Saturday, December 28, 2019

Caught in Bad Company.



Luke Dimick was a successful livery stable keeper in Rock Island, Illinois, and the son of a wealthy Chicago real estate man. To all appearance, Luke seemed like an ideal husband, but he had one fault that his wife could not abide— a fondness for ladies of the night.

The night of July 27, 1889, Mrs. Dimick took her revolver and followed Luke to a Rock Island bawdy house, where she caught him in flagrante delicto with one of the prostitutes. In the scuffle that followed, Mrs. Dimick fired the pistol, hitting her husband. Luke Dimick died two days later and his wife was charged with manslaughter. Luke’s father, O. J. Dimick, took his daughter-in-law’s side and paid a $5,000 bond for her release.

The case went to trial the following October. Mrs. Dimick claimed that she had not intended to kill her husband, she meant to shoot the woman he was with, and Luke interfered. The women of the bawdy house disagreed, saying Mrs. Dimick had deliberately shot her husband. The jury took Mrs. Dimick’s word and found her not guilty.

Originally posted March 5, 2016.

Sources:
"Among Our Neighbors." Decatur Daily Despatch 14 Sep 1889.
"Court Cullings." Rock Island Daily Argus 28 Sep 1889.
"He Was Caught in Very Bad Company." The Decatur Herald 29 Jul 1889.
"Held for Murder." Decatur Daily Despatch 30 Jul 1889.
"In a Bawdy House." National Police Gazette 5 Oct 1889.
"Telegraphic Brevities." Daily Illinois State Journal 14 Oct 1889.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Christmas Poisoning.

Mrs. Mary Paye.
On Christmas Day, 1882, Captain David W. Paye lay dying with symptoms so severe and unusual that three physicians had been called to his home in Fishkill Landing, New York, to consult on the case. For the previous week, Paye had been violently ill, with a burning in his throat, pains in his stomach, and an unquenchable thirst. Doctors Tiel, Wilson and Jones concluded that Paye was stricken with arsenic poisoning. Late that night, in great agony, Capt. Paye died.

At the time, arsenic in small doses was believed to be a cure for impotence, but Capt. Paye swore, as God was his judge, he had never taken anything to cause this illness. Though he did not accuse his wife, Mary, of poisoning him, he believed that the poison had been in a pie that she had baked; he had eaten heartily of the pie, he said, while his wife had just a little. Mary Paye tearfully denied this, saying that she had eaten most of the pie herself.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Olive Peany.

Today we have a guest post from Undine, who describes herself as “Blogger of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Remarkably lifelike.” And who would argue? She hosts the blog Strange Company (http://strangeco.blogspot.com/) which consistently delivers on its promise of “A walk on the weird side of history.” Undine also hosts The World of Edgar Allan Poe (http://worldofpoe.blogspot.com/) providing everything you need to know concerning that esteemed gentleman. 

“Olive Peany,” simultaneously posted on Murder by Gaslight and Strange Company, recounts the tragic 1895 murder of an ambitious but hard to please Ohio girl. 


Olive Peany
by Undine

Hopkinsville Kentuckian, April 2, 1895
Olive Bernthisel was not only one of the prettiest girls in Wood County, Ohio, she was unusually smart and ambitious as well.  The family farm in the small hamlet of Tontogany was well-managed and reasonably prosperous, but Olive was not content with a rustic existence.  She persuaded her father to contribute a considerable sum of money that would allow her to get a better education than was available in the countryside.  Accordingly, she spent several years in a boarding school in a more metropolitan area of the state.

When she returned home she was even more attractive and popular than before...and just as ambitious.  At about that same time, Tontogany gained a new resident, a young German doctor named Adam (or Adolf) Eddmon.  Dr. Eddmon was a handsome man who radiated an Old World sophistication that left Miss Bernthisel utterly charmed.  Unfortunately, the doctor was a poor man, so despite his attractions, Olive reluctantly agreed with her father's assessment that Eddmon was no fit match for her.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Happy Bob.”

