Crime News
for Cecil County Maryland

- - 1825 - - HORRID MURDER OF EVELINA CUNNINGHAM Includes Numerous Related Articles.
Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 20 1825
From the Balt. Morn. Chron. April 11
A gentleman of this city, who has just returned from Philadelphia, has given us the following details of a murder committed in Caecil county, Maryland.
A young lady, on Monday last, left her father’s house, in company with her little sister, about four years of age, to visit her grandfather, distant about a mile from the residence of her father.
Both were missing until the Friday following, when the melancholy catastrophe which had befallen her was made known by her little sister, who had wandered in the woods from the fatal period of her sister’s murder until then.
The account which she gave to the person whose house she providentially reached, was, “that a big ugly man had met her sister and self while on their way to their grandfather’s and after dragging her sister into the woods murdered her.” The body was immediately sought for and found by the neighbors. The monster had nearly separated the young lady’s head from her shoulders – four other wounds were inflicted upon her body; one on either side of the breast, one on each of her sides, just below the ribs, either of which it is said would have proved mortal; but not content with the cruelty already inflicted, he gave her several other stabs in different parts of the body. Our informant adds, that a lad who was examined before the jury of inquest, proved that on the day on which the murder was committed he was riding in a gig along the road, where he overtook a man on foot answering the description of the one given by the little girl of the murderer of her sister, who asked leave to ride with him a short distance; that he took him up and after riding a short distance he got out, when the lad turned round and discovered the young lady, who was subsequently murdered and his little sister rising a hill a short distance in the rear. That the man who had been riding with him sat down by the road spic, and he drove off. It was therefore supposed in the neighborhood that he must have been the perpetrator of this foul deed. Our informant adds that a man answering the same description, had committed some infamous acts in the neighborhood of the route of the Delaware and Chespeake Canal, where he was at work and had eloped the day before; which circumstance seems to affix the suspicion upon him still more strongly. So great was the excitement in the neighborhood that $300 were raised in about 20 minutes, and offered as a reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer, and many persons had gone in pursuit. It was therefore expected he would be taken and brought to punishment.

Our informant saw the body and was summoned on the inquest but was excused on account of his being a traveler and solicitous to reach his home. The murdered young lady was interred on Saturday.

We have often had our feelings harrowed in reading or listening to circumstances in which murders were enveloped, but in the whole catalogue we do not know of any one, which has taxed our feelings more than the one we have just detailed.

The murder of the unfortunate Baker by Desha was attended by circumstances of the most horrid character; but in enormity it will not bear a comparison with the one above. The youth, the sex and innocence of the subject of the present soul-rending affair, should all have plead like angels’ tongues to have preserved her from the violence of the heartless wretch, who in the absence of everything like the common incentives to murder, has, as it were without the semblance of motive, gratified his hellish thirst for human blood. The heart shudders at its contemplation even at this remote distance – but it is useless to moralize about those whose feelings have been blunted by the progressive aberrations from the great moral outlines of virtuous conduct.

At a late hour last night, and after the foregoing was put in type, in a second interview with the gentleman from whom we received the horrible facts stated, we further learned that ring, the endearing emblem of plighted love, had been borne off by the lustful murderer. Our informant heart it stated by the agonized father of the deceased that a matrimonial engagement was on the eve of consummation. Amidst all the appalling effects of ruthless and blood-stained villainy, he declares, as regards features, he never beheld more symmetry and beauty. We regret to add the life of the child is despaired of – the consequence of its so long wandering in the woods without sustenance.

Since our account of the murder of the young lady in the neighborhood of Charlestown, Caecil County, Md., appeared in print, we have had an interview with Mr. Edmonson, one of the two Magistrates, who, owing to the Coroner’s not having qualified, held the inquest over the body, and Mr. John Hanna of this city, who is a connection of the deceased, from whom we learn, that the facts stated by us are substantially correct. The young lady, who was murdered, was the daughter of Mr. Cunningham, a very respectable gentleman of Caecil county. The little girl who was accompanying her at the time of the fatal catastrophe, is her niece, instead of sister as stated, but had been adopted by her when very young, upon the death of her mother. – Ib.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 27, 1825
We have received a very minute detail of the recent murder of Miss Evelina Cunningham, in the neighborhood of Charlestown, Caecil County, from a Medical gentleman of eminence who resides in the neighborhood and personally inspected the body after the examination by the Jury of Inquest.
It would give us pleasure to insert this account, but as the main facts are the same as those given in our first account, no possible good can result from its publication. The only fact, which our readers are not in possession of in relation to this melancholy affair, is that at the time the monster left her the vital spark had not ceased to exist.
This is a supposition founded in part upon the circumstance of the body being found some distance from the spot where the last act of violence is supposed to have been inflicted upon her person and a boot being found upon one of her feet without a stocking. But what renders this supposition still more probable is the declaration of the little girl who was an eye witness of the murder: she says that after the man left them her relation rose several times but always fell and that the last act she did was clasping her hand together and exclaiming “I shall never see anybody more!” It is therefor presumable that she revived sufficiently to make an effort to reach the main road, but being overcome by exhaustion from the loss of blood, sunk into the arms of death. Baltimore Chron.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) May 11, 1825
The governor of Maryland has issued a proclamation offering a reward of 300 dollars for the apprehension of the murderer of Miss Cunningham. The whole amount of reward now is 700 dollars. Several persons have been apprehended on suspicion, but nothing certain as to the identical person has transpired within our knowledge. – Fred. Cit.
Submitted by Nancy Piper

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) June 8, 1825
Meansville, May 19.
On Monday last, a person supposed to be the murderer of Miss Cunningham in Caecil county, Md., was apprehended and lodged in the jail of Bradford county, Pa. He calls himself Justin Winslow and answers the description of the supposed murderer to an iota; dark complexion, dark eyes and hair, with a scar on his chin or partly on his cheek, and about 5 feet 10 inches high. Says he came from Easton; worked with a Mr. John Bell near that place on the Jersey side; is 29 years old and was at Bells’s when the murder was committed and for some days after. This is the second or third person as we have learned from the papers who has been apprehended on suspicion of being the murderer of Miss Cunningham. He answers the description given so accurately in every particular that we think he should be detained until some certain information can be had. If such a person has been at Mr. Bell’s it would be well to make it public, or communicate that fact to N. N. Betts, postmaster at this place.
Submitted by Nancy Piper

From the Elkton Press, July 9.
The Murderer
His Excellency, Samuel Stevens, the Governor of Maryland, has requested the Executive of Virginia to send John Conners, (the supposed murderer of Miss Cunningham) to the place to stand his trial. He will probably be brought to the jail of this county in a few days. [
Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) July 20, 1825 - Submitted by Nancy Piper ]

Extract of a letter to the editors of the Baltimore American, from a friend at Elkton, dated September 9, 1825.
“John Conners has been indicted by the grand jury for the murder of Evelina Cunningham – he was this morning brought into Court and arraigned when he pleaded “not guilty” and asked the Court to assign him counsel. The Court accordingly assigned him counsel when he was remanded back to prison where his counsel had a conference with him which resulted in the removal of the case to Kent county. The affidavit stated that he could not have a fair and impartial trial in Cecil. The Court for Kent county will meet on the 19th instant, during the term of which he will probably be tried.”
[Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) September 21, 1825 - Submitted by Nancy Piper]


Alfred Fitler, of Philadelphia, was arrested in Elkton this evening by Sheriff George McKenney, charged with having assaulted Miss Fannie Clark, also of Philadelphia, on Saturday last. He was taken before Justice P. H. Cleaver and held in $300 bail for court. It was at Town Point on Elk river, that the alleged assault took place.
Source: The Sun (Baltimore, MD) Tuesday, September 19, 1893, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman


Elkton, Md., Dec. 15-A daughter of Mr. Thomas M. Jackson, residing near Bayview, Cecil county, shot and killed an unknown negro prowler early in the morning. Mrs. Jackson and her daughter were alone in the house, and about 2 o'clock were awakened by a noise outside. From a window a man could be seen trying to effect an entrance to the house and Miss Jackson fired several shots at the marauder with her brother's revolver. The man then disappeared from view, but at dawn he was found near the house dead.
Source: Wilkes-Barre Times (Wilkes-Barre, PA) Saturday, December 15, 1894; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman


Sheriff Bowie read the death warrant last evening to Charles Johnson, colored, convicted for the killing of Hester Lomax, also colored, with an axe in June last. His execution is fixed to take place in the jail at Annapolis, on January 18.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) Monday, November 26, 1900; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman


ELKTON, Md., Sept. 2.-The first arrest for alleged violation of the Prohibition law of Cecil county was made this afternoon, when Sheriff McAllister arrested Alfred Bender, proprietor of the Bender House, Port Deposit, on four charges of selling whisky and beer. Magistrate Groves held Bender in $600 in each case for the September term of court.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA) Thursday, September 3, 1903; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman


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