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The Murder of Joseph Deny
As Reported By
The Boston Globe

Created May-2003

Boston Daily Globe, 14-Dec-1883


An Old Indian Kicked and Beaten to Death
In Defending His Squaw Against the Assault of Drunken Ruffians.
Maine Disgraced by Another Terrible Murder

(Special Dispatch to The Boston Globe)

Augusta, December 13. - One of the most atrocious murders, accompanied by other heinous crimes, was committed last night in the town of Richmond, eighteen miles below here, which has ever darkened the history of the State. It has long been the habit of many of the members of the Penobscot tribe of Indians to wander from their reservation at Oldtown to various towns and villages throughout the State, and finding a location where good material for basket stuff can be had and at the same time a near market for their wares, to locate there for months at a time. Some months ago Joseph Dennis and his wife, Elizabeth Dennis, both Oldtown Indians, between 65 and 70 years of age, came to Richmond and located. At about the same time Joseph Nicolas, a fine-looking and very intelligent young Indian of about 30, with his wife and child, a remarkably bright and pretty girl of 12, came to the same place and settled down to basket making and selling. The two Indian families hired rooms in the house of a white man named Plummer, who lives some two miles from the village proper, in a thickly-settled neighborhood. The old Indian and his wife occupied the front room of the house, which is a good-looking, well-painted; two-story structure, with a large front garden attached. The young Indian took the kitchen and one of the two sleeping rooms which open out of the kitchen. The man Plummer, who has no wife, occupied the other sleeping room. The upper portion of the house was occupied by a white man named Carter, his wife and several children. The old Indian was generally

Known About Town as "Old Joe"

and was a peaceable man. That he had all the fine sense of honor of a white man was shown yesterday by his perilling and losing his own life in a vain endeavor to protect his aged wife from outrage about to be perpetrated by two white friends crazed by the stuff sold in Maine as liquor. It seems that three men named Lorenzo H. Turner, aged 23; William Lint, aged 25, and Lewis E. Hopkins, aged 38, the latter during the war a member of the Nineteenth Maine Regiment, are what are called in country towns neighbors of Plummer. Last night all three went into the village of Richmond. Hopkins, who is a tough character generally and is known locally as "Slim Jim," and William Lint walked to town, while Turner, who owns a horse, rode down. Hopkins and Lint got there first, and proceeded to make a round of the rumshops. After having had one or two drinks, they came out and met Turner, and then all three made the round again, drinking heavily, sometimes tow or three times before leaving a saloon. Hopkins bought a pint of whisky at one saloon. After going to a place kept by one Captain Hussey for a parting drink, they all started for home. Their road led them by Plummer's house. Arriving there

Full of Rum and Cussedness

generally, they drove up and entered at once without knocking. Here they drank from the bottle Hopkins had had filled at the saloon on Water street, and soon raised such a rumpus that the young Indian and his wife and child got terribly frightened and left the lower portion of the home, passed through "Old Joe's" room and went up stairs. "Old Joe" and his wife became frightened and fastened their door, which opened into the kitchen, where the three callers and Plummer were carousing, and after a time began to think of retiring. They were both sitting on the edge of their couch when the door was forced open and Hopkins and Turner rushed in and grabbed the old Indian woman. In spite of her own and her husband's frantic struggles she was forced back into the kitchen where the ruffians accomplished their purpose. The old husband was frantic and attempted to follow, when he was met by Hopkins, says the old lady, who struck him in the head with his fist, knocked him down, trampled on him and kicked him in the head repeatedly. He never spoke or moved after being struck the first time, and the post-mortem shows him to have been terribly pounded and kicked, causing a rupture of the blood vessels. Later in the day Lorenzo H. Turner made the following statement and confession, nearly all of which is corroborated by witnesses. "My father lives in Baltimore. I have a sister living in Lewiston. Me, and two brothers of whom I have no knowledge. I am 23 years old and am

