Murderess Laura D. Fair

Tahoe House - Virginia City, Nevada

Tahoe House - Virginia City, Nevada

The jury in the case of Laura D. Fair, murderer of A.P. Crittenden, remained out forty minutes, when a verdict of murder in the first degree was rendered. The prisoner appeared somewhat paler than usual when taken from the court room, otherwise she was unmoved. It may not be improper to say now of this verdict that until within last week no one generally believed it possible, as nearly everybody was expecting the trial to prove a perfect farce, ending in the acquittal of the prisoner, or a disagreement of the jury. Nine-tenths of the community regard the verdict as a just and proper vindication of the law, and a rebuke of the doctrines put forth in the defense.

Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Apr 27, 1871


The testimony of Mrs. Crittenden in the trial of Laura Fair deserves to be particularly pondered by the advocates of easy divorces. Mrs. Crittenden appears in it, as she does throughout all the testimony which refers to her in the case, as a noble and self-sacrificing woman, whose whole desire was to do her duty by her husband and her children. The natural impulse of a scorned woman for revenge she had gained a complete and admirable victory over. It was not, as she testifies, and as the whole history of the case shows, for herself, but for her children, that she pleaded with the woman Fair; and she declared that even if her husband abandoned her she would not put upon them the stigma of a divorce. IF she had chosen to take the course which the law in all States opened to her, or if Crittenden had been able to avail himself of the “incompatibility” which the law in some States allows as a cause for divorce, there is no doubt that he would have foresaken his wife for a woman in every way immeasurably inferior to her. The contrast between the modest and broken hearted lady and the brazen adventuress who succeeded in supplanting her was pointed upon the trial by the insolent interruption with which a prostitute and a murderess marked her hatred of a true and virtuous woman. In the state of things which easy divorce would bring about, the infatuation of Crittenden was so great that the woman who is the refuse of the earth would have won a complete and legal triumph over one of the women who are the salt of it. The woman who is now a widow would have been worse than a widow, and the children who are now fatherless would have been worse than orphans. It is in behalf of women like Mrs. Crittenden, and in despite of women like Mrs. Fair, that the divorce laws are kept stringent. Choose ye. — N.Y. World.

We have but little in common with those journalistic ghouls who have made the debasing details of this trial the daily dessert of their literary meal.

The facts are that Mr. Crittenden was a gentleman, high-toned, honorable and noble; wise in the great affairs of life; foolish as a child in all that concerned a woman. The world has many such men, who are among its greatest and best. They live, die, and are followed to the grave by weeping multitudes, because Providence preserves them from the wiles of wicked and fascinating women. That Mr. Crittenden was such a man, his long life of honorable usefulness, his many years of faithful fidelity to the love of his youth, abundantly proves. That Mrs. Fair was and is an incarnate fiend, all-powerful for evil, and constantly accomplishing it, her life of untiring mischief plainly demonstrates. She ruined Mr. Crittenden just as she would have ruined the judge and the jury that tried and convicted her, and just as she will probably ruin the counsel that defended her should she escape the gallows she so richly deserves. In the hands of a beautiful and wicked woman, men are children, and foolish in proportion as they are noble and generous.

Had Mr. Crittenden been a stolid, money loving, unintellectual, gross debauchee he would have laughed at her charms and thrown off her fascinations with the wine that he quaffed. The white wings of a dove are easily soiled, while smut does no harm on the black plumes of a foul raven.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 30, 1871


Mrs. LAURA D. FAIR, for murdering Mr. Crittenden, will be hanged at San Francisco, on the 28th of July.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jun 10, 1871


Laura D. Fair.

The fate of this beautiful murderess is yet in the balance, and if the Supreme Court of California does not grant her a new trial, she will as certainly be hung as that her hair is blonde, and her voice winning and musical. It is a sad thing at all times to hang a beautiful woman. Beauty is nature’s protest against the rigorous letter of the law, and the executioner who destroys it, or the judge ________ such destruction obligatory, violates that which is too rare to be banished from the midst of men. In Mexico there grows a tree, called the mara mujere? or bad Woman. It is always in the tropics and bears one crimson blossom., symbolizing a drop of human blood. It is hot overhead, the undergrowth is a wilderness, birds of beautiful plumage dart in and out among the vines, created by the ____, the traveler in one _____ moment lays hand on the Red Woman. [A thousand ______ _____ than ??????? unreadable sentence.]the hand is poisoned, dreadful pain follows, and afterward paralysis and death. If he had not touched the tree, however, the songs of the birds would still be sweet for

Daily Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) Dec 20, 1871


The report of the death in prison at San Francisco of Mrs. Laura D. Fair, which was said to have occurred on the 30th ult, was a mistake. A San Francisco dispatch of the 5th says, “Mrs. Laura D. Fair is in excellent health and confident that she will never be hanged. Elisha Cook, her principal counsel, died the last hour of the year.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) Jan 18, 1872


Some Gallows Humor:

Laura D. Fair, who was put in prison at San Francisco, California, under sentence of death, for the murder of Crittenden, is dead. She was a remarkable woman. — Brenham Times.

Remarkable, indeed, since at present she is alive and well, and snugly immured in San Francisco jail.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 7, 1872


It is insinuated by San Francisco journals that Mrs. Laura D. Fair cannot, in accordance with law, be hung for several months to come because of an impending event.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jan 31, 1872


The Second Trial of Laura D. Fair — How She Looks in Court.

After months of delay, the second trial of Laura D. Fair, for the murder of A.P. Crittenden, began yesterday in the Fifteenth district court, Judge T.B. Reardon presiding. As is usual whenever this case is called, an immense crowd was gathered in the court-room, which shows that public interest in the result is in no wise abated.

Mrs. Fair entered the court-room at 10 o’clock, under escort of a deputy sheriff, and took a seat by her counsel N. Greene Curtis and Judge Quaint, by both of whom she was cordially greeted. As she came in, the crowd made a passage way through which she walked with a firm step.

She was dressed, as usual, in deep black — black silk dress, black hat and veil, and black gloves. Everything was black except her face, which was as white as Parian marble. Her golden curls trailed down through the folds of her sombre veil, and seemed like rays of sunlight streaming through a blackened cloud. She seated herself at the lawyer’s table, and resting her head on her hand, seemed lost in sad, sad reverie. In the opening proceedings she took no interest whatever. She sat with her eyes on the floor, and only lifted them when her counsel turned to her to make some remark. Her veil was kept down closely over her face, and her features were almost entirely hidden from the eager, curious gaze of the crowd. Later in the day, when the names of the jurors were called, she manifested a slight degree of interest, but when, one after another, they entertained opinions, she seemed to gather from the circumstance a knowledge of how little sympathy there was in the cold, hard faces about her. For a while she listened, but soon sank back in her chair, evidently disheartened and depressed. Once she smiled, when listening to the questioning of an idiot who was on the stand under examination as to his qualifications to sit on the jury, but it was a sickly mournful smile and passed away as quickly as it came.

Sitting apart from the prominent actress in the scene was another older lady. She too, was attired in black and looked sad and sorrowful. This was the mother of Mrs. Fair. She had come into the court before Mrs. Fair, but when the latter entered she did not notice her. Neither spoke to the other, and both sat apart and alone. In the afternoon Mrs. Lane again entered the court, but Judge Quint went up to her and whispered something, after which she left and was seen no more. After this Mrs. Fair was left entirely alone with her counsel. — San Francisco Chronicle.

Daily Democrat (Sedalia, Missouri) Sep 23, 1872

scales of justice


The acquittal of Mrs. Laura D. Fair makes good the boast that in California no woman had been or ever would be executed for murder. The killing of Crittenden was not a disputed fact. It was not brought home to her on the strength of circumstantial evidence. IT was admitted. Infuriated by the sight of the wife of her paramour and the kiss with which the unfaithful husband welcomed her return to the Pacific Coast, Mrs. Fair drew a pistol, which apparently she had deliberately provided for the purpose, and shot him dead. The verdict of the jury which first found her guilty of murder was approved by every intelligent reader of the testimony. If murder ever stained the annals of human history, then Mrs. Fair was guilty of it. Her acquittal rests, if it has any basis beyond the sympathy of the jurors for a woman upon the plea of temporary insanity — a plea which may be resorted to in almost any case of killing, and in California with manifest success.

Mrs. Fair goes unhung for her crime, but she will not go unpunished. In all civilized society where she may appear hereafter, she will be avoided as one whose hand is stained with the same stain which reddened the hand of Lady Macbeth. If the legal penalty of her crime is not exacted, the moral law will be avenged upon her in such a way that she will be likely to regret her release from the walls of a friendly prison, and wish for death as a release from the scorn and contempt of mankind. — Cincinnati COMMERCIAL.

