Saturday, December 31, 2016

Her Miserable End.

James Hartig, a watchman at the Massapoag House in Sharon, Massachusetts, traveling from the hotel the morning of December 5, 1885, discovered the body of a young woman lying on the muddy road. He notified the authorities, and Chief Wade of the district police sent two officers to investigate.

Snow had fallen the night before up until 11:00 when the snow turned to rain. Under the body was snow, while all around it the snow had melted, indicating the body had been placed there the previous night. Articles of her clothing appeared to be missing, and the officers searched the area for them. An autopsy determined that she had died from a broken neck that could only have been caused by a violent bending of the head forward. There were no other marks of violence except on her legs which appeared as though the body had been dragged over the ground some time after death.

No one in Sharon recognized the dead woman, so her description was published in newspapers throughout Massachusetts. On December 7, Officer Abbot of the Boston Police Department arrived in Sharon with a woman who believed she knew the victim. Officer Abbott’s companion instantly recognized her as Carrie Lee, alias Carrie J. Loring, whose real name was Carrie Whitney. She said if they examined her left forearm they would find an India ink tattoo of the initials “C W” and a star. The arm was stripped, and the marks were found as described.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Eve Murder.

Little Murders
(From New York Herald March 9, 1888)

A Christmas Eve Murder.
John F. Foley Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree.

The John F. Foley, alias “Mud,” pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Gildersleeve in the Court of General Sessions to manslaughter in the first degree, in killing Dennis Carney. He was remanded until to-day for sentence.

The defendant and the murdered man were members of a west side gang who committed robberies from the outside of stores and from parcel wagons. On Christmas Eve, 1886, Carney’s body was found toward midnight in a gutter on Twenty-seventh street, near Eleventh avenue, and on examinations it was seen that he had been stabbed through the heart.

Foley had been seen with Carney a short time previous to the discovery of the murder and was arrested, but after several examinations before Justice Duffy he was discharged. Another of the gang, named Johnny Murphy, residing at No. 445 West Twenty-seventh street, was subsequently arrested, and at Police Headquarters told the story of the murder, which was briefly as follows:— On the evening of December 24, 1886, Foley and carney quarreled about a can of peaches, during which Foley stabbed Carney in the left breast. After a few words had passed between them and Foley had ascertained that the injuries were likely to be fatal, he ran toward the North river, but afterward virtually gave himself up.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Orrin De Wolf.

Orrin De Wolf
Orrin De Wolf was a humble hostler in Worcester, Massachusetts in January 1845, but he had prospects for a brighter future. He had a deal with Eliza Ann Stiles—on the death of her husband William they would share his estate. William was a deformed, alcoholic in poor health and not likely to live another year. But Orin did not want to wait and his impatience would be his downfall.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

“Coal Oil Johnny” Killed.

Little Murders
(From Cincinnati Commercial Tribune July 21, 1883)

“Coal Oil Johnny” Killed.
Tragic End of One of the Most Notorious Swindlers in the Country.
Shot by His Jealous Wife.
A Bagnio in Terre Haute the Scene of the Killing—Local Experience of John and Sadie Hall—The Climax of a Life of Crime.
Special to the Commercial Gazette.
Terre Haute, Ind., July 20 – The city was startled this morning by a report that another unprovoked murder had been added to the list of crimes enacted here. The murder took place just after daylight this morning, in a Second street bagnio run by Aggie Roland, and possesses much of a sensational nature.

John B. Hall, a street vender, possessed of a number of aliases, but better known by the sobriquet of “Coal Oil Johnny,” was the victim of the crime committed by his wife, who found him occupying a room with one Maud Hunter, an inmate of the house. Hall and his wife had quarreled during the day, and when he closed up his day’s business, instead of returning to his rooms at the St. Charles Hotel, he started out on a spree. He finally wound up at 2 o’clock this morning by retiring at Roland’s house. His wife started out in search of him, and, in a hack, made a tour of the open saloons, but did not find him. She heard about 3 o’clock of his visit to Roland’s, and with the hack driver entered the house, representing to the driver that her husband had a large amount of money on his person, which she feared he would lose. After a number of inquiries regarding accommodations for the night, she inquired if a certain friend of hers was at the house, describing her husband as the friend. Learning that he was, she asked to see him, and was conducted to the door of his room. She knocked, and was admitted by the Hunter girl. Entering the room, she found her husband asleep in bed. She walked to his side, and after gazing at him in silence turned as if to leave. Lying on a bureau at the head of the bed was revolver, which Hall placed  there after retiring. She saw it, and seizing the weapon, she pointed it full at the breast of the sleeping man and fired. The ball lodged in the right breast, producing instant death. The shock threw the body to the floor, the head and shoulders under the bed. Not a word had been spoken, and the shooting had taken place so unexpectedly that neither of the three witnesses could have interfered.

