Today’s Silently Pleading Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
On December 20, 1786, a crowd gathered behind New London, Connecticut’s old meeting house to witness the execution of a convicted murderer. The condemned had beat and strangled 6-year-old Eunice Bolles (the daughter of a prominent New London family) as she walked to school 5 months earlier. Stepping up to the gallows, witnesses said Eunice’s killer, Hannah Ocuish, appeared afraid —seeming to silently plead for help with her eyes — as the realization hit that she was about to die at only 12 years old.
On the morning of July 21, 1786, Eunice Bolles left her home and headed to school, but she disappeared somewhere along the way. Around 10:00 am, local residents discovered her body lying face down next to a stonewall on the road leading from New London to Norwich. She had a fractured skull, bruises on her arms and face, and signs of strangulation. Her killer covered her head and torso with rocks to make it appear as if Eunice had died from the tragic collapse of a stonewall, but the ruse proved unconvincing.
Local residents began hunting for Eunice’s killer. They questioned young Hannah Ocuish, who said she saw 4 boys near the crime scene earlier in the day. When authorities found no evidence to support Hannah’s story, they took her to the Bolles home, and in the presence of Eunice’s dead body, Hannah broke down and confessed.
Hannah Ocuish was an orphan. Believed to suffer from a mental disability, she lived her life shuttled through a series of foster homes. In June of 1786, Eunice Bolles accused Hannah of stealing strawberries during a harvest. Hannah is said to have plotted her revenge against Eunice and, 5 weeks later, lured the younger girl into the woods with the promise of a gift of calico. Once the road was out of view, Hannah beat and strangled Eunice Bolles.
Because of Hannah’s disability many questioned whether she was fit to stand trial, but a judge saw value in using her conviction to send a message to the local community and sentenced her to hang. Reports described Hannah as seeming unconcerned by her death sentence until just hours before standing on the scaffold, when the enormity of the day’s events seemed to overtake her. Her death remains the last documented execution of a female in Connecticut.
Culled from: ConnecticutHistory.Org
Self-Righteous Sermon Du Jour!
So, it may seem bad enough that Hannah Ocuish was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but to make matters even worse for her, she had to endure a sermon from Yale minister Henry Channing before her execution. He ranted for well over an hour, illustrating the fate of children with poor church attendance with readings of every Bible verse involving a naughty child, a spared rod, and a nasty end. Not neglecting his younger listeners, he pointed to Hannah and said:
“There behold, my young brethren, the fate of one, who, with a mind not below the common level, has been left unrestrained to the guidance of guilty passions and a corrupt heart…”
Oddly enough, he directed much of his wrath at blasphemy. At one point, he almost shrieked the text of Exodus 20:7: “THE LORD WILL NOT HOLD HIM GUILTLESS THAT TAKETH HIS NAME IN VAIN.”
At the end of his sermon, he brought his heavy ecclesiastical cannons to bear on the quivering prisoner. “Hannah,” he thundered, “the time for you to die is come.” And that would be far from the end of her troubles.
“You will soon see that there is a great GOD who… is angry with the wicked every day, and will punish forever those whose sins are not pardoned before they die.”
And apparently ignorance of God was no excuse. He warned the cringing girl:
“If he is not more merciful than you, your soul cannot be saved… He sees nothing in you but wickedness – a poor wicked creature covered with the innocent blood of a helpless child crying to you for mercy…”
Here are a few more choice selections from Channing’s gallow-side sermon:
“The cry of innocent blood hath entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath; but this day will silent its claims. Yes; in a few hours, will be executed the fatal, the tremendous sentence which puts a period to the life of one, who had never learned to live. — In the beginning of life, a murderer…”
“Yes; my brethren, this poor prisoner, when committed to gaol, appeared to have no higher principle than the pleasure of gratifying her ungoverned passions. And so far from having the fear of GOD her eyes — Oh tell it not in Gath! — she hath repeatedly declared to me, that she did not know that there was a GOD, before she was told it after her imprisonment.”
“Children that have but just learned to speak are heard lisping forth horrid oaths and impious curses.”
“We have here a striking evidence of the depravity of human nature; that we are indeed transgressors from the womb.”
Striking evidence of depravity, indeed, minister! By the end of all this, I would think Hannah would be welcoming death!
(Culled from Murder Can Be Fun #17 by John Marr.)
Wegman Du Jour?
One of the oddest photos in the book Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Gretchen Worden is this photo of Siamese Twins Chang and Eng Bunker taken by dog photographer (well, he is, isn’t he?) William Wegman.
Chang and Eng Get Together (2000) – William Wegman
“Plaster cast of Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1874), the original Siamese Twins, made after their autopsy was performed in the Mütter Museum by members of The College of Physicians. In the background are Chip, Battina, and William Wegman.”
Look at how they were barely connected. In this day and age, they’d just snip ‘em apart and there would be no “Siamese Twins”.