Her Life Before (2)

Cora Stallman died on a farm, but she lived most of her life in the city.

Continue reading “Cora: Her Life Before (2)”