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Writing History & Mysteries

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The choice for letter Q came to mind immediately. I went to my file cabinet and pulled the case file of Thomas B. Quackenbush, for the 1876 rape and murder of the widow Sarah Norton. This particular man did not escape the gallows. Excerpts from one news article is below.
August 18, 1876


... On arriving at the gallows the prisoner was given a seat under the fatal noose. He was pale but composed. He sat down, folded his arms, and prayed. The Sheriff read the death warrant.

When the reading was finished, the Sheriff asked the prisoner whether he had anything to say. ...

..."Farewell gentleman. You see the death I have come by sin. Blessed Jesus, I am so soon to appear before you." While the Sheriff was adjusting the noose, the prisoner said: "Don't be nervous Sheriff; you are but doing your duty." The Under Sheriff then drew the black cap over his face. ...

... On Wednesday evening previous to his execution, Quackenbush made to Sheriff Ward a confession, which was afterwards reduced to writing. The following is a copy:

"With reference to the great crime of which I have been convicted, I would say that I am not guilty of murder as I was convicted. I did enter Mrs. Norton's house and ravish her, but I had no intention of committing murder--no intention of physically injuring her. I was intoxicated at the time, and while under the influence of liquor, my passions are completely beyond my control. Had I been in my right mind, I never should have done it, for I never committed an act like this before. To the friends of Mrs. Norton I would say that I am sincerely sorry for the crime that I have committed and for which I am soon to offer up my life in expiation, and I trust you will extend to me the forgiveness I hope to receive at the hands of my Maker.
Thomas B. Quackenbush"

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