Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 27, 1886: George Graham

Today we have a Missouri lynching that will take a while to get the whole picture. First we'll start with the earliest mention I found about George Graham in an article from the Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) dated May 25, 1885:

It Can't Be True.

The following is from the Elkhart Review, and the NEWS has no hesitation in pronouncing the charges contained therein untrue. The business relations between George Graham and Mrs. Malloy have been intimate, but nobody who knows wither of them will believe them capable of anything wrong:  "Mrs. Emma Malloy, who will be remembered as one of the editors of the Observer, formerly published in this city, and later well-known as a temperance lecturer, according to the Atchison Globe, has become involved in a scandal. It is charged that she and one George Graham, with whom she is traveling on a temperance tour, were registered as occupying the same room somewhere in Kansas. The hotel clerk says they represented themselves as brother and sister, and that there were two beds in the room, he thought it was all right. The Globe suggests that Me. Graham and Mrs. Malloy need reform, and thinks that a constitutional amendment would be about the correct method.

The next article is from the Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) dated January 22, 1886:


Further Particulars Concerning the Mysterious Disappearance of His Wife.

A Letter Received From His Son This Morning Corroborates the Statement in Last Evening's "News."

"We Have Never Heard of Mother Since Father Brought Us Here."

Last evening's NEWS created a profound sensation by the publication of certain facts concerning the disappearance of Mrs. George E. Graham, and other facts which seemed to convict him of bigamy. This morning, Mrs. Abbie Breese, of the Nickel Plate, and sister of the missing woman, received a letter from Graham's little boy, aged about 12 years, which corroborates the statements made in last evening's paper, and strengthens the probability that Mrs. Graham has been foully dealt with. Here is the lad's letter, which is written on the office letter-head of John Potter, the postmaster at Brookline, Mo., near which station is situated the farm of Mrs. Emma Malloy:

BROOKLINE, STATION, MO., Jan. 20, '86.

DEAR AUNT:—I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that me and Roy is well at present, and hope this may find you the same. Mother came to St. Louis, Missouri, with us, and pap left her there and brought us to Brookline, Mo. We have never heard of mother since. Pap married Cora Lee, July 18, 1885. Please write soon; direct in care of John Potter.


It seems from the above that we were in error in stating that the children had been left in Missouri when Mrs. Graham was here. The children were with her when she went to join her husband at St. Louis; but he had then been married to Cora Lee for two months. At St. Louis, Mrs. Graham disappeared and has not since been heard from. With the children, but without the mother, George continued on to Brookline.

For many weeks, the family of Mrs. Graham, in Fort Wayne, have been striving to gain information concerning the lost one. They have written to the authorities and everybody at Brookline from whom they had any hopes of getting word of the absent; but without avail. The following letter, received from George by Mrs. Breese last week, shows the brutal manner with which he treated her earnest pleading for news of her sister:

PAOLA, Kansas, Jan. 14th, 1886.

DEAR ABBIE:—Since writing you a few days since, I have concluded that I am about tired of your folks writing about the country about me, and we have decided to "take a walk" and go far enough this time so that we will not be disturbed by your heathenish letter writing. As you didn't seem inclined to give me any information about our goods, I will send an officer after them when we want them. When you hear of us again, you will be civilized enough not to act so cranky. Now, go ahead, and write to all the people in Brookline or Springfield, if you want to.

Yours in disgust,


In this brutal reply to a sister's appeal, to know that whereabouts of a missing sister, it will be noted that the heartless husband gives her letter writing as the cause of his "taking a walk." The following correspondence, however, seems much more likely to contain the true inwardness of his going "far enough" not to be "disturbed."

BROOKLINE, MO., Jan. 16th, 1886

Mrs. Abbie Breese, Fort Wayne, Ind.

You will find enclosed an account of a check forger, which was published this morning in our country paper, I sent Mr. O'Neal, a constable, of our town to the farm last Tuesday, and Mrs. Graham No. 2, told him to call on Monday, Jan. 18th, as Mr. G. was gone to Indiana, and would return Monday morning; but by the enclosed you can see what is the matter. There are several ladies at the Malloy farm and I think if we had your sister's picture it would be a help to us, as we can get no information whatever, not even from the children, the little boys.


Following is the newspaper clipping referred to, and it gives reason enough why George wanted to get far enough away not to be disturbed.


