Sunday, July 17, 2011

T I M E M A C H I N E ... June, 1879 (Part 1 of 5)

Please note: Due to its length the posting for this article will be in five sections, today and during the coming week.


(As published in the Warren Ledger, Warren, Pa.)


Details of the most remarkable crime on record.

A Woman Who Wanted To Marry One Of Her Own Sex.

(PART 1)

Baltimore, May 27.- The trial of Miss Lillie Duer on an indictment for fatally shooting her once intimate friend and associate, Miss Ella Hearn, is fixed for tomorrow, at Snow Hill, Worcester County, Md. The case excites extraordinary comment, which is not alone confined to that section of the state. A correspondent writing from Snow Hill states that the town is rapidly filling up with strangers and that the trial is the sole and absorbing topic of conversation. Public sentiment is divided, with the majority of the opinion that Miss Duer will be acquitted. She is now a prisoner in the National Hotel under surveillance of officials. Since her removal to the hotel she has borne her imprisonment with comparative cheerfulness, and is allowed the companionship of her intimate relatives and friends under certain restrictions. Her sister is her constant and devoted attendant. Miss Duer spends her time principally in reading, preferring books of a romantic or poetic character. Byron is her favorite poet. Her friends do not think that she fully realizes the gravity of the charges for which she stands indicted.

The sad tragedy of last November, in which Miss Ella Hearn, a beautiful young girl, just blooming into womanhood, lost her life by the hand of Miss Lilly Duer, is again the paramount matter of interest in this quaint little Eastern shore town. Miss Ella Hearn, the victim, rests peacefully in the old Episcopal churchyard. She was originally from Laurel, Del., where she spent most of her youthful days, and where her pretty face and sweet ways are remembered by a large number of friends and acquaintances. That she was the fairest and most lovely girl in all the county about was the testimony of all who knew her.

At the time of her death she was scarcely seventeen. She was a girl of high spirits, and was gay, cheerful, and dashing, in her disposition. She was highly esteemed among her friends and those who knew her as a young girl of sweet and pure disposition. Although her education was limited to the acquirements possible at the high school at Newtown (Pocomoke) she was fairly accomplished, without any brilliant attainments or pretensions.

For some years during the last of her school days she had permitted rather than encouraged a growing intimacy with Miss Lillie Duer, whose affections and passion at last resulted in her death. The families of the two girls, while very respectable, do not belong to the aristocratic society here. Miss Lillie Duer is about twenty or twenty-one years of age and she has lived all her life in Newark. She is not at all pretty, and is somewhat awkward in her movements, as though her female habiliments trammeled her, and she would better get about in male attire. Her eyes are large and unflinching; she meets your gaze with a steady, firm, somewhat defiant, stare. The face is thin and clearly cut, and her forehead is strikingly high and broad. Her thin lips close tightly, which causes the firmness of her expression to strike the observer at once. With short and very dark hair parted at the side, she wears a roll at the top of her head. Altogether the face is one which would not fail to excite interest anywhere. She talks quite intelligently and with ease, appears to have entire confidence in herself and acts as though she would much prefer to be a man than a woman. Her intimacy with Miss Hearn began some years ago, and during last spring and summer the two girls were constantly together, much like brothers. Miss Duer appears to have obtained a mastery over her more womanly, but weaker minded companion, and it was an affection more mixed with fear than love that controlled Miss Hearn's actions.

(To be continued)

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