Saturday, February 15, 2020

Six Men Hanged.

Every day since Halloween 2007, the blog ExecutedToday.com has posted a story of an execution that took place on that date in history somewhere in the world. While this certainly says something about the human condition over time, it also says something about the determination and thoroughness of the blogger of ExecutedToday.com, who goes by the epithet Headsman. As someone who has scrambled to do one post a week, I find the Headsman’s work heroic. 

There is a natural overlap between murder and execution, and over the years, Murder by Gaslight and ExecutedToday have guest posted on each other’s sites several times. Today’s ExecutedToday guest post is from June 7, 1895, a day when six American men were hanged, including one who inspired a novel. 


On this date in 1895, the hangman noosed for the cycle with single, double, and triple executions in three different U.S. states.

Arkansas

In Morrilltown, William Downs or Downes for criminally assaulting a woman called Pauline Bridlebaugh.
“On the scaffold Downs declared that he was guilty of part but not all he was charged with,” according to multiple newspaper reports. The eight-foot fall failed to snap his neck, and Downs strangled to death over 15 agonizing minutes.

Alabama

“Lee Harris and Abe Mitchell, colored murderers, highwaymen and thieves, were hanged here [Birmingham] today before 2000 people for the murder of Grocerymen Merriweather and Thornton. Both bodies were turned over to the undertakers, who purchased them several weeks ago for $18 from the men themselves.”


From the Oakland Tribune, June 7, 1895.

California

Three Californians hanged, sequentially, at San Quentin prison on the morning of June 7 in an affair timed to ensue the arrival of the 7:40 train from San Francisco, carrying about 100 official witnesses.

Emilio Garcia stabbed and slashed to death a San Bernardino old timer whom he believed to possess a hoard of gold.

Anthony Azoff fatally shot a Southern Pacific detective in the course of a botched robbery of that railroad firm’s offices; he was balked of a suicide attempt in the hours before his execution.

And Patrick Collins acquired more lasting infamy than any of his scaffold brethren by sensationally stabbing to death his estranged wife at the kindergarten where she worked when she refused his demand to hand over her wages.

Collins’s guilt was very apparent, so his trial gave the horrified public ample rein to sketch the brute in terms of the era’s crackpot racist typologies. In one Examiner article tellingly titled “He Was Born for the Rope,” it was postulated that “if a good many of Patrick Collins’ ancestors did not die on the scaffold then either they escaped their desert or there is nothing in heredity … Seeing him you can understand that murder is as natural to such a man when his temper is up as hot speech is to the anger of the civilized.”

Various newspaper images of Patrick Collins, from The Construction of Irish Identity in American Literature.

Be they ever so headline-conquering in their time, such crimes are like to fade speedily from the public memory. Collins, the man who slaughtered his tightfisted wife, and Collins, the savage ethnic archetype, have improbably survived his moment of notoriety, by imparting to literature the inspiration for San Francisco novelist Frank Norris‘s 1899 offering McTeague.

In McTeague, a vicious husband murders the wife he has abandoned when she refuses him money. The murderer here presents as an overpowering ancestral beast within — attributable, says Christopher Dowd, to Norris’s “study of criminal anthropology, particularly the school of thinking developed by Cesare Lombroso regarding atavism, hereditary criminality, degeneration, and criminal physiognomy. According to Donald Pizer, by the time Norris wrote McTeague, he had developed a ‘preoccupation’ with the themes of atavism and reversion, and ‘particularly with the role of heredity in causing either an obvious physical or mental devolution or a return to an earlier family condition’. Suddenly, Norris had a way to explain the behavior of his murderous protagonist — he was born a criminal, having inherited the degenerate traits and predilections of his Irish ancestors. Combined with the newspaper reports of the Collins murder, criminal anthropology gave Norris all the tools he needed to write, what Pizer calls, ‘that mythical creature of literature, a naturalistic tragedy'”. For example, Norris zooms through the disordered mind of McTeague as he struggles to control himself on one occasion.
He was disturbed, still trembling, still vibrating with the throes of the crisis, but he was the master; the animal was downed, was cowed for this time, at least.

But for all that, the brute was there. Long dormant, it was now at last alive, awake. From now on he would feel its presence continually; would feel it tugging at its chain, watching its opportunity. Ah, the pity of it! Why could he not always love her purely, cleanly? What was this perverse, vicious thing that lived within him, knitted to his flesh?