About a week ago a man named Graham, presented a check on the Home National Bank, of Elgin, Ill., signed Cook & Co., and endorsed to himself, to the Exchange Bank. Mr. Timmons identified Graham and endorsed the check. The money, amounting to $23.15, was paid, and the check forwarded for collection Wednesday a telegram was received stating that the check was a forgery, and yesterday the protest arrived. It was then learned that the Green County National and the First National Banks had also been victimized to the extent of $40.00 and $36.00 respectively.

On investigation, it was learned, that Graham had shaken the dust of this vicinity from his feet and flown. All the checks were signed Cook & Co. Graham lived on the old Cooper farm a few miles from the city, and was married to a foster daughter of Mrs. Malloy, the well-known temperance lecturer. Mrs. Malloy has signified her intention of making the losses of the banks good. Graham's whereabout are unknown."

We come now to the inquisitorial part of this subject. How can Mrs. Emma Malloy, who has posed before the country as a martyr to the cause of temperance, explain her connection with this affair? Mrs. Malloy knew that George Graham had a wife living at Fort Wayne, on the 18th of July, when he married her daughter. She knew, for he must have furnished him the money, that he was coming to St. Louis to meet his own wife two months after he had married another. How can Mrs. Malloy explain the lingering absence of the poor girl from Fort Wayne, who had been, with her children, an inmate of her home at Elgin and in Kansas? Does Mrs. Malloy expect the public forever to excuse the strange incidents that ever and anon mark her career? What strange infatuation is that which makes this lady write effusive love-letters to an ex convict and then permits him to marry her daughter with a wife still living? And what has become of poor Sarah Gorham? Why is there no investigation of her disappearance? What might not the waters of the Mississippi, at St. Louis, tell of this mystery? Mrs. Graham went to St. Louis to meet her husband. She did meet him; but who, alas, can tell of the parting? That she ever left St. Louis, is not known to her friends in this city. Why are not Mrs. Malloy and the alleged Mrs. Graham put upon the stand and asked to tell what they know about George E. Graham to a grand jury? Is human life of such little value that a wife may disappear from among her friends and no questions be asked as to her whereabouts? Even at the risk of "disturbing" Geo. E. Graham and Mrs. Malloy, the great temperance reformer, the NEWS asks these people to tell what they know of Sarah Graham's mysterious disappearance.

Next is a quick mention in the January 31, 1886 edition of the Fort Wayne Daily (Fort Wayne, Indiana):

A telegram from Mr. Lee Breese, dated Springfield, Mo., Jan., 29th, says that George Graham, is under arrest there, for bigamy. Some damaging proof will be sent on from here.

We continue with another Fort Wayne Daily News article from the February 9, 1886 edition:

It Won't Do.

George Graham, in his letter published in yesterday's NEWS, poses in the attitude of a much injured individual. He says that he was seeking to retrieve "a place among men," and that the action of the NEWS in seeking to gain for her friends in this city some tidings of the missing Sarah Graham, has torn this from him, and left him in an unpleasant predicament. We respectfully submit that this won't do. Mr. Graham must permit us to look at the case from a different standpoint than one which only contemplates his peace of mind. What the public is interested to know is, what has become of Sarah Graham? The records here show that George was married to her a second time, by Rev. McKaig in 1878. Since that time she lived with him as his wife, part of the time both being inmates of Mrs. Malloy's family. How does it happen, then, that he marries Cora Lee in July of last year and two months subsequently sends money for Sarah to join him in St. Louis? Isa it consistent to believe that Sarah Graham, knowing him to be married to another woman, took children to St. Louis to hand them  over freely to one who had usurped her place? Is this human nature? Does the the [sic] history of the human family teach us that mother's deal thus by their offspring? Does George Graham ask us to believe his unsubstantiated statement that his wife was guilty of this iniquity? It is preposterous. The fact still remains that Graham met his wife  at St. Louis; that he parted with her there. Will he tell us what were her intentions when they parted? Did she bid good-bye to the little ones as one who never expected or intended to see them again? Did she have any plans for the future? Graham's cold narrative leaves too much to the imagination. Sarah's friend would like to know if she be living or dead. Their entreaties to her husband have been unavailing. For a time after her disappearance, George wrote letters home, telling her sister that Sarah had a sore hand and was unable to write.These letters are still in her possession. Will he please tell the NEWS the object of writing these letters? If she had unaccountably disappeared and he was agonized over her absence as he now insists, to the extent that he had a detective at St. Louis striving to learn her whereabouts, if he was seeking to retrieve his place among men, as he now assures us, why did not he act the man and acquaint her friends with his fears that she was lost to them? We say to Mr. George E. Graham that his statements are too thin. They are inconsistent and unreasonable. He seems unable to confine himself to the subject at issue, and rather seeks to draw attention to himself as the unfortunate party in the case. But it won't do. Turn the question in any light we may, we can only see the character of Graham in a hideous aspect. Taking his own statements and he confesses to having cast off the woman who bore his children and who, if she is all that he intimates, was sublime in the womanly quality of supreme devotion to a convicted criminal. we have tried hard to pity George Graham; but sympathy for such an ingrate as he refuses to come at our bidding. We join with her friends in this city in demanding what has become of Sarah Graham?