The Coshocton Democrat (Coshocton, Ohio) Oct 8, 1872

More “Humor” From the Press:

Laura Fair, just acquitted of the murder of Colonel Crittenden in California is called the “pretty bully in bombazine” by a Western paper. The “pretty bullet” would come nearer the mark.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Oct 9, 1872


The St. Louis Democrat says that Laura D. Fair, who shot Mr. Crittenden, has made “a quarter of a million in Yellow Jacket,” and thinks that now “she had better kill somebody else — say a brutal witness who inhumanly witnessed the shooting.”

Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Oct 18, 1872


HAVING escaped the gallows, Miss Laura D. Fair is now making a determined effort to save her money, and has repudiated Judge Quint’s little bill of $8,075 for legal services.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Nov 9, 1872

The following telegram tells why the notorious Laura D. Fair failed to fulfill her first lecture appointment in the Golden City:

“At the hour that Mrs. Fair was t o appear and lecture upon ‘Wolves in the Fold,’ about 2,000 people congregated in front of Platt’s Hall, on Montgomery street, and as many before her residence on Kearney street. The crowds at both places were boisterous and threatening.

At 8 o’clock Mrs. Fair demanded of the Chief of Police an escort of officers to the lecture hall. The Chief advised her that it was dangerous for her to appear on the street or at the hall, and would not furnish an escort, but sent men to keep the streets clear and preserve the peace.

The carriage came for Mrs. Fair, but she kept close in her room with a dozen friends. The crowd hooted and yelled, and men tried to force their way up the stairs, but were driven back. In about tow hours but few remained and all was quiet.”

The question of calling a convention to form a State Constitution for Washington Territory has been voted down ….. A tremendous sensation has been caused in San Francisco by the publication of the particulars of an alleged plot by Laura D. Fair and a restaurant waiter named Frank to poison Judge Dwinelle and the counsel for the people, Alex. Campbell. The plot was formed before the second trial, and was revealed by Frank. He said that Mrs. Fair tried to induce him to put poison in a decanter at Dwinelle’s house or a milk can at the door. A plan of Judge Dwinelle’s house was found in the possession of Frank.

The Dixon Telegraph (Dixon, Illinois) Dec 4, 1872


Laura Fair cocktails, recently sold in San Francisco saloons, have been discontinued since the rumored attempt of that lady to poison Judge Dwinelle.

New York Herald (New York, New York) Dec 4, 1872


THE notorious Laura D. Fair has had J. Thistleton arrested in San Francisco for caricaturing her during her late trial for murder.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 11, 1873


Laura D. Fair lectured, on Wednesday night at Hamilton Hall, Sacramento, Cal., upon “Wolves in the Fold.” She was exceedingly bitter upon the San Francisco Press, clergy, attorneys, and the jury which first tried her.

The New York Times (New York, New York) Jan 31, 1873


The shot with which Laura Fair killed Crittenden almost as suddenly turned white the hair of a daughter of the deceased, it is said. The young lady, who is but twenty years old is described as beautiful and intelligent, but overcast with a cloud of melancholy that will embitter her future life. Being asked recently by an intrepid interviewer how came her hair so white and she so young, she answered “sorrow,” and immediately left the room.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 2, 1873


It is reported that Laura D. Fair has married a lawyer in San Francisco.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Dec 28, 1873

More Gallows Humor From the Press:

AN exchange says that Laura Fair is said to make a model housekeeper, and her husband is one of the happiest men in California. This is the best argument we have yet seen against hanging. A reprieved murderess and so on makes the best wife. Still, it looks as though Laura’s fortieth husband may be a man not hard to please.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 9, 1874


Laura Fair visited Cincinnati in cog. last week. She was detected by a hotel clerk, who observed a name on a pistol which she was examining to see if the charges were all right. The hotel charges?

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 29, 1874


Laura Fair has gone to Japan to shoot the Mikado.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jul 14, 1874


Laura D. Fair, San Francisco murderess, was spared the gallows that she might appear in a police court as the victimized purchaser of 6,666 shares of a silver mine which couldn’t boast a bonansa.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) Feb 24, 1875


Laura Fair, in a card, denies that she advised Mrs. Loomis, another terrible woman of San Francisco, to shoot Col. Barnes.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jun 18, 1875


Laura D. Fair was before the Probate Court at San Francisco, the other day, to get an order authorizing the sale of some real estate standing in the name of her little daughter. She got it.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Aug 5, 1875

The Press Just Isn’t Going To Let it Die:

“Laura Fair,” says The Detroit Free Press,” has settled down into a quiet, peaceful body, who wouldn’t step on a cat’s tail if she could just as well not. She says she wouldn’t shoot another man for thirty dollars.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Mar 11, 1876


Laura D. Fair has invented a baby carriage and sold the patent to an eastern firm for $14,000.

