Author of book examining the county's most notorious murders signs books in Massena, Potsdam
Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 5:10 pm

The author of a new book that chronicles some of the most notorious murders in St. Lawrence County history will be signing copies of “Murder & Mayhem in St. Lawrence County” in Massena and Potsdam this August.

Cheri Farnsworth, author of the Haunted Northern New York series, now examines, in detail, one hundred years of the most shocking, sensational murders in county history. From the Louisville triple ax murders in 1816 to the unsolved, bludgeoning death of Bessie White in Massena in 1917, the author takes us on a county-wide tour of murder and mayhem that may forever change the way you look at yesteryear in the North Country.

She will meet with readers and sign books at Waldenbooks in the St. Lawrence Centre Mall on Saturday, Aug. 7 from noon until 3 p.m., and at the Potsdam Public Library on Saturday, Aug. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“You can come in now. I have killed her.”

Those were the actual words spoken by wife killer Frank Conroy, after he butchered his young wife in Ogdensburg while a crowd gathered outside the door.

Waddington’s Maria Shay was another victim of butchery. A botched abortion by two prominent physicians led to her untimely death…and that of the twins she was carrying—one of which was placed in a weighted cigar box and tossed callously into the Oswegatchie by the doctor, as the other doctor fled the country.

But guns and poison were the weapons of choice in most of these stories. Sarah Jane Gould was poisoned by arsenic, hotel owner Almon Farnsworth was poisoned by the dreaded strychnine, and Joseph Kipp was poisoned by carbolic acid.

Death came much faster for Mary Van Dyke, shot by her 19-year-old husband just one week after an arranged marriage. He followed her quickly to the grave, being hastily hanged in Canton—even as doubts mounted about his guilt.

Sumner Hazen had just married John Hall’s sister in 1905 when Hall gunned the newlywed down before taking his own life. His reasoning was that if he couldn’t keep his sister to himself, nobody would have her.

But jealousy had nothing to do with the bloodbath at Buck Farm, where Alvah Briggs (alias Frank Driggs) took young Harriett LaDue captive and raped her.

Tied to the bed posts and gagged, she listened helplessly as he killed her entire family so they wouldn’t get in the way of his plan to take her deep into the woods near Potsdam to live happily ever after.

By the time she convinced him to stop the wagon and turn himself in, five victims lay dead.