We get closer to the lynching in this article from the Lawrence Daily Journal (Lawrence, Kansas) dated February 26, 1886:


Horse Thief and Bigamist Graham Adds Wife Murder to His List.

The Horrible Discovery Made at the Bottom of an Unused Well.

The Assassin in Limbo and a Hemp Pulling Hourly Expected.

Details of the Terrible Crime—Graham's Previous History, Etc.

A Bigamist's Damnable Crime.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., February 25.—Aftert he arrest of George Graham on a charge of bigamy some weeks ago, and his incarceration in jail here, a strong desire was at once developed in the public mind to know something of the whereabouts of wife No.1.

For some time it was generally believed that Mrs. Graham No. 1


in St. Louis, after meeting her husband. The investigation, which was begun and has been carried on by detectives Davis, Erskin, White and others, soon developed the fact that she came and passed through North Springfield.

From there all trace of her disappeared, and for a time it seemed that every effort to discover


would be baffled. While the hunt was going on, a brother came from Indiana and spent several days at a Mrs. Malley's farm, during which he searched every where for some trace of his sister.

Finding nothing, he left instructions with the officers at Brooklyn to


which he had discovered, but had no means at hand to explore, and he would pay the expenses.

Mr. Potter, of Brooklyn, employed a man to make a windlass and to-day was the time appointed to set it up and make the descent.

About twenty men went to the well and one man was lowered to the bottom, a distance of fifty-seven feet, where it opens into a sort of cave. Arrived at the bottom


met his gaze. There before him lay the naked body of a woman in an advanced state of decomposition. Not a thread of clothing was left on her body, but it had all been thrown in after her and lay near by.

Her chemise had caught on a rock and lodged and was in a good state of preservation. There was a 


near the heart, and a bullet hole through her corset and chemise in a corresponding part of each.

The body was brought to the city by the coroner and the inquest will proceed to-morrow.

The is no doubt but that the body found is that of the lost Mrs. Graham, nor is there any doubt that


The clothing found corresponds exactly with that described by Mrs. Brieze as worn by her sister when she left her home in Indiana, and there are other facts equally as strong.

It is altogether the most fiendish and diabolic crime that has been committed for years.

Graham is now in jail, and there is little doubt as to his guilt.

It is among the most horrible revelations in the annals of crime, and the community is thoroughly excited.

Another Account. 

MEMPHIS, Tenn., February 25.—An Avalanche special from Springfield, Mo., says the greatest excitement prevails over the discovery of a foul murder committed last September. George Graham is the suspected party. His victim was his wife who came from Fort Wayne, Ind., via St. Louis to meet him at Springfield. He left Springfield with her and his two children on September 29, but returned two days afterwards alone. Nothing more was seen of Mrs. Graham. The children, however, were taken to his farm, near Brooklyn, seven miles distant from here. He told a lady with whom his wife stopped that she was not the mother of the children, but their aunt. Graham had been divorced from his wife owing to his imprisonment in the penitentiary in Indiana for horse stealing. On his release he again wedded her and moved to Kansas. Treating her badly caused a separation and she went home to her people in Indiana. Graham then went to Springfield and married the niece of Malley, the great temperance lecturer. He lived with Mrs. Graham No. 2 for a year, when his whereabouts became known to Mrs. Graham No. 1, and he met her in St. Louis before bringing her to Springfield. The long absence from her home at Ft. Wayne, of Mrs. Graham No. 1 caused uneasiness among her relatives, and her brother-in-law, Mr. Brieze, after writing many letters to this city, came to Springfield, and though failing to find her, had Graham arrested for bigamy, and he is now in jail. This was in the early part of last month, here matters rested, but detectives East of St. Louis and Davis and White, of Springfield began the search which to-day resulted in finding the body of the missing woman, naked, in a dry well fifty feet deep, near Brooklyn. A bullet hole was found in her right breast which had perforated her corset.

The coroner has gone to the scene of the crime. If identification of the remains are satisfactory, Graham will be lynched, and thus will end the career of a horse thief, bigamist and murderer.

Some different information is included in an article from The February 25 1886 edition of The Fort Wayne Sentinel:


Geo. Graham's Ex-Wife Found Dead

Her Sister, Mrs. Breese, Summoned to Springfield, mo., to Recognize Her.

Graham Now in Prison and a Very Bad Case Looms Up Before Him.


George Graham's Wife Found Dead at Springfield.

This telegram, received this afternoon by Lee T. Breese, of the Nickel Plate road, explains itself:

SPRINGFIELD, MO., Feb. 25, 1886:

Mrs. Abbie Breese, Fort Wayne, Ind.:

We have found your sister's body. Come on the first train and identify her. Our state will pay your expenses.

[Signed]             ED. C. DAVIS.

The dead woman is the first wife of Geo. Graham, formerly of this city. Her maiden name is Sarah Gorham. She is the daughter of Marquis Gorham, the tin roofer and saw man who lives across the canal from Hoffman Bro.'s factory.

George Graham first married Miss Gorham here in 1871. He was divorced from her in 1873, and again married her April 17, 1878. They went out west with their two children and were lost sight of for a time.

Graham next turned up as the husband of the daughter of Mrs. Emma Malloy, the famous hoosier temperance evangelist. Whether he was divorced from his first wife or not, is not known, but he met her afterward and finally she disappeared altogether, leaving her children with Mrs. Malloy. Graham was arrested for bigamy in the mean-time and placed in prison, notwithstanding his boasted innocence.

Mrs. Lee T. Breese continued to search for her sister and the telegram above has the sequel. 

Whether Mrs. Graham No. 1. was murdered or committed suicide does not appear to be in the telegram from Detective Davis, but Graham and his paramours were suspected of knowledge of her disappearance and whereabouts.

George Graham is the son of the late Engineer James Graham and his mother still lives at the corner of Clinton and Wayne streets.

George Graham served two terms in the prison north, one for horse stealing and another for forgery. He stole a horse from William Vaughn May 29, 1873, and got a term of five years. He then forged a check on Shurick & Olds December 19, 1879, and served two years.

The Lawrence Daily Journal (Lawrence, Kansas) dated February 27, 1886:

The Remains Proven Beyond a Doubt to be Mrs. Graham's. 

The Community Convinced that Graham is the Murderer. 

Excitement Runs High and Tragical Ending Expected. 

Springfields Sensation.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., February 26.—The coroner's inquest held to-day over the nude body of the woman found yesterday in an abandoned well on the Malley farm, and which all supposed be the remains of Mrs. Sarah Graham, has thus far elected startling developements.[sic] Over two thousand people crowded the court house, and the testimony was listened to with great attention. The examination of witnesses was conducted by Prosecuting Attorney John A. Patterson, the first witness being Charlie Graham, a thirteen-year-old son of George and Sarah Graham. It will be remembered that upon the examination of George Graham a few weeks ago upon the charge of bigamy, this lad swore that the last he saw of his mother (Sarah Graham) was on the depot platform in St. Louis on the 30th of last September; that she bade himself, his younger brother and his father good by there, as the train moved off. 

At the inquest to-day the little fellow swore that his mother came out on the train with them; that when they arrived at the city, the father took the boys from the train and left them at a boarding house where he had made provision in advance for them, and telling them he was going to Brooklyn with the mother, from there to the Malley farm, a few miles distant, and he would return for them the next morning. His father did come for them the next day and drove them to the Malley farm, and since then he has seen nothing of his mother. When asked why he swore at the examination of his father for bigamy, that his mother was not on the train but had remained in St. Louis, he answered that he had been instructed by his father to swear. 

He described the clothes worn by his mother on the day of the trip from St. Louis, and when shown the articles of wearing apparel found in the abandoned well on the Malley farm in company with the denuded female form, he identified each and every one. This was the senational [sic] feature of the examination at the inquest thus far, and tears came into the eyes of many in the vast throng as the little fellow recognized article after article of the apparel worn by his murdered mother on that fatal day. 

