The "Good old days" might mean different things to different people. The list of death and murder in a time so often envisioned as idyllic, is unsettling. The truth of the matter is that people have always been - good and bad - people. These 'clusters' or 'outbreaks' do give pause and make one wonder if it was something in the water that drove people to such violent lengths. Here is an update with some additional ax murders added to the time line.

• In November of 1901, the Wilcox family of Los Angeles was 'knifed horribly' while they slept. (“Horrible Crime”, Oklahoman, Nov. 29, 1901, pg. 1).

• In Nov. 1904 the entire family of Julius Weber was shot and stabbed before the house was burned in Auburn, Ca (Oklahoman, Nov. 12, 1904, pg. 1).
• In March 1905, San Rafael, CA a man “Murdered His Entire Family”, Oklahoman, May 25, 105, pg. 7).

• In October 1909, James McMahon confessed to killing the Van Royen family in Kansas City. (“I Killed Them” -Yells Murderer”, Oklahoman, Oct. 27, 1909, pg.11).
• In November of 1909 in Bluebird, W. Va. a George Hood family was killed and the house burned down to try to cover the deed. (“Charred Bodies of Four found in Ruins of House.” Oklahoman, Nov.2, 1909, pg. 10).
• December 1909, Cleveland, OH woman Josephine Mangero and her two children fatally stabbed. (“Mother and two children Slain”. Oklahoman, Dec.5,1909, pg. 1.).

  • December 1909, Cleveland, OH the body of Anna Lloyd was found with wounds from a knife or ax along the railroad in or near the Canal Ridge section.

    • In March 1910, the New Orleans area saw the murders of numerous families.

  • In October 1910, Cincinnati, Ohio, the body of Mary Hockney was found alongside a railroad with her "head crushed" and gashes all over her body. She was found along the Canal Ridge section near a railroad line (theorized Railroad connections were preceived in Iowa,Texas, and Kansas deaths). This body was found in the same place and condition as one earlier in the year at News Years.
    • In December 1910, Savannah, Georgia a race war almost ensued after the deaths of Mrs. Elizabeth Gribble, Mrs. Carrie Ohlander, and Mrs. Maggie Hunter. The local police rounded up over a hundred local African Americans to be 'questioned'. (“Woman Slain by Fiendish Negro.” Oklahoman, Dec.12, 1909, pg. 18).

    • In January 1911, Rayne, LA an unnamed mother and her four children were killed.+
    • In Spring 1911, Lafayette, LA the Norbett Randall family was killed.+
    In August 1911, Booneville, Indiana, Richard Lee, his wife, and son where killed in their sleep “skulls caved in” by an ax and a fire started to hide the deed. Another son charged but doubts linger.
    •In September 1911, Colorado Springs, Co. People in several neighboring houses were discovered dead with crushed heads while they slept. Victims were a H.C.Wayne, his wife and child; a Mrs. A. J. Burnham, two children (including a one year old).*
    •In October 1911, in Monmouth, IL a William E. Dawson, his wife, and daughter were killed.
    •In October 1911, in Ellsworth, Kansas a William Showman, wife, and three children were killed as they slept.* (“Showman Family of Five Murdered.” Ellsworth Reporter, Oct.11, 1911).

    • In February, 1912, in Beaumont, Texas a family was killed. +
    • In 1912, Crowly, LA a family was killed as they slept. + (+=Some assume these LA and TX murders to be racially motivated as they are all African-American family units. Some included 'Mulatto' or mixed race children which further complicates and confuses the matter. The simple truth might also be that these families were convenient kills providing a prey separated from the major part of the society by racial prejudice, thus making them targets of ease. Others suggest some obscure church of sacrifice was involved yet the evidence appears weak to non-existent for this line of reasoning.)
    • In 1912, Lake Charles, LA, a family was killed as they slept.+
    • In April 1912, San Antonio (Police suspected the man was using the Southern Pacific Railroad since November 1911. (If the theory of the killer using the rails was correct he would next hit there and he did).
    • In June 1912, in Paola, Kansas a Rollin Hudson and wife were murdered. (“Murder Came in the Night”, Western Spirit, June 14, 1912).
    • In June 1912, in Vilasca, Iowa, eight were murdered as they slept. Victims: J.B. Moore and wife, four children, and two local girls, guests of his children. (“Recent Ax Murders”, Oklahoman, July, 14, 1912, pg. 1).
    • In December 1912, two women were killed in Columbia, Missouri. (“Horrible Murder Committed”, Columbia Herald, Dec.20, 1912).


  • In 1913, in Muskogee, Oklahoma several lone people were murdered by an axe welding killer (“Second Hatchet Murder Mystery Stirs Muskogee”, Oklahoman, Nov. 29, 1913, pg. 1).

  • In June 1913, Harrisville, Missouri sees Arthur Kellar, his wife and daughter attacked as they slept. The husband, and 7 year old daughter died.


  • In July 6, 1914, Blue Island (Chicago), IL a family was butchered as they slept. Victims: Jacob Neslesla, wife, daughter, and an infant grandchild.* (“Axe of Assassin Deals Death to Sleeping Family,” Oklahoman, July 7, 1914.)

  • Summer-Fall, 1914, Braggs, Oklahoma, in under six months three people were killed or attacked in the night. Killed were Anna Martin Braggs; injured William Herzog, Braggs; killed were Charles Everett and B.F. Richardson, Muskogee.

