Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America


There are at least 100 known Female Serial Killers* of 19th century America.


1816 – Rachel Clark – Carlisle, Pennsylvania
1829 – Martha “Patty” Cannon – Maryland/Delaware state line
1831 – “Deerfield Slave Female Serial Killer” – Caroline, Virginia
1840 – Kinney, Hannah Hanson – Boston & Lowell, Massachusetts
1845 – Mrs. Elizabeth Reed – Lawrenceville, Illinois
1847 – Mary Runkle – Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York
1849 – Letitia Page – New Boston, New Hampshire
1851 – Nancy Farrer – Cincinnati, Ohio
1852 – Nancy Hufford  – Cumberland, Md., Somerset, Pa.
1853 – Charlotte (slave of Lafargue) – Avoyelles, Louisiana
1854 – Pamela Myers (alias Snyder) – Nicetown, Philadelphia, Pa.
1855 – Clarissa – Yorkville, South Carolina
1857 – Polly Frisch (Hoag) – Alabama, Genessee County, New York
1857 – Elizabeth Routt – Hazel Green, Tennessee
1858 – Lydia Studley – Valley Falls, Rhode Island
1858 – Phebe Westlake (nee Irwin) – Chester, New York
1860 – Mary Jane “Bricktop” Jackson – New Orleans, Louisiana
1860 – Elizabeth P. McCraney – Lancaster, Wisconsin; Medford, Otsego, N. Y.
1865 – Martha Grinder – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1867 – Margaret Grant – Westfield, Staten Island, New York
1868 – Mary Bowsher – Upper Sandusky, Ohio
1869 – “Gardiner, Maine Black Widow Serial Killer” – Gardiner, Maine
1869 – Mrs. Wahle – Jacksonville, Illinois
1869 – Mrs. White – Lafayette Township, Sussex County, New Jersey
1870 – Virginia Doyle – Detroit Michigan
1871 – Catherine Batchelor – Lockport, Indiana
1871 – Mary Brister – Pennington, New Jersey
1871 – Julia Calahan – East Cambridge, Massachusetts
1871 – Lydia Sherman – New Brunswick, New Jersey; New Haven & Danby, Ct.
1871 – Elizabeth Wharton – Baltimore, Maryland
1872 – Charlotte Lamb – Trimbelle, Wisconsin
1872 – Emily Lloyd – Leesburg, Virginia
1872 – Martha Whetstone – St. Louis, Missouri
1873 Kate & Katie Bender (“Bloody Benders”) – Cherry Vale, Kansas
1873 – Sarah Earhardt  – Germantown, Ohio
1873 Mrs. York – Moweaqua, Illinois (discredited)
1874 – “Winchester Female Serial Killer” – Winchester, Kentucky
1875 – Julia Fortemeyer – St. Louis, Missouri
1875 – Mary Reignolds – Holliston, Massachusetts (child care provider)
1875 – Minnie Taylor – Humboldt, Tennessee
1875 – Wilhelmina Weick – Buffalo, New York
1876 – Margaret McClosky – New York, New York (child care provider)
1877 – Agnes Parr – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (child care provider)
1877 – Rozilla Worcester – New York, New York (child care provider)
1878 – Mrs. David Drake – Westfield, Massachusetts
1878 – Sallie Hardman (Gibbs) – Enon, Ohio
1878 – Jennie Post – Spring Valley, New Jersey
1879 – Alice Danbrough – Lebanon, Illinois
1879 – Frances Shrouder – Chittenango, New York
1881 – Nellie Webb (Nancy French) – Lancaster, New Hampshire
1882 – Sally Story – Little Falls, New Jersey
1882 – Phyllis Wright – Savanna, Georgia
1883 – Mary Ganole (aka Milly Walker) – Flemingsburg, Kentucky
1883 – Annie Piard – Philadephia, Pennsylvania
1883 – Emma Stillwell – Waterford, Ohio
1884 – Angenette B. S. Haight – Morrisville, New York
1884 – Nettie Hoxan – Whitewater, Wisconsin
1884 – Miss S. S. Nivison – Hammonton, New Jersey (child care provider)
1884 – Mary Josephine Ward – New York, New York (child care provider)
1885 – Mary Kleman – Dubuque, Iowa
1886 – Sarah J. Dockery – Fulton, Kentucky
1886 – Mary Hart – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1886 – Harriet Nason – Rutland, Vermont
1886 – Sarah Jane Robinson – Somerville, Massachusetts
1886 – Eliza Wood – Jackson, Tennessee
1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas
1887 – Cynthia McDonald – Rochester, New York (child care provider)
1887 – Annie Snoots – Adamsville, Ohio
1888 – Mrs. Johnston – Villea, Iowa
1888 – Sarah Whiteling – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1889 – Lizzie Brennan – Holyoke, Massachusetts
1889 – Mary Glynn – Pittston, Pennsylvania
1889 – Jennie Seiffert – St. Louis, Missouri (child care provider)
1889 – Annie Zachoegner – Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
1890 – Charles & Catherine Claus – Long Island, New York (child care provider)
1890 – Julia Higbee – Meade County, Kentucky
1891 – Evelyn Abbott – Roxbury, Massachusetts (child care provider)
1891 – Mrs. Thomas Austin – Louisville, Kentucky
1891 – Mrs. John Dorsey – Indianapolis, Indiana
1891 – Mrs. Caroline D. Sorgenfrie – Rome, N.Y.
1892 – Mary Ann Armagost – David City, Nebraska
1892 – Annie Hanson – Chicago, Illinois (child care provider)
1893 – Lizzie Halliday – Burlingham, New York
1892 – Ella Holdridge – Tonawanda, New York – age 14 at time of apprehension
1893 – Mrs. D. H. Meyer – Illinois, Indiana, New York & Ohio
1893 – Belinda Laphame – San Francisco, Ca.
1893 – Annie Wagner – Indianapolis, Indiana
1893 – Mattie C. Shann – Princeton, New Jersey
1894 – Mrs. Julian Butler – Hamburg, Michigan
1894 – Mary Cowan – Dixmont, Maine
1894 – Katharine & Elizabeth Nolan – Waterford, New York
1895 – Charlotte Howell (Dutton) – Tioga, Pennsylvania
1896 – Alice Platt – Kansas City, Missouri, USA
1896 – Celia Rose – Newville, Pleasant Valley, Ohio, USA (3 deaths, 2 events)
1897 – Jennie Layton & Mary Sammon – Camden, New Jersey
1897 – Nancy Staffleback – Galena, Kansas
1898 – Jane Morris – New York, New York
1899 – Henrietta Bamberger – St. Louis, Missouri
1899 – Lulu Johnson – Enid, Oklahoma Territory