Mrs. Hall gave herself up, and has engaged attorneys for her defense and they refuse to allow her to be interviews or to testify at the Coroner’s inquest. This evening she regrets the deed, and acts as if partly insane.       

The murdered man was noted as one of the most expert bunko steerers and confidence men of the day, and had traveled under a number of aliases. His mother lives in St. Joseph, Mo., and she was notified of his death.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

American Murder Ballads.

The stories of many of America's most memorable murders have been kept alive by folk ballads that have been sung for more than a hundred years. Though seldom factually accurate, the songs are always moving and heartfelt. Here are just a few:

Poor 'Omie - The Murder of Naomi Wise -1807

The haunting folk ballad “Omie Wise” has kept the story of Naomi Wise’s murder alive for more than two hundred years, but how much of it is true?
Ballad: Omie Wise

"…Cut off in her youthful bloom." -1810

The mysteries of Polly Williams’s death have endured for two centuries; her story is neatly summarized in a song and a poem.
Ballads: Polly Williams, Polly Williams (poem)

The Indiana Hero -1820

When Palmer Warren refused to fight a duel with Amas Fuller over the woman he loved, Fuller shot him in cold blood. But Amasa Fuller was so popular in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, that the young lady was cast as the villain, and Fuller “The Indiana Hero.”
Ballad: The Indiana Here (aka Fuller and Warren)

The Ballad of Frankie Silver -1831

Charlie and Frankie Silver were the ideal young married couple, so the legend goes, but the reality was much darker. Frankie had endured physical abuse from Charlie throughout their marriage until, she fought back to save her own life.
Ballad: The Ballad of Frankie Silver

The Murdered Wife -1845

Eight days after Mary Ann Wyatt married Henry Green she died of arsenic poisoning. There is little doubt Henry Green murdered his wife but his motive in doing so is an enduring mystery.
Ballad: The Arsenic Tragedy

Hang Down Your Head Tom Dula -1866

The stories behind murder ballads are never as pretty as the songs. The 1866 murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dula in Elkville, North Carolina left a pretty song of an ugly murder.
Ballad: Tom Dooley

Jubilee Jim -1872

Jim Fisk was the consummate Gilded Age robber baron. Everything he had or did had to be the biggest and best. When his adulterous relationship turned scandalous, it was an epic scandal filled with blackmail, courtroom drama, and finally murder.
Ballad: The Stokes Verdict

Josie Langmaid-"The Murdered Maiden Student" -1875

On October 4, 1875, the mutilated body of 17-year-old Josie Langmaid was found in the woods in Pembroke, New Hampshire. The ballad her murder inspired is remarkably accurate, but profoundly sad.
Ballad: Suncook Town Tragedy

The St. Louis Trunk Tragedy -1885

The body of Charles Arthur Preller was found in a trunk in a St. Louis hotel. Though the death had been made to look like a political assassination, it was in fact the tragic ending of a “peculiar relationship.”
Ballad: Ewing Brooks

Freda Ward - "Girl Slays Girl" -1892

On the afternoon of January 25, 1892, Alice Mitchel met Freda Ward on Front Street and cut her throat with a straight razor. Was Alice driven by insanity, jealousy, or “an unnatural love?”
Ballad: Alice Mitchell and Freddy Ward

Poor Ellen Smith -1892

Ellen Smith, a beautiful but innocent young woman strays from the path of righteousness for a faithless lover who soon becomes her killer. It is the stuff of Victorian cautionary literature and mountain murder ballads.
Ballad: Poor Ellen Smith

The Knoxville Girl -1892

"The Knoxville girl" is an American version of a song with very deep English roots, modified to fit the drowning of Mary Lula Noel.
Ballad: The Knoxville Girl

The Meeks Family Murder -1894

6-year-old Nellie Meeks was the only survivor of an ambush that took the lives of her parents and two sisters. When her story was verified it became one of the most sensational crimes in Missouri history.
Ballads: The Meeks Family Murder, Midnight Murder of the Meeks Family

That Bad Man Stagolee -1895

The story of Stagolee has been sung by troubadours for more than a hundred years.  When Stack Lee Shelton shot Billy Lyons, in a fight over a Stetson hat, in Bill Curtis's Saloon in St. Louis, on Christmas night 1895, the legend was born.
Ballads (two of many versions): Stack O'Lee Blues, Billy Lyons and Stack O'Lee

Frankie Baker - "He Done Her Wrong" -1899

On October 16, 1899 Frankie Baker shot her lover Allen Britt. By that evening a local songwriter had composed a song that would become one of the most popular murder ballads of all time.
Ballad: Frankie and Johnny

Delia's Gone, One More Round -1900

On Christmas Eve 1900, Cooney Houston shot and killed his girlfriend Delia Green.  Delia’s story has been sung by generations of folk singers, and has been recorded by musical icons such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.
Ballad: Delia's Gone