Monday, July 16, 2012

Three Wounds - The Rest of the Story.

The Boston Daily Globe followed the story in the previous post, “Three Wounds” for two more days.  It turns out the Willard Nesbit was, in fact, the missing Dedham bridegroom, and on August 13, 1892, the Globe printed a picture of Nesbit’s disappointed bride-to-be, Miss Bridget Hanlon. Nesbit did recover from his wounds, but it was not a case of assault or attempted murder; for whatever reason, Nesbit’s wounds were self-inflicted.

As of August 12, Nesbitt was recovering nicely Medford, but was still sticking to his original story.  He claimed that he passed out while standing in front of a dime museum on Tremont Street. He had a vague recollection of wandering down to the Italian quarter in the North End; that someone had wanted to go through his pockets; that he objected and in the melee was stabbed three times in the chest.

At the time, the Boston police believed his story, but later in the day, another voice was heard from.  John Tully who tended bar at 663 Harrison Street in Boston, saw the story in the paper and came forward to tell what he knew of Willard Nesbitt. He said that the Nesbitt had come to see him the morning of the alleged assault. The two were acquainted because Tully’s sister was Mrs. John Cahill who owned the house in Dedham where Nesbitt boarded. Nesbitt tried to borrow $25 from the bartender, saying he needed to buy a suit for his marriage that afternoon. Tully would not give him the cash, but said he would reimburse Nesbitt for the carriages in the wedding if he saved the bills. This did not satisfy Nesbitt who said if he could not buy a suit the wedding would not take place.

Nesbitt sat down and wrote three letters that he wanted Tully to deliver to people in Dedham on the following Sunday. Tully refused so Nesbitt sent them by post.  One of the letters was to John Cahill who received it the following day. The letter willed all of Nesbitt’s tools to Cahill in remembrance of him because it would all be over by the time he received the letter. Tully believed that Nesbitt, despondent over the marriage, had attempted suicide to end his troubles. He had gone to Medford because it is the opposite direction from Dedham.

On August 14, the rest of the story came out. Nesbitt, who claimed he had no relatives in America, in fact had some relatives living near Medford who read the story in the paper and were very anxious to see the supposed victim. They said he was the son of Allen Nesbitt of Dennisville, Maine. According to the Globe:
“Will, as they called him, had been missing from home for two years, and the best news his father could receive of him was to hear that he was dead and buried, for if there ever was a scoundrel he was one, and his father had often declared.”
Willard Nesbitt had been married in Dennisville, but divorced his wife to marry Auva Savage, the mother of his illegitimate child. When Auva became pregnant again, Nesbitt left Maine. She and the children were looked after by Nesbitt’s parents who heard nothing of Nesbitt until reading of the stabbing.
“The relatives who called at Medford seemed rather loathe to give the above facts but thought it better to have them known if he was among the living.”
The police believed the story to be true because when they examined Nesbitt they found he had a tattoo on his arm of the name “Auva” inside a wreath. When asked about it, Nesbitt told them it was his wife’s name.

The police were now convinced that the wounds were self-inflicted; they were too straight and closely clustered to be done by an assailant. They believed it was not attempted suicide; Nesbitt was “only trying to work the sympathy racket.” The police were determined to end his career, but Nesbitt had already been released and his whereabouts were unknown.

The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, August  12, 1892.
The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, August  13, 1892.
The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, August  14, 1892.


A says:
July 17, 2012 at 1:56 AM

What a tangled web. Poor man must have been at his wits end. What a troubled individual.

Mary Claire Mattiello says:
July 23, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Thank goodness Bridget found out BEFORE the marriage!

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