Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Briggs House Murder.

Little Murders

On December 7, 1883, Sadie Reigh went into the dining room of the Briggs House, one of Chicago’s finest hotels, and fired four shots from a revolver, in rapid succession, at Head Waiter Patrick Kinsley. Sadie fled the hotel but was apprehended quickly. Two of her shots had hit their mark; Kinsley died the following day and Sadie Reigh was charged with murder. 

Briggs House
Sadie told her story to the Chicago Police. She was a pantry girl at the Briggs House and had been friendly with another hotel employee named Mr. Delts. This friendship angered Patrick Kinsley who, Sadie alleged, had “an unnatural affection” for Delts. When Delts left the Briggs House, Kinsley accused Sadie of instigating his departure and spread malicious rumors that she and Delts had been improperly intimate. His stories were generally believed and Sadie had to endure taunts from the other female employees of the Briggs House. When she could endure it no longer, Sadie vowed to hire a lawyer on her next payday, and sue Kinsley for defamation of character. When payday rolled around, she had a change of heart and purchased a revolver instead. “I am a poor working girl,” Sadie told police, “and all I have got is my honor, and I am going to defend that if I hang for it.”

 By March 1884, Sadie Reigh had become so sick that she appeared to be dying in her jail cell and was attended by a clergyman. She had no friends or family in Chicago but a private fund was established, supported by local newspapers, to raise money for Sadie’s defense. Said one organizer, "Let every mother who would see her daughters safe, let every man and every woman who would have virtue triumph over lust, show their faith by their works and contribute to the Sadie Reigh fund."

Sadie Reigh pled guilty to manslaughter and on April 29, 1884, Judge Elliot Anthony sentenced her to a year and a half in the penitentiary. It was reported that mitigating circumstances justified the light sentence.


"A Light Sentence." Logansport Chronicle 3 May 1884.
"A Murder in a dining room." National Police Gazette 5 Jan 1884.
"Condensed News." Daily Register 3 Mar 1884.
"In Her Own Defense." Daily Illinois State Journal 29 Apr 1884.

"The Sadie Reigh Fund." Winfield Courier, 3 Apr, 1884.


Unknown says:
January 28, 2016 at 1:32 AM

It is indeed sad to be defamed to the extent of being taunted by the people around us. However, committing a murder is never a solution to any situation. Sadie was considered lucky to have committed the crime back in the olden days whereby a removal of a previous sentence was still permissible. If it was in this era, she could have already been sentenced to life imprisonment and no mitigation whatsoever can help change that fact.

Tessa says:
April 28, 2016 at 2:52 AM

These were different times, a woman's honor really was very important. It's a shame but it's true that her life could've been completely ruined by this man's lies. In fact, murder was more okay than premarital sex!

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