A Wicked Affair: Part 3 – A Vile Nest

In Missouri, John Jay White’s attention became drawn to another woman.  Seventeen-year old Ella Bowe was a local farmer’s daughter.  Despite the fact that Jay and Lottie Clum were living as man and wife on the 132 acres of land he had purchased, Ella soon began spending time at the White home.  By the time Lottie died in mysterious circumstances in January 1886, Ella had all but moved into the house.  Lottie Clum was just 35 years old at the time of her death.  It would later be suggested that the cause of her death was due to the “medicine” she had been given by Jay and Ella.  Also living in the home were the housekeeper, Mrs. Olive Vassar, and her son, Buddy.

At some point, Ed Clum heard that his wife, Lottie, was ill.  Although his parents begged him not to go to her, Ed headed out west.  He arrived in Missouri several weeks after Lottie’s death.  What was said between Clum and White at that time remains unknown.  However, Ed Clum began living in the house with Jay White and young Ella Bowe.  Ed became known around Cassville as “Mr. White’s brother-in-law”, for it was thought that he was the late Mrs. White’s brother.  The threesome seemed to be getting along well.

On Thursday, July 8, 1886, something finally snapped in Ed Clum.  He had been working the farm all day with Willis DeHoney, the hired man.  At sundown, Willis beckoned to Ed to come help him load onto the wagon the wheat he had mowed.  Ed assisted, and Willis drove off toward the barn with a full load of wheat.  When Willis looked back, he saw Ed Clum firing his gun, discharging both barrels in rapid pace.  Then Willis watched as Ed reloaded and shot twice more.  Ed must have known Willis was watching, because he motioned for Willis to come over.

Upon Willis’ arrival at the scene he saw John Jay White and Ella Bowe lying close together against a tree, dead.  Ed Clum threw some straw over the bodies, and the two men returned in the dark with an empty wagon.  They began their ghoulish task of loading the bodies onto the wagon and depositing them into a ditch near the creek, covering them with straw and rocks.  Ed Clum threatened Willis’ life if he told anyone about the murders.

For one week, Willis lived under the watchful eye of Ed Clum.  Then, after complaining of a need to get medicine, Willis was allowed to leave the farm and head to town.  He went straight to the City Marshal’s office, and told the story of the double murders of John Jay White and Ella Bowe by Ed Clum.  Warrants were issued, and Ed Clum was found to be working on the farm as though nothing had happened.  He was immediately arrested and jailed.

The authorities contacted friends and family back in New York for information about Edward F. Clum.  In a letter to Marshal J. F. Dumont responding to this inquiry, Adjutant John F. Huntington of Fairport’s G.A.R. E. A. Slocum Post #211 wrote of the unpleasantness of the characters of both men, finishing his missive with “…the world can well get rid of such a vile nest
as these people were.”

Coming soon – A Wicked Affair: Part 4 – Lives Destroyed.

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