Below the fine fabric of all that was good in him ran the foul stream of hereditary evil, like a sewer. The vices and sins of his father and of his father’s father, to the third and fourth and five hundredth generation, tainted him. The evil of an entire race flowed in his veins. Why should it be? He did not desire it. Was he to blame?
McTeague does not exit upon the gallows as did his real-life inspiration; instead, having murdered and robbed his wife, the fugitive flees to the scorching desert of Death Valley where he faces a fight to the finish with a friend/rival who has pursued him. McTeague overpowers this foe, but the man’s dying act is to handcuff himself to McTeague — condemning the latter to sure death.

McTeague has long been in the public domain; it can be perused here; a Librivox audio reading of the book is available here. It’s also been adapted to at least two films in the silent era — including one of the genre’s greats — plus a more recent PBS radio drama, an opera, and miscellaneous other media.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Katie Dugan Mystery.

A young man walking through an empty field behind a residence on the western side of Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, October 20, 1892, was shocked to find the body of a young woman lying in a pool of blood. Her eyes were black and blue from beating and her throat had been cut from ear to ear, nearly severing her head. On the ground next to her, lay an open razor.

She was soon identified as Katie Dugan, an attractive 16-year-old girl with long flowing hair and dark eyes who lived with her parents. Local residents were quick to place the blame on the black men who lived in the vicinity of the Dugans’ home, but this belief was dispelled after police interviewed her parents.

James Dugan, Katie’s father, had seen a white man of medium stature emerge from the shadow of the house and disappear down the avenue at about 8:00 the night before. Soon after, Katie put on her coat and went out, saying she would be back in a few minutes. She never returned. Her mother, Catherine Dugan, said that earlier in the day, Katie had received a letter; she threw the envelope into the fire and shoved the letter into her pocket. The letter was still in her pocket when her body was found. It was just a note that read: “Meet me on Wednesday night, at the same place and same time.”

Wading through Victorian euphemisms in the newspapers, it appears that Katie was not raped but had been sexually active. The Delaware Republican reported that, though she had been knocked unconscious, beaten, and slashed, there was no indication that she had been “feloniously assaulted.” The post-mortem examination revealed that Katie was “in a delicate condition” and “would have become a mother in about five months.”

Richard Riley, who kept company with Katie, was arrested on suspicion. Riley acknowledged that he had been with Katie on Tuesday night but had not seen her since. On Wednesday night, he had attended a fair at the Church of the Sacred Heart until 11:00. Police detectives were able to corroborate Riley’s alibi and he was released.

Several witnesses had seen Katie with a man on the night of the murder. Edward McGoldrick and Thomas Connelly told police that they had seen Katie with Richard Riley. Riley was arrested again.
At the inquest, James Riley— a young boy, not related to Richard Riley— testified to seeing Katie and a man sitting on a rock near Front and Broome Streets. When he passed them on the street, he saw the man had his arm around Katie and he heard her cry “Oh! My!” several times. He testified that the man was not Richard Riley. McGoldrick and Connelly testified to seeing Katie with a man but now could not identify Riley as the man. Richard Riley testified that he did not see Katie after Tuesday night, and he had never noticed or heard anything about Katie’s pregnancy.

The coroner’s jury determined that Katie Dugan was murdered by a person or persons unknown. There was not enough evidence to hold Richard Riley, and he was released again.

The city Wilmington offered a reward of $200 for the arrest and conviction of the murderer, but no new evidence came forward. Though the newspapers appeared to have forgotten the case, it never strayed far from the minds of the people of Wilmington. In June 1893, eight months after the murder, a rumor spread through the city that the police had arrested a black man and his wife for Katie’s murder. The authorities were startled; though they had never stopped investigating the case, no arrests had been made. They publicly denied the rumor and traced its source to a young man who had said it as a joke.

In August 1894, nearly two years after the murder, Katie’s mother, presented the police with evidence she had gathered implicating Albert Stout, Katie’s former employer, as the murderer. Katie had been a domestic servant, living in Stout’s home until she left several months before the murder. She never told her mother her reason for leaving. It was not revealed what evidence Mrs. Dugan had brought the police, but they had been investigating Stout as well and had come to the same conclusion.

Albert Stout was a 40-year-old businessman with a wife and three children. He was a prominent and well-connected manager at Charles Warner Company. When the police arrested him for murder, he laughed at them, and even after several days in jail remained unconcerned.

