Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Aqua Vitae, Aqua Mortis

For such an insignificant stream, Stony Brook has attracted its share of tragedy. Apparently, when there is no Golden Gate Bridge, people in extremis will settle for less. Bless their souls.
Boston Globe August 28, 1893
Found Body Under Bridge
Unknown Man Drowned in Stony Brook, Back Bay Fens
The body of a man was found under Stony brook
bridge, Back Bay fens, yesterday by Sergt Murphy
of the park police.
The man had been seen in that locality for several
days previous, and the police, thinking he had
committed suicide, notified the medical examiner.
The latter stated that he had made no thorough
examination of the body, but it appeared to him
that under the circumstances the man died from
natural causes.
The body, which was taken to be that of a man of
60, 5 ft 5 in in height, 140 pounds, gray beard
and mustache, dark clothes, white undergarments,
light stockings and button shoes.
Boston Globe March 23, 1895
Body In The Fens.
Unknown Man Committed Suicide There.
Jumped Through a Hole in the Ice in Stony Brook
Three Children Witnessed the Rash Deed.
Police Have Not Established Victim's Identity.
Was a Man of Middle Age, and Wore a Cape Coat.
One more unfortunate had given up the fight and
escaped from the struggle of life by the open door
of suicide.

So effectively was the plan of self-destruction
carried out that as yet no light has been cast on
the identity of this victim of self-destruction.

The scene of the suicide was the Back Bay fens,
the time March 3. Through the reticence of the
police, no news of the case has been given out,
though a careful search of the waterways of the
fens and the banks of the Charles river has been
going on since March.

On March 3 the unknown man was seen standing on
Stony Brook bridge, near Huntington av, by park
policeman Hood.

He stood there for some time and acted strangely.
Once while the policeman watched him, his head was
bowed, as if he were meditating.

It was late in the afternoon, and a cold wind blew
from the northwest. That the man should linger
there on such a bleak day the patrolman thought
strange. He drew near the man, but the stranger
walked away.
The next day a little girl, whose home is near,
accosted the patrolman and told him that while she
and two companions were playing near the bridge
the afternoon before, a stranger had committed

The children had seen him on the bridge and
noticed his strange manner. They were some
distance away, and he apparently did not notice
them. They saw him turn after the patrolman
disappeared, and walk back to the bridge, from
which he had gone a little way when he saw that he
was observed by the policeman.

He stood for a moment as if hesitating, looked in
different directions, and then remained standing
on the bridge several minutes without moving.
His eyes were fixed on the small hole in the ice
near the edge of the bridge.

Stepping from the bridge to the granite coping,
with his eyes turned upward, and lifting his hat
from his head, he plunged into the water.
Once he came to the surface, but he made no
attempt to save himself, and his body sank beneath
the ice, which covered the water except in the
spot, not more than three feet in size, into which
he had jumped.

Stricken with terror, and not old enough to know
what to do, the three children watched the spot
where the body sank and then ran away.
That night they told their parents, and notice was
sent to the police.

The park police, under the direction of Sergt W.
Bowen Murphy, made an investigation. The principal
fact revealed was that the man who committed
suicide was undoubtedly the same as was seen by
patrolman Hood.

The children told that the suicide was a middle-
aged man, and wore a cape coat. His hat was a
derby. The description corresponded with that of
the man patrolman Hood saw.

The police dragged the pool, but they found
nothing. They broke the ice in order that the
search might be more complete, but in vain.
Since then a watch has been kept, but nothing has
been seen to show that a man lay in the water.
Bodies rise in summer within nine days, but in
winter it is nearer 18. Every patrolman in the
Fens, and along the banks of the Charles river,
has instructions to watch carefully for the body.

The scene of the suicide is off Huntington av,
near the baseball grounds. The theory that the man
might have been Rev John Owen Bache, the missing
New York insurance agent, which was advanced
yesterday, is not credited by the police.

Boston Globe October 23, `1901
Edward W. Leavitt's Body Found in Fenway.
Well-Known Leather Dealer Had Been Missing Several
No Sign of Foul Play in Connection with Death.
Business Troubles Had Affected His Mind.
He Lived at 66 Waverley St, Roxbury District.
At 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the body of a
man, who was later identified as Edward W.
Leavitt, the leather merchant who had been missing
from his home, 63 Waverley st Roxbury, since a
week ago Monday, was found floating in Stony brook
directly opposite the residence of Robert Treat
Paine Jr. in the Fenway.

The body was first seen by a man walking through
the Fenway, and was then near the Agassiz bridge.
This man notified a patrolman of division 16 and
the body was brought ashore, where it was turned
over to an undertaker, who took it to the mortuary
of the City hospital. Decomposition had progressed
so far that identification was made only by the
clothing and letters addressed to Mr Leavitt at
his business address, which was 130 Summer st,
Boston. The medical examiner was notified and will
view the body this morning.

Until that time the official cause of death cannot
be learned, but the police have no doubt that Mr
Leavitt either fell into the brook and was drowned
accidentally while wandering about in a mentally
unbalanced condition, or that he threw himself
into the stream while suffering from his
overwrought nerves. There was no indication of
foul play on the body, which, with the exception
of his hat, was fully clothed, even to his
overcoat. Mr Leavitt's watch and some little
articles of jewelry were intact when his body was
found, and there is no suspicion of foul play in
connection to his death.
[article continues]

October 15, 1893
Mary Hogan's Troubles
They Led Her Into the Water of Stony Brook, But
She Will Live.
Early yesterday morning Mary Hogan, 53 years,
married and living in the rear of 3417 Washington
st, was found in the water of Stony brook, near
Keyes st, by John Hogg, who lives nearby.
Mary's husband, Patrick, was arrested the day
before for assaulting another person with a hammer
and in consequence he was committed to jail until
bail was secured.

This fact with other things played upon Mary's
mind, and sometime after 3 o'clock she wandered
from her home and in some manner fell into the

Hogg found Mary floundering in the water. He ran
for assistance and notified Mr. Perry, janitor of
the Franklin park overlook. Together with Mr Perry
and a boy named McCart, Hogg pulled the woman from
the water, which was three feet in depth.

They took her home.

Dr O'Keefe, after working a few hours, restored
the woman to consciousness.
September 22, 1905

Unhappy In New Land.
Mrs Ellen Kelly of Roxbury Found Dead in Stony
Brook - Came from Ireland About a Year Ago.
The body of a woman, which was identified as that
of Mrs Ellen Kelley of 99 Phillips st, Roxbury,
was found floating in Stony brook, near the Fenway
bridge, shortly before 9 o'clock yesterday morning
by employees of the sanitary division of the city.
Mrs Kelley, who was 60 years old, came to this
country about a year ago. She sold a farm in
Roscommon county, Ireland, and joined her
relatives in Roxbury. She had made her home with
her married daughter, Mrs Dolan, at 99 Phillips

The change to new scenes and strange customs
affected her deeply and she had been melancholy
for some time. For the past couple of days she had
been acting strangely and brooded very much. About
4 o'clock yesterday morning the people in the
house heard noises downstairs, and upon
investigation found a kitchen window open. Mrs
Kelley was missing from her room.

Her relatives searched the vicinity of their
homes, but unavailingly. They were greatly shocked
when they learned of her death.

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