Friday, May 25, 2018

Things That Drive Me Crazy

I am quite sure that I wrote about some colonial mass murders that I uncovered by accident involving hatchets where the killer murdered his family and self because of impending bankruptcy, but I cannot find it anywhere in my files.  One involved a guy who was staked at the crossroads, not buried, because of his suicide.

I must have just read about in Laurel Ulrich Thatcher's A Midwife's Tale.


  1. There's a massacre of a family committed with a swingle(a flax-beating tool like an unsharpened machete) in 1780. Three people beaten to death, and two died in the fire.

    In 1780, America's First Mass Murder Was A Crime Of "Uncommon Horror"

    A brief narrative of the life and confession of Barnett Davenport. Under sentence of death, for a series of the most horrid murders, ever perpetated in this country, or perhaps any other, on the evening following the 3d of February, 1780. Is to be executed at Litchfield, on the 8th of May.
    Davenport, Barnett, 1760-1780.;view=fulltext

  2. The ax murders were done by a Captain Purrinton, and there several entries in the "Midwife's Diary". He was buried on the highway, separately from the family he killed. There's no clear motive--it MIGHT have been financial troubles, but no one knows.

    "Much additional information concerning the tragedy is contained in North’s History of Augusta, Among other things it states that the selectmen on the day of the tragedy placed the remains of the victims in the meeting house, leaving the remains of the father in the porch, with the ax and razor on the coffin. The next day “a vast concourse of people” gathered for the funeral, so great the throng “that the street and adjoining houses were filled and many were on the house tops.” Rev. Joshua Taylor, a Methodist minister, preached the funeral sermon. The remains of the mother and six children were taken across the bridge and returned, then going by way of Bridge and State streets to the Burnt Hill burying ground, in the northeast corner of which the remains were interred.

    The remains of the father were taken without ceremony, with the ax and razor, and buried together in the highway, near the southwest corner of the burying ground, at the corner of Winthrop and High streets. The procession then returned to the meeting house and the multitude was dismissed, after prayer by Rev. Eliphaet Gillet."

  3. I am wondering, you working on a new book Clayton?

  4. Tentative title: Mass Murder: Who, What, When, Where. Funded by NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.

  5. Post-Colonial, serial (not mass) murder: The Man From The Train by Bill James. The sabremetrican.