n this blog I have covered many foul murders, but none quite so insidious as that of young Mary Jennings of Troy Township. Mary Jennings was a sweet, fifteen-year-old girl who was going to school and growing up all in due time until her life was taken by a quack doctor in February 1876.
Despite the constant reports of violence we are inundated with every day, we live in a low-violence society compared to the 1800s in the Oil Region! In particular, 1874 was a very violent year.
It was the year after the Civil War. Veterans were still recovering. Thousands of Pennsylvanian children were in soldiers' orphanages as a result of the carnage, and three more children were about to be thrown to the winds as a result of their father's actions.
"Horrible Homicide!" the August 15th, 1872 edition of the Titusville Morning Herald screamed from page three. "A man had his head chopped off in the Corry Lock-Up. The Slayer an insane man!" Comforting words to read while sipping your morning tea, no?
Imagine going to the dentist. You know you need a root canal and boy is it going to hurt. But you aren't too worried because you know that a simple injection of Novocaine will do the trick to eliminate the majority of the pain. But, that's today. Now, imagine you need a root canal, but the year is 1860. Feeling slightly more nervous? You should be.
Hannah Mead Dougherty died June 15, 1876. She was a mother of three and lived in a modest cottage with her husband until she was viciously murdered by intruder, Nick Baker. Baker came upon the house intent on raping Mrs. Dougherty while her husband was away. But, unable to do so, he murdered her and severely wounded a neighbor who heard her screams and attempted to come to her aid. The full Titusville Morning Herald article concerning the crime is reprinted below in its entirety.
A Thousand Ways to Die in the Oil Region, Episode 4 While digitizing some obituaries this morning, I came across an obituary card referencing a woman who drowned in a well after attempting to murder her daughter. I had to know more. So, I looked up the September 21, 1874 edition of the Titusville Morning Herald and found the following eloquently written, but horrifying article:
A Thousand Ways to Die in the Oil Region, Episode 3 April 5, 1873: William Barry was burned beyond recognition in an accident on the Jamestown Railroad at Oil City. He was only able to be identified by a pistol which he carried. He was 17 years old.
AKA: Episode 2 of A Thousand Ways to Die in the Oil Region. Just after the oil boom, Dr. George W. Barr moved to Titusville with his wife and children in mid-1865. Little did he know the tragedy that would befall him in his new home.