Volcano of Wrath (Part 2 of 2) - Amanuensis Monday

(Original Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

This is part two of the article transcription I began last week.  Please forgive any inconsistencies with this post.  Blogger editor has been giving me grief for two days, plus the spell-check function doesn't seem to be working.

Boston Journal, April 16, 1901, p. 6.

VOLCANO of WRATH (Continued)

Hotel Men Protest.

Mr. M. C. Needham, proprietor of one of the hotels here, the Coldbrook House, said: "The attack of Mr. Talmage was wholly unnecessary. It seems to me. The only result is the stirring up of bad feeling. It seems as though the man must be crazy to talk as he is reported as having talked. I was not present at the funeral."

Mr. J. C. Bemis, proprietor of the Spring House, which hotel it is said Mr. Talmage alluded to when he spoke of a drunken broil, when asked what he thought of the minister's address said: "Rotten! A mean assault upon this village. There has not been any drunken broil in this hotel. Mr. Talmage's statement is wrong."

Mrs. J. W. Beamis, daughter-in-law of Mr. J. C. Bemis, corroborated the statement. She said: "I am sure there was no drunken broil in the place or I should have heard of it."

One of the citizens of Coldbrook informed the Journal correspondent that the story of a drunken broil probably came from a little altercation between a visitor to Coldbrook and one of the villagers, in which the latter said something that displeased the former, and was slapped in the face for it. He did not return the blow, and that is all there was to the so-called "broil."

Much feeling is displayed here also over a recent letter to the Barre Gazette from Assistant Medical Examiner Henry J. Walcott, Jr. in which he says he was unable to find a woman to help the unfortunates on the day of the murder. He was obliged to telephone to Barre for two women, he says, to help wash and lay out the children. Coldbrook people say that when Mrs. Spooner came through Coldbrook Mrs. R. F. Parker, Mrs. O. D. Webber and Mrs. H. S. Howard all volunteered to go to the house. But they were told it was no place for women, and that no help was needed.

Dr. Walcott also writes that it was almost impossible for him to secure half a dozen old sheets for use at the Naramore house. Here at Coldbrook it is stated for a fact that on the first call for white sheets Mrs. M. C. Needham gave 13 and three pillow cases. Mrs. H. B. Webber and Mrs. H. B. Parker gave clothes, and Mrs. J. W. Bemis supplied many things needed. Several others contributed, too.

In Mr. Talmage's Sunday address Mr. Naramore was made to appear as a shiftless, ne'er-do-well fellow, who shifted much of the burden of supporting his family upon his wife, and was also quarrelsome and intemperate. Naramore was said, by Mr. Talmage, to be almost wholly responsible for his wife's crazed condition of mind, when when killed the children.

Husband Says He Lies.

Mr. Naramore was seen this morning at Mr. Clarence H. Parker's lumber mill, where he is employed. He was hard at work with overalls, jumper and an old cap on, helping to saw apart huge logs of wood.

"I have not read the address and know nothing about what Mr. Talmage said of me except what I have been told by those who heard it or read it, " said Naramore.

A copy of a newspaper containing the address was shown to Mr. Naramore by the Journal correspondent, and he read with interest. Then he said with much seriousness:

"I am an ignorant man or I would reply in writing to that as it should be replied to. It is full of misstatements regarding me and my family. It is true that I am lazy; I have never denied and I cannot help it, but I don't suppose I am the only lazy man in the world.

"I am not a drinking man though, and nothing disgusts me so much as to see a man intoxicated. It is true that I have taken a drink occasionally, but I never was drunk but once in my life, and no one would have known anything about that if I had not told them about it. Go to any one I have worked for. I don't want you to take my word for it, but make inquires for yourself; go to Rutland and see Mr. F. S. Hunt, in whose mill I worked as a fireman of the engine for 13 1/2 months. In all that period I only was absent from work 11 days. I received $12 a week."

"The money I earned went to my family; my grocery bill at Mr. Parker's store was on the average about $5 per week, sometimes $1 to $1.50 a day. Mr. Hunt will tell you that I was not a drinking man."

"Why did you leave Mr. Hunt's employ?" asked the Journal correspondent.

"He sent me to Worcester to get a piece of machinery. Before I went a fellow employed at the mill asked me to bring back a gallon of rum for him and I agreed to do so. The man's name was Charles Faulkner. I brought back the rum and Mr. Hunt learned of it and discharged me. I ought not to have agreed to get the liquor.

Has Gained Friends.

"I am not entirely innocent, and I don't want you to understand me as trying to make you believe so.

"I don't want to put all the blame on my wife, for that would not be right. I have no doubt that she was insane when she killed the children. When I married her she was one of the best women I ever knew, and I loved her. She came of good people. I know that.

"She was nervous and naturally jealous. There was a woman in the neighborhood here who kept telling her false stories about me going about with other women and getting drunk. She finally came to believe them and I could see a change in her behavior toward me. She would believe this gossiping woman and not believe me; that was what caused her to go insane, I believe.

"But this minister, Mr. Talmage, has made an ass of himself, in my opinion. Suppose I am guilty, it don't justify him making it so prominent in a public address. He's only gaining enemies by it. I have gained friends and not lost one by what he has done. He wrote me a ridiculous letter which I have not paid any attention to," and Mr. Naramore exhibited the letter, which at some length called upon him as a man who had failed in his duty to his wife and children, not to deny the facts, but, by deeply repenting, and make thorough reformation.

"A man here in Coldbrook has reported around that I was seen on the streets of Worcester with a certain woman living in this village one night before my wife committed the deed. That is a lie. I have always had a particular dislike for this woman; if this sort of thing keeps up, I have been thinking that I shall go to Worcester and consult a lawyer about it.

"I never struck my wife or abused her. We did jaw each other once in a while, but that was all. My wife wanted to move and I had planned to secure the Mason Luce place if possible, which she had always liked. I was going to arrange to buy the place on installments, and when I told her she appeared much pleased.

"For the past two years I have not been out of work, altogether, more than six weeks. I had been at work for a week at Mr. Parker's mill, when the end came. My wife knew I was earning money enough to support the family and there was enough in the house to eat for her and the children the day the children were killed. I never deceived my wife; never told her one thing and got a friend to tell her another story, as Mr. Talmage says I did.

"One time when I was not working she told told me she would go to work herself if it wasn't for the children. I said that if we could put the children out among good, kind people, to live then she could go to work, and I would go somewhere else for work. Then we could come together again later. I told her I would do the best I could to bring us all together once more under the same roof. She seemed to be pleased with the idea. I thought.

"Mr. Talmage's statements about screams being heard coming from my house at 12 P. M. the night before the murder, is a lie. I was sound asleep in the house at that hour. It is not likely I could have been ill using my wife or quarrelling with her."

Volcano of Wrath (Part 1 of 2) - Amanuensis Monday

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My Grandmother - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) My grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko. I don't have any information on the photo, but my guess is it was taken sometime in the early 1920s.

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Volcano of Wrath (Part 1 of 2) - Amanuensis Monday

(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)

The "Coldbrook Tragedy" Continues, Or Spin, Blame, and The Evils of Liquor

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at
Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

Last August I started writing about the Naramore family murders which took place in Coldbrook Springs, MA for my post,
COG 97: Researching The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4). I am still actively researching this case and have posted bits and pieces of my research after my initial Carnival of Genealogy post. Given the notoriety and sensational nature of the case, newspaper articles have not been difficult to find. Most were written immediately after the murders and deal with the murders themselves. I found this article from the Boston Journal different from many of the others. It details the townspeople's reaction to the murders and to the Reverend Charles Talmage's comments on the case. It also quotes Frank L. Naramore, the husband of the murderer, and provides some insight into his personality and his relationship with his wife. The article includes a photo of Frank Naramore, but unfortunately the copy is so poor it isn't worth trying to post the photo. If I am able to get a better copy/scan of the photo I will post it at a later time. Also, the article is quite long, so I am posting it in two parts.

Boston Journal, April 16, 1901, p 6.


[Photo of Frank L. Naramore]


Coldbrook Folk Enraged at Rev. Mr. Talmage--Mr. Naramore Gives the Clergyman the Lie Direct.

Coldbrook, Mass., April 15--In this ordinarily quiet country village a real volcano of wrath has broken forth as a result of the address of Rev. Charles H. Talmage in Williams Hall, Barre, Sunday afternoon and it is hardly surprising, for such an arraignment as that contained in Mr. Talmage's remarks is seldom heard outside of a court room.

The awful tragedy of a few weeks ago, when Mrs. Naramore murdered her six children, and which was the nominal subject of the Barre clergyman's Sunday address, occupies a very small place in the public mind here compared with the crushing blow which the villagers feel was aimed at their little community by Mr. Talmage. Even the terribly harsh things that were said about Frank L. Naramore, the husband and father do not arouse the sympathy and indignation that they would ordinarily.

Men and women here have been talking of nothing else all day, in the streets and in their homes: and the newspaper reports have been eagerly scanned. With the majority there is nothing but the strongest condemnation. A few, however, shake their heads and say that there was some truth at least, in what the Barre clergyman said. There were quite a number of Coldbrook people at the Barre meeting Sunday.

Mr. Talmage's Plain Words.

In his address Mr. Talmage stated that while the Naramore house, where in the children were murdered, was located in Barre, it was about five miles away from the centre of the town, on its rim, in fact, and near the Coldbrook village. "Thus, while the house is on Barre land, it is part of the Coldbrook community," said Mr. Talmage.

His description of Coldbrook follows: "Two railroad stations, Post Office, store, meat market, bucket shop, grist mill, two blacksmith shops and a hall. A small church (with good people whom I know), but with much to do and to dare, and much to discourage also, there are twenty-five houses, and about one hundred people, and there are two hotels. The town of Oakham, of which Coldbrook is a village, voted this year and last, 'No license:' the year previous, 'license.' Regardless of the vote, either way, no town license is taken out, and the common understanding is that liquors are freely sold in bold disregard of the law.

"All this, however, is to the humiliation and sorrow of the law-abiding, temperance people both of Oakham and Coldbrook. The latter, however, in the immoral deadening effects, suffers most. Disturbances, which follow in the train of intemperance, occur. The next week, on the Sunday after the tragedy, the harrowing report went out of a drunken broil in one of the hotels. * * *

"Earnest citizens of Oakham have been interested to do their duty, and have always obeyed in Coldbrook. Their efforts, however, have not been very successful. Some three years ago, a committee of three was appointed to see what could be done. Those men tried to do their duty. However, it was not long before two of the three had their buildings burned. Who did it was never proved. We simply give the facts in the matter.

"The statement concerning intemperance in Coldbrook is unpleasant, but essential, in completing our description of the environment of the Naramore home."

Mr. Talmage also stated that the proprietor of one of the hotels in Coldbrook had recently died from the effects of excessive drink.

Selectmen's Denials.

Mr. Frank S. Conant, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen of Oakham, said to the Journal correspondent today: "I have not heard any complaints about the village of Coldbrook Springs and no particular attention has been called to it as a place where liquor is sold illegally before this address of Mr. Talmage's, that I know about.

"Mr. Talmage, in his address, says a committee of three was appointed about three years ago in Oakham to see what could be done to suppress illegal liquor selling in the town. I have looked the matter up and find it was July 16, 1890 that the committee was appointed. It is true one of these men had his buildings burned soon after, and some months later another member lost some buildings by fire. But there were other fires intervening. I do not believe the property of these men were burned on account of their being on the committee. I do not believe that Coldbrook is any worse than any other country villages about here."

Mr. Henry Parker, a Selectman of Oakham, said: "I fail to see any reason why Mr. Talmage should make this attack on Coldbrook Springs. It has nothing to do with the murder of the Naramore children, and is wholly uncalled for. I am very sorry that the matter could not have been dropped, after the funeral of the children.

I do not believe that you will find any community where there is so little liquor drinking among the young men as here in Coldbrook. The great majority of them do not touch intoxicating liquor. I think you will find more habitual drinkers in Barre among young men than here in Coldbrook. It is as easy to obtain liquor in Barre as it is anywhere.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Amanuensis Monday: Frank L. Naramore Obituary
Tombstone Tuesday: Frank L. Naramore, The End of a "Tragedy"
Tombstone Tuesday: The Naramore Children, Riverside Cemetery
Wordless Wednesday: Coldbrook Springs, A Town No Longer

Got Dissertations? - Tuesday's Tip

(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) Have you considered using PhD dissertations and master's theses to aid your research? I will admit, I hadn't really thought about them either until recently. If you have an institution of higher learning in your area that offers PhD and/or master's degree programs check out their online library catalog for dissertation or thesis titles that might relate to your topic or add historical context to your research. Schools with degree programs in women's studies, geography, economics, sociology, and especially history all may have something to offer the family history researcher.

Students in master's and PhD programs often research and write about topics where original source material is close at hand. In my case I found two publications particularly useful. They provide context and historical background for my family history research previously undiscovered elsewhere. One thesis I found was "Polish Groups in Worcester County, Their Adjustments to American Life and Environment," by Agrippina A. Macewicz, completed in 1948. A dissertation, "A History of the Worcester War Price and Rationing Board," written by Edith Rose Kaufman in 1951 was also of interest. My mom worked for the Worcester Ration Board during World War II. Dissertations and theses usually contain fairly extensive bibliographies which you will also want to review for additional source material.

If you do decide to look for dissertations at your local university library, I strongly suggest you call or e-mail the library before your visit to enquire as to their specific policies on loaning or accessing materials to patrons outside of the university community. Theses and dissertations do not circulate at some institutions or may be part of a special collection. If they are part of a special collection, you will want to ask what hours the special collections area is open and accessible to the public.

Tuesday's Tip: Check for theses and dissertations at your local university library. Don't forget to review the publication's footnotes and bibliography for additional or related source material.


Kaufman, Edith Rose. "A History of the Worcester War Price and Rationing Board," 1951, Dissertation, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Macewitz, Agrippina A. "Polish Groups in Worcester County, Their Adjustments to American Life and Environment," 1948, Master's Thesis, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.

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A Heartfelt Thank You

(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) I am genuinely surprised and humbled to find myself included along with all of the other wonderful blogs and bloggers listed in Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs for 2011. To say I was shocked to see my name on the list is an understatement. Thank you for reading Heritage Zen, and thank you for voting for me. I also appreciate the time and effort the panel of judges put into the selection process. With so many well written blogs nominated, to be among the 40 selected is truly and honor. I think Bill West over at West in New England said it best, I don't feel I am a "winner" but a "recipient" of this honor. Thank you for allowing me that honor. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to write about my ancestors, the family I miss, and the city where I grew up. Thank you for reading what I write and for being such a warm supportive community of bloggers.

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Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
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COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery