Mary Brockwell

clippings transcribed by Steve Green


My search for information about this ballad was prompted by a single verse that I came across in a Kentucky folklore journal from the 1950s. The verse had been collected in 1949 by a student of Herbert Halpert’s at Murray State College, Milidean Reid, and was from the student’s mother who was from Symsonia, Kentucky. The verse was given with Reid’s note as follows:

“My mother learned this when she was a young girl in Marshall County. Her aunt from Paducah used to sing it to her. This is all of the song she can remember of the event which happened in Paducah when she was a young girl.”

Mary Brockwell, she was so bold,
She loved a man and not her soul.
She taken her three little children’s lives
So she could be his wife.

(Kentucky Folklore Record 5:2 (April-June 1959:50).

Using the Library of Congress’ online vintage newspaper website, Chronicling America, I searched Kentucky newspapers and transcribed the story of Mary Brockwell as it unfolded in 1905.

In 2010, I met Megan Petersen online through a genealogy forum. Megan has a family connection to Mary Brockwell and is anxious to find information. I was delighted to learn that Megan had a copy of the complete ballad pasted into an old book that was handed down in her family. We have since exchanged a number of emails about the case.

brockwell murders


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ March 25, 1905


Mrs. Mary Brockwell Loses All But One of Hers by Poisoning

Symptoms of Opium—Stomachs to be Analyzed—Police Investigating

A mysterious poisoning case is interesting the police force and Coroner James Crow, and developments are expected when the stomachs of the three children of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of 337 Ashbrook avenue, are analyzed in Louisville and the result furnished the coroner.

Last night about 5:30 o’clock Mrs. Mary Brockwell and her four children, Hazel, aged 11; Nancy Lucy, aged 9; Ola May, aged 6; and Lillie Jerline, aged 3 years, sat down to supper. The supper consisted of meat, bread, cabbage and onions, and the latter three ate heartily of the cabbage in particular. After supper was over they began to show signs of sleepiness and shortly after were all sound asleep and the mother unable to wake them.

Becoming alarmed she summoned neighbors, who in turn telephoned for physicians, Drs. Carl N. Sears, J. S. Troutman, J. W. Pendley and Johnston Bass responding. They found the children under the influence of what seemed to be opium, and began administering drugs to counteract the effects.

The physicians worked heroically but could not overcome the deadly effect of the drug, whatever it might have been, and at 8 o’clock last night, two hours and a half after supper Ola May died. At 3:30 this morning Lillie died and at 5:30 Lucy Brockwell followed. Hazel, the oldest daughter, did not partake of the cabbage except possibly a mouthful, and did not become ill. Her mother also ate little of the cabbage but experienced no pains or sleepiness, and the theory that Paris Green had been put on the cabbage to kill worms is not borne out.

Mrs. Brockwell was seen by a Sun reporter this morning and told her story:

“My husband, Plenn Brockwell, was taken to the asylum several months ago,” she said, “and I have had my four little ones to care for since. Last night we ate supper and were all feeling well, but after eating, my three youngest children became sleepy and I could not wake them. Physicians were summoned and stated the children had been poisoned and began to work with them. I don’t know where the poison could have come from, because we have none about the house, and have no medicines of any kind, except a little paragoric, which could not affect them as my children were. They say that Paris Green must have been on the cabbage—probably put on there to kill worms, but the cabbage was washed and prepared by myself for supper, and was clean. When I got the cabbage it was fresh.”

Mrs. Brockwell stated that the time the children were first seized with sleepy spells was while John and Albert Burns, two men of her acquaintance, were making a call. They happened to pass her house, and being old friends, stopped in. They summoned neighbors when it was seen the children were ill.

This morning Drs. H. H. Duley, J. W. Pendly, J. S. Troutman, B. T. Hall and C. Harkey removed the stomachs of all three children, placed them in jars, and shipped them to Louisville, on advice of County Attorney Eugene Graves, to be analyzed and the cause of death learned. On the advice of Attorney Graves, Coroner James Crow also postponed the inquest until Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock when the jury will report at the Nance & Pool undertaking establishment to investigate.

The jury is composed of Messrs. R. C. Wallace, M. T. Hurt, John Burton, John Gaither, R. D. Wade and H. J. Swafford, and was sworn this morning.