Robert "Happy Bob" Van Brunt
Robert Van Brunt was born in England in 1863. He barely knew his father, who was a member of the Queen’s Scots Guards. His mother died when he was ten was ten-years-old, and from then on he was raised by his grandmother. She took him to Canada in 1878, and they settled in Toronto where he began a career as a tailor.

When a religious revivalist named Hammond held a series of meetings in Toronto, Van Brunt attended and became so enthusiastically converted that he would join Hammond on stage and speak to the assembled crowds. Hammond left Toronto, Van Brunt lost his job and became so discouraged that he attempted suicide. When the Salvation Army arrived in town he joined their ranks and was given the ironic nickname of “Happy Bob.”

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Parricide's Tale.


William J. Elder, aged 61, was addicted to drink and when under its influence was violent and uncontrollable. His wife tolerated his abuse as long as she could then packed up and moved out of their farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, leaving behind her two sons, Robert and Mathew. In 1887, 19-year-old Robert Elder moved out of his father’s house as well.

12-Year old Mathew Elder was still living with his father and still the victim of his abuse and neglect. In the summer of 1888, Mrs. Elder had her husband arrested and brought before the justice of the peace for the ill-treatment of Mathew but could offer no proof. William was discharged.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Judge Lynch in Pennsylvania.


Joseph Snyder murdering Jacob Geogle and wife - Judge Lynch metes out death to the scoundrel in a summary manner
Portraits: 1. Joseph Snyder - 2. Alice Geogle, whom Snyder attempted to rape.

In 1880, Jacob and Annie Geogle lived with their three children in the town of Santee’s Mills near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jacob worked in an iron ore mine and to supplement his meager income, the Geogles took in a boarder—27-year-old Joseph Snyder, also a miner. Snyder became infatuated with the Geogels' oldest daughter Alice and expressed his desire to marry her but Alice was only 14-years-old and she did not return Joseph Snyder’s love. Her parents were appalled at the idea and would have thrown Snyder out but he owed them two months’ rent and they needed the money.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Murder of Dr. Burdell.


Fictional dime novel detective Old King Brady solves the Bond Street Mystery!

Read the true story of Dr. Burdell's murder:
Songs about the Burdell murder by The Saugerties Bard:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Medford Mystery.

Scene of the Debbins murder
Walter R. Debbins was shot twice in the back, in broad daylight, on Highland Street in Medford, Massachusetts, on the afternoon of Saturday, March 27, 1897. Though no one saw the murder or heard the gunshots, there was enough traffic on Highland Street that afternoon for the police to precisely pinpoint the time of the shooting to between 1:00 and 1:05. But that was all they could pinpoint; everything else about the crime was shrouded in mystery that grew more dense with each new revelation.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Assassination of Captain Watkins

This week we present a guest post by Kyle Dalton; the story of a Civil War era murder by a probable Lincoln assassination conspirator. Kyle Dalton is a public historian and museum professional currently employed at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. He writes and maintains the website British Tars: 1740-1790, exploring the lives of common sailors through primary sources. This post was largely researched and composed for Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater, Maryland, where Kyle was employed as the Public Programs Administrator.

Assassination of Captain Watkins
By Kyle Dalton



Captain Thomas Watkins, closeup, 
(The Horse Soldier collection)
In 1861 most white residents of the South River in Maryland were pro-slavery if not outright secessionists. In the presidential election of 1860, only three people in all of Anne Arundel County voted for Abraham Lincoln. The county was narrowly won by a slim margin of twenty-four votes by Stephen Bell and his Constitutional Unionist Party, which sought to avoid the issue of slavery. Voters for Bell’s optimistic neglect of the issue were closely trailed by Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and his virulently pro-slavery stance. We do not know for sure who made up the three voters who publicly declared their support for Abraham Lincoln, but it is quite possible that two of them were Dr. Benjamin Watkins and his son Thomas.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Tenth Anniversary!

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Murder by Gaslight! The first posts dropped on November 2, 2009, and every week since then I have added at least one new post related to murder in 19th century America.