*including cases of likely guilty suspects.

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Normally, I do not list cases in which there are not 3 or more separate murders (or attempts). There are, however, some exceptions: youthful killers and Black Widows with 2 victims. Here are examples of these:

1846 – Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh – Fulton, New York (2 husbands murdered)
1868 – Nancy Lyman – Jordanville, Herkeimer Cty., New York (2 husbands murdered)
1874 – Mrs. Pleasant – Fort Laramie, Wyoming (2 husbands murdered)
1878 – Mrs. Walroth – Big Springs, Nebraska (husband; paramour)
1881 – “Bronco Lou” (Mrs. Yankers) – Southern Colorado (2 husbands murdered)
1888 – Martha Johnson – Stafford, Connecticut (2 husbands murdered)
1892 – Kate Painter – Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (2 husbands murdered)
1895 – Mary E. Hughson – Muskogee, Michigan (2 husbands murdered)
1896 – Fanny Scovell ("Scofield") – Oswego, New York (aged 13; 2 murders)
1898 – Mrs. Camfield – Cataldo, Idaho (2 husbands murdered)
1899 – Henrietta Bamberger – St. Louis, Missouri, USA
1899 – Bertha Lankford – Houston, Texas (2 husbands murdered)

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4 DISCREDITED LEGENDS (19th c): Rebecca Cotton, South Carolina, 1790s (actual person, murders are a legend); Lavinia Fisher, 1793-1820, Charleston, SC (actual criminal who was executed, but serial killings committed by her seem to be a legend); Delphine Marie LaLaurie (actual person, but serial murders are undocumented), Louisiana; Sally Skull, 1860s, Texas (unverified legend that she was a serial killer)

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Peter Vronsky's list, published in 2007, containing 140 female serial killer cases, lists only five 19th century US cases: Bender, Cannon, Jackson, Robinson and Sherman. I have not included Rachel Wall, the piratess executed in Massachusetts in 1789, on my list, as it is uncertain what her role might have been in the 24 murders attributed to the crew with which she was associated.