The physicians state that Paris Green would affect differently from the way the children were affected by whatever kind of poison was taken, and the general opinion and belief of the doctors is that the drug was opium. The bodies turned a little after death, the lower limbs becoming purple. The stomachs were not opened here but sealed in jars and sent directly to Louisville, and all intact with nothing to prevent a thorough analysis. The stomachs will reach Louisville tomorrow and by Monday night at least a report is expected.

The mother seemed to take the death of her children hard, but talked clearly and intelligently. She is a working woman and has been supporting herself and children since her husband was taken to the asylum.

Coroner James Crow and several police officers made an investigation and failed to learn if any drug was purchased at any drug store in that end of town, but Detective Moore is working on the case and expects to conclude his work before the inquest and have something interesting to show.
Excitement runs high and the house was surrounded by a crowd of curious people all morning. Mrs. Brockwell stated this morning that she had been carrying insurance on herself and children in the Prudential Co. at a small payment each week, but dropped it several months ago when she became unable to meet the payments.

The bodies of the three children were turned over to Undertakers Nance and Pool for embalming and will be kept until the investigation has been completed.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ March 27, 1905


Mother Confesses She Murdered Her Three Daughters.

Broke Down When Questioned By Detective Will Baker This Afternoon.


Louisville, Ky., March 27.—Dr. Vernon Robbins, in charge of the stomachs of the three Brockwell children poisoned in Paducah, says that he can reach no decision for three or four days.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of Ashbrook avenue, Mechanicsburg, whose three little daughters were poisoned Saturday morning, confessed this afternoon about 3 o’clock to Detectives Moore and Baker, that she killed the children.

The confession was made at the home of Constable A. C. Shelton and she had been questioned repeatedly by the officers until she finally broke down and admitted she committed the deed.
She stated that she bought a dime’s worth of morphine at Vize’s drug store, in Mechanicsburg, and gave them that with coal oil, administering it directly after supper. She gave it to them, she said, because it was an easy death. She killed them because she could not support them.
The confession was reduced to writing, and the woman was taken to the city hall in a carriage, and locked up to await trial.

Up to the time she made the confession, the officers were inclined to believe that she was innocent.

The bodies have been embalmed at the Paducah undertaking parlors, and yesterday and today have been viewed by perhaps two thousand people.

The poor little victims lay close together as if asleep, and the sight of their pale, innocent faces caused more than one to leave the parlors with a suspicious dampness in their eyes.

The bodies will be kept until the inquest is over. Coroner Crow expects to hold the inquest tomorrow if Dr. Pendley returns in time. It may be later, however, before he can make the investigation.

The death of the three little children was one of those deplorable tragedies that call the attention of half the world to how the other half lives.

The picture is not a pleasant one. The family of five lived in two little rooms. The mother, her husband in the asylum, took in washing to provide the family with food and shelter. Through the coldest weather, it is said, she worked at the tub for a mere pittance with which to feed five hungry mouths. She obtained some outside help, but the condition of the house and children indicates she did not get much. She cannot be a very bad woman to have endured it all. She worked for her children, and gave them the best she had. She spent her last nickel for a head of cabbage. The hungry little mouths devoured it eagerly, never detecting the fatal poison it contained. They were hungry, and must eat. After the pangs of hunger were satisfied, came the pangs of death.

It is claimed that some of her husband’s people wanted to take the children, but perhaps this is a mistake. It is known that she attempted to place them in the Home of the Friendless, and if she did this, there must have been some reason for her refusal to give them to her relatives, if she really refused.

There would have been no necessity for sending the stomachs of the children to Louisville for analysis had it been known in time that it could have been done here. There are several persons in Paducah who could have done it, among them Prof. Sullivan, of chemistry, at the High school. Prof. Sullivan says he is always willing to analyze anything that is brought to him. He has a complete outfit, and by this time could have determined exactly what kind of poison caused the children’s death.


Van Wert Daily Bulletin (OH) ~ March 27, 1905


Paducah, Ky., March 27.—Three small children, the daughters of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, died after eating of poisoned cabbage at supper. It is believed the children died from ptomaine poisoning. They are: Ola, aged 4; Lillie, 3; and Lucy, 9.


Coshocton Daily Age (OH) ~ March 28, 1905

Woman’s Confession.

