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Mysterious America

Cries from the Grave: The Cambridge Death Curve, Part 2

Continued from Part 1, “An Unspeakable Crime

Shortly after Julia Markham used an ax to murder her seven children, a postman discovered a letter she had written to her husband. The letter proved the murders had been premeditated. “Dear Clarence,” she wrote. “This is to say goodbye to you. Some give their souls for others, and I will do this for my children. God bless them! They will all die happy in the arms of Jesus. I will meet them there, and some day you will join us, too.”

A coroner’s jury ruled that Julia had acted while temporarily insane. An investigation into her personal history revealed that she had suffered from an emotional breakdown several months before the crime. “As early as July Mrs. Markham manifested symptoms of a diseased mind,” the Rock Island Argus reported. Her father visited the family during the summer and said that Julia was suffering from “extreme melancholia, due… to the dreary monotony and drudgery of her life.” Her eldest children had to stay home from school to watch after her health.

On the morning of October 2, as the Wright brothers prepared for the flight of their third airplane, Julia Markham and her children were laid to rest in nearby Rose Dale Cemetery. The children were interred in one casket and Julia in another. Distraught over the gruesome deaths of his wife and children, Clarence Markham shot and hung himself.

Decades passed, and the ruin of the Markham’s home was plowed over. Their aging, red barn remained, however, and became a focal point for local teens who grew up hearing stories about the murders. Fact blended with fiction, and people began to report seeing the ghost of Julia Markham along the roadside. They blamed accidents at the curve in Timber Ridge Rd. on her ghost.

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