"In My Present Position from Drinking Liquor

purchased in this village last night after work. I came from where I live, two and one-half miles from here, to the village with my team. I came alone, but soon fell in with Hopkins, whom I always called Jim, and William Lint. We walked round town a little, and soon came to Wyman's saloon. We went in there and got a drink; went out and walked. When we came to Captain Hussey's place, we went in and drank again. The other two had been drinking before I joined them. At Hussey's, which was the last saloon where I drank, there was some words between Hopkins and a man named Joe Curtis in regard to some insulting remarks which Hopkins claimed he had made to him while sitting in my wagon before he came in. But after Lint and I came, I took hold of Hopkins and got him out and into my wagon. Lint and I got in, and I drove fast towards home. We were somewhat noisy. I guess Hopkins had a bottle full of liquor; don't think we drank any on the road. Just before we got to Plummer's, Lint and Hopkins began to talk about him; don't remember just what was said, as I had no idea of stopping there. As we drew near, we heard laughter and I think music. I drove into the yard and we all got out. I stopped to hitch my horse. The others went directly in. I followed them. Plummer was there, and some Indians, don't know who they were. We had some talk and fun, and Hopkins took out his bottle and we drank. I think the old Indian and his wife both drank. Hopkins gave the old woman fifty cents, but what for I don't know. I don't remember much about the conversation, only we were having a lively time. I remember nothing of importance till I went into the front room. Some one went with me, I can't tell now who. He afterward said he would tell, and that it was Hopkins. ... "I then sough to pass into another room, but was

Hit by Some One,

I don't know who, but though it was the old Indian. So severely was I hit that I was stunned completely. The first I knew, I found myself in the front entry, where I rested a few moments, and then went up stairs and demanded to be let in. I was refused by the occupants. I insisted, and swore I would break in the door if I was not let in. Carter would not open the door, and I broke in the upper part and crawled into the room. No one was in this room, but a woman was standing outside. I made a grab for her, at the same time saying, I think, "come with me; you shan't be hurt." She pulled away from me, and I haven't seen her since; don't know what became of her. In fact, it seems that she was Mrs. Carter, and that she, her husband and the whole of the young Indian's family escaped from this chamber window by sliding down a sort of spout about 50 feet long, which served as a sink spout for the family up stairs. I then went down stairs and passed back into the kitchen. As I did so, I saw a man lying face down on the kitchen floor. I said, "Hello, what's the matter?" I think it was Plummer who replied, "He must have got struck," or something to that effect. I at once went through the kitchen and out doors, where I found William Lint sitting in my wagon and the horse unhitched. Hopkins was out of the yard on foot. I heard him make loud talk some ten rods further up the road. I drove there and found a man standing at the door with

A Gun in His Hands.

I jumped out and went to the house to see what the trouble was. I told the man, who was a stranger to me, to take his gun and go into the house. He said his folks were scared. I then rattled the door and shouted loud enough to be heard inside. I told them not to be alarmed, that no one should be hurt. The man with the gun then told me it was not loaded. Hopkins reached and wrenched the gun away from the man and started for Fred Lancaster's house, thirty or forty rods away. I jumped into my team and drove on after him. I got out at Lancaster's. Fred came to the door, and Hopkins asked him to see if the gun was loaded. Lancaster tried, and said it was not. We got into the wagon and drove to Hopkin's house and then went in a short time after which Lint and I starter for home. This is all the part I took in the affair, and this is bad enough. I did not see the old Indian knocked, and don't know who killed him."

At the inquest the boots of both Hopkins and Turner were examined, and the nails in Hopkins' boots exactly hit the marks on the old Indian's head, and upon them was found blood and hair. Of Hopkins' guilt of both crimes charges there can be little doubt.

Turner told his story in a straightforward manner, without any attempt at evasion. Hopkins has a bad reputation about town. The other two are not notorious, or had not been until the crime made them so.

Transcribed by: Canyon Wolf for Ne-Do-Ba

Additional Documents in this Series:
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Lewiston Evening Journal
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Daily Kennebec Journal
Newspaper Coverage of the Trial - Lewiston Journal
Elizibeth Polis - In Her Own Words