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Richard CHAINEY 1848-1916

The Murder of Richard Chainey – Michigan, 1916


Richard E Chainey was born on 5 February 1848 in Staplehurst, Kent. The third son of farmer Jesse Chainey and his wife Catherine Cleaver who migrated to Illinois, USA in 1851 from Staplehurst. The family of four sons (Alfred, Jesse, Richard E and James A) and three daughters (Mary Ann, Catharine and Harriet M) all settled in Tremont Township and continued to farm.

Richard, now a farmer, married Mary and they had four children: Louise, Alice, Richard C and Jesse Andrew. Alice was married to W E Marshall.

The murder was the result of an argument over a wagon, but the events following that fateful day in 1916 were extraordinary.  Firstly, when the case came to court in November, one of the jurors, William Dillon, was taken seriously ill.  “It was feared Mr Dillon was suffering a nervous breakdown”.  The trial was resumed in December but then called off after Mr Dillon suffered a second breakdown.  “Revolting details of the crime as told by witnesses are said to have unbalanced Mr Dillon’s mind”.

Another trial was convened and, in 1917, Benjamin Manley was convicted of manslaughter.  He was sentenced to between three and fifteen years in Jackson Prison.  Although it was expected Manley would be out of prison by 1920 at the earliest, an unexpected event circumvented this as, whilst on a prison working party he dropped dead without warning!


Mendon Farmer is Killed in Battle

"Richard Chainey is fatally shot in furious fight.  Frank Manley shoots in quarrel.  Brother of dead man seriously wounded but will recover – fight starts over property.

Mendon, March 30 [1916] – Frank Manley, owner of a large farm two and a half miles out of here shot and killed Richard Chainey, aged 68, of Mendon and attacked the latter’s brother, James Chainey in a desperate battle in the farm house today.  W E Marshall, Richard Chainey’s son-in-law, who was engaged in the fight, escaped without injury.

Manley is being held by Sheriff Cupp at Centerville and will be under the surveillance of the county officer until after the inquest Tuesday.  James Chainey will recover from his injuries, it is believed.

Manley, who resides here, had gone to his farm to talk with a prospective tenant.  Shortly after the latter had departed the Chainey brothers and Marshall arrived at the farm to inform Manley of certain possessions James Chainey had on the property.  Manley disagreed, and an argument followed.

It is believed Manley was attacked and shot Chainey in self-defence.  All the men were armed with guns, knives and axes and until Manley was able to procure a gun he had in the house a furious battle ensued.  The shooting ended the fight.  The victim leaves a widow and two daughters".

Kalamazoo Gazette 31 March 1916


Row on a Farm Near Mendon Results in Man Being Killed

"Three Rivers, Mich., March 31 [1916] – Richard Chainey was shot in the back of the head Thursday afternoon by Frank Manley near Mendon, this county, following a quarrel over a wagon.

Richard and James Chainey went to the Manley farm where Richard Chaney (sic) and Manley owned a wagon in partnership.  The Chainey brothers hitched a team to the wagon to take it from the farm when Manley ordered them to leave it there and get off the premises.  Hot words followed: Manley stepped into the house and returning with a shotgun, shot at Richard Chainey, who received the charge in the base of the skull.  He died before he could be taken to Mendon.

Manley was arrested by Sheriff Cup.  Manley says that one of the brothers had a hatchet and the other a knife and that he believed they intended injuring him".

Jackson Citizen Patriot 31 March 1916


Murder is Verdict in Mendon Shooting

"Testimony at Inquest shows Richard Chainey was victim of slayerCenterville, Mich., April 7 [1916] – the coroner’s jury that was called to hear the testimony of the witnesses bearing on the shooting affair at the Manley farm near Mendon, in which B F Manley, Richard Chainey, James Chainey and W H Marshall were the principals, Thursday brought in a verdict of wilful murder.  The testimony was somewhat conflicting, but indicated that there was a fight: that Manley used a shotgun and that Richard Chainey received a load of shot in the back of the neck at close range and died within an hour. The jury consisted of William Beard, A D Collard, Frank Austin, G A Royer, Charles Leland and George W Hinkle".

Jackson Citizen Patriot 7 April 1916

Jury is Secured

"Trial of Benj. Manley for alleged murder likely to take about two weeks.  Burr Oak, Nov 23 [1916] – After finally selecting a jury in the Manley murder trial, the first witness was called to the stand yesterday afternoon.  Cots have been moved into the court house where the trial is being held, and it is expected the case will take about two weeks.  One of the exhibits in the court room is the wagon, over which the controversy occurred which resulted in the murder of Richard Chainey by Benjamin Manley, at Mendon about three months ago".

