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1873 mystery
  • Published
    July 17, 2022

    Chapter 9: The life and times of James Lowell

    James Lowell served in Company G, which never saw active fighting, but didn’t have it easy. Among the places its men guarded were the Seneca Quarries in western Maryland, where the stone for the original Smithsonian building came from.

  • Published
    July 10, 2022

    Chapter 8: Getting ready for Lowell’s inquest

    Interest in the case ran so high that when copies of the Journal began rolling off the press, hordes waited outside the building for a chance to buy one for 2 cents. Some stood patiently for hours since the editor declared that subscribers would get their papers first.

  • Published
    July 3, 2022

    Chapter 7: A big scoop for the Journal

    Arriving at the jail, the city marshal told James M. Lowell he’d get the best accommodations possible and brought him to the northwestern corner cell, where the local newspaper editor noticed that the bones collected on Switzerland Road — thought to be the remains of Lowell’s wife — were still bound up in a mat in the corner, some of them protruding into the air.

  • Published
    June 26, 2022

    Chapter 6: Rounding up a suspected killer

    After James Lowell stepped down off a wagon, where he was loading rags at the Munroe’s Paper Mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, Officer E.D. Wiggin of Lewiston handed him a copy of that day’s Boston Journal, which carried an account of the discovery of the headless skeleton in Lewiston.

  • Published
    June 19, 2022

    Chapter 5: Lizzie’s mother has a strange dream

    Though the dream had no impact on the discovery of the skeleton, it likely contributed to the stir caused by the find in a spot eerily similar to what Sarah Burton imagined.

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  • Published
    June 12, 2022

    Chapter 4: The Lowells’ troubled marriage

    In the first hours after the grisly discovery of a body in the woods, the Journal tracked down a few people who remembered Lizzie and her husband, James M. Lowell.

  • Published
    June 5, 2022

    Chapter 3: The day Lizzie Lowell vanished

    When the Lewiston Evening Journal reported the skeleton of a woman had been found near the Switzerland Road, women in town “said with one accord: ‘I think that’s Mrs. Lowell’s remains.’”

  • Published
    May 29, 2022

    Chapter 2: ‘Skeleton of a Woman Found’

    Observers quickly discerned that by the standards of the day, the woman had been well-dressed, with beads and silk lace trimming her sleeves down to her wrists and extending over her shoulders to cover down to her waist.

  • Published
    May 22, 2022

    Serialized mystery: The Headless Skeleton

    In the fall of 1873, a Lewiston woodcutter stumbled upon a headless skeleton and a tattered black dress lying beside some pine trees near the city’s most romantic drive. This series, published in weekly chapters on Sundays, tells the story.

  • Published
    May 22, 2022

    Chapter 1: The Mystery of the Headless Skeleton

    Let’s go back in time to a crisp Wednesday in mid-October of 1873, beside a small clump of pine trees along the most romantic drive in Lewiston, a mile away from anyone’s home.