This Day in Norwood History – September 1 AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY

THE DEDHAM TRAGEDY.

A Double Murder and Suicide—A Wife Kills Her Husband and Child, and then Slays Herself— Supposed Insanity of the Woman.

We find in the Boston Herald the following particulars of the tragedy at South Dedham, Mass, already announced by telegraph

The scene of the murders, Harshorn Tavern. also known as Norwood House.

Wed, Sep 6, 1865 – Page 2 · Cleveland Daily Leader (Cleveland, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

The tragedy occurred about two o’clock on Friday morning, and by it an entire family has passed out of existence. The victims were Dr. Carlos Marston and Cora Marston, his daughter, and the murderess was Mrs. Susannah Marston, his wife. The circumstances, as one of our reporters gleaned them by a visit to the spot we give in detail, as related by a Miss May, who was present in the house as an invalid, and who, from her connection with the family for several weeks past, was apparently more cognizant of the facts than any other person in the vicinity. We commence, then, with the assertion that for several years past Mrs. Marston had been in feeble health, and that some five weeks since she recovered from an attack of the measles, which apparently left her in a more prostrate condition mentally than before; and we were informed that she has acted very strangely at times since, showing a wild expression about the eyes, and giving other tokens of mental aberration, among which was her act in getting up from bod late at night, going out and wandering in the darkness, which she did on Tuesday night last, returning after an absence of about half an hour, saying she u had been over to East Walpole to get some cool water.”

It is also known that she went into the little girl’s room on the same night, and it is supposed she then attempted to administer chloroform to her; but upon being questioned in relation to the matter the next day she asserted that she was bathing the girl’s bead in bay rum. On Wednesday she was much prostrated and absent minded, did not appear to know where she was, and indulged in strange, incoherent utterances. On Thursday she appeared better, but presented a wild and haggard look About three days previous she had manifested a desire to possess and manipulate her husband’s revolver, and it was feared she might destroy her own life — Hence the Doctor placed the weapon in his trunk, having first drawn the charges, and locked it, putting and keeping the key in his pocket.

It appeared from the result that Doctor Marston entertained no serious apprehensions of violence to himself, but that he told Miss May, who seemed to be the most fearful of any of the household, that she might lock her room if she was afraid. On Thursday night she avers that Mrs. Mars ton came to her room late about a disturbance which a cat below stairs was creating, and that she (Mrs M ) said something, about “killing him before morning.’’ Thin remark so alarmed Miss May that when the Doctor visited her to leave medicine or instructions later in the night, she told him of his wife’s remark, and he replied that he was going to bed and would lock his door. Whether he did this or not is not known, as no one now living saw him alive subsequently.

Miss May now dropped asleep. About’ two o’clock, she says, she was awakened by a noise which seemed to her like a scufiling and a fall overhead. She presently heard the report of a pistol, and comprehending the condition cf affairs at once, she immediately arose, and crossing one or two apartments passed to the foot of the stairs in the front entry. Here, being afraid to go up stairs, she called loudly two or three limes to the Doctor, but from him she received no response, for at that time he was probably still in death. Mrs. Marston, however, appeared at the head of the stairs without a light, and in a firm, calm tone, which seemed to indicate method in her madness, ordered Miss May to go to her room and remain quiet under penalty of having her brains blown out. The frightened girl could but obey, and alter hastily throwing on her clothing she wont out in quest of help. She first met a Mrs. Hartshorn, who resided in the other part of the house, and who had also beard the noise, and they together went after some of the neighbors. Before they left the house two additional shots were heard, and ere they returned a fourth and fifth shot was heard. Having procured the assistance of the three men, they returned to the house.

THE SCENE UP STAIRS.

The entire party having procured a light, went up stairs and first visited Dr. Marston’s chamber, which was a front room up one flight. Here a ghastly spectacle presented itself. On the bed lay the Doctor upon his back, and resting upon one arm, which was partially around her neck, while her bead reclined upon his shoulder, lay the body of Mrs. Marston. Both were quiet, motionless, dead; and the revolver was found in the bed.

Cora Marston’s body is discovered.

The room of Cora, the little daughter, was next visited. This apartment was quite a distance from the last mentioned room, in the back part of the house, and was approached through a long corridor or entry way. Here another heart-rending sight presented itself to the gaze of the observers. Cora lay upon the floor near her bed, her face turned downwards, her clothing saturated with blood and her face discolored with it. A very strong odor of chloroform pervaded the house, and a three ounce bottle, nearly empty, was found. It was clear the murderess had used it to stupefy her victims before finally taking their lives.

AN EXAMINATION OF THE BODIES

was made at this time, a physician, Mr. David S. Fogg, of Dedham, having meantime arrived. Dr. Marston was found to have received a shot in the breast which just grazed the sternum, or breast bone, and penetrated the right lung. In the opinion of the attending physician this wound was not sufficient alone to have caused instant death, which must have taken place; and this is one theory which leads to the belief that chloroform must have been administered to him.

