Saturday, September 18, 2021

Edward H. Rulloff.

Edward H. Rulloff was considered by many to be a genius, a man of great intellect, ahead of his time, ready to revolutionize the study of philology. And just as many thought him a fraud and a conman. He was well versed in medicine, law, and language and an educator well-respected by his students. He was also a thief and a swindler who had trouble leaving a city without a run-in with the law. When an 1870 burglary in Binghamton, New York left three men dead, the public would face the paradox of the “Man of Two Lives.”

Read the full story here: The Man of Two Lives.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Boy Murderer.

On Saturday, May 13, 1882, 16-year-old Thomas McCabe shot his stepmother, Catherine McCabe, in their New York City apartment. The wound to her neck was so serious that Coroner Knox was summoned to take her anti-mortem statement. She dictated her story:

“Shortly after 5 o’clock, I came from the kitchen and was putting oil in my lamp when my stepson, Thomas McCabe, fired a shot at me. I fell on my hands and knees and he said, ‘I done it! I done it!’ I said, ‘Why, Tom; why did you do it?’ He said nothing In reply, but stooped over me and took the contents of my pocket. I said, ‘it’s the money of the Land League,’ of which my husband is an officer. He also took my watch and an opera chain. I than said, ‘Oh, Tom; oh, Tom, don’t take my watch and chain!' He said, ‘I will take It; I want money to leave the city.’ I said, ‘Oh, Tom, don’t leave me, I never will mention your name. I will say I fell if you will only lift me up.’ He said, ‘I am not able,’ Then he left me. I called for help. I was paralyzed and could not get up, but after a long while Mrs. Whaley came In, and my stepson threw the pistol into his uncle’s bed. I saw him do it. When he went out be locked the door. I knew of no reason except that be wanted to rob me, I never had an angry word with him of late.”

Thomas McCabe bought a new suit of clothes with the money he stole from his stepmother, then went to a shooting gallery in the Bowery. He was practicing pistol shooting when the police arrested him.

McCabe had come with his father and stepmother from Ireland about four years earlier. He enjoyed life in New York, “but his tastes did not run in orderly grooves.” He did not like the discipline of school, was often truant, and caused trouble for his teachers and parents. His father would have whipped him many times, but for his stepmother’s intervention—she was thought to be too forbearing with him.

He finally got a job as a messenger for the District Telegraph Company but was often absent from this as well. McCabe was fired from the job but was afraid to tell his parents. Instead, he decided to rob them and leave town. When arrested for shooting his mother, McCabe showed no remorse.

At his trial the following September, Thomas McCabe was represented by William Howe of the firm Howe and Hummel, the most successful criminal lawyers in New York. McCabe’s plea was insanity. Under Howe’s cross-examination, McCabe’s father said Thomas had been weak-minded since birth, and at the James Street School, a Christian Brother had sent him home because he could make no progress with his studies and because he had “head trouble.” He was a boy of very weak intellect and was afflicted with epileptic fits.

Howe was not able to win an acquittal but was able to reduce the charge to second-degree manslaughter. Recorder Smyth, who presided over the case, was unhappy with the verdict and said this to McCabe as he handed down the maximum sentence:

“McCabe, the jury in your case took a more lenient and merciful view of your crime than your cowardly action deserved. They might well have rendered a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree on the evidence, and you would have been at the bar of this Court answering with your life for the life you have taken. You were most ably defended, and you have already had all the protection and mercy that ought be bestowed on you. The sentence of the Court is that you be confined in State Prison for seven years.”



Sources:

“A Boy Matricide,” New York Herald, September 20, 1882.
“The Boy Murderer Sentenced,” Evening Star, September 29, 1882.
“City News Items,” New York Herald, July 12, 1882.
“Duties Neglected For A Convention,” New York Tribune, September 21, 1882.
“A Fatal Shot,” Evening Bulletin, May 16, 1882.
“Gotham Gossip,” Times-Picayune, May 19, 1882.
“The M'Cabe Trial,” Truth, September 26, 1882.
“Morning Summary,” Daily Gazette, May 15, 1882.
“Seven Years for a Life,” New York Herald, September 30, 1882.
“Shot by Her Stepson,” Cambria Freeman, May 19, 1882.
“Thomas McCabe,” National Police Gazette, June 10, 1882.
“The Trial of Thomas M' Cabe,” New York Herald, September 26, 1882.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Slain at the Alter.


