Well! It has been an exciting time for me here at the library, as I’ve been on the trail tracking down more details about the grisly murder of Luther G. Thompson back in 1866. I’ve put together all of the news articles I found, and Farmington Room visitors are very welcome to take a look! Of course, I promised to update you, so let me give you a bit of an overview of what we learned.On the night of Saturday October 20, 1866, Luther Thompson, described as “a quiet and inoffensive man,” was sitting with his mother and ten year old sister in their kitchen when they heard a knock on the door. Mr. Thompson answered the door to find a young man on the steps, who said that his wagon had broken down at the nearby fork in the road, and asked for assistance. Mr. Thompson put on his shoes and went off to help the stranger. Thompson’s mother became concerned when he did not return after about 45 minutes, and sent her young daughter to fetch some neighbors. Thompson’s sister and a neighbor came found his body, much too late for any assistance to be rendered.
The Hartford Daily Courant reported on October 22nd, 1866 a theory that Mr. Thompson was killed using a “sand club,” a long cloth bag filled with sand able to “…crush the skull into a jelly almost without breaking the skin.” The paper also theorized that the motive may have been to get Mr. Thompson out of the way so that the perpetrator could return to the home and rob it. Apparently there was a high volume of traffic in the area that evening, which may have discouraged the murderer from completing his plan.
On October 24, 1866, the Hartford Daily Courant reported that a man fitting the description of the alleged murderer had been found and brought to Hartford. However, it was reported the following day that the man, named John O’Connell, had an alibi that checked out, so he was released. It was not until the end of December that two men, Theodore Moister (previously referred to as “Meister,” later corrected to “Mostler”) and Henry A. Smith, were arrested in connection with the Thompson murder. The case commenced with Justice Treadwell presiding, Jones and Cowles as prosecutors, and Charles R. Chapman and Tolland native Alvan P. Hyde as defense attorneys. We have several articles containing transcripts of the testimony, and I highly encourage you to stop by the Farmington Room to take a look at them. In any event, the case wraps up in a report from April 8th, 1867. The State’s Attorney, and future Governor of Connecticut, Richard D. Hubbard concluded “…that he did not consider the body of evidence against the prisoners of such weight as to make it worthwhile to refer it to the decision of the jury.” Thus, the case was dismissed and the Mostler and Smith walked free.
I have to confess, it’s not the ending I expected! Either way, the shocking murder certainly drew a lot of attention and press here in Farmington, and still holds interest to this day. If you’d like to look at the information I’ve found, please stop by the Farmington Room on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings between 9:00am and noon!
In other Farmington Room news, I’ve recently learned that there is a problem with downloading images from our Farmington Scrapbook anthology on Biblioboard. The folks at Biblioboard are working to correct the problem. In the meantime, if you need a copy of an image, please contact me via email and I will do my best to furnish you with one. While you’re on Biblioboard, be sure to check out the newly uploaded collection of photos from Balloons Over Farmington, 1976! This selection of photos was taken from a wonderful album we have in the Farmington Room–well worth a look, either online or in person.