“Officers and others familiar with the circumstances [think it] one of the most brutal and fiendish crimes in the history of this section of the state.”
At Pleasant Walk United Methodist Church (formerly Mount Olive United Brethren), two miles from Myersville, Maryland, visitors may find the grave of Emma Betts, who arrived with the spring of 1900 and departed with summer, lacking even a single milk tooth. They may also see the grave of Henry Dusing, a 70-year-old champion violinist who, in 1954, on a dark night, fatally encountered an automobile atop South Mountain. There is also Tiny Dagenhart. In 1913, the five-year-old girl was shot dead in the family’s kitchen by her brother when he dropped his hunting rifle. There are two more vestigial residents of interest for whom no grave markers call out: Jane Bowers and Thomas McPherson. During one week in the winter of 1908, however, papers both local and far bellowed their names and described in orgastic detail Jane’s bloody, gore-soaked, and horrifying murder at the hands of her elder brother.
“Mother, mother, where’s your daughter?/ Oh, my laws, she’s gone for water/ Three times daily I must yell her to and from the well….”
In December 1951, Rev. Horace Ehrman Zimmerman wrote of his childhood in Frederick County, Maryland, for the Middletown Valley Register, which printed the story on the 28th of that month. “Of all the memories of [my] boyhood days in Myersville, none are more vivid to the writer than the old Enoch Poffinberger home well, across the street from the Lutheran Church. While not called a ‘village well,’ it virtually amounted to that for that part of the village in which our home was located. There were several other neighboring wells nearby, but none gave forth the clear, cold water that this well produced,” Zimmerman noted.
In small Maryland towns, the public well was not just a source of clean, drinkable water, but was also a social anchor point. “From its platform political speeches were often made; the village wiseacres … whittled and discussed the country’s problems; women gathered about it to gossip … [and] auctioneers cried public sales,” Zimmerman wrote of the common scenes of his childhood during the decade after the Civil War.
“State’s Attorney Worthington is investigating the death of Mrs. Sarah E. Weddle, widow, who died near Myersville April 14th. Certain discoveries have aroused the suspicion of the authorities.”
Dayton (Ohio) Herald, 25 February, 1903: “Mrs. Amy Snyder, 52, the wife of Aaron Snyder, an expressman, of 223 South Montgomery Street, was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Sergeant Fair and assistants, on suspicion of having performed a criminal operation on Miss May Smith, 19, of Xenia, which resulted in her death.”
Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, 26 March, 1903: “Miss Stella H. Stork, a pretty young woman whose home was at Huntingburg, Ind. … died at the private hospital of Dr. Sarah Murphy, 1018 West Chesnut Street, Tuesday afternoon. While peritonitis was the direct cause of death, this was brought on by a criminal operation….. George Lemp, a Southern Railway conductor, who came to Louisville with the girl last week, was arrested … but denied he had any knowledge of the girl’s condition.”
Scranton (Pennsylvania) Tribune, 27 March, 1903: “The sudden death of Mrs. Martha E. Rosengrant, widow of the late William Rosengrant, was the occasion of an inquest by Coroner Tibbins…. Mrs. Rosengrant was found dead in her bed at her home on Foundry Street on Wednesday morning…. The verdict of the jury was that Martha Rosengrant came to her death from a criminal operation performed upon her by someone to the jury unknown.”
Frederick (Maryland) News, 30 April, 1903: “The people of Myersville and vicinity are excited by the discovery of what appears to be evidence that the death of Mrs. Sarah E. Weddle, which occurred April 14, was due to a criminal operation. Mrs. Weddle was sick for about two weeks before her death.”
When she died during the quickening Spring of 1903, widow Sarah Weddle left five young children as orphans. The lingering evidence shows she was one of the uncounted thousands of Victorian and Edwardian women who, when they fell pregnant, turned to “female pills”—herbal abortifacients advertised openly albeit with coded language—or to “criminal operations,” as illegal abortions were termed in the press.
Abigail Irena Hanks was born on 10 November, 1816, in Mansfield, Tolland County, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Rodney Hanks (1782–1846), a Mansfield, Connecticut, manufacturer of silk machinery, woolen goods, cannon swabs, and other machinery, and Olive Freeman (1783–1816). The extended Hanks clan were large-scale makers of silk, a business that had begun with the family importing English mulberry trees to Connecticut for the nurture of silkworms.
