Saturday, July 15, 2023

A Rejected Suitor.

Dr. Samuel Johnson was a successful physician in Borrah, Connecticut, a quiet little town not far from Norwich. In 1872, the Johnson family was well known and respected in Borrah. Around 1860, a man named William Erving was hired by Dr. Johnson, and boarded in his home. Erving was a good worker and they treated him as one of the family.

Erving’s only flaw was that he was quick to anger and would act out of passion. This was a problem when Erving became infatuated with Dr. Johnson’s daughter, Jane, a highly educated and refined young lady. He repeatedly asked her to marry him and each time she told him, in no uncertain terms, that she was not interested. The family, too, discouraged any notion of a courtship between Erving and Jane. Each rejection increased Erving’s anger.

On February 5, 1872, a peddler stopped by the Johnson home to display his wares. He spoke with Jane, and before he left, he gave her a small brush broom as a gift. 

This enraged Erving who remarked to Jane, “You treat even a peddler better than you treat me.”

He appeared moody and sulky that morning. About 10:30, after Dr. Johnson had left for his office, Erving went into the sitting room where Jane lay on a sofa talking with her mother. He came within eight feet of Jane, raised a shotgun and fired both barrels into her head. Mrs. Johnson jumped up and Erving hit her in the head with the butt of the shotgun so hard that she later died as a result of the wound. A servant girl ran from the house and gave the alarm, screaming “murder.”

Erving was gone when neighbors arrived and saw the bloody scene. They thought he had run to Norwich. But when they went upstairs, they found Jane’s room locked. They broke the door open and found Erving lying on Jane’s bed. His throat was cut from ear to ear and a razor was tightly clutched in his hand. 

“At Large,” Chicago Evening Post, February 6, 1872.
“Love, Murder and Suicide at Borrah, Conn.,” Illustrated Police News, February 15, 1872.
“Murder and Suicide,” Burlington Free Press, February 6, 1872.
“Terrible Tragedy,” Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, February 6, 1872.


Post a Comment