Here are the top 10 most popular posts, since 2009, based on average pageviews per day:

1 The Meeks Family Murder
2 The Legend of Lavinia Fisher
3 The Killing of Bill The Butcher
4 The Notorious Patty Cannon.
5 Lizzie Borden Took an Axe...Or Did She?
6 Jesse Pomeroy - "Boston Boy Fiend"
7 19th Century Serial Killers.
8 H. H. Holmes - "I was born with the devil in me."
9 Big Harpe and Little Harpe
10 The Bloody Benders
It is probably not surprising that the list is dominated by serial killers whom the public find endlessly fascinating. The rest are sensational multiple murders and a gangland slaying. The only exception is Lavinia Fisher who, contrary to her nasty reputation, never killed anyone.

It is interesting that the most popular post of the last ten years is “The Meeks Family Murder” posted in 2011. Compared to the rest it is a relatively unknown case, but a good story with a somewhat happy ending.

What’s Next?

I plan to continue posting 19th century murders when I find stories that interest me (the supply is virtually endless). Going forward, I will also be reposting existing stories. Murder by Gaslight has more than 500 posts and most have not seen the light of day in years. They deserve another look. Murder by Gaslight will also be featuring guest posts from other bloggers and authors with stories relating to murder in 19th century America.

Murder by Gaslight will also be the platform for projects outside the blog—a book-length murder story, a mystery novel, some serial fiction, a podcast experiment, and other possibilities. Keep watching.

I want to thank everyone who has followed Murder by Gaslight through the years. A special thank you to those who have left glowing comments on the blog and on Facebook; they been very gratifying and encouraging.  For the past ten years, I have kept outside advertisements off the site and I will continue to do so (you’re welcome). If you would like to support the blog, I have books available at Amazon: 

Cheers,
Robert Wilhelm

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Married at 15, Dead at 20.

James Tout, a wealthy businessman of Byron Center New York, died before the birth of his daughter Florence, but before he departed this world, he set up a sizable trust fund for the new baby. The inheritance, which would be hers when she married, was managed by a banker, and by the time she was in her teens had grown to a small fortune.

When Florence was 15 years old, she received the attentions of Howard Benham, an ambitious young man of 23 who worked as a travel agent, booking trips to the Chicago World’s Fair on the installment plan. For many reasons, Florence’s mother and stepfather did not approve of the courtship but were fearful that their opposition might drive Florence to run away with Benham. On the night of August 3, 1892, she told them to have no fear; she had no intention of running away. The following day, she said she was going to Batavia to consult a dentist, but instead, she traveled through to Rochester, where she met with Benham.  The two were married in the private office of Justice White.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Liquor and Jealousy.

In October 1893, 64-year-old Patrick Finney of New Bedford, Pennsylvania, was visiting his old friend and drinking buddy James Campbell in Hazelton, Ohio.  Campbell had been a saloonkeeper in Pittsburgh before retiring and moving with his wife to Hazelton, a suburb of Youngstown. 

As was their custom, Finney and the Campbells were drinking heavily the night of October 9. James Campbell had a reputation as a man of ungovernable temper when intoxicated and this night was no exception. Around 10:00, when it became clear that Campbell had exceeded his limit, a neighbor who had been drinking with them helped Campbell to bed. Finney and Mrs. Campbell stayed up and continued talking. 

Around twenty minutes after going to bed, Campbell came back downstairs. Still drunk and angry, Campbell was holding a 22-caliber revolver. 

“I’ll fix you,” he said, then fired three shots. One went through his wife’s chest, killing her instantly and the other two hit Finney in the head and abdomen.

The police arrived quickly, arresting Campbell and rushing Finney to the hospital. Campbell told the police he had shot his wife and friend because he had caught them in a compromising position, but once he was locked in a cell he said, “I don’t know what made me do it.” The newspapers concluded that liquor and unfounded jealousy were the cause.

