Thursday, January 8, 1880

Part 3

The following was transcribed from an original copy of "The Lyons Republican," Thursday, January 8, 1880. This paper also traditionally carried quite a bit of news from the Town of Galen, as well as other county towns. This is Part 3 of a multi-installment transcription.


A Daughter, Insane from Grief, Shoots Her Father Dead in His Chair!

And then Reloads the Pistol and Sends a Bullet into Her Own Brain!

"Who Shall Minister to a Mind Diseased?"

It is our painful duty this week to chronicle a double tragedy in our usually quiet village - the details of which are such as to bring sorrow and consternation to the hearts of the inhabitants of this section for many miles around, and to cause even the most thoughtless person to reflect on the terrible uncertainty of world affairs. A wave of excitement has passed over this community which has stirred the hearts of our people to their uttermost depths, and nothing that ever occurred in the village has caused such a universal feeling of horror and regret as the awful sad unparalleled affair of Saturday last.

On Saturday afternoon, soon after one o'clock, Miss Mary Frances Hovey, daughter of Hiram Hovey, left her father's home on Lawrence street, and walked directly to the Post-Office. Arriving there, she entered and held a brief conversation with the Postmaster Mr. M.A. Huff; after which she asked for two stamps of the denomination of one and three cents, with which to mail


Which she held in her hand, one addressed to "Rev. John T. Brownell" and the other to "Mrs. Wm. Manning, Rochester, N.Y." - The one directed to Mr. Brownell had his name only on the envelope, and Mr. Huff inquired where it was to go. "Oh, here, of course," she said; and was hurrying out, when he called her back to ask if she wanted her change. "Never mind the money," she said; and passing out of the door she walked rapidly down Canal street to her father's store, which she entered, and was not seen again until after the discovery of the tragedy that followed. Upon entering the store, she appears to have walked to about the centre of the room, where her father sat alone in an arm-chair which he usually occupied when not attending to the customers, and drawing a pistol,


At his head and pulled the trigger. The ball entered his head near the right temple, and death must have ensued almost instantly. - She then stooped and kissed him, as was shown by a clot of blood found on her hair, and ascending the stairs at the rear of the store, she entered a small room on the floor above, and divesting herself of her hat, necktie and gloves, deliberately reloaded her pistol (a single-barreled one,) and with a small hand-glass in one hand, to assist her in taking aim, and the pistol in the other, she placed the weapon near her right temple, fired and fell to the floor


None of the occupants of the adjoining stores heard the reports of the pistol. The last person to leave the store before the enactment of the terrible tragedy was Captain Thos. Weet, of Sodus. He had gone there a short time previous to purchase a pair of mittens, but not finding any that suited him, had gone out. He left Mr. Hovey in the store alone; and it could not have been more than a few minutes before Miss Frank entered, though Capt. Weet did not see her. The first person to discover the patricide was George Hovey, (not Capt. Weet, as has been stated,) who entered and found his father


His head thrown back and his arms hanging heavily down at his sides. George spoke to him, but received no reply; and thinking that his father had fainted, ran into the Huff drug-store for assistance. Then running back he encountered Capt. Weet, who was returning from Hattler's store, and begged him also to come in and see what was the matter with his father. Capt. Weet hastened to where Mr. Hovey sat in his chair, and noticing the wound on his temple, from which the blood was oozing, jumped to the conclusion that he was suffering from a boil- and asked if this was not the case. Receiving no answer, he called out for a physician; and Dr. Bottum was sent for with all possible speed. Meantime a crowd of excited people had rapidly gathered; though no one suspected the awful import of the blood upon the face of the dead man - who still sat in his chair with his head thrown back. Dr. Bottum was in his office, and came at once; but owing to the room not being well lighted, did not at first realize what the dark spot on his head indicated, though he quickly discovered that Mr. Hovey was beyond human assistance.


He exclaimed; and the crowd fell back aghast. Attention was of course turned at once toward the discovery of the person who committed the awful deed. Fred Hovey, who had come in a few minutes previous, saw his sister's muff lying on the top counter, and exclaimed - "Frank has been here! Where is she?" Dr. Bottum urged that a search be made, and Fred started to go up stairs to look for her; but his heart failed him. He hesitated,and finally returned and asked the doctor to go in his stead. He did so, and upon opening the door leading into the room above


Presented itself to his gaze. Upon the floor lay the unconscious form of the poor girl, weltering in her blood - her life ebbing away at each laborious breath - and the mystery of the scene just witnessed on the floor below was explained.

Near her right hand lay the death-dealing instrument, small in itself but awfully formidable in the amount of suffering and sorrow it was capable of inflicting. At her left hand lay the small mirror she had brought from home and had used to assist her in the dreadful purpose of taking her own life, after having deprived her dearly-beloved father of his existence so that he might be able to accompany her on the journey to the spirit-land. On some trunks near at hand lay several articles of her wearing apparel - her hat, her necktie, and a pretty ribbon-bow she had worn in her hair; while the floor for many feet on either side was slippery with her blood. - The sight was enough to carry terror to the stoutest heart, and bring tears to the eyes long unused to weeping. A fair young maiden, stricken down by her own hand in the beauty and glory of her young womanhood, just at the age when life would seem most desirable and a thing to be enjoyed to its uttermost! And to died in such a manner - with the cool and deliberate purpose of taking her beloved father with her on


Which she had resolved to take, and which she determined should not separate her from him, her most dearly-beloved friend on earth. A purpose like this could have originated only in a mind deranged by the crushing grief which she had for weeks endured.


We copy below the statement of Dr. Bottum, as given to a Democrat and Chronicle reporter on Saturday evening:

"I have been the family physician of Mr. Hovey ever since he came here to reside. About six weeks ago, Mrs. Hovey came to me and said that her daughter Frank was not well; she did not sleep, acted very strangely, and she desired that I would come and see her. I did so immediately, and after a little conversation with the young lady I discovered that she was a monomaniac on some subjects. Her relatives and friends had not mistrusted it at all. I prescribed some medicine of a sedative nature which would produce sleep. After this she appeared better and got more sleep, but about four weeks ago I saw her again, and then I became convinced that she had better be sent to an asylum. The mother, however, did not seem to favor this idea, which was very natural. A week ago Wednesday evening, Mrs. Hovey called at my office and said Frank was better. On Monday night, she had give her only half the dose of the chloral and bromide I prescribed, yet, nevertheless, she rested splendidly. She tried this half dose plan the next night, but it failed to have the desired effect. Last Monday, Hiram Hovey, the deceased, came to my office, appearing very much depressed about the condition of his daughter. He said he feared there was something the matter with her digestive organs. I then, agreeable to his wish, gave him a prescription to relieve indigestion, but at the same time I gave him my candid opinion that Frank ought to be sent to the Utica Asylum, where Dr. Gray, in whom I have the greatest faith in the treatment of such diseases, could see her. Mr. Hovey did not like the idea at all. On Friday evening Mr. Hovey called on me again and said his daughter was no better. I then rather insisted that Doctor Gray's advice should be had, and I even proposed to go with him and his daughter to Utica, stop at a hotel and let Dr. Gray see her. It was no use; Mr. Hovey did not like the idea, and asked me if I could not manage the matter by writing to Dr. Gray. I told him I would go down to Utica, see Doctor Gray personally, explain the matter to him and do the best I could. This was the last I ever saw of him alive.

To-day, about 2 o'clock, Mr. Hovey's son came running into my office and asked me to come quick to the store, that his father was ill. I asked him what was the matter, and he said he did not know. I hastened down to No. 50 Canal street immediately; found Mr. Hovey sitting lifeless in a chair; noticed blood near his right eye and a clot of blood upon his right whisker; also saw that he had vomited. It was so dark at first that I could not exactly tell what was the cause of death; had him placed on a bed, where there was better light, and then discovered that the wound was caused by a bullet. I asked if there was any pistol in the store, and Fred showed me one that had been under a pillow. This being still loaded, I asked if there was no other. Then it was that the brother discovered his sister Frank's muff, and the whole thing became clear to me. I ordered a search to be made for her, and on Fred being fearful of entering the upper room I went up myself and discovered the dying girl. The blood had spurted so far from the body that I knew an artery had been severed. I then said it was plain that the unfortunate girl had tried to kill herself exactly as she killed her father, but missed it by about two inches in the course of the ball. Both bullets entered the brain, but in his case the temporal artery was not cut, hence he bled but little. On examining the head I called the attention of Drs. Chamberlin and Vosburgh, who were there, to a quantity of coagulated blood and some whitish substance on the upper side of the girl's head. We at first thought it was where the ball had made its exit, but on washing off the matter we discovered no opening. Then the fact became apparent to me that after poor Frank had shot her father, and he immediately vomited, she had leaned over and embraced him. This accounted for the matter on her hair and on his whiskers."