This testimony, with that already adduced by the detectives, proves conclusively that Mrs. Sarah Graham left St. Louis on the morning of the 30th of last September in company with her husband and two little boys; that Mr. Graham put the boys off at Springfield and continued on the train with his wife. They got off the train at Dorchester with the intention of walking to the Malley farm house two or three mile distant; that from that time nothing was seen or heard of Mrs. Graham. All trace was lost of her until the horrible discovery of the nude body and clothing at the bottom of the well on the Malley place and within a few hundred yards of the house; and a bullet hole through the chemise and corset, prove conclusively that she was shot in the right breast, the body was stripped stark naked and thrown into the well, and it is supposed it was the intention of the murderer to burn the clothes, but he became alarmed and threw them into the well hurriedly and then determined to trust to luck for concealment. The remains were decomposed past identification, but that it will be proven to be the body of Sarah Graham, by the clothing, there is no doubt. 

The testimony of Chas. Graham to-day and his recognition of the apparel as that of his mother is conclusive evidence to the community as to the guilt of Graham. 

The sister of the murdered woman, Mrs. Abbie Breese, of Corwin, Ind., will reach the city in the morning and the inquest was adjourned to await her arrival. The testimony in identification of the clothing will be of importance and if she recognizes it was the worn by the deceased when she left home, it will be conclusive evidence of the body, and George Graham will occupy no enviable position. 

Already the air is filled with threats of lynching and the most conservative citizens anticipate a tragical ending of this most horrible affair. 

Finally we learn about the lynching from The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) dated April 27, 1886:


George Graham Lynched by a Mob. 

Who Batter the Jail Down and Hang the Cowardly Wife Murderer to a Tree. 

He Completely Exonerates Cora Lee and Emma Molloy to His Determined Executioners. 


He is Lynched by an Armed Mob. 

By Telegraph to THE SENTINEL

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 27.—At 1:30 this morning a mob of four hundred armed men surrounded the county jail, battered in the doors and took out Geo. Graham and hung him to a tree. 

At 2 o'clock the mob started out of town on Booneville street, with Graham in their midst. 

It was thought the mob would take Graham to the Molloy farm and hang him, and then throw his body into the well where his wife's body was found. 

But the leaders of the party artfully gave their followers the slip by starting in the direction of the Molloy place, but changed their course as soon as the others turned back, and while yet within the city limits hanged him to a tree within just one hour after the attack was made on the jail. This note was pinned to the body: 

"We heartily welcome all strangers to citizenship, who are pure of purpose and act of good faith, but we give this as a warning to ex-convicts and murderers who may hereafter invade our county, to impose on our credulity. We also give warning that any person or persons of any rank or station, who dare to discover the actors in this tragedy, will be surely and speedily dispatched to hell, where all things are revealed to the curious. In justice to the memory of Sarah Graham, a loving wife, a dear mother, whose life was sacrificed at the altar of Hecate, we subscribe ourselves, 


N.B.—"To Sheriff Donnell: Keep your mouth shut. If you recognize any of us, you will die the death of a dog." 

It is claimed that Graham, before hanging repeated the declaration that neither Mrs. Molloy nor Cora Lee were implicated in the murder. 


ST. LOUIS, April 27.—A special from Springfield, Mo., to the Post-Dispatch, states that the inquest over the body of George E. Graham, resulted in a verdict that the deceased came to his death by strangulation, at the hands of persons unknown. 


Cora Lee had been informed that an attempt to lynch him would be made, but she failed to notify the sheriff or make any attempt to save her lover's life. 


The Associated Press correspondent interviewed Sheriff Donnell, who said: "I have heard so much talk of mobs that gave up the idea of one. The first thing knew was about 1 o'clock, when masked men broke into the room and said, ' We are friends; don't be scared,' overpowered me, and then requested the keys of Mrs. D. Getting tired of refusal, the leader said; 'Well boys, bring the tools.' One of the party, who evidently knew where they were, walked straight to the drawer where the keys were kept and forced it open. I know nothing of how Graham took it. I was kept close in the room." 

Mrs. Donnell said: "They were cool and collected. When they unlocked Graham's cell he said: 'You can hang me, but, by G—d you can't scare me." They 


behind him and marched him through the hall with a rope around his neck. He was as white as a sheet, but otherwise never flinched. 

The mob is various estimated at 150 to 400. The correspondent saw them leave town, and would say they were at least 200 strong. 

Graham's cell mate said it was the quietest piece of business he ever saw. Graham never flinched, but said: "By G—d, I ain't scared." 

Graham made no entreaties for them to spare him, but went to his death cooly, and died apparently without any struggle. The mob dispersed in all directions.  

I would have really liked to continue with the aftermath, but it will have to wait for a later date. Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 


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