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Cambria Freeman
Ebensburg, PA

Friday, 29 Nov 1872
Submitted by Lynne Canterbury



Scenes and Incidents of the Execution

Michael Moore, the convicted murderer of his lawful wife, Ann E. Boyle Moore, was hanged to-day (Wednesday) in the yard of the jail of Cambria county, in this place.

The weather was extremely mild of the season, the sun shining brightly during the entire day. Snow covered the earth, however, to the depth of two or three inches, but the atmosphere was not cool enough to be even unpleasant. Tuesday night's train brought to town a large delegation of reporters to the press, sheriffs from neighboring counties, and other strangers, and at an early hour this morning and up to the time of the execution people from the country came in in greater or less numbers. Still there were comparatively few persons other than our own citizens to be seen about our streets. We are glad to note this fact, for the morbid curiosity which prompts many persons to flock to the scene of an execution, even though they may have no hope of witnessing the terrible ordeal, or even getting glimpse of the gallows or its unfortunate victim, is by no means a commendable one.


On the morning of the first day of March last, a young farmer named John Shriver, residing in Summerhill township, Cambria county, was engaged in hauling wood. While so employed, a couple of dogs which accompanied him started a fox. Shriver returned to his house, unhitched his team and put them into the stable, and arming himself with a gun, started on the trail of the fox. The trail led him hither and thither till at length he arrived at the summit of a steep mountain about a half mile from Mineral Point Station on the Penna. Railroad. His pursuit of the fox was here abruptly ended, for in the midst of an in__mmable thicket of pine and laurel a scene of horror suddenly burst upon his view such is seldom presented to the vision of mortal man. A pool of blood , about one gallon in quantity, was collected on the ground, a pair of spectacles, a set of false teeth, a switch of hair, several hair pins. , and many other articles pertaining to a woman's toilet, lay strewn around, and marks on the ground plainly indicated that a life-and-death struggle had there taken place not long before. One look was sufficient and then SHRIVER fled from the scene as though the angel of death was on his back. He repaired to Mineral Point without delay and told his tale. A half-dozen men accompanied him back to the mountain-top where the pool of blood and the articles named were found as described. Another search was made, and in a very few minutes, the dead body of a woman was discovered lying alongside of a leg. A fire had been built upon and about the body, and both the legs had been burnt off.

No fire was burning on the occasion of Shriver's first visit to the mountain-top, and it is apparent that the murderer was scared (?) off before he had time to entirely erase (?) the traces of his crime. He endeavored to effect this after Shriver's departure, but was foiled by the speedy reappearance of the latter with the squad of men. It may be remarked here, and may be set down as a fulfillment of the decree of that ______ nee which saith that the guilty shall not go unpunished, let the perpetration of this most heinous of all murders in the calendar of crime was brought to light through the interposition of so trivial a __use as a fox-trail!

The Coroner was notified immediately, and in due course of time arrived at the scene of the tragedy. He took possession of the several articles found on the spot and had the dead body removed to Johnstown and decently interred.

The tracks of two persons led to the scene of the murder. One of these was a large track, and had evidently been made by a man's boot; the other was the track of a woman's foot encased in a gum-shoe. The larger track alone led away from the spot. The two tracks going up to where the murder had been committed were carefully followed down the mountain, and were found to strike the railroad a half mile west of Mineral Point, along which they ran till they reached Mineral Point station. The smaller track, that of the woman who went up into the mountain to meet her death, here ceased to exist. The larger track, which came away from the scene of the murder was followed, and let the pursuers to the abode of Mich'l Moore, a short distance east of Mineral Point. Admittance to the house was demanded and the party was informed that Moore was not at home. A warrant for his arrest was procured, and on the evening of the second day after the discovery of the dead body, he was arrested at the house of Jas. __gan, at Plane No. 3, by Chief of Police _____ T. Harris, of Johnstown, and taken to the latter place, where, after an examination, he was committed to the Ebensburg on the dread charge of murder.

