Along with the fire story we reprinted in our last edition, there was a habitual domestic violence offender to be dealt with. In the May 24, 1898, edition there was a rather nasty domestic violence case to be dealt with.


Walter C. Blake Again In Custody For Trying to Kill His Divorced Wife

Walter C. Blake, who was released from his indefinite term of confinement in jail by order of the Supreme Court in its last term, had less than a week of freedom, and last Tuesday was again lodged in jail and the next day bound over to the October term on the charge of assault with intent to kill upon his divorced wife, Agnes Blake.

Mrs. Blake had been at work for George Buck, who lives in the building on Oxford Street, formerly used as a cheese factory. Blake, who harbored a grudge against her since his last imprisonment, went down there the same day he got out of jail, and threatened her, using violence, it is claimed. Her father and Mr. Buck thereupon went to Jailor Garland and asked to have him arrested. He told them to swear out a warrant and he would do so, and they went away but did not get the warrant. Blake had gone away from the house and was keeping quiet, and though there was some talk about making an effort to have him committed to the insane hospital, he was finally allowed to go with a warning.

He did not heed the warning, it seems, and Tuesday afternoon, Jailor Garland was sent for in a hurry. He found Blake in the custody of Sumner E. Tucker and W. L. Blood, while Mrs. Blake was unconscious from the effect of his blows.

The story of the affair as it came out at the hearing is that Blake went down to Buck’s Tuesday afternoon, when there were very few people in the vicinity. Mr. Tucker, who was calling on his aunt, Mrs. Horace Perkins, near by saw Blake go by and followed him, being apprehensive of trouble. Blake and Mrs. Blake were outside the house and Blake wanted Mrs. Blake to shake hands with him, but she was afraid. Tucker drew Blake away a short distance, but he soon returned and found that Mrs. Blake had gone into the house and fastened the door. He went to the back door and forced it open and went in. Mrs. Blake ran out of the front door and took refuge with Mrs. Stephen Cutler, who stood in front of her house, next door. Blake came out and followed her, rushed at the women, and pulled Mrs. Blake away, threw her down by her hair and kicked her in the head. Mrs. Cutler was thrown down and her dress torn in the assault. Tucker rushed up and seized Blake, and with the assistance of Mr. Blood, who came along at that time, secured control of him and started toward the jail. Mrs. Blake was found to be suffering from a concussion of the brain.

A hearing that was held in Norway Municipal Court Wednesday morning, at which no counsel appeared for either side, and the examination was conducted by Judge Davis. The story was told by the several witnesses as related above, and Blake was allowed to tell his story. He said in substance that he had always been downtrodden and his wife had helped to do it. He went there to punish her; and finally he lost his temper and admitted that he intended to kill her.

Judge Davis bound him over to the October court fixing bail at $600. He could not furnish bonds and was taken to jail. As Mr. Tucker, who had testified against him, was leaving the court room, Blake jumped at him, attempting to strike him with his handcuffed hands, and threatening to kill him if he ever got a chance.

From the moment of arrest up to the present, Blake has shown no inclination to take the matter submissively. He resisted arrest, and when he was searched, a large knife was found on him, which he had not, however, attempted to use. Since he was lodged in jail, he has been heard talking to himself, threatening Garland, and Tucker, and Blood, if he ever got a chance at them.

Walter Blake is a problem. He is 36 or 37 years of age, and has spent much of his life in durance vile. His father was a somewhat peculiar man, rather below the average in mental capacity, and Walter seems to have his father’s mental twist exaggerated. Under those circumstances, he was to some extent the butt among the boys, and when he was ten or twelve years of age, living on Paris Hill, in a fit of rage he plunged the blade of his pocket knife into a playmate. It did not make a serious wound, and nothing was done about it. Later he was sent to the reform school and remained there during the rest of his minority. He afterwards served a four years sentence in state prison for setting fire to the buildings occupied by his brother’s wife at South Paris, against whom he had taken a grudge. When he was questioned by the judge before receiving sentence for this offence, he freely admitted that his object was revenge. In fact, in all his doings he seems to have displayed very little idea of moral accountability; and he never, in court or out, made much effort to disguise his feelings, but seemed to act on the principle of being a law unto himself, and gratifying his unaccountable temper as he saw fit.

He married Agnes Shackley, of Norway. The town authorities of Paris, where he was then living, had serious doubts whether they ought to let the marriage to take place, but there seemed to be no legal method to prevent it. Married life seems not to have been entirely happy, as only about a week after his marriage, he attempted suicide by taking poison, but the prompt use of remedies saved his life. His wife later left him, and early in September he followed her up and used violence upon her. For the assault, he was given thirty days in jail by Judge Davis, and was ordered top give bonds to keep the peace for one year. This he could not do, and was committed to jail.

His wife obtained a divorce at the February session of the court, for the cause of cruel and abusive treatment. At the May term, the court ordered him released, thinking the penalty inflicted disproportionate to the offense.

Mrs. Blake had several convulsions during the forty-eight hours following the assault. From that time she seemed to be improving until Monday morning when she was taken with a fit. Dr. Larrabee, the attending physician, thinks she will not die from her injuries, but that it is doubtful if she is ever restored to perfect health, and thinks she will probably be subject to fits.

The story seems to follow the pattern of domestic abuse cases that are outlined too often in news sources today, more than a century later. Domestic violence, and means to intervene in such cases as the Blakes, the methods our society has developed to deal with chronic offenders, especially those who have any of a variety of mental/emotional complications, has hardly changed, either. What has changed is terminology. We don’t call facilities for treatment of behavioral conditions insane hospitals any more.

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