The Wicked Working Girl of Fall River
Testimony from History’s Sensational Trials
Rhode Island v. The Rev. Eprhaim Kingsbury Avery
Some sixty years before the trial of Lizzie Borden put the town of Fall River Massachusetts in the public eye, the body of Sarah Maria Cornell, a 30 year old millworker from that town was found hanging from a haystack pole in the nearby town of Tiverton, just across the Rhode Island border.
The first coroner’s jury ruled the death a suicide, but a note later found in the woman’s boarding house led to the first of two exhumations of the body and the arrest of the Rev. Ephraim Kingsbury Avery for her murder.
It is believed to be one of the first trials of a minister for murder in America, and it was a scandalous one. Newspapers across the country published transcripts on a daily basis, and when it was all over, many booklets—including one by the defendant himself—were published with the complete testimony and arguments of the 27 day trial.
I invite you to my website, www.truecrimehistorian.com, where you can find complete source information and links to copies of two of the booklets containing complete transcripts of Avery’s trial. I have also posted photos of a surtout, a type of overcoat, and a calash, a retractable bonnet that not only provides protection from the elements, but also hides the face of the wearer.
On the website, you will also find information about my true crime books and my TWO-DOLLAR TERROR series of true crime novellas.
Music by Chuck Wiggins.