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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fire in the Swamp.


The morning of June 9, 1874 a two-story house burned to the ground in a section of Rutland, Vermont known as the “swamp.”  Amid the rubble was the badly burned but recognizable corpse of Mrs. Ann E. Freese; she had been stabbed in the throat before the fire started. Finding her killer promised to be daunting since Mrs. Freese’s house was a well-known brothel with men coming and going at all hours. But circumstances quickly pointed to John Phair, a local ne’er-do-well whose relationship with Mrs. Freese was closer than that of a paying customer and who had conveniently left town the morning of the fire.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Murder Pamphlets.

Americans have always loved a good murder story. The first book published in Boston, in 1675, was The Wicked Man’s Portion, a sermon about two men who were executed for murdering their master, and for at least the next two and a quarter centuries the public’s desire to read about killing was satisfied by cheap, sensational, paperbound murder pamphlets. The earliest examples, following a tradition that began in England, were one page broadsides sold at the murderer’s hanging, containing sermons relating to the crime or the transcribed confession of the condemned man. They were often decorated with images of coffins or the hanging man, and their sale was justified on the grounds that they served as a warning against living an immoral life.

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Three Wounds.


Little Murders
(Two possibly related stories from The Boston Daily Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, August  12, 1892.)

Three Wounds.

Willard Nesbitt Was Cut in the Breast.

He Was Found in Medford in an Unconscious State.

He Remembers Nothing of the Occurrence.

Doctors Fear that he Will Not Recover.

Is He the Man Who Disappeared from Dedham?

Medford, Mass., Aug. 11. – Willard Nesbitt of Dedham was found in the yard of the Medford House here this evening with three stiletto wounds in his breast, from which his death may result.

The manner in which he received his wounds is a profound mystery, as the man himself either cannot or will not account for them.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

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.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 50 Best American History Blogs

Murder by Gaslight is proud to be included in Online Colleges' list of 50 Best American History Blogs:

The 50 Best American History Blogs