Dr. Bottum stated to us last evening that from the position of Miss Hovey's body, and the blood stains on the floor, he has no doubt that she was in a kneeling position when she fired the fatal shot; and he is also of opinion that the act was committed after the alarm was raised in the store below - as the muscular contractions which usually follow the infliction of a wound of such character as hers were scarcely over when he opened the door.


The following diagram of the interior of Mr. Hovey's store may assist our out-of-town readers to a better understanding of the events we are describing:



Mrs. Hovey was informed as gently as possible of the awful state of affairs at the store, and came at once to the scene of the tragedy. No pen can depict with any degree of reality her awful agony at the multiplicity of horrors that confronted her in those first few moments - that must have seemed years to the lacerated heart of the wife and mother, thus so suddenly deprived of her lifelong companion, and her eldest daughter, the pride of her heart. A little later a carriage was procured, and accompanied by her pastor Rev. Mr. Brownell, and others, the dying girl was taken home, and everything possible done for her. But all was to no avail. She remained unconscious, and breathed her last about 5 o'clock the following morning. Mr. Hovey's body was taken in charge by Undertaker Gilbert, and removed to his late residence.


In almost less time than it takes to write it, the news of the awful event spread through the village. The store and residence of the unfortunate Hovey family were visited by hundreds of people, and knots of citizens gathered on the street corners and discussed the tragedy in excited tones. The town has never been so stirred as on that fatal Saturday. Very soon the news was telegraphed abroad, and on the afternoon trains there came down from Rochester a small army of reporters connected with the daily newspapers of that city. Members and friends of the family, and every available person supposed to know anything of the matter, were persistently interviewed, questioned and cross-questioned; and the telegraph was used without stint in sending off reports. As a result, the news was soon spreading on its way to the homes of thousands of readers in all parts of the country, and was the subject of conversation on board the cars and in nearly all of the cities and villages in the State. Newspapers containing accounts of the affair were eagerly sought for, and read with avidity. The accounts published in the Rochester newspapers the next day and Monday were nearly correct, and reflect much credit upon the enterprising representatives who so rapidly and so accurately gathered the information necessary to give their readers a full and complete history of the events narrated in this article.


On Saturday afternoon Coroner Livingston, of Clyde, was notified, and on Sunday he empaneled a jury. After viewing the bodies, the inquest was adjourned until yesterday morning at 10 o'clock, when it was concluded - the following named persons serving as jurymen: Sam'l A. Jones (foreman), Jos. C. Myers, Geo. Rooker, Wm. Burnett, John H. Buell, Geo. E. Thomas, Wm. F. Ashley, Wm. Baltzel. Seven witnesses were sworn by the Coroner, but nothing already known was brought out with regard to the matter. After the examination of witnesses, the case was given to the jury, who rendered the following verdict: "That said Hiram Hovey came to his death on the 3d day of January, 1880, in his store on Canal street, in the village of Lyons, by a bullet fired from a pistol in the hands of his daughter Mary Frances Hovey; and that said Mary Frances Hovey came to her death at the former residence of her father, in the village of Lyons, on the morning of January 4th, 1880, from the effects of a bullet fired from a pistol in her own hand in a room over her father's store on January 3d, 1880, she being in a fit of temporary insanity at the time of committing the aforesaid acts.


