Notes for Armina Leona Pigg

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE (About March 30, 1892)

The little nine year old daughter of Mr. Wm. Byington came to an untimely death on Friday of last week. The child was found in the fire, where it was supposed to have fallen. When found, it was unable to speak. A post mortem examination was had, and the blood on a boot jack, and marks of violence on the head of the child caused the stepmother to be suspicioned and as a consequence, she is held charged with the crime. Mr. Byington lives about ten miles from this city (Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri).

*****
Ste. Genevieve Herald, Saturday, April 2, 1892

AN ATROCIOUS CRIME

On Monday last the shocking news was brought to town that Armina Byington, wife of William Byington and daughter of W. Pigg of St. Francois county, who has her home about 8 miles south of French Village, almost on the county line in Ste. Genevieve county, had, on Saturday, March 26, killed her step child, a little girl 8 years, 8 months old, with a boot jack and thrown her into the fire place to make it appear as if the child had come to her death by an unfortunate accident. The prosecuting attorney started out to the scene of the alleged murder on Tuesday and found that the child had been buried on Sunday in a cemetery in St. Francois county. There being sufficient circumstantial reason for the belief that the crime had really been committed, Mr. Rozier caused the body to be exhumed and an inquest to be held over it, the new post mortem examination being conducted by Drs. James Kendall, of near Bonne Terre, and G. M. Rutledge, of French Village. On the skull of the little corpse were found no less than seven contused wounds, the largest and severest of them on the top of the head, extending from the frontal bone towards the occipital 3 1/2 inches and being about an inch wide. Other severe wounds were found on the left parietal and on the occipital bone. All were found to penetrate the scalp to the skull bone. The clothes of the girl were found burned entirely off down to the waist. The verdict of the coroner's jury was that the child came to her death by violence inflected by Mrs. Armina Byington.

The evidence adduced at the inquest and information gathered from other sources make it appear that the murder was committed early Saturday morning while Wm. Byington was out with several of his boys feeding the stock. While thus employed, he thought her heard a noise coming from the house, but paid no attention to it. A little while later, when coming nearer the house, he smelt the smoke, as he thought of burning rags, but seeing nothing unusual about the house finished his work, and then returned to the house for breakfast. At the door he was met by his wife pointing out to him the almost lifeless form of his little daughter, her step-daughter. The woman told him that during his absence she had left the children in the room and gone to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. After a little while she had heard cries from the room and upon entering had found little Alice lying in the fireplace in which a fire was burning at the time. She had snatched the child from the fire and was just going to call her husband when she met him at the door. A few minutes after, the child died. In the room where the tragedy occurred a boot jack was found stained with blood and Mrs. Byington said she thought one of the little boys had used it as a weapon with which to kill his sister; but nobody believed possible that children of so tender age could inflict wounds so dangerous. The story as told by his wife did not satisfy the husband and her conduct strengthened his suspicion that all was not right, to such degree that he had her arrested, and the inquest and post mortem examination resulted. One Thursday the woman and her baby of nine months was brought to town and lodged in jail to await the preliminary examination which will take place before Judge Pinkston next Thursday. The arrest was not made so much for the sake of preventing an escape, as for the reason that excitement ran very high in the neighborhood of the Byington Place and because some threats of lynching were made. The father is, of course, much prostrated over the tragic death of his child and the thought that the wife of his bosom could commit such an unnatural act.

THE FAIR PLAY, Saturday, April 2,1892, Henry J. Janis Editor

Arrested On A Serious Charge

Mrs. William Byington, who lives in the Eastern part of this county, a few miles from French Village was brought to town and placed in jail on Thursday, charged with the murder of her step-daughter, a girl of nine years of age. The facts in the case as far as we can learn them are these: Early last Saturday morning Mr. Byington left his house for a few minutes to feed his stock, leaving his wife at home with her step-daughter and two small children. He had been absent about twenty minutes and when he returned was met at the door by his wife who seemed greatly excited, and told him that his child had fallen into the fireplace and burned to death. Mr. Byington at first believed the story and preparations were made for the burial which took place on Sunday. A wound was noticed on the head of the little girl but at the time was supposed to have been caused by falling on the andiron, but the neighbors were suspicious and began to talk and on Monday when Mr. Byington discovered clots of blood and hair on his boot jack he charged his wife with the murder of his child. She stonily denied the charge and attempted to commit suicide with her husband's razor, but was prevented from doing so and placed under arrest. On Tuesday, the body was exhumed and an inquest was held over the remains. Dr. Rutledge of French Village and Dr. Kendall of Bonne Terre held a post mortem examination and discovered seven wounds on the _______child's ______as if made with some blunt instrument. The doctors gave it as their opinion that the death resulted from the wounds on the head and stated that the burns received would not have produced death in so short a time.

After hearing the testimony, the coroner's jury brought in a verdict that death was caused by blows on the head with some blunt instrument and charged Mrs. Byington with the commission of the crime. The woman, whose maiden name was Pigg, is only twenty-four years of age. She still maintains her innocence and claims that the child was burned to death. One strange feature of the case is that no motive can be assigned for the deed as the witnesses at the inquest all recalled that Mrs. Byington was never known to mistreat her step-children and was particularly fond of this child. For a time grave fears were entertained that the woman would be lynched as the feeling in the neighborhood is very bitter against her. The preliminary examination will be held before Squire Pinkston at the Rickard school-house in Union Township next Thursday, April 7th.

Ste. Geneive Fair Play, April 9, 1892

Mrs. Byington who is in jail here charged with murder of her step-daughter, and whose trial was fixed for Thursday last, waived preliminary examination and will be kept in jail to await the action of the grand jury.

Ste. Genevieve Herald, April 9, 1892

Mrs. Armina Byington was not brought before Squire Pinkston on Thursday for preliminary trial, as she waived examination. She will remain in durance vile till Circuit Court convenes.

Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, April 16, 1892

The preliminary hearing of Mrs. Byington will take place at the Rickard school House in union township next Tuesday, April 19th. We understand that several deputies will accompany the sheriff in order to protect the prisoner from harm if any should be attempted.

Ste. Genevieve Herald, April 23, 1892

The preliminary examination of Mrs. Byington took place at the Rickard school house in Union township on Tuesday. A rumor had been started a day or two previous that led the authorities to believe it would be advisable to be prepared for any emergency. It was said that letters had reached different parties from Bonne Terre, or that neighborhood, in which violence was threatened. Another rumor had is that Bill Byington had carried his baby off to parts unknown, for fear that his life might be attempted, as had been threatened by persons who charged him with the crime which he had laid at the door of his wife. For these reasons a posse comitatus was summoned to accompany the sheriff to the scene of trial. The posse that accompanied the sheriff and prosecuting attorney to Union township was composed of Messrs. H. L. Siebert, Columbus Abernathy; Joseph Hauck, Frank J. Brugers, and Chas. W. Meyers. Nothing happened, however, that made the presence of armed men necessary. The company reached Rickards school house with Mrs. Byington in their charge safely, the trial took place without any disturbance. Mrs. Byington was confronted by her husband, who again charged her with the murder and gave his testimony accordingly, and the prisoner was duly bound over to await the action of the grand jury. On their way home the whole party stopped over night at the residence of our old friend John C. Reeder, and came home on Wednesday. The most of these rumors were probably the outcome of somebody's heated imagination.

Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, April 23, 1892

The preliminary hearing of Mrs. William Byington took place at the Rickard Schoolhouse before Squire Pinkston last Tuesday and Wednesday. No new testimony was brought out at the trial and Mrs. Byington was sent back to jail to await the action of the grand jury which meets in Ste. Genevieve next week. M.R. Smith and Merrill Pipkin of Farmington are the attorneys for the defense and Prosecuting Attorney Rozier for the state.

Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, April 30, 1892

As will be seen in the court proceedings, the grand jury brought in an indictment against Mrs. Armenia Byington charged with the murder of her step-daughter, for murder in the first degree.

Ste. Genevieve Fair Play, April 30, 1892
Circuit Court Proceedings
Monday, April 25, 1892

Court met pursuant to adjournment. Present: Hon. James D. Fox, Judge; John L. Bogy, Clerk, George Hurst, Sheriff. Sheriff and deputy sworn.

Following grand jurors excused: Andrew Muessig, Peter Weiler, E. M. Edwards, and Ralph Coffman.

Grand Jury composed of Frank Brugers, F. J. Ziegler, Anton Kirchner, Richard Bokenkamp, William H. McClintock, Samuel Haney, William Hines, Jeff Moore, Charles Fallert, William H. Bantz, Jules Detchemendy, and L. B. Valle sworn and William H. Bantz appointed foreman.

Wednesday, April 27, 1892

Grand Jury bring into court indictment against Mrs. Armenia Byington for murder in the first degree.



HEEKLIN INDEPENDENT, Thursday, Nov. 17, 1892 (paper found in the walls of an old cellar in Belgrade, Washington Co., MO in Summer 2003.

Sheriff L. W. Garrett, on Saturday evening last lodged Mrs. Armina Byington, 24 years old, in the St. Louis jail for safe keeping while awaiting trial on a charge of murder in the first degree.

It's claimed that on March 26 last, she struck her 8 year old step-daughter, Eva Byington on the head with a club and then threw the senseless body onto a fire. The girl was taken out quite heavily burned and died an hour later.

Mrs. Byington claims that while chastising the child, she fell into the fire and was fatally burned before she could be picked up. The alleged murder was committed at their home in Ste. Geneive County but a change of venue was taken to this county.

Mrs. Byington married the father of the girl she is charged with killing about two years ago and had two children by him. At the time of the marriage he had four children by his former wife.

Note: Mrs. Byington was acquited of all charges.

*****

OBIT FROM THE LEAD BELT NEWS, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1932

MRS GEORGE ROBERTSON

A shadow fell over the community last Saturday morning, when death claimed the life of Mrs. Armina Robertson, one of Bonne Terre's oldest residents. Although she has been in failing health for a number of years, she was seriously ill only three days prior to her demise.

Armina Leona Pigg was the oldest daughter of the late William and Sarah Pigg. She was born near French Village, Mo., October 2, 1868 and departed this life Saturday, December 10, 1932 at 12:30 p.m., at the age of 64 years, 2 months and 8 days. On April 9, 1889, she was united in marriage to William Byington. To this union two children were born, Luther, deceased and Mrs. Bertha Burr. On June 30, 1896, she was united in marriage to George Robertson. To this union seven children were born, two of them, Elma and Mrs. Ruby Becker, preceded their mother in death. Her husband preceded her in death on December 14, 1930. In early girlhood she united with the Aulsbury Free Will Baptist Church and remained in the faith to the end.

She leaves to mourn her death, six children, Mrs. Bertha Burr, of East Bonne Terre; Carl, Claude, William, and Mrs. Nola Adams, all of St. Louis and Howard at home; one brother, William Pigg of Desloge and a great host of relatives and many, many, friends who will sadly miss her.

Funeral services were conducted Tuesday, December 18th at 3 p.m., at the residence by Rev. J. B. Ragsdale. Interment was in the Bonne Terre Cemetery with the Benham undertakers in charge.
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