Sussex County, Delaware, Coroner's Court Proceedings
Hester Ann M.B. Cattell,
April 22, 1861

James P Barker Alexander Reed
James Pettyjohn Jacob Cattell
Kendall Billingate Anna Cattell
John A. Rodney Dr. William Marshall
George W. Willin Catharine Hocksperger
Cornelius C. Hart Stephen Hazzard
James Jones of J  
John P. Greenly  
George W. Perkinpine  
Richard Greenwood  
Peter Peffer  
William P. Wolfe  

Alexander Reed (sworn,

I was in company with Hester Ann M.B. Cattell from eight oclock on Sunday night - until after ten. When I first came in the house she was sitting in the rocking chair and her head lying on another chair. I asked her what was the matter, she said she did not feel well, but got up and talked about two hours. I then talked of going to bed. She said she was not ready, but would be ready in a minute. She went to the dresser and I heard her drop a bottle or cup. She poured something out and I heard her drink it. I kissed her afterwards, I think she had been taking laudanum or opium.

Jacob Cattell (sworn,

I went to bed about 7 oclock last evening and left all my family up. I awoke this morning about 1/2 past 3 oclock. I had not been awake long before I heard a strange garling noise from my daughter Hester Ann. I called to one of the small girls to wake her, I thought she was dreaming, the child could not wake her then her mother got up and went to her. My wife came back and told me to get up and get a light - for she believed that Hester was dying. I come downstairs to light a candle and my wife came down and said that she believed she had been taking laudanum. After I lit the candle my wife went to the dresser and said, "My God, she has took it all". I then sent immediately for Dr William Marshall but before he arrived she was dead. She was in the habit of taking laudanum when she felt bad. I have heard her say that she could take a PT. bottle of laudanum without hurting her, but I did not know that there was any laudanum in the house.

Anna Cattell (sworn,

Yesterday morning about ten oclock Hester said she felt like having a chill and laid before the fire until I got dinner ready. I called her she got up and eat her dinner as usual. About 2 oclock she complained about having a pain in her breast. She said she was not able to go to Sunday School, but laid down on a couple of chairs. About 5 oclock she got up and went to Mr Hockspergers, she returned in about half an hour and went into Mr Hazzards and combed her hair she had never done the like before. I asked her to come in and help me to get supper, she said she would in a few minutes, she come and helped to get supper, when we sat down to supper she said that she did not want any for she had such a pain in her breast. I told her she had better take some coffee and eat something, perhaps it would make her feel better. She ate a little, she got up and went and sat in the rocking chair and laid her head on another chair and put her apron over her face. I left her lying that way when I went to bed about 8 oclock the family had all retired but Alexander Reed and her, he, Mr Reed was taking his shoes off when I left, after I got up stair I heard Mr Reed ask her if she was sick, she said she was. I heard them lower the window curtains and I heard them come up stairs to go to bed, my daughter slept in the same room with my husband and me, and Mr Reed slept in an adjoining room, before she came up stairs I heard her go to the dresser. I heard a bottle or cup fall, and I thought she had been taking some peppermint, for she told me in the afternoon that she was sick at her stomack. I saw her come in the room and take off her dress and go to bed, about 12 oclock the baby awoke me and said he wanted a drink. I got out and went between the two beds to a table where a tumbler was sitting, she raised up both of her arms and said, "O, Mother", three times. I asked her what ailed her, she did not make any answer, but turned over on her side and I heard no more from, she was used to being flightsy when sick, and I did not think any thing serious was the matter with her. I gave the baby a drink and went to bed, and did not hear her any more until Mr Cattell woke me up about 4 oclock this morning when I found her in the same situation that my husband stated in his testimony.

Catharine Hocksperger (sworn,

Yesterday afternoon I came over to Mr Cattells with Mrs Godfrey & unknown and Hester Ann M.B. Cattell went with us into the Mill and we commenced talking as women generally talk. Mrs Godfrey said that Mr Reed went to see Mary Short and she thought they would be married. I told her she must not talk so, for Hester & Mr Reed were engaged that conversation appeared to affect her, she did not say much after that.

Dr William Marshall (sworn,

A messenger came for me this morning about 4 oclock to see Hester Ann M.B. Cattell who the messenger said had been taking laudanum. I told the messenger I would send some medicine as he would get there before I could. When I arrived she was dead, she had the appearance of one who died with a congestion of the brain the effects produced by some powerful narcotic.

Stephen Hazzard (sworn,

On Sunday morning about nine oclock I saw Hester in my room. She appeard to be as well as usual. I did not see her any more until this morning when I see her in her bedroom dead, and the room was so strong of laudanum that it made me sick and I had to leave. I thought I heard her last night.

Received April 22, 1861 of Wm S Melson, Coroner of Sussex County our fees as Jurors and Witnesses in the above case.

(Signature of all witnesses and jurors follow)

Sussex County: An Inquisition taken this twenty second day of April A.D., 1861 at the house of Jacob Cattell in Georgetown Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware, before William S. Melson, Coroner of said county, upon view of the dead body of Hester Ann M.B. Cattell by the oaths of James P Barker, James Pettyjohn, Kendall B. Wingate, John D. Rodney, George W. Willin, Cornelius C Hart, James Jones of J, John P Greenly, George W Perkinpine, Richard Greenwood, Asbury Donovan, William P Wolfe, lawful men of said county, who being in due manner sworn, say that the said Hester Ann M.B. Cattell came to her death on the morning of the 22nd day of April, A.D., 1861 by taking a large quantity of laudanum.

(Signatures and seals of all jurors follows).