The Dugan family believed that Stout had continued to see Katie in secret after she left his home. Her sister, Lizzie, had seen the note and said it was signed “Jack,” the name Katie had always used to refer to Stout. A handwriting expert, working for the police, examined the note and declared that it was written by Albert Stout. The police also had four eyewitnesses who saw Katie with Stout together on the night of the murder. They were quarreling and appeared to be heading in the direction of the murder scene.

The theory of the police was that Stout had been trying to persuade Katie to have an abortion. She refused, saying she intended to expose him as the father of her child. Driven to desperation, Stout murdered Katie to keep her quiet.

A grand jury convened on September 20 to hear evidence against Albert Stout. But after reviewing testimony from a dozen witnesses, the jury determined that there was not enough evidence to indict Stout for the murder of Katie Dugan. Albert Stout left the courtroom a free man.

There were no more arrests, and the circumstances of Katie Dugan’s murder remain a mystery.

Sources:
“Arrested for Murder,” Bay City Times, August 31, 1894.
“Brutal Murder of a Girl,” New York Herald, October 21, 1892.
“Closing in upon Stout,” New York Herald, September 2, 1894.
“Did He Kill Katie Dugan,” Boston Herald, August 31, 1894.
“Innocent,” Delaware Republican, September 21, 1894.
“It Was Murder,” Delaware Republican, October 22, 1892.
“The Kate Dugan Murder Mystery,” Pittsburg Dispatch, October 23, 1892.
“Katie Dugan's Murder in Deleware,” Sun, November 21, 1892.
“Katie Dungan's Slayer,” Delaware gazette and state journal, June 29, 1893.
“Murder Most Foul,” Wheeling Register, October 21, 1892.
“Murder of Katie Dugan,” Delaware Republican, September 1, 1894.
“Murder Will Out,” Evening Journal, August 31, 1894.
“News Article,” Delaware Republican, November 23, 1892.
“News Article,” Chicago Daily News, August 31, 1894.
“Riley Liberated,” Evening Journal, October 28, 1892.
“Stout Held for Court,” Delaware Republican, September 4, 1894.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Thirtieth Street Murder.

Residents of West 30th Street, New York City, were startled on the night of October 26, 1858, by the cries of Elizabeth Carr, a servant of the Gouldy family as she ran from the house in her nightclothes, screaming, “Help! Help! Oh, my God! Frank is murdering the whole family. Rouse the neighbors!”

The neighbors, accompanied by several policemen responded by entering the Gouldy home where they found Mrs. Gouldy at the foot of the stairs, staggering and calling for help. She was bleeding from the head, as was her husband, Francis Gouldy, who lay on the floor not moving. Also suffering from head wounds were 11-year-old Nathaniel Gouldy, 7-year-old Charlie Gouldy, and Joanna Murphy, another of the Gouldy’s servant girls. All were alive but semi-conscious. The perpetrator of the crime, Frank Gouldy was found in his room, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Fearful Fratricide.

The Rogers family were early settlers in Blue Lick Springs, Kentucky, having fought a bloody battle with Indians to secure their homestead. They never lost their frontier zeal for violence as a tool for solving problems, even for family disputes which, apparently, were frequent and quite intense. In the 1880s, Willis Rogers had eight children, five boys and three girls. In the heat of an argument, Willis’s brother shot and killed one of the boys. To make amends, the brother willed his entire estate to Willis. He died soon after leaving Willis Rogers a very wealthy man.

When Willis died in 1883 he left the fortune to his sons Samuel and Robert, for some reason disinheriting his other two surviving sons, William and Thomas. William, who was an attorney in St. Louis, and Thomas, who was a farmer of “high standing,” had no intention of taking the matter lying down and made plans to contest the will. On September 27, they met at the old Rogers’s mansion on Indian Creek, with their brother Samuel, president of the Farmer’s Bank in Carlisle, and executor of the will, along with several other attorneys.

As they took depositions for the lawsuit, tempers were on edge and the tension in the room was palpable. During a wordy exchange, Samuel believed that one of his brothers had moved to draw a weapon, so he drew his own revolver and fired a shot. It was reported that William and Thomas then pulled out their pistols and began firing. As the lawyers hurriedly left the room, Samuel’s son entered with his gun drawn, and “… all blazed away until smoke made it impossible to do creditable work.”

When the smoke cleared, Samuel emerged unscathed but William and Thomas were fatally wounded—William shot in the right knee and abdomen, and Thomas in the left arm and right temple.  On his arrest, Samuel maintained that his brothers had drawn on him first, but the attorneys present claimed that Samuel, who had emptied his pistol, was the only man to fire. It is safe to say that Robert Rogers, the brother who had not attended the meeting, was the only man to benefit from this negotiation.

