Item #6504 The Manheim Tragedy. A Complete History of the Double Murder of Mrs. Garber and Mrs. Ream: With the Only Authentic Life and Confession of Alexander Anderson…. H. A. Rockafield, Alexander Anderson.
The Manheim Tragedy. A Complete History of the Double Murder of Mrs. Garber and Mrs. Ream: With the Only Authentic Life and Confession of Alexander Anderson…

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The Manheim Tragedy. A Complete History of the Double Murder of Mrs. Garber and Mrs. Ream: With the Only Authentic Life and Confession of Alexander Anderson…

Lancaster, Pa.: Printed at the Evening Express Office, 1858. 8vo, original pictorial wrappers. 64 pp. plus three wood engraved plates. CONDITION: Good, wrappers worn and chipped, front wrapper foxed along the lower portion, loss to upper outside corners of rear wrapper and last few leaves (text only slightly affected), some loss to paper at spine ends. Pages 41-48 misbound between pp. 32-33, occasional light foxing and tanning throughout. Partially unopened.

Second edition of Rockafield’s popular compilation of materials related to the “Manheim Tragedy,” a brutal double rape and murder committed in Manheim, Pennsylvania, by two men: one described as a “negro,” the other as a “mulatto speaking the German language.” The pair confessed to beating, “having to do with,” and then cutting the throats of two white women. This edition was printed in the same year as the first edition and appears to be identical except for the addition of a third illustration, depicting the prisoners kneeling in prayer on the scaffold. There was also a German translation printed the same year (Das Manheimer Trauerspiel...).

On the morning of December 15, 1857, Elizabeth Ream stopped by to visit with Anna Garber as she worked in the kitchen. Both older women, they were related by marriage, Mrs. Garber’s daughter Mary Ann had married Mrs. Ream’s son. At 1 p.m., Mary Ann stopped by to visit and a “death-like silence reigned within.” She found the two women in the back room, “their bodies in an indelicate position...with their throats cut from ear to ear, and their clothes and person saturated in their own blood.” She ran to the neighbors and raised the alarm. Suspicion immediately fell on two African-American men who had been in the vicinity looking for work that morning. They had visited Isaac Kauffman, saying they were chimney sweeps, but Kauffman had no work for them. He gave them some bread, and they went next door to the Garber house. Kauffman assumed they found work there because he saw them enter, but did not see them leave.

The self-censored account of the crime begins: “Their double-murder was the work of a triple motive—they demanded blood—gold—and——. The heart sickens—thought recoils within the dungeon of the mind—imagination palls—the pen involuntarily stops, at the contemplation of such a compound deed of fiendish brutality. While it was enacting, angels wept and averted their earth-reaching eyes, unused to look down upon such human depravity; and devils trembled at the contemplation of the consequence of their own hellish conception and instigation.”

The men were found quickly, walking along Lititz Pike towards Lancaster. They were arrested and taken to the mayor’s office where they identified themselves as Alexander Anderson and Henry Richards. They were searched, and the evidence was damning: Anderson was found to have $90 in gold and silver under his shirt in a salt sack tied with a silk ribbon, Richards had three dollars wrapped up in a piece of German newspaper similar to one found in Mrs. Garber’s chest. Richards was also wearing Mrs. Garber’s boots, and Anderson had an handkerchief with black bars that was a perfect match to one used by Mr. Garber.

Although it was unlikely that Anderson and Richards would be found innocent, the judge, alderman, and attorneys were concerned the men would be lynched before a trial could be held. And so they held the preliminary hearing in the storeroom of the jailhouse rather than at the courthouse; by the time the actual trials were held, tensions had died down. The trials of both men were predictably quick and ended in guilty verdicts; both men were sentenced to hang. While awaiting execution, Rockafield explains that Anderson took it upon himself to write out his full confession and arranged with Rockafield to have it published, “the profits to be applied for the benefit of his wife and children…” Rockafield also notes that accounts of these murders were very popular, with “no less that three copy-rights having been taken out prior to this one, for titles purporting to cover confessions of Anderson and Richards…[this is] his only authentic Life and Confession…”

Rockafield includes many moral messages and warnings about the evils of drunkenness and licentious living, including the notable warning: “Let others addicted to similar vices, take warning, even though they boast white skins. ‘Murder will out!’” He also includes an Appendix with “A Brief Account of the Murders and Executions in Lancaster County since its Organization,” as well as a “List of Death Warrants Issued from the year 1798 to the year 1851…” The wrappers feature advertisements for The Evening Express and local Lancaster businesses, as well as an woodcut of Anderson and Richards “in the Act of Murdering” on the rear wrapper.

The woodcut is after a photograph by M. H. Locker, though not attributed here. While taken from the same photographic source, the cut differs significantly from that used on the cover of the pamphlet, and is clearly the work of a different engraver. While the handbill has the feeling of a prospectus for the pamphlet, the differences between the two engravings and the different publishers suggest otherwise.

“Chimney sweepers, one a negro, the other ‘a mulatto speaking the German language,’ who, while drunk, tried to get money from their victims; then in a struggle, knocked them insensible, raped them, and cut their throats. A convincing piece of evidence was the splash of blood on Anderson’s trousers which matched the rest of the stains on a shoe he left at the scene of the crime.” (McDade).

Despite its popularity at the time, this pamphlet is uncommon in libraries and has only appeared at auction once in the past century.

REFERENCES: McDade 7; Library Company, Afro-Americana 566; Sabin 72374.

Item #6504

Price: $1,800.00

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