Shocking Murder — Seven Persons Butchered and Burnt in the Night.
ST. JOSEPH, May 22, 1856.
Last night one of the most diabolical and terrible murders occurred within four miles of this city, that ever shocked a community or outraged humanity.
Mr. Jacob Friend, with his wife and five children, resided in a neat cabin, embowered by ancient forests, upon the border of the beautiful lake which lies just below our town, and cultivated, in a quiet, but profitable way, a piece of land which he had reclaimed from the wilderness. — The banks of the lake are dotted with these simple habitations, and neighbors were all around him, but his house was not visible to any in consequence of the intervening foliage. The hall of a man or the barking of a dog, could, however, be distinctly heard.
Young Barada was there last evening, and left them all in the enjoyment of health and happiness. This morning a young lady was passing, and found the house and its inhabitants in ashes.
The news spread like wild-fire, and in a few hours many from our city and neighborhood were on the spot. The natural question with every one was, how so many persons could have been burned in one room.
The cabin contained but one room, about sixteen feet square, with two doors, a window and a fire-place. The window and the fire place were in the opposite ends, and the two doors in the opposite sides. One either side of the window, with their feet towards the doors, had stood the beds in which the family slept. From where the beds stood, egress was easy and convenient through the window and doors.
It was hardly possible, then, that seven persons — a man of forty-five, a woman of forty, a young man of eighteen, a girl of sixteen, and three small children, could have been burnt from fire originating in the fire-place. There were too many ways of escaping. Nor for the same reason could they be burned to death, if the fire had been communited to any part of the building. The conclusion, then, before any examination, was, that murder, most foul and unnatural, had been busy with his bloody knife, before the fire was ignited.
This conclusion was confirmed by silent evidences which lay around. There in the corner, near the fire-place, was a skeleton, and there, just in front of the fire-place, was another; and where the beds had stood, were all the others — a large one with the smallest clasped in its arms, and the rest clustered near. These were evidently the mother and children. Those near the fire-place, the father and the son. By one of the latter was a large knife; and by the other, a three pronged pitchfork, with points extremely sharpened and in front of the house a revolver was found.
The jury of inquest are now sitting. — They have arrived at no further conclusion, as yet, than that it was a horrible murder. They will take measures — indeed are doing so already, by examination of witnesses and the weapons found — to trace the murderers. God grant that they may be found and brought to justice. This is the sentiment and prayer of every good men in our country.
No event has ever given our community so serious a shock. Our people have been always noted for their liberality, and personal security. It has been unusual to fasten the doors at night, and sometimes in summer, even to close them. — There are not five houses in a hundred with locks upon them. They, nearly all, have the strings always hanging out. — This horrible midnight assassination, therefore, has been more startling than an earthquake, and the whole country are aroused. There must have been more than one engaged in this fiendish work.– They will be traced, I have no doubt. If “murder will out,” then this must certainly be soon developed. I will inform you of further discoveries. Mr. Friend was a good, industrious and prosperous man. –
As I was told to-day by a neighbor, his excellent character and upright deportment made him enemies among the reckless and dissipated. It is said he had a dispute with one of this class, a short time since, about a hog. It was also thought that he had several hundred dollars in gold saved up. What induced the murder, therefore, must have been jealousy, hatred or cupidity; or, perhaps, all.