The Hanks family was also associated with the Meneely (Watervliet) foundry, which closed the mid-20th Century after more than a hundred years providing bells for various carillons and chimes throughout the Western hemisphere. The bell foundry was established 1826 in Gibbonsville, New York, on the west bank of the Hudson River, a few miles north of Albany, by Andrew Meneely, a former apprentice in the foundry of Benjamin Hanks (1755-1824), Abigail’s uncle, who is generally credited with being the first bronze cannon and church bell maker in the United States. Hanks is believed to have worked at a foundry connected with patriot Paul Revere and was a drummer during the Revolutionary War.
Joshua Goodale, master mariner, merchant, and agent for Salem Iron Company, was born on 1 November, 1775, in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, and died 3 March, 1850, in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
He was the son of Joshua Goodale (1753-1795), a blacksmith, and Mary Henfield (1752-1821). His siblings were: Lydia (b, abt. 1782), who married Solomon Towne; she married, secondly, Hale Late of Newbury; Poll (b. abt. 1784); Thankful (b. abt. 1787), who married Nathan Green on July 15, 1813; Hannah (b. abt. 1790); and Nathan (b. abt. 1793).
Goodale was already an old name in Salem by the time of Joshua’s birth. Robert Goodale with his wife Katherine Killam and three children came from England on the ship Elizabeth in 1634. After immigrating to Massachusetts, the couple had six more children.
“Mr. Goodale was a man of spotless character, very temperate, and even abstemious in his habits. His form was erect, and his gait elastic to the last, while he retained the manners of a gentleman of the old school. He was inclined to reprove the errors of others, but always without harshness, and in a way peculiar to himself. At the time of his death, Mr. Goodale was the oldest member of the Park Street Church, Boston.”
On 22 October, 1804, in Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts, Goodale married Rebecca Page, the daughter of Captain Samuel Page (1753–1814) and Rebecca Putnam (1755–1838) of Danvers, the small village next to Salem. One of Rebecca’s relations was Ann Putnam, a chief accuser during the witch hysteria of 1692-1693.
The couple had a number of children: Joshua Safford (b. 6 May 1808); Samuel Page (b. and d. 1810); Rebekah Putnam (b. 1811); Mary Henfield (b. 6 March1814); Samuel Page (b. 9 August 1818), and Eliza Ann (b. 1819), of whom the Pickering Genealogy notes, “[Goodale’s] portrait, which was painted while he was in New Orleans, is now in the possession of his daughter, Miss Eliza A. Goodale, of Highland Avenue, Newtonville, Mass.”
Of his wife, the Pickering Genealogy states, “Mrs. Goodale’s father was a Revolutionary patriot. He enlisted at the breaking of the Revolution, and took part in the battles of Lexington and of Monmouth and was with Washington at the crossing of the Delaware and at Valley Forge. He also served in the campaign of 1779 and was present with company at the storming of Stony Point. After the war, he became a successful merchant, filled many public offices, and was distinguished for his integrity and moral worth. Ω
“She sleeps in peace, dear sister sleeps—
Art thou forever gone?
No, we will see thee soon again,
Where parting is unknown”— In Memory of Mary Frey by Her Sister CMB
This angelic child, pictured at the start of what should have been a long life, was Edyth Embery, born 5 March, 1909, in Frankford, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Dr. Francis Patrick Embery (1867-1939), a Philadelphia otorhinolaryngologist, and his wife Miriam Fairbairn Wilson (1875-1948), whom he wed in early 1899. (The 12 February Philadelphia Inquirer described Miriam as wearing “heavy corded white silk, trimmed with chiffon and lace and carried bride roses. The flower girl, maid of honor, and bridesmaids wore white organdie and carried white carnations.”)
Francis Embery, known as Frank, was born at Foxchase, Philadelphia County, to William Henry Embery (1840-1914). Frank’s father was, by 1872, head of the Assay Laboratory of the United States Mint. Previously, he’d served as a sergeant in Co. A, 1st New Jersey Cavalry, during the Civil War. Frank’s mother was Annie Elizabeth Manning (1841-1921), who was of Irish descent.