The McFarland / Richardson murder case

She was a famous New York stage actress named Abby Sage. But after her ex-husband, Daniel McFarland, killed her lover, the journalist Albert Richardson, at Richardson's New York Tribune workstation on November 25, 1869, it was Sage's lifestyle that was thrown out, not just McFarland.

Daniel McFarland was born in Ireland in 1820, but immigrated to America with his parents at the age of four. McFarland's parents died when he was 12 and left an orphan. Determined to make a difference in America, McFarland worked in a hard-working shop. When he was 17, McFarland had saved enough money to visit the outstanding Ivy League University – Dartmouth. McFarland studied law in Dartmouth and performed excellently. After graduating, McFarland passed the bar exam, but instead of practicing law, McFarland accepted a position at Brandywine College and taught speaking – the ability to speak clearly and expressively.

In 1853, McFarland traveled to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he met a very beautiful 15-year-old girl named Abby Sage. Abby came from a poor but respectable family – her father was Weber – but Abby was quite intelligent and soon became a teacher and published writer. Four years after getting to know each other, McFarland and Abey married Sage. She was only 19 and he was twice her age.

Later, in a sworn statement to McFarland's murder trial, Abby said, "At the time of our marriage, Mr. McFarland assured me that he has a thriving law practice, great political prospects, and $ 30,000 worth of fortune. He was in New on our wedding trip Borrowing money to move on to Madison, Wisconsin, which has been designated as our future home practice any consequence, and that he had devoted himself solely to land speculation, some of which had catastrophic consequences. "

In February 1858, the McFarlands moved to New York City. McFarland told Abby that he had a better chance in New York to sell $ 20,000 to $ 30,000 worth of property in Wisconsin. However, McFarland sold nothing and soon Abby had to mortgage most of her jewelry to pay the rent. After the bills piled up and still no money coming in, McFarland assumed it was better to do it on his own. As a result, McFarland sent Abby back to her father's house in New Hampshire. In late 1858, McFarland finally sold some of his property in Wisconsin. Soon after, he brought Abby back to New York and they settled in a rented cottage in Brooklyn. There was born in 1860 her first son Percy and 1864 a second son Daniel.

McFarland's land sales business was flat and he started drinking heavily. Abby later wrote: "First, Mr. McFarland confessed the most extravagant and passionate devotion to me, but soon he started drinking heavily, and before we were married for a year, his breath and body steamed with vile liquor. but he screamed, "My brain is burning and alcohol is making me sleep."

At the beginning of the Civil War, the McFarlands returned briefly to Madison, Wisconsin. Soon McFarland realized that under the right circumstances and with a little training, his beautiful young wife would be the better earner of the two. To implement his plan, the McFarlands traveled back to New York City to train Abby as an actress.

In New York City, Abby tired her hand at dramatic readings, and she found that she had a talent for the stage. One thing led to another, and soon Abby played in several pieces and earned the decent sum of $ 25 a week. Abby's career progressed so quickly that she soon appeared opposite the great actor Edwin Booth in the Merchant of Venice (Edwin Booth was the older brother of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln). Abby also supplements her income with several articles about children and nature. She even wrote a book of poetry entitled Percy's Book of Rhymes after her son Percy.

Abby's artistic achievements enabled her to increase her circle of friends. She quickly became friends with newspaper magnate Horace Greeley, his sister John Cleveland, and New York Tribune publisher Samuel Sinclair and his wife.

However, his wife's achievements have not helped calm the wild nature of McFarland. He used his wife's new friends and their connection to secure a political appointment. Later, Abby said, "Thanks to the influence of Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, I gave him a position with one of the provost marshals (McFarland)."

Soon McFarland became jealous of Abby's new friends and his alcohol consumption increased exponentially. McFarland kept the money Abby earned by acting and writing, and spent everything on alcohol. McFarland began to open Abby's private mail, and if he did not like what he read, he threatened to kill Abby and himself.

"He had become a demon at the time," Abby said. "He would get up in bed, ripping the bedclothes and threatening to kill me, and if he was exhausted, he would ask me in tears for forgiveness and go to sleep."

Once McFarland became so angry that he hit Abby in the face, so hard that she stumbled backward. From then on, their relationship changed dramatically.

"There was a look in his eyes that made him burst into tears and begged me to forgive him," Abby said. "But from that moment I could never tell him that I loved or forgiven him because it was not the truth."

In January 1867, the McFarlands moved into a boarding house at 72 Amity Street, New York. Soon after, Albert Deane Richardson, who was in his mid-thirties at the time, moved into the same boarding school. Richardson was already known to Abby for meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair. Richardson had an orange beard and hazel eyes and was considered a very distinguished-looking individual of the highest order.

Richardson, born in Massachusetts, was one of the most famous reporters of his time. He was known for his writings as a war correspondent for the New York Tribune during the Civil War and he also spent time as a spy for the North. In 1862 Richardson was captured in Vicksburg from the south and spent a year and a half in two different confederate prisons. In December 1863, Richardson and another war correspondent fled the jail when they were imprisoned in Salisbury, North Carolina, and walked four hundred miles to reach the Union Lines in Knoxville. At the time of his detention, Richardson had a wife and four children. When he returned home, he discovered that his wife and daughter had died. Richardson took the support and care of the three other children, who were at the time of his death thirteen, ten and six years old.

Back at his desk in the New York Tribune, Richardson used his exploits of the Civil War by writing about his escape. The title of his newspaper article was "From the claws of death and from the mouth of hell". It was considered one of the best journalistic works from the time of the Civil War. Richardson expanded this article into a book and, in combination with his other writings, turned from a POW to a rich man. So much so that Richardson bought shares in the New York Tribune and made himself a minority owner of the newspaper.

By the time he moved to the same boarding house as the McFarlands, Richardson was now editor and author of the New York Tribune. (Editor's note: I was a sports columnist for the reincarnation of the New York Tribune in the 1980s.) Richardson used his room at 72 Amity Street as both an office and sleeping quarters. Richardson employed a stenographer, artist, and messenger boy at his staff at 72 Amity Street to deliver his work to the New York Tribune offices in downtown Park Row.

On February 19, 1867 McFarland returned to the inn and found his wife in front of Richardson's door. Abby claimed Richardson and they were discussing one of his articles, but McFarland would not own it.

Abby later wrote, "When we entered our apartment, my husband was furious, insisting that there was an inappropriate intimacy between Mr. Richardson and me."

McFarland immediately went for a three-day turn, again threatening Abby's life and saying he was committing suicide. On February 21, Abby left McFarland final. She grabbed her two children and moved in with Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Sinclair.

At the Sinclairs, Abby called her father, who now lived in Massachusetts, and briefed him on the situation. It was agreed that McFarland should be invited to the residence of Sinclair, and in the presence of Sinclairs and her father, Abby told McFarland that her marriage was over.

That same evening, Richardson called the residence of Sinclair. Richardson expressed his condolences to Abby and said he would do anything to help her in her distress. Then, as he left, Abby followed him to the corridor.

With tears in her eyes, she said, "You were very nice to me, I can not pay you back."

Referring to Abby's two children, Richardson said, "How do you feel about facing the world with two babies?"

She replied, "It looks hard for a woman, but I'm sure I can do better without this man than with him."

Before leaving, he said to Abby, "I want you to remember that I will gladly take on any responsibility you can give me in a possible future."

Two days later, Richardson asked Abby to marry him and told her he wanted to give her his motherless children so she could look after them like herself.

Abby later said, "It was absolutely impossible for me not to love him."

On the night of March 13, 1867, Richardson met Abby at the theater, where she had just finished a performance. Just as they turned a corner, McFarland hurried after them and fired three shots. one of them pierced Richardson's thigh. It was a superficial wound and Richardson was not badly injured. McFarland was arrested by the police, but due to inexplicable legal proceedings, McFarland managed to escape imprisonment.

When McFarland realized that his wife was lost to him forever, he decided to sue to get custody of both children. The courts reached a separate ruling that Abby would receive custody of Daniel and McFarland – the custody of Percy. In April 1868, Abby tried to see her son Percy, but McFarland denied her. McFarland was furious and threatened to beat her. At this point, Abby had no choice but to file for divorce.

In the state of New York, adultery was the only reason for divorce. In July 1868, Abby decided to divorce to Indiana, where divorce grounds were more extensive. These were drunkenness, extreme cruelty, and the failure to support a woman. Abby stayed in Indiana for 16 months until her divorce from McFarland was final. Then Abby traveled to Massachusetts with her family and Richardson met her there to spend Thanksgiving in 1869 with her and her family.

On November 25, 1869, at 5:15 pm, McFarland entered the Park Row offices of the New York Tribune. He quietly hid in a corner for about 15 minutes, until he saw Richardson enter through the side entrance on Spruce Street. While Richardson read his post at the counter, McFarland came up to him and fired several shots. Richardson was hit three times, but he could still walk two flights up to the newsroom where he threw himself on the couch, fatally wounded with a bullet in his chest. When the paramedics arrived, Richardson was taken to Astor House via the Town Hall and placed on a bed in room 115.

At 10 pm McFarland was arrested in room 31 of the Westmoreland Hotel on the corner of Seventeenth Street and Fourth Avenue. The arrest officer, Captain AJ Allaire, told McFarland that he had been arrested for shooting Richardson. First, McFarland said he was innocent of the allegations. Then he said shockingly, "It must have been me."

Captain Allaire took McFarland into custody and took him to Astor House, room 115. After Captain Allaire Richardson asked if the man in front of him had been his attacker, Richardson faintly lifted his head off the pillow and said, "This is the man!" # 39;

Abby Sage was immediately called to New York City. As soon as she arrived, Horace Greeley met Richardson's request, so that Abby and Richardson could marry on Richardson's deathbed. The wedding was conducted by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher and Rev. OB Frothingham. Three days later, on December 2, Richardson took his last breath and left Abby Richardson as a widow.

Prior to McFarland's trial, his attorney John Graham told The New York Press that Abby Sage's intentions toward Mr. Richardson were anything but honorable. Graham said, "This tender and touching marriage was a dreadful and disgraceful ceremony to gain the property of a dying man, and that helped to hasten his death."

At first, Richardson's New York journalists defended Richardson's honor, and they began to study McFarland's life to find anything that would discredit McFarland. The New York Tribune wrote that McFarland "had a habit of eating opium to drown out his worries."

The New York Sun, however, campaigned to discredit both Abby and Richardson. In an editorial titled "A Public Outrage on Religion and Decency," The Sun Richardson accused luring Abby away from her beloved husband. The sun has even dredged up a quote from McFarland's brother, who said, "Abby went reading just to get the opportunity to paint her face, pose as a beauty, and get in touch with this free-falling tribe at Sam Sinclair "

What followed was a press clash in which most New York dailies felt that Richardson and Abby were immoral and that McFarland did the honorable thing by killing the man who stole his wife.

The trial of McFarland began on April 4, 1820. Knowing that her husband's defender wanted to embarrass and discredit her, Abby resigned. However, Graham tried to get the Jury's sympathy to his client by having McFarland's son Percy sit next to him during the trial.

In his opening statement, Graham pleaded with the jury to understand the emotional anxiety his client had endured. Graham said, "The defendant's mental organization was so sensitive and affectionate that he was unable to deal with the deep concerns and misfortunes that awaited him, his speculations were catastrophic and the seeds of dissatisfaction began to sow. "

Then Graham got to the core of his defense as he attacked the virtue and honor of Abby. "When she met my client for the first time, she was just a poor factory girl, but once she said to my client," All I need to make myself an elegant lady and make her popular with the elite of New York , is money. "# 39; & # 39;

Then Graham told the jury that the turning point in his client's life had come on February 21, 1867, when McFarland came home at 3:00 pm and saw his wife leave Richardson's room.

"This beautiful woman was completely corrupted," Graham said. "She had tempted the performance of the stage and the company of the great men, too elegant and too popular for her modest fate, and the demon who made her face all the temptations for which she paid the price had to be Richardson with her soul "

Graham pointed out that the boiling point for his client had one day been reached when McFarland went to the New York Tribune office. There he received a letter from an office boy addressed to "Mrs. McFarland". The boy had falsely thought the letter was addressed to Mr. McFarland.

Graham told the jury, "My client opened the letter, reviewed it, and found that it was a love letter that Richardson, who was in Boston, wrote to Mrs. McFarland." In this letter, Richardson openly claims that he intends to marry this woman if she can get a divorce from Mr. McFarland. "

During the trial, prosecutors, led by former judge and then Congressman Noah Davis, focused on how McFarland maltreated and occasionally beat his wife during his marriage. To substantiate these allegations, the prosecutor's office called on Abby's relatives and friends, including a man of great clout – Horace Greeley.

However, Greeley was not a fan of the corrupt Democratic machine Tammany Hall, which Greeley incited many times in his newspaper. In return, Tammany Hall used her authoritative influence before and during the trial to discredit Greeley and Abby.

In his last two-day jury meeting, Graham tried to persuade the jury that his client was just the victim of unbearable consequences.

"The evidence proves the insanity under which the defendant worked at the time of the shooting," Graham said. "This was a state of mind that was evoked by the agony he suffered at the thought of the loss of his house, his wife, and his children."

The jury bought Graham's unbelievable defense as if a mark were in a three-card game. On May 10, they only needed an hour and fifty-five minutes to pass judgment for insanity that they had found not guilty.

Although deeply desperate, Abby Sage Richardson remained unwavering in New York City after the trial. She became a successful author and dramatist and was well received by both the literary and social communities. She has also edited and published a book of Richardson's unpublished work.

Abby also kept her promise to the dying Richardson that she would raise his three children as her own. She also raised her son Daniel, whose name was changed to Willie (not to be associated with his father Daniel McFarland). Abby's other son Percy left McFarland and returned to his mother. He changed his surname from McFarland to the maiden name of his Sage mother.

On December 5, 1900 Abby Sage Richardson died in Rome of pneumonia.

Daniel McFarland traveled west in 1880. He was last heard in Colorado, and there are no records of his death. However, historian Edmund Pearson said, "It did not take long for him to die to death."

Albert Richardson was buried in his hometown of Franklin, Massachusetts. In Franklin, a memorial to Richardson's exploits during the Civil War is prominently displayed. The inscription on the memorial reads: "Many thank you, who have never known your face, so, farewell, kind heart and true."