Originally posted on August 8, 2014.

Sources:

"[Kentucky; Blue Lick Springs; Willis Rogert; Willis]." Springfield Republican 2 Oct 1883: 4.
"A Fearful Fratricidal Crime ." Jackson Citizen Patriot 28 Sep 1883: 1.
"Cold Lead as a Surragate." National Police Gazette 20 Oct 1883

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Murder in the Well.

This week we present a guest post from Shelley Dziedzic of Lizzie Borden: Warps & Wefts, a blog devoted to the Borden murders and the city of Fall River, Massachusetts—"News, articles and photos about The Lady, The Crime, The City and The Era.” Shelly is a member of the Muttoneaters, a group that investigates all things related to Lizzie Borden, and the Pear Essential Players who annually re-enact the Borden Murders at the house where they occurred (now a Fall River bed and breakfast.)


The post, “Murder in the Well”, tells the story of a gruesome murder/suicide from another branch of the Borden family tree.




Uncle Lawdwick  and Those  “Children Down the Well”

Photography and text by Shelley Dziedzic (all rights reserved)

For students of the Borden case, the tale of Lizzie’s great-uncle Lawdwick (also seen as Ludwig, Ladwig, Ladowick and other variations) has long been an interesting footnote to the saga of the Borden murders of 1892.  Lawdwick Borden was the son of Martha Patty Bowen and Richard Borden.  Lawdwick’s brother Abraham Bowen Borden was Andrew Jackson Borden’s father.  Uncle Lawdwick was Lizzie Borden’s great-uncle.  He will be referred to as Lawdwick hereafter as that is the spelling which is seen on his grave marker.

Abraham Bowen Borden (Lawdwick’s brother and Lizzie’s grandfather)


Lawdwick would enjoy the company of four wives over the span of his life, not an unusual occurrence in the days when women often died in childbirth or from complications following childbirth.  There are records of four marriages:  Maria Briggs, Eliza Darling, Eliza Chace (sometimes seen as Chase), and Ruhama Crocker.  Ruhama Crocker Borden is listed as Lawdwick’s widow in Fall River city directories after Lawdwick died in 1874. The spelling and handwriting in censuses of the period is often poor or illegible, thus creating a challenge for historians generations later to decipher.

It is the second wife, Eliza Darling Borden who has piqued the excitement of Borden case scholars today, for it is she who did the unthinkable- she killed two of her three children and then took her own life.  Today it might be chalked up to post partum depression. She had three children in rapid succession. Even the details of her suicide are clouded over time.  Most versions would have it that she went upstairs in the little Cape Cod style house next door south of the Charles Trafton house in 1848, (which would become the Andrew Borden house in 1872) when she was at the age of 37, and sliced her throat with Lawdwick’s straight razor after dropping her children in the cellar cistern. Another version has her committing self-destruction behind the cellar chimney.  As thrilling tales often go, they tend to improve and evolve with the retelling.

Paranormal investigators today who visit the Lizzie Borden home, take great pains to attempt to contact these ghostly children who died so tragically years before Abby and Andrew would be done to death by hatchet on August 4, 1892.  Guests who stay at the Borden home, now a popular bed and breakfast, leave toys for the “ghost children” in the guest rooms and declare they can hear childish laughter and sounds of play on the second and third floors.

This sad tale has endured for so long due primarily to Lizzie Borden herself- and her trial of 1893.  Lizzie was carefully examined to determine if she were mentally competent.  Questions were asked as to the sanity of the Borden clan in general.  Not surprisingly the topic of Eliza Borden and her unfortunate children was introduced as a possible source of inherited madness.  This was quickly shot down as Eliza Darling Borden was only a Borden by marriage, and not a blood relation to Lizzie Borden at all.  Mention was made that the sole survivor of the well incident, Maria Borden (Hinckley), was “alive and well and a mother herself still living in the city”.  It is a possibility Maria was named for Lawdwick’s first wife, Maria Briggs, as was a common custom in cases of the untimely death of a young spouse upon remarriage of the widower.

But first, the details on all of the family members.  Mother of Lawdwick:  Martha Patty Bowen Birth Jul 13 1775 in Freetown, Bristol, Massachusetts, USA ,  Death Nov 16, 1827

Father: Richard Borden Birth 1769 in Bristol Co., Massachusetts, USA , Death Apr 04 1824 * note that Richard’s mother was named Hope Cook.  Most likely Cook Borden was named for her family surname.

