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More in Crime
Not-so-good old days
On April 8, 1845, readers of the Oxford Democrat might have been shocked to see a story attributed to the Manchester, NH, "American Extra" account of:
It becomes our painful duty to record the details of the horrid murder of one of our fellow citizens, Mr. James L. Parker. Mr. Parker was Tax Collector for the past year, & owned a bowling saloon and residence on Manchester street. Last evening at half past nine precisely, Mr. Hill, the gentleman who has the immediate charge of the saloon, was entering the front door leading into it, and saw a man standing on the front door step which led into the saloon by a side door from the entry, and also upstairs where his family were. Mr. Hill had just got seated as the man rang the bell. There were several persons in the saloon and as Mr. Parker arose to answer the call of the bell, Capt. Stiffen Fellows arose to leave and go home. As he past the front door of the house where the man stood he heard him inform Mr. P. that a Mrs. Bean wished to see him on urgent business at Janesville, (a small village about three-fourths of a mile from Elm Street). He inquired what Mrs. Bean, and was informed a lady from Lowell who wished to see him on important business as she was to take the Cars early in the morning. While Mr. Parker stepped in to get a lantern, Capt. P. entered an alley, or by-place, and just as he returned to the side-walk, the man and Mr. P. were ahead of him. He followed them as far as his house and thought nothing more of the matter. Mrs. Parker looking into the saloon soon after expecting to find her husband, but not seeing him she supposed he was attending some business with a gentleman to whom he was about disposing of his property preparatory to leaving the town. She retired to rest and waking up early this morning missed him. She asked her daughter where her husband was, but being answered she did not know, sent or went to the house of Mr. Goodwin, the gentleman with whom he was negotiating for the sale of his property, and learning he had not been there felt somewhat alarmed. Immediately a search was made for him, and the mystery of his disappearance soon solved.
A man coming from Hallsville, another little village about three-fourths mile from Elm street, contiguous to Janesville, and discovered the murdered body of Mr. Parker, lying discreetly in the middle of an unfrequented road made through a growth of pines which lies between this and the other two villages, and immediately gave information.
It would appear that Mr. P. was decoyed and murdered for his money, as it was well known that he had money about him. The lantern was found near his body, and a small butcher knife, the blade about eight inches long, and a razor.
There were two stabs found upon his right thigh, on examination, and a dreadful wound on the back of his neck, crossing and severing the jugular vein. There were appearances of a hard struggle, and it is supposed that the murderer was wounded in the right hand in the encounter as blood was found for the space of two hundred rolls from the body, and numerous indications of his having dipped his hand in the snow to wash it off. Cries of fire and murder were heard by a number of our citizens about half past nine last evening, but supposed to be in different directions — the noise soon ceasing. It as supposed to proceed from some noisy boys.
At twenty minutes past ten, the time of writing, the coroner is holding an inquest over the body, but we do not wait for a verdict.
Not only did the New Hampshire staff not wait for the verdict, but the Democrat didn't carry the result, if it was ever received.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.