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Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Insane Explorer.

Little Murders

Survivors of Jeannette expedition (James Bartlett, seated second from left)
On July 8, 1879, the U.S.S. Jeanette left San Francisco bound for the Bering Strait. Its mission, funded by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald, was to make the United States the first nation to reach the North Pole, on the theory that a warm Pacific current would provide a water route. After nearly two years sailing through ice-bound waters, the Jeanette was “nipped” in the ice on June 12, 1881 and sank the following day. The crew set off on foot, hoping to reach the coast of Siberia before winter set in. They struggled for 91 days, living on seal, walrus, polar bear, and sea birds, and covered nearly one thousand miles. Only thirteen of the original crew of thirty-three survived.

Among the survivors of the Jeanette expedition was James R. Bartlett, who, in 1892, was living in San Francisco with his wife and their niece. Mentally, Bartlett never recovered from his arctic hardship; and had previously been confined in an insane asylum.

Around 1:30, the morning of October 30, 1892, Bartlett went into his house and told his wife he was going to kill her. He drew his revolver and shot his wife in the shoulder. As she ran screaming from the room, their young niece, Lottie Carpenter, came in and tried to intercede. Bartlett shot her in the head and she died moments later. He then went to a back room and shot himself in the head.

The newspapers all agreed that the tragedy was a direct result of hardships Bartlett suffered as a crewman of the ill-fated Jeanette expedition. The Oregonian questioned the value of such ventures, “Neither science, humanity nor common sense warrants a man in putting so severe strain upon his physical and mental powers as to render his crippled existence a misfortune to himself and a constant menace to those about him. The Jeannette expedition was one of the most costly in life, hardship and money that has ever been sent out in quest of an “open Polar Sea,” while its profits are so meager that science takes no note of them.”

Sources:
“[San Francisco; Miss Lottie Carpenter; James R.,” Oregonian, November 1, 1892.
“An Insane Explorer.,” Plain Dealer, October 31, 1892.
“An Insane Murderer,” San Diego Union, October 31, 1892.
“Crazed By His Arctic Sufferings.,” New York Tribune, October 31, 1892.
National Geographic: The Hair-Raising Tale of the U.S.S. Jeannette's Ill-Fated 1879 Polar Voyage . “James R. Bartlett Dead,” Daily Register-Gazette, October 26, 1893.
USNI News: The Jeannette Expedition.
“News in Brief.,” Huntsville Gazette, November 5, 1892.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Killed in a Saloon.


(From Augusta Chronical, January 2, 1888)


Killed in a Saloon.
 Political Factions Meet in New Orleans and a Fatal Fight Results.

New Orleans, LA, Jan. 1 – Soon after one o’clock this morning a shooting affray took place in Johnson’s saloon, 21 Charles street, in which city administrators, Patrice Mealey, was mortally wounded, Mike Walsh dangerously, and Daniel Markey painfully. The last named received a shot in the mouth. All were taken to Charity Hospital, where Commissioner Mealey died at 2:10 o’clock this afternoon. Walsh remains in a comatose condition. It appears that Commissioner Mealey and a party of political friends, supporters of Nicholl’s, went late to the saloon for the purpose of getting drinks. While they were there half a dozen McEnery men, including Special Officers Louis Clare and John Gibson, came in. As to the origin of the trouble statements conflict materially, there being so many persons present. Each aide, however, charges the other with being the aggressors. Be that as it may, there was shouting for Nicholls and for McEnery. Mealy and Clare met together, and then the shooting began.

Twelve or fifteen shots were fired, showing that several weapons must have been used. All accounts agree in one particular, that Louis Clare and John Gibson began the shooting. Mealy declared that he had been shot by Clare. Both Clare and Gibson have been locked up and charges of murder will be made against them.


"Killed in a Saloon." Augusta Chronical January 2, 1888.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Discarded Lover.

Little Murders
John Friese, a 22-year-old car conductor in Baltimore, courted 17-year-old Georgia V. Stone who worked at the Mt. Vernon Cotton Mill. Their romance was not going smoothly, and matters came to a head one day in September 1889, when Friese went to Georgia’s house drunk. It is not clear what transpired at their meeting, but afterward, Georgia returned all of his presents and refused to see him again.

On September 29, John Friese was sitting with some of his companions on a fence near the cotton mill. When he saw Georgia walking with George Moore, son of the mill superintendent, he rushed to her and demanded to know if she intended to come back to him. When Georgia said, “no,” he pulled out a revolver and shot her twice. Friese fled the scene. Georgia Stone was taken to the hospital, where she died before she could give her dying deposition.

The following morning John Friese went to the Central Station House and gave himself up. He said he had intended to shoot George Moore, but his aim was poor and Georgia was shot instead.

On February 1, 1890, John Friese was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary.

Sources:

“A Brilliant Verdict,” Bloomington Daily Leader, February 1, 1890.
“Gave Himself Up,” Galveston Daily News, October 1, 1889.
“Local Matters,” Sun, November 14, 1889.
“She Discarded Him,” National Police Gazette, October 19, 1889.
“Shot by a Discarded Lover,” Boston Daily Globe, September 30, 1889.
“Telegraphic Summary, Etc,” Sun, October 2, 1889.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Insanity.

Insanity has always been a popular murder defense. Sometimes the insanity plea is painfully appropriate, other times it is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

The Indiana Hero -1820

In 1819, when the State of Indiana was still frontier country, Amasa Fuller, a prominent and popular citizen of Lawrenceburg, was courting a young lady of that town. While Fuller was away on business, the young lady’s heart was stolen by a younger man, named Palmer Warren. Fuller returned to find that his true love had agreed to marry her new suitor. When Warren refused to fight a duel with Fuller, Fuller shot him in cold blood. But Amasa Fuller was so popular in Lawrenceburg that, when a ballad was written about the murder, the young lady was cast as the villain, and Fuller was “The Indiana Hero.”

The Veiled Murderess -1853

In 1854, a woman calling herself Henrietta Robinson stood trial in Troy, New York, for poisoning a neighbor and his sister-in-law. Despite the judge’s admonitions, she sat through the trial with her face covered by a black veil, hiding her appearance from the throngs of spectators who had come to watch. Everything about the defendant was a mystery—her motive for murder, her behavior before and after the crime, and even her true identity. It was well known that “Henrietta Robinson” was an assumed name, but who she really was has never been determined.

Dan Sickles's Temporary Insanity -1859

Dan Sickles, congressman from New York, was married to the most beautiful woman in Washington but his other interests, including his mistresses, often kept him away from home. Feeling lonely and abandoned, his lonely young wife, Teresa, found comfort in the arms of Philip Barton Key. When Sickles learned of their affair, he armed himself and confronted Key on the street. Blinded by rage he shot and killed his wife’s lover. Was it premeditated murder or temporary insanity?

The Richardson-McFarland Tragedy -1869

On the afternoon of November 25, 1869 Daniel McFarland walked into the office of the New York Tribune and there shot and killed Albert Richardson, a Tribune editor. Richardson had planned to marry Daniel McFarland’s ex-wife, Abby. The facts of the murder were irrefutable, but the trial that followed focused instead on the behavior of Abby McFarland. Was her adultery an attack on the sanctity of marriage that drove Daniel McFarland to murderous insanity? Or had she been justified in leaving a drunken, abusive husband, running to the safety of another man’s arms?

A Woman Scorned -1873

William Goodrich paid a visit to the lodging of his brother Charles, on Degraw Street in Brooklyn, on March 21, 1873. Getting no response at the door William entered the house to search for his brother, and found Charles in the basement, lying dead on the floor, neatly posed, as if laid out by an undertaker. Charles had been shot in the head. On the floor near the wound lay a revolver, and near the gun was Charles’s hand, suggesting suicide. But William Goodrich knew his brother too well to believe this. “You never did this yourself!” he said, “This is murder! Not suicide!”

The Walworth Patricide -1873

The name Walworth was an old and venerable one in the state of New York. William Walworth arrived there from London in 1689; during the American Revolution, Benjamin Walworth fought in the Battle of White Plains; Reuben Hyde Walworth, in 1828, was named Chancellor of New York, the state’s highest judicial office. But in 1873 the name Walworth was forever tarnished when Frank Walworth murdered his father Mansfield Walworth.

A Matter of Honor -1883

In the autumn of 1882, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Nicholas L. Dukes learned that his fiancĂ©e, Lizzie Nutt, had been intimate with other men. An honorable man would have confronted his betrothed and ended their engagement face-to-face. Dukes chose to break the engagement in a letter written to Lizzie’s father, Civil War hero and Cashier of the Pennsylvania State Treasury, Captain A. C. Nutt. The resulting conflict was so divisive and violent that it would take two murders and two controversial trial verdicts to restore honor to Uniontown.

Professor Strunk -1886

In 1885, Professor Ira G. Strunk was a model citizen of New Albany, Indiana. He was the Principal of the New Albany Business College, a member of the Episcopal Church, and a happily married man with two young daughters. His wife Myra sang in the church choir, under the direction of Strunk’s friend, Charles V. Hoover. But behind Strunk’s back, the relationship of Myra and Charles went far beyond choir practice. Although the affair was common knowledge in New Albany, Ira Strunk was oblivious until he, quite literally, read about it in the newspaper. A small item in the gossip column of the local paper rocked Strunk’s world and set him on a course that could only end in murder.

The Nicely Brothers. -1889

Brothers Joe and Dave Nicely were the prime suspects in the robbery and murder of Herman Umberger in his home in Jennertown, Pennsylvania on February 27, 1889. They were arrested, identified by eye witnesses, convicted and condemned to death. But the Nicelys maintained their innocence and tried every means possible—legal and otherwise— to avoid punishment

The Worst Woman on Earth -1893

When two bodies were found in a hayloft on Paul Halliday’s farm in the town of Mukakating, in New York’s Catskill Mountains, his young Gypsy wife, Lizzie, became the prime suspect in their murders. It was not the first time Lizzie Halliday was accused of murder and it would not be the last. In court she would tear her clothes and babble incoherently; in captivity she was a danger to herself and everyone around her. Though she exhibited all the signs of a woman who was violently insane, many believed that Lizzie was merely a gifted actress. But no one disagreed when the press crowned Lizzie Halliday, “Worst woman on earth.”

A Contract With the Devil -1897

On April 16, 1897, cashier Joseph A. Stickney was murdered during a daring daylight robbery of the Great Falls National Bank in Somersworth, New Hampshire. The frenzied investigation that followed, crossed state and national borders resulting in the arrests of Joseph Kelley, a resident of Somersworth with peculiar habits. Joseph E. Kelley confessed to the murder, leaving the court to decide whether his actions were driven by a mental disorder, whether he was feigning mental disability, or whether Kelley had in fact made a contract with the devil.