Jackson Citizen Patriot 24 November 1916


Juror’s Breakdown Halts Murder Trial

"William Dillon taken seriously ill at hearing in Centerville.  Centerville, November 28 [1916] – The J Frank Manley (sic) trial was resumed at Centerville this afternoon.  Several witnesses were examined at 2:30, one of the jurors, William Dillon of near Centerville asked permission to retire.  Later it was found necessary to call a physician.  It was feared Mr Dillon was suffering a nervous breakdown.  Court was called to order and Judge Knowlen recommended that it take a recess until nine tomorrow morning.  The physician at that time was unable to give an opinion on Mr Dillon’s case".

Kalamazoo Gazette 28 November 1916


Juror Again Breaks Down; Trial Is Off

"Centerville, Mich., Dec. 1 [1916] – The J Frank Manley (sic) murder trial has been called off on account of the mental condition of juror William Dillon, who suffered a second breakdown in the jury box late Wednesday afternoon.  The jury was discharged and the case will be set for trial within a few days.

Revolting details of the crime as told by witnesses are said to have unbalanced Mr Dillon’s mind.  He collapsed in the courtroom Monday afternoon but recovered sufficiently to permit the resumption of the trial Wednesday.  After the second breakdown the case was postponed until this morning, but in the meantime Mr Dillon’s condition became so serious that continuance of the hearing, physicians said, would result in permanent insanity, possibly death.  Dillon’s condition is greatly improved today and his recovery seems assured".

Kalamazoo Gazette 1 December 1916


Accused Murderer Freed on $6,000 Bail

"Centerville, Mich., Dec 13 [1916] – Frank Manley of Mendon, accused slayer of Richard Cheney (sic) has been free under $6,000 bonds.  Manley’s first trial came to a dramatic close with the mental collapse of William Dillon, a juror.  Manley’s health was impaired by confinement since last March".

Jackson Citizen Patriot 13 December 1916


Sturgis Man Convicted

"Frank J Manley (sic) guilty of murdering Richard Cheney (sic) a year ago.  Sturgis, Mich., March 3 [1917] – Frank J Manley, who murdered Richard Chaney March 30, 1916, was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury today.  The jury was instructed by Judge Knowlton Friday went out at 10:30 and reached an agreement 5 o’clock Saturday morning.  He will be sentenced Monday.  Manley, it was charged, killed Chaney in a quarrel and pleaded self-defence".

Daily Telegram 3 March 1917


J Frank Manley (sic) Gets Three Years

"Slayer of Richard Chainey sent to Jackson for three years.

Three Rivers, March 13 [1917] – J Frank Manley, who was recently tried the second time for the shooting of Richard Chainey nearly a year ago, was sentenced Saturday evening about 5 o’clock.  There had been some talk of a new trial by Manley’s attorneys, but on being asked his preference Mr Manley stated that he had received a fair trial and preferred his sentence.  He was sentenced to a period of from three to fifteen years at Jackson with a recommendation of five years".

Kalamazoo Gazette 13 March 1917


Trusty Drops Dead on His Way to Work

"Benjamin F Manley, 57, of St Joseph, had been inmate of prison since 1917.  Benjamin F Manley, 57, one of the probationers held at the north prison farm, dropped dead this morning at 7:10 while proceeding through a patch of scrub timber on the farm, going to his work.  He and eight others in charge of D D Van Velsor were expected to build a fence a short distance from where he fell.

When death came, Manley was talking with N J Levine, a member of the detachment.  Suddenly reaching to unbutton his collar, it was noticed that he was not well.  Dr R A Macgreggor, prison physician, was immediately called but according to an eye witness, the man died even before he fell to the ground.

Coroner Harry Mills and Deputy Sheriff Veri Kutt went to the scene accompanied by Deputy Warden Charles Shean and Dr Macgreggor.  Inquest will be held at the prison tonight at 7:30.  Death is thought to have been caused from either heart disease or paralysis.

The body was brought to Jackson and relatives in Linden, Mich., were notified.  Manley was sentenced to serve one to five years for manslaughter from St Joseph, March 10, 1917.  It was stated that he has been a trusty most of the time since his imprisonment and was in charge of the dog kennels under former Warden Disque.  He is survived by one son and one daughter, living in Linden, according to the prison records".

Jackson Citizen Patriot 30 April 1919


Jesse and Catherine Chainey’s family suffered many tragedies after leaving their UK home for a ‘better life’ in the USA: -

In 1862 their young son Alfred was killed at the Battle of Corinth during the American Civil War.  He was only 20 years old
In 1916 their son Richard was murdered (this case study)
In 1928 their granddaughter Elsie Oberst, her husband William and 5 young children were all murdered in the family home in Kansas

Find out where your family came from