Hiram Hovey, the deceased, was one of Lyons' most respected business-men. The greater part of his life had been spent in this village. He had been a prominent member of the M.E. church for many years, and an active and zealous worker in the society. - He was born in Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1823, and came to Lyons at an early day, where he served as clerk in a dry-goods store on Canal street, of which his brother A.J. Hovey was the proprietor. Some thirty years ago he married Miss Clara Jane Smith, of Nassau, N.Y., and six children were born to them, - Albert J. who has been engaged in business in Wolcott, N.Y., for several years, Mary Frances, Frederick S., George H., Jennie, and a child which died in infancy. Mr. Hovey removed to Clyde in 1846, and was engaged there for twenty-one years in the hat and cap business. In the spring on 1867 he returned to Lyons and purchased the Lyons Marble Works of Mr. E.B. Wells, and at the same time opened a hat and cap store at No. 50 Canal street, which he carried on to the day of his death. He disposed of the marble business several years ago, to Mr. Graff, and since that time has devoted his attention exclusively to the business retained by him as stated above. He was universally known in this section and highly respected as a man of sterling worth and integrity of character; and his untimely death is deeply deplored and regretted by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. He was a quiet, reserved man in society - finding his greatest enjoyment in the home-circle and in the church of which he was a member. We have it from his pastor and his more intimate friends in the church, that he had of late spoken frequently of some dreadful weight upon his mind - undoubtedly referring to his daughter's aberrated condition, and his fears that it might become necessary to place her in an asylum for treatment - and had called earnestly upon praying men and women to remember him in their prayers. At the last class-meeting he referred feelingly to the recent railroad disaster in Scotland, as admonishing us how frail is our hold upon life, and how important it is to be prepared for death. At another recent class-meeting he spoke of the indifference and apathy of the people of Lyons to spiritual things, and half-expressed the wish that something startling might occur to rouse them from their lethargy and turn their attention from the present to the hereafter. - Poor man! little did he think how prominent a part he would be called to take in the affair soon to startle not only this community but the entire State.

Mary Frances Hovey, the perpetrator of the shocking deed of Saturday last, was born on Christmas-eve, twenty-seven years ago, and came to Lyons with her parents in 1867 at the age of fourteen years. Too much cannot be said in praise of her amiability, her devotion to her parents, her gentle, christian spirit, and her loveliness of character. She was loved and admired by those who knew her; and it can be safely said that she had not an enemy in the world. For several months past she had been depressed in spirit and seemed to be greatly distressed in mind - so much so that she was unable to sleep, and Dr. Bottum was called to prescribe for her. He did so, and found that she was


On some subjects. He called occasionally afterwards, and finally advised that she be taken to the Utica Insane Asylum, where Dr. Gray could have an opportunity of examining her, and of giving her special treatment if it was thought advisable after the examination should have been concluded. Naturally, both Mr. and Mrs. Hovey were averse to parting with their daughter; and hoped that with kind care and attention, such as she would have at home, she would gradually regain her reason. Her derangement is thought to have been caused wholly or in part by the sudden death of her affianced, Mr. Eugene Raines, formerly of this village, at Natchitoches Parish, La., a few months ago. It would seem that although she respected him always, for a long time Miss Frank did not look favorably upon his suit - giving as a reason that she did not love him well enough to marry him; but he was very persistent, and would take nothing but "yes" as an answer to his proposal of marriage. Under this stress she finally gave a reluctant consent; but after he had gone away she repented having suffered her judgment to have been overcome by his importunities, and would have given worlds to recall her promise. For days and weeks this preyed upon her mind - the thought that by having given him an affirmative answer which sooner or later she felt she must recall, she had done him an irreparable injury. After many attempts she wrote him a letter, annulling the engagement - stating frankly her reasons for such a step, and


He had placed upon her finger at parting. What he wrote her in reply is unknown. It is certain, however, that soon after this he was taken ill; that he went South in hope that a change of climate would be beneficial to him; and that he died in Louisiana in November last - not by his own hand, as has been reported, though in delirium caused by intense suffering from Bright's disease. On hearing of Eugene's death, Miss Hovey, already in a weak, nervous condition, at once sprang to the conclusion that she was the cause of it. Day and night this idea haunted her. One of her dreams, or visions, (which she related to Rev. Mr. Brownell and appeared to regard a direct revelation from heaven,) was this: She stood at night upon an eminence, overlooking a rushing, icy stream. Dark clouds obscured the moon, and the air was damp and chilly. Soon she descried in the semi-darkness a boat, with a single occupant, floating with terrific rapidity toward an immense cataract. The man's face she could not see; but he was gesticulating wildly, as if imploring succor from the fate that impended him. On, on, went the boat; faster and faster grew its speed; wilder and more despairing still were the gestures of the unhappy man;- until just as the frail bark was about to go over the brink of the awful cataract into the seething waters below, the occupant turned, and she recognized the features of her lover - while


"Another soul lost, lost - and charged to you!"

