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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Murdered Wife.


A troupe of temperance players who visited the town of Berlin, New York in December 1844 had a profound effect on Henry G. Green. It was not their message of sobriety that moved Henry, but the charm and beauty of their leading lady, Mary Ann Wyatt. When the troupe left Berlin, Henry followed and was soon courting Mary Ann. On February 10 they were married. Eight days after that Mary Ann Wyatt Green was dead from arsenic poisoning.  There is little doubt Henry Green murdered his wife but his motive in doing so is an enduring mystery.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Murders and Daring Outrages

From the frontispiece  of an 1837 American book entitled Confessions, Trials And Biographical Sketches Of the Most Cold Blooded Murderers Who Have Been Executed in This Country by S. Andrus And Son.  The verse is from "The Dream of Eugene Aram" by Thomas Hood -- about a murder that was not committed in this country.  More to come from Confessions…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sleepwalking Defense



The morning of October 27, 1845, the body of Maria Bickford, a beautiful young prostitute, was found murdered in her room in Boston’s Beacon Hill. Her throat had been cut from ear to ear and her bed had been set on fire. The prime suspect was Albert Tirrell who had been keeping Maria and who was seen arguing with her the day before. Tirrell was represented in court by prominent attorney and former US Senator, Rufus Choate, who used a three pronged defense: Maybe Maria Bickford had cut her own throat, maybe someone else killed her, or maybe Albert Tirrell killed her while sleepwalking and was not responsible for his actions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arsenic and Old Lace

Here is an interesting post from Lizzie Borden: Warps & Wefts: The Story Benind Arsenic & Old Lace. It's about "Sister Amy" Archer-Gilligan, the real-life inspiration for the play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace. Proof once again that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Little Murders

Up until now Murder by Gaslight has been documenting just the major American murders of the 19th century—stories with a beginning, a middle and an ending determined by a court of law. Sometimes, as with the murders of Captain Joseph White and Philip Barton Key they have set new legal precedent; and sometimes, as with the case of Lizzie Borden, the stories have become a part of our culture.

But the 19th century was long and bloody not every murder was so well recorded. A murder story may appear in only one newspaper article, never to be resolved. It could be the story of a murder/suicide that begins and ends in one telling, it could be a crime that remains forever unsolved, or it could be a story whose outcome has been lost to history.

Beginning today, Murder by Gaslight will occasionally feature murder stories that were complete in one newspaper article. While there are many more big murders to come, we would like to pay homage to the “Little Murders.”

This story from The Republican Compiler, Gettysburg, PA, April 20, 1846 (quoting The Cincinnati Commercial) tells the exciting but tragic story of Thomas Shannon’s murder in Yazoo, Mississippi. We can only hope that the fiend Waite got what was coming.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Crime of Passion


In June 1831 Joel Clough moved into a boarding house in Bordentown, New Jersey and soon fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, a young widow named Mary Hamilton. He made his affections known to Mary and began giving her gifts and writing her letters. Joel thought Mary had returned his affection and at one point believed she had agreed to marry him. When it became apparent that she was seeing other men, he asked her again. She refused and he stabbed her in the chest eleven times. Joel Clough did not deny that he had murdered her, but he would contend that his passion for Mary Hamilton had driven him insane.