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Colonial Cases


CATAWBA JOURNAL (Charlotte, N.C.), 1 February 1825

Atrocious Murder. - A letter from a friend in Gallipolis to the editor, written on Saturday last, gives an account of the murder of a young woman, of Perry township, Gallia county.  It appears that the unfortunate person alluded to - a Miss Polly Greene - left her father's residence about two weeks since, for the purpose of visiting a neighbor.  Her failure to return home as soon as she was expected, occasioned some alarm among her friends; and after diligent search, her body was found in a pond, a short distance from her father's house, with the head much bruised, and a log lying across her neck.  Two or three clubs, smeared with blood, hair, and supposed to be the weapons used in the perpetration of the horrid deed, lay near the place where the remains were found; but the murderers have hitherto escaped detection.  A coroner's inquest has been held over the body, which [rendered] a verdict of murder by an unknown hand.  The pond was not more than fifty yards distant from a mill road. Chillicothe Times.



SINGULAR COINCIDENCE. - On the 3d inst. Samuel Springstead, a lad of 14, whilst passing through the woods in Sheffield, Lorane co. Ohio, was killed immediately by the falling of a dead limb upon him.  On the 7th, Mr. John Strong, in the same neighborhood, was killed by the same cause.  He had been to the funeral of young Springstead, and observed "that he must have been very careless or he would have avoided the falling limb by which he was killed," little thinking at the time that his own life would soon end from a similar accident.

WILMINGTON, Jan 13.   

MURDER MOST FOUL. - We are compelled to record a murder of as unnatural and horrible a character as any which ever disgraced the calendar of crime.  On the 3rd inst. Pherabe Howell, an aged woman of this county, was most brutally murdered by her son Needham Howell.

   The facts, so far as they have come to our knowledge, are somewhat as follows.

   Howell, his mother, and a young girl of 10 or 12 years of age, were together in a small building on the sound; when Howell invited his mother to go out with him into the yard.  Soon after they left the house, the young girl was alarmed by the cries of the deceased, and rushing out found Howell sitting astride his prostrate mother, and beating her in the face with a brick.  The girl immediately fled to the adjoining plantation (distance about a fourth of a mile), for assistance, and returned in company with one or two others persons, when they found Howell standing on the breast of the mangled corpse, with a pipe in his mouth, and kicking the face with the heel of his boot.


SETTLER AND PENNON (Smethport, Pa.) 19 August 1841

From the Cincinnati Gazette of July 22.


The murder of the horse-thieves in Ogle County, a brief account of which we published a few days ago, has most probably been followed ere this by the shedding of more blood.  The Galena Gazette, of the 8th inst., contains the following intelligence:

   Latest. - We have been informed from various sources, that Daniel Driscoll, together with Aiken, have both been arrested.  Driscoll had been tried, and was to have been shot day before yesterday at three o'clock.  We have not leant how they disposed of Aiken.

   To this we must add, that the printing office of the 'Rockford Star,' a paper in the vicinity of the murders, which had the independence to denounce those concerned in them, was mobbed on the night of the 5th, and in great part destroyed !

   This is a very natural end to the unnatural beginning.  The press is the palladium of liberty.  The despotism of the mob cannot prevail, and its freedom continue.  The two are antagonists - as opposite as night and day - and one of the other must fall,  In Ogle county, the mob, as we have seen, is triumphant; the press had to be silenced.

[From the Buffalo Com. Adv.]


There was a sad accident at Erie last Saturday night.  The steamboat New England, bound down the lake, touched at Cleveland and took on board a Mr. King and family, consisting of his wife's mother, three children and a female servant/  They wished to stop at Erie.  Capt. Oliver of the N. E. said he had not intended to go into that port, but if Mr. King would consent to be landed on the pier near the outer light house, some two miles from the town, he would take him and his family.  The New England made the entrance to the harbour about 11 at night, but so desolate was the aspect of things at that hour, that Mr. King was reluctant to land with his family, and after some conversation, Capt. Oliver consented that the yawl boat should be lowered.  The party entered, and under the direction of the mate the boat made for the town.  It was discovered to be leaking, an attempt was made to bale, and finally it was determined to return.  The boat reached the pier.  One of the hands was directed to make fast the painter, and the ladies were requested to step forward.  But instead of doing so, the whole party endeavored to gain the pier at once.  The boat careened, capsized, and two of the children and the servant girl were drowned.  The anguish of the parents may be conceived. Every effort was made to save all, but the darkness rendered it ineffectual.  Capt. Oliver remained till morning, doing all in his power to rescue the bodies of the drowned, and alleviate the sorrows of the survivors.  A passenger on board says their grief at so sudden and fearful a bereavement was hear-rending. - Since the above was written we have learned that the bodies of one of the children and the servant were found yesterday.  Mr. King was a resident of Pittsburgh, and well acquainted at Erie.



SHOCKING OCCURRENCE. - About 3 ½ o'clock yesterday morning, a party of Mormons, numbering probably about fifty, under the direction of Elder H. Greenholy, crossed the river by Capt. Air's ferry, for the purpose of administering baptism to some eight or ten converts.  They proceeded up the river bank to the foot of East-row, where the converts, composed of both males and females, were prepared for baptism.  This preparation was indecent, to say the least.  Both men and women were required to strip to their linen, in the midst of the crowd, and upon the river bank.

   The Elder led an old man, aged about fifty years, by the name of Alexander Williams, into the water and baptised him, according to the ceremonies of the faith.  After this, the old man, who was a good swimmer, struck out into the river, for the purpose, it is said, of taking a swim.  It is supposed that his drawers slipped down over his feet, which destroying his motion, causing him to sink.  His son, also named Alexander, aged about 23 years, and who was stripped for baptism, seeing his father sinking, plunged in after him.  He could not swim at all, and getting into deep water, immediately sank and was drowned before his father.

   Dragging hooks were obtained as soon as possible, and in about an hour's time both bodies were recovered.  Coroner Foster, of Campbell county, held an inquest over the bodies, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental drowning.  The bodies were delivered over to a son and brother, who were present at the holding of the inquest. - Cincinnati Times, July 2.


Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.), 28 April 1859

A Warning to Boys. - At Cincinnati, on Thursday evening last, a boy named Thomas Welsh, about ten years of age, was shot in the forehead by a companion and instantly killed. ....... Detailed account.  An inquest was held by the coroners, and a verdict returned of death from an accidental pistol shot.  Both boys, Smith and Cady, were then discharged, and returned to their homes.


WINONA DAILY REPUBLICAN, MN., Thursday 26 August 1869 (2)



CINCINNATI, Aug. 25. - The coroner held an inquest this afternoon on the body of John Bebb, who was killed yesterday morning by blows from the mace of police officer John Cattle.  The evidence tended to show that the police officer was utterly unjustifiable, not only in dealing the blows but in making the arrest.  Witnesses swear that the murdered man up to the time of the assault was sitting quietly on the steps of his own house.  One witness say him sitting there one minute before the assault and attracted by the noise went to the window and saw officer Cattle strike him three blows with his club.  Several witnesses swear that the murdered man did not say a word.  After all was over Bebb walked to the Italian house where he remained till morning, when he was taken to the hospital, where he expired 16 hours after the beating.

   A post mortem showed the skull fractured vertically in the region of the left temple.  The unfortunate man leaves a wife and three small children.  He was 27 years of age.  The evidence is that he was intoxicated.  He is stated to be a remote relative of ex-Gov. Bebb of this State.  Cattle is under arrest.  The coroner's jury pronounce him the murderer.


WILLAMETTE FARMER (Salem, Or.), 16 March 1872

LOUISIVILLE, March 9. - Early yesterday three negroes broke into the house of an old man 80 years of age, named James McNeill, near Shelby City, and brutally murdered him, splitting his head open with an axe and stabbing him in several places.  The purpose was evidently robbery, as there was a small amount of money in the house.  The villains were frightened away by the screams of the wife of the murdered man.  Two were arrested in the evening and lodged in jail, at Danville, and identified by the wife of the murdered man.

DAYTON, March 11. - A horrible murder of a wife and three children, by the husband, was committed at a farm house six miles from this city on Saturday.  The wife was found in bed naked, strangled, and the children, aged six and eight years, and six months respectively, were found on the bank of the creek, a short distance from the house.  The baby's skull was crushed, and the two elder were evidently drowned and afterwards taken from the creek.  Leonard Maguard, the supposed murderer of his family, was arrested.  An inquest will be held over the victim.  He is evidently insane.

  CINCINNATI, March 11. - A Dayton special gives the testimony before a Coroner's jury of Elizabeth, aged seven, and Habakkuk, aged six, surviving children of Leonard Marguard.  They say that after dark on Saturday night that their father and mother hunted for all the children, but these two hid.  They heard their parents take the other children, the mother taking the two eldest, and the father the baby.  There was a light, and they saw their father and mother kill these three with their hands, the father killing the baby and the mother killing Leah and Samuel, and then came into the house naked and began praying to God.  They saw the three dead on the ground and the father and mother naked.  The two children were hunted for by parents after the death of the three, but were not found.  They got away to a strawstack at daylight on Sunday, and staid there till they were found in the afternoon.  The skull of the baby six months old, was found crushed in.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School