Introduction to “Murders at Montville”

Introduction to “Murders at Montville”


"Murders at Montville" is the product and culmination of the genealogical research done for the descendants of Mildred E. Whiting. When tracing her ancestry, it was discovered that, when Mildred was 18 years old, she had an illegitimate child, fathered by a married man.


That child, born in Holden, Massachusetts, was unwanted and abandoned, brought to Maine, adopted in Albion and renamed. She married a man from Waterville, Maine, whose lineage was also traced.


One of his forebears was linked to a particular family in Montville, Maine, where the facts surrounding the murders were discovered. When doing more research, some disturbing patterns began evidencing themselves, in the manner of death for numerous other members.


What follows, is a chronicle of the lives of ten members of that extended family. The different ways, in which this malady exhibited itself are also observed.  Seven men and three women were affected.


Was there was a congenital defect predisposing them to a wide range of mental illnesses? Were occupational hazards, such as exposure to toxins, contributing factors to the debilitation of so many?


Spanning the course of more than 100 years, their lives were very different from each other. Between the birth of the first victim in 1800 and the death of the last in 1934, the world had changed substantially.


Some were born and died in the same town, while others moved hundreds or thousands of miles away. Several of them stayed in New England, Massachusetts or Rhode Island and one returned to Maine after seeking his fortunes in the far western part of the United States.


Most of the men were farmers, blacksmiths, stone masons or miners, but one was a Tailor. Some of them led hard scrabble lives, but of the women affected, most led lives of leisure, it seems.


Of the ten individuals, one committed murder, two committed suicide, one tried and failed in his attempt. Two of the ten self-medicated with alcohol and four others died in insane asylums. Some died in poverty and others indulged in their own privilege and excess.


Three exhibited signs of their distress, becoming depressed, as reported by those who knew them well. One begged to be sent away, fearing for the safety of his wife and children, eventually becoming violent towards them all. One became deaf near the end of his life.


There was one Civil War Veteran, whose time in the military was brief, but also somewhat remarkable. He died virtually penniless, while another relative of his became a prosperous man in California.


Half of these people died in Massachusetts. Two in Lawrence, two in Boston and one in Sterling. Of the three who died in Maine, two were in Augusta and one was in Montville, where the murder occurred.


One person died in Rhode Island and the last victim perished in California. Two sisters were from one family and three siblings from another, two brothers and a sister. The others were their cousins.


Two were orphaned as children, with both parents dying within months of each other and their grandmother soon after.  Their other siblings died of unknown causes, which raises even more questions.


All were born with the surnames of Dunbar, Rowell and Vose.


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