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PORTRAITS & ILLUSTRATIONS of Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America

1829 – Martha “Patty” Cannon – Maryland/Delaware state line 
1840 – Kinney, Hannah Hanson – Boston & Lowell, Massachusetts
1847 – Mary Runkle – Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York
1851 – Nancy Farrer – Cincinnati, Ohio
1865 – Martha Grinder – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1871 – Lydia Sherman – New Brunswick, New Jersey; New Haven & Danby, Ct.
1871 – Elizabeth Wharton – Baltimore, Maryland 
1873 Kate & Katie Bender (“Bloody Benders”) – Cherry Vale, Kansas
1886 – Sarah Jane Robinson – Somerville, Massachusetts
1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas
1888 – Sarah Whiteling  – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1890 – Julia Higbee – Meade County, Kentucky
1891 – Mrs. John Dorsey – Indianapolis, Indiana
1893 – Lizzie Halliday – Burlingham, New York
1893 – Mrs. D. H. Meyer – Illinois, Indiana, New York & Ohio
1893 – Belinda Laphame – San Francisco, Ca.
1893 – Mattie C. Shann – Princeton, New Jersey
1895 – Charlotte Howell – Tioga, Pennsylvania
1896 – Celia Rose – Newville, Pleasant Valley, Ohio, USA (3 deaths, 2 events)
1897 – Nancy Staffleback – Galena, Kansas
1899 – Lulu Johnson – Enid, Oklahoma Territory

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The following article from 1873 demonstrates that the current widely-held belief that serial killers of the female sex are an anomaly was not held back then. Nor was that belief held in the 1920s either (“Three Women Who Admit Poisoning 29 Persons,” May 1, 1925). The myth of female killers’ being rare, in comparison with males, and related myths (that serial killers are primarily Caucasians or that they are rare outside North America) are of fairly recent origin (1980s).

FULL TEXT: Another female poisoner has been brought to justice. Recently, at Germantown, Ohio, public attention was attracted to the simultaneous poisoning by arsenic of three members of a family named Hanna, while visiting the house of a kinswoman, one Sarah Earhardt. Fortunately the amount administered to each of the intended victims proved insufficient to cause death. Upon investigation evidence was produced, if correct, proving the woman Earlhardt to be as great a monster as either Lydia Sherman, Jane Ann Cotton or Mrs. Grinder. She is now in custody on a charge of having attempted to take the lives of the three Hannas, and it is to be the intention of the State prosecuting counsel to introduce testimony at the trial to show that she has poisoned her husband, her son’s wife, her son-in-law’s child, and her husband’s first wife, all within a few years. Minor crimes, such its the poisoning of juvenile animals and the burning of numerous houses, are also said to be among the number of her achievements. By the death of the Hannas she would have come into possession of a considerable amount of property. The most extraordinary circumstance in connection with this case is that the woman is upward of seventy years of age.

[“Another Female Poisoner.” The Bloomfield Times (New Bloomfield, Pa.),  Jun. 10, 1873, p. 4]


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MYTHS & MISTAKEN NUMBERS

A commonly cited statistic is that 16% of known serial murderers in the United States from 1800 and 1995 are female The total number of female serial killers known to the criminologist who proposed this ratio was 62 (Hickey, 2002; 213). As you can see, the count (on this website) at present of known female serial killer cases before 1900 is currently 65, the vast majority of which are unknown to even specialized scholars.

It is also been claimed by criminologists that three-quarters of female serial killers in the US made their appearance since 1950, and that a full half only since 1975. (Hickey, 2002; 215). Thus it is often stated that the phenomenon is increasing at an extraordinary rate. Yet, the fact is that today’s criminologists are relying upon the scanty, incomplete research done by earlier generations of crime historians – without taking into account the fact that the subject female serial killers of the past (before the 1970s) have never been systematically and thoroughly researched by scholars.

A great many false assumptions about incidence of such cases and about larger questions of female psychopathology and criminality are challenged by the new research on female serial killers that is presented on this website.

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Regarding Wikipedia and the “rarity” claim:

The Wikipedia page titled “Serial killer” (accessed Jan. 20, 2014) states: “Female serial killers are rare compared to their male counterparts.”

The Wikipedia list page titled “Category: Female Serial Killers” (accessed Jan. 20, 2014) contains links to a total of only 54 cases.

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2013/06/female-serial-killers-collections.html

SEE MORE: Female Serial Killer Collections

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3 comments:

  1. For the sake if all those that feel safe around there female associates. ...... this needs amendments. And Wikipedia dose appreciate updating.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Regarding: “It is widely acknowledged that Jane Toppan was the first recognized serial killer in the United States.” I have never heard this. Over 80 US cases of female serial killer cases predating Toppan are to be found in US newspapers.
    http://www.jamesbcaskey.com/2014/10/lavinia-fisher-charleston/

    Patty Cotton (1829) and Lydia Sherman (1871) are the most famous, plus Martha Grinder (1865) and Sarah Whiteling (1888) are both notable cases since each was executed for her crimes. Lizzie Halliday (1893) was the most colorful case for this serial killers wild viciousness.

    [See on google: “Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America” anmd “Index: Female Serial Killers”]

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  3. Wow! You have put a lot of effort into this blog. Well done. Just last night, I lost 3 hours of "work time" which I1'm sure I will get into trouble about. Very interesting, thank you for creating this.

    ReplyDelete