A broken engagement involving a teenage girl and a confessed killer of more than a dozen people led to a murder 138 years ago today.
Thomas D. Carr, who reportedly had murdered 13 other persons, was convicted and hanged the year after he killed Louiza (sometimes spelled Louisa) Fox in Kirkwood Township of Belmont County. That was the first and the only execution by hanging in the county.
Although the murder occurred nearly 140 years ago, the victim is not forgotten. Items such as wooden flowers, animal toys and a miniature wooden rocking horse have been left at her grave in the Salem Cemetery near Hendrysburg.
Reports about the murder surface periodically, and among the most recent is a poem, "The Ballad of Thomas Carr and Louiza Fox," by Kenneth Williams, a Salesville area resident who has published two books, "Way Back Then and Right Now, Too" and "Grandfather Stories and Verse."
Also in recent years, a book, "The Life and Confession of Thomas Carr...One Notorious Belmont County Resident, 1846-1870," was reprinted by The Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable. It originally was printed in 1870.
The late Charles "Bud" Fry edited the book and added results of his thorough research about the crime to the book. He also included photographs related to the event.
The book includes a poem, written by W.M. Howes in 1870. Williams who wrote the most recent poem indicated he is interested in side-light stories in history and in folklore. He said he became interested in Belmont County histoy and the muder after talking with Barnesville residents Bill Farson and Jean Davies.
As to Carr's extensive confession, Williams said, "I remember reading from one source that some of it is unconfirmed and maybe with time, it got enhanced a little."
Carr, who was born at Sugar Hill near Elm Grove, reportedly committed 14 cold-blooded murders, 13 of which occurred along with other crimes during the Civil War, according to his confession.
Williams, who has a master's degree and is a former educator and former Noble County commissioner, said some murders in Carr's confession are unconfirmed, but probably valid.
Fox died Jan. 21, 1869, after Carr used a razor to kill her with the first cut being across the jugular vein. She was nearly 14 years of age and Carr was 22 when he parents withdrew their consent for them to marry.
On that fateful day, the couple met in a chestnut orchard near Sewellsville in Kirkwood Township.
Newspaper accounts of the crime, reported in the book edited by Fry, note that Carr has a friendly conversation with Fox "for a few moments, and then with worse than savage barbarity, sprang upon his victim despite her cries for mercry, and her promise to marry him, the heartless wretch, with a razor, continued to inflict upon her person, until she lay dead at his feet, literally cut to pieces.
"He then attempted to take his own life, first by shooting himself, and then cutting his throat; but death came not to him, seeming, as it were that in satisfaction of his terrible crime, he was doomed to die at the hands of the law. The 21st day of January 1869, in consequence of this, will long be remembered as a day of blood."
Carr was hanged March 24, 1870, and "History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties" by J.A. Caldwell relates Carr laughed loudly when the death warrant was read and he said he did "not care a d--n if it was to be tomorrow."
Fry in the book about Carr noted that newspaper accounts indicate Carr was buried in the Methodist Cemetery in St. Clairsville, but available records do not list him.
"However, there was one unknown grave!" Fry wrote before pointing out that since records from the time of Carr's death clearly establish "the Methodist Cemetery as his final resting place, one can only assume that, through the years his name somehow was omitted from the population! So at least to this author, it is satisfactory to say...(that) Carr is buried at plot number 137, grave two at Methodist Cemetery, St. Clairsville, Ohio."
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