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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Two Shots, a Shriek.

Little Murders
“A dark, mean little bedroom, a woman, half-undressed, dirty and pale, and blear-eyed from long excesses, a male companion, leaning over her with a revolver at her head, two shots, a shriek, an ugly hole under the ear, and the vice and crime of Boston had added another murder to its long score.” The Boston Herald’s vivid description of the murder of Josephine Brown on Christmas Eve, 1891, served to underscore her sad and dismal life. Married and divorced by age twenty, Josephine’s family blamed her for the failed marriage and turned her away. Left to fend for herself, Josephine Brown spent the next twenty years as a prostitute.

Joe, as she was known on the street, had been working in a brothel run by Mrs. Mary Ann Fisher on Pitt Street, in Boston’s West End. The house had recently closed down with the arrest of Mrs. Fisher, and Joe was working as a street walker. The demise of Mrs. Fisher’s house meant more than the loss of shelter, it left Joe without protection from the potential violence of her profession, and without anyone to keep her away from whiskey, which, when she was left on her own, became Joe’s consuming passion.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Murderous Ohio.

The Buckeye State has been the scene of some especially gruesome homicides:


The Tanyard Murder -1874

In 1874, a feud within Cincinnati’s German community would lead to the brutal murder and illegal cremation of Herman Schilling, a worker at H. Frieberg’s tanyard. Andreas Egner wanted revenge for catching Shilling in bed with his 15-year-old daughter. But Shilling had other enemies as well and his killer could just as easily been George Rufer who believed Shilling had cost him his job at the tannery. The murder of Herman Shilling—one of the most gruesome in Cincinnati’s history—would also serve as a stepping stone for an aspiring young reporter on his way to international literary renown.

Murder among the Shantyboats -1883

Colonies of shantyboats on the Ohio River were densely populated and the boats were often the homes of unsavory characters — conditions ripe for violence and murder.

The Courthouse Riots. -1883

When William Berner was tried in 1884 for the cold-blooded murder of his boss, William Kirk, the people of Cincinnati expected a hanging. When the verdict returned was only manslaughter, the city was outraged. It was the last straw, breaching the limits of tolerance after years of political corruption, driving an angry populace into the streets for three days of violence that took fifty-four lives and left public buildings in rubble -- an uprising known as The Courthouse Riots.

The Sailor and the Spiritualist -1886

Alfred and Althadine Fisk had been married for more than twenty years but over time their lives had grown apart. He became a Great Lakes sailor interested more in drinking and carousing than in raising a family; she became a professional clairvoyant. When Alfred’s neglect turned to physical abuse and Althadine filed for divorce, she had the foresight to send the children away and bring in a friend for support and protection, but her clairvoyance failed when she was unable to predict the tragic consequence of letting Alfred stay just one more night.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Edward S. “Ned” Stokes.

This recently acquired carte de visite of playboy, Edward S. “Ned” Stokes, completes the set of principals in the 1872 murder of Jim Fisk, America’s most flamboyant and best-loved robber-baron. Though hardly in the same class financially, Fisk and Stokes were great friends up until Stokes stole Fisk’s mistress, Josie Mansfield, considered by some to be the most beautiful woman in the country. Not content to steal his girl, Stokes attempted to blackmail Fisk with his love letters to Josie. When that failed, Stokes sued Fisk for $200,000 in profits he felt he was owed from a business venture. This failed as well. Frustrated at losing the lawsuit, Stoke ambushed Fisk on the stairs of the Grand Central Hotel in New York City and shot him dead.

Read about it here: Jubilee Jim






Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Tale of Deepest Crime.

Little Murders
(From Wheeling Register, Wheeling West Virginia, November 28, 1883)



A Tale of Deepest Crime.



The Mystery Surrounding a Murder
Which Resulted in Four Other Tragedies
Made Clear After Many Years.

Seymour, Ind., November 27—Yesterday there arrived in Medora, a town situated nineteen miles from this place, a woman giving her name as Eliza Kemp. She is now engaged as an agent of dress patterns. Seventeen years ago there occurred in Seymour one of the most blood curdling and mysterious murders ever committed in this part of Indiana. There were subsequently three other murders committed, caused directly by the first murder. For the past seventeen years these murders were entirely Surrounded by the Deepest Mystery, and not until the present time, when the testimony of Liza Kemp was given, was the true history of the crime known. A history of the crime, briefly given, is as follows. On the night of January 3, 1866, Moore Woodmansee, a wealthy merchant of Medora, came to Seymour, on his way to Cincinnati. He had $2,000 in cash, with which he was to purchase goods. He registered at the Rader House for the night, and was assigned to room No. 7. He was missed form his room, and his disappearance was, for over nine months, a mystery, when, in October, his body was found in White River, his head was cut off, but the examination by several doctors who treated Wooodmansee during life
Gave a General Verdict
that it was the remains of Woodmansee. The Rader House was ransacked for supplemental evidence of the suspected murder. After removing the carpet in room 7, blood stains were found on the floor, and attempts of scrubbing stains from the stairway were discovered. Gordon Kinney an employee of the hotel was suspected of knowing of the murder. When the excitement caused by the finding of the body was at its highest, an unknown man called Kinney from his door one night, and as he opened the door was shot and instantly killed. Soon the unfruitful efforts to find the murderers were abandoned. Again, a man named Eben Wheeler was mortally wounded and when told he had to die, Wheeler made a confession, stating that on the night of Woodmansee’s murder two men had taken from the Rader stable the horse and spring wagon.
In the Morning They Returned.
The bottom of the wagon was covered with blood. It was afterwards taken out and a new one put in instead. Rader was arrested for the murder, but acquitted, and again the affair was a dark mystery.

On the night of the murder a dance was being held in the dining rooms of the Rader House. Toward the close of the dance Sam Long and A. W. Flynn, both gamblers and hard cases, left. It was well known that Flynn and Woodmansee had had a difficulty and were engaged in a law suit. Flynn had threatened to kill him and his partner, Sam Long, said the case should never come to trial. It was also proven that they had followed him to Seymour. After the murder these men returned to Medora. Every time, during the many years, that new evidence or news concerning the Woodmansee murder was reported, it was followed by a meeting of these men
Suspicion Began to Point Strongly Towards Them.
Flynn threatened to shoot one Emery, who has talked about him but Emery shot first and instantly killed Flynn. Sam Long the partner, immediately disappeared and Alden E Rodman, a suspected accomplice was one night taken by unknown mob and hung. Thus, from knowing of the murder of Woodmansee, Gordon Kinney was murdered, Reuben Wheeler was mortally wounded, A. W. Flynn was shot and instantly killed, and A. E. Rodman was hung. Over seventeen years passed away, and the mystery of one murder had grown into the mystery of five still unsolved.

Yesterday, as before stated, Eliza Kemp arrived in Medora. The Woodmansee murder is no longer a mystery. For Eliza Kemp is no other than the Eliza Kemp who occupied Room 8, next to Woodmansee’s room in the Rader House on that fateful night . She said “On that night I was
Suddenly Awakened by a Noise
in Room 7. In a second I was fully awake, and realized that some one in the next room was begging for his life. I heard “Sam, kill the d—n s— of b—“ Then a blow followed by a heavy fall, and a moan or two. Then one said: “He’s dead, d—n him.” They then agreed to take his body, cut the head off and throw the body in the river. I left Seymour early in the morning and have not told what I have heard. I am going to Kansas in a few days, or would not now tell what I do, because my life had been threatened time and again by anonymous letters and in other ways.” Five of the six supposed to have been connected with this murder have been killed and Sam Long, the only remaining left in 1866 and has never since been seen or hear of. Thus, after seventeen years of mystery the murder did will out.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

He Emptied his Gun.

Little Murders
Clara Arnold, of Indianapolis, Indiana, had left her husband John and after several months of living apart sued for divorce on the grounds of ill-treatment. John Arnold countered by alleging that his wife had “evil associations” and too close a companionship with John W. Poe. Arnold had threatened his estranged wife with violence and she sent for Poe to stay with her for protection. Her sister Mollie and her husband were also staying with her on the night of December 8, 1889.

Around 10:00 that night the street door burst open and John Arnold entered brandishing a revolver. He fired two shots at John Poe, then turned to his wife shouting, “Clara, I told you I was going to kill you! I can’t stand it any longer! Get ready to die.” He fired three shots at her, one bullet hit her in the left breast and lodged near the lung, another hit her left leg near the pelvis. He then turned the gun on himself.

John Poe had been exceptionally lucky. One bullet had broken two teeth and cut his tongue, the other, deflected by his overcoat, inflicted a superficial wound under his arm. When the police found John Arnold lying on the floor they thought he had succeeded in killing himself, but he had been playing possum. He had a minor flesh wound in his arm. The wound was dressed and he was taken to jail.

Sources:

"He Emptied His Gun." National Police Gazette 28 Dec 1889.
"Made Mad by Jealousy." Kansas City Times 9 Dec 1889.
"Shot His Wife." St. Louis Republic 9 Dec 1889.
"Shot to Death." Indianapolis Sun 28 Dec 1889.