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THE McGREGOR MURDER-Seduction of a Soldier’s Wife 1869


Posted By: Cheryl Locher Moonen (email)
Date: 2/29/2016 at 13:31:33

Dubuque Daily Times Journal, June 15, 1869

Seduction of a Soldier’s Wife,
And Inhuman Butchery of
Herself and Three
The Bodies Found and
A Corpse in a Kerosene
Arrest and Appearance of the
Supposed Murderer

Coroner’s Inquest in
McGregor is intensely excited over what seems beyond doubt to be a case of the most deliberate, cold-bloodied, fiendish murders in the annuals of crime; the murder of a beautiful, intelligent married woman, about thirty-five years of age, to cover up the consequences of illicit love, after his ingenious and long-continued approaches had culminated in seduction, and the murder of her entire family-a young lady of fifteen, a boy of twelve and a boy of nine-to prevent them from being witnesses against him for the murder of their mother.

THE HAGGERTY FAMILY, originally, as the name indicates, from Ireland, had for some time before the war been resident’s pf Girard Township. John Haggerty, the husband and father, before the war kept a saloon at “Bull’s Head,” six and one half miles west of McGregor. When the war broke out, he enlisted, leaving his wife to carry on the saloon. She, Maria Haggerty, is represented as being a bright, intelligent woman, of engaging manners, black or nearly very black hair and eyes, and slightly below medium size. Her three children, Anna, Jerry, and John, were bright and pretty children.

THE THOMSON FAMILY consisting of Andrew Thompson, his wife, and eight children, are of Scotch descent. The father, Andrew, and the Thompson family generally, are well spoken of; honest, industrious, well-behaved citizens. Andrew has been rather a hard case, but nothing criminal has been laid to his charge until quite recently. He lives about twelve miles west of McGregor; nearly six miles beyond “Bull’s Head,” on the direct road from his own farm to McGregor. Andrew was always a moderate patron of Haggerty’s saloon; and that patronage he did not withdraw when Haggerty went to war, leaving the saloon in the hands of his wife. When Haggerty’s term of enlistment was ended, he came home to find

UNPLEASANT RUMORS in circulates, connecting his wife’s name with that of Andrew Thompson. Some sort of a reconciliation appears to have been effected, temporarily; but Andrew’s Mormon tendencies and Maria’s feebleness of purpose led to renewed suspicions and quarrel, and at last John Haggerty, leaving his wife with his children and property, went to the gold regions-some say with the intention of returning when he had made his pile, some say to leave the family forever. One thing is certain; if the intimacy between his wife ---(newspaper has a fold)—Thompson was not renewed before he left, it was shortly afterwards, and continued while she lived.

Last summer it became evident that Mrs. Haggerty was ?; which, in connection with the fact that her husband had been absent for about three years, was regarded by some of her curious neighbors as reflecting upon her reputation for chastity. Before this, however, she had borrowed money of Thompson, to support herself and family; and Thompson as her agent, had sold her little place including the saloon, and retained in his possession not only money enough to cancel her indebtedness to him, but some four hundred dollars besides; and she removed to Monona Township, on his farm, occupying a little building within a few rods of his residence-which was very convenient. But it soon became very embarrassing, as may well be comprehended; and on the 8th of December last, Mr. Thompson came to McGregor, hired a small tenement, paid a month’s rent in advance, bought some furniture and Mrs. Haggerty moved in-assuming the name of Mrs. Devin’s, or Divine. She made, however, but

A SHORT STAY IN McGREGOR for the next day she returned the furniture, a wagon and team were seen to come in from the country, her trunks and goods were loaded into the wagon, and the premises vacated, about dark. The man who had supervision of the team and the loading was not Andrew Thompson; when asked by a neighbor boy if that was his team, he said, no; he was only hired to attend it that day. This infringes a little upon the domain of facts not yet sworn to in the investigation now in progress; but so the story goes. Certain it is, about dark the team, with the goods, the woman and the three children, drove away, and were

NEVER SEEN AGAIN ALIVE. The prevailing and natural supposition was, Mrs. Haggerty had discovered she could not remain incognito so near her former home, and had be taken her to some distant place, where she would be beyond all probability of recognition, and thus hide her shame. But this spring, shortly after the breaking up of the ice, a Prairie du Chien fisherman hauled up a feather bed, a shawl some ladies shoes, and other goods recognized by old acquaintances as the property of Mrs. Haggerty. And May 29, John Conners, of McGregor, fishing with a seine in a small slough a mile above Prairie du Chien, drew up two trunks, and other things-one trunk containing photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Haggerty, and others in the vicinity of their former home; and the trunks and contents are identified as Mrs. Haggerty’s.

DISCOVERY OF THE CORSPES. During the spring, three corpses have been discovered, at different times and places, in the vicinity of Cassville. In each case, inquests were held, verdicts rendered of “death by drowning,’ no identification was made, and the corpses were buried. On the discovery of Mrs. H’s trunks, the vague rumors regarding bodies having been found here and there along the river below, recurred to mind, and officers went down to make more careful investigations. The bodies were disinterred, reinquested, and recognized as those being of Mrs. Haggerty, Anna Haggerty, and Jerry Haggerty.

THOMPSON ARRESTED. Following the above investigation, a writ was issued; for Thompson’s arrest on the morning of June 2d, James Davis, the able and experienced sheriff of the county, went out to Monona to arrest him. Thompson took refuge in the grove nearby of several thousand acres, where it was hopeless for one man to expect to find him. Davis sent for reinforcements, and they came thick and fast, scores of men traversed the grove all night, and next morning (Sunday) the scores became hundreds, many of them with guns, and a disposition to use them. Thompson appreciated his position; and Marshal Bergman, of McGregor, being near the house of Mr. Love, Thompson’s brother-in-law, Thompson came out and delivered himself up, claiming protection. He was brought to McGregor. The history of the affair spread, and the indignation grew, and by Tuesday morning, it was deemed prudent for Thompson.

TAKEN TO DUBUQUE for safe keeping. Our readers will remember a brief notice of the fact in Wednesday morning HERALD. Meanwhile, preparations for the preliminary trial were in process. Thursday evening Sheriff Davis, still in Dubuque, received a telegram directing him to bring the prisoner home by the next steamer. Accordingly, they, accompanied by the HERALD’S reporter, on Friday morning took the Muscatine and

RETURNED TO McGREGOR. On arriving at Specht’s Ferry, the party was reinforced by the coming on board of Dr. Andros, of McGregor; and there and at other stations along, the persons who had found the several bodies, some of those who had acted on coroner’s juries on those occasions, & c., came on board. The body of the deceased, Jeremiah Haggerty, was also taken on board, pickled in carbolic acid, and packed away under straw and green forest leaves, while (word blotted out) one of the five hundred passengers dreamed of the (This section is missing).

Capt. Jenks took the barrel, (as most men take their fellows,) on its pretensions, instead of on its merits; while clerk Paul was as utterly unsuspicious that there was a “dead head” in that barrel. As that the “dead head” sitting on the barrel had set type for him in the office of the: old Dunleith Advertiser, a dozen years ago, so the triplet sister, Comedy, Tragedy, and Mystery, travel hand in hand the wide world over.

THE APPEARANCE OF THE PRISONER formed an interesting study. He is a short and quite thick-set man, with a very evident and powerful predominance of the animal in his nature. His forehead is full over the eyes, but slopes fast and ends low; the top-head is deficient-not flat, for it has not length nor breadth enough to give it sufficient surface so it could be flat; the back head is full, and keeps getting fuller down as far as his shoulder blades; the enormous bulk of his brain that deluges the nape of his neck is simply monstrosity. The ancient and logical reason given up why the dogged wagged his tail- because the dog was larger than the tail, or else the tail would have wagged the dog-is true in the reverse, in this case. His face comes out forward in about the same proportion as the neck is developed backward; and is nearly the center of its anterior projection, upon close scrutiny, a nose may be discovered. The face beams with a good-natured coarse ruddiness, and the chops look very “beefy”- or perhaps “porky” would be more exact. The head measures about the same from ear to ear as from forehead to back-head, (saying nought of the neck,) while across and opposite the double teeth the face is a couple of inches broader than from ear to ear. Beneath and between the overhanging dewlaps that constitute his cheeks, is sheltered an equivocal-looking tumor that nature probably originally intended for a chin. Hair and whiskers reddish-a little redder, and a little coarser than the fibrous covering of a cocoa-nut.

Following the arrival of the steamer and the landing of the passengers. Business was suspended, and the whole city was in the streets, inquiring what further had been discovered, and what was going to be done. There was hurrying to and fro, and exciting discussions in little knots, till nearly midnight; and next day’s proceeding-the coroner’s inquest, including post mortem examination and its incidents-will appear in tomorrow’s HERALD.


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