Reno Weekly Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Jun 26, 1879


Laura D. Fair has written a lecture entitled “Chips from California,” the initial delivery of which will be at Chickering Hall New York to-night. The lecture is understood to contain much that is dramatic of the unmasked and practical side of life as seen in the Golden State. It is said to also treat of public men, politics, notable women, of the requisites to the inner circles of the California elite, at the operators on “the street,” of Henry Ward Beecher’s visit to California, and something about the Chinese, the Bonanza Kings, and the domestic virtues of California hospitality.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Sep 23, 1879

Lorraine Hollis advert 1900 copy

Miss Hollis at Auditorium.

The Lorraine Hollis company produced Dumas’ great masterpiece, “La Dame aux Camellias” at the Auditorium Saturday evening to a large and critical audience. It is enough to say that no one in the house was in the least dissatisfied with the work of Miss Hollis in the leading role and of Orme Caldara as Armand Duval, they having to respond to a curtain call.

Miss Hollis’ work is equal t that of Lillian Lewis in her palmiest days in the role of Camille. The scene between Camille and Armand’s father, in which the latter besecaes? her to abandon Armand for his honor’s sake, is especially well done, and not a criticism could be offered on Miss Hollis’ work in this exceedingly difficult part. The end of Camille’s life of sacrifice, her reconcilation with Armand, and her death in his arms, surrounded by a few friends who have remained true to her, is exquisitely pathetic, and the fine touches of art which Miss Hollis bestows on her work in this scene may well be mistaken for reality. Miss Hollis is a clever actress, a charming woman, and undoubtedly has a great future before her.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Jan 15, 1900


Death of Actress Recalls Old Crittenden Murder of Years Ago.

NEW YORK, Feb. 7. — Many actors and actresses stood with bowed heads on the sidewalk in front of an Eighth avenue undertaking establishment yesterday as the coffin containing the body of Lillian Lorraine Hollis, known as “the child of tragedy,” was borne out to the hearse which conveyed it to a crematory.

“Here ends the career of a girl whom California proclaimed twenty-two years ago as its most beautiful product,” soliloquized Albert Curtis, an old-time stock company actor. “In a voting contest conducted by several California newspapers in 1892 Miss Hollis was proclaimed the prettiest woman on the Pacific coast.”

When her body was found in a little furnished room at 223 West Forty-ninth street it seemed drawn and sallow. The beauty of twenty years ago had faded. A score of cats were slinking about the room. Among them was Charley, known to every theater almost throughout the United States, because Miss Hollis always insisted on this big, ugly cat accompanying her.

How long Miss Hollis had been dead is not known. She was ill last Friday, the last time a friend had called upon her. The physician said it was inanimation and lack of nourishment. Others used the plain word starvation.

The mother of Lillian Lorraine Hollis was Laura D. Fair, and she was known forty years ago as one of the most beautiful women in San Francisco. On November 3, 1870, soon after the birth of the woman who was cremated yesterday, Laura Fair followed Judge A.P. Crittenden on board a ferry boat going from San Francisco to Oakland, where he was to meet his wife, returning from the East, and shot and killed him.

Laura Fair, famed for her beauty, had left a baby in her rooms, and just as Judge Crittenden was stepping from the boat to meet his wife she demanded that he abandon his wife and live with her and acknowledge the parentage of the girl who died alone in privation here a few days ago. He spurned her, and, in proof that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” she killed him.

After a sensational trial, in which many of hte early families of California were involved, Laura Fair was convicted of murder and sentenced to be hanged. She was the first woman to be so sentenced. Popular sentiment was aroused and Laura Fair had another trial and was acquitted.

