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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shocking Tragedy in Gratiot County

Little Murders
Shocking Tragedy in Gratiot County
Democratic Expounder, Marshall, MI, March 28, 1861

One of the most frightful and inhuman transactions which it has ever been our lot to record was enacted last week in the village of Ithaca, Gratiot county about twenty miles north of this place. The result of the horrible transaction—which was the murder of three persons, a man, aged about forty-five and two girls of about seventeen years—was discovered on Friday of last week, and in consequence of which that village was thrown into the highest state of excitement.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Found Drifting with the Tide


When the body of beautiful young Jennie Cramer was found on a sand bar in the ocean off West Haven Connecticut in August 1881 it was assumed that she had drowned, and possibly committed suicide. But there was no water in her lungs and a thorough examination of the body revealed that the cause of death had been arsenic poisoning. It was also revealed that she had lost her virginity within the last forty-eight hours, and not consensually—she had been violently raped. Suspicion fell immediately on Jimmy Malley, Jennie’s current beau and nephew of the richest man in New Haven. The problem for the prosecution, and everyone since, was determining what exactly happened in the last two days of Jennie Cramer’s life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Murder Ballads and a Suicide Ballad

Looking through American Murder Ballads and Their Stories, by Olive Woolley Burt, I found three ballads relating to two murders already covered here: The murder of Domenico Cataldo by Maria Barbella and the murder of Capt. Joseph White by Richard Crowninshield, John Knapp and Joseph Knapp.


There is no tune to go along with these anonymous verses about Maria Barbella so it may be a poem rather than a song:

‘Tis not for me to speak aloud
        On lofty themes, I tell
As one among the lowly crowd
        How young Maria fell.

Swift as a flash a glittering blade
        Across his throat she drew,
‘By you,’ she shrieked, ‘I’ve been betrayed;
        The vengeance is my due'

Behold her new, a wounded dove:
        A native of a clime
Where hearts are melted soon with love
        And maddened soon to crime.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Emma Davis

Little Murders:
From Defenders and Offenders:

Emma Davis.

This remarkable woman has a mania for administering poison to those whom she thinks have been long enough in this world, and whose departure might benefit herself. Some time ago she was employed in the family, in Malone, N. H., which consisted of a gentleman and his niece. She attempted to poison the niece. Afterwards she was employed as a nurse in a family in Hartford, to care for the husband, and attempted to poison the wife, so she might make a more prominent place for herself.




Defenders and offenders. New York: D. Buchner & Co., 1888.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Bond Street Tragedy


The townhouse at 31 Bond Street was, to all appearance, a model of staid middleclass Manhattan decorum.  In 1857 it was a boardinghouse run by Mrs. Emma Cunningham with the dental office of Dr. Harvey Burdell on the second floor. But after Dr. Burdell was found in his office strangled and stabbed fifteen times, 31 Bond Street was shown for what it was—a hotbed of greed, lust, intrigue and depravity.