Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beatrice Farmer, 13-Year-Old Would-Be Murderess – 1901, Australia

FULL TEXT: Beatrice Farmer, 13 years of age, was called upon at the Melbourne General Sessions on Tuesday to answer a charge of an unusual nature. The charge was that she did cause Henry Stanton Babbage to take cortain poison, with intent to injure and annoy the said Henry Stanton Babbage.

Accused who was on bail, entered the dock with her face buried in a handkerchief and weeping bitterly. When asked to plead she made no audible reply. A warder spoke to her, and informed Judge Chomley that she pleaded guilty.

Evidence was given on the girl’s behalf by two witnesses, who stated that she was quick tempered and self-willed.

Judge Chomley ordered that the girl be sent to the Reformatory Schools.

The depositions ot the evidence taken in the police court show that tho girl was in the employ of Mrs. Tuckwell, at Surrey Hills. The son of Mrs Tuckwell by a former marriage. On June 19 Mrs. Tuckwell told the girl to prepare some bread and milk for her son’s breakfast. When the milk was placed on the table peculiar smell was noticeable, and Mr. and Mrs. Tuckwell did not take any of it. The boy Babbage, however, had some of the bread and milk, and after eating a mouthful of it he remarked, “I can’t eat this, as it has a nasty taste, and burns my tongue.” Mrs. Tuckwell gave the accused a cup of tea with some of the milk in it, and then left the room. When she returned she noticed that accused had thrown the tea into a slop-basin. Subsequently she admitted that she put three-quarters of a teaspoonful of carbolic acid in the milk. Mr. C. R. Blackett analysed some of the milk, and found carbolic acid in it.

[“Remarkable Poisoning. - A Young Borgia Or Brinvilliers.” The Bendigo Independent (Victoria, Australia), Jul. 5, 1901, p. 4]


The Weeks Girl, 17-Year-Old Murderess – 1889, Georgia

FULL TEXT: Columbus, Ga., Jan. 21. – A special to the Enquirer-Sun from Mechanicsville, Ala., says: A seventeen year old daughter of Joe Weeks, colored, forced four of her younger sisters to eat rough on rats. Two of them have died, and the girl admits her crime.

[“Poisoned by Their Sisters.” [sic], The Wilmington Messenger (N. C.), Feb. 22, 1889, p. 1]


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Celia Rose, 24-Year-Old Triple Murderess - Ohio, 1896

CHRONOLOGY: Newville, Ohio.

Jun. 24, 1896 – First poisoning by Celia; victims: father, mother, brother; arsenic laced schmierkaese (“smear case;” cream cheese).
Jun. 30, 1896 – David Rose, father, 69, dies.
Jul. 5, 1896 (circa) – Walter Rose, 31, brother, dies.
Jul. 19, 1896 – Second poisoning of mother; arsenic in bread and milk.
Jul. 20, 1896 – Mrs. Rebecca Rose, mother, dies. (5am Sunday).
Jul. 30, 1896 (around) – Celia confesses to Tracey Davis, adding false accusation about Guy Berry as deliberate instigator of the murders.
Aug. 1 – Celia retracts the false accusation about Guy.
Aug. 12, 1896 – Celia Rose (“Ceely”), 24, arrested; warrant issued by Squire Smith’s court.
Oct. 13, 1896 – trial begins.
Oct. 20, 1896 – verdict: “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Sentenced to Toledo asylum, later transferred to state hospital, Lima, Ohio.
Mar. 14, 1934 – Celia Rose dies at state hospital, Lima, Ohio.



FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Aug. 14. – Miss Celia Rose, a young woman 24 years old, is in jail here charged with killing her father, mother and brother with poison. Daniel Rose was a farmer and lived near Newville, O. He and his wife and son died recently within a few days of each other [Jun. 24; Jul. 5; Jul. 6]. It was evident that they had been poisoned. The daughter Celia was suspected and closely watched.

A young woman gained the confidence of the girl and it is claimed Celia made a confession to her. Miss Rose was in love with Guy Berry, a neighbor. He did not like her and considered her attentions a nuisance. He complained to his father and Mr. Berry complained to Mr. Rose. The girl’s parents took her severely to task and the poisoning was the result.

[“Jailed On A Fearful Charge. – A Woman Accused of Poisoning Her Family Near Mansfield.” The Salem Daily News (In.), Aug. 14, 1896, p. 1]



FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Aug. 15 – In the little churchyard of the Pleasant Valley Congregational Church, near Mansfield, O., there are three new-made graves, which contain all that earth could claim from David Rose and his wife and bachelor son. Celia Rose is in a cell in the County jail at Mansfield Walter. Rutland charged with poisoning them – all the relatives she had in the world. She spends her time sewing, embroidering and reading the Bible, a “Story of the Bible,” and the “International Sunday-School Lesson Leaf.” She talks freely of the death of her father, mother and brother, and is well aware of the charge against her. She shows no emotion whatever and greets visitors with a cheerful smile, and laughs half archly, half coquettishly at times when she is questioned about her relations to Guy Berry, the 17-year-old neighbor for love of whom she is said to have confessed to a schoolgirl friend that she caused the death of her parents and brother.

Celia Rose has no symptoms of insanity, and while not considered bright or wholly balanced mentally, is far from being an imbecile. Nordau would class her as a degenerate. She does not appear to know the difference between right and wrong. Her moral sense, if she has any at all, is defective. Yet this woman attained the age of 24 years without doing a criminal act so far as is known.

~ Seventeen Peaceful Years. ~

David Rose was a pensioner nearly 70 years old. He lived in the neighborhood known as Pleasant Valley during the last seventeen years. He had a snug property when he first came to the vicinity of Mansfield from the central part of the state. He bought a home of nine acres and built a pretty cottage and a substantial flour and grist mill. The family prospered until half a dozen years ago, when so many mill races began to choke up with weeds and mud owing to the destructive competition of the new English syndicate roller process mills. Since then the mill has been used only to chop feed and make cracked wheat and hominy for the neighbors. Rose worked during harvest time and at other busy seasons for various farmers, and cultivated his few acres of garden and corn land.

Walter, a son, 31 years old, was unmarried and he lived at home. He made a thrifty living as a huckster. He was below the average mentally, but was a good business man.

Mrs. Rose kept house, assisted by Celia, when the latter’s humor prompted, and wove to help keep the family from want.

The family was respectable and respected, differing little from hundreds of others in a country of prosperous, thrifty farmers. David Rose was known as a man of unquestioned probity, who attended strictly to his own business and was quick to resent interference of any kind. He was peace-loving, but no one cared to arouse his enmity. His son inherited these qualities in a heightened degree. He was fiery, of temper, passionate and vindictive, but not dangerous.