Michael Moore has resided in this county about thirty years, and had uniformly ____ the reputation of a bad, dangerous man. His thieving propensities were pro___bial, while his quarrelsome disposition and great physical strength made him the terror of his neighborhood. In 1852, in a drunken melee at Plane No. 4, he stabbed Mr. James Daley with a bayonet, dangerously wounding him. For this offense, he was tried in our Court, the indictment against him being aggravated assault and battery with the intent to kill, and being found guilty, was sentenced to the Penitentiary for a term of five years, but was pardoned ___ before he had served the full time al___ted as his punishment.


The identify of the dead woman was unattain [sic] for some time, but during his incarceration in the Johnstown lock-up Moore ______ for Mr. John J. Murphy and handed him a Pa. R. R. trunk-check, stating that ___ called for a trunk belonging to him (the prisoner) then lying at Altoona. Mr. Murphy immediately handed the check to the proper legal authorities, who sent for the trunk and took it in charge. It was opened and found to contain a photograph of a woman, a memorandum of the marriage of Michael Moore and Ann E. Boyle, the street and number of the residence of the ___ter in Philadelphia, a lot of female wearing apparel, and a variety of other articles. The clue thus afforded was followed up, and it was soon made manifect that the murdered woman was none other than Ann E. Boyle, the lawful wife of Mich'l Moore. Ann E. Boyle, the apparent victim, lived with her parents near the Viaduct in Summerhill township, this county, from childhood to the age of about 28. Michael Mootr lived in the same neighborhood, and between him and Ann sprang up an intimacy which in 1858 resulted in marriage, much against the wishes of the Boyle family, who partook of the general impression in regard to Moore's character. The twain lived together one year, which must have been a year fraught with much sorrow and suffering to Ann, if the fact that she suddenly and silently, one bright Sunday morning, left the scene of her childhood and brief wedded experience and was not again heard of by the acquaintances of her early days until this terrible tragedy brought her once prominently and mournfully to their notice, can be accepted as an evidence of such a state of affairs. It appears that after she left her husband's house all trace of her was lost, or at least the evidence disclosed nothing as to her whereabouts until she eventually found her way to the city of Philadelphia, where she found employment in the house of a man named McFetridge as housekeeper. Here she ws known by the name of Lizzie Stevenson. She remained in the McFetridge family eleven years, or up to the latter part of January last, when she unexpectedly disappeared and was never more seen alive by the members of that family.

In February, 1864, Moore was married to Mrs. Bridget Conner, with whom he continued to live up to the time of his arrest for the fearful crime he has just expiated upon the gallows.


The facts elicited in the case before our Court are of so recent development that they must yet be fresh in the memories of all our readers. Nevertheless, we will give a summary of the testimony.

During the latter part of last year, the Rev. Father Garvey, of Johnstown, received a latter from Mrs. Ann Moore, in which it was alleged that the writer was the wife of Michael Moore, with whom she had parted several years before, and asking his intercession for a reconciliation with her husband. Father Garvey at once sought and found Moore, and told him he must give up living with his second wife and take back his first and only lawful wife, Ann Boyle. To this Moore at first demurred, but finally consented to do as directed. Some time in January of this year he left home, and on the 24th of the same month he made his appearance at the McFetridge residence in Philadelphia. He left that house the afternoon of that day in company with the woman there known as Lizzie Stevenson, and shortly afterward the two made their appearance in Osceola, Clearfield county, where they went under the assumed name of Mr. and Mrs. Mooney, or at least he gave out that Mooney was their proper name. They had with them a trunk, which, with its contents, including the photograph, a number of dresses, etc., was identified as the property of Lizzie Stevenson, and which was the identical trunk called for by the trunk check handed by Moore to Mr. Murphy, and which was produced and given in evidence on the trial. They remained in Osceola till the latter part of February, Moore occasionally being absent for a day or two at a time. From there they went to Tyrone, whereon the 28th of February, they registered at the Ward House as "Michael Moore and his wife." He remained in Tyrone till the following day, the 29th, when he and his wife took the Mail Train west on tickets bought for Johnstown. The trunk accompanied them, but was checked as far only as Altoona. From Altoona west, E. W. Eisenbrise was conductor of the train. He distinctly identified Moore as one of his passengers on the night of February 29th, and testified that he and a woman got off the train on the south side of the track, or on the side opposite the station house at Mineral Point, on the night in question. He further testified that they walked off along the railroad track in an easterly direction, and darkness soon hid them from view.

