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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Who Shot “Tonce” Joy?

Fireman Doherty was on duty at the 3rd Street engine-house in Cincinnati in the early hours of Monday, November 30, 1896. A little after 3:00 a.m. he heard a gunshot coming from Muldoon’s Saloon across the street. He went to the door to see what had happened and was met by Pat Muldoon himself who rushed in and told Doherty to call a patrol wagon, someone had been hurt. Doherty sent for the wagon then looked across the street and saw two other men he knew—Billy Farrell was holding up “Tonce” Joy as if Joy was about to fall over.

Joy was unconscious when the wagon arrived to take him to the hospital. Police officers stayed behind to question Muldoon and Farrell. They told the officers that no one else was in the saloon and they were playing cards when they saw “Tonce” Joy staggering outside his hand clasped to his stomach. He told them he had been shot and showed them the wound. Muldoon and Farrell had not seen the shooting and Joy had not told them what happened. The officers took their statements and left. Joy died in the hospital at 7:48 without ever regaining consciousness.

Thomas “Tonce” Joy was a well-known sporting man in Cincinnati, likely to be seen on Vine Street at any time, day or night. Joy was 31-years-old—“a quiet, inoffensive man when sober, and even when drunk was not considered a desperate man.” But in his younger days, he had been a scrapper and carried the scars to prove it. He was a shoemaker by trade and in a melee, at a shoemaker’s ball someone drew a knife and gave Joy four deep slashes in his face. Joy was very nearly killed when a man named Smithy fractured his skull with a billiard cue. He was later stricken with paralysis; he no longer had the use of his left arm and his left leg could just bear his weight. Physically, he was not a threat to anyone.

The following day Coroner Haerr performed a post-mortem examination and officially declared Joy’s death a murder. The angle of the fatal wound indicated that either Joy was laying down when shot or the killer held the gun low down and shot up in an underhanded way. Haerr was upset that the police officers had not arrested Ferrell and Muldoon at the scene of the shooting.

In addition to being a saloonkeeper, Patrick Muldoon was a prominent ward heeler connected with the political machine of “Boss” George Cox. Billy Farrell was an ex-police officer. Friends of “Tonce” Joy said that there had been bad blood between Joy and Farrell, but no one knew the cause. Muldoon and Farrell were brought to the police station and both were quite indignant when they were put under arrest.

The story they told in police custody was essentially the same story they had told the night before, but the police knew these men and had a different theory. They believed that Joy, Muldoon, and Farrell had been playing cards with a fourth man who they were cheating. After their victim had been skinned, it was Joy’s job to steer him away. When Joy returned for his share, they wouldn’t pay, a fight ensued, and Joy was shot. The general impression was that Farrell had done the shooting and Muldoon was protecting him.

On December 3, James K. Kelly, a saloonkeeper who worked for “Boss” Cox, and Attorney Cabell paid a visit to Police Chief Deitsch. They said that they had the man who killed “Tonce” Joy but did not give his identity. The man was a city official, ready to surrender provided Muldoon and Farrell were released on bond. Chief Deitsch was anxious to talk to the man but was not willing to release his prisoners.

The following day the mystery man surrendered himself at the office of Coroner Haerr. His name was James Welton and he was a park policeman. He said he had been drinking with Joy, Joy got drunk and started to get abusive. Welton drew his revolver from his overcoat pocket. Joy grabbed him, a scuffle ensued, and the revolver went off. Joy said, “Oh, I’m shot.” Welton said, “I don’t believe you, but if you are it is your own fault.” Then Welton left him.

The police were skeptical. It came out that Welton was a friend of the prisoners and owed his city job to Muldoon’s influence. They believed that Welton had confessed to an accidental shooting to take the heat off of Muldoon and Farrell.

At the inquest, the coroner’s jury heard testimony against all three prisoners and there were a few surprises. Muldoon and Farrell changed their stories; they now said that Welton was in the saloon that night with two women. Joy came in and made some disparaging remarks about the women and Welton shot Joy in cold blood. Another witness also changed his story with contradictory results. Fred Burkhardt, a waiter who had been walking home that night, first testified to seeing Muldoon, Farrell, and Joy together on the corner but saw nothing more. But after testifying his conscience overcame his fear and he returned to the stand to say he had seen Farrell and Joy scuffling and could say without any doubt that Billy Farrell shot “Tonce” Joy. The jury decided to err on the side of caution and charged all three with murder.

When the case went before the grand jury, all the same evidence was presented but by now the police and prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was their man. But as the jury deliberated, four men known to have connections to “Boss” Cox refused to indict anyone but Welton. The District Attorney protested and managed to move the case to the next session with a less political jury. This time they followed the lead of the coroner’s jury and indicted all three.

Farrell , Muldoon, and Welton each pleaded not guilty. Though the prosecutors were convinced that Farrell was the killer there was not enough evidence to prosecute. Eventually, all three were released on bond and were never brought to trial. The identity of “Tonce” Joy’s killer remains a mystery.

“Criminal Business,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 1897.
“Delving,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 2, 1896.
“Died,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 1, 1896.
“Ferrell,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 5, 1896.
“J. S.,” Kentucky Post, December 3, 1896.
“Jim Welton,” Kentucky Post, December 4, 1896.
“Murder,” Kentucky Post, December 1, 1896.
“Murder In Sporting Circles,” The Daily Herald, December 1, 1896.
“Shot to Death,” Kentucky Post, November 30, 1896.
“Startling ,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 9, 1897.
“'Tonce' Joy Murdered,” The Indianapolis News, November 30, 1896.
“The Women ,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, December 6, 1896.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Mabbitt Mystery.

Luella Mabbitt.
Luella Mabbitt and Amer Green made a handsome couple. 23-year-old Luella was an attractive,   well-formed young lady—“of the blonde type of beauty and very winning in her ways.” Amer Green, 34-years-old, was tall and good-looking with manly features. But Luella’s father, Peter Mabbitt, did not approve of his daughter’s suiter, so reluctantly, Luella told Amer that they had to break up. She would return his letters and he was to return hers.

On August 6, 1886, Amer Green, with his friend William Walker took a buggy ride to the Mabbitt home in Wildcat, Indiana. Her parents saw Luella leave the house with the letters, but she never came back.

Peter Mabbitt believed that his daughter had been kidnapped by Amer Green. Green and Walker were questioned by authorities, but both denied any knowledge of Luella’s whereabouts. In the days that followed search, parties were organized in the area around Wildcat Creek. Peter Mabbitt hired a private detective and offered a reward of $500 for the apprehension of his daughter’s kidnappers.

