A sad affair occurred in Franklin on Monday last which resulted in the death of Mr. Erastus Cross. It appears that Mr. Cross, while milking, was accosted by a Frenchman (the name we have been unable to learn) with whom he had an unsettled account, who demanded an instant settlement. Mr. Cross refused to settle then, and after some words had passed between them told the Frenchman to be off or he would throw the milking stool at him. The Frenchman immediately seized a club and dealt Mr. Cross a violent blow on the head which caused his death almost instantly. When the Frenchman saw what he had done, he manifested much sorrow, declaring that he did not intend to kill Mr. Cross. He gave himself up without resistance, and is lodged in jail."
One hundred years after the below letter was written, there were three women named Barbara who found each other online because we were working on the same line, the CROSS line, at the same time. There were also two Martha's interested and adding all that they could. Barbara R. has the original letter, and we all got copies to transcribe. Whenever we emailed one another, we always had to use our last initial, it was hectic trying to remember who wrote what.
Transcribing this letter and trying to figure out who the people were was one of my top ten highlights in my genealogy research capers. The women mentioned in the below letter lived in Canada, and were on a mission to confront the man who killed Erastus CROSS. I love the last line in the letter, where Stella wrote, "Burn up this letter." So glad nobody listened. (Note: The all caps were put in by us, as a way to catch the names, so I decided to leave them in.)
Letter from Stella Cross RILEY to her brother, Herbert Nelson CROSS, October 30, 1899.
Mother said you wanted me to write about grandfather death etc. I could not write any sooner as mother has had a severe cold and been quite sick. She calls it the grip and I guess it is. She has not been able to do much, consequently I have had it to do. I was sick in bed two days myself and between us we have had a miserable time. I’ve had a glorious time dewey day and we have had to pay for it. I knew better than to do what I did but the rest danced around in such an excited state that I caught the fever. It was funny to see Aunt HELEN. Every one gathered there and she informed each one that she was afraid her food would not last but it did. KATE told me that her mother was certainly crazy and Aunt HELEN says KATE is. I suppose mother told you all about it, so I won’t repeat. I had a very pleasant time while I was in Enosburg [Vermont] only the weather was very unpleasant, only a few pleasant days. LUCY and I went to Franklin [Vermont]one day, visited a Mrs. HILL (own cousin to father) and called on a Mrs. SOULES another cousin. Mrs. HILL is a nice appearing woman of about sixty I should say. Her mother and our grandfather were brother and sister. She told me grandfather (ERASTUS) was as handsome man as she ever see. Tall, well built, and dignified in appearance. From her I also learned that they were “well to do” the first years of their married life but after that law suit grandfather got in to (you remember father telling about it, he lost all the money he had saved,) he was discontented and moved from place to place in hopes to get rich too fast. She said he was respected wherever he lived but just as soon as he got to doing well would go somewhere else. While in Franklin I went to the house where they lived a long time, a pretty brick house. I also visited the Academy where father went to school. We stayed with Mrs. HILL all night and the next day after we had made many arrangements for the recital we started for home, stopping en route to the place where grandfather was killed. The woman living there allowed us to go over the house and we went in to the room where he was laid out. It is a pretty farm and a large one, it is about five miles from Enosburg on the road to Franklin. We next drove a short distance to where NELSON MARCO lived but did not find him at home. However I was determined to see him, so for days we planned to go again but every day it was rainy and cloudy. LUCY went all over town to get some one had a camera to go with me so we could take his picture and finally we got a young fellow and the day before I started for home we drove out there and was fortunate enough to find him out in the yard. We stopped and asked him to direct us to Franklin. He did not look at all as I expected he would, I had an idea he looked ugly, but on the contrary he was a pleasant looking well preserved old man. I should say he was past 75. After a few minutes conversation, in which he was all smiles, I asked him pointing to the farm where grandfather was killed, who lived there, he told us, then I said “who owns the place? he replied, “Mr. BEATTY old Mr. BEATTY, he owns lots of farms or he did once. I hear he giveim all to he boys.” I looked at him closely and in awful tones (so Lucy said) remarked. Then that is the place where ERASTUS CROSS was killed! The smiles died away from his face and in their place was such a frightened look wild expression that LUCY gave me a warning look. He stammered tried make an attempt to speak three times and finally succeeded in saying, “Mr. BEATHE, he owns that farm, you know Mr. BEATHE, he lives in Enosburg, he lived over there a good many years ago, he” “Seeing you lived here so long, I interrupted you must of know Mr. Cross, the man who was murdered over there, didn’t you? A[h] that he muttered something but we could not understand what it was but that he was greatly distressed, was very evident. he was slowly backing to the house so I continued. My name is CROSS and I am ERASTUS CROSS’S granddaughter. With out any exaggeration he turned as pale as death, his hands moved from his face to the fence where he was leaning in a painfully nervous manner as he gasped out. You must mean a great granddaughter. “No.” I said, granddaughter. He again moved toward his house stopped and said, “seeing you been so bold?” to ask me questions I going to ask you if you know what has become of ALBERT CROSS.” Of course I told him he was dead and that I was his daughter. I also told him that grandmother was queer after she see her husband killed and finally went crazy and died. We thought we would make it as interesting for him as we could. I was going to tell him we knew who he was, but the old man looked so I hadn’t the courage so I just said that we are going down to the place of the murder and find out all we can and drove away.
LUCY didn’t say a word. Said she didn’t dare to. The fellow took a snap shot of him but LUCY has not written me whether it was a success or not. He also took a picture of the house (grandfather’s) and I don’t see why she hasn’t sent it. The house where MARCO lives (all alone) is very small, poor house. We took down some of his conversation. But he talked broken, same thing as Greenwood does only not as much so. They say is afraid of strangers and that he won’t go out the BEATTY farm after dark. He has a daughter living in St. Albans, she married a Mr. WOOD. He, MARCO, is spoken of as a man with an ugly temper.
We had a pleasant call on Mr. BEATTY and he seemed glad to have met me. I took down his story and send to you, also a copy of the life of E. CROSS and I want you to return them. I am going to write them over again when I get time. This Mr. BEATTY is rich and respected. He does not seem to want to say much about the trial, but he did say that DAN WHITE was paid quite a sum of money to testify as he did. You see the body was removed before the coroner got there, so he could tell what he pleased. SANFORD HALL said his father was paid for testifying that grandfather was a quarrelsome man, and hard to get along with. That law suit he got in to was brought up against him. I also learned that the State Attorney did not seem to take very much interest in the case. Father was the only child who was there at the time (except Nelson, who was a very young boy) who could be of any assistance and for some reason he didn’t do anything about it. There were witnesses who testified that MARCO said he would “kill CROSS if he asked him for his pay.” You know he owed grandfather, Aunt ELIZA said that he drawed his wood for him to keep him from freezing the winter before and was mad because grandfather wanted his pay. Here is another story I heard. There were two rich farmers in the vicinity, a Mr. HAMMOND and this Mr. BEATTY, the former did not like Mr. B. and tried all he could to hurt him. He advised grandfather not to go on his farm, said he would get into trouble if he did, etc., etc. After he did take the farm, he done everything he could to bother him. Aunt H. said all of them had lived there a year. Mr. HAMMOND came over one night and asked for g.father if he was going to stay another year. G. father told him that he was, that he liked Mr. B. and that he had treated him square.” “Well,” said H. “if you stay here you will be sorry.” A. HALL heard this conversation. MARCO lived on this man farm and he, MARCO had told that Mr. H. had told him not to pay CROSS. Not to work for him. The people up there seem to think that the murder was the result of this enmity between HAMMOND & BEATTY. It seems that H. was greatly rejoiced when “Mr. B [‘s] word about the position of the body“ did not go with the jury. To sum it all up, DAN WHITE swore that he heard the quarrel, see grandfather take up the milking stool run after MARCO and just as he was going to strike him, he took up the sledge stake and struck the fatal blow. Mr. BEATTY told that WHITE had told him the same night of the murder that M. hit him as he turned leave him and that the position of the body as he found it confirmed this. Grandfather had been sick for a week or more and had not been able to do much work. Grandmother tried not to have him milk that night and he said he would just milk the kicking cow because WHALE? couldn’t and then come in and go to bed. The day I was to give my recital Aunt ELIZA went with me and we stayed with Mrs. HILL and Mrs. SOULS three days. One afternoon Mrs. SOULS’ son drove me to Pigeon Hill and I visited grandfather’s grave. He is buried in his sister’s lot. They have a good monument. One thing seems strange to me, grandfather was a Mason and they were going to bury him, pay all expenses and had even got the grave dug in Franklin when father and MRS. WELLS, grandfather’s sister, objected and insisted that he be buried in Pigeon Hill. Father would not let the Masons bury him because of something had had to do with the lawsuit years before. Mrs. SOULS said you promised to send her one of your pictures when you was there and that she wanted you to send one now. I am going up to Enosburg in Jan. if nothing happens to get up a entertainment and give a recital for the Ladies Improvement Society. If you want one of MARCO pictures let me know.
I am getting subscriptions for a paper (will send Francis a copy and if I can get 33 names, I can get a bed. Mother is all excited and she is going to ask a few to take it. The relatives are responding and I guess we can get the required number of names. Would you just as soon ask the man in the office if he will take it for his wife. Some are going to give us two subscriptions. You must take it. It is only 25 a year. You can tell the man that the club is being raised by a friend. I intended to have copied this letter, but I haven’t got the time. I guess it is rather mixed for I have been writing it for the last three days. The children have been here and all has bothered, Mother is quite a little better tonight. She is greatly interested in this Vanderbilt will. One would think to hear her ask me question that I was a second Depew in the family. I forgot to say that grandmother has got a pretty monument Uncle JUDSON, NELSON and grandfather names are on it. At Mrs. SOULS I see a brass candle stick that JOSEPH CROSS’ g.father used to have, also a chair he used to have. Mrs. S. says when she is dead I can have the candlestick. It is bed time. Mother is reading David Harum and hasn’t been to sleep this eve. Guess she is not going to live?? Lovingly, STELLA
Burn up this letter.
[Sunday?] I heard just now that David Anderson was just alive."
Note: I realize the letter is hard to follow (and it is long, 10 pages), but since it gave me much pleasure transcribing it and placing the people, I wanted to share it. And, maybe somebody else in blog land shares this ancestry.