From the time of this dream, or vision, Miss Hovey's mental aberration has grown steadily more pronounced. A short time ago, having no doubt in mind the perpetration of the deeds of last Saturday (though of course nobody suspected it at the time,) she asked her father if he would go on "a long journey" with her; and he, to pacify her, replied that he would. She had also been heard to say that she would be glad to die, but did not want to go without her father. From this it will be seen that the murder and suicide in all its details were planned beforehand by the unfortunate girl, and gave evidence of a determined and long-cherished purpose. The pistol used by her belonged to one of her brothers, and during the past year she had practiced considerably at target-shooting and was an expert in the use of the weapon. The pistol had been usually kept in a drawer in her brother Fred's room, and she had told him previously that he had better put it out of the way, as


Her brother thereupon removed the pistol to his mother's room; but as Miss Frank soon after occupied the room with her mother, access to the weapon was not difficult - indeed, it was thought best not to hide it, lest Miss Frank should think it was suspect she intended to make improper use of it, as it certainly was not.

During the past few weeks Miss Hovey has had frequent conversations with her pastor, Rev. Mr. Brownell. She insisted upon charging herself with the death of her lover - of having sent him to eternal unhappiness because she had not dealt honestly with him - of having (as she termed it) abandoned her Saviour and lost her own soul). She was anxious to die, but she could not leave her father - though never for a moment did her friends suspect the awful meaning of her remark that her father had engaged to accompany her on a "long journey." Undoubtedly her idea was that if she killed her father before taking her own life, she would mercifully spare him the anguish she knew he would feel at her death; and this was in her mind when she spoke to him of the "long journey" she wished him take with her. - The following letter, written to Mr. Brownell on Saturday, reveals in some degree the condition of her mind. It was from mailing this letter that she went directly to her father's store:


MR. BROWNELL:- Do not, I beg of you, conclude from what I told you the other day that my home-friends have been unkind to me. My mother is the most unselfish woman I ever knew. She has always shielded me from hardship. Indeed, I have not words to tell you how tender her care for me has been. It was always Frank first and the others afterwards because my health was so delicate. When sick she nursed me with the greatest devotion, and when well she worked for me, and everything that she had was at my service. Oh! what a precious privilege it would be to care for her in her declining years. I am glad that you cannot know what I suffer in causing her such dreadful trouble. As for my father I was his Christmas present, born on a Christmas eve, and being the eldest daughter, have had perhaps more than my share of his love. He had noticed my pale face and had placed me under the doctor's care. A friend has just paid me a visit and she remarked upon his attention and his remembrance of my every wish. He bought me a piano and offered to send me to the Musical Academy. My three brothers are such good boys, not one of them has ever done anything to cause us the loss of an hour's sleep, and they all looked up to me. My poor little sister will miss me sadly some day. Can you wonder that I feel as if it was not myself who committed the terrible sin. With thanks for your kindness and patience in listening to my sad story, although my heart reproaches me for having troubled you with it, I am, M.F.H.

Miss Hovey wrote the foregoing letter about dinner-time on Saturday, and also one (spoken above) to Mrs. Wm. Manning of Rochester - showing only the latter to her mother, and asking her opinion of it. Mrs. Hovey said it was a friendly, pleasant letter; and then Frank said she would go to the office and post it. She said nothing about the letter to Mr. Brownell; and it would seem, from the events that transpired afterward, that the letter to Mrs. Manning was written only with the view of making her visit to the office at that hour of the day appear less strange to her mother than it otherwise would have done. In this, as in other things, there is evidence of a well-matured, deep-laid plot. A lady who lives next door to the Hovey family saw her as she came out of the house with the letters in her hand, and noticed her rapid step - though attributed it to improved health rather than the mental excitement under which she must have been laboring.