When it was learned that Amer Green had left town, many believed that he had murdered Luella and had fled to avoid capture. The night of August 12, a group of masked men broke into the home of Amer Green’s mother, put a rope around her neck and demanded that she either divulge the whereabouts of her son or say her prayers. She told them she did not know where Amer was and they could go ahead and pull the rope whenever they were ready. She remained defiant as the men continued to question her. Eventually, they left without doing any further harm or gaining any information.

A portion of Louella’s dress was found in the creek near her father’s farm, its torn condition indicated a struggle. While this tended to reinforce the theory that Luella had been murdered, there was a growing belief that she and Amer had eloped and would turn up safe and sound in due time. It was rumored that Amer had secretly appeared at his mother’s house and told her that all was well, and Luella was being well cared for.

Amer Green.
With a lack of anyone else to prosecute, William Walker was tried for his alleged role in the abduction of Luella Mabbitt. As the Delphi Times pointed out, “The trial was much less than a farce.” On the stand, Walker gave a detailed account of his time on the night of Louella’s disappearance and it was corroborated by Luella Mabbitt’s sister Cynthia (who would marry Walker the following year). In addition, it could not be proven that Luella was actually abducted. Walker was found not guilty.

As the months passed, the mystery of Luella Mabbitt’s disappearance came no closer to being solved. It was rumored that Luella’s body had turned up in Wildcat Creek, and it was reported that a detective had found Amer Green and Luella Mabbitt happily married in Dallas, Texas. The first story was proven false, the second could not be verified. As the Delphi Times stated, “One of two conclusions can safely be arrived at—either Amer Green is the most diabolical, infernal scoundrel or the most cruel joker that Indiana ever produced.”

In February 1887, the badly decomposed body of a woman was found in the Wabash River near the mouth of Wildcat Creek. The body was identified as Luella Mabbitt by her mother and sister, but Peter Mabbitt said it was not her and the examining doctor said the body was of a woman in her forties.

As the story of the elopement of Luella Mabbitt and Amer Green was gaining acceptance, authorities in southern Indiana remained convinced that Amer Green had murdered her. Amer Green and his brother William were known troublemakers, and William Green was already on the lam for murder. William, who was described as “a hideous hunchback” murdered Enos Broombough after a disagreement at a picnic in Young America, Indiana, and managed to escape capture. Detectives and lawmen were searching for both Green boys in Tennessee, Texas, and Missouri.

On July 15, 1887, both of the Green brothers were arrested in Fort Worth, Texas by Sheriff J. G. Stanley and brought back to Cass County, Indiana. While Amer Green was awaiting trial in Logansport, Indiana, he was visited by Peter Mabbitt. Green assured Mabbitt that he daughter alive and well. He offered no proof, however, saying that all would be made plain at the proper time.

Now that Green was captured, the people of Cass County were growing impatient with the legal process. The Circuit Court found an error in the indictment against him and a grand jury was hastily convened to draft a new one. In the meantime, Green’s attorney moved for a change of venue. With no positively identified body and no hard evidence against Green, it was viewed unlikely that he would be found guilty of murder.

Around midnight on October 21, 1887, a mob of 200 men surrounded the jail in Delphi, Indiana where Amer Green was being held. After being refused the jail keys by the Sheriff, some of the men, armed with sledgehammers battered in the door. As Green begged for mercy the mob pulled him from his cell and put him in a wagon and take to the woods. The leader of the mob told green he must either produce Luella Mabbitt or die. Green said that Luella was alive and living with a man named Samuel Payne in Fort Worth, Texas; he hadn’t said so before on advice of his attorney. Convinced he was lying, the mob hung him from a tree. It was reported that the body was viewed by thousands of people before being cut down the following morning.

The death of Amer Green did not end the mystery of Luella Mabbitt. Some newspapers reported that an innocent man had been lynched, while others sent reporters to Fort Worth but were unable to find anyone named Samuel Payne.

On the night following the lynching, a young woman, heavily veiled, stepped off an eastbound train in Delphi, Indiana. She went to the baggage room and asked if her trunk had arrived from Fort Worth. The Mabbits denied that their daughter had returned. The mystery woman was never seen again, but rumors persisted.

“[Amer Green],” Logansport Journal, August 12, 1886.
“Alleged Kidnapping,” Logansport Pharos Tribune, August 9, 1886.
“Amer Green Murdered,” National Police Gazette, November 12, 1887.
“City News,” Logansport Pharos Tribune, January 8, 1887.
“Died Lying,” Wheeling Register, November 6, 1887.
“Found in the Wabash,” The Inter Ocean, February 9, 1887.
“Found to Be Not Guilty,” Delphi Times, August 27, 1886.
“The Green Boys,” Evening Leader, July 18, 1887.
“Innocent but Lynched,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 24, 1887.
“Is Luella Mabbitt Alive? ,” New York Herald, October 25, 1887.
“Lou Mabbett's Fate,” Elkhart Daily Review, February 11, 1887.
“Lou Mabbit Mystery,” Monmouth Evening Gazette, August 19, 1886.
“The Lou Mabbitt Mystery,” The Journal Times, August 18, 1886.
“Lou Mabbitt's Disappearance,” Daily Register, August 14, 1886.
“The Mabbit Mystery,” The Indianapolis News, August 20, 1886.
“Walker Skipped,” Delphi Times, September 3, 1886.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Wronged Husband's Revenge.

M. F. Boyd, the Tax Receiver of Floyd County, Georgia, suspected his wife of infidelity and had a plan to catch her in the act. On October 11, 1892 he told his wife he would be leaving town for the day, but he secretly returned home that afternoon.

Mrs. Boyd was from a good family but had been somewhat wild before the marriage; she was said to be “fond of wine and a lark.” That afternoon she lived up to her reputation, lying in bed with Walter Mitchell, owner of a steamboat line in Rome, Georgia.

Both were intoxicated with wine and sleeping soundly which was why they did not hear Boyd enter the room. Boyd was disabled and confined to a wheelchair. He had his assistant roll him into the bedroom then told him to leave the room and shut the door behind him. Boyd wheeled himself to the edge of the bed and without warning began to stab Mitchel with a sharp knife. He managed to inflict five wounds to Mitchell’s head and sever an artery in his left arm before waking Mrs. Boyd.

Mitchell was taken to his home where he died soon after. M. F. Boyd went into Rome surrendered himself to the sheriff and was released on bond. He also swore out a warrant against his wife for adultery and she was arrested and put in jail.

“A Cutting Affray,” News and Observer, October 12, 1892.
“A Cutting Affray in Georgia,” The Baltimore Sun, October 12, 1892.
“Wronged Husband,” National Police Gazette, October 29, 1892.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Brown Tragedy.

Mary A. Brown
A wholesale robbery operation was uncovered outside of Irvington, Indiana, four miles east of
Indianapolis. In January 1879, John G. F. Brown and Pressley Miller were convicted of grand larceny and concealing stolen goods and sentenced to one year in the penitentiary. Brown’s wife Mary was also indicted but was released on her own recognizance.