    • In 1919, New Orleans, more axe murders thought to be the work of gangs but also as likely a serial killer. Perhaps the work of the same killer?

    • In 1920 in Turtle Lake, N.D. eight are killed on the Jacob Wolf farm. (“Police Seek Clues in Dakota Murder”, Oklahoman, April 25, 26, 1920, pg. 2, 33).

    • In January of 1922, a mother and son are killed in Chicago. (Oklahoman, Jan. 23, 1922, pg.12.)
    • In November 1928, Omaha was stricken by a 'hatchet slayer' who killed at least three times. (Oklahoman, Nov. 21, 1928).

    Jennee said...

    The '28 hatchet killings were part of a much larger group of murders and attacks that went into Iowa shortly after (November 20th or 21st) and several other states until 1947.

    Actually a number of interesting stories with that one.

    Inspector Winship said...

    Just an FYI - Both the Blue Island and Harrisville, MO murders were solved. In Blue Island, a mentally unstable former tenant with a fixation of the house owner's daughter confessed. Is Harrisville the wife and mother of the man and child killed confessed to the murder.

    Christine Walker said...

    There was an ax killing in central Wisconsin in my Mom's hometown in the early nineteen hundreds.
    A woman and her two or three children were hacked to death and the husband was shot twice in the heart as he sat in front of the stove. It was ruled a murder-suicide, but no one believed it. There had been a boarder staying with them and the wife was over to my grand-dads place the day before she was killed. The family always said she behaved as if she didn't want to go home that evening.
    I used to walk past the house when I was young just to frighten myself. With the advent of the computer, I have been wondering if it might have been connected to the rest of the ax murders.


    Sounds like a possibility to be investigated for sure. The personal story adds a haunting quality. I will look into Wisconsin. Thanks!

    xsouthomahax said...

    Well if anyone takes paranormal evidence into account-the resdiual recordings captured in villisca,by more than one group seem to show that 2 men committed the crime,talking to each other and even one speaking some german at times-interestingly bill mansfield,a suspect was german,worked in slaughter house environments, now,another interesting thing from using spirit box and ovilus sessions,the kids have said "foreigner" when asked who killed them,and a residual evp captured in the kids room of a man saying" its just like killing hogs,ya hit em in the head" in my opinion it was a contract killing and mansfield was one of the men committing it. hell even on ghost adventures when aron was in the basement he asks if the kids know who it was who killed them-a boy responds"there around upstairs" clearly 2 men,now just who 2 men?

    elric said...

    Well the article needs to go back even further,because they actually started i believe in 1885 around Austin, Texas.The killer was never captured.It was one person,and he killed about a dozen people and disappeared.His M.O. was a Ax,at night when people were asleep.Did not matter what race or sex.

    Tracker said...

    Just to add an even older ax murder to the list...

    The Union (Georgetown, OH) July 31, 1861
    "The Cobb Murders"
    Murder of a Family in Maysville, Ky.
    One of the most atrocious murders we have ever been called upon to record occurred at a farm house on the Maysville and Orangeburg road, two miles from Maysville, In Mason County, Ky on the 24 inst. The victims were an odd man named Cobb and his two sons - one aged 16, he other about 21 years. Two men, named Charles Collins and ___ Moore, entered Mr. Cobb's house and seizing an ax, entered the room in which the young men slept, and deliberately butchered them. They then entered the bedroom occupied by Mr. And Mrs. Cobb. With a couple of heavily dealt blows upon the head they dispatched Mr. Cobb. They also struck his wife once or twice, and evidently thought they had killed her. - Though very severely wounded, she is likely to recover. Having completed their horrible work of blood, they proceeded to search the house for money, and finding about $200 in a bureau drawer, departed with it.
    The object of the murder was booty, as one rullians understood that Mr. Cobb had a large amount of money in his possession at the time. What makes the deed appear still more inhuman is the fact that one of the murderers - Collins - is nearly related to Mr. Cobb.

    The original article is located in the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland OH.

    The Commonwealth of Kentucky [Indictment for murder] against Charles Collins, Filed on the 26th Day of July 1861.
    A True Bill
    Witnesses for Commonwealth:
    William Deatley
    Henry DeAttey
    Joseph Spense
    Mrs. Cobb - widow
    James Hire/Hise
    Joseph Spencer
    Thursten Foster
    Edna Cobb.
    Dr. L K Sharpe
    Dr. M L Adamsen
    Benj Cobb
    Thos Deatley
    Mrs. Frank Cobb
    Stephen Valentine
    R. H. Baldwin
    Henry Barclay
    Cain B. White
    Noble Dryden
    John Mitchel
    Robb Dryden

    "If the jury believes from the testimony beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant before the finding of the indictment and in the county of Mason did willfully and with malice aforethought kill and murder Geo. W. Cobb and Elijah Cobb by striking them with an axe, or other heavy weapon, they must find him guilty and if an the whole case the jury have a reasonable doubt of his being proven guilty, they will find him not guilty."

    browniebite said...

    My Grandfather was killed in June of 1911 in a similar fashion in Greenwood County Kansas. It was always suspected throughout my family that my Great Grandmother had done it. Nobody was ever charged or convicted of his murder.

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