The foregoing is a brief summary of the main testimony adduced. It is sufficiently as given to establish the fact as clearly as fallible testimony could establish it that Ann E. Boyle, Mich'l Moore's lawful wife, was the murdered woman, and that Mich'l Moore was her murderer, but amplified, it would show as unmistakable a connection, so far as human understanding could fathom, between Moore and the body of his crime as though a multitude of living witnesses, instead of only an unbroken chair of circumstantial evidence, had established his guilt. Moore, judging from inferences drawn from certain facts testified to, remained with his wife in a fire-clay bank on the mountain side all night, and cruelly killed the poor woman the next morning by choking her to death with a woolen scarf which she wore, and which was identified by the McFetridges as having been owned and worn by the woman they knew as Lizzie Stevenson when she left their home in Philadelphia last January.

The trial lasted six days. The jury, after listening to the evidence, the arguments of the counsel, and the charge of the Judge, retired to their room at 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon on Wednesday afternoon, June 125h and in three-quarters of an hour thereafter returned with a verdict of "guilty of murder in the first degree." A motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial was made by the prisoner's counsel, Messrs. Linton and Kopelin, which motion was argued at the September term of Court, a new trial refused, and sentence of death pronounced upon the culprit. The Governor signed the death warrant on the __th day of October, in which this day, (Wennesday, [sic] Nov. 27th,) between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., was fixed as the time for the execution.


was born in Queens county, Ireland, January 26th, 1814, and was therefore within two months of being 59 years old when he was hanged. He was about 5 feet 6 inches in hight [sic] broad shouldered, full chested, and with muscles like a whip-cord. His head, which was surmounted by an abundance of coarse, sandy hair, somewhat tinged with gray, was of the shape of a bullet, and his neck was the neck of an ox. He was in outward semblance a most unprepossessing man, and his appearance physically, as was made manifest on his trial, by no means belied his general character and disposition. Through nine long weary months of confinement his spirit was broken and subdued at last, however, and although we are free to say that the world is better without him as the world knew him, we have the assurance of his spiritual director, Father Christy, who should have known him as no other living man knew him, that his repentance was sincere and heartfelt, his prayers, mortifications and fastings devout, earnest, long continued and the most humiliating of which fallen humanity is capable; and now that he has paid the penalty of outraged law and has seen called to appear before the judgment seat of a just but merciful God, we feel sure that even those who do no believe that the prayers of the living can do aught to ameliorate the condition of the dead, will form in their own minds if they do not express the hope that true contrition has obliterated the fearful record of a most sinful life and that divine mercy has been interposed in behalf of the immortal soul of the unfortunate Michael Moore.


A young son of the doomed man, Thomas by name, and Michael Conner, a son of Bridget Conner, Moore's second wife, were in this place on Tuesday. The former is a bright, intelligent, manly looking little boy of about 7 years, well formed and well clad, and bears no resemblance whatever to his wretched father; the latter is a promising, well mannered young man of about 20 years. They both visited Moore in his cell, and the latter, as may well be conceived, was greatly affected on beholding his child, and as he fondled and caressed him, his feelings overcame him and he wept bitter tears of remorse and heartfelt anguish. Loathe indeed was the wretched man to part with his innocent offspring when the moment of separation came, as he seemed to feel that the last link that bound him to earth had been severed when his child was removed from his sight. These two were the only ones connected with Moore by intimate relationship who called to see him since his trial, and they returned to their home in Johnstown on Tuesday evening's train.