John Brown left his wife with a 40-acre farm to manage and three children to raise. She was 33-years-old—nineteen years younger than her husband—and desperately in need of help. That’s not to say that Mary Brown was helpless; she very soon found the answer to all of her problems in Joseph W. Wade, a 33-year-old Irvington saloon owner. Wade, who was in the middle of a divorce, agreed to live at the farm and manage it for Mary, and even before his divorce was final he was sharing her bed as well as her board.

A one-year prison sentence is not very long. John Brown was released from the penitentiary and returned to his farm to find a domestic situation that was not to his liking. It is not clear what transpired at the Brown farm, but John Brown expected trouble and consulted his attorney. The last thing Brown said to him was, “I may never see you again.” Less than three weeks later John Brown was found murdered.

Joseph W. Wade
At a railroad crossing, about three miles from the farm, a neighbor found a horse and buggy, its cushion and lap rug were saturated with blood. The buggy was identified as John Brown’s and a search of the area found his body lying nearby, beside the railroad track. It first it looked like he had been shot in the head, but it was later determined that his skull had been fractured with a hammer.

I didn’t take long to determine who was responsible—Joe Wade was clearly in conflict with John Brown and Mary Brown had told her friends she would do away with her husband if he ever returned, she had a younger, better-looking man and she didn’t desire to “be tied down to an old fool like Brown.” Both were arrested for the murder of John Brown.

At first, they both denied any knowledge of the murder, but after a brief incarceration Mary Brown weakened and told her story of what happened the night of the murder. She said that Wade had planned to go to Irvington to sell his horse and went out to hitch the buggy.

“I went about attending to my work as usual when I heard a dull, heavy sound, and some groans. I rushed out and saw my husband dying. I had the child in my arms and Wade said, ‘Take in that child.’ I did so, after which I came out again and exclaimed, ‘Oh, my God, what have you done?’ He came up to me and put his arms around me saying ‘This is what love will do, darling.’…My reason for making a different statement before was, Wade threated my life if I gave him away.”

After hearing Mary Brown’s confession, Wade corroborated the story of the surroundings of the murder but said it was Mary who actually did the killing. Both were charged with first-degree murder.

They were tried separately, with Joseph Wade tried first in April of that year. The issue was not whether Wade was involved in the murder, but whether he wielded the hammer and if it was premeditated. Wade could not convince a jury that he was only an accessory; he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to hang.

When Mary Brown was tried in July, Wade testified for the prosecution. He was not offered any clemency for his testimony, he would hang regardless, so had no incentive to lie. He testified that he had been discussing the sale of a horse with John Brown that Friday evening when Mary came up behind her husband and struck him in the back of the head with a wooden mallet. He fell to the floor, knocking his head against a table. Wade grabbed a lamp from the table as Mary struck Brown again, this time in the face. Wade said, “My God, woman, what have you done?” She said, “That’s no more than he has done.”

Wade hurried out of the house and began to unhitch his horse. Mary asked where he was going and he said Irvington. “No, you ain’t,” said Mary, “Joe Wade, if you leave me now, you’ll rue the day—you’re a man and I’m a woman—you’ve been staying here and nobody will suspect me of doing this.”

She wrapped up the body in a blanket and he helped her load it into the buggy. Then Mary dressed in Joe’s clothes and drove the buggy with Joe sitting beside her. Anyone who saw them would think they were two men. They left the body by the railroad track, and Mary turned his pockets inside out to make it look like he was robbed.  Abandoning the buggy, they walked back to the farm.
The jury deliberated for forty-six hours then found Mary Brown guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to hang on October 29, 1880, the same day as Joseph Wade. Two days before the scheduled hanging, Governor Williams granted them a thirty-day respite to appeal their cases to the state Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reviewed both cases. They found the two of the jurors on Mary Brown’s case were not competent, having prejudged the defendant; she was granted a new trial. The Supreme Court found nothing wrong with Joe Ward’s trial and let the verdict stand.

On November 18, Governor James D. Williams, in his last official act before dying three days later of inflammation of the bladder, granted Wade another respite so he could bring another appeal to the Supreme Court. This time he appealed on the grounds that the judge gave the jury erroneous instructions.

While awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling, Ward testified at Mary Brown’s second trial. This time said that Mary’s intent to kill her husband “was of a sudden conception,” the murder had not been planned. Mary Brown was again convicted of first-degree murder, but this time sentenced to life imprisonment in the women’s reformatory.

In February 1881, the Supreme Court granted Joseph Ward a new trial and in his second trial, he was also sentenced to life in prison.

“The Brown Tragedy,” Daily Inter Ocean, February 14, 1880.
“In the First Degree,” Daily Illinois State Journal, April 30, 1880.
“An Indianapolis Murder,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette, February 9, 1880.
“Joseph Wade,” Indianapolis Sentinel, July 3, 1880.
“Marion Murders,” Evansville Courier and Press, May 20, 1880.
“Miscellaneous Misdeeds,” Daily Inter Ocean, December 30, 1880.
“To the Scaffold Will Mrs.,” Indianapolis Sentinel, July 13, 1880.
"Wade and His Paramour," National Police Gazette, November 6, 1880.
“The Wade Trial,” Indianapolis Sentinel, April 21, 1880.
“Wade to Get a New Trial,” Daily Inter Ocean, February 5, 1881.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Bitter Fruit of a Jest.

Elvira Houghton, a dressmaker in Southbridge, Massachusetts, hired a carriage and driver to take her to her mother’s funeral in the summer of 1847. The driver, 27-year-old Milton Streeter, was instantly infatuated with Elvira. They had a pleasant conversation and when they returned to Southbridge Milton asked if he could see her again and Elvira said yes.

Also 27-years-old, Elvira feared she was approaching “that delicate and dreaded period, when, having out-maidened all her early associates, she would remain alone a withered remnant of the past.” Her fear may have clouded her judgment; After a whirlwind courtship of one month, she and Milton Streeter were married.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Moment of Agony.

Albert E. Hauntstine had been a fugitive for nearly two weeks before being apprehended on November 22, 1888, in Columbus, Nebraska, by Platte County Sheriff Bloedorn. After his apprehension, Haunstine was described as “a harmless, innocent looking young man of about twenty-five.” But Haunstine’s mild appearance belied the brutal nature of his crime, he shot Hiram Roten and William Ashley in the head and tried to hide their bodies in a haystack on his farm in Broken Bow. A reward of $900 had been offered for his capture. When he was arrested Haunstine was armed with two Navy revolvers, a Winchester rifle, a derringer, and plenty of ammunition but was overpowered before he could make a move.

