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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Avenged Her Father’s Murder.

Around 1:00 a.m., the morning of September 7, 1892, Richard Wright was awakened by a man calling his name, outside his farmhouse in Payne, Indiana. He recognized the voice as that of his son-in-law, Dell Judah, and went outside to see what he wanted. Judah told him angrily that his wife had walked out; he thought she had gone back to her father and he had come to take her home. Wright assured him that his daughter was not there, but he had not assuaged Judah’s anger. As Wright turned to walk away, Judah drew a revolver and shot him in the neck. Wright turned and grabbed him and as they clinched two more shots were fired.

Wright’s eldest daughter, Minna, ran from the house then, wielding an axe. Seeing her brother-in-law struggling with her father, she hit Judah in the head with the axe, knocking him off. She continued to hit him until he was dead. When she turned to her father, she found that he was dead as well. Minna walked a mile through the woods to their nearest neighbor to alert them to what had happened.

The Wrights were highly regarded in Payne, but Dell Judah had a bad reputation and was known as a rough character. Many believed that he had gone to Richard Wright’s house specifically to murder his wife and her father. Minna Wright was not arrested.


Sources:
“She Killed Him,” Kalamazoo Gazette, September 18, 1892.
“A Terrible Tragedy,” The Topeka Daily Capital, September 9, 1892.
“Too Bloody to Believe,” The Indianapolis Journal, September 8, 1892.
“Two Lives Wiped Out,” The True Northerner, September 14, 1892.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

An Indignant Husband’s Crime.

In April 1891, Mrs. Sophia B. Dunham of Montgomery, Alabama received the following anonymous letter:

Montgomery,
April, 1891,
Mrs. B. Dunham.


Dear Madame,

I guess it is quite a surprise and something very unusual for you to receive a note of this character from a stranger, but, my dear woman, it is very much to your interest for me to write it, not that the matter in the least interests me, but that I feel it is my duty as a man not to conceal from you a thing which will cause you no little trouble if not corrected at once. Now, if you will meet me on Catoma Creek Road Sunday afternoon at 4 o'clock, I shall inform you of something, that by your not hearing and acting accordingly will cause you an abundance of trouble. Oh, woman, don't fail to meet me, for the result would be certainly disastrous; and you may be assured I shall not say anything that would be improper for any man to say to one of your sex. Now, do not fail to come, for by doing so you shall reap benefit. I am not one whom you have never seen, but one to whom, perhaps you have never paid the slightest attention.

I am, yours truly,
light tan leggings with brass buttons, on a black horse of good gait, around the park, Sunday.

Mrs. Dunham immediately took the letter to her husband, Colonel Bradford Dunham, General Manager of the Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Though the matter to which the letter alluded was never revealed, Col. Dunham viewed the anonymous letter as a grave insult to his wife’s honor. He planned to uncover the writer’s identity by replying with a decoy letter in which Mrs. Dunham agreed to the meeting in the park. He then arranged to have the meeting place watched.

Mrs. Dunham did not keep the appointment, but the letter writer did; it was 19-year-old, James Cunningham, an employee of Alabama Midland Railroad Company. Col. Dunham put an end to the problem by summarily discharging Cunningham.

Five months later, Col. Dunham learned the Cunningham had been showing the decoy letter around town, saying he had received it from Mrs. Dunham. The colonel was so enraged by this that he procured a shotgun and went looking for Cunningham. He was sitting in the doorway of a drugstore, and when James Cunningham passed by, he picked up the shotgun, loaded with buckshot, and without a word, fired both barrels into the young man’s chest. Cunningham died instantly. Col. Dunham then walked to the police station and surrendered.

Public sentiment in Montgomery was divided regarding Col. Dunham’s case. The coroner’s jury called it first-degree murder, but some felt the Colonel’s action was justified. At the grand jury hearing, a detective testified that Cunningham told him he had lost his position with Midland Railroad for undue intimacy with Mrs. Dunham and intended to kill Col. Dunham on sight. In a decision harshly criticized by the friends of James Cunningham, the grand jury failed to find an indictment against the Col. Bradford Dunham. The colonel was released from jail and resumed his position as General Manager of the railroad.

Sources:
“Col. Bradford Dunham's Case,” Evening Star, September 29, 1891.
“Col. Dunham's Examination,” Baltimore Sun, October 3, 1891.
“Defended Her Honor,” Fort Worth Gazette, September 28, 1891.
“The Grand Jury Criticized,” Bradford Era, October 24, 1891.
“An Indignant Husband's Crime,” National Police Gazette, October 17, 1891.
“Killed His Man,” Evansville Courier and Press, September 28, 1891.
“Sunny South,” Cincinnati Post, December 7, 1892.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Connell Homicide.


A little past midnight, January 4, 1868, William Connell, age 21, was standing at the corner of Bowery and Bayard Streets, New York City, conversing with Maggie Brown and Emma Gardner, two young women in their teens. Richard Casey came up to them and flourished some bank notes in the faces of the women in an insulting manner, implying that they were prostitutes—which in fact they were. Connell took offense to the action and asked Casey what he meant by it. Casey asked if he was going to defend the women and Connell replied that he was a stranger there but did not like such conduct.

“Well I’m no stranger here,” said Casey, and knocked Connell’s hat off his head.

As Connell stooped to pick up his hat, Casey drew a revolver from a breast pocket and fired at his head. Connell cried out in agony and fell into the gutter; Casey shot him again. Then he pointed the pistol at Maggie Brown and said with a foul epithet, “I’ll finish you too.”