Was erected in the angle of the jail-yard formed by the eastern and northern sides of the wall. It was composed of two upright beams, each 16 feet in hight [sic], with a cross-beam of 6 feet. The platform was 12 feet by 10 feet, and was 4 feet from the ground. The trap was 2 feet square, and was secured to the platform by several heavy iron hinges. The trap was held in place by an iron bolt a half inch in diameter and 4 inches long. To this bolt was attached a rod controlled by a lever, a mere touch on which removed the bolt, when the drop fell. The drop was 20 inches. The entire structure was of original design, and was erected by ex-Sheriff Myers as superintendent and Mr. Josue D. Parrish as constructor.


John Fenlon and John Cox, Esqs., remained with Moore throughout Tuesday night. They went to his cell about 10 o'clock that night and remained until 7 this morning. Moore prayed fervently and almost constantly throughout the night, and sleep did not visit his eye-lids until about 6 o'clock when he fell into a gentle doze, which continued for an hour or two. He said nothing as to his guilt or innocence, but expressed the hope that no harsh words would be uttered against him after death, for that he had no harsh feelings against any one. He spoke gratefully of the gentle sisters of St. Joseph, those ministering angels of mercy who had prayed with him so constantly, fervently and sincerely, and expressed the hope that God would reward them both here and hereafter for their unremitting prayers in behalf of his poor soul. During the past three nights, Mr. Robert Jones had maintained a constant watch over the condemned, in order to guard against the possibility of self-destruction. No fears, however, were seriously entertained of such a result.


At precisely 12:15 p.m., Moore attended by his spiritual adviser, left his cell and was escorted to the scaffold. He walked up on the platform with a firm, steady step, and with an air which seemed to bid defiance to death itself. Father Christy, who had been a constant visitor to his cell ever since and even before the latter had began to evince the possession of contrite and repentant spirit, offered up a prayer for the welfare of the unfortunate man's soul, and Moore responded audibly and devoutly to every utterance of his spiritual father. Sheriff Ronacker asked Moore if he had anything to say to those present.


To this question Moore responded: "All I have to say is for the people to pray for me, and may the Lord have mercy on my soul!" The Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff then bade him good-bye, when Moore said to them, "Pray for me, for I need your prayers!"


The fatal drop fell at precisely 12:25 p.m. Moore's neck was evidently broken by the fall, for he gave no sign of life after the descent of the trap. Drs. Lemmon and Evans, of Ebensburg, and Dr. W. Bell, of Altoona, were present for the purpose of testifying to the full accomplishment of the dread sentence of the law, and all these united in saying the his pulse ceased to beat ten minutes after the drop had been sprung. Just twenty minutes thereafter he was pronounced dead, when the body was cut down and placed in the coffin ready to receive it. At 2 o'clock p.m., all that was earthly of Michael Moore was conveyed to the Catholic cemetery, where his remains ere consigned to the earth, the grave containing them being in the immediate vicinity of those containing the ashes of Houser and Bouser. [Note: These were the men convicted of murdering Polly Paul.]

Besides the Sheriff's jury, there were about fifty persons present and witnessed the execution. The gentlemen comprising the jury were Messrs. Aug. Durbin, John Buck, James Myers, John Ferguson, Jas. Perry, A. H. Fisk, F. H. Barker, G. G. Rorabaugh, Isaac Wike, John D. Thomas, Patrick Doran, and Wm. Tiley. The utmost good order prevailed, and not a sound or action unbecoming the sorrowful scene had its occurrence during the enactment of the terrible drama. Sheriff Bonaker performed the duty which the law imposed upon him as became a humane, kind-hearted man and faithful officer, and for the manner in which all the details of the execution were conceived and carried out he deserves the utmost credit.


And thus has ended the earthly career of Michael Moore, who lived in defiance of God's law, but died a deeply repentant sinner. That he has found mercy on high is the hope if not the prayer of every feeling heart. May his sinful career and sad fate prove a warning to those who are now pursuing the path that leads to a dishonored grave and an eternity of woe.

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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors