function imageUrl() { return 'http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-J9R7LVZX_I0/UtG_zMr11iI/AAAAAAAACK0/4xwpgN9kL3E/s1600/Murder-told-in-Pictures.jpg'; }

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.

0 comments :

Post a Comment