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Writing History & Mysteries

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

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Bread and Butter Murders 07

Hoag Family Plot - Alabama Center Cemetery, Alabama, NY
SETUP: We left off last time with Polly preparing for the final doses of arsenic to do away with her husband.The dialogue below is taken from the description of Albert's testimony against his mother at the trial. Albert was a few months shy of his tenth birthday at the time of the murders.


Polly removed a small folded piece of paper from out of her bandbox, poured part of the contents of the paper into the brandy, and shook the bottle. She then returned the paper to its hiding place behind the clock. Julia was wrong—Polly had known all along where the paper with the arsenic had been.

Albert asked his mother, “What are you putting into it?”

“Salaeratus,” answered Polly.

“What did you put it in for?” asked Albert.

“To sweeten it,” she answered.

Albert knew there was something not quite right about this; the salaeratus, was kept in the buttery in an oyster can, not a piece of paper.  Polly wrongly assumed that Albert wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing.
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 in both soft and hard covers, as well as Nook, Kindle, etc. with a new cover, fresh edits and new info. Due for release in On April 1, 2014. (Had to wait til 4/1 due to scheduling conflicts.) Below is a picture of the hardcover.



  1. Oh poor baby...to understand something wasn't right, but not to know exactly what. : (

  2. This story is so sinister, but today it's heaped with heartache. That poor little fellow. I'm forming truly nasty descriptive words for Polly, right now. Truck driver talk--n such. I hope there is a hell, and that she's rotting in it.

    Good 8, Cindy!

  3. Ah ha--Albert's catching on, but not quite. Great snippet!


  4. Wow! What a fascinating story! Poor Albert - there's nothing worse than the feeling that something is off, but not knowing exactly what. You conveyed his fear and hesitance very well!

  5. Busted!

    Wow, this woman was both clever and careless.

  6. Poor Albert, having to testify against his mother but of course being pretty sure she killed his father...what a case you're describing here! Another great snippet.

  7. My concerns right now are for Albert. She may have given him an excuse, but she must know her actions have been witnessed. If he knows something's not right he should be very scared by now.

  8. Wonderful scene. The contrast of evil versus the curiosity of a child. Teresa, I'm with you on foul curses. No RIP for this murderess.

  9. Oh my god! What a great story. I'd love to read it. Fiction based on real events is one of my favorite 'genres' when it's well done--and with you at the helm, I'm sure it is. :-)
    BTW, I noticed you read Maids of Misfortune--I really liked both that one and the second in the series. Have you read the 3rd?

  10. Poor kid, having to testify against his mother.

  11. Never assume someone isn't paying attention lol

  12. Well, that would sure mark a child.

  13. Wow. Sounds like one of those examples where true life is stranger than fiction. Poor boy.

    Nice 8. :)

  14. awww, poor Albert. To do a thing like that right in front of your child, and assume he's not paying attention to his own mother -- sheesh! I'm astonished despite the cold things people have done in modern times.

  15. It's never a good idea to assume the people around you aren't paying attention, for sure. It's amazing how she could plan so well in some ways, and so poorly in others.

  16. No fiction here, Karysa. Crazy but true! Thank you all for your comments.

  17. It's hard for a child to discover that the adult they trust is not being honest with them. Poor Albert.

  18. Children are so much more observant than we often give them credit for. Such a powerful scene. Great work!

  19. I really can't wait to read this! And I feel sorry for Albert, knowing something is wrong but not sure what to do about it.

  20. Her first mistake, kids are a lot smarter than people think.


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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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