Skip to main content

Cut in half and disemboweled!

Catasauqua, circa late 1890s

This is one of the more gruesome newspaper stories I've stumbled across thus far (from the Dec. 27, 1895 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian):

Cut in halves and disemboweled, the body of a young man 18 to 20 years was found Friday evening by the crew of Central train drawn by engine 319, midway between the Catasauqua and Lower Catasauqua stations of the railroad.

The men came across the ghastly sight about 6:30 o'clock.  The body was lying across the tracks near Bower's slaughtering house.  The corpse had been cut in two by the wheels of the cars.  The entrails lay scattered about.  The body was still warm.  It was supposed the young man had fallen off that same train and met his horrible death.  The body was removed to Undertaker Stewart's morgue and Coroner Yost was notified.

The circumstances connected with the case are extremely sad.  The youth, who was still a mere boy, was handsome and well-dressed.  He wore a blue suit, tan shoes, blue overcoat, and derby hat.  From letters found in his pockets it was learned that he was Joseph Girton, of Bloomsburg.  He was a silk worker.  The story of the letters is that he had a widowed mother.  A letter from his mother contains the usual affectionate terms.  She talks about John and Bernard, evidently brothers, cracking nuts in the kitchen, and mentions two other children, Alex and Lizzie.  The mother says that if he was determined to go off and see the world, he should always be a man and a Christian and do right, for that was the only way to get along.  The letter indicates that the boy left home against his mother's wishes.

(view the entire newspaper story here)

Popular posts from this blog

Mount Carmel's Mysterious Suicide Cell

Tucked away at the head of North Oak Street in Mount Carmel is a quaint shop housed in a tiny historic brick building. The Shop at Oak & Avenue is a must-see destination for visitors, offering an impressive variety of gifts and handmade jewelry. It is a gem in an otherwise drab coal town whose glory days faded away with the demise of the steam locomotive and the trolley.

While this quaint small town gift shop gives off a pleasant appearance, the history of the building-- one of the oldest in the borough-- is tinged with horror and death. For this tiny building, erected in the 1880s, served as Mount Carmel's first city hall and jail, and this jail had a rather dark distinction of being the site of the cursed and mysterious "suicide cell".

History records six suicides taking place in the basement cell, along with scores of other attempted suicides. For a reason that has defied explanation, this tiny jail in this tiny town seems to bring out the darkest demons lurking wi…

The Lutz Axe Murder

A small two-story house standing at the corner of Franklin and Montgomery streets in West Pittston presents a humble appearance. Simple in design and white in color, it is remarkable only because it is so unremarkable. A local resident may drive by the house every day for years without ever noticing it, or thinking about it. Certainly, from its understated appearance, nobody would ever guess that this humble house was the home of John Lutz, who, in 1899, committed of the most heinous murders in the history of Luzerne County.

The tiny house at the corner of Franklin and Montgomery is, in fact, a murder house. It is the scene of a gruesome crime that took place more than a century ago. What you are about to read is the story of that house and the killer who lived inside.

On November 29, 1899, John Lutz came home to his 31-year-old wife, Augusta, and their five young children. Lutz, who was nearly ten years older than his wife, was said to have been suffering from feelings of jealousy. Th…

Natalie, Pennsylvania: A Murderer's Paradise

When a miner named Michael Wanzie was murdered in June of 1905, it was evident that something wasn't quite right in the tiny village of Natalie. Although the scenic mountain village had a population of less than two hundred, the slaying of Michael Wanzie was the fourth murder committed in the village in less than a decade.

By 1924 the population had nearly doubled, thanks to a building "boom" that saw the construction of 40 new homes during the preceding year by builders employed by the Colonial Collieries Company, owners of the Natalie Colliery. Twenty of these homes, many of which still stand today, were built by the Evert Construction Company of Kulpmont. In 1923 there were 56 homes in the village, housing 375 residents. By April of 1924 that number would swell to just under 400 residents and 93 homes.

Although the building boom lent a measure of respectability to the village, Natalie was still imbued with a notorious reputation as being one of the most lawless places …