Saturday, April 13, 2019

Three Victims of Jealousy.

72-year-old Norman J. Lounsberry worked on the farm of his brother Horace in Nichols, New York and lived in a small house on his brother’s land. About twenty years after divorcing his first wife, Norman Lounsberry decided to marry again, and in December 1885 he married 17-year-old, Julia Presher. 

Norman and his bride took their meals with the family of his brother, which included Horace Payson, the 35-year-old nephew of his brother’s wife. Payson was a coal agent on the Lackawanna and Erie Railroad who also helped on his uncle’s farm. Norman kept his eye on Payson as he interacted with Julia. He was an extremely jealous man, and he believed that Payson was too attentive to his young wife. Several times he told Payson to leave Julia alone and had angrily threatened to kill them both if the attention did not stop. Julia became so frightened that she reported her husband’s threats to the district attorney.

Sunday night, May 9, 1886, Norman had been especially angry and threatened them both again, but the three had breakfast together the following morning, and all seemed well. Payson was plowing the field that morning, but when it began raining, he took shelter in a corn shed. Norman Lounsberry came through the backdoor of the shed armed with a double barrel shotgun. He raised the gun and fired point-blank at Payson’s head.

Neighbors heard the gunshot and ran to see what had happened. They found Payson on the ground dying, and as they tried to figure out what had happened, they heard another gunshot from inside Norman’s house. After waiting until they were sure the shooting had stopped, they went inside the house and found Norman Lounsberry lying across his gun with the top of his head blown off. The floor and walls were covered with blood, brains, and hair. Norman had removed his hat and boots, then standing before a looking glass he put the muzzle of the shotgun against his temple rested the other end on the bureau and fired it with his toes.

The neighbors found Julia lying face down in bed; the bedding was saturated with blood. She had been shot in the head as well. Apparently, Norman had killed her first then reloaded the shotgun before shooting Payson and himself. 

When the murders were reported, Coroner Cady took charge and summoned a jury for an inquest. It was reported that more than 1000 people viewed the remains the following day. 

Norman Lounsberry had left behind a note which asked God to forgive him.

“Jealous of his Girl Wife,” Syracuse Daily Standard, May 11, 1886.
“The Lounsberry-Payson Tragedy,” National Police Gazette, June 5, 1886.
“Terrible Domestic Tragedy,” New York Herald, May 11, 1886.
“Three Victims of Jealousy,” Middletown Daily Argus, May 11, 1886.
“A Triple Tragedy,” New Haven Register, May 11, 1886.


Unknown says:
April 18, 2019 at 1:01 AM

God didn't.

Little brother says:
September 4, 2019 at 2:26 PM

Horace Payson and his sister Francis were living with "Uncle" Horace Lounsberry at the time. It was Horace Payson who was working the fields of elderly Horace Lounsberry. Norman Lounsberry, once a prosperous farmer himself, now lived in a small house on the Horace Lounsberry farm. Norman Lounsberry had divorced his wife (who later died before his marriage to the youthful Julia Presher). A condition of Julia's marriage to Norman was that he insured his life at $5000 payable to his wife Julia. A bottle of Laudnum (opium based painkiller use by many post civil war vets to 'cure' pain, but whose affects on the body and mind are much the same as the prescription pain killer issues we have today) was found in Norman Lounsberry's blood spattered coveralls.
As stated before, Francis Payson, sister of Horace Payson was also living at the Horace Lounsberry farm. She witnessed Norman walk into the barn where the killing took place. She thought he was going to kill some of the pigeons who roosted there, so thought nothing about the shotgun blast she heard until seeing the team of horses and the plow her brother had been riding pull from the field without her brother. She lived for many years at Waverly and worked as a nurse, but was never married. In 1924 she turned on the gas in her apartment, wrote a short note about not being able to cope 'with it all', and fell asleep. All attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

Could this all be traced back to the Civil War? Before the Civil war, Norman was a successful farmer. After the war, Norman sold his farm to his brother, later divorced his wife, then took to drinking and apparently taking Laudnum.

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