When you research a book, for instance
let's say Return to Smuttynose Island, a standalone tale of 2 Norwegian Women that got butchered with an axe, one dark
night in 1873; you are bound to come across side stories along the way. This is exactly what happened with my soon to
be released book on Axe murders of Maine. I found out that when they hung Wagner on the Gallows, he did not walk the
road alone. He was accompanied there and into eternity, with a man from the small town of Thorndike. Who 3 months
after the fateful night on Smuttynose, took an axe to his own brother, sister-in-law and baby girl. This next article
is a teaser to the standalone chapter included in the book which details the first articles, the trial, and finally the execution
alongside Maine's biggest villain, Louis Wagner.
June 19, 1873
More About the Thorndike Slaughter.
farm of the Gordon's lies on the road between Nelson Harmon's Corner and Thorndike Station distant less than half
mile from each. It is pleasantly located with two-story house, a nice barn and convenient out buildings connecting the two.
In this once happy home desolation reigns, and three lie cold in death, their mutilated bodies to be consigned to one common
grave today at 10 o'clock. Crowds of people continue to visit the scene of the murder, and the funeral will be largely
attended from adjoining towns, and the people of Thorndike will turn out en masse.
Almon Gordon was 26 years old, his wife 23. and the child killed outright was 17 months old, a fair-haired,
curly-headed incarnate could strike--especially with such a bludgeon as an axe. The oldest a boy 5 years old lay in a crib
in the same bedroom with its parents--the other child being in bed with them, and this received a blow from the edge of the
axe, across the forehead cutting a deep gash clear across the forehead cutting a deep gash clear above the eyes mid way to
roots of the hair, and from this cut, fractures of the skull extend transversely. Doubtless the murderer struck a glancing
blow at this innocent as he lay in the sweet sleep of childhood, and seeing the bloody gash made supposed he had accomplished
its destruction. The child was alive yesterday.
Gordon has a bruise made by poll of the axe on his forehead near the hair, and a deep cut in top of the head made by the blade,
where in his horrid earnestness for destruction, the wretch turned the instrument after stunning his victim and drove the
blade into the brain, several minor bruises are also found upon his head, which shows the determination of the fiend who operated
Mrs. Gordon received a blow from the poll
of the axe in the center of the forehead, which crashed in upon the brain, the whole poll of the heavy axe tearing through
The little child which was in the same
bed had several bruises upon it, and is the most disfigured by fire of any of the bodies, being the last one rescued from
the burning beds. It appears that the beds and bodies were sprinkled with kerosene oil previous to setting on fire.
The young man who worked on the farm, and who slept above, was by name,
Ward, not Hunt as stated in my letter yesterday. There was also sleeping above a girl, a connection of the family, of some
8 or 10 years of age. The other child of the family aged 3 was sleeping with her. Ward, hearing strange noises below went
down, and went to the bed-room door where the groaning issued, and where the bodies lay murdered. The axe lay partly over
the threshold, but in dim light of the night he could make out nothing definitely; he saw nothing of John, who has since been
arrested, and being aware of something dreadful, hardly knowing what, he took from the house like a frightened deer. When
he had got some twenty rods John called to him to come back; luckily, perhaps, for him he kept on, and perhaps thus escaped
being another victim. Seeing that alarm was about to be given, John called up the two girls, and sent them to the neighbors
in haste to arouse them, as the house was on fire, he said.
is supposed he was after kerosene or something else when Ward made the discovery of something wrong. The theory would seem
to be good, that seeing alarm was raising he would send the girls, carry out furniture, and appear to be doing all possible
to save things, thereby to avert suspicion. That if Ward had not awakened, the whole household would have been victims of
one grand butchery.
Almon has lived at home some
six years carrying on the farm with his father's help, and having no interest in it beyond a percentage of the crops.
This spring he became dissatisfied and went down to Brigadier's Island to work, remaining there but a short time, leaving
his family with his parents on the farm. The father then made a trade with John, when Almon left, to carry on the farm. John
was expecting to be married soon. When Almon came back, a few weeks after going away, the father made a trade with him, giving
him a deed of half the farm, upon conditions to be fulfilled by Almon. John, who is considered a dangerous fellow by the neighbors,
was informed of the new order of things, and that he had better get a chance to work out the remainder of the season. He brooded
over this, and his disappointment and desire for revenge, it is supposes has culminated in this unheard of crime. John is
28 years old. He had been stopping about home since Almon came back, not doing much, but loafing his time away down at the
R. R. Station, and about the vicinity. He is now safely lodged in Belfast Jail. There is no shadow of doubt in the minds of
the neighbors but that John committed the horrid deed.