Leelanau County
Potts Tragedy

18 MAR 1901

Will Be Charged With Unnatural Crime

Nathaniel Potts is lying in the county jail at present, and though no formal warrant has been issued against him, it is expected that he will be charged with a most heinous and unnatural crime. Prosecuting Attorney A. F. Bunting will be here from Empire tomorrow, and it is said that Potts will be charged with incest.

Potts is a music teacher, and with his daughter, 30 years of age, has been teaching for the past year in Leelanau county. Of late they have been making their home with John Grocenser, where the daughter is now lying ill, and it is claimed has been the victim of a criminal operation. It is stated that she is at the point of death. It is said that the responsibility for her condition will be charged to her father.

It has been reported that the daughter had made a confession, implicating Dr. Fralick of Maple City, as being the physician who performed the criminal operation. Sheriff Brown of Leland has looked into the case, interviewing those to whom it was claimed the confession had been made, and finds that there has been no such confession and that Dr. Fralick has had no connection with the case and knew nothing of it. None of the parties implicated even know Dr. Fralick.

Potts is a man of 56 years. He was arrested while coming to this city early this morning with Frank Donner. Chief of Police Rennie met them near Norrisville and took Potts in charge. Potts says that he was going to leave the city this morning, but was not running away, simply going to look up more business.

Prosecutor Bunting has been telegraphed for, and will be here tomorrow at 11 o'clock. He will make formal complaint against Potts before Justice Gage.

To a Record reporter this afternoon, Potts declared that the entire matter was a "put-up" job; that there was no truth in any of the charges; that his entire family was to well known to make any such charges hold; that it was all spite work; that the story of a criminal operation is all bosh: that he has made no confession to anybody, as there was nothing to confess; that he knows nothing of what his daughter has stated, not to whom she has spoken. In short he denies all that has been charged or hinted, and shows a disposition to deny anything else that may be suggested against him. He says that he can get any number of freinds to testify to his excellent character. He says that he has had some trouble with parties in Leelanau County and they have taken this advantage of him.

On the other hand, it is stated that Potts has confessed to persons in Leeklanau county, not only in this offense, but to others. There are some things that look very damaging at present. He has retained Putchin & Oretser to defend him.

19 MAR 1901

Victim of Nathaniel Potts is Very Low
Serious Crime is Charged
Waived Examination Before Justice Gage
Examination This afternoon in Elmwood
Complaint Made by James Hilbert
Accused Has Two Other Children

A formal charge was made today against Nathaniel Potts, arrested yesterday by Chief of Police Rennie at the instance of the Leelanau county authorities. A complaint was sworn to by James Hilbert of Leelanau county and a warrant was issued by Justice Gage the charge being incest.

Potts was taken from jail at 3:30 this afternoon and taken to Elmwood township by Sheriff Martin Brown. The examination took place this afternoon before Justice Gage. Potts waived examination and was held to the next term of circuit court. The amount of bail is not yet fixed.

The case begins to assume a very grave aspect and it will probably go very hard with Potts if all the rumors that are rife prove to have any foundation.

His daughter is said to have been the victim of her father's unnatural motions, lies very low today and is is stated that she cannot survivie. There are two younger children, girls, aged 10 and 12, who have no one to look after them. Mr. Hilbert has been caring for them and today he brought them to this city and placed them with Mr. E. Burn's family for the present. The Leelanau county authorities will take steps to have them sent back to Mecosta county where they came from.

There has been a strong feeling of indignation in Leelanau county relative to the alleged crime of Potts and should the illness of his daughter result fatally this may be intensified, although the sentiment is not so pronounced as it was Sunday when there was hints that lynching would not be to harsh treatment for Potts.

Potts formerly lived in Big Rapids, also in Howard City, and although he were not particularily liked by everyone,, none seemed to know anything bad of him or his habits.

20 MAR 1901

Passed Away About Four O'clock This Afternoon
Taken to Leland By Sheriff Brown This Morning
Miss Ardie Potts is dead.

The young woman who became the victim of an unnatural has paid the penalty, while her father is in jail awaiting action of the courts upon his case. The young woman has been lying very low and has suffered intensely since she returned from Empire last week, where it is alleged that she was to a criminal operation.

It was known this morning that the young woman could not survive and it is said that she was aware of her dangerous condition. The revolting circumstances surrounding this case have attracted great interest in the young woman and her sad fate and the feeling of indignation towards her father is strong throughout the county. Much sympathy was manifested for the woman and everything was done to make her suffering as light as possible. She passed away about four o'clock this afternoon.

Just before the girl died she made a request that her body be taken to Big Rapids and buried beside the grave of her mother. It is not given out whether Miss POtts made a statement relative to the cause of her trouble or not, but it was stated that whatever bore upon the case of Potts would be submitted at the proper time.

Sheriff Brown telegraphed this afternoon to the girl's brother at Howard City asking what disposition should be made of the remains.

Potts could not furnish the $1000 bail with two good sureties, required by Justice Gage yesterday, so he was brought back here to jail and this morning Sheriff Martin Brown took him to Leland, where he will await trial in the next term of circuit court.

Potts wanted Justice Gage to make the bail $500 instead of $1000 and thought he could get a suitable bondsman, but the amount was not reduced. The prisoner did not seem to realize the enormity of the offense with which he is charged, although he is apparently a very intelligent man.

His two younger children were sent to Howard City this morning to be placed in the care of their brother.

21 MAR 1901

Cause of Death of Ardie Potts Determined
Testimony of Dr. Harger and Dr. Fralick Taken This Morning -
Dr. VanderWalker an Important Witness

The coroner's jury which investigated the cause of death of Ardie Potts founr a verdict at 5 o'clock this afternoon to the effect that the girl dame to her death by an abortion produced by some person unknown to the jury.

The coroner's inquest over the rexxxxx of Ardie Potts was held at the home of John Groesser of Leelanau county, where she died. Justice Weiss conducted the inquest and the details divulged were of the most revolting character.

The principal witnesses today were Dr. Garney of this city, and Dr. Fralick of Maple City, who under a post mortem examination of the body of the young woman. The examination demonstrated to their satisfaction that Ardie Potts died as the result of an operation. Their verdict was thus resolved, and their is strong evidence that the operation was of a criminal character. General peritonitis is given as the cause of death.

Dr. Vander Walker of Suttons Bay has been subpoened and his testimony is being taken late this afternoon. As is said that deceased made an admission to him which will prove of great value in the investigation, his testimony will be of the greatest interest and importance, especially to the officers of the bar, should criminal proceedings be instituted.

The testimony of Joseph Grosseer and James Hilbert were also taken this afternoon.

While the deceased did not make any formal statement before her death, it is said that she made admissions which may be of material value to the prosecution.

The coroner's jury before whom evidence is being taken, consists of Levi Lindley, Frank Donner, Fred Fralick, Robert Lowrey, E. Hath and Jacob Groesser.

22 MAR 1901

Will Be Asked for in Death of Ardie Potts
Brother of the Young Woman Now Here with the Remains
Case will be Thoroughly Investigated

The body of Miss Annie Potts is lying at the undertaking rooms of W. S. Anderson, in care of her half brother, Bruce Potts, an undertaker of Howard City. He and Mr. Anderson drove to Keswick for the body this morning, returning about 3 o'clock.

Mr. Potts is terribly wrought up about the sad affair. The first intimation of it that he received was by seeing an account of it in a Grand Rapids paper. This was followed by a telegram from Sheriff Martin Brown of Leland, announcing the death of the young woman, and Mr. Potts took the next train for this city. He was delayed at Walton all day yesterday.

Mr. Potts does not defend his father in the least, though he had not the slightest suspicion of anything improper in his relation with his daughter. The two have been giving music lessons together for the past five or six years, during which time they have been at home but little.

Ardie Potts, the deceased girl, is a half sister of Bruce Potts who is here, her mother having died when she was a small child.

According to Mr. Potts' story, his father has never provided well for the home, and the son had to care for the mother and his younger sisters much of the time for the past 12 years. One of the sisters is now teaching in Kenton, in the upper peninsula and another in Newaygo county. A brother of the encased Potts now in jail at Leland is a prominent attorney of the state and another is editor of the Schristian Advocate of Detroit.

Bruce Potts will return with his sister's remains to Big Rapids tomorrow, where the funeral will occur in the afternoon. He is determined that the case shall not be dropped, but shall be investigated thoroughly.

A telephone message from Sheriff Brown of Leland late this afternoon states that a grand jury will be asked for, to investigate the case fully.

23 MAR 1901

Report That He was Mixed Up in the Potts Tragedy Proven Untrue

Evening Record - I wish to inform the public through some mistake, I was supposed to have given the press information that Dr. Fralick of Maple City, was implicated in the Potts case. And I wish to state that Dr. Fralick was innocent to the best of my knowledge and belief, and that there was nothing in the evidence at the inquest or any other place to show that Dr. Fralick had anything to do with it, and as I wss made the complaining witness, I wish to make this statement, to correct any suspicion in the minds of the public that Dr. Fralick was in the remotest degree implicated in the case.

James Hilbert, Bingham

18 JUNE 1901

Facing a Serious Charge Before the Leelanau County Circuit Court - Testimony is Damaging

The Leelanau county circuit court is now in session and the sensational criminal case in which Nathaniel Potts figures as principal is now on trial. Potts is charged with incest and the testimony against him thus far has been damaging.

It will be remembered that several weeks ago Potts was arrested by the Leelanu county authorities before the death of his daughter, who subsequently succumbed to an alleged criminal operation. It is charged that the father had had illicit relations with his daughter for years, and that her death was caused by the operation mentioned.

The trial will not be completed before tomorrow.


Jury Reached Verdict at 2:30 This Morning
Not Affected When Result Was Announced

Leland, Mich., June 20 - The jury in the case of The People vs. Nathaniel Potts, brought in a verdict this morning of "guilty as charged."

They jury went out yesterday afternoon at 2:10 and reached a verdict at 2:30 this morning. The jurors were Phillip Egler, Jos. Kroabuer, Jacob Glazier, Joseph Mikula, Wm. Wilson, Louis Grollick, H. E. Sheridan, E. F. Rogers, Amos Tromaine, John Swarthout, George Fox and Victor Pownalt.

When the verdict was announced this morning at the opening of the court, Potts heard his fate pronounced with apparant indifference, and if he was affected to any extent he failed to show it. His attorneys made a motion for a new trial, but this was overruled by Judge Chittenden.

The case of Nathaniel Potts was the sensatin of the year in Leelanau county. Several months ago his daughter, a woman of about thirty years of age, was taken very ill and medical attention was sought in Empire. It was alleged later that the woman was in a delicate condition and that a criminal operation had been performed. The woman became worse and soon afterwards died from the effects of the operation.

Potts and his daughter appeared to be social above the condition which surrounded their domestic life. They taught music and everyone supposed them to be struggling against unfortunate conditions. It is alleged that illicit relations between the father and daughter had been going on several years and that the operation alleged was but one of similar proceedings before. They formerly lived near Reed City, where the girl was esteemed and both were well known. But it is stated that the father was not much thought of.

Sentence will be passed during the present term of court. The extreme limit for the offense of incest, of which Potts is convicted, is fifteen years in state prison.

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