Haunstine admitted his guilt when captured and said that Roten had been one of his best friends but could offer no reason for the murders. The story came in from Broken Bow that Roten and Ashley were school officers in Custer County who went to see Haunstine on November 9, regarding their suspicion that he had stolen a clock and some furniture from the schoolhouse. Three days later Roten and Ashley had still not returned, and their friends began a search which ended in the haystack at Haunstine’s place. Both men had been shot through the head and Roten’s face had been badly eaten by hogs.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

“I Have Shot My Husband.”

An attractive young woman checked into the Paxton Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, just before eight
o’clock the morning of November 17, 1888. Lewis Thomas, the elevator boy, took her to her room and as they rode in the elevator she asked him if Henry W. King was boarding at the hotel. When he answered yes she asked for his room number, and Thomas told her. Then she asked if a woman lived there with him. Thomas said yes and she responded angrily, “Well, the woman he is living with is not his wife.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Mysterious Murder.

The body of an unknown man with a gunshot wound to the head was found on the corner of 100th Street and 2nd Avenue in New York City, the evening of March 7, 1866. At the time, it was a lonely and isolated corner with no houses nearby; the murder could have been committed after nightfall without any witnesses. Near the wound was a large quantity of power, indicating that he was shot at close range.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Massachusetts Butchery.

Two young boys walking down a road in Lexington, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1887, found a bloody shirt atop a stone wall by the side of the road. They stopped to look around and saw a bundle of clothes lying on the crust of snow on the other side of the wall. The bundle consisted of an entire suit of men’s clothing, from undergarments to overcoat, all saturated with blood. The boys gathered the clothes and hurried back to town. The Lexington Police examined the clothing and believed that it was evidence that a murder had been committed within the previous 48 hours.

Their speculation was confirmed the following morning when L. I. Brooks, a farmer from Lincoln, Massachusetts saw what he thought was a large snowball in a patch of bloody snow. Looking closer he saw that it was a severed human head with two or three deep gashes in the left side. About four feet to the right of the head he found a severed arm. He left the body parts where he found them then drove his sleigh as fast as possible into Lexington to inform the Selectmen. A search party was sent out at once and by the end of the day, they had found the naked body of a man, half hidden by bushes in a gully about a mile from where the head was found. The head, left arm, and right leg of the body were missing. The search continued, but the missing leg was not found that day.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Murder Quickly Avenged.

George Lear, an ex-prize fighter living in Altman, Colorado, had a bone to pick with Irene Good, a pretty barmaid at the Branch Saloon on Bull Mountain, Cripple Creek, Colorado. On November 15, 1893, Lear came to the door of the saloon and called for Irene. She went out and soon after, bartender Sam James heard her screaming. James ran outside and found that Lear had knocked Irene down and run away.

Later, Lear came back and entered the rear door of the saloon, he went into the barroom and began shooting. Irene Good, who had come from behind the bar, fell to the floor and cried, “I am killed.” Sam James then emptied his revolver into George Lear. Though seriously wounded, Lear walked to where Irene was lying, shot her through the temple, then fell dead across her body.

It is not clear what Irene Good had done to enrage George Lear.

“Murder Quickly Avenged,” Muskegon Chronicle, November 17, 1893.
“A Pretty Barmaid Murdered,” National Police Gazette, December 9, 1893.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Duel in the Bedroom.

Will Shinall ran a small store and bar in Hackletown, Georgia, a suburb of Augusta. In the backrooms of the store, he resided with his wife and eight-year-old son. Shinall had business interests in Beaufort, South Carolina and would often travel there and stay overnight. When he was out of town, Shinall left his young clerk and bartender, Batty Buck to manage the store. Though not yet twenty years old, Buck was an honest and enthusiastic employee and Shinall had no qualms about leaving him in charge of the business.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Professional Poisoners.

Dr. and Mrs. Henry Meyer used a dazzling array of aliases to stay one step ahead of detectives as they moved from city to city engaging in lethal insurance fraud. It was their livelihood; they were professional poisoners.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Kentucky Courtship.

Tom Moore had been courting the daughter of Bud Reynolds, a well-known distiller of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, against the wishes of the old man. On October 29, 1896, Moore walked into town and told his friends that before nightfall he intended to either marry his sweetheart or kill her father. He did not marry his sweetheart.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Maniac's Deed.

For several weeks in November 1892, Herman Siegler had been depressed and melancholy. Siegler was a wood carver employed by Wolf Bros. of West Erie Street, Chicago and was known as a man of good disposition who had, to all appearances, a happy domestic life. He and his wife Emilia had been married for eleven years and had three children, the oldest was 10-years-old and the youngest just a few months old. None of his family or friends could explain his recent depression.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Newark Wife Murder.

John Chisholm
Lottie Chisholm left her husband John and, taking their two children, went to stay at her parents’ home in Newark, New Jersey. John had a history of abusing his wife and this time she planned to file a formal complaint. The afternoon of June 23, 1883, John Chisholm went to his in-laws’ house to get his wife and children back. He saw Lottie at a rear bedroom window, sitting with her sister Ella at a sewing machine. According to Ella, John grabbed Lottie through the open window as Ella moved away.

“So, you have been making a complaint against me!” John Said, “I’ll fix you.”

Ella heard Lottie say, “O, Ella, he has got a pistol.”

What happened next is uncertain. Ella said that John raised the pistol and fired at her sister. He put the pistol back in his pocket and ran from the yard. Lottie staggered outside the died a few minutes later.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Peculiar Affair.

Mrs. Fanny Bennett excitedly knocked on the door of Charles Bates, the morning of September 10, 1896. Mrs. Bennett, a widow who lived about a mile away in Troupsburg, New York, had come to tell him about an attempted assault at her house at around midnight the previous night. She said that a man entered the window of the bedroom she shared with her 14-year-old daughter, grabbed her by the hand and said: “Lie down there or I will kill you.”

Mrs. Bennett grabbed a revolver and shot him twice. Bleeding profusely, the man snatched the pistol from her then left the same way he came in. Fearing another attack, Mrs. Bennett and her daughter barred all the doors and windows and stayed up until morning. The intruder had been another of their neighbors, Leonard Wilkinson; Mrs. Bennett had recognized him right away.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Williamsburg Stabbing Affray.

The night ended in a melee at Henry Shear’s lager-beer saloon in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn on January 6, 1868, and Henry Shear himself was fatally stabbed. There were two versions of how this tragedy occurred. It was first reported that Otto Schade had come into the saloon for beer but had no money. Shear, being an amiable young man, told Schade he was welcome to all the beer he wanted and could pay later. Schade took full advantage of this offer and “while in a hilarious state” decided to show the other patrons some card tricks. Not everyone enjoyed the show, and someone knocked the cards from Schade’s hands. Schade took umbrage at this, a fight ensued and Schade was roughly handled. Henry Shear intervened and tried to make peace, but Schade had drawn has jackknife and was swinging wildly. Unable to distinguish friend from foe he plunged the knife into Shear’s left breast. As soon as he could, Schade left the saloon, unaware of what he had done.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Margaret Howard.

