The Rev. S. Althea Berrie of Muskogee, Oklahoma, was no stranger to controversy. In 1932, the handsome hymn writer found himself facing charges of heresy after preaching that Santa Claus was an affront to the Child in the manger. Much deeper trouble was in store when his wife wife, Fannie, died after a long illness and a 30-hour streak of convulsions. Two months later, the Rev. Berrie married his pretty young secretary, Ida Bess Bright, which not only set tongues wagging but placed suspicion on the composer of "In Beulah Land" and other popular Presbyterian hymns. After his late wife's siblings paid to have an autopsy done on her exhumed body and the discovery of a stack of love poems written to Ida Bess before his wife's death, the hymnist faced a charge more serious than heresy: Murder. Did he really put strychnine in her aspirin? Did Fannie Berrie die of her own hand? Or was it just the side effects of the herbal remedies prescribed by her doctor? Explore all the intricacies of this love triangle gone awry in A Two-Dollar Terror #6, "Hymns of a Raving Heart."
About the Author
About Richard O Jones After 25 years writing the first draft of history as a writer and editor for his hometown newspaper, the Hamilton Journal-News, Richard O Jones left the grind of daily journalism in the fall of 2013 for a life of true crime. He is the author of two books on the History Press imprint, Cincinnati’s Savage Seamstress: The Shocking Edythe Klumpp Murder Scandal (October, 2014) and The First Celebrity Serial Killer: Confessions of the Strangler Alfred Knapp (May, 2015). In 2016, he began a twice-weekly podcast "True Crime Historian" (www.truecrimehistorian.com) where he tells stories of the scoundrels, scandals and scourges of the past through newspaper accounts in the golden age of yellow journalism. He created the Two-Dollar Terror series of novella-length ebooks. Mr. Jones, a creative writing graduate of Miami University, Ohio, spent most of his career as an arts journalist and has won numerous awards for his reviews and profiles. In 2004, he was named a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts Theatre and Musical Theatre program at the Annenberg School of Journalism. The Ohio Associated Press named him Feature Writer of the Year in 2011. Since leaving the newspaper world, Mr. Jones has become an active member of his local history community as a board member of the Butler County Historical Society, a member of the History Speakers Bureau and a regular presenter at Miami University in a program titled “Yesterday’s News.” The Michael J. Colligan History Project of Miami University presented Mr. Jones with a Special Recognition for Contributions to Public History for his coverage of the Centennial Commemoration of the Great Flood of 1913. Photo by Sandra M. Orlett