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The Mystery of Mary RogersA TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER
By Rick Geary
NANTIER � BEALL � MINOUSTCHINE Publishing inc.Copyright © 2001 Rick Geary
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWednesday, July 28, 1841 On This Sweltering Day, New Yorkers In Droves Sought To Escape The Foul Air Of The City ...
And Enjoy The Wooded Glades And Cool. Breezes Of The New Jersey Shores.
They Arrived At Hoboken ...
Strolled Through The "Elysian Fields ..."
And Would Perhaps Tarry At The "Sybil'S Cave," Where Fresh Spring Water Could Be Had For A Penny A Glass.
At About 3:00 Pm, Five Such Young Gentleman Walked Northward From The Ferry Landing ...
Along The Shore Toward Castle Point.
Suddenly, Their Attention Was Distracted By Shouts From The River.
Two Boys In A Row-Boat -
There'S A Dead Body!
Indeed, What Appeared To Be A Human Form Could Be Seem Drifting In The Tides Of The Hudson.
Three Of The Men-Henry Mallin, James Boulard, And H.G. Luther-Ran To A Nearby Pavillion And Hired A Boat.
What They Found Was The Fully-Clothed Body Of A Young Woman.
Bruised And Water-Lodged ... But The Lineaments Of Her Beauty Were Still Perceptible.
With Great Difficulty, The Men Secured The Corpse, And Brought It In To Lie Upon The Shore ...
As A Substantial Crowd Accumulated.
Before Long, Two Young Men Emerged From The Crowd To Examine The Remains Closely.
Dear God ...
They KnewThe Unfortunate Young Lady.
This Is Mary Rogers!
Oh God-The News May Kill Her Mother!
The Corpse Lay On The Shore Into The Late Afternoon, Bloating And Blackening In The Sun ...
Until The Arrival Of Hudson County Authorities, In The Persons Of:
Gilbert C. Merritt, Justice Of The Peace.
And The Coroner, Dr. Richard F. Cook.
The Two Men Who Identified The Remains-Mr. Crommelin And Mr. Padley-Were Detained With Other Witnesses ...
While The Body Was Removed To A Building In Hoboken For A Somewhat Hasty Post-Mortem.
The Coroner'S Inquest, Which Convened At 7:00 Pm, Was Similarly Hurried.
In Total, Only Five Witnesses Were Called:
Beginning With Two Gentleman ...
Who Had Stood On Shore And Watched The Recovery Of The Body ...
While, Curiously, The Three Men Who Had Made The Actual Recovery Were Not Sworn.
The Third Witness To Testify Was Mr. Alfred Crommelin, Who Claimed To Be Friend Of The Deceased.
He Identified Her As Mary Cecilia Rogers, Aged About Twenty ...
Who Had Left Her Home On Nassau St. In New York City On The Previous Sunday ...
And, Despite A Vigorous Search, Had Not Been Seen Since.
He Recognized The Remains, He Said, Not So Much By The Discolored Face ...
As By The Tiny Feet, And The Distinctive Pattern Of Hair On The Arms.
He Went On The State That She Was Well-Known In The City, Due To Her Former Employment At A Popular Broadway Tobacco Store.
Nevertheless, Her Moral Character Was Of The Highest Order.
Truthfulness, Modesty, Discretion ...
Mr. Archibald Padley, Net To Testify, Did Not Know The Deceased So Well As His Friend, But Agreed With Him On All Points.
Finally, Dr. Cook Presented The Findings Of His Post Mortem:
The Young Woman, He Concluded, Was Most Certainly The Victim Of A Violent Abduction And Murder.
Bruises About The Face And Neck Indicated Beating And Choking.
In Addition, A Strip Of Lace From Her Own Petticoat Was Tied Around Her Neck, So Tightly As To Be Embedded In The Flesh.
Her Flowered Bonnet Was Tied Securely To Her Head By A Kind Of Hitch The Coroner Called A "Sailor'S Knot."
Another Strip Of Cloth Was Secured About Her Waist By The Same Kind Of Knot-As If Used To Drag The Body.
Her Wrists, Crossed Stiffly At The Chest, Bore The Imprint Of The Cords Used To Bind Them.
