Saturday, April 9, 2022

A Triple Tragedy.

Martin and Mary Curley ran a small saloon connected to their house in Broderick Patch, Pennsylvania, about three miles west of Wilke-Barre. The morning of December 29, 1890, Mary’s mother was bringing some soap to help her daughter do laundry when she saw John Thralle (sometimes spelled Tirello or Tralla), a Hungarian immigrant, enter the barroom.  Five minutes later she heard a pistol shot. Mary came running out the front door crying “murder!” and received another shot in the back of the head. She fell onto the stoop.

The neighbors became alarmed and rushed to the saloon as two more shots were fired. They found Martin Curley lying in a pool of blood with a bullet wound over his left eye, a revolver lying on his breast. Mike Haddock (aka Anton Stanovitch), another Hungarian, lay three feet away with a wound behind his ear. Haddock was dead but both the Curleys were still alive. The neighbors brought them into an adjoining room and summoned physicians. Mary lived another hour and Martin lived for two hours but neither regained consciousness before dying.

It was first believed that Martin Curley had shot both his wife and Mike Haddock then shot himself. Haddock owed $70 in unpaid rent and Mary was rumored to have an intimate relationship with Haddock. Martin had a bad reputation and was known to be a fiend when drunk.

The theory changed when reporters learned that 5-year-old Mamie Curley witnessed the shootings. She said, “There was an awful noise when I was rocking the cradle. I rushed out into the barroom and saw papa and another man falling down. I cried ‘mama,’ but mama didn’t hear me. I saw another man in the backyard.” She did not recognize the other man, but he was believed to be John Thralle. The County Commissioners offered a $500 reward for his arrest and the search for Thralle began.

The police captured Thralle and on January 1, a coroner’s inquest was held. The story changed again when two new witnesses testified. Mathew Daley and Robbie Warner both saw Martin Curley shoot his wife. Thralle testified through an interpreter that he was in the saloon and invited Curley to have a drink of whiskey. Curley said he was not feeling well and did not care for it. The remark led to a dispute resulting in tragedy. 

The jury determined that Curley murdered his wife and Haddock, then shot himself. Thralle was released.  

“Awful Triple Murder,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 30, 1890.
“The Broderick Tragedy,” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, January 1, 1891.
“Four Victims of One Gun,” Chicago Daily News, December 29, 1890.
“Triple Tragedy,” Columbus Dispatch, December 29, 1890.
“A Triple Tragedy,” National Police Gazette, January 17, 1891.
“Wyoming Valley Tragedy,” Delaware Republican, December 30, 1890.


Post a Comment