Returning to her baby, she established a little home and supported herself by singing in the mining camp dance halls. Growing up in this environment, the daughter became an actress at an early age, and for the last twenty-five years she has been with many companies. Her greatest affluence was attained when she owned a company of her own, but this soon failed. Her last marriage is said to have been to a man named Andrew Hines.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Feb 7, 1913


Suicide Prompted by Death
Woman Seeks to End Life
Old Tragedy Now Recalled

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 8 — Mrs. Laura D. Snyder, mother of Lillian Lorraine Hollis, who recently died in poverty in New York, attempted to kill herself by cutting her throat at her home in Richmond today. Physicians said tonight she probably would recover.

Grieved over the death of her daughter, friends say, has affected Mrs. Snyder’s mind.

Mrs. Snyder, whose maiden name was Fair, figured more than 40 years ago in a famous criminal case. On a ferry boat en route from San Francisco to Oakland, she shot and killed Judge A.P. Crittenden, who the woman claimed was the father of her child, Lillian.

Laura Fair was sentenced to be hanged for the murder, but a new trial was granted her and she was acquitted. Afterwards she went into mining camps and made a living for herself and child.

The daughter became noted for her beauty and in 1892 won a newspaper voting contest as the most beautiful woman on the Pacific coast. She became an actress and went east.

The news of her death in destitute circumstances at New York was the first word Mrs. Snyder had received of her daughter in many years.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Feb 9,  1913

LorraineHollis pic

Killed Judge Crittenden on Ferryboat in 1870 Because of Unwelcome Attentions

RICHMOND, Feb. 11. — Believing herself to be nearing the grave, but wishing first to clear the name of her dead daughter, Lillian Lorraine Hollis, the once famous actress, Lillian Fair, Mrs. L.D. Snyder of this city, who, in 1870 shot and killed Judge A.P. Crittenden on the ferryboat El Capitan, yesterday told the story of her own tragic career since the birth of her daughter, Lillian, in Siskiyou county in 1860.

Mrs. Snyder refutes the stories that have been current to the effect that her daughter, once known as one of the most beautiful women in the United States, died in a tenement house alone and in poverty.


Mrs. Snyder, who is 75 years old, was formerly Mrs. Laura D. Fair, wife of Colonel William D. Fair, a famous attorney of the early days of California and Nevada. Fair was found dead with a bullet in his brain in the offices of Dr. Murphy in San Francisco. The autopsy showed that two shots had been fired, one of which had killed Fair. The mystery as to whether or not Fair had committed suicide or was the victim of a pistol duel was never cleared.

In later years Mrs. Fair became engaged to Crittenden, but on learning that he was a married man, she married Snyder, and since 1906 has lived in Richmond.

The tragic events in her life have broken her heart and her health. When the news of her daughter’s death reached her she tried to kill herslef.


“It is no use keeping up the struggle longer,” she said. “I am so weary of it all and there is nothing else now for me to live for. Lillian is gone, my Babie Fair. I am 75 and I can’t last very much longer anyhow.

“Who says she was alone, and poverty stricken? Who dares attack her legitimacy of birth? She was the daughter of my husband, Colonel William D. Fair, and was born in Yreka, Siskiyou county, in August, 1860.


“She did not die alone, but was under the care of kind friends and the treatment of Dr. Thomas R. English, 65 Central Park West, New York. For a long time she had been ill with a complication of lung troubles and a weak heart, but despite that she has earned her own living by teaching music. She left the stage some years ago.”

Mrs. Leonora S. Smith, landlady of the flat occupied by Mrs. Hollis at 133 East Ninty-fourth street, writes to Mrs. Snyder under date of February 3, telling her of the affairs of her daughter. “And this letter from my Lillian herself will prove that those sensational reports sent out from the East are false,” said Mrs. Snyder, referring to the following letter from Miss Hollis:


New York, Jan. 26. ’13.
Dear Mamma: It may be possible for me to get pupils again soon, only I must first get more strength. You letter has caused me to make a renewed honest fight. I write in haste to keep my work and send love to Mamma mine. The children I have been teaching music will come to see me again before Easter.
Write soon please.
Mary Mother guard you.
Lovingly, BABIE FAIR.

“I presume the only thing left for me to do is to review the whole terrible story,” said Mrs. Snyder. “My husband, Colonel Fair, died a year and half after Lillian was born, leaving me in excellent financial circumstances. I went to Virginia City, Nevada, where I bought a large rooming house and it was there when my daughter was four years old that I first met Crittenden.


“At that time Crittenden represented himself as a single man and when I left Virginia City he still paid me attentions, saying that his wife had died a number of years before. I believed him, but later I found out that it was not so.