Lawdwick’s Siblings:

Abraham Bowen Borden  1798-1882



Thomas Borden 1800

Amy Borden       1802-1877

Hannah Borden 1803-1891

Richard Borden  1805-1872

Rowena Borden 1808-1836  (stone below)

 
















Cook Borden  1810-1880

Lawdwick  1812-1874 (stone below)


Zephaniah 1814-1884 (stone below)













Lawdwick’s wives:

Maria Briggs  married Sept 8, 1833

b. 1811 – d. 1838 (stones below)




Eliza Darling  married March 16, 1843


b.1811 – d. 1848 suicide and mother who drowned two of her three children


(engraved Second Wife)



Baby Holder S. Borden- Drowned 



Eliza Ann, aged 2 Drowned





Born October 22, 1844  died 1909 buried under Maria Borden, no mention of husband Samuel B. Hinckley.

Maria Borden (Hinckley) (daughter and only living child)



Eliza T. Chace  married February 29, 1856 Third Wife

  • 1813-1864

Ruhama Crocker Borden shown living with Lawdwick in 1870 census with sister Lydia and Maria, Eliza’s daughter now 25 and married to Samuel B. Hinckley, a Civil War veteran on 2 Oct 1866. Ruhama is listed as Lawdwick’s “widow” in Fall River city directories after 1874.




Ruhama Crocker-  b.  1814-d. 1879 (in Providence in 1850, living with parents and siblings in 1860 in Attleboro


An interesting detail about Maria Borden and her husband Samuel B. Hinckley. Samuel had been a boarder in 1850 at the Lawdwick Borden house when Maria was a little girl of 5.  Samuel was 18.  The two would wed on October 3, 1866.  Samuel had served in the Civil war and was mustered out as a full captain in Washington D.C. on July 14, 1865. (click on image below for full size). In 1850 both Samuel and Lawdwick are listed as “Millers”, presumably in a lumber yard.


At least two more infants are buried in this plot, both near Maria Briggs Borden, which would make them half siblings of the Maria who survived the cistern. One was born the year after Lawdwick’s marriage to Maria Briggs, the other two years later. A name is barely readable on one stone, the other reads Matthew.







Census listing for 1860


Lawdwick is a Lumber man, second wife Eliza T. Chace Borden is keeping house and Maria is now 15. Whatever became of the marriage of Maria and Samuel is unclear. The newspaper article in 1893, during Lizzie Borden’s trial mentions the living child from “the cistern was a mother herself and living in the city”. Maria Borden Hinckley would have been 49 years old at the time of Lizzie’s trial in New Bedford.


My thanks to the groundsmen at Oak Grove Cemetery, Will Clawson, Len Rebello, and Ancestry.com

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Fatal Family Feud.

The morning of December 18, 1889, Edward O’Connor, a San Francisco bartender, surrendered
himself to a group of police officers saying, “I hit a man with a stick last night, and I think he is dead.”

O’Connor was quite intoxicated and was reluctant to take the officers to see the body.  He finally led them to the home of his father-in-law, Henry Armstrong where they found Armstrong’s body laying on the floor of the front room. The floor was strewn with broken glass, clay pipes and cigarette butts and a number of half-empty whiskey and gin bottles stood on a table in another room. 

Armstrong’s wife lay passed out on a bed near the body. O’Connor’s wife Sarah, as drunk as her husband became excited at the approach of the officers. Apparently unaware of what Edward had told them, Sarah said that the shooting had been accidental then corrected herself saying Armstrong had dropped dead from heart disease.

O’Connor then exclaimed “No, no! I am the murderer! I killed him. He abused my wife and I shot him.”

Armstrong had begun throwing things at his wife, O’Connor explained, pointing to an alarm clock Armstrong had hurled. O’Connor hit him with a stick and Sarah ran to get his revolver. The gun went off accidentally as O’Connor tried to take it away from her. Examining the body, the officers discovered a bullet wound in Armstrong’s left side.

Sarah had married Edward O’Connor on November 7, and the four of them lived together in a four-room cottage—it was a disaster waiting to happen. Since the wedding, the household had been “on a protracted debauch” of drunken animosity. Henry Armstrong, who owned the cottage, was bitterly opposed to his stepdaughter’s marriage and had threatened to throw everyone out. He was a confirmed drunkard with a mean disposition and had been arrested two years earlier for feloniously assaulting Sarah. Edward O’Connor was also a drunkard. His first wife had recently secured a divorce on the grounds of cruelty and intemperance. That night all four had been drinking heavily.