In January 1894, James Campbell was indicted for the murder of his wife and attempted murder of Patrick Finney.  He announced his intention to plead insanity but being “crazy drunk” has never been a good defense. The following March, Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Sources:
“An Old Man's Murderous Jealousy,” Evening Herald, October 10, 1893.
“Commits Double Murder.” Daily Inter Ocean, October 10, 1893.
“Jealousy Causes Murder,” Patriot, October 10, 1893.
“On Trial for his Life,” Plain Dealer, February 27, 1894.
“Plenty Of Indictments,” Plain Dealer, January 18, 1894.
“Shot his Wife Dead,” National Police Gazette, November 4, 1893.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Troubling Spirit.

John Delaney met Mary Jane Cox in October 1886; she smiled at him as they passed each other on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, and he turned to follow her. She was 17-years-old, he was 15. Mary Jane did not refuse his advances outright, but gave him her address and told him to write to her. Their relationship progressed quickly, and eight months later, Mary Jane told John she was pregnant, and he had to do something about it.

John said he had already told her he would marry her, but Mary Jane rejected this saying they were both too young; he would have to find something else. On June 2, 1887, he gave her a glass bottle containing a clear liquid. What he told her at the time is uncertain, but the next morning Mary Jane was found dead in the kitchen of the house where she worked as a domestic servant. An autopsy showed that her death was caused by some irritant poison like arsenic, and the bottle found in a pocket of her dress was half-filled with a solution of arsenic.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Poughkeepsie Tragedy.

Antone Werner came to America from Austria in 1885 and settled in Poughkeepsie, New York. There he worked as a shoemaker along with his good friend and fellow immigrant Joseph Fischer. He and Fischer had probably known each other in Austria.

Werner adapted well to life in Poughkeepsie and had even met and married a young woman there—the only problem was that he already had a wife in Austria. In 1887, Werner’s Austrian wife came to America, and he left his second wife and went to live with his first wife in Brooklyn. Before long he decided he liked his second wife better and returned to Poughkeepsie to live with her. His first wife sought assistance from Joseph Fischer and together they had Werner arrested for bigamy.

The Grand Jury failed to indict Werner, and after his release from jail he threatened to kill Fischer. He went back to his second wife, but without any income, she was forced to sell furniture for money. Werner asked her for some cash, and she gave him $2; he went to a gun shop and bought a British bulldog pistol. Stopping at a lager beer saloon he drank a glass of beer and smoked a cigar then walked to the shop where Fischer worked. No one was in the shop but Fischer; Werner waked in and approached him, raising the pistol he shot Fischer once in the chest killing him almost instantly. Werner was immediately arrested and taken to jail.

At his trial, the following March, Antone Werner was found guilty, but after a day of deliberation, the jury could not agree on whether the degree was first or second. The judge angrily sent them back to decide, but after an additional forty minutes they were still deadlocked, and they were discharged. Later that day, rather than face another trial, the District Attorney accepted Werner’s plea of murder in the second degree. Werner was sentenced to life in the state penitentiary at Sing Sing.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Andrew Hellman, alias Adam Horn.

Andrew Hellman Murdering his Wife.
(Serious Almanac, 1845-1846.)
Andrew Hellman was 25-years-old when he traveled from Germany to Baltimore in 1817. He had been apprenticed to a tailor, but when his apprenticeship ended, he decided to see the world, after a few years of wandering around Europe he set sail for America. 

In 1820 he was boarding at the farmhouse of George M. Abel in Loudoun County, Virginia and working on neighboring farms. Hellman professed a strong dislike of women and was quite outspoken in his belief that their only role in the world was as servants to men. In spite of this, he engaged the affections of George Abel’s 20-year-old daughter Mary. The Baltimore Sun described her as “a blithe, buxom and lighthearted country girl with rosy cheek and sparkling eye, totally unacquainted with the deceitfulness of the world.” Mary and Andrew were married in December 1821.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Shot by a Jealous Husband.

