|James Henry Vandiver and Nancy Emma Pennington Vandiver|
ought to be easy, right? You would think so, and the further back you go the easier it gets because all the variations in spelling seem to dissolve into one – Narramore.
My great-grandmother was Mollie Normour or Naremore or Narmor or Narramore. I started researching her in earnest any number of times, but each time was more frustrating than the last.
Actually there are other misspellings of the surname, but I forget the others. Listen, my children, for you are going to hear (or read) of the tragedy visited upon six of the most helpless of them all. And, it relates to the Narmore (and variant spellings of the same name) descendants everywhere.
I was researching the family of Narramore which connected to my Narmore lineage. Every minute since I discovered this unthinkable event, I have worried over these six little ones. Your line of Narmore’s may not even be connected with this line, but the story is a tear jerker at any rate. Get a tissue, you will wad it up, I promise you.
First, let us target the only happy part of the tragedy. In 2002, August 4th to be exact, a granite memorial marker was placed and dedicated to the six Narramore children in the Riverside Cemetery in Barre, Massachusetts. The ceremony was attended by approximately three dozen. In the audience was the town historian, members of the Barre Historical Society, local politicians, and the Massachusetts Secretary of State. The six precious souls were laid to rest in pauper’s graves without even a gravemarker. The group gathered to remember the six slain children . The crowd dignified the existence of these six little souls with the gathering and placed a fitting memorial marker to document their short little lives. Two musicians played a flute duet for the occasion.
On 21 March 1901 in Coldbrook Springs, sometime in the early afternoon, Lizzie Naramore killed her six children one by one. She began with the oldest and proceeded one by one to the youngest child. One by one she banged and chopped these precious souls to an unrecognizable condition using a club and an ax in the kitchen of the family home. She then, took a knife to slice her throat, but the cut was not severe enough to cause death.
Elizabeth Ann “Lizzie” Craig Narramore made a plea of guilty in Worcester Superior Court to the murder of her eldest child, daughter Ethel Marion Narramore, age 9. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Mrs. Narramore was sentenced to life in the state hospital in Worcester. After serving a short five year sentence in the asylum, on 30 November 1906, she was decreed to be sane and released.
I have done considerable research on this family and their forebears. Elizabeth Craig Naramore was a native of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, which is in Canada. Promotions for the area say that “everything about our town is special, including our status as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes. St. Andrews is a treasure trove of beautiful architecture, unparalleled scenery and rich marine life; and our streets remain steeped in turn-of-the-century charm”. St. Andrews sounds like a place one would hesitate to leave.
At the age of 19 she met and married Frank Lucius Narramore, born in Winchester, New Hampshire, but of Baldwinville, Massachusetts. It appears her friends and family were opposed to the match. Frank and Lizzie married 25 Oct 1890 in Templeton, Massachusetts. The couple removed to Coldbrook Springs, near the town of Barre in central Massachusetts.
Mrs. Naramore was described as a hard worker and a loving mother. Husband Frank Narramore, who worked at the nearby Parker Lumber Company, was a well paid worker but also dependably undependable, abusive, and a womanizer. While Frank wasted the money he earned, Lizzie and their six children lived in poverty.
The children were young. These angels’ names were:
Ethel Marion Narramore, age 9;
Charles Edward Narramore, age 7;
Walter Craig Narramore, age 5;
Chester Irving Narramore, age 4;
Elizabeth Narramore, age 3; and
Lena Blanche Narramore, age 12 months.
A little distant in time, but before the massacre, Lizzie reached out to the Overseers of the Poor in Baldwinville for assistance. When the overseers visited the Narramore home they determined that the Narramore’s situation was dire to the extreme. Because of the dilapidated condition of the home and the absence of food for the children or family, the decision was made to take the children away from the parents. Five of the children were to be placed with foster families and the youngest, an infant, would be sheltered at a poorhouse in Holden, Massachusetts.
Before the authorities were able to take her children away Lizzie made preparations and then killed them one by one and then tried to kill herself. She survived the suicide attempt though there was a cut to her throat. Lizzie Narramore made a plea guilty to the murder of her oldest child Ethel Marion Narramore. There was never a trial for the murders of the other children.
Elizabeth Naramore was committed to the state mental asylum. After her release she left central Massachusetts to work as a clerk in a Boston department store, returning once in 1907 to visit the graves of her children. Frank Naramore left Barre after the children’s funeral and the subsequent trial of his wife. There are reports that he was never heard from again; and for sure the townspeople likely never wanted to hear from him again. In hindsight, he was in plain sight. In 1930 he was a roomer, at age 67, in the household of Charles H Voller with Voller’s wife, and two daughters. They lived on the last house on Congress Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1931 he was in the city directory in Worcester and listed as a carpenter. He died in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936, but no grave-site has been found.
At the funeral for the children, the Reverend Charles Talmage, pastor of the Barre Congregational Church, gave an impassioned speech which placed the blame for the situation squarely on Frank Narramore as an abusive father and the community at large for turning a blind eye to all but criminal home situation for those six precious souls. I don’t know, but I do fairly believe that I would have taken an ax and a club to a no good for nothing husband rather than my precious kids.
Below is the newspaper article about it in the Arizona Republic; published 22 March 1921.
Arizona Republic, Article: “An Insane Mother Sacrifices Her Offspring”, daily newspaper, front page, 22 March 1921.
Bradford L. Miner. (2002, June 30). A final tribute ; Six slain children will be forgotten no longer. Telegram & Gazette,p. A1. Retrieved 18 July 2014, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 130795151).
Bradford L. Miner. (2002, August 5). A town bears witness ; Barre memorial honors six slain children: Telegram & Gazette,p. B1. Retrieved 18 July 2014, from Massachusetts Newsstand. (Document ID: 146878981).
shows descendants of Levi Isbell at the 1930 family reunion at the Isbell home on Main Street, Albertville, Alabama. The home was later demolished but stood on the court house square across the street from the court house. Levi Isbell was the brother of our James Isbell. Levi Isbell married Sarah “Sallie” Birdwell and James Isbell married her sister Elizabeth Birdwell. James and Elizabeth Isbell are my third great-grandparents on my Murray line. The Murrays who married Isbells moved from around Paint Rock and Larkinsville in Jackson County, Alabama sometime between 1865-1870 to Colbert County, then Franklin County, Alabama.
This photo montage of Box and Peebles family members is wonderful.
this is a 1933 photo of the Sheffield, Alabama downtown area.
This is the emotion evoked when one thinks back on Fannie Tolbert. Fannie Tolbert was born 2 March 1908. On the 1910 census her age is given as 6; there are other discrepancies in the birth year of other children on the same census record. The information on official documents is only as accurate as the person giving the information.
Fannie Tolbert was the eighth child of nine known children born to Elizabeth Anna Garth Rachel Matilda Terry Tolbert and husband Joseph Calvin Tolbert. The Tolbert name was originally spelled Talbert, which would denote tallow or candle maker. Over the decades it has many variant spellings to include Tabutt, Talbot, Tolbut, Talburt, etc.
After so many years researching and trying to locate Fannie, her whereabouts is now known. And I ponder as to whether the family ever knew what became of her. I am pretty sure that my grandmother Drue Tolbert Peebles, her sister, never knew and that fact might have brought her comfort now. She always called her Sister Fannie.
Fannie Tolbert married first to William POLK Peebles. Polk Peebles was a brother to my granddaddy, Robert Duncan Peebles. Tolbert sisters married Peebles brothers. Polk and Fannie had two girls. Mother talked of them often and had a high regard for the two sisters. She called them Red and Bobbie. Their names were actually Pauline and Louise Tolbert. At some point Fannie and Polk Peebles divorced, but no record has been found to date, but had to be prior to 1920.
Polk Peebles married a second time to Hortensia “Teanie” Terry. That marriage took place 21 November 1927 at Leighton, Colbert County, Alabama. They had several children: Dorothy Jean, Dwight, Linda, Lou Ella, William Thomas, Cleora “Cleeter”, Linnie Dee, Coleman Lee, Floyd, Doris Ann, and Beverly Joan.
It seems that no one today can add any info on Fannie or what became of her. Both of her daughters have passed on. Fannie married a Henry Chastain the second time. Her death came at a tender age. She was just 30 years 8 months and 16 days old at her death on 18 Nov 1938. Her death certificate proves a heartache for family and friends.
Fannie Tolbert Peebles Chastain died at Lookout Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee of her own hand. She was poisoned with bichloride. Verification that it is Fannie Tolbert Chastain comes from information extracted from her death certificate:
Father:J C Tolbert, born Alabama
Mother: Lizzie Terry, born Alabama
Death:18 Nov 1938 in Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee; she died in the am
Death: suicide in the city at a hotel
She was under a doctor’s care from 2 November to 18 November 1938. That brings to mind, was she suffering from a terminal disease or other ailment? She was buried 20 November 1938 in Memorial Cemetery in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. The only Memorial cemetery found in Chattanooga was Chattanooga Memorial Cemetery. A memorial in her honor has been placed on Find-A-Grave online.
Tennessee, Deaths and Burials Index, 1874-1955 verifies the info give in the death death certificate in Tennessee.
treasures. No matter their size or condition, they are real treasures that can not be replicated.
Here is a real treasure for those who are descendants of the Box family.
seems to have been very loved. There was a memorial published in a local paper that looked like an obituary, but read more like celebration of his life. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could be this well thought of after death?
Harry was one of Maj and Willie Viola Casey Peebles’ children. He was the fifth child and the third son. His siblings were: Robert Duncan Peebles 1898 – 1973, William POLK Peebles 1900 – 1975, Georgie Marie Peebles 1902 – 1982, Lena Preston Peebles 1904 – 1978, Infant Peebles 1909 – 1909, Elmer Louis Peebles 1909 – 1982, Luther Coleman Peebles 1912 – 1997, Jennie Peebles 1914 – 2006, Katie Rebecca Peebles 1918 – 1984, Earline Peebles 1920 – 1997 and Willis Lucas LUKE Peebles 1922 – 1982.
was a part of my mother’s childhood in Colbert County, Alabama. There used to be a store at the corner of Wilson Dam Road and 6th Street. There she and her siblings would take an egg and get penny candy. Or the Rolling Store would come by and an egg would be traded for penny candy. If you look around the 10:00 minute mark you will see the Murphy Brothers Rolling Store that used to traverse the roads in Lauderdale County. This story is among those of the Great Depression:
is in order. News in the most recent of days send me back into time. Back to a time growing up in Sheffield, Alabama was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Good days. Good times. Big family.
My cousin Betty Bassham Porter was found lying on the floor in a coma in her apartment. She was not responding. So right this minute her family is sitting with her waiting for the transfer to hospice. It has been determined that she had a stroke and will not survive. Betty was born in Sheffield, lived in Tuscumbia and Sheffield. In the 1950s her mother remarried and they moved to Dallas, Texas. The family moved to Arkansas, with some of them migrating to Missouri, mostly in the Springfield area.
The photo montage below is my tribute to a beloved cousin. Family.