Twosomes? Threesomes? When Things Turned Ugly in Smiths Falls

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I have quite a few people emailing me wondering how they can find out about family etc. You can contact your local museums like:  Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. The North Lanark Regional Museum  is your place for Mississippi Mills questions.  There is the Lanark County Genealogical Society WebsiteMississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte. Smiths Falls Heritage House, Perth (Matheson House) Museum, Lanark Museum, Middleville Museum and the list goes on.

 

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One whopper of a story I found in the Perth Courier, Sept. 22, 1899

Tragedy in Smith’s Falls

On Monday last news came to town that a woman named  Mrs. Blake had been killed by her husband the night previous.  The tragedy caused a considerable sensation in the town and further developments were looked for eagerly.  The following dispatch to the daily paper seemed to indicate that the occurrence was the result of a free indulgence in liquor and the passions thereby evoked; also that the killing was not pre-meditated.

In an old, dilapidated house perched on the rocks in back of Gould’s foundry, a revolting crime appears to have been committed involving the death of a woman named  Blake.  The house is probably the most miserable in town and this morning presented a sickening sight of dissolution and squalor.  It is a small dwelling, about 16×20 with a lean-to kitchen in the rear; but small as it is, it is divided into two parts. One has been occupied by Thomas Blake and his wife and here the tragedy was enacted.

Both Blake and his wife were addicted to liquor and drunken brawls were frequent between them.  He is a man of about 70 years of age, and she was about 60.

This morning, a few minutes after 7:00, Blake went down to a blacksmith’s shop near his home and told the smith that his wife was dead.  The smith went up to the house with the man and upstairs saw a terrible sight. The old woman lay stretched out upon an old quilt on the floor along side an old bed, cold in death.

From the appearance of the body, it was an awful death that came to her. Her only clothing was a man’s undershirt and the legs of a pair of coarse black stockings from which the legs were cut.  Her face was bruised and black, bearing unmistakable evidence of having been beaten and her whole body was covered with bruises and wounds.  Her hair was matted and tangled; one arm lay partly under her, swollen and black; her face was almost unrecognizable as human; and everywhere about her body were pools of blood which had oozed from her wounds.

Blake, the husband, talked quite freely and indifferently about the dreadful occurrence though it was quite plain that his nervousness almost overcame him at times.  According to his story, it is the old question of drink over again.  He says that both he and his wife were drinking on Saturday and that on Saturday evening a man named Henry McGaw came to the house bringing with him a bottle of liquor; McGaw, he says, went away during the night for another bottle and soon after his going, he (Blake) went to sleep on an old lounge which stands in the corner of the one room downstairs.

Later in the night, he says he was awakened and going upstairs found McGaw in his bed. This angered him, he said, and he went downstairs, got a stick of wood and went back.  Both McGaw and Mrs. Blake were asleep; both were drunk, and he began pounding them with the stick.  He thinks he struck them across the face at least twice and then he shoved them both down the stairs.  He claims not to know how or when the woman got back upstairs but McGaw went away.

On Sunday morning, he says, he took his wife up a drink of water and also claims he spoke to her and she spoke to him in the afternoon of yesterday.  He insists he did not know she was dead until this morning when he felt her body and found it cold. He admitted carrying water upstairs and washing up the floor and wiping upon her face and states that he burned the stick with which he pounded her.

The dead woman was Blake’s second wife.  It is a strange coincidence that his first wife died under the exact same circumstances.  There was no inquest at the time and people complained nothing was done about the woman’s death.

October 6th, 1899– Not so fast Mr. Blake

The adjourned inquest on the body of Ann Blake was opened this morning before Dr. McCallum, coroner.  E.G. Malloch, county attorney, was present on behalf of the Crown and C. Foy, barrister of Perth appeared for the prisoner Blake.  The evidence went to show that Blake, his wife and Henry McGrath, spent Saturday evening and night in drink; that the Blake household was unusually quiet and peaceful except when liquor was present when one of the witnesses described it as liquor and fighting and the victim was the one who was the least intoxicated.  Blake confessed to having given his wife a pounding on Saturday night.  He confessed to at least three different parties who held out no inducement for him to do so.  The jury retired at 9:00 p.m. to consider their verdict and they soon brought in the verdict of willful murder against Blake who was forthwith arraigned before the magistrate and committed to Perth to stand trial.

Lanark County Genealogical Society Website

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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