Daniel Monahan, aged 45, lived with his wife, Maggie, and their children on Henry Street in Binghamton, New York, and kept a saloon in a building adjoining the house. In 1885, a young man named Patrick Garvey began working as a bartender at Monahan’s saloon. Garvey, an attractive 34-year-old Irishman, grew especially close to Maggie Monahan. Before long she expressed her love for Garvey, and the two began an intimate relationship. Garvey became a frequent visitor at the Monahan home when Daniel was away, and their romance became the subject of rumor in Binghamton.

Daniel had already suspected that improper relations existed between his wife and his bartender, so he fired Garvey and openly accused his wife of adultery. Maggie replied that, yes, she did think more of Garvey than she did of her husband, and she would go with Garvey as much as she pleased. Daniel pleaded with Maggie to abandon the romance and not disgrace their little daughters, but she ignored his pleadings and continued to meet Garvey, not only at home but at various places in the city. In desperation, Daniel told her if she did not leave Garvey, he would shoot him. Maggie told Garvey about her husband’s threats and bought him a revolver to defend himself.   
Maggie Monahan

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Assassination of Corlis.

Charles G. Corlis kept a bowling saloon on Broadway between Leonard and Franklin Streets in New York City. On the evening of March 20, 1843, several bowlers saw a woman wearing a veil and a straw hat, enter the saloon. They saw her leave the place with Henry Colton, owner of the Colton House hotel, a few doors away on Leonard Street. Sometime later, witnesses saw Charles Corlis talking with the unidentified woman in the doorway of the Colton House.

Around 7:00 a pistol shot rang out on Leonard Street. Witnesses saw someone running from the scene—maybe a man, maybe a woman, maybe a man dressed as a woman. Lying on the ground in front of the Colton House was Charles Corlis, with a bullet wound in the back of his head. Next to him lay a five-barrel pistol with one shot fired. Corlis was carried into the hotel where he died about three hours later.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

“A Romance of Crime.”

Jimmy Logue was a professional thief whose life of crime spanned more than forty years. He was born in Philadelphia in 1835 and was arrested there for larceny at age 10. After his release became an apprentice to Joe Keyser, a noted Baltimore pickpocket. He eventually graduated to bank robbery and became quite accomplished at it, when he wasn't caught. Logue spent much of his time living a life of prosperity, the rest he spent behind bars.

His personal life was just as erratic. At age 23 he married Mary Jane Andres and left her after two years. Without the formality of a divorce, he married Mary Gahan soon after. She already had an illegitimate son who took his father’s name, Alphonse F. Cutaiar. Logue mistreated Mary, so she left him, went home to her father and died in 1869. Before Mary Gahan left him, Logue had taken up with her sister Johanna. Jimmy Logue and Johanna Gahan were married in the dock of the Central Police Station in 1871 as Logue was preparing to serve a seven-year sentence at Cherry Hill Prison for burglary. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hattie Woolsteen.

The body of a man was found in the charred ruins of a barn that burned about a mile west of Compton, California, the morning of October 7, 1887. The man’s face was burned beyond recognition, but a bullet hole through his right temple indicated that the fire had been deliberately set to cover up a murder.

The case was handed over the Los Angeles Police Chief Darcy who set out to identify the victim. In the rubble, investigators found some cloth from the man’s suit and some sleeve buttons near the body. Dr. Charles N. Harlan, a Los Angeles dentist, had been missing for several days and his tailor recognized the fabric and buttons from a suit he had made for Harlan. Chief Darcy ordered the body exhumed, and the skull was shown to Harlan’s dentist who was able to identify his dental work. The victim was Dr. Harlan.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Lunatic Dougherty.

James M. Dougherty was an industrious young man in Brooklyn in the 1880s. He worked as a lineman for the Postal Telegraph Company and in his spare time he studied meteorology, electricity, astronomy and other sciences. He dabbled in a little of everything until after watching a play he became obsessed with the leading lady, Mary Anderson, and his love for her became his sole controlling passion.

He would go wherever she was performing and do whatever he could to be close to her. In 1887, Miss Anderson traveled to Europe, and Dougherty followed. By this point, he believed that Mary Anderson loved him as well, but she was surrounded by a group of conspirators dedicated to keeping them apart. They were controlled by Antonio Fernando de Navarro, his chief rival for Mary’s affections, who would marry her in 1890. While in Liverpool in 1887, Dougherty believed that the conspirators had tried to poison him, so he moved back to America.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A Mount Holly Tragedy.

(sic)
Mary Catherine Anderson—Katie to her friends—was in good spirits when she went out the evening of Monday, February 7, 1887. 16-year-old Katie Anderson was a domestic servant living at the home of her employer, Stat Colkitt on his farm in Mount Holly, New Jersey. She said she was just going out for a walk, but Katie was not seen again until Tuesday morning when a neighboring farmer found her laying down an embankment alongside a public road, barely clinging to life with a gunshot wound to her temple. She was recognized by people at the Colkitt house and was taken by wagon to her uncle’s house; a doctor from Mount Holly was summoned.

Around dawn that morning another neighbor, Mrs. Brewer, on her way to Colkitt’s house saw some vomit on the road, and near it a pistol with one chamber discharged. At the Colkitt’s house, a young man named Witcraft recognized it as the pistol he had traded to Barclay Peak the week before.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Lawrenceburg Shanty-boat Mystery.

When John Keys and Eva Dickenson were married in Cincinnati on August 21, 1890, they told their relatives that they planned to honeymoon on the Atlantic coast, but John had another plan. He purchased an Ohio River shanty-boat and planned a slow trip downriver to St. Louis. It would not be their last deception; in fact, what transpired on that fateful journey would remain forever shrouded in mystery.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Ebenezer Stanyard.

Ebenezer Stanyard and Alice Hancock (sometimes spelled “Hancox”) were next-door neighbors in Youngstown, Ohio. Both of their families had emigrated from England and Ebenezer, and Alice had been playmates from an early age. But by 1887, when Alice turned 17, their paths had diverged. Alice, a pretty, petite brunette, was bright and popular, while Ebenezer, who could barely read and write, was considered weak-minded. Alice had moved on to more congenial company, but Ebenezer had become obsessively in love with her.

When Alice refused Ebenezer’s advances, he became more determined to have her. He was often loitering around her house, and her brother had caught Ebenezer peeking through her window. After that, the Hancock family kept their doors locked out of fear that Ebenezer might enter and commit assault. Reportedly, Ebenezer had asserted that Miss Hancock would not live to marry anyone else.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Wolf Creek Tragedy.

The Shanks family and the Keller family lived on opposite sides of the border between Fountain County and Parke County Indiana; the Shanks on the Fountain side, the Kellers on the Parke side. During a drought in the summer of 1895, the Kellers gave the Shanks family permission to access water on their property. The job of fetching the water fell to Clara Shanks, the beautiful 18-year-old daughter of Frederick Shanks, and she would visit Kellers’ yard several times a day.

Nannie Keller, the wife of 34-year-old Daniel Keller, kept an eye on Clara and began to suspect the young girl had begun flirting with her husband. Her suspicions grew to the point where she publicly accused Clara of having improper relations with Daniel.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Day of Blood.


Adolph Stein was a 35year-old Polish immigrant living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he met Lizzie Loering, a widow with two little children and $30,000 in assets. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were married in June 1880.

Stein had been prominent in political circles in Cedar Rapids, but earlier that spring he was indicted for illegally selling liquor. He decided to move his new bride to Iowa City and open a saloon there with his wife’s money. Lizzie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hess packed up and moved to Iowa City as well.

Before long, the marriage turned sour. There were several opinions as to what had gone wrong. Lizzie’s mother, who was always present, had never liked Stein and Lizzie, began to share her mother’s opinion. Together they made Stein’s life miserable. The saloon had acquired a bad reputation, and Stein took to drink. Some said that Stein had been determined to marry money and had only married Lizzie for her $30,000. He treated her badly, and when he turned violent, she left him and moved back with her parents. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Murder at the Pool Table.

