Close up of the inscription on murdered Nurse Mildred Neilson’s monument that has been standing in a Burnaby cemetery for 95 years. She was shot to death in Trail on Feb. 6, 1925. Trail citizens were so upset they raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 in today’s world) to send to her parents for burial and this granite monument. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Close up of the inscription on murdered Nurse Mildred Neilson’s monument that has been standing in a Burnaby cemetery for 95 years. She was shot to death in Trail on Feb. 6, 1925. Trail citizens were so upset they raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 in today’s world) to send to her parents for burial and this granite monument. Photo: Trail Historical Society

The story of unrequited love and murder in the Kootenays, 95 years later

Check out the Trail Times every Thursday for another historical story featured in Trail Blazers

This week’s Trail Blazers is a little more intriguing than usual.

It began with an email from a person living in Vancouver. He’d been walking through a cemetery and snapped a few photos that he thought would interest our readers.

“I was visiting a cemetery in Burnaby and noticed there was a monument erected by the ‘Citizens of Trail, BC’ for a nurse named Mildred Neilson (1898-1925),” Evan explained, requesting the Trail Times to only use his first name.

“It was an interesting discovery given that Trail is considerably far from Burnaby and I thought it would make an interesting story for you. I have no idea who she is, but it seems she died relatively young and would have lived through the First World War and Spanish Flu period,” Evan said.

“It would be a great shame for her to be forgotten if she meant a lot to Trail, even if it was nearly 100 years ago.”

Mildred Neilson’s monument today. Photo: Submitted by Evan

Mildred Neilson’s monument today. Photo: Submitted by Evan

The Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby holds the remains of many people who lived and died in the 19th century.

“And I often wonder who they were and what their lives were like,” Evan shared. “Maybe there is a part of me that wonders whether any of us will be remembered or thought worthy enough for someone to build a monument to honour us.”

So the Times did an internet search and began to unveil what at the heart of it, is a story as old as time – one of unrequited love and murder.

As with any story of such magnitude there is much to tell. For this feature, however, the narrative will focus on the how and why a large granite monument from the city, dedicated to Mildred Neilson, stands in the Ocean View cemetery.

Mildred Neilson was a young nurse, a 27-year-old graduate of Vancouver General Hospital, who was working in the Trail Tadanac Hospital.

She was shot through her heart and killed on Feb. 6, 1925 by Patrick Hanley.

The Nelson businessman had come to see her in the nurses’ residence on Aldridge Street while she was off-duty.

Hanley had a crush on Mildred, but she didn’t reciprocate, having turned him down more than once, according to a Trail Daily Times article written right after the murder.

As the story goes, the killer was known to Neilson’s family, who resided in Vancouver. On that fateful day, Hanley claimed he had been asked to deliver a tin of cookies to the young nurse by her mother in Vancouver.

Mildred Neilson’s parents at her burial site, 1925. Photos: Trail Historical Society

Mildred Neilson’s parents at her burial site, 1925. Photos: Trail Historical Society

There were no eye witnesses, so no one will ever really know what transpired between the two of them that Friday morning before Hanley shot the nurse, then himself.

It didn’t end up being a murder-suicide, however.

Hanley later presented himself at the hospital with a bullet wound. He recovered, was subsequently tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.

The town was shocked by this cold-hearted act and such a sudden and brutal demise of a caring young nurse.

So the community rallied alongside smelter employees, and collectively raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 today) that they sent to her parents for burial and a dedicated memorial in Ocean View cemetery.

The inscription reads:

Erected by the citizens of Trail, BC to the memory of Nurse Mildred Neilson 1890-1925

So greatly loved.

– With files from BCNursingHistory.ca and the Trail Museum and Archives

Find more Trail Blazers here: Fires raged in the summer of 1927 Remembering the Silver City Serenaders of Song Setting the Record Straight

(Trail Times stories from 1925 reveal that Hanley, district manager of the Monarch Life Insurance Co., was gassed while serving in the First World War and he is said to have suffered from mental illness. Trail Blazers will re-visit his trial and the outcome in a later edition.)

Mildred Neilson’s monument several years ago.	Photo: Trail Historical Society

Mildred Neilson’s monument several years ago. Photo: Trail Historical Society



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailLocal History

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Just Posted

Caroline Lafond is a Recreation Fish and Wildlife student at Selkirk College. Photo: Submitted
Ecological Comment: Help keep the goats of Gimli wild

A column written by Recreation Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Nelson Police responded to 802 calls last year they say had an element of mental health. File photo
Nelson Police: 802 mental-health related calls in 2020

That accounts for 12 per cent of total calls for service

Several large trees came down in the recent windstorm and destroyed a part of the building that houses Camp Koolaree’s showers and boy’s washroom. The camp has served generations of Kootenay families since 1931 as the Nelson area’s longest running children’s summer camp. Photo: Submitted
Camp Koolaree’s wash house destroyed by January windstorms

The camp is in need of donations to make repairs

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read