“I married Snyder and Crittenden again pestered me with attentions. I had told Snyder before my marriage of the Crittenden incident and he said that if he should bother me after my marriage he would shoot him.

“Crittenden kept up his attentions and was even so bold as to enter my house. I feared that if my husband should see him there would be murder. Shortly afterward Crittenden sent me a note saying my husband was paying attention to another woman and offered to hire detectives to shadow my husband. He asked if I had any objection and I said no. One night the detective, McDougal, came to my house and told me that he was ready with evidence. Accompanied by two witnesses and the detective, I found my husband with another woman.


“I sued for divorce and was granted a decree in three weeks. After it was all over I learned that Snyder had been paid by Crittenden to aid in furnishing evidence by which I would be persuaded to sue for divorce. After the trial I accused Crittenden to his face of having been responsible and he neither denied nor admitted that my accusation was just.

“I told him then that if I ever met him again I would shoot him and I did. I was acquitted and many of my closest friends told me that I should have shot him a lot sooner. Immediately after the trial I took a flat at the corner of Gough and Hayes streets in San Francisco, where I lived until my daughter was 13 years of age.


“Between the ages of 18 and 19 she married Andrew W. Haynes.
“She had $10,000 at the time of her marriage in her own name. Her marriage was not a happy one, and after living with Haynes for about six years she secured a divorce. She was never married again.

“Afterward she went on the stage, playing at the old Alcazar Theater, and never going on the vaudeville stage. She later showed great ability in dramatic work, and went East, where she continued her dramatic work until 1902. Since then she had devoted her time to writing. She was the author of a number of plays, some of which she staged with success.


“She enjoyed great success until the past few years, when she had been in ill heath. I have heard from her from time to time, and a year or so ago wrote to her that I would try to join her in New York. She replied that she would try to come to California, as she would rather live in the bricks and ashes of San Francisco than in a palace in New York.”

” I realize now that it will not be long before I will join her. I am a woman 75 years of age, and have not a great many years before me. It is for this reason that I desire to set the facts in the case aright.”

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Feb 11, 1913



With the filing in San Francisco yesterday of a report of the public administrator, there was disclosed the fact that Laura A. Snyder, formerly Laura Fair, who figured in one of the historic sensations of California is dead. Also there was written probably the last chapter of a story, of an angered woman and the shooting at her hands of the man she contended had wronged her, Alexander Crittenden. The shooting took place in 1870, when Crittenden and his wife who had come from the east to join him, were crossing from Oakland to San Francisco on a ferry boat. Laura Fair also was on the boat for a purpose and that was to seek the life of Crittenden.

On her first trial she was convicted, but subsequently obtained a verdict in acquittal. Now it seems that for years she had been living in a little place at 2143 Market street, San Francisco, where on Monday she died of heart failure. She was 82 years old. Public Administrator Hynes found that she had left $1100 in the Bank of Italy, and that there are two heirs in Salt Lake.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Oct 15, 1919



THE TRIAL of Public Defender Frank Egan in San Francisco and his associate, one Tinnin, a former penitentiary inmate, in which both were convicted of murder, is being spoken of in the bay cities as “historic,” but as an Oakland paper editorially remarks, “In a few days it will be forgotten.” This is quite likely, as other trials that attracted great attention at the time have long since passed from public memory.

One of the most famous criminal cases in the history of the coast was the killing of Alexander Crittenden, noted lawyer of Nevada and California and a graduate of West Point, by Laura D. Fair, widow of Sheriff Fair of Shasta county, California. In 1862 she conducted the Tahoe House in Virginia City. In November, 1870, when Crittenden was with his wife and children on board a ferry steamer, Mrs. Fair stepped up to him and suddenly shot him. He died two days later. She was convicted on her first trial but acquitted on her second on the ground of insanity. Owing to the prominence of the woman and Crittenden, it was literally years before the killing ceased to be a theme of conversation. Now few recall it.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Sep 9, 1932


The Gentle Tamers on Google Books has a good summary of Laura D. Fair and the murder of Alexander Crittenden.

Another summary in History of California By Theodore Henry Hittell, also on Google Books.

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One Response to “Murderess Laura D. Fair”

  1. Carolyne Purchase Says:

    Interesting info. I now manage the restored Tahoe House Hotel in Virginia City, where the affair took place for sooooo many years. Stop by anytime we are open all year, spend the night in Lauras’ room. See you some day. Carolyne

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