Thomas H. Jones, aged 21, was planning to leave Brooklyn on October 5, 1880, to start a new life in San Francisco. The night before his planned departure he went to say goodbye to his friend George Secor and the two young men went to a lager beer saloon run by N. Debrowski on Atlantic Street to play billiards.

Between games, they went to the bar for some soda water. As they were placing their order John J. Dwyer entered the saloon, extremely intoxicated. He stood next to Jones and Secor and said, “I’ll take whiskey for mine.”  Neither man knew Dwyer and they ignored him; Debrowski told him that he had no whiskey.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Shot Down Remorselessly.

In January 1881, Adolph Sindram was a boarder at the home of Mrs. Catherine Crave on Charlton Street in New York City. Catherine was the second wife of a Frenchman named John B. Crave and gladly took over the responsibility of mothering his five children. She was a kind woman, loved by the children and esteemed by all who knew her. 

The house on Charlton Street was larger than the family needed, so they took in boarders and lodgers. Adolph Sindram, one of her boarders, approached Mrs. Crave to ask if his brother William could share his room. Adolph was an amiable and agreeable young man, well-liked by the other tenants of the house. He told her that William worked as a printer as he did. She thought Adolph’s brother would be a welcome addition to the house and agreed to let him share the room with an appropriate increase in the rent.

But William’s temperament was the opposite of his brother’s. He was irascible and sullen by nature with a tendency to become irrationally violent. He had once assaulted his father with a knife, and later, after his father’s death, he broke into his mother’s house and stole some money. He was completely self-centered, spending most of his time concocting schemes to make money without working. At Charlton Street, he was surly and disagreeable to all who lived there. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Money Matters.

Michael Heenan and his wife Delia had an argument over money matters in the kitchen of their home in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston on August 31, 1886. 60-year-old Michael Heenan owned the house where the couple lived and was said to be quite wealthy, but when Delia, aged 45, requested money he would plead poverty. 

When the argument grew heated, Michael went outside to the woodshed and returned with an axe. He gave Delia three savage blows to the head with the blunt end of the axe then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her as far as he could into the yard, leaving her in a pool of blood.

Michael went back to the house and into the parlor, locking the door behind him. He took out a roll of bills containing $4,000 and counted them leaving bloody fingerprints on the bills. Then, while facing a mirror, he took his razor and cut his throat from ear to ear, severing his windpipe. 

Michael and Delia were still alive when they were found, but they both died later that day at City Hospital.


Sources:
“Brained by her Miser Husband,” National Police Gazette, September 19, 1896.
“Fatal End of a Family Quarrel,” Kansas City daily journal, September 1, 1896.
“Murder and Suicide,” Worcester Daily Spy, September 1, 1896.
“Probable Murder and Suicide,” New Haven Register, August 31, 1896.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Butler County Tragedy.


Christina Hassler, 50-years-old, grew quite wealthy from several oil wells operating on her farm in Butler County, Pennsylvania, but she was not so fortunate in her personal life. She married a man named Nordheim and had four children by him. They lived together until, for some unspecified reason, Nordheim made a murderous assault against her father. He was sent to the penitentiary and Christina secured a divorce and resumed her maiden name. 

In 1878, one of Christina's three daughters married a man named Harper Whitmire. They borrowed money from Christina, giving her a mortgage on the property. Whitmire later induced her to cancel the mortgage and put the farm in his wife’s name and consider it her full share in her mother's estate. But Whitmire had already borrowed money on the farm, representing himself as the owner. When the loan came due, he had to continue borrowing money to stay out of trouble. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Maggie Hourigan Mystery.

Two children playing near their house in Greenwich, New York, the morning of Saturday, October 20, 1889, found a woman’s hat and jacket lying on a log and reported them to a group of men who were working on a road nearby. Reuben Stewart, Superintendent of Streets who was also President of the Village, thought the circumstances were suspicious and went down to take a look for himself. It was a secluded spot about halfway between two villages with a small pool of water near the road. Stewart found the owner of the hat and jacket floating face down in the pool.

