I hope nobody minds me writing about a morbid topic this week. As usual I've been scavenging the internet for interesting things. This week I found a bunch of coroner’s reports from the 1800s, which made my mind whirl with mystery plots. (I’ve also been doing some reading about herbs—good and bad.) So. . .I thought I’d share three of the coroner’s reports, along with some made up story plots (in italics) that would make good cozy mysteries. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent—just in case one of the deceased’s distant relatives happens upon our blog.
Fictional version: Was it a natural death or did it just appear that way? Close friends suspected the latter, as did the coroner, but nothing could be proved. Besides, everyone felt sorry for poor Maggie, and those who turned out for George’s burial services only came to support her. Seems George was an overbearing bully whose drinking was out of hand. Maggie was the brunt of nightly invectives in front of her customers. One evening she’d had enough and added a bit of foxglove to Mr. Bauer’s evening meal.
9/1/1873 -- Bellows (no first name given) was found dead in bed. Died naturally. Cousin of Mrs Sarah A North. He lived with her.
Fictional version: Wealthy Sarah North had just buried her husband when Mr. Bellows showed up. He told people he was her cousin, but that was a lie. He was, in fact, an old crony of Sarah's deceased husband. Mr. Bellows had seen a picture of Sarah’s husband in the paper, and he’d come to town to blackmail her. Seems that Sarah’s dead husband had had left his past behind, and not in a good way. He’d left behind a wife, a couple of kids, and a jail sentence. Mr. Bellows was a lazy cuss, looking for easy living. He tried to frighten Sarah by threatening to expose her dead husband. He’d ruin her reputation since she’d never been legally married, and worse, her dead husband’s family would come and take all her money. Yes, Mr. Bellows thought he’d found a way to live out his life comfort. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on the fact that Mrs. North’s was totally aware of her dead husband's sins and she had quite a knowledge of herbs. She fixed him a particularly delicious dinner and plied him with liquor, then sent him to bed. The coroner never suspected that Mr. Bellow died from a dose of hemlock.
11/22/1850 -- Lizzie Benedict, wife of Frederick, was found dead on floor of their house, cause convulsions.