Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Dark Mystery.

The Carlton House was a cheap hotel on the corner of Franklin and William Streets in New York City. The basement of the building housed shops and a laundry, and below them was a sub-cellar that served as a repository for ashes and refuse from the hotel and businesses above. In the fall of 1884, the Board of Health received several complaints about the unclean condition of the cellar. After inspecting the premises, the board ordered the owner of the property to remove the heaps of dirt and ashes that had accumulated there. 

After about a week of hoisting barrels of rubbish up to the street, one of the workmen found what he thought was a slender piece of wood. When he grabbed it and tried to pull it out, he dropped it quickly, with a cry of terror. It was not a piece of wood, but the leg of a woman, dried and shriveled. The workmen removed about six inches of dirt, uncovering the corpse of a young woman who had been dead for more than a year. She was wearing a black cloth sacque, with lace trimmings on the sleeves, a brown cloth dress and muslin underskirt. On her legs were blue and white striped stockings, partially worn away or eaten by mice. The flesh of the body had wasted from the frame which was now little more than a skeleton. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Murderous New Jersey.

The state of New Jersey has been the scene of quite a few sensational murders, and it was famous in the nineteenth century for swift prosecution and harsh punishment. All but one of the following murder cases are prime examples of “Jersey Justice.”

A Crime of Passion.

Joel Clough fell madly in love with his landlady’s daughter, Mary Hamilton. She did not return his love, and in 1833 his passion drove him to stab her eleven times in the chest.

Antoine Le Blanc.

Hatred of Antoine Le Blanc, murderer of the Sayre family, was so strong in New Jersey that after a speedy trial and execution his body was used for bizarre experiments and his skin tanned and made into wallets.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Charcoal Pit Tragedy.

Little Murders
North Madison, Connecticut, was rural and sparsely populated in the 1880s. The land was rough and rocky and the soil hard to cultivate; charcoal manufacturing was the chief occupation of people living there. Among those eking out a living, farming and making charcoal in North Madison, was the Johnson family. The parents long dead, two brothers and two sisters lived together in a long low white house about a mile from the turnpike.  Though all were verging on, or well past, forty years of age none had ever married. The sisters kept house, while the older brother, Edgar worked the farm, and the younger brother Eldridge tended a charcoal pit, down the hill about 40 rods from the house. 

Charcoal pits require frequent monitoring, and Eldridge Johnson would often spend the night in a small shack built next to the pit. The night of December 2, Eldridge left the house at 10:00 bound for the pit, but when he did not return for breakfast the next morning the family became concerned. Edgar went down to the pit and found his brother stretched out on the smoldering, sod-covered heap of charcoal. His skull had been fractured, his body was bruised and his lower limbs badly burned. The ground around the pit showed signs of a struggle. Eldridge’s axe and lantern were missing along with $41 he was known to have had in his pocket.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Hamilton Murder.

Little Murders
(From Cincinnati Daily Gazette , Cincinnati, Ohio, December 27, 1870)

The Hamilton Murder.
 A Most Mysterious Tragedy.
Special Dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette.
 Hamilton, O. December 26.
The murder of Thomas Meyers, in George Johnson’s saloon, in this city last Saturday night, is almost the only topic of conversation here now. The circumstances of the tragedy are so very peculiar that no one knows exactly what to make of it. The murder occurred in a room over the saloon used as a faro bank, but in which were also several card tables, employed at times by those who wished to enjoy a quiet game of cards for amusement.

In this room, where the affair occurred, were gathered several of our prominent citizens among whom were Co. A. C. Sands, Job E. Owens, Dr. Huber, Peter Schwab, David E. Brown, John McKinney, E. Bannister, J. C. Lindley, Samuel Davidson, Solomon Schurz. Colonel Sands says, however, that hi had left the room before the shooting occurred, although he was there but a short time before. Of all those who were present, no one but Peter Schwab can give an intelligent account of what happened, and his statement is singularly deficient in some important particulars.

He says that he and Dr. Huber were playing casino at one of the tables. Colonel Sands and three others were playing seven-up at another, while Meyers and a number of others were engaged at the faro bank, George Johnson, the proprietor, dealing the same.

Of a sudden he heard the cry, “Oh, murder,” and looking up saw Meyers fall against the wall and sink toward the floor. As he slipped from his seat he discharged a revolver, the bullet lodging in the wall over the faro table. As he reached the floor he fired again, the ball being imbedded in the wash board just above the floor. At the cry of “murder” the room was cleared in a jiffy, only Schwab and Bannister remaining. Seeing that Meyers was badly hurt, Schwab ran out upon the street, captured Dr. Huber and brought him back, who examined Meyers’ condition. He found that Meyers had received a pistol shot in the abdomen which had severed an important artery, and death ensued in a few minute. In addition to this wound he had received three blows upon the head, evidently made by a slung-shot, either of which would have proved fatal.

Now, what is particularly curious about the affair is that no one saw the man enter and deliver the blows upon Meyers’ head and no one heard the report of the pistol when he was shot. The first circumstance which attracted attention was the cry or “Oh, murder.” Of course, under these circumstances, it is very difficult to fix upon any one as the perpetrator of the deed. Suspicion rests, however upon Tom McGehen, a man who has had a deadly quarrel with Meyers for some time past. A boy stated that, shortly before the occurrence, he saw Tom McGehen, his nephew, James McGehen, Jack Gavin, Daniel McGlynn and Ich Sheely pass through the saloon below, and go to the card room. Upon this statement a warrant was sworn out or the arrest of these parties. This morning, however before the warrant was served, they learned that it had been issued, and voluntarily surrendered themselves to esquire Wilkins. Upon representations made by the defenders that the presence of witnesses from abroad was necessary to their defense, they were placed in charge of a constable and sent to the Hamilton House to be kept until Wednesday morning when the preliminary examination will take place.

"The Hamilton Murder." Cincinnati Daily Gazette 27 Dec 1870.