The Modern Caine and Abel.

Isaac Sawtell Hiram Sawtell
The Modern Cain and Abel

The story: Cain and Abel.

The murder of Hiram Sawtell by his brother Isaac in Rochester, New Hampshire, 1890.

The Modern Cain and Abel

The Story of the Terrible Sawtell Tragedy Told in Verse.


List kind friends, draw near in pity,
 While a tale I do relate,
Tale of anguish, tale of sorrow,
 Tale of bloodshed and of hate.

In Boston city dwelt two brothers,
 Hiram, heir to the estate;
Isaac, with the mark of Caine upon him,
 Cursed his brother in his hate.

Isaac, in his wild endeavors
 To obtain the lion’s part,
Stole the child, which was his brother’s
 And to Rochester, N. H., did start.

Searched the woods, most drear and lonely,
 Thus his brother’s grave to make;
Spade and shovel, also a hatchet,
 Could this horrid tale relate.

O’er the wires and to the father,
 Sped news that Marion’s sick,
Come at once, and don’t delay,
 Marion’s ill with La Grippe.

With a heart of love and pity,
 Came the father for his child;
And Isaac met him at the depot,
 Took him through the forest wild.

And the father’s fear of danger
 Caused him thus to intercede,
With his cruel hearted brother,
 For his stolen child to plead.

And the cruel hearted brother,
 Ere the sun sank in the West,
Drew a pistol from concealment,
 Shot his brother through the breast.

Rode beside the lifeless body,
 Through the little town beyond,
Called and bought a lamp to guide him,
 Threw the hatcher in the pond.

Search was made and there they found him,
 Headless, armless, without shroud;
“Would to God we had the culprit,”
 Was the murmur of the crowd.

And the stars that shone above him
 Were the only eyes to weep,
And the birds that caroled o’er him
 Echoed this the place wherein he sleeps.

Thus his lonely, widowed mother,
 And his broken hearted wife,
And the little orphan children,
 Left to lend a lonely life.


Unknown says:
June 20, 2018 at 2:54 PM

In one of his books on True Crime, Edmund Pearson quotes a rhyming set of lines on this case:

"Two brothers in our town did dwell!"
Hiram sought Heaven, but Isaac Sawtelle!!"

Isaac was convicted of the murder - his attempt to kill Hiram in the woods was based on his belief that he was taking his victim across the border into Maine, where in 1890 there was no death penalty anymore. Unfortunately for Isaac, he was wrong in thinking he had crossed the state's borders in the forest, and the murder still occurred in New Hampshire (which still had the death penalty).

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