COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 4 of 4)

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)


On August 4, 2002 a granite memorial marker was placed and dedicated to the six Naramore children in the Riverside Cemetery in Barre, Massachusetts. The ceremony was attended by approximately three dozen people including the town historian, members of the Barre Historical Society, local politicians, and the Massachusetts Secretary of State. The group gathered to remember the six slain children and mark in a dignified way their previously unmarked paupers' graves. Two musicians played a flute duet for the occasion.

As one of the T&G articles said, nothing can excuse Lizzie Naramore's actions. Yet what does the "Coldbrook Tragedy" say about society in 1901--the lack of a "social safety net," the place of women in society, mental illness, the court system, the child welfare system? What does it say about society today? How much have things really changed?

See Also:

COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 2 of 4)
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 3 of 4)


J.M. said...

A great series of posts. I've read it with a lot of interest. No, Lizzie isn't without guilt, her husband certainly isn't; but the society, their neighbors who watched it happen without helping, they are the ones that are the most guilty.

Cynthia Shenette said...

J.M. Thanks for your comment. You are so right. While Lizzie committed the murder, others stood by and allowed the situation to happen. Frank was never was tried for the crime, but he lived for another 35 years after the murders. That's a long time to live with guilt. Ironically, his obituary says he died leaving no known relatives.

Kerry Scott said...

What a tragic story. Unfortunately, 109 years later, our understanding of mental illness hasn't progressed all that much.

I hope you'll continue to post updates as your research progresses, because I'm completely hooked on this one.

Cynthia Shenette said...


Sadly I think you are right regarding our current understanding of mental illness. This case covers so many "hot-button" topics even today, post-partum depression being one that stands out in my mind. From what I've read in some accounts of the story, Lizzie seemed to think she was either saving the children or was afraid she'd never see them again.

I will continue to post information as I find it. Thank your for your interest, and thank you for your comment.