Paducah, Ky., March 28—Mrs. Mary Brockwell whose three children, aged three, four and five years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances last Saturday, broke down and confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman said that her husband was in an asylum and that she could not support the children. She also stated that George Alberton promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as an accessory.


Emporia Gazette (KS) ~ March 28, 1905


Kentucky Mother Killed Them So She Could Marry Again.

Paducah, Ky., March 28.— Mrs. Mary Brockwell whose three children, aged 3, 4 and 5 years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances last Saturday, today broke down and confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman said that her husband was in an asylum and that she could not support the children. She also stated that George Albertson [sic] promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Albertson was arrested as an accessory.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ March 28, 1905


Mrs. Brockwell’s Confession Implicates George Albritton.

Tells How She Made Them Drink the Poison—Will Plead Insanity.

The poisoning of the three little daughters of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of Ashbrook avenue, Mechanicsburg, and the mother’s confession yesterday afternoon that she administered morphine in coal oil for the purpose of getting rid of them, have created the most profound sensation that Paducah has known in many a year.

Feeling is bitter in some respects against the cruel, inhuman mother, and against the man she alleges influenced her to take the lives of her own children. But this is a community that believes in letting the law take its course in such matters and there has never been the slightest danger of mob violence, despite the reports that have been circulated freely to the contrary; neither was there ever the slightest necessity for thinking of sending the two prisoners away for safe keeping.

Excitement has now about died out, even in the locality where the crime was committed. The mother’s story about the man persuading her to poison the children is believed by many but not by everyone. He may have told her that she had to get rid of three of the children before he would marry her and take care of her, but it is doubtful if he advised her to poison them.

One theory is that when he made his proposition to marry her if she got rid of the three children she made several ineffectual attempts to get the children in the Home of the Friendless, and finally failing, decided in a fit of desperation to poison them.

It is likely that the woman’s plea will be temporary insanity. She will no doubt find many to believe she is crazy, for her act was so atrociously unnatural and heartless that many people cannot conceive how any mother clothed in her right mind could have steeled herself up to the point of committing it. And it is not understood how a mother in her right mind would have committed the deed in such a bungling manner, and then afterwards confessed to it.

But her defense will no doubt be insanity. Today the jail has been visited by many people anxious to get a glimpse of the prisoners.

A picture of the woman was taken this morning, but George Albritton, her alleged accomplice, declined to pose. The woman seems to take the whole awful affair with stolid, ignorant indifference.

She is the first white woman arrested in McCracken county for murder in many a year. It is not known just exactly for how long, as no records of the last one tried could be found at the court house.

Deputy Clerk Kidd, however, remembers when a white woman was tried and acquitted—years ago of a murder charge. Judge Randall was circuit judge and Attorney Sam Crossland commonwealth’s attorney. As her name could not be recalled the year of the trial could not consequently be ascertained. She was the last ever tried here.

The Trial.

From present indications the trial of both Mrs. Brockwell and Albritton will not be held before Monday, certainly not before Friday, the detectives asking for that much time in getting up all the evidence.

Mrs. Brockwell and Albritton have been the object of much curiosity and hundreds have visited the jail today to see them.

Others Implicated.

The authorities announce this morning that they have investigated the woman’s reputation and character and say she is unchaste and had been leading an immoral life. They have the names of other men who admit they had been calling on the woman. These men will all be brought into court and every particle of evidence possible to secure introduced.

The Case.

To review the case briefly, Mrs. Brockwell, the wife of Plenn Brockwell, a farmer originally, but of late a mill hand, who is now in the asylum, who has been struggling since the absence of her husband to support her family of four children. She lived in a two-room house at 337 Ashbrook avenue, and took in washing. From time to time she had a boarder and among them was George Albritton, whom she implicates in her written confession in the murder of her little ones. Friday evening directly after supper when two men called in to see her, the children became ill and Dr. Carl N. Sears was summoned. He called Dr. J. W. Pendley in consultation, and later Drs. J. S. Troutman and Johnston Bass were called. All three of the children were found to be poisoned, but too far gone for the doctors to do any good, death resulting within fourteen hours, the last dying about 8 o’clock Saturday morning. It was claimed by the mother that cabbage containing poison had been sold her and all cabbage of the lot she bought from was taken and cut open for analysis. Theