This month’s release from the New-York Historical Society’s collection of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922, includes many sensational accounts of murder and mayhem in the 19th century. In some instances these are presented in a lurid style, clearly intended to arouse and titillate the public.
Errant clergy, fallen women, filicidal mothers, wronged ladies and ardent lovers are all limned in these short documents, many with compelling illustrations that are unabashedly enthusiastic in their depictions.
The terrible hay-stack murder. Life and trial of the Rev. Ephraim K. Avery, for the murder of the young and beautiful Miss Sarah M. Cornell, a factory girl of Fall River, Mass., whose affections he won, and whose honor he betrayed. He afterwards strangled his poor victim, and hung her body to a hay-stack in order to convey the idea that she had committed suicide (1880)
The full title serves its inflammatory purpose and introduces the reader to the tragedy of seduction and betrayal allegedly committed by a prominent Methodist minister in Tiverton, Rhode Island, in 1832.