Margaret Howard.
Mrs. Lavinia Wolf, who ran a boardinghouse in Cincinnati, was working in the kitchen on the afternoon of February 2, 1849, when Mary Ellen Howard, one of her boarders rushed in from the hall, gasping for breath. Her hands were on her throat as blood gushed over them.

“Mrs. Wolf,” she said weakly, then fell to the floor and said nothing else.

Mrs. Wolf called for Captain John Howard, who she believed to be the woman’s husband. Howard ran downstairs and knelt over the dying woman saying, “Mary, Mary, who did it? Tell me quick, I’m a ruined man.” When he realized that she would not recover he said, “I know the murderer.” Then ran upstairs to get his knife.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Cleveland Axe Murder.

Frank and Eliza Florin of Cleveland, Ohio, had been married for sixteen years and had three children aged 8, 9 and 15. When sober, Frank worked steadily as a plasterer and lived peaceably with his wife, but by 1867 he was rarely sober. When intoxicated, he was convinced that his wife was cheating on him and would drag up incidents from years past during the couple’s loud and frequent arguments. The arguments would often turn violent and policemen in the neighborhood would be called in the middle of the night to protect Eliza from her husband. Neighbors denied Frank’s charges that his wife was unfaithful and said she was an honest, virtuous and industrious woman. They also claimed that Frank often said he would kill her someday.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Squibb Family Murder.

Scene of the Squibb Family Murder.
George Snelbaker went to the farm of his grandfather, George Squibb, to borrow an auger, the morning of June 18,1866, and found the old man lying face down on the porch in a pool of coagulated blood. He was unconscious but still alive. Snelbaker immediately ran to alert the neighbors.

George Squibb, a respectable, 71-year-old farmer of Quaker descent, had a small farm near Warrington, in York County, Pennsylvania. He lived with his wife Mary and their 11-year-old granddaughter, Emma Jane Seifert. Inside the farmhouse the neighbors found Emma Jane lying dead with her skull crushed and Mary Squib lying unconscious with severe headwounds. George Squibb died around midnight that night, but Mary held on for several more days.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Murder by Wholesale.

Little Murders
(From Portland Daily Press, December 25,1878)

Murder by Wholesale.

A Nebraska Man Confesses to Nine Murders.

Cincinnati, Dec. 21—A special from Steubenville says that Stephen D. Richards, who was placed in jail charged with the murder of the Harebon family at Kearney, Nebraska, has made a full confession acknowledging having committed nine murders within the last three years. The first murder was committed near Sand Hills, Nebraska. He had an altercation with a man unknown to him, and shot him through the head. The next was that of Mrs. Harebon and three children last October. He met Mrs. Harebon in jail, she having been arrested on a charge of aiding her husband to escape. When released, Richards visited her, staying two weeks when he concluded to murder her and take charge of her farm, which he had pre-empted. He broke her jaw and smashed the back of her head with a smoothing iron. He then killed the two oldest children with the same instrument, and seizing an infant dashed its head against the floor. He then gave out that Mrs. Harebon had gone to Texas to join her fugitive husband, but suspicion was aroused, search instituted, and the bodies found under a straw stack. Richards fled. Before the Herbon murder he was assisting a Swede named Peter Anderson in putting up a building. Anderson told some neighbors he believed Richards had poisoned him. The neighbors called next day but Anderson could not be found. Richards was in possession of Anderson’s horses and wagon. While the neighbors were searching the house for Anderson, Richards escaped. Richards admits he killed Anderson with a hammer. He states that he committed two other murders but refused to give the names of the victims. The sheriffs of Kearney and Buffalo counties will take Richards to Nebraska today. They think he is one of an organized gang of outlaws and cut-throats in that region.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Christmas Poisoning.

Mrs. Mary Paye.
On Christmas Day, 1882, Captain David W. Paye lay dying with symptoms so severe and unusual that three physicians had been called to his home in Fishkill Landing, New York, to consult on the case. For the previous week, Paye had been violently ill, with a burning in his throat, pains in his stomach, and an unquenchable thirst. Doctors Tiel, Wilson and Jones concluded that Paye was stricken with arsenic poisoning. Late that night, in great agony, Capt. Paye died.

At the time, arsenic in small doses was believed to be a cure for impotence, but Capt. Paye swore, as God was his judge, he had never taken anything to cause this illness. Though he did not accuse his wife, Mary, of poisoning him, he believed that the poison had been in a pie that she had baked; he had eaten heartily of the pie, he said, while his wife had just a little. Mary Paye tearfully denied this, saying that she had eaten most of the pie herself.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shot by Her Lover.

Jane Finlay was a young woman employed as a lady’s maid by the family of T.B. Stork, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had recently discarded her lover, William Dunlap. Dunlap went to the Stork house at around 11:00, the night of September 1, 1894 and called Jane out of the house. They spoke for a few minutes on the front lawn. Passers-by heard two shots and ran to the scene to find the young woman lying on the grass with a bullet wound in her left breast. She was only able to say that Dunlap had shot her before becoming unconscious. Dunlap was nowhere to be seen. Jane Finlay died in the hospital at around midnight. Police had a good description of Dunlap but it does not appear that he was ever caught.

“Shot by Her Lover,” Philadelphia Times, September 3, 1894.
“Shot by Her Lover,” National Police Gazette, October 13, 1894.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Romantic Story.

(From New York Tribune, September 20, 1871)

A Romantic Story.
A man accused of murder proved innocent after death.

Some workmen, digging holes for the posts of a fence, in Unionville, Westchester Co., a fortnight ago, unearthed the skeleton of a man, evidently long buried. From the position of the bones, the skill resting between the knees, it was surmised that the unknown deceased had not received the customary burial, and that murder had been committed. A shoemaker—Ephraim Jones—lived near the spot where the skeleton was found, and the gossips of Unionville quickly connected him with the supposed murder. It was remembered that nearly 23 years ago, Thomas Brown, a journeyman shoemaker, had suddenly disappeared from the village. Some one of tenacious memory called to mind that Brown had been paid $175, due as wages, by Jones, and that the shoemaker had removed his shop from its site in former years. Upon further investigation, it was found that the old shop stood directly over the place where the skeleton was discovered.

With these facts in their possession, Coroner Weeks and Detective Stoway of Westchester County determined to search for further proof against Jones. The story of the finding of the skeleton and the suspicions of the community against Jones soon came to the newspapers of this city. When the journals reached Unionville the account was read by Jones, who appeared greatly horrified that he should be accused of murder. He was an old man, and was so greatly shocked at the charge that the following day, while lamenting it, he was prostrated by some sudden attack, and died in a few moments. The neighbors loudly hinted that Jones has poisoned himself, but a Coroner’s inquest disproved this suspicion, and proved that the deceased died of heart disease.

On Monday evening a nephew of Jones visited Police Headquarter in this city, and asserted that facts were in his possession which fully proved his uncle’s innocence. He said that Sergt. Louis Young of the Twelfth Precinct, testified that 23 years ago he had witnessed the death of Brown at No. 43 Courtlandt St. The Sergeant was a step-son of Brown, and was 12 years old at the time. He recollected clearly Brown’s return from Unionville, the money he had with him, and his death soon after.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Laws of Compensation.

John Dougherty, a sixty-year-old farmer in Big Bend, Washington, decided he needed a wife and in 1892, he placed an advertisement in a Chicago matrimonial paper. He received a response from Mary E. Phillips, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They corresponded, and she agreed to move to Washington and marry him. It was not a happy marriage, however; for a year they “lived a cat and dog life,” constantly fighting and threatening each other.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Baptized in Blood and Flames.

About four a.m. the morning of February 16, 1896, Robert Laughlin appeared at his sister’s door clad in his nightclothes and bleeding from the neck. He told a harrowing story, he had been awakened by someone drawing a knife blade across his throat. He grappled with his assailant, arose from the bed and knocked him down with his fist. Then the man’s confederate hit Laughlin across the face with a burning torch. He ran to the door, chased by one of the men but was able to outrun him. His wife Emma and his niece May Jones—who was reported variously as 12, 13, or 14 years-old— were still in the house. Laughlin and his brother-in-law went back and found the house in flames. When the fire was put out, they found the bodies of Emma and May, burned nearly beyond recognition.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Murder by Little Girls.

(From Macon Weekly Telegraph, September 26, 1884).

Murder by Little Girls.

St. Louis, September 24. – The story from Ottawa, Kan., that on Monday last Carrie and Bessie Waterman, aged 12 and 11 years, daughter of James Waterman, a farmer, tied a rope around the neck of a half brother, 6 years old, dragged him about and beat him with sticks until he was dead. The girls stated at the coroner’s inquest that they hated the child and wanted him dead. They were held for murder.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

First Avenue Butchery.

Charles Jacobs, a 27-year-old German immigrant, ran a butcher shop at 262 First Avenue in New York City. His business was being hampered by loafers loitering on the sidewalk outside the shop. On Saturday, January 4, 1868, one of the loafers, a man he knew only as Kelly, decided to loiter inside the  shop. Kelly was clearly drunk and loudly making his presence known so Jacobs tried to rush him back outside. In the scuffle that followed Kelly grabbed a butcher knife from the counter and plunged it into Jacob’s abdomen. Reportedly, the wound was so ghastly that Jacob’s bowels could be seen protruding.

Kelly fled, and Jacobs was taken to Bellevue Hospital. The hospital staff knew that Jacobs was beyond saving, and they sent for Coroner Schirmer to take his ante-mortem statement. Jacob declared Kelly was his killer; he died soon after. As of January 25, Kelly was still at large; it is unlikely he was ever arrested for this crime.

“Carnival of Crime,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 25, 1868.
“City And Suburban Facts,” Commercial Advertiser, January 6, 1868.
“Murder in First-Ave,” New York Tribune, January 6, 1868.
“Stabbing Affray,” The Buffalo Commercial, January 6, 1868.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Fiend's Work.

Birdie Baugh, the 20-year-old daughter of C. C. Baugh, was much admired in the town of Alliance, Ohio. She was “a handsome girl of pleasant, winsome ways,” and quite accomplished for an Ohio farmer’s daughter as a student of the music conservatory of Mt. Union College. The family had a large farmhouse outside of Alliance where Birdie lived with her parents, her younger brothers Herman and Garfield, her uncle Thomas, and a farm hand named Curt Davidson.

Mr. and Mrs. Baugh went to visit some friends in Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1893, leaving the rest of the household alone. Curt Davidson had gone out that night and at 10:00 he had still not come back. This was odd because he was usually in the house much earlier, but his behavior was known to be somewhat eccentric. Birdie told her uncle and brothers that they could go to bed, she would wait for Davidson and close up the house after he came in. She was  exasperated with Davidson and said she wished her father would fire him.

It was not the first time Birdie had expressed this sentiment. 40-year-old Curt Davidson was gruff and surly and did not hide the fact that he had become infatuated with Birdie Baugh. She did not return his affections and after repeatedly fighting off Davidson’s advances she had asked her father to get rid of him.

When the boys awoke the morning of November 15, they found that Birdie had not gone to bed the night before. In the kitchen, they found signs of a struggle, a pool of blood on the floor, and bloody footprints leading outside toward the barn. On the floor of the barn, they found Birdies body. Her skull had been crushed and her face and throat had been slashed with a razor. Later, a post-mortem examination would determine that she had been ravished as well; it was unclear whether this occurred before or after her death.

The neighbors were alerted, and a search began for Curt Davidson. They found him lying near a near a neighbor’s barn about a quarter mile away. He also had a gash across his throat. The wound was self-inflicted, the bloody razor still in his hand as he lay unconscious.

Davidson regained consciousness while in police custody. He denied any knowledge of the crime, saying he had been in bed all night. He got up at 5:00 and met a man who was drunk. They quarreled, and the man slashed his throat. But Davidson's bed had not been slept in, and the razor was his own.

As the news of the murder spread through Alliance, men were calling for vengeance and a lynch mob gathered around the jail. A physician addressed the crowd saying that Davidson was near death and not worth lynching, but he was not believed and his words did nothing to reduce their anger. Neither did the arrival of Company K, Eighth Regiment of the Ohio National Guard, ordered to Alliance for Davidson’s protection.

Under a strong military guard, Davidson was loaded onto a train and taken to Canton, Ohio. He did not last long in Canton, on December 4, Davidson died from blood poisoning as a result of his wound.

“Birdie Baugh Murdered,” Daily Illinois State Journal, November 16, 1893.
“A College Girl's Throat Cut,” National Police Gazette, December 2, 1893.
“Died in Jail,” Cincinnati Post, December 4, 1893.
“A Fiend's Work,” Omaha World-Herald, November 15, 1893.
“A Foul Crime,” Cleveland Leader, November 16, 1893.
“In Cold Blood,” Repository, November 15, 1893.
“A Lynching,” Repository, November 16, 1893.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Sudden Death, Foul Suspicions.

Maria Hendrickson
Sudden death seemed to be John Hendrickson’s constant companion. When his six-week-old baby died suddenly, it was viewed as a tragedy. When his father-in-law died suddenly in a farm accident it raised a few eyebrows. But when his healthy teenaged wife died suddenly with symptoms of poisoning, foul suspicions ran wild.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Curley Confesses.

(From Harrisburg Patriot, July 12, 1877).

Curley Confesses.

Miss Whitby’s Murder—The Result of a Bloodthirsty Impulse.

The New York Herald publishes the following dispatch from Pottstown:

“Thomas Frances Curley, who has been sentenced to hang at Norristown on the 9th day of August next for the murder of Mary Ann Whitby, near the Trappe, in May 1875, has made a full confession of his terrible crime to his counsel. At his trial Curley was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence, and doubts existed in the minds of many persons as to his guilt, but these are removed by the startling statement which has been made to his legal advisers. Though the facts were known to his attorneys some time ago, they have just been made public, and though it is denied by the counsel, it is generally believed to have been made in order to have the death penalty commuted to imprisonment for life. This belief is strengthened by the fact that, at the meeting of the board of pardons at Harrisburg, today, Curley’s case was postponed until the September meeting, and thus a new lease of life is given the condemned man.

“From the meagre facts that can be obtained, Curley, in his confession, states that he has had an insatiable desire for blood form childhood up; that he had previously inflicted unnecessary cruelty to dumb animals—stuck a penknife into calves, in order to see the blood flow, and committed other inhuman acts. In the killing of Miss Whitby he says that a desire to murder her seized him on his way home to dinner and that he struck her with a hoe handle and not the stove lifter, which was believed  to have been the instrument of death from evidence give at the time of his trial. He states that no words passed between them; that no quarrel took place, but he came directly home from the field, secured a hoe and dealt her the murderous and fatal blow.

“The ground on which the commutation of the sentenced to imprisonment for life is asked is that the murderer is a monomaniac and is not responsible for his acts. His whole demeanor during and since the trial proves him to be, what is now beyond question, a person of low, brutal instincts, devoid of all human feeling and sympathy, and but little above the brute creation. It will be a relief to the community to know that Curley was justly convicted of the awful crime, and it is but a just atonement that he shall suffer the death penalty.”

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Deliberate, Damnable Murder.

William B. Baldwin
Around 2:00 a.m., the morning of November 25, 1879, the citizens of Hastings, Nebraska, were awakened by frenzied cries of “fire!” The Burlington & Missouri Railroad Depot was burning. Firemen were dispatched to the blaze but, in the words of The Nebraska State Journal, Hastings had “as poor a Fire Department as could be well conceived.” The depot burned to the ground along with two freight cars, for a loss estimated at $20,000.

When the smoke cleared an even greater loss was revealed, the partially consumed body of Allen J. Yocum, a brakeman on the B&M line. Two other men at the scene Ralph M. Taylor, another brakeman, and William B. Baldwin, the telegraph operator at the depot said that an oil lamp had exploded and they managed to escape the fire. Baldwin expressed regret that he hadn’t tried harder to rescue Yocum.

But Baldwin and Taylor were clearly drunk when they were questioned and their stories were confused and contradictory. Witnesses stated that they had heard two or three gunshots prior to hearing the alarm. Rumors began to circulate that the fire was not accidental. Yocum’s body which was in the process of being transferred to his parents in Albia, Nebraska, was stopped in transit. A post-mortem examination revealed that Allen Yocum had two bullet wounds on his left side.

A coroner’s jury determined that Yocum had been murdered, shot by either Baldwin or Taylor. William Baldwin had a 22-caliber revolver which had recently been discharged. It was supposed that Baldwin had quarreled with Yocum and killed him, then set the fire attempting to hide the crime. He forced Taylor at gunpoint to keep quiet. “A Deliberate, Damnable Murder,” said The Nebraska State Journal.

But when the case went to trial the following June, the charge had been reduced, probably due to the circumstantial nature of the evidence. William B. Baldwin was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years at hard labor in the Eastings Penitentiary.

“Burned to Death,” The Nebraska State Journal, November 26, 1879.
“Caught By the Fire,” Chicago Tribune, November 26, 1879.
“A Hardened Villain,” National Police Gazette, November 27, 1880.
“The Hastings Affair,” The Nebraska State Journal, November 29, 1879.
“Murder and Arson,” Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1879.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Cowardly Lover.

James “Jap” Rainey was engaged to 21-year-old, Lettie Jackson of Osawatomie, Kansas until she broke it off in October 1893. It is not clear why she ended the relationship; newspapers described Rainey as “a gambler and an all-round sport” which may have had something to do with it. Rainey did not handle rejection well and in a fit of jealous rage, he swore he would kill Lettie Jackson.

On October 27, Rainey made good on his promise. Lettie called at the home of Bosworth Morgan around 7 o’clock that night; Rainey followed her and started shooting through the window of the house. One of the bullets struck Lettie’s through heart killing her instantly. Rainey fled into the dark woods.

Lettie Jackson’s friends and relatives lived in Greasy Bend, a settlement about four miles outside of Osawatomie. When they heard the news, a posse of about 75 Greasy Benders took off after Jap Rainey, bent on lynching him. Realizing the trouble he was in, Rainey went to Paola, Kansas and turned himself in. By the time the posse caught up with him, Rainey was safely behind bars in Paola.

At his trial, the following February, Rainey pled temporary insanity, but the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. When Rainey appealed the conviction that March, the judge overruled his motion for a new trial. Rainey begged for mercy but the judge said only one sentence was possible under the verdict. He sentenced Rainey to one year in the penitentiary, then, “whenever the governor should so will it, to be hanged.”

The governor never willed it and the hanging never took place. It is likely that Jap Rainey died in prison.

“A Cowardly Lover,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Gave Himself Up,” Tyrone Daily Herald, October 31, 1893.
“Jealous Rage,” Indianapolis Sun, October 28, 1893.
“March of Avengers,” The Pittsburg Daily Headlight, October 31, 1893.
“A Murder At Osawatomie,” The Topeka Daily Capital, October 28, 1893.
“Murdered his Sweetheart,” The St. Joseph Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1894.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Culture of Murder.

(From Grand Forks Daily Herald, December 10, 1888.)

The Culture of Murder.

How Impulsive Organisms Are Prepared to Do Dark Deeds.

No fact is more patent to science than the direct effect of influences exerted through the medium of the senses upon the brain—that particular part we of the organism whose function we call “mind.” Darwin, Ruskin and all the great students of development have labored to bring this fact within the cognizance of the general thinking public. That they have failed is only too painfully evidenced by the persistence and surprising ingenuity of the practice of cultivating homicidal propensities, and collatorally murder, by a refined use of the art of mural decoration.

While we empower the police to put down with a strong hand the exhibition in shop windows, and the censor of stage plays and spectacles to interdict the parade in theatres of pictures and scenes of an “immoral” character, because it is recognized that these have a tendency to corrupt the mind of youth—and age too—nothing whatever is done to restrain the daily increasing evil of pictorial placards displayed on every boarding, and of highly wrought scenes produced at nearly all the theatres, which not only direct the thoughts, but actively stir the passions of the people in such way as to familiarize the average mind with murder in all its forms, and to break down that protective sense of “horror” which nature has given us, with the express purpose, doubtless, of opposing an obstacle to the evil influence of the exemplification of homicide It cannot be disguised that even the most sensitive nature is to some extent brutalized by the display of these pictures.

We are none of us as shocked at the spectacle of a knife driven into the chest of a young woman, and do not recoil as violently from the idea of this form of murder, as before the display on all sides of an elaborate, nearly life size picture of the deed. Nor do two men grappling, together and stabbing each other, or one man shooting another with a revolver, strike us as presenting spectacled of such hideous enormity as they would have done had we not been familiarized with these scenes by impressive placards staring us in the face at every turn. It does seem strange—passing strange—that this murder culture by the educationary use of the pictorial art has not been checked by public authority.

We have no wish to make wild affirmations, but knowing what we do, as observers of development, we can have no hesitation in saying that the increasing frequency of horribly brutal outrages is by no means unaccountable. The viciously inclined are, in a sense, always weak minded—that is to say, they are especially susceptible of influences moving them in the direction their passions incline them to take; and when the mind (or brain) impressed through the senses, and particularly the area of sight, in such manner as to produce menial pictures, either in waking thought or dreams, of homicide, the impulsive organism is, as it were, prepared for the performance of the deeds which form the subjects of the consciousness. We are, of course, writing technically, but the facts are indisputable, and we trust they will be sufficiently plain. It is high time that this ingenious and persistent murder culture should cease.— Lancet

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Confession of Jacob Harden.

Reverend Jacob S. Harden felt he had been roped into an unhappy marriage by Louisa Dorland and her conniving parents. His new wife threatened his promising career and put a damper on his active social life as well. When the young bride passed away mysteriously, Harden acted like a guilty man but professed innocence almost to the end.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Avenged Her Father’s Murder.

Around 1:00 a.m., the morning of September 7, 1892, Richard Wright was awakened by a man calling his name, outside his farmhouse in Payne, Indiana. He recognized the voice as that of his son-in-law, Dell Judah, and went outside to see what he wanted. Judah told him angrily that his wife had walked out; he thought she had gone back to her father and he had come to take her home. Wright assured him that his daughter was not there, but he had not assuaged Judah’s anger. As Wright turned to walk away, Judah drew a revolver and shot him in the neck. Wright turned and grabbed him and as they clinched two more shots were fired.

Wright’s eldest daughter, Minna, ran from the house then, wielding an axe. Seeing her brother-in-law struggling with her father, she hit Judah in the head with the axe, knocking him off. She continued to hit him until he was dead. When she turned to her father, she found that he was dead as well. Minna walked a mile through the woods to their nearest neighbor to alert them to what had happened.

The Wrights were highly regarded in Payne, but Dell Judah had a bad reputation and was known as a rough character. Many believed that he had gone to Richard Wright’s house specifically to murder his wife and her father. Minna Wright was not arrested.

“She Killed Him,” Kalamazoo Gazette, September 18, 1892.
“A Terrible Tragedy,” The Topeka Daily Capital, September 9, 1892.
“Too Bloody to Believe,” The Indianapolis Journal, September 8, 1892.
“Two Lives Wiped Out,” The True Northerner, September 14, 1892.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

An Indignant Husband’s Crime.

In April 1891, Mrs. Sophia B. Dunham of Montgomery, Alabama received the following anonymous letter:

April, 1891,
Mrs. B. Dunham.

Dear Madame,

I guess it is quite a surprise and something very unusual for you to receive a note of this character from a stranger, but, my dear woman, it is very much to your interest for me to write it, not that the matter in the least interests me, but that I feel it is my duty as a man not to conceal from you a thing which will cause you no little trouble if not corrected at once. Now, if you will meet me on Catoma Creek Road Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock, I shall inform you of something, that by your not hearing and acting accordingly will cause you an abundance of trouble. Oh, woman, don't fail to meet me, for the result would be certainly disastrous; and you may be assured I shall not say anything that would be improper for any man to say to one of your sex. Now, do not fail to come, for by doing so you shall reap benefit. I am not one whom you have never seen, but one to whom, perhaps you have never paid the slightest attention.

I am, yours truly,
light tan leggings with brass buttons, on a black horse of good gait, around the park, Sunday.

Mrs. Dunham immediately took the letter to her husband, Colonel Bradford Dunham, General Manager of the Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Though the matter to which the letter alluded was never revealed, Col. Dunham viewed the anonymous letter as a grave insult to his wife’s honor. He planned to uncover the writer’s identity by replying with a decoy letter in which Mrs. Dunham agreed to the meeting in the park. He then arranged to have the meeting place watched.

Mrs. Dunham did not keep the appointment, but the letter writer did; it was 19-year-old, James Cunningham, an employee of Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Col. Dunham put an end to the problem by summarily discharging Cunningham.

Five months later, Col. Dunham learned the Cunningham had been showing the decoy letter around town, saying he had received it from Mrs. Dunham. The colonel was so enraged by this that he procured a shotgun and went looking for Cunningham. He was sitting in the doorway of a drugstore, and when James Cunningham passed by, he picked up the shotgun, loaded with buckshot, and without a word, fired both barrels into the young man’s chest. Cunningham died instantly. Col. Dunham then walked to the police station and surrendered.

Public sentiment in Montgomery was divided regarding Col. Dunham’s case. The coroner’s jury called it first-degree murder, but some felt the Colonel’s action was justified. At the grand jury hearing, a detective testified that Cunningham told him he had lost his position with Midland Railroad for undue intimacy with Mrs. Dunham and intended to kill Col. Dunham on sight. In a decision harshly criticized by the friends of James Cunningham, the grand jury failed to find an indictment against the Col. Bradford Dunham. The colonel was released from jail and resumed his position as General Manager of the railroad.

“Col. Bradford Dunham's Case,” Evening Star, September 29, 1891.
“Col. Dunham's Examination,” Baltimore Sun, October 3, 1891.
“Defended Her Honor,” Fort Worth Gazette, September 28, 1891.
“The Grand Jury Criticized,” Bradford Era, October 24, 1891.
“An Indignant Husband's Crime,” National Police Gazette, October 17, 1891.
“Killed His Man,” Evansville Courier and Press, September 28, 1891.
“Sunny South,” Cincinnati Post, December 7, 1892.