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Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bread and Butter Murders 03

Hoag Family Plot - Alabama Center Cemetery, Alabama, NY
SETUP: At the first trial, Polly's sister Julia tried to cover for her. Julia said it was Polly's husband Henry who who asked Polly to go to druggist to get the arsenic for the rats. In part of Julia's testimony for the death of Henry, she tells how Henry allegedly mixed the poison to kill the rodents. We know by last week's snippet this was not the case. The druggist and his wife both testified that Polly purchased it twice, and Henry didn't want it in the house. Henry would die three months later. 
Text in quotes is from actual testimony. 
And now for the eight sentences.

According to Julia, Henry then asked Polly for some meal. "He went upstairs, asked me for the meal and some water, which I gave him. He mixed the most of the arsenic with the meal and water in a basin. He put it between the lathing and the clapboards upstairs. Polly went out into the garden at this time, I think. He put the rest on top of the clothes’ cupboard, at the west end of the house," stated Julia.

We have only Julia's word for this incident taking place. Notice too, that she conveniently places Polly out in the garden while Henry was supposedly doing this, thus implying that Polly could not have seen where Henry put the remaining arsenic.

In 1856, in the rural town of Alabama, NY one woman's family suffered from multiple unexplained deaths. The town folk grew suspicious of the now remarried Polly Frisch. An investigation commenced, bodies were exhumed, an affair—exposed. Polly would be arrested for the murders of her first husband and daughters. Her fourteen-year-old son would testify against her. If found guilty, the punishment for such a crime was the gallows. Bread & Butter is the true story of Polly Frisch who poisoned her family with arsenic and the five trials it took to convict her. 

The link to the other Weekend Writing Warriors is here. You're bound to find something to pique your interest.

The Sunday Snippet writer's on Facebook are here. Between the two there is something for everyone. Thank you for any comments you leave me. Much appreciated!

The above excerpt is from Bread & Butter: The Murders of Polly Frisch, a book I co-authored with my friend, Ellen Bachorski in 2000. We are re-releasing it into the modern world of POD and Kindle, etc. with fresh edits and new info.



  1. I wonder if Julia was an accomplice and what was the motive to kill her husband.

  2. Is this available to be ordered in print, yet? I'm very interested in reading it all the way through!

  3. So Julia was in cahoots with Polly? I always find true crime stories so fascinating! Looking forward to the next instalment.

  4. What a horrific crime! Truth is often more ghastly than fiction. Excellent choice for a story to write, Cindy. We read about bizarre, premeditated murders in this day and age, and rarely think about how it's not a new thing. It will be interesting to read how it took five trials to convict her.

  5. This is cool stuff. Old stories are so much better when you can include bits of what people actually said. I saw some documents from the Salem Witch Trials and it sent creepy crawly shivers up my spine! Thanks for posting from this, Cindy :)

  6. You're at it again with vigor and arsenic and we love it. To read, not to drink. Thanks, Cindy.

  7. Hmm, is Julia protecting Polly or just making sure that no-ones takes Polly's account seriously as she was 'in the garden' ? You've pulled me right in again!

  8. Oh dear sister, she not only killed her husband, but your niece as well! What kind of family did these girls grow up in?

  9. Nice snippet--the plot thickens.


  10. Yeesh! That's one scary woman. Sounds like a really intriguing tale and it's true. Good snippet, Cindy. :)

  11. I'm not normally into family murder mysteries but this is such a fascinating re-telling of a true story - excellent excerpt. I was really visualizing the story as she was testifying.

  12. And the plot thickens and gets more convoluted. Nice!

  13. Scary, what human beings are capable of.

  14. Was Julia involved or is she just trying to save her sister?

  15. This makes me wonder if Julia is involved in the murder as well.

  16. Fascinating story, the more so because it's true.

  17. I wonder if the sister thought Polly was innocent, and that's why she lied? Because the alternative is disturbing...


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Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

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The History Press

Carried by over 20 college/university libraries across the county, according to daily updates by worldcat.org, including Columbia University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, and Yale University Law Library.


APRIL 2nd,11-1 PM
The Book Shoppe - Medina, NY

APRIL 16th, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble - Pittsfield, MA

APRIL 19th, 7 PM
Tonawanda Indian Reservation Historical Society,
Tonawanda Indian Community Center- Akron, NY

MAY 14th, 1 PM
Seneca Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca, NY

May 17th, 6 PM Warsaw Public Library - Warsaw, NY

AUG 9TH, 7 pm Hoss's Country Corner -2016 Author's Night- Long Lake, NY

AUG 25TH 6 PM Akwesasne Cultural Center - Hogansburg, NY

More to announce as they are confirmed.

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Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch

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