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Another Hatchet Job

There must be something in the Massachusetts water supply- or is it all about the hot days of August in New England?  This story by Joan Patrakis of the Andover Historical Society comes from the Andover Townsman Online and tells of another local lady who went on a rampage with a sharp -edged tool, this one  in August of 1895.  Not most people’s ideal of Victorian Motherhood.

“Saddest of all is the story of Mrs. Beard whose shocking case rivals that of Lizzie Borden. In 1895 she was declared insane after she viciously attacked her daughter and friend with an ax. The victims survived but the incident rekindled suspicion of her guilt in the deaths of her two young sons who had died in a tragic house fire 20 years earlier. Mrs. Beard was brought before a jury at that time but the case against her was dropped despite there being possible evidence of arson and questions about her sanity. She lived out her life in a Maine asylum.”

Although the attack itself occured in Old Orchard, Maine, where the Andover woman had a summer cottage, Mrs. F.R. Beard was from Andover where she maintained her primary residence.  The attack occured on the morning of August 26th , with grievious wounds inflicted upon the body of her daughter, Josephine Beard, a Boston school teacher who was in bed at the time of the attack.  A college friend from Andover, Miss Winona Graffen who was rooming with the Beards, received two serious flesh wounds. Mrs. Beard recovered her composure apparently, and accompanied the two girls to the hospital in Portland. (source, NY Times August 26, 1895)


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