Mrs. Marston was found to have received two shots, which were about two inches apart, both in the left breast. They were found to have passed nearly through the body, and came as far as the skin on the back, underneath which they are perceptible. Their position indicated that their course must have been through the heart, and doubtless instant death followed their passage,

Cora, the little girl, received one shot through the small of the back. It is supposed that she was not disabled by this, and that she arose from her bed for the purpose of resistance or flight, when the inhuman murderess shot her again, the ball this time entering the right ear and lodging in the base of the brain. Her tail probably occasioned the noise which awoke Miss May, as she was directly underneath.

Which of the two was first shot is uncertain, but it is believed that when Mrs. Marston got up—which she did, although we have not hitherto mentioned it—on the night in question, saying that she was going in to sleep with Cora, that she then applied the chloroform to the latter; then returned and administered it to her husband; next shot him, then killed Cora, and lastly, after returning to her husbands bed, shot herself.


Sat, Sep 23, 1865 – 12 · The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com

A frightful crime occurred at Hartshorn Tavern, near Dedham Courthouse, Boston, on the 1st instant, about two o’clock in the morning. The Boston Herald thus describes the tragedy:—

“The victims were Dr. Carlos Marston and Cora Marston, his daughter, and the murderess was Mrs. Susannah Marston, his wife. For several years Mrs. Marston had been feeble in health, and some five weeks since she recovered from an attack of the measles, which apparently left her in a more prostrate mental condition than before. On Wednesday she was much prostrated and absent-minded—did not appear to know where she was, and indulged in strange, incoherent utterances. On Thursday she appeared better, but presented a wild and haggard look. About three days previously she had manifested a desire to possess and manipulate her husband’s revolver, and it was feared she might destroy her own life. Hence, the doctor placed the weapon in his trunk, having first drawn the charges and locked it, putting and keeping the key in his pocket.

It appeared from the result that Dr. Marston entertained no serious apprehensions of violence to himself. Miss May, an invalid resident in the house, states that on Thursday night Mrs. Marston came to her room late about a disturbance which a cat below stairs was creating, and that she (Mrs. M.)_said something about ‘killing him before morning.’ This remark so alarmed Miss May that when the doctor visited her to leave her medicine or instructions still later at night, she told him of his wife’s remark, and he replied that he was going to bed and would lock his door. Whether he did this or not is not known, as no one now living saw him alive subsequently. Miss May now dropped asleep. About two o’ clock she says she was awakened by a noise which seemed to her like scuffling, and a fall overhead. She presently heard the report of a pistol, and comprehending the condition of affairs at once she immediately arose, and crossing one or two apartments, passed to the foot of the stairs in the front entry. Here, being afraid to go up stairs, she called loudly two or three times to the doctor, but from him she received no response, for at that time he was probably still in death. Mrs. Marston, however, appeared at the head of the stairs without a light, and in a firm, calm tone, which seemed to indicate method in her madness, ordered Miss May to go to her room and remain quiet under the penalty of having her brains blown out.

The frightened girl could but obey, and after hastily throwing on her clothing she went out in quest of help. She first met a Mrs. Hartshorn, who resided in the other port of the house, and who had also heard the noise, and they together went after some of the neighbours. Before they left the house two additional shots were heard, and ere they returned two others, accompanied with groans. Having procured the assistance of two or three men, they returned to the house. The party went upstairs and first visited Dr. Marston’s chamber. Here a ghastly spectacle presented itself. On the bed lay the doctor upon his back; and resting upon one arm, which was partially around her neck, while her head reclined upon his shoulder, lay the body of Mrs. Marston. Both were quiet, motionless, dead and the revolver was found in the bed.

The Marston bedchamber.

The room of Cora, the daughter, was next visited. This apartment was little distant from the last-mentioned room, in the back part of the house, and was approached through a long corridor or entry way. Here another heartrending sight presented itself to the gaze of the observers. Cora lay upon the floor near her bed, her face turned downwards, her clothing saturated with blood, and her face discolored with it. A very strong odour of chloroform pervaded the house, and a three-ounce bottle, nearly empty, was found. It was clear bat the murderess had used it to stupefy her victims before finally taking their lives. The doctor had received one shot through the lungs, Mrs. Marston one through the chest and one through the heart, and the little girl one in the hack and one in the head. Which of the two was first shot is uncertain, hut it is believed that when Mrs. Marston got up —which she did, although we have not hitherto mentioned it—-on the night in Question, saying she was going in to sleep with Cora, that she then applied the chloroform to the latter; then returned and administered it to her husband; next shot him, then killed Cora; and lastly after returning to her husband’s bed, shot herself.

Images: “The Dedham Tragedy,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, September 25, 1865.

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close