The Deacon Murder—Away Back in Clarendon and Miller

The Deacon Murder—Away Back in Clarendon and Miller


What separates Away Back in Clarendon and Miller from other historical accounts, is the delight Armstrong took in storytelling. He peppers the drier historical accounts with some ripping yarns.

The prime example of this is his account of the Deacon murder. As the story goes, in about 1870, Thomas Deacon, who lived on the Mud Lake Road, became enamoured with a Miss VanKoughnet. Mr. Deacon had a wife, however. Although his wife was ill, she was recovering, but then she suddenly died. Neighbours became suspicious when Thomas Deacon arrived at the funeral with Miss VanKoughnet. As the casket was being lowered, George Monds called a halt to the proceedings. Deacon was grabbed and placed under guard. Eventually it was revealed that Mrs. Deacon died of strychnine poisoning, and Deacon was convicted of her murder at the courthouse in Harrowsmith, after much testimony from various neighbours. Deacon was hanged for his crime.

The story eventually became the subject of a ballad, which is reproduced in the book. On several occasions the ballad repeats a line that reveals certain prejudices of the time, and twas by a foolish serving girl that he was led astray




From Clarendon and Miller Archives.


Charlie Armstrong was born in Mountain Grove, Ontario, on September 27, 1908. He moved to Plevna in Clarendon and Miller in 1911. In 1928, he left for business college and a 30-year career in the Air Force. He continued in life insurance and real estate before finally retiring to devote himself to his Plevna retreat. Away Back in Clarendon and Miller was the first of several manuscripts that kept him busy when he wasn’t gardening, or hunting, or fishing or just relaxing with a book and his beloved pipe. He died in July 2003.




Found on Amazon Canada

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)




The Buck Lake Murderer

The Saylor Store on Snow Road (McLaren Depot)

Margaret Closs Lanark and Snow Road- Genealogy

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

The old Cornucopia Lodge on Snow Road

A History of Snow Road & McLaren’s Depot

Mississippi Station?

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. While it is a fabulous book and a great asset for genealogists – its amazing at how much information was wrong in the book. As with all genealogy – people need to verify facts with multiple sources whenever possible.

    Take the deacon murder for example … the daughter’s name was Caroline – not Charlotte .. and Thomas Deacon did not go to live with his grandparents – he went to live with his Aunt (Lydia Jane VanKoughnet – sister of Caroline) and James Ward (brother of the murdered Jane Ward). All of this information can be verified in “The Daily News”. Nov 9, 1870 – last page in the assizes section where it chronicled the Deacon Murder trial.


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