Abrasions And Excoriations About The Body Indicated That She Had Been Held Down And Violated-Most Likely By Two Or Three Men!
The Jury Quickly Came To Its Verdict: " Death Due To Violence Committed By Some Person Or Persons."
After The Inquest Adjourned, It Was Thought Best, Due To The Intense Heat, To Give The Remains An Immediate, If Temporarily, Burial.
Mary Rogers Was Therefore Quickly Interred-Two Feet Beneath The Earth In A Double-Line Coffin.
Crommelin And Padley, Having Missed The Last Ferry Back To New York, Spent The Night At A Hotel In Jersey City.
In The Meantime, The Men Who Had Recovered The Body-Having Been Unformed That Their Testimony Would Not Be Needed-Returned To The City At About 7:00 Pm.
One Of Their Number-Mr. H.G. Luther-Took It Upon Himself To Visit The Home Of The Deceased: A Boarding House Which She Managed With Her Mother At 126 Nassau St.
He Imparted The Grim News To The Aged Lady ... And To A Young Man Named Payne, A Resident Of The House, Who Claimed To Be The Fianc� Of The Dead Girl.
Neither Of Them Seemed, To Him, Particularly Surprised Or Shocked.
Although The Hour Was Still Early, Mr. Payne Declined To Go To Hoboken That Evening, A Lack Of Action That Would Reflect Poorly Upon Him In The Weeks To Come.
* * *
Thursday, July 29 - On That Morning, Crommelin And Padley Returned To The City And Paid A Call Upon The Grieving Mrs. Rogers.
They Displayed For Her An Array Of Identifying Items Given Them By The Coroner ...
Including Even A Lock Of Mary'S Hair-
In The Days That Followed Any Kind Of Official Investigation Was Frustrated By A Jurisdictional Dispute:
The New York Authorities Declared It A New Jersey Case ...
While New Jersey Officials Felt That, Since The Victim Was A City Resident, The Case Should Be New York'S. (After All, Were Not The Victims Of The City'S Crimes Constantly Washing Up On The Shores Of New Jersey?)
Friday, July 30 - On That Morning, Word Was Abroad Of The Murder Of The "Beautiful Segar Girl."
Sunday, August 1 - Saw The First Newspaper Notice - In The Sunday Mercury ...
And By The Next Morning, The Crime Was Featured In Each Of The City'S Numerous Daily Journals.
Proving Especially Diligent In Its Coverage Was The Herald, Published By James Gordon Bennet ...
Who Was Not Above Exploiting The Murder In His Ongoing Crusade Against Certain City Administrators.
Equally Assiduous Were: The Sun, Edited By Moses Beach ...
Benjamin Day'S Evening Tattler ...
And Its Sunday Counterpart, Brother Jonathan, Which Unfolded Into A Single Mammoth Sheet.
The More Traditional Journals, Such As William Cullen Bryant'S Evening Post And Horace Greeley'S Tribune, Could Do Naught But Follow Suit -
For These Publications, Even In The Least Eventful Of Times, Engaged In A Deadly Competition.
At That Time, The City Of New York Was All-Too-Eager To Follow Such A Sensational Story.
It Was A Boisterous, Burgeoning Commercial Center With An Exploding Population (Then About 500,000) ...
Extending In Residential Area As Afar Northward As 35Th Street.
The Economic Depression Of 1837 Had Forced Countless Country-Dwellers Into The City.
Immigrants From Ireland And Germany And Other Strife-Torn Nations Streamed Ashore To Make New Lives In America.
Many Of Them Moved On To The Interior ...
But As Many Remained, Enticed By The Freedom, The Opportunity, And The Anonymity Of City Life.
Large Numbers Of The Newcomers Were Unattached Young Men And Women ...
For Whom The City Offered Unheard- Of Delights And Dangers ...
A New Social Order, A More Relaxed Moral Code ...
Leading Often To Confusion, And Even To Tragedy.
The Bowery Was The City'S Forbidden Recreational Avenue, Offering Temptations For All Tastes.
In 1841, Phineas T. Barnum Opened His American Museum On Broadway, Bringing A Taste Of Their Bowery To The Elite District Around City Hall Park.
Excerpted from The Mystery of Mary Rogers by Rick Geary Copyright © 2001 by Rick Geary
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.