At the wedding of James Baptiste and Marie Dujoe, on the Jamisen Plantation, near Thibodeaux, Lousiana, on February 2, 1886, the lights were suddenly extinguished, leaving the room totally dark. Wedding guests sat stunned as screams rang out through the darkness. The lamps were relit revealing that the groom had been stabbed seven times and lay dying on the floor. An investigation soon revealed that Baptiste had been murdered by Keziah Collins, a former paramour—but not soon enough to prevent Keziah from escaping aboard the steamboat Alice LeBlanc.


Sources: 
 “Murdered at a Wedding,” The Weekly Wisconsin, February 4, 1886.
“Slain at the Altar by his Former Mistress,” Illustrated Police News, February 27, 1886.
“State News,” Donaldsonville Chief, February 13, 1886.
“State News,” Donaldsonville Chief, March 6, 1886.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Fate of a Seducer.

There was no question that Fanny Windley Hyde killed George W. Watson; it would be up to the jury to decide whether this act was first-degree murder, or if Fanny was “under a weight of grief that could not be resisted.”

Read the full story here: A Weight of Grief


Picture from Illustrated Police News, February 8, 1872.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Caused by Jealousy.


 L.P. Christiansen was the proprietor of the Vienna House in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1888. William E. Bell was the head cook at the hotel until August of that year when Christiansen fired him for paying too much attention to his niece, Annie Christiansen. 

Christiansen was not exactly acting to protect his niece’s virtue; he had eyes for Annie himself. L.P.   scandalized the Vienna house when he left his wife and persuaded Annie to run away with him to Omaha. With her husband gone, Mrs. Christiansen brought back William Bell to help run the hotel. The two soon became intimate, causing further scandal at the Vienna House.

Mrs. Christiansen and William Bell were soon at each other’s throats.  She fired him again and left for Omaha to find her husband. Before she left, Bell told her, “If you bring Christiansen back with you, I’ll kill him.” Despite the warning, Mrs. Christiansen returned to Kansas City with her unfaithful husband.

As soon as Bell learned that Christiansen had returned, he started for the hotel. He was heard muttering, “If he makes a move, I mean to blow him to hell. I’ve stood this razzle long enough and will end it tonight.”

Bell entered the hotel by the rear stairway leading to the second floor and made straight to Christiansen’s room. He drew a 32-caliber bulldog revolver and fired twice— the first shot hit the wall above Christensen’s head, the second struck him in the forehead above the right eye. Mrs. Christiansen opened the door when she heard the first shot, and as her husband fell, bleeding, at her feet, she shrieked, “Oh, God! Will, you are a murderer—you’ve killed my husband!”

Bell ran outside to the pavement and raised the still-smoking revolver to his head. He fired and instantly died. L.P. Christiansen died later that day without regaining consciousness. Mrs. Christensen denied that she had been intimate with Bell and blamed it all on the love of the two men for Annie Christiansen. 


Sources: 
“Caused by Jealousy,” Illustrated Police News, March 23, 1889.
“Double Tragedy,” Cheyenne daily leader, March 10, 1889.
“A Sensational Tragedy,” Daily Inter Ocean, March 10, 1889.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Piper and his Crimes.


Thomas Piper murdered three, including 5-year-old Mabel Young.  

Read the full story here: The Boston Belfrey Tragedy

Saturday, August 7, 2021

A Baltimore Borgia.

Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton, widow of Major Henry W. Watson, was a pillar of Baltimore society in 1871. She owned a large house on Hamilton Place, where she lived with her daughter Nellie and two domestic servants. She was active in the Episcopal Church and other charitable organizations and moved in the most highly respectable, wealthy, and influential circles.

She was planning a trip to Europe in July 1871, and that June, Mrs. Wharton entertained several houseguests. On June 23, General William Scott Ketchum, an associate of her late husband and a longtime family friend, arrived at her house intending to stay a few days. The following day, the general was taken sick and was attended by Dr. P.C. Williams. 

As General Ketchum lay ill, Mr. Eugene Van Ness, Mrs. Wharton’s friend and financial advisor, called to spend the evening. She served him a glass of beer, which she said contained a few drops of gentian, a strong tonic to aid digestion. Soon after, Mr. Van Ness became violently ill and had to remain in her house. His physician, Dr. Chew, was summoned to his bedside. 

General Ketchum died on June 28, and his sudden death along with the unexpected illness of Mr. Van Ness raised suspicions of foul play. Ketchum’s friends had his remains removed to Washington, where Professor William Aiken of Maryland University analyzed the contents of his stomach. Dr. Aiken reported that General Ketchum’s stomach contained twenty grains of tartar emetic, a toxic compound—fifteen grains are sufficient to cause death. The police determined that Mrs. Wharton had purchased sixty grains of tartar emetic on June 26.

Gen. William Scott Ketchum
Unaware that General Ketchum has died, Eugene Van Ness was still bedridden at Mrs. Wharton’s home. His doctor prescribed a milk punch which Mrs. Wharton prepared. His wife became suspicious, and before Van Ness could drink the punch, she poured it out and found white sediment in the glass. She had it analyzed and found it was tartar emetic as well.

A warrant was issued against Mrs. Wharton for the murder of General Ketchum and the attempted murder of Mr. Van Ness. Deputy Marshal Jacob Frey managed to catch Mrs. Wharton before she left for Europe, and he put Elizabeth and Nellie Wharton along with their two servants under house arrest. At first, it was believed that the servants were responsible, but on July 15, the Grand Jury indicted Elizabeth Wharton, and she was held in jail without bail.

Mrs. Wharton owed General Ketchum $2,600, and between his death and the time of her arrest, she visited his son and tried to convince him that the debt had been paid and that Ketchum was holding government bonds of hers worth $4,000. Her financial situation was considered to be the motive of the murder.

Others, however, believed that Mrs. Wharton was affected with “poisoning mania” because four people had previously died mysteriously in her household. Her husband and son, both heavily insured, had died several years earlier; her son was exhumed, but no poison was found in his body. Her sister-in-law, Mrs. J. G. Wharton, alleged that her husband and son had been poisoned by Mrs. Wharton. She believed that Elizabeth Wharton had murdered her husband—Elizabeth’s brother—because of a $2,500 debt. 

Mrs. Wharton’s attorneys asserted that she could not get a fair trial in Baltimore and were granted a change of venue. On December 4, 1871, the trial of Elizabeth Wharton for the murder of General William Scott Ketchum opened to a packed courtroom in Annapolis, Maryland. Eighty-nine witnesses were subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution or defense; the majority of these were physicians and chemists who would give expert testimony.

The defense challenged the assertion that the substance in General Ketchum’s stomach was correctly identified and proposed that he may have died from a natural cause, such as cholera morbus or spinal meningitis. The technical testimony on both sides continued for weeks, and more than one newspaper commented on how tedious the trial became. At the trial’s end, the Baltimore Sun said, “Her trial has occupied forty-two days, in which time theories of chemistry and medicine have been exhausted, as well as the law and the practitioners of all three of these learned professions.”

The case was given to the jury on January 24, 1872, and they deliberated throughout the night. At one, they appeared deadlocked at four for conviction and eight for acquittal, but by 10:00 the next morning, they were in agreement and returned a verdict of not guilty.

Mrs. Wharton was acquitted of the murder of General Ketcham, but she was not yet free. The prosecution intended to try her for the attempted murder of Eugene Van Ness and released her on $5,000 bail until the trial the following April. 

The Van Ness trial was continued several times and was not held until January 1873. It lasted nearly a month but did not generate the same excitement as her first trial.  The jury deliberated from January 31 to February 3 before announcing they were hopelessly deadlocked. The trial ended in a hung jury.

In April, the prosecution announced that they would stet the cases, meaning that it was not closed, but they would not pursue it at that time. Mrs. Wharton was never retried.


Sources: 
“Acquitted,” New York Herald, January 25, 1872.
“Alleged Poisoning Case,” Daily dispatch, July 13, 1871.
“A Baltimore Borgia,” Troy Daily Times, July 13, 1871.
“The Baltimore Borgia,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 14, 1871.
“The Baltimore Poisoning Case Mrs,” New York Herald, July 16, 1871.
“The Baltimore Poisoning Cases,” Mercury, July 27, 1871.
“Baltimore's Sensation,” World, July 20, 1871.
“A Defence of Mrs,” Daily Albany Argus, September 27, 1871.
“End of the Wharton Trial,” Annapolis Gazette, February 4, 1873.
“Events of the Day,” Daily Critic, July 12, 1871.
“The Great Poisoning Case,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 4, 1871.
“Poisons And Poisoners The Murderesses of To-day, Lydia Sherman, Mrs,” Sunday Mercury, July 23, 1871.
Wharton, Elizabeth G.. Trial of Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton: On the Charge of Poisoning General W. S. Ketchum. United States: Reported and published by the Baltimore Gazette, 1872.
“The Wharton Poisoning Case,” Illustrated Police News, December 21, 1871.
“The Wharton Poisoning Case,” Sun, January 24, 1872.
"William Scott Ketchum," Library of Congress.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Jealousy and Murder.


On June 15, 1877, Cora Young paid a call at The Club House, a saloon in Auburn, New York run by John H. Barrett. Cora was a prostitute, working out a brothel near the saloon, but she had a special relationship with John Barrett and viewed him as her man. Barrett was not as committed to the relationship as Cora but stayed with her out of fear; Cora was very jealous, and on several occasions, she had threatened his life. That afternoon Cora confronted Barrett at the saloon, accusing him of infidelity. They quarreled, and Cora left angry.

At closing time, Cora returned and was very drunk. Barrett took her home and spent the night in her room at the brothel. Cora was still angry, and around 6:00 that morning, three pistol shots were heard coming from Cora’s chamber. 

When the police arrived, they burst into the room and found Barrett lying on the bed with blood flowing from a bullet hole near his temple. Cora lay next to him, her arm around him, with two bullet wounds in her head. On the bed between them laid a seven-shot revolver. She had shot John Barrett in the head, then turned the gun on herself and fired twice. 

Cora Young
Barrett died about half an hour after he was found. Cora revived but remained in critical condition; it was believed that she would die as well. A coroner’s jury quickly ruled that Cora shot and killed John Barrett; if she survived her self-inflicted wounds, Cora would be tried for first-degree murder and face the gallows.

Cora did recover, and the following November, she was tried for murder. The case was given to the jury at 4:00 on November 17, 1877. As Cora's jury deliberated, the court heard the case of William Barr, a prisoner at Auburn State Prison who had killed a guard with a snow shovel. That case was interrupted at 6:00 when the jury returned with a verdict in Cora’s case. 

"Not guilty," said the foreman; the courtroom erupted with loud applause and Cora fainted. In the confusion that followed, Barr tried to escape, and after several minutes of struggle with the Sheriff’s officers, he was subdued. Barr was put in shackles, and his trial resumed.




Sources: 
“Acquitted - Attempt to Escape from a Court Room,” Daily Nonpareil, November 18, 1877.
“The Auburn Murder-Lunatics in Prison,” New York Tribune, February 7, 1877.
“Confusion in a Murder Trial,” New York Herald, November 18, 1877.
“Double Tragedy,” Cincinnati Daily Star, June 15, 1877.
“Jealousy, Murder, and Suicide,” Illustrated Police News, June 30, 1877.
“Murder and Suicide,” Plain Dealer, June 15, 1877.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

New! The Bloody Century Audiobook.



        pervaded nineteenth-century America marked by lurid newspaper accounts and remembered in ballad and verse.

The Bloody Century presents 50 of the most intriguing murder cases from the archives of American crime. It is a collection of fascinating stories—some famous, some long-buried—of Americans, driven by desperation, greed, jealousy, or an irrational bloodlust, to take another’s life.

The Bloody Century audiobook, narrated by Charles Huddleston, augments the true accounts of these murders with musical performances of period ballads and poems.

Listen to a sample chapter:
"Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dula"


The Bloody Century Audiobook 
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Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Poison Fiend.


When Horatio Sherman took sick after returning home from a week-long drunken spree, he said it was just one of his “old spells.” His wife Lydia agreed, and dosed him with brandy as usual. But Horatio’s doctor, who had treated his alcohol induced “spells” before, was suspicious this time. Horatio died two days later, and the doctor ordered a post-mortem examination which revealed the cause of death to be arsenic poisoning. When it was further learned that Lydia Sherman’s first two husbands, and seven of her children had all died of arsenic poisoning as well, she was called “The Arch Murderess of Connecticut,” “The Modern Borgia,” and “The Poison Fiend.”

Saturday, July 17, 2021

A Cowardly Lover.

 Lottie Jackson of Greasy Bend, Kansas, was engaged to marry James “Jap” Rainey, but she broke it off in the Fall of 1893. It was probably due to his rowdy ways; Jap Rainey had a reputation as a gambler and “all-around sport.” He argued with Lottie, then left in a fit of jealous rage, vowing to kill her.

On October 28, 1893, Lottie paid a call at the home of Bosworth Morgan in Osawatomie. As she stood by an open window that night, she did not see Jap Rainey sneaking toward the house. He approached the window, then raised his pistol and made good on his promise. He fired into the house, killing Lottie Jackson, then escaped into the darkness.

Everyone knew who did it, and they quickly formed a posse to track him down. Their intentions were clear; when they caught Rainey, they planned to lynch him on the spot. Realizing his position was hopeless, Jap Rainey went to the police station in Paola, Kansas, and gave himself up. This was not enough for the residents of Greasy Bend, who organized a mob of 75 men to travel to Paola, break Rainey out of jail, and lynch him.

Rainey remained safe in the Paola jail until his trial in February 1894. He tried a plea of temporary insanity, but the jury did not buy it. Rainey was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to hang. He moved for a new trial, but the judge overruled the motion. When Rainey asked for mercy, the judge replied that even if such were meted, there was but one sentence possible under the jury’s verdict. He sentenced Rainey to one year in the penitentiary, then, whenever the governor should so will it, to be hanged.

The governor was not in a hanging mood, and as of December 1898, 46 men, including Jap Rainey, were on death row in Kansas, awaiting execution. In October 1913, after serving 19 years at the penitentiary, Jap Rainey met with pardon clerk S.T. Seaton and fell on his knees, pleading for Seaton to bring about his release. Seaton promised to do so, and that is the last we hear of Jap Rainey.


Sources: 
“A Coweredly Lover,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Current Events,” Muskegon Chronicle, October 28, 1893.
“The Death Penalty,” Topeka Weekly Capital, December 30, 1898.
“Gave Himself Up,” Tyrone Daily Herald, October 31, 1893.
“Jealous Rage,” Indianapolis Sun, October 28, 1893.
“Killed his Sweetheart,” Albany Ledger, November 3, 1893.
“March of Avengers,” Pittsburg Daily Headlight, October 31, 1893.
“A Murder At Osowatomie,” Topeka Daily Capital, October 28, 1893.
“Murder in the First Degree,” Topeka Daily Capital, February 17, 1894.
“Murdered his Sweetheart,” St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1894.
“Murderer Rainey Still Safe,” Lawrence Daily Gazette, November 1, 1893.
“Water at Penitentiary,” Topeka state journal, October 25, 1913.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Free Book!

Get a free copy of Murder Illustrated as a thank you gift for subscribing to Murder by Gaslight.

Murder Illustrated, edited and compiled by Robert Wilhelm, presents over 100 graphic murder scenes from the 19th-century press. Artists renditions of:
  • Stabbings
  • Shootings
  • Drownings
  • Axe Murders
  • And more...
drawn from Victorian books, murder pamphlets, national magazines, and daily newspapers.

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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Transitory Frenzy.


Charles E. Henry came to Denver, Colorado, determined to live the fast life. The ambitious nineteen-year-old left his home in London, Ontario, in 1887 after winning $5,000 in the Louisiana lottery. He planned to use his winnings as seed money to begin a career as a professional gambler and to finance a life of luxury as he did so.

Henry had some initial success in the arcades of Denver, winning, on average, $30 a day for his first two weeks in town, but he spent more than that on the girls at the Palace Theater. The show at the Palace featured a variety company with a number of attractive young actresses and female vocalist. The theater required the women, when not on stage, to entertain individual customers, luring them to private boxes in the theater balcony and enticing them to buy drinks, for which the women received kickbacks. Charles Henry bought drinks for most of the cast before focusing his attentions on Miss Effie Moore, an actress with a round face and long curls of shiny black hair, who did a solo seriocomic performance in the show.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Body of Mena Muller.

 


A man gathering leaves in Guttenberg, New Jersey, on May 13, 1881, discovered the body of a young woman with a fractured skull. It took five days to identify her as Mena Muller of New York City. She left her husband then illegally married Martin Kinkowski. That marriage ended badly after Mena and Martin shared a bottle of wine.

Read the full story here: The Guttenberg Murder.


Illustration from Wedded and murdered within an hour!,  Philadelphia: Barclay & Co., 1881

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Outraged Father.


In December 1882, 16-year-old Emma Nash was raped in Wahpeton, Dakota Territory, by E.A. Newton, an agent for the Northern Pacific, Fergus Falls, and Black Hills Railway. She swore out a warrant against Newton, and on December 23, he appeared before the Grand Jury in Washington, Dakota Territory.

Emma’s father, James G. Nash, watched from the gallery at the indictment hearing as the judge read the charges and asked Newton how he pled. “Not guilty,” said Newton. A moment later, James Nash rose from his seat, pulled a revolver, and shot Newton dead.

“The scene that ensued beggars description,” said the Illustrated Police News. Nash surrendered himself to the authorities as the audience loudly applauded his act.

Public sentiment remained firmly on the side of the outraged father when he was indicted the following March for the murder of E.A. Newton. Nash pled not guilty, but he was a poor man who could not afford adequate counsel. The community in Wahpeton took up a collection and raised enough money to hire attorney W.W. Erwin Esq. of St. Paul, Minnesota, for Nash’s defense. The newspapers speculated that it would be difficult to find a jury that would convict him.

Nash was released on $10,000 bail pending his trial for murder. It does not appear that the trial ever took place.


Sources: 
“Nash, of Wahpeton, Indicted,” Bismarck Tribune, March 16, 1883.
“Record of Tragedies,” Mower County Transcript, January 3, 1883.
“Shot his Daughter's Seducer,” Illustrated Police News, January 20, 1883.
“Territorial News,” Butte Semi-weekly Miner, January 6, 1883.
“Territorial News,” Griggs County Courier, April 13, 1883.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Betrayed and Murdered at the Reservoir.

Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.

Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                            



Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Weight of Grief.

Fanny Windley Hyde
Fanny Windley began working in the factories of Brooklyn at age ten. When she was fifteen, Fanny was “seduced” by her forty-five-year-old employer, George W. Watson. Watson’s unwanted attention continued for the next two years, even after Fanny's marriage. Then one day, on the stairway of the factory, she countered Watson’s lewd advances with a gunshot to the head. There was no question that Fanny Windley Hyde killed George W. Watson; it would be up to the jury to decide whether this act was first degree murder, or if Fanny was “under a weight of grief that could not be resisted.”

Saturday, June 5, 2021

She Killed the Beast.

 

Bob Ramsey, a waiter at a resort hotel in Murphy, North Carolina, was standing in a lower hallway he heard a scream coming from the stairway. He recognized the woman running down the stairs as Lillian Gould, a pretty blonde Englishwoman about 30 years old. She was screaming because her husband, Charles, ten years older, tall and strong, was chasing her with a riding crop. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

"Had No Use For Men."

 


Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward, aged 19 and 17, had become close friends at the Higbee School for Girls in Memphis. So close, in fact, that they declared their love for each other and planned to elope to St. Louis to live together as husband and wife. When Freda’s family stopped the relationship, forbidding Freda from seeing Alice, events took a dreadful turn. On the afternoon of January 25, 1892, Alice Mitchel met Freda Ward on Front Street and cut her throat with a straight razor. Was Alice driven by insanity, by jealousy, or by “an unnatural love?”

Read the full story here: "Girl Slays Girl."


Pictures from Illustrated Police News, July 30, 1892.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Cannibal of Austerlitz.

Simon Vandercook was a 55-year-old “eccentric wanderer” from Lansingburgh, New York, a fortune seeker who relatives said was always filled with “utopian schemes.” In 1882, he claimed he had discovered gold outside of Alford, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Berkshire County had several small iron mines, with Marble and other minerals found there as well so a gold discovery was not considered impossible. Vandercook purchased the land for his gold strike from Oscar Beckwith in exchange for shares in the company he formed to mine the gold.

If Vandercook had actually discovered gold, the mine was not producing enough to sustain fulltime operation, and he earned money by cutting trees on the property and selling lumber. Beckwith believed he had been swindled and threatened to sue Vandercook.