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


Shelley said...

Cynthia, I really enjoy reading your blog! It gives me great pleasure to give you the One Lovely Blog Award. You can find the details on my blog, A Sense of Family, at: asenseoffamily-sb@blogspot.com

Cynthia Shenette said...

Shelley - Thank you so much! I'm happy you enjoy reading my blog, and I'm honored that you think enough of my blog to award me the One Lovely Blog Award! You made my day!