~ Coolness Between Neighbors. ~

The nearest neighbors of the Rose family were George Berry’s family, consisting of himself, his wife, two sons, a daughter, and aged father. Three was little friendship between these neighbors. The Berrys are prosperous, open-hearted people, with broad acres of well-tilled land, who never quarrel with any one, and who never feared a quarrel with any one except the Roses. The peculiar temperament of the pensioner and his family was long known to Mr. Berry, and, though Rose’s mill is within twenty yards of Berry’s front porch and a conversation can be carried on without difficulty between the two homes, there had been no intercourse between the two families in five or six years – no known intercourse. Walter Rose did not speak to George Berry when they passed on the road, and a barely civil salutation sufficed to preserve the form of social amenities when members of the two families met in public – with one fatal exception.

Celia Rose from her childhood has been a puzzle to the simple, shrewd, practical country folk of this neighborhood. She would never work except when she was so inclined, no matter how busy or tired her mother might be. To children of her own age she displayed an unsocial disposition, building her doll-houses in the woods on the bank of a Tennysonian brook. There she would stay for hours at a time, and no one cared to disturb her.

~ Felt the Imprint of Her Teeth. ~

One who at once felt the imprint of her sharp teeth when attempting to force her to go home or do anything else that happened not to suit her fancy was quite willing to leave her to her own selfish way.

At the district school which she attended irregularly and where she studied just as much as she chose her progress was not marked. However she continued her studies until nearly grown and is as well educated as the most of her neighbors. She acquired a taste for reading and has read and reread many times the few books that composed the family library. Every newspaper that got into her possession was devoured from line to line and stored away for second reading at another time. Her father took one or two weekly newspapers and family papers. Next to reading, her interest centered in fancy work. She was skillful and quick and many beautiful children of her hands were among the family effects sold on Friday at public auction for the purpose of procuring the means for her defense.

Reading was a passion with this strange being and so far as can be ascertained the column about potato bugs was just as interesting to her as the weekly installment of the serial story.

~ Lived a Lonely Life. ~

She seemed to become more unsocial as she grew older and had no friends, few acquaintances but also no enemies. Many days and almost every fair evening, indeed, many nights of storm and rain were spent by her in the woods or perched upon a mossy stone by the roadside, where if possible she could see everybody that passed without herself being seen.

She grew to womanhood slowly and has been regarded as a callow girl until the last year or two. Her figure is stout, plump and well rounded, but lacks grace. She has a well shaped head and regular features, but her intelligence seems to be mechanical or animal like.

Dances rarely profane the religious atmosphere of Pleasant Valley, but social reunions of the young people are not infrequently held. Celia attended few of these “parties” during the last two years, but she never became popular with the young men. She was a perfect specimen of that very common plant, the wallflower. This fact caused her no annoyance and even hostesses ceased to care whether she received attention or not. Celia ceased to accept invitations and was in a fair way to become completely dead to all the world except her immediate neighbors and the members of the Sunday-school class she attended, when, some six months ago it began to be noised about she was in love with Guy Berry, her neighbor, whose downy face had just begun to be seen in social gatherings.

~ Beginnings of Celia’s Romance. ~

One day Guy was plowing in the cornfield Celia approached from the wood lot on a wreath of flowers, and shyly began to talk to him about her lonesome life.

“You surprise me, Guy, the way you grow,” she added, as she seated herself on the top of the low snake fence, and reached out to break off a twig from an overhanging tree.

This is the customary way of addressing little boys in rural neighborhoods. The young man was little flattered. Turning his team he plowed to the other side of the field, expecting the girl would be gone when he returned.

Young Berry seems to have been utterly surprised at the admiration evinced for him by his strange neighbor, and he listened often and long to her rambling conversation and her professions of love for him. Doubtless she did not use the word – she who had never loved her own mother – but the boy understood. He listened and was flattered. Since then hardly a day has passed but he would be sought by Celia, in the meadow, the cornfield, or beside the old mill. They were much in one another’s company, though Guy never seemed to care whether Celia came or not. Celia’s little affair of the heart remained unknown for some time, and it never became a subject of general gossip. The parents of the young people were the last to hear their clandestine meetings.

~ She Names the Date. ~

“We will be married in three years,” said Celia one day at dusk as she leaned over the fence that separated her father’s little home from the Berry farm.

“How do you know that?” asked Guy smiling. “I never told you so.”

The girl was not abashed. It had never occurred to her that it was unwomanly to make a proposition of this kind. It is scarcely probable either that she thought about this being a leap year. The next day when she reopened the conversation Guy seemed different.

“Never mind, the girl said, as she turned away. I have three other fellows, and every one of them tries to kiss me when they go home. Some of these days I may marry one of them and then you will be sorry you didn’t take me.”

“Do you think so?” was the answer. “Just try me.”

Celia was standing by the roadside the next morning when Guy opened the stable to feed the horses. She seemed harassed and anxious.

“O, Guy, she said with tenderness and half pleadingly. I am so sorry I said what I did last night. It wasn’t so what I told you that I would marry some one else. I do not care for any one but you.”

Claude Berry, Guy’s younger brother noticed the intimacy between Guy and Celia, but he thought nothing about the matter for awhile. One day he told his mother about a conversation he had had with Celia.

~ Guy Becomes Tired of Her. ~

“Celia. Guy isn’t going to marry you,” Claude said. “He has got another girl.”

This was unwelcome news to Celia, but she was quick to recover her composure, and to gather together the fragments of her heart.

“Then I will marry you. Claude,” she said.

“I am too young,” the 12-year-old lad replied.

“O, I can wait until you grow up.”

She would marry a 10-year-year boy on the spot if she got a chance,” was Mrs. Berry’s comment. She told her husband of her discovery.

Guy himself seems finally to have grown tired of the attentions of the girl, and he tried to avoid her. At least he told his father this and added that he had borne it as long is he could and that he intended to leave home unless something was done to put a stop to Celia’s visits. The story would probably have had another termination in Kentucky. Berry was afraid of complications, but realized that matters would not be helped by delay. He went to David Rose about a month ago, and told him all he knew.

Rose’s feelings and family pride were deeply wounded. but he parted peaceably from Berry simply promising to speak to her daughter and have her cease “annoying” Guy. The old man, who, though stern by nature had never undertaken to discipline Celia, upbraided her unmercifully for bringing reproach on the family name.

She promised to quit going with Guy if her father would not tell Mrs. Rose.

Whether the old soldier forgot this agreement or how Mrs. Rose learned of the conversation between her husband and George Berry is not known. At any rate she and Walter both added their reproaches to those of the father and life at home became unbearable. She seems to have reached the conclusion that nothing but the family feud stood between her and Guy and prevented him from asking her to marry him at once. Certainly she resented the nagging and constant reproaches of her relatives as a deadly insult. Revenge, riddance of tyrannical relations, and the hope of marriage became her controlling passions. She was heard to say, it is averred that she would marry Guy in spite of her father as he would not live always.

However she did not long remain in open rebellion and her mother. thought she had never been so dutiful and helpful. She ceased to go to the woods and fields and took part in the family life as she had not done in years.

On the morning of June 24 Celia helped her mother spare breakfast making a dish of cottage cheese. David and Walter Rose both ate heartily of this dish Mrs. Rose more sparingly. Celia did not taste it at all. After breakfast she placed all that was left in a plate and set it in a cupboard and later in the day threw it out into the yard.

Shortly after breakfast David Rose became sick and began to vomit. Walter started for a physician at Newville and fell in the road. He was picked up by a neighbor and carried home and several doctors were summoned. All agreed that the symptoms were those of arsenical poisoning. Mrs. Rose also got sick before nightfall but she suffered less than her husband or her son. David Rose was the first to die, succumbing after six days of intolerable agony. Walter followed at the end of five days more.

Mrs. Rose was apparently on the road to recovery, when she grew suddenly worse and died within two weeks of her husband’s demise.

Suspicion fell from the first on Celia, from the fact that she had not sickened too. Mrs. Rose was unaware of the death of the other sufferers until two days afterward. as the doctors were unwilling to allow her to be told while in a critical condition. She, too, suspected Celia, or, at any rate, knew the girl was under suspicion.

“Celia, could you have done such an awful thing?” she asked one day after she was able to sit up in bed. “God help you if you did.”

“Why, Ma,” the young woman answered, “what makes you ask me such a question? If you had not said anything about the rat poison nobody would have suspected me at all.”

“Look me in the face, child,” Mrs. Rose is reported to have said, a woman of the neighborhood being in the next room, “and tell me the truth.”

~ Celia Hung Her Head. ~

Celia is reported to have hung her head and quietly left the room.

The death of the two bread winners of the Rose family, as reported in Mansfield but for some was not thought to be serious Mrs. Rose is said to have grown strangely silent after this conversation with Celia and when questioned about the fatal breakfast said she had no idea how the poison could have found its way into the food as she had prepared it all by herself. It has been understood that Celia helped to get this meal. No, Mrs. Rose insisted that this was a mistake Celia is said to have openly admitted she did assist in its preparation until she knew she was suspected.

After Mrs. Rose’s death Prosecuting Attorney Douglass ordered an inquest by the Coroner Dr. Baughman. Various facts were learned which threw suspicion on Celia. She was put under but was not arrested. Prosecutor Douglass asked Mrs. John Ohler a neighbor of the annihilated family to take charge of Celia so she would have a home while the matter was being investigated.

Coroner Haughman caused a chemical and microscopic analysis of the stomach of David Rose to be made and traces of arsenical poisoning were found. This finding was agreed to by fix or eight reputable physicians of Newville a village two or three miles south of Pleasant Valley, Perrysville and Mansfield.

Prosecutor Douglass took the matter up with the determination of finding out whether Celia was guilty before he began criminal proceedings against her. He has a tarot called Green Gables not far from John Ohler’s house. He and his wife went there and sent for Miss Theresa Davis of Newville the only person that had ever been an intimate of Celia’s. Prosecutor Douglass asked Miss Davis in the interest of justice to ingratiate herself with Celia and worm the truth front her. This, according to the prosecutor and Miss Davis was accomplished.

Miss Davis went to see the orphaned girl at Mrs. Ohlers and expressed sympathy for her. Celia’s complete lack of emotion or pretense of sorrow gave Miss Davis an excuse to begin her work. She frankly told Celia of the suspicions that were current in the neighborhood and begged her to unbosom herself.

“I am your friend and you might as well tell me,” she pleaded.

“I believe you are my friend,” was the answer

“O, I have known others that did such things because people treated them mean never anybody urged Miss Davis.

On the night of July 30, as Miss Davis relates, Celia made a partial confession, implicating Guy Berry, saying her told her to put the poison in the schmierkaese in order that they might get married.

The next day  Celia expressed regret that she had said anything about Guy, admitting he had nothing to do with the poisoning and that he had never asked her to marry him. The confession was repeated on another occasion, according to the Prosecutor and Miss Davis, in the presence, or hearing, rather, of someone who was hidden in a closet. The name of this person has not been made public.

Celia is related to have confessed to the following:

She found some rat poison which had recently been purchased by her brother on a shelf in the pantry and put it into a pepper box and sifted it into the schmierkaese. preparing the mixture in the spring house where he dairy products were kept. She took some of it on her plate and pretended to eat of it, but did not touch it. A hen and seven chickens ate what she threw away and soon died. The bones are in the possession of the prosecutor.

Celia heard a physician say that Mrs. Rose was out of danger. She got the pepper box. which she had hidden under a dock weed and waited for a chance to administer another doss to Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose prepared herself a large bowl of bread and milk and ate heartily of it. The remainder was set in the cupboard. Celia watched her chance and sprinkled in some of the ratsbane.

“This milk tastes very funny,” Celia is said to have quoted her mother as saying.

I was afraid mother would detect the poison. the young woman continued in her alleged confession to Miss Davis, but she did not. After she ate all the milk she got sick and began vomiting very bad. I could hardly help laughing the poison was working so well.”

Miss Davis reported regularly to Prosecutor Douglass and he finally on Aug. 12. secured a warrant for Celia Rose’s arrest. She accompanied Constable Pluck who went to Ohlers home for her the next day without objection. She was driven to the office of the public prosecutor where she had a conference with her attorneys. L. C. Mengert and I. M. Reed. Later she pleaded not guilty and waived preliminary examination before a Justice of the Peace and was held to the grand jury without bonds. She broke down during the examination and cried but before the sympathies of those present were fully roused she was laughing heartily.

All the household effects of the Rose family were sold on Friday. The sale was at tended by crowds from all the neighboring towns and hamlets. Mrs. Rose was evidently thrifty housekeeper and a good provider. The larder was filled with large quantities of made preserves, pickles, and canned good, apparently enough to supply the needs of the family for a year or two.

~ Berrys Are Indignant. ~

Miss Theresa Davis was present. She related how she had secured Miss Roses’s confession. Guy Berry did not attend the sale. He was seen at his father’s home. Mrs. Berry a sylph-like figure of delicate health and spirituelle countenance, expressed the greatest indignation at the stories told by Celia connecting her son with the tragedy.

“There’s not a word of truth in her statements that they were engaged,” said Mrs. Berry. “She is sill on the subject of marrying and bothered Guy so much that he complained to his father and threatened to leave home unless Mr. Berry requested Mr. Rose to put a stop to the annoyance of Celia’s trailing alter him all the time. He did not like her, never did. Guy has a nice sweetheart and would not have thought of marrying Celia if he had been of age as he is not. He knew that we did not like her and he is a good son.”

Guy is a handsome lad and apparently wholly. worthy of his mother’s pride and love. He talked freely of his acquaintance with Miss Rose. His bearing was frank and his whole demeanor inspired confidence in the truth of what he said. The public prosecutor has told Mrs. Berry that Guy will not be needed as a witness.

The poisoning of the three oldest members of the Rose family has caused a sensation second only to that which followed the suicide of Congressman M. D. Harter last spring. The neighborhood gossip hardly penetrated to Mansfield until the public prosecutor gave out the history of the case.

~ Prosecution Has Ample Evidence. ~

He is said to have all the evidence he thinks necessary for the trial. In addition to the evidence mentioned in the foregoing, the rat poison bought for Mrs. Rose shortly before June 24 could not be found anywhere, though Mrs. Rose immediately told where she had put it the day before. However, the pepper box which had just been scoured was found under a large dock weed close to the house. The prosecuting attorney expects to be able to prove the confession without any trouble.

Of all who have heard the horrible recital of Celia Roses crime as it was related yesterday to the correspondent of THE TRIBUNE the young woman seems to be least concerned. One day while she was at Mrs. Ohler’s she said she was homesick and asked for permission to go back to her fathers cottage. As she had never expressed any sorrow over the death of her relatives. Mrs. Ohler asked what made her homesick.

“O, I want to see the little chickens and the old mill,” she answered.

Miss Davis accompanied her on the trip. The road leads past the church and the graves of her father mother and brother are so close to the road that one cannot help seeing them. Celia glanced at the fresh earth indifferently and made no comment.

It was on this occasion that Mica Davis was able for the first time to secured half promise of a confession. They sat down on a big, smooth waterworn limestone rock on the roadside by the little red brick school house which was the only bond of association between the two young women and after a long struggle Celia said the would think over the matter and tell the next day if she felt able to do so.

Celia expressed relief when the jail doors closed behind her. I have been working so hard at Mrs. Ohler’s she said.

Mrs. Ohler said the extent of her labors was to lie at length on a sofa until the bell rang for meals. As soon as the young woman arrived at the jail she took off her black sailor hat, and sat down to read one of her favorite books. She varies the time with needlework.

When seen yesterday forenoon she was stretched out at full length reading the international Sunday-School Lesson Leaf. She had on no shoes or stockings and was clad in a coarse black woolen dress with red bands in the bodice. Her thick neutral blond hair was done up in a neat knot, and the front curls were in papers. She did not rise when addressed, but let her pamphlet drop, and leaned forward long enough to adjust her skirt. She made no apology for her lack of shoes. They were tucked under the cot.

Miss Rose has blues eyes straight nose slightly thicker than usual small and delicately shapen ears a large eight mouth rosy complexion and a fine, rounded head, neck and chin.

Her eyes are expressionless even when she laughs which is not infrequent. Her laughter is not silly nor momentarily timed. She did not laugh while one was talking about the death of her parents, but was likely to in the next breath, if she thought anything at all amusing. She talks intelligently about what she has read but seems to be deficient in ideas. Her memory is retentive and her stock of facts is larger that that of the average reading woman. Her face sobered barely perceptibly whenever the tragedy of the family was mentioned but she did not pretend to express sorrow by her looks.

When asked directly if she were sorry she said, without looking up:

“Of course I feel bad and all that. I am all alone.”

She seemed to have nothing more to say on that subject though her tone betrayed to resentment at the question.

Of Guy she had little to say, but she smiled or laughed gleefully whenever his name was mentioned.

“Are you going to marry Guy when you get out,” she was asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “He has some other girls and he may marry one of them.”

On being asked if he had ever asked her to marry him she said he had not. Later she added that he had treated her respectfully whenever they met.

~ Resents Questions on the Crime. ~

This was said in a low tone with bowed head and a flushing face. Miss Rose stutters painfully when at all confused or excited. Sometimes her utterance is wholly inarticulate. Once she thought a question was intended to touch upon the charge against her and the question of her guilt. She seemed to be slightly indignant and looking her visitor straight in the eyes said.:

“You know you are asking a question you have no right to ask.” My lawyer told me to be very careful in what I said, and I am trying to be.”

Her tone was reproachful. It seemed to say it was hard to be careful when so many people asked questions.

Once or twice a train of thought would be started by something that was said and she would start up, murmur something indistinctly, whether intended to be understood or not could not be seen, and fall limply forward on the cot and sit several minutes lost to her surroundings. It was a pitiful sight.

Careless observers here say she is insane. It is morally certain that her punishment, if any be meted out to her, will be light.

It is believed the public prosecutor will not ask for a sentence but will recommend that she be provided for as an imbecile.

[“Awful Peril Of A Girl. - Celia Rose Awaits Trial For Poisoning Three Persons. - Her Father, Mother, and Brother Die from Poison and Evidence Is Offered That She Administered It – May Be a Degenerate – Strange Story of Her Lonely Life and Its Bit of Romance – Love May Hare Led Her.” The Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 17, 1896, p. 2]


FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., October 14. – The trial of Celia Rose for the murder of her father, mother and brother by poisoning was begun before Judge N. M. Wolf yesterday. Coroner Bauerhman was called and told the story of the post-mortem and the inquest.

Miss Rose, the accused, had confessed to a girl friend, Miss Tracey Davis, that she had committed the deed; and Miss Davis was sworn. She told the story of the confession: how the girl had done the poisoning by placing “rough on rats” in the cream cheese, and had done it because her father scolded her for going with Guy Berry, a young farmer who had betrayed the girl. Miss Davis’s father had concealed himself in the barn and had heard a second confession, to which he testified. The matter of allowing these confessions to go before the jury was argued at some length, and the court finally decided the evidence competent.

Drs. Allan and Budd testified to having made a post-mortem and to conclusive evidence of poisoning by arsenic. The State will rest within a short time and the defense will endeavor to establish the plea of moral and legal irresponsibility.

[“Celia Rose’s Trial. – She Confessed To the Murder of Her Father, Mother and Brother.” Oct. 14, 1896, p. 4]


FULL TEXT: Mansfield, O., Oct. 21. – In the case against Miss Celia Rose, on trial here for having caused the death of her father, mother and brother with poison, the jury yesterday after being out an hour brought in a verdict acquitting the accused on the ground of insanity. She will probably be adjudged insane and be sent to an asylum.

[“A Girl Declared Insane.” The Bronson Pilot (Ka.), Oct. 22, 1896, p. 1]


EXCERPT: Sometime, while she was under treatment, Rebecca Rose realized that Ceely was responsible for the deaths of her father and brother and for her illness. She began talking of moving away, her one thought being to save her daughter from the gallows. Ceely, who had no intention of going away and leaving her beloved Guy Berry behind, took action; she gave her mother more arsenic-laced coffee, and Rebecca died. [by Faire, “Ceely Rose,” Fairweather Lewis, May 13, 2010]








For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Marie Breysse Martin, Serial Killer Robber – France 1831

It must be noted that there have been challenges to the guilt of the parties made by scholars in recent years.


Wikipedia EXCERPTS: L’auberge rouge (The Red Inn) is an inn, originally named L’Auberge de Peyrebeille (“the Inn of Peyrebeille”), in the commune of Lanarce in Ardèche, bordering Issanlas and Lavillatte. In the 19th century, it was the site of a notorious French criminal scandal known as “the Red Inn affair.”

The owners of the inn, Pierre and Marie [née Breysse] Martin, and their employee Jean Rochette were arrested in 1831 after a customer, Jean-Antoine Enjolras, was found dead by a nearby river, his skull smashed in. They were later charged with his murder. During the subsequent trial, numerous witnesses testified to other crimes committed by the accused, including up to fifty murders at the inn, and to aggravating circumstances of rape and cannibalism. There were rumors that the owners used to serve their intended victims meals containing cooked body parts of previous victims.

The accused were only convicted of the murder of Enjolras, and were sentenced to death. They were executed by guillotine in front of the inn, with a crowd of 30,000 on-lookers.

~ Trial ~

On June 18, 1833, the trial of the “four monsters” began at the court of Ardeche in Privas. The accused were linked to the death of Enjolas by the testimony of Claude Pagès, who said that Pierre Martin, Rochette, and a stranger had used a cart to move the body from the inn to the river. A local beggar, Laurent Chaz, testified in “patois”; his testimony, as translated into French, was that on the night in question - unable to pay for a bed - he had been thrown out of the inn. He had hidden in a shed only to find himself witnessing the murder of a solitary traveller, Enjolras.

More than 100 other witnesses were called to testify at the trial, mainly indirect witnesses relaying rumors of the time. The Code Napoleon permitted hearsay evidence to a much greater extent than Anglo-Saxon common law, but even so much of the evidence given was clearly inadmissible. Claims included:

• The landlady would use the best bits of the corpses to make pâtés and stews for customers to eat
• Certain farmers had seen human hands simmering in the cooking pot
• Others reported having seen bed sheets or walls stained with blood
• Others recounted that sickening smoke frequently came from the chimneys
• The innkeepers would burn the corpses of their victims, including children, in the bread oven or pretend they were found dead from cold on the snow of the plateau

~ Verdict & Execution ~

On June 29, after a hearing lasting 7 days, Andre Martin was acquitted; Pierre Martin, Marie Martin and Rochette were found guilty of only one murder, that of Enjolras, and were sentenced to death. After the rejection of their appeal, and of a plea for clemency to King Louis Philippe, they were returned to the scene of their crime in order to be guillotined in front of their inn by the executioner Pierre Roch and his nephew Nicolas.

The execution took place on October 2, 1833, at noon as the bell of Lavillatte rang the angelus. When Rochette was about to be executed, he cried, “Cursed masters, what have you not made me do!”

These last words of the accused raised suspicion as to the true nature of the innkeepers. It was said that a crowd of approximately 30,000 attended the execution. Paul d’Albigny reports in his book about the Red Inn that, on the day of the execution, a ball was organized in front of the premises.

~ Modern Questions ~

Some historians think that the culpability of the Martins in the “assassination” of Enjolras is far from being proven, arguing that the latter simply died of a heart attack after having too much to drink, and that this would explain why Marie Martin tried to make him drink herbal tea.

[Excerpts from “Auberge rouge,” Wikipedia, Aug. 31, 2015]


Location of crimes: Peyrebeille, in the commune of Lanarce, Ardèche, France.


Oct. 12, 1831 – a local horse-dealer, Antoine (Jean-Antoine) Enjolras (or Anjolras), went missing.
Oct. 25, 1831 – Étienne Filiat-Duclaux, magistrate arrived at the Martins’ to investigate.
Oct. 26, 1831 – Enjolras’ body found on the banks of the Allier River a few kilometres from the inn, his skull smashed and his knee crushed.
Nov. 1, 1831 – arrest of Pierre Martin and his nephew André Martin.
Nov. 1831 – Marie arrested several days after “Marie Martin was not arrested until later because the authorities did not believe at first that a woman could be a murderer.” (Wikipedia).
Jun. 18, 1833 – trial of 4 defendants began at the court of Ardeche in Privas.
June 29, 1883 – trial ends.
Oct. 22, 1833 – 3 guilty parties (including Marie) executed by guillotine in front of their inn at Peyrebeille.









For more cases see: Cannibal Murderesses


Links to more Serial Killer Couples


Thursday, December 24, 2015

“The More Easily to Kill Natural Affection” – Parental Alienation Syndrome Among the Shakers: A Formal System of Anti-Parent Brainwashing.

This post will not be of interest to the general reader. It has been put online in hopes of providing specialist and scholars information that will lead to further research.

The following text is taken from an abandoned book project. In portions it is nearly complete, apart from some dates and references that need checking. It was written as a chapter of a book on the history of parental alienation syndrome. It is published in its present form because the facts contained are crucially important and little known. It is hoped that others might make good use of some of this information.

Author: Richard K. Stephens


“Those ties of affection which bind parents and children, brothers and sisters, are by the Shakers called carnal affections, and must be wholly destroyed or eradicated from the mind, before a person, whether old or young, can be promoted to any degree of honor or enjoy any peculiar privilege amongst them as a disciple. …

Lured by the hope that their children would be well educated to good trades, and fitted to be useful in society, many poor parents have given their children up to the Shakers; little imagining that their children would soon be taught the sinfulness and criminality of thinking of their parents with affectionate concern, or ever caring for them more than for other individuals.”

[Mary Marshall Dyer, A Portraiture Of  Shakerism, “1822” (Jun. 1823), Preface, pp. vii-viii]


“The ultimate sign of devotion and loyalty of a cult leader entails renouncing all other sources of influence.”  -- Dr. Amy Baker, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, 2006


A. The Cult of Shakerism

Ordinarily when we speak of induced Parental Alienation (“Parental Alienation Syndrome” or “Parental Alienation Disorder”) we are referring to a dynamic between a child and one of its parents in which the child is pressured to select to become loyal to one parent over and against the other and subsequently responds by adopting an irrational, unwarranted  hostility toward -- and resistance to -- the targeted parent. Such a loyalty conflict experienced by the child finds its resolution in acquiescing to an either/or choice posited by the alienating adult and adapts to the situation so that he can be assured the attention and loyalty of the parent who exerts the pressure. The parent (or, in some cases, another adult who controls the child) who forces such a scenario is often requiring a “renouncing of all other sources of influence,” a domination tactic resembling that of a cult leader. The similarity between PAS and cult indoctrination has been studied by Dr. Amy Baker (Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D., The Cult of Parenthood: A Qualitative Study of Parental Alienation,” Cultic Studies Review Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005.)

In many cults – be they religious or political in tenor, familial loyalty is – specifically because it undermines cult loyalty and authority – the target of overt indoctrination programs which are implemented in order to “cure” the ideological ill of such forbidden loyalties so that the member, or child under the influence of a member, may then direct all loyalty to the cult leaders. The Children of God (“The Family”), whose methods and practices are well known to both professionals and a wide public, is a familiar recent example.

A much earlier American cult, the Shakers (formally The United Society of Believers), active in the late 18th century to late 19th centuries, were, like The Children Of God, adamantly opposed to natural family ties and required members to break all familial bonds, yet, unlike The Children Of God, who are known to have promoted promiscuity and pedophilia, the Shakers were opposed to procreation and, at least doctrinally, to any erotic contact.

There is a wealth of information available about the Shakers covering a wide variety of specialized subjects: craft and design, economics, agriculture, architecture, religion.

They are widely studied, yet it is exceedingly rare to find a critical word in writings dealing with their child-rearing practices, and when such critiques are found they are not fully developed examinations of the available documentary evidence. Indeed, historians who specialize in Shaker studies are uniformly sympathetic with utopian thinking and in some notable cases employ currently fashionable ideas of “social constructivism” to argue the Shaker position against those who opposed them. Yet, so far, the well-documented tactics used for the purpose of alienating children from parents employed by the celebrated Shaker cult have not yet been brought into discussions of parental alienation.

The richest source of early documentation of the phenomenon of induced parental alienation in America comes to us from the remarkable Anti-Shaker writers and activists of the 1810s. The Shakers are today generally remembered as quaint hard-working people admired for their fine craft and purity of design, and they are still frequently praised for their radical social organization. The Shakers were called by Frederick Engels in 1846, two years before the publication with co-author, Karl Marx of the Communist Manifesto “the world’s first successful communalistic society [exact wording?].” The Shakers were a self-contained strictly authoritarian organization, yet their formal codification of  regulations was not fully developed until after the death of the cult’s founder, Ann Lee (1736-1784).

“Mother Ann” was hard on her followers, but her heart was not utterly stony. In the early 1780s when she witnessed the despondency of recent convert Susannah Barret over having had her baby removed from her to be “farmed out to another household of believers in order to break the family bond” [Francis, Ann the Word, 2000, 223-4], after witnessing the bereft mother’s sorrow Mother Lee relented and permitted the distracted mother to reunite with her child.

After the death of Ann Lee in 1784 the group’s leadership was taken over by English immigrant James Whittaker, an man who harbored a pathological intolerance of the institution of the family. Evidence of the new leader’s intense devotion to the anti-procreation dictum of his sect, is provided in a Feb. 20, 1784 letter written by Whittaker to his parents in England, who had requested assistance from their son in immigrating to America, the son flatly refused them, condemning their carnality with burning admonitions: “I hate your fleshly lives, and your fleshly generations, as I hate the smoke of the bottomless pit; and your pleading the commands of God to increase and multiply to cover your beastly conduct and doleful corruption.”

It was only three years following his ascension to Shaker leadership that Elder Whittaker was succeeded as leader by a duo of elders, Joseph Meacham (1742–1796) and Lucy Wright (1760–1821). It was Elder Meacham who codified in writing a set of rigid rules governing all aspects of member’s lives requiring, according to apostate activist Mary Marshall Dyer – “the most complete subjection to the will of the Elders” including their very thoughts – that are the subject of a large catalog of publications by Apostates who came to reject them and leave, frequently without their property and their children whom the Shakers had acquired – through manipulation and deception many of them claimed – by legal binding instruments that the Shakers were all too ready to defend in the courts.”  [Dyer, Preface]


B. The Indocrination Method

The Shakers composed children’s song was to teach children to “despise” their “fleshy kindred.”

“Except a man hate his own life,
And all his sins forsake;
Hate father, mother, children wife,
Of Christ he can’t partake;
Oh the way, the narrow way, &c.”
[Dyer, Portraiture, p. 388]

Other documents describe how such teaching methods as this were systematically applied in order to influence children to relinquish their family ties and realign their loyalty to the cult.

The 1817 affidavit sworn out  by a boy of “the world” (ie: a non-Shaker) who at the age of 17 witnessed the indoctrination methods used by the Shakers to promote the dicta of familial hatred and two years later wrote down what he had observed.

Affidavit of Aug. 23, 1817: “Jacob Rude, aged 19 years, being duly sworn, saith, that in the year 1815, he went with his mother to the society of Shakers; that he with 7 other young persons attended an evening school in the winter of 1815 and 1816, that one evening after they had gone through the exercises of the school, John Woods, who taught the school, rose up & taught them, saying that they must hate their parents: and if their parent spoke to them, they must not answer them; or if they did, they must answer them in a scornful sneering manner, frown and look surly at them, &c. And then put the question to them in general, whether this was not their faith; they all answered Yea, except this deponent, who was silent – which Woods perceived, and immediately put the question to each one separately, beginning at this deponent, who stood first in the class, & who though conscious of the error, through fear, answered in the affirmative. – And, that Woods repeatedly endeavored to instill such principles into their minds.” [p. 94: Dyer, Mary M. (as Mary Marshall), A portraiture of Shakerism ..., Jun. 1823 (“1822”), Rude, Jacob, affidavit, Aug. 23, 1817]


C. Apostasy

Apostate publications containing anti-Shaker polemics began appearing in the 1780s(?) and produced a large body of writings on the Shaker belief system.  These texts usually took the form of theological polemics: interpretations of the Bible.  Our earliest sources on Shaker child custody / parental kidnapping cases and the Shaker practices of systematic anti-family indoctrination begin in 1810, with Col. James Smith’s pamphlet, Shakerism Developed.

The Smith case involved a Kentucky father who pledged his loyalty to the Shakers, but whose wife never joined the cult. In accordance with Shaker doctrine he took his children and turned them over to the authority of the Elders so that they might be raised in a collectivist manner—without the interference of any familial bonds. The father-in-law of the aggrieved mother, Col. James Smith, supported her in her efforts to recover her children from the cult. [MORE HERE on details of case involving community support]. Col. Smith published two pamphlets, the text of which appeared in newspapers as well in his campaign to reunite the mother and children. Ultimately he took the case to the legislatures of the two states which had jurisdiction, Kentucky and Ohio, lobbying for a law which would overturn, in cases of this particular type, the presumption of paternal custody which allowed a father to assign custody to the Shakers. On Jan. 11, 1811, Ohio passed a law specifically the naming the Shakers and forbidding a member from removing children from a non-member parent and assigning custody to the cult; a similar law in Kentucky failed to win approval. The 1811 Ohio law – although limited to cases involving the Shakers – was, in effect, the first law passed in any nation to combat parental kidnapping.

A similar law, dealing specifically with the Shakers was followed in New York in 1818?, and another was attempted in New Hampshire (1819? & later) but failed. As the presumption of paternal custody began to weaken in common law in the United States the incidence of divorce also increased. Laws specifically forbidding parental kidnapping – apart from the Shaker laws – did not appear until the last two decades of the 19th century, yet the absence of laws specifically denoting parental kidnapping did not prevent child disputed custody cases from being dealt with by law enforcement officers, who could in many states treat such cases under extant kidnapping laws or recover children from kidnapping parents under the guise of other charges: contempt of court, adultery, larceny, bigamy, spouse desertion, and in the case of the more rough-and-tumble cases, assault. In England, the issue of parental kidnapping was first addressed in legislation as the result of Carolyn Norton (1830s).

There are scores of recorded child custody disputes dating from the late 18th century and into the early 20th century involving the Shakers. Many of these are documented only in brief fragmentary snatches, yet others are described in lengthy texts published by separated parents of children that had been held by the Shakers with the assent of the Believer parent  – and subsequently abandoned, in terms of direct parental involvement, by that parent.

Two parents, both mothers, followed Smith’s example, in publishing (broadsides, newspaper appeals, pamphlets and books) texts on their cases in an effort to seek public and legislative support, Eunice Chapman of New York state and Mary Marshall Dyer of New Hampshire. These cases will be discussed below.


Apostate Shaker author Thomas Brown, who was not himself involved in a child custody imbroglio with the Shakers is one of the important sources on the Shaker anti-family doctrine and practice. Brown, writing in 1812, describes the Shaker rationale for the systematic destruction of all familial bonds: “According to their faith, natural affection must be eradicated; and they say they must love all equally alike as brothers and sisters in the gospel.” Brown’s book-length exposé, An account of the people called Shakers, offers a case from the Fall of  1786 in Wavierlet (Niskeuna), New York, to illustrate “the schemes they have contrived to destroy all natural affection and social attachment between man and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters, especially towards such as left the society.”

A mother, who had renounced the faith, came to Niskeuna to see her daughter. Eldress Hannah Matterson told the daughter to go into the room to her carnal mother and say – “What do you come here for? I don’t want you to come and see me with your carnal affections.”

The mother being grieved, replied –“I did not expect that a daughter of mine would ever address me in that manner.”
The daughter in obedience to what she was taught, replied again – “You have come here with your carnal, fleshy desires, and I don’t want to see you,” and then left her mother.” (Brown, 1812, p. 339)

Dozens of similar cases are described in an the wide array of Apostate publications that were to reach the public from 1810 through 1847.

An 1817 newspaper account describes Elizabeth Davis’s experiences with the Shakers  in 1805 in which she dutifully followed the Shaker proscriptions against family life:

“Thus she was induced to take her infant, leave the house where her husband was, and go to her father’s house. The husband of this deponent wished to come and see his wife and child once a week: but she was forbidden to suffer to come to the house or even to speak to him. An injunction was also laid on the father and mother to prohibit her husband from coming into their house and from speaking to his wife.” [Elizabeth Davis deposition; Van Vleet, Oct. 29, 1817 (continued from Oct. 22)]

Events of 1811 involving the Riley family came to light with the publication of an 1818 booklet by Eunice Chapman, one of the most assertive of the numerous bereaved parents whose children had been removed by a Shaker spouse and turned over to the Shakers for communal child-rearing:

“[Mrs. Riley’s] husband tore the child from her arms by violence, just at the time she was preparing to return home; he kept himself and the child concealed” [Chapman, An Account, 1818, 32; p. 57?]

“They said Riley had a wife and an infant child; he was young, and flourishing in business. After the man had joined the Shakers, he and the Shakers sought to take the infant from the breast of its mother! The inhabitants in dead of night [to save the child] were forced to take it from the bed and arms of the mother, and hide it where the Shakers could not suspect it was and keep it in one place and the mother in another, until they could send for her father to come and take her and the child away!” [Chapman, An Account, 1818, 59-60]

In the McDowle child custody court case in New York of the same year, 1811, a court’s written opinion took note of  the charges that the Shakers had “induced” children to make declarations “not freely given” supporting the Shakers’ petition to hold them away from and their parents:

“The court reporter added the following note at the end of the opinion: Afterwards counsel for the father suggested to the court, that improper means and constraint had been used by the masters and others, belonging to the Shakers, to induce the children [aged 11 and 8] to declare their election to return [to Shaker custody], and that the answers were not freely given them in court.” [Schneider, Barbara Taback, “Prayers For Our Protection at Court: Shakers, Children and the Law,” Yale Journal of Law and The Humanities 4 (1992): 33-78, p. 49; In re McDowle, 8 Johns 328 (N.Y. Sup. Dt.) 1811).

A case dating from 1823 or earlier involving a couple by the name of Bowen involved, according to published reports, a case where the parents were so alarmed at their 3-year-old’s mortal fear of “the world,” that they were afraid to retrieve her from the cult.

A Mr. Bowen, with his wife, after living with the Shakers a short time, left them, but afterwards returned for his two children.  They took the eldest, and then came to our family for the other.  When her mother asked her to go with her, she exclaimed, as she had been tutored,”  I shall go to hell if I go to the wicked world,  and you will go to hell!" This expression from a child three years old, so astonished the mother, that she was afraid to take her away, and left her in the care of Hannah Ellis. Hannah was kind to the child, but severe in her work. Soon after, the elder said she was too indulgent, and the child was taken from her, and  placed in the care of Anna Wright, when four years old, Anna stinted her so hard in knitting on a large stocking, that she would get tired, and cry for leave to go and see Hannah. Anna would mock and sneer at her. The child would wipe away her tears with her hand, and being unable to move her needles, Anna would call her a lazy slut, and make her kneel in knitting. [Dyer, Rise, 1847, p. 63]


D. Eunice Chapman & Mary Marshall Dyer



Here is Eunice Chapman’s own account of her experience in reunited on DATE with the children she had been forcibly separated from:

A member accompanied me thither; we were seated in the Shaker’s office. After waiting some time George, my eldest child came into my sight. I stood and gazed at the little stranger, but could recognize no appearance of my son. He said, “Eunice how do ye do?” I wept over him, but he appeared inflexible, undutiful, and unnatural, though I imagined that I saw the stifled tear startle in his eye. I shewed him his little pocket book with a dollar in small specie, which he had collected before he was carried to the Shaker’s: and his last words were “I shall leave my money for my mother.”

I told him how carefully I had kept that to remember him by, he laughed at mew. I handed him a tablet to date the year in which he was taken from my protection; he wrote, “when I was kindly taken from my mother!!” My daughters, and some of Mrs. Dyer’s children were secured in one of their Bastiles, which contained a large number of Shakers. A town officer and a member of the Legislature of that State, with their wives, were admitted with me and Mrs. Dyer to see them. Susan (my next eldest, being now 12 years of age) came into the room: I gazed at her in silent amaze. She appeared like a shadow, with a countenance pale and depicted and features emaciated, while pining away under her confinement. She gently approached me and said “Eunice, how do ye do?”

I dropped my face upon her pale sallow cheek, and involuntarily exclaimed; Oh! Can this be my Susan, my dear Susan!!” I could discover none of that sprightly activity, and engaging sensibility, which once made her the pride of her mother. – Even her dialect had changed! I tore off her ghostly cap, hoping to recognize the features of my Susan: She was so much grieved that I hastened to put it on again; I saw the tear of filial affection started her eye. My Julia came next, which excited painful, though pleasing sensations,  the reflection of which now stops me to weep!

I gazed a moment upon my Julia in silence; she also said “Eunice how ye do!” I fell upon her face, and while bathing her with my tears, in my interval of sighs and groans, said, Oh! My dear Julia, my long lost babe! Have I once more clasped thee in these wishful arms! But she had become a stranger to those endearing caresses, which were once the joy of my heart. I seated her in my lap, but she fled from me and said, “It is against order to sit in lap!” I handed her a fine dressed doll, she said, “It is handsome, but I do not want it here,” though she eagerly gazed at it. Without my asking them any questions, they like two parrots, prattled over what shakers had previously told them to say to me, (how much better they were than with me.)

In the heights of my groans and tears, Mr. Chapman said, “Eunice, don’t make such a racket, you disturb the brethren and sisters.” When such a scene, called forth, and put to the test, every feeling of a parent, and even those gentlemen who accompanied me wept. At the same time, there stood a Shaker elder, (like an emblem of Satan) behind Mrs. Dyer’s two children, pushing them forward, to abuse their mother, until they tore her youngest child from her arms, and with it fled from her sight.

The ghastly visage of Mr. Chapman, indicated that his heart was the seat of remorse. I exclaimed, “James Chapman can you remain insensible through all this!” As I was returning to my lodgings, James Chapman said that I must not trouble them by coming the next day to see my children, for the brethren and sisters had been in a perfect hell all day and wanted some rest.

[Chapman excerpt] [A Portraiture Of  Shakerism, By Mary Marshall (Mary M. Dyer), June 1823, (Stated publication date: “1822”), Pages 291-305 section “Mrs. Chapman,” Written by Eunice Chapman, Albany, New York, February 1819]

Chapman’s account contains a number of notable similarities to present-day experiences of parents target for alienation. In the Shaker scenarios, however, there is, strictly speaking, no alienating parent. Instead the parent who has elected to break up the family has elected to empower outside agents of control, trained cult members who might be thought of as “professional alienators” who ply their trade, using well-honed indoctrination techniques and employing “supervised visitation” in order to control the child’s behavior and solidify the psychological rift by creating a controlled breakdown of parent-child communication and affect. The torturous episode that Eunice recounts ends with the father of the children forbidding a second visit due to the fact that the reunification of mother and children proved inconvenient for those who held authority over the children.


E. Mary Marshall Dyer: America’s First Anti-Parental Kidnapping Activist

Mary Marshall Dyer one of America’s most important, and perhaps the earliest, of many women’s rights activists. She is the earliest known example of an activist working to counter the practice of what today is commonly known as "parental kidnapping" or "parental child abduction." Unlike other early ant-Shaker writers who also published books on Shaker-related parental kidnappings and lobbied for laws against Shaker child constraint and indoctrination practices, such as Col. Joseph Smith (1810) and  Eunice Chapman (1819), Mary took an active part in assisting others involved in Shaker child custody cases and tirelessly devoted her resources to educating the public about the overtly anti-family ideology and activities of the Shakers. Her activism reached from 1815 until her death in 1867.


Excerpt from “Preface”:

Another error of the Shakers’, and one of no small magnitude, if measured by its consequences, is, that of censuring all natural affection as evil, and calling it the work of the Devil. − Those ties of affection which bind parents and children, brothers and sisters, are by the Shakers called carnal affections, and must be wholly destroyed or eradicated from the mind, before a person, whether old or young, can be promoted to any degree of honor or enjoy any peculiar privilege amongst them as a disciple.

If the statement should at first seem incredible to any one, let him attend to the facts as narrated in these pages and attested by credible witnesses, and he will be satisfied that this is a grand article of regulation among the Shakers. Whereas the rule of Heaven in reference to this subject, is, “Honor thy father and thy mother” − “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. − And ye fathers, bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!!” One of the black catalogue of vices, states, the subjects of these crimes would be “without natural affection,” and “disobedient to parents.” …

When the tender emotions of natural affection are extinguished in children, or in persons of mature age, they are fitly prepared for the exercise of every sordid and selfish passion; duly qualified to be the slaves of corruption, and the instruments of cruelty. And all that is necessary in order to bring their pernicious principles into operation, when their minds have passed this ordeal, is, to put before them suitable temptations, or to excite their prejudices. This error of the Shakers mingles itself with all their doctrines, and with all their practical regulations in regard to those children who are placed under their care by guardians or overseers of those poor children, taken from the large cities and sea-port towns as well as to those whose parents are in fellowship with the brethren of in Society. Lured by the hope that their children would be well educated to good trades, and fitted to be useful in society, many poor parents have given their children up to the Shakers; little imagining that their children would soon be taught the sinfulness and criminality of thinking of their parents with affectionate concern, or ever caring for them more than for other individuals. In short, that they ought only to regard the Shakers, and tremble at the idea of disobeying the Holy Father and Mother, who live in the Church. …

It has uniformly been the practice of the Elders to instill into the minds of their young dicsiples and apprentices, the impossibility of their salvation, unless in full fellowship with the Church. To be in full fellowship implies the most complete subjection to the will of the Elders, and entire obedience to all their orders. Without the subjection and obedience to the Elders, they must be cut off from all hope of salvation, and deprived of all privileges among them.

When the ignorance and credulity of these young converts to Shakerism has effectually been wrought upon, so that they have implicit faith in the infallibility of the Father and Mother of the Church, then they are no longer to judge for themselves in any thing.  …

[The full text of the “Preface” is to be found in the appendix to this essay]

Unlike Eunice Chapman, Mary Marshall Dyer in 1812 voluntarily joined the Shakers along with her likewise converted husband. But once Mary discovered the virtually totalitarian actualities of the Shaker way of life in which she would be forced to relinquish her parenthood – a step her husband was able cheerfully to take – she protested and after failing to make her case in January 1813 left the cult attempting, unsuccessfully in this first effort, to take her youngest child with her.

HERE: Brief summary of Dyer’s long and complex career as an anti-Shaker activist and her experiences with her children:

1815 – Spring – Mary begins anti-PK activism within village (DW, 46)
1817 – Mar 20 – Shaker pamphlet, To the Legislature of the State of NY (DW, 199, n 10)
1818 – Assisting Eunice Chapman in effort to retrieve her children from Shakers


F. Shaker Epilogue

By the 20th century the Shakers membership had dwindled and continued to do so, yet the group’s adherents still continued to make the news from time to time in cases of child custody disputes. Since the Shakers continued to offer the non-Believer public services for the care of children, presented as a sort of boarding school / orphanage arrangement, they would from time to time attract  a parent who had parentally kidnapped a child and who wished to “erase” the other parent from the child’s experience and consciousness, a task which the Shakers, by virtue of their established doctrine requiring family dismemberment and their time-tested methods for indoctrinating those under their control, were well versed in executing.

In the 1903 Alley case, it seems that the parental kidnapping father, xxxx Alley, ….

Alley – Mar. 21, 1903 – F-K’er, d (6); Shakers; F arrested, refused to tell whereabouts; “Alley says that he has changed the name of the child and so fixed it that the mother will never see her daughter. Mr. Alley also says that he would rather the child would die than the mother would have it.” F is former deputy sheriff (New Hampshire); “Child Is With Shakers” (Mar. 25, 1903) [Abandon Following K; Deathwish Against Child; Deception]

The year 1923 marks the latest case known presently of a child custody dispute involving the Shakers, the Rhoads case.


[Rhoads case]

NOTE to self: (USE? : Drane – May 9, 1888; M-K’er, twin boys (2), s ( ); To judge: “I had joined a religious community and the members told me that God forbade me to live with a divorced man. I loved him dearly, sir, and I loved my boy …”; “God told me to leave him [husband].” [Twins])


In his 2000 biography of Ann Lee, founder of the American Shakers, author xxx Francis is one of the very few modern writers to condemn Shaker the Shaker doctrine of hatred and behavior modification: “The human cost of Shakerism, its assault upon some of the deepest relationships, those between husbands and wives and parents and children, is not always given full weight in modern nostalgia for the Shaker way of life. [Francis, Ann the Word, 2000, 223-4]