Saturday, January 31, 2015

Murder in the City, 1866

It was old news. Susan Kushner wrote to tell me about a horrific axe slaying -- seven members of her family plus a boy who did work around the farm.

Murder in the City, 1866

Courtesy of Susan Deering Kushn

It was old news. Susan Kushner wrote to tell me about a horrific axe slaying -- seven members of her family plus a boy who did work around the farm.

The killer was Anton Probst, a Civil War deserter who'd come over from Germany. He once saw the patriarch of the family counting bills at the kitchen table, Kushner said. He waited, and waited, then made his move, luring the children into the barn one-by-one, killing them and tossing their bodies into a pile.

For years later there was talk of buried treasure in South Philadelphia, because the killer only pocketed $17.

Kushner knew all these details. She's spent years collecting information. Her father had done so before her.

The murder on Christopher Deering's farm took place in 1866, 143 years ago last week. It was the biggest mass-murder the city had ever seen. (It's no longer the record. There have been other slayings of eight in Philadelphia.)

One boy survived - 10-year-old William Deering. That was Susan Kushner's great grandfather. And that was this Sunday's metro column.

The boys playing guitars in this piece have a look that takes you back as well. But what a song, "Murder in the City." What, you wanted to hear "Care With That Axe, Eugene?"
 

Daniel Rubin Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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