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Writing History & Mysteries

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

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Bread and Butter Murders 05

Hoag Family Plot - Alabama Center Cemetery, Alabama, NY
SETUP: Henry seemed to be on the road to recovery after his illness. Polly, Henry and the children appeared to get back to their normal routine. That was until Henry went out of town and Polly was found in an intimate position with with his apprentice in the shoe shop, Matthew Bardwell. Oddly Henry's illness returns, and this time he knew he was dying. Julia mentioned below is Polly's sister. And now the snippet.

Supposedly Julia was present during a conversation between Henry and Polly concerning what he wanted her to do after his death. Julia claimed in testimony, “Henry called Polly up to bed and told her to get Matthew Bardwell and have him attend the shop and make up the leather; he said it would be the only way she could get a living. Polly objected, as people would talk. Henry said if Matthew did not like to board at the house he could board at the tavern. He did not think he would get well; while he still had his sense he would tell her what she ought to do. He told her to sell her crops to pay the rent with.”

The fact that Henry would come up with the idea to have Bardwell in the shop, after all that had happened, is ludicrous. To think that Polly would care if people would talk, based on what she had already said and done, is equally unbelievable. This plan was not of Henry’s making. It was contrived by Polly and backed up by Julia in defense of her sister.

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 a new cover, fresh edits and new info. Due for release in February 2014.



  1. This case just keeps getting more and more interesting. I'm looking forward to reading it all the way through when it comes out!

  2. The plot is certainly thickening.

  3. I'm wondering why she needed to kill Henry.

  4. Since her sister Julia is backing her version, it makes me wonder why Polly did it. "Pure evil" just seems too simple an explanation, although she's certainly cold and calculated. I'm looking forward to reading this book. :)

  5. So many twists and turns, I am enjoying this story!

  6. I'm always amazed at your stories from the past. Evil lurks in the hearts of men and women, no matter the century. Good eight.

  7. Eep, Polly was bad to the bone. Great snippet, Cindy. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Was it as simple as Polly getting rid of Henry so she could be with Matthew, or was there more going on?? What a great story this is.

  9. She did have her reasons, course I can't tell you that in the snippets. :)

  10. This story is so interesting, especially being true. All the twists and turns and strategies this woman resorted to! Another great snippet.

  11. Cool photos. Wow, is all I can say. What a horrible human being! And her sister? Did she go to prison for her perjury? Hmmm, so many questions. Guess I'll have to read the book. :-)

  12. Hmmm, it all sounds quite diabolical. Nice snippet.

  13. She's a clever one, is Polly, but some of her lies aren't quite as plausible as others . . .

    Where's Columbo when you need him? :D

  14. I'm curious as to how involved Julia is in the murders.

  15. How many trials did you say it took to convict her?

  16. Wow, she and her sister are pretty evil. I know we haven't heard if her husband was a wife beater or anything, but since she killed her daughter's as well, I'm leaning toward her just being a sick psycho! Can't wait to read all of this!

  17. Yikes, two scary sisters! It's amazing they got away for it as long as they did--but hindsight does make for far better understanding. And it's so hard to wrap your mind around a woman murdering her children, even though it does happen.

  18. Wow, how quickly you shed light on the true nature of these characters. Very interested to learn more about Polly. Nicely done!

  19. Very realistic depiction. Scary stuff. Great scene.

  20. oh dear I must have missed an instalment. After what Polly had said and done...I'm really out of it these days

  21. Sounds like a conspiracy in the works! Great 8.

  22. Just wanted to drop by and wish you a Happy Valentine's Day Cindy!


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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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