The woman was soon identified as Maggie Hourigan. A hasty autopsy conducted by Dr. S. Walter Scott and several other physicians determined that she had drowned, and a coroner’s jury concluded that it had been suicide. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Dunham Murder.


William H. Dunham owned a roadhouse on Washington Avenue, in Belleville, New Jersey, that catered to the roughest citizens of that town and was a noted stopping spot for sporting men and fast women from Newark and Passaic. He owned a second roadhouse—referred to as the “upper house”—near Nutley which had an even worse reputation. Dunham own reputation was not so good either; he was a short, stoutly built, ill-tempered man of 38, who was ready to fight at the slightest provocation, especially when drunk. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Delaware Avenue Murder.

Peace was disturbed in a fashionable Buffalo, New York neighborhood on April 18, 1894, by three gunshots fired at 10:00 p.m., on Delaware Avenue near Bryant Street. Neighbors hurried outside and found a man lying in the carriage driveway between two houses, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the temple and another to the shoulder. He was rushed to General Hospital where he died three minutes after being admitted.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Forgery, Murder, and Suicide.

Anne C. Chapman went to the First National Bank of Warsaw, Indiana, in September 1880, to cash a check for $300. The cashier did not hesitate; the check was signed by her father, the director of the bank. During the course of business that day, her father came across the check and immediately pronounced the signature a forgery. He reported the crime and had his daughter arrested, refusing to bail her out of jail. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Professional Malpractioner.

In July 1890, a man came into the 126th Street Police Station in Harlem, New York City, to report a conversation he had overheard in an elevated train. A young man and woman sitting near him were talking about the mysterious disappearance of Miss Goodwin from the Storm King flats on East 126th Street. They believed that she had been foully dealt with by “professional malpractioners.” The woman said that a friend told her that Miss Goodwin had died and within twenty-four hours she was buried, and another young woman was wearing her clothes and jewelry.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Murder Illustrated.

Graphic images depicting brutal crimes often accompanied murder stories in 19th Century publications. In the early years, the already old tradition of murder pamphlets, sold at public executions, often including the condemned killers’ confessions, began to feature shocking illustrations of the murders. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Kentucky Tragedy
Illustration from The Beauchamp Tragedy in Kentucky. New York: Dinsmore & Co., 1858

Michael Garvey
Illustration from Brooke, H.K. Tragedies on the Land, Philadelphia, 1845


"A Most Extraordinary Case."
Illustration from Trials of Capt. Joseph J. Knapp, Jr. and George Crowninshield for the Murder of Capt. Joseph White of Salem, (Boston: Charles Ellms, 1830)

The Bitter Fruit of Jest
Illustration from Tingley, H. F., Incidents in the life of Milton W. Streeter (Pawtucket: H. F. Tingley, 1850).

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Bangor Mystery.

A severely wounded man was found wrapped in a blanket by the side of the road, about two miles outside of Bangor, Maine, at 8:00 p.m. on February 5, 1879. Surgeons at the police station in Bangor examined the man and declared that he was mangled beyond their ability to heal him. His skull had been fractured by four or five blows from an axe; he died at around 11:30 that night. 

The man was identified as William B. Elliot, a constable and tax collector for the town of Glenburn, Maine. Elliot was last seen in his sleigh going past Merrill’s store with another man standing in the back of the sleigh holding on to a stake. He was returning home after having a meal at Merrill’s and was attacked before he had gone a quarter mile.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Michael M’Garvey.





The evening of November 21, 1828, Michael M’Garvey violently chastised his wife, Margaret, in the room, they occupied on the top floor of a house at the corner of Pine and Ball Alleys, between Third and Fourth Streets, and between South and Shippen Streets in Philadelphia. He tied her by the hair to a bedpost and began beating her, unmercifully with a whip, continuing at intervals for the next hour and a half. When she passed out, he attempted to throw her out the window but pulled her back in when someone outside saw him and cried out.