Alcohol, psychics and murder in New Canaan
Published 6:20 pm, Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Exactly 50 years before Susan Anderson was murdered in 1898, another man was murdered in 1848 near the Cheese Spring Road property. Not much information is available on the matter except for a very detailed article in the Nov. 30, 1898, issue of the Meriden Morning Record headlined "A Tragedy Recalled. Brought to mind by the New Canaan murder."
The victim in this case was a man named Samuel Monroe, who was reportedly an alcoholic.
"He was a quiet man when sober, having little intercourse with any one outside of his own limited circle," the article said. "He was addicted to the use of strong drink and was frequently under its influence."
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Monroe, unlike Anderson, had simply disappeared one fall day in 1848. According to reports, he left his home in the morning and never returned.
Unlike the late 19th century when the area near Cheese Spring Road, known as East Woods, was a bit more pristine and polished, the area was considered lawless in the mid 1800s. It was not very populated and the people there did not appeal to the rest of New Canaan.
"The only house for miles about stood in a lonely part of the East Woods, and was said at the time to be occupied by lawless characters, who were a dread to the honest people of New Canaan," the report said. "It was suspected that Monroe had been killed by the occupants of the hut. It was also rumored that his body had been buried in the cellar, but no one possessed the courage to investigate."
It seems even New Canaan and the rest of Connecticut were not immune to the old behaviors found in the "Wild West."
With no luck of finding him in the woods, Monroe's friends became desperate to figure out what happened. In fact, they felt so helpless, according to the article, they resorted to the suggestions of their superstitious acquaintances and consulted a 4-year-old boy. Yes, Monroe's friends went to a child for help, but he was no ordinary child. This was apparently a psychic boy, or a clairvoyant as they called him back then. He was called a "wonder" and a "revealer of the future and unveiler of the past."
When his friends went to the boy for help, they spoke to his manager about their situation. After hearing about Monroe, the boy went into a trance spun a very intricate yarn about Monroe and what he did after leaving his home.
"The country folk were so astonished at the boy's alleged revelation that they engaged him to try to follow the course Monroe had taken," the article said. "The following day the young astrologer kept up his `bluff' and lead a crowd of 300 persons over the hills for several hours trying to find the place where Monroe was alleged to be buried. He continue the search for two more days."
The boy lead the 300 residents around and around to random bushes and piles only to find nothing. Eventually the New Canaanites grew tired of his charade and gave up on the search as the boy left town "in disgrace." But the townspeople did manage to confront the despised residents of that lone house in the woods.
"The inmates of the suspected house were driven from their miserable abode, and for a long time thereafter the good people of that neighborhood enjoyed a season of rest."
As is usually the case in these situations, Monroe's body was not found until the next spring, considerably far away from the paths of the search party, but still in the general area. The report said his body was mutilated beyond recognition and his cause of death was never established and remains a mystery to this very day.