Tuesday last was the day appointed for the funeral. The services were held at the residence on Lawrence street; and long before the hour (10 o'clock) at which they were announced to commence, people began to arrive in town by scores from the surrounding country and from the neighboring villages, and our citizens turned out almost en masse to pay a last sad tribute to the departed citizen and his unfortunate daughter. The stores and business places were closed during the services, and nothing was omitted that would in any way tent to show the sympathy our people felt for the afflicted family. The number of people at the house during the services probably exceeded two thousand. Lawrence street from Catharine to Phelps streets was densely packed with vehicles of various kinds, and the sidewalks on either side of the street were thronged with people. In the house every available inch of standing-room was occupied, and the crowd marched slowly through the parlors to gaze for the last time upon the familiar faces of the two persons lying in their last sleep on either side as they passed along between them. At the right were the remains of Mr. Hovey, his features as calm and peaceful in death as they were when his friends had last seen him in life. On the lid of the coffin were sheaves of ripe wheat intertwined with autumn leaves. At the left, in a beautiful casket, lay all that was mortal of the unfortunate young girl who had been the irresponsible cause of the tragic occurrences of the Saturday - her hands peacefully folded, and


Upon her countenance. At the head of the casket a floral star, elegant in construction and design, had been placed; and in another part of the room was displayed a beautiful crown of white flowers. These specimens of the florist's handiwork were understood to be a gift of friends in Rochester.

At the commencement of the services it was found necessary to close the doors of the house, to keep back the throng that was seeking admission; the people only consenting when promised that an opportunity should be given later to take a last look at the faces of the dead. The funeral services were impressive and appropriate, and in order as follows:

Invocation by Rev. Dr. Wood, Pastor of the Presbyterian church, Lyons.

Chant -" The good die not" - concluding with the Lord's Prayer by a quartette. Miss Shepherd, Mrs. Darling, Mr. Darling, Mr. Matthes.

Prayer by Rev. Mr. Brownell, Pastor of the M.E. church, Lyons.

Hymn - "Come, ye disconsolate" - by the quartette.

Reading of Scripture by Rev. Mr. Brownell - selections from Job XIV, Psalms XLII and XXIII, St.John XIV, and Revelation XXI.

At the conclusion of the services the doors were reopened, and an opportunity again given those previously unable to gain admission, to view the remains. As soon as all who desired to take their last look had done so, the caskets were closed, and the pall-bearers, who had been designated to pay the last offices to their deceased brother, came forward and bore his remains slowly to the hearse - which vehicle was drawn by coal-black horses. The gentlemen acting as such pall-bearers were from among his brethren in the church - Andrew Fries, Edwin J. Andrews, H.W. Putney, James Elmer, James Bashford and Manly Hanchett. The casket containing the remains of the daughter was then tenderly carried to a second hearse, also in waiting at the door, to which was attached a span of milk-white horses, and placed in its proper position inside. These pall-bearers were John L. Cole, Theodore Fries, Cassius M. Putney, George H. Cramer, Wm. R. Sutton and Albert M. Brownson. The procession then formed, headed by a carriage containing the officiating clergymen, and proceeded to the Rural Cemetery, where the remains were deposited in the vault, pending their removal to the Clyde cemetery. A memorial sermon is to be delivered by Rev. Mr. Brownell at the M.E. church, next Sunday morning.

Thus closes our account of the scenes in a tragedy, the parallel of which has not been found in the annals of the history of this or any other country - one which has not only shocked inexpressibly all who were witnesses to any portion thereof, but which has called out the heartiest expressions of sorrow and sympathy from all classes of our citizens for the surviving members of a family so suddenly and under such shocking circumstances deprived of two of its members.


Mrs. H. Hovey and family desire to return their sincere thanks to their many friends for the unbounded kindness shown them during their sad bereavement. - January 6, 1880.

For information about persons or businesses listed, please direct all research inquiries to the Office of the County Historian.

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