Marshfield, March 1904: Love hurts
George Spang pays dearly for attacking his ex-wife
By Kris Leonhardt
On a quiet March morning in 1904, William Eckes walked to the bedroom door of his new boarder, George Spang. As a longtime resident of the Marshfield community, the hard-working and diligent carpenter had been a comfortable addition to the Eckes home, which sat on a farm just west of Marshfield.
Nearing the door, Eckes called out to alert his renter to the lateness of the morning. Knowing the recent divorcee had overindulged the evening before, Eckes was sympathetic when his tenant muttered back that he was not feeling well and would sleep in a little while longer.
When the 9 o’clock hour neared, Eckes once again returned to the room, but this time he would not take no for an answer. As Eckes threw open the door, he found Spang in a pool of blood with much of his face unrecognizable.
Eckes rushed Spang to Marshfield, where Dr. Doege attended to his wound, but by that time, word had spread of the previous night’s events, and Spang was taken into custody.
Returning from a drinking spree in Marshfield that previous evening, Spang made his way to the Eckes farm. Nearing the property, he caught sight of his ex-wife’s house, where she lived with her children from her previous marriage.
Divorced for nearly a year, Spang’s discontent had never waned. His raging outbursts toward his ex-wife forced local officials to place him under bond to “keep the peace” until a year had passed. Tomorrow the bond would be lifted.
The rage had grown and festered to a point where Spang could not control it. Now, fueled by alcohol, Spang entered the Eckes house, grabbed his rifle and lantern, and headed for his ex-wife Lizzie’s home.
As he neared her house, he saw the subject of his wrath standing before the front window. Raising his rifle, he fired one shot.
The shot barely missed her head, and Lizzie then lurched across the room to escort her children to the second floor. Following behind them, she prepared for the inevitable.
After Spang forced his way into the rear door of the residence, he passed through the lower floor, lamp in one hand and rifle in the other. As he ascended the stairway to the second floor, Lizzie stood ready to protect her children.
Lizzie, positioned at the head of the stairs and holding a .32 caliber revolver, ordered her ex-husband down. When her demands were ignored, Lizzie fired.
Spang careened back down the stairs and bolted for the door, but Lizzie believed she only scared her ex-husband off. Spang, dazed and confused, returned to his room and fell into bed.
It was not discovered until the following morning that Spang had been shot in the eye.
Spang pleaded guilty to “murderous assault with attempt to commit murder,” and officials cited that Spang’s injuries were in self-defense. Spang served five years for his crime.
Kris Leonhardt may be reached at email@example.com.