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Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Fiend's Work.


Birdie Baugh, the 20-year-old daughter of C. C. Baugh, was much admired in the town of Alliance, Ohio. She was “a handsome girl of pleasant, winsome ways,” and quite accomplished for an Ohio farmer’s daughter as a student of the music conservatory of Mt. Union College. The family had a large farmhouse outside of Alliance where Birdie lived with her parents, her younger brothers Herman and Garfield, her uncle Thomas, and a farm hand named Curt Davidson.

Mr. and Mrs. Baugh went to visit some friends in Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1893, leaving the rest of the household alone. Curt Davidson had gone out that night and at 10:00 he had still not come back. This was odd because he was usually in the house much earlier, but his behavior was known to be somewhat eccentric. Birdie told her uncle and brothers that they could go to bed, she would wait for Davidson and close up the house after he came in. She was  exasperated with Davidson and said she wished her father would fire him.

It was not the first time Birdie had expressed this sentiment. 40-year-old Curt Davidson was gruff and surly and did not hide the fact that he had become infatuated with Birdie Baugh. She did not return his affections and after repeatedly fighting off Davidson’s advances she had asked her father to get rid of him.

When the boys awoke the morning of November 15, they found that Birdie had not gone to bed the night before. In the kitchen, they found signs of a struggle, a pool of blood on the floor, and bloody footprints leading outside toward the barn. On the floor of the barn, they found Birdies body. Her skull had been crushed and her face and throat had been slashed with a razor. Later, a post-mortem examination would determine that she had been ravished as well; it was unclear whether this occurred before or after her death.

The neighbors were alerted, and a search began for Curt Davidson. They found him lying near a near a neighbor’s barn about a quarter mile away. He also had a gash across his throat. The wound was self-inflicted, the bloody razor still in his hand as he lay unconscious.

Davidson regained consciousness while in police custody. He denied any knowledge of the crime, saying he had been in bed all night. He got up at 5:00 and met a man who was drunk. They quarreled, and the man slashed his throat. But Davidson's bed had not been slept in, and the razor was his own.

As the news of the murder spread through Alliance, men were calling for vengeance and a lynch mob gathered around the jail. A physician addressed the crowd saying that Davidson was near death and not worth lynching, but he was not believed and his words did nothing to reduce their anger. Neither did the arrival of Company K, Eighth Regiment of the Ohio National Guard, ordered to Alliance for Davidson’s protection.

Under a strong military guard, Davidson was loaded onto a train and taken to Canton, Ohio. He did not last long in Canton, on December 4, Davidson died from blood poisoning as a result of his wound.

Sources:
“Birdie Baugh Murdered,” Daily Illinois State Journal, November 16, 1893.
“A College Girl's Throat Cut,” National Police Gazette, December 2, 1893.
“Died in Jail,” Cincinnati Post, December 4, 1893.
“A Fiend's Work,” Omaha World-Herald, November 15, 1893.
“A Foul Crime,” Cleveland Leader, November 16, 1893.
“In Cold Blood,” Repository, November 15, 1893.
“A Lynching,” Repository, November 16, 1893.

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