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Writing History & Mysteries

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bread and Butter Murders 10

Tombstone of Henry Hoag(e) - Alabama Center Cemetery, Alabama, NY 
SETUP: By the time Dr. Townsend got to the Hoag farm—Henry was already dead. With her husband laid out in the next room, Polly's conversations with others is only of what Henry's alleged wishes were--to have Matthew Bardwell work up the shoe leather. If neighbors had known what was going on, they would know this would not be Henry's request.


 The following day, only three days after her husband’s death, Polly went to the post office at Alabama Center to mail a letter. She gave the letter to Reuben Warren the deputy postmaster. It was addressed to Matthew Bardwell at Wheatville. She asked Reuben not to mention it to anyone.

We have no idea what the letter contained, but we can guess. Within the past three days Polly had been hurrying to arrange everything in order to have Matthew back in the shop and with her. The letter probably contained the message that Henry was dead and that she had everything arranged for him to come back to her. It might have contained something else of more dire proportions that would not come into focus until much later.

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, an 1850s true crime co-authored with my friend, Ellen Bachorski in 2000. We re-released it into the modern world of POD in both soft and hard covers, and soon for Nook, Kindle, etc. with a new cover, fresh edits and new info. 



  1. You have a unique way of telling this true story. The facts, Ma'm. We're getting the facts and personally I'm
    enjoying it. Every word.

  2. Oh boy, she is a nasty little thing! I want to know what was in that letter.

  3. oooh what a place to stop! I have to buy this because it drives me nuts when these excerpts stop "dead" :D :D

  4. I hope to have the kindle version done in the next couple days. Non fiction has a few tricky elements that fiction doesn't.

  5. Fascinating story, especially since it's true. I'll watch for this for my Kindle.

  6. Fascinating story, interesting to see how she's so clever but also possibly sowing the seeds of her own downfall, trying to rush the events. and all true stuff, which is amazing. Great excerpt!

  7. I think she may have overdone it asking the postmaster not to tell anyone.

  8. I'd think asking someone not to mention something just draws attention to it... She should have tried to pass it off as something innocuous. (Well, she shouldn't have murdered her husband, but failing that...)

  9. You've definitely got me curious about what's in that letter. Great narrative with nice details. Loved the snippet!

  10. Boy, it's like a train wreck, a really tragic one, and I can't stop looking at it.

    Wonder if Matthew was in cahoots with Polly???

    Good 8, Cindy!

  11. Fascinating as always, loads of detail and tension.

  12. Sad that this happened, but you're doing a great job retelling this story. :)


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Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

Barnes & Noble
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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