Once everyone had sobered up, police managed to piece together the events of the night before. Armstrong had come home drunk at about 9:00 and everyone else had already gone to bed. Sarah got up and prepared supper for him, then took a bowl of soup to her husband and a drink of liquor to her mother. Armstrong became angry that Sarah had not brought him a drink. He verbally abused her saying the dinner was not fit for a dog. Becoming increasingly angry Armstrong began throwing things at her including a lamp chimney and an alarm clock.

The noise aroused O’Connor who grabbed his cane and rushed at Armstrong, intending to give him a clubbing. Armstrong evaded the stick, rushed into his room and shut the door. O’Connor turned to go back to bed and was surprised to see his wife approaching with his bulldog pistol in her hand. O’Connor grappled with her and managed to take it away after the gun went off. Thinking nothing was wrong the two went back to bed.

Two hours later, Mrs. Armstrong called out saying that her husband was hurt. They thought she was fooling and paid no attention. She insisted they come and when they did they found Armstrong on the floor very weak and faint. O’Connor went to get some whiskey and when he returned Armstrong was dead. Then he went for the police.

Sarah claimed that she had not intended to use the pistol; she wanted to hide it so her husband wouldn’t use it. Sarah was released and Edward O’Connor was held for murder. At his trial the following March, O’Connor was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years at San Quentin.


Sources:
“The Day of Doom,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 22, 1890.
“Fatal Family Feud,” San Diego Union, December 26, 1889.
“Kicked out of the House,” San Francisco Bulletin, February 13, 1890.
“Mrs. Sarah O'Connor Kills Her Step-Father,” Evening News, December 18, 1889.
“Murder Most Foul!,” The National Police Gazette, January 11, 1890.
“On Trial for Murder,” San Francisco Bulletin, March 1, 1890.
“A San Francisco Tragedy,” Sacramento Bee, December 18, 1889.
“Who Shot Him?,” San Francisco Bulletin, December 18, 1889.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

An Insane Explorer.

Survivors of Jeannette expedition (James Bartlett, seated second from left)
On July 8, 1879, the U.S.S. Jeanette left San Francisco bound for the Bering Strait. Its mission, funded by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald, was to make the United States the first nation to reach the North Pole, on the theory that a warm Pacific current would provide a water route. After nearly two years sailing through ice-bound waters, the Jeanette was “nipped” in the ice on June 12, 1881 and sank the following day. The crew set off on foot, hoping to reach the coast of Siberia before winter set in. They struggled for 91 days, living on seal, walrus, polar bear, and sea birds, and covered nearly one thousand miles. Only thirteen of the original crew of thirty-three survived.

Among the survivors of the Jeanette expedition was James R. Bartlett, who, in 1892, was living in San Francisco with his wife and their niece. Mentally, Bartlett never recovered from his arctic hardship; and had previously been confined in an insane asylum.

Around 1:30, the morning of October 30, 1892, Bartlett went into his house and told his wife he was going to kill her. He drew his revolver and shot his wife in the shoulder. As she ran screaming from the room, their young niece, Lottie Carpenter, came in and tried to intercede. Bartlett shot her in the head and she died moments later. He then went to a back room and shot himself in the head.

The newspapers all agreed that the tragedy was a direct result of hardships Bartlett suffered as a crewman of the ill-fated Jeanette expedition. The Oregonian questioned the value of such ventures, “Neither science, humanity nor common sense warrants a man in putting so severe strain upon his physical and mental powers as to render his crippled existence a misfortune to himself and a constant menace to those about him. The Jeannette expedition was one of the most costly in life, hardship and money that has ever been sent out in quest of an “open Polar Sea,” while its profits are so meager that science takes no note of them.”

Originally posted on 11/26/2016.

Sources:
“[San Francisco; Miss Lottie Carpenter; James R.,” Oregonian, November 1, 1892.
“An Insane Explorer.,” Plain Dealer, October 31, 1892.
“An Insane Murderer,” San Diego Union, October 31, 1892.
“Crazed By His Arctic Sufferings.,” New York Tribune, October 31, 1892.
National Geographic: The Hair-Raising Tale of the U.S.S. Jeannette's Ill-Fated 1879 Polar Voyage . “James R. Bartlett Dead,” Daily Register-Gazette, October 26, 1893.
USNI News: The Jeannette Expedition.
“News in Brief.,” Huntsville Gazette, November 5, 1892.