No. 653
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 27, 2024

A Minister’s Scrape.

July 21, 2014
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The archives of the Humble Oil & Refining Company are about the last place where you’d expect to run across a first-rate poltergeist account, but it just goes to show that we live in a funny old world.  In 1948, a folklorist and historian was browsing through the company’s papers when he came across a letter that had absolutely nothing to do with oil.  It read:Jan [illegible] '
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Strange Company - 5/27/2024
Included in yesterday’s trip to Fall River was a stop at Miss Lizzie’s Coffee shop and a visit to the cellar to see the scene of the tragic demise of the second Mrs. Lawdwick Borden and two of the three little children in 1848. I have been writing about this sad tale since 2010 and had made a previous trip to the cellar some years ago but was unable to get to the spot where the incident occured to get a clear photograph.  The tale of Eliza Borden is a very sad, but not uncommon story of post partum depression with a heartrending end. You feel this as you stand in the dark space behind the chimney where Eliza ended her life with a straight razor after dropping 6 month old Holder and his 3 year old sister Eliza Ann into the cellar cistern. Over the years I have found other similar cases, often involving wells and cisterns, and drownings of children followed by suicides of the mothers. These photos show the chimney, cistern pipe, back wall, dirt and brick floor, original floorboards forming the cellar ceiling and what appears to be an original door. To be in the place where this happened is a sobering experience. My thanks to Joe Pereira for allowing us to see and record the place where this sad occurrence unfolded in 1848. R.I.P. Holder, Eliza and Eliza Ann Borden. Visit our Articles section above for more on this story. The coffee shop has won its suit to retain its name and has plans to expand into the shop next door and extend its menu in the near future.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 2/12/2024
When these photos from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York were taken at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery at the end of May in 1899, Memorial Day didn’t exist. “Decoration Day,” however, was an established holiday celebrated every May 30. The idea was to visit the final resting places of thousands of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/27/2024
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
John Wesley Elkins.11-year-old John Wesley Elkins was slight of stature—four feet eight inches tall, weighing 73 pounds. He was intelligent and well-spoken, and he had never caused trouble until the day he murdered his parents. At 2:00 am, on July 24, 1889, while his parents were sleeping in their Iowa farmhouse, he shot his father in the head and then beat his mother to death with a club.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/25/2024
CHIEF OF CONSThe Morning Times(Cripple Creek, Colorado)February 15, 1896Courtesy of Mitch Morrissey ig Ed Burns robs a dying man?      Mitch Morrissey, a Facebook friend and historian for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, found and published an interesting newspaper piece on "Big Ed" Burns, one of the most notorious characters in the West. Burns was a confidence man and
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/2/2024
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately … Continue reading
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Beautiful Forever. | Tennis.

A Minister’s Scrape.

A Minister's Scrape

A parson while instructing a pretty parishioner how to sing psalms forgets his duty and indulges in other exercises; Branchville, N. J. [more]

Placed Under Bonds to Answer a Charge Made by an Indignant Husband—Kissing and Squeezing Alleged.

The usually quiet village of Branchville, Sussex county, N. J., was startled from its propriety as by a galvanic battery, on Thursday last, when Rev. Thos. D Frazee, pastor of the Methodist Church of that place, was arrested by Constable Dillotson on a charge of attempting too much and violent familiarity with Mrs. Albert Halstead, a pretty young member of his church. Branchville has only six hundred inhabitants, and since the arrest they have been busy with the pastor’s name and fame in a manner that does not add greatly to his ministerial credit.

The principal of these stories has been sworn to by Mr. Albert Halstead, the husband of the lady who makes the charge against Mr. Frazee, and is in a fair way to come before the courts at an early day. The story that Mr. Halstead tells is as follows:

About a week ago Mr. Frazee came to my house for the avowed purpose of teaching my wife, who is a member of his church, how to sing some Hymns that he wished to have sung in church. Upon his very first visit he attempted to kiss her. She objected, and he told her it was no harm for her to allow such familiarity to her pastor. He then produce a hymn book and stinging behind my wife held the book in front of her face, his arm under hers, he looing in the book over her shoulder. This was bad enough but he kept time in an improper manner.
My wife did not notice this at first because she thought he did it innocently; but after a while it he became more emphatic in his time-beating motions, and my wife, disengaging herself from his embrace, asked him what he meant by such conduct. He feigned surprise at her thinking he intended anything improper, and left. On Monday of this week, he came to my house again, and my wife’s little sister being in the room, almost the first thing he did was to send her out for some peaches.

No sooner had she left the house than he made improper proposals to my wife, and on her resenting the insults, he attempted to force her to yield to his unholy desires; but in this, thank God, was not successful, and alarmed at my wife’s screams, he hastily fled from the house.
On the following day he returned and asked my wife to shake hands and make it up, but she refused and ordered him from the house. I was not at home at the time, but as soon as I heard of Mr. Frazee’s conduct I called on him in relations to the matter. He did not deny the charges I made against him, but told me I had better let the matter drop, as I was a poor man and people would not believe me. I told him that if I was poor I was honest, and that I intended to show him whether people would believe me, and I have cause his arrest as the readiest way of determining the matter.

Mrs. Halstead is about twenty years old and bears an excellent reputation in the village and wherever she is known.

Rev. Mr. Frazee is about thirty-five, has an amiable wife and one child. In addition to being pastor of the Branchville Methodist Church, of which he has been in charge for about eighteen months, Mr. Frazee is one of the editors of a Newark religious paper.

Mr. Frazee was placed under bonds to answer the charge preferred by Mr. Halstead, and the matter will be investigated.

 


Reprinted from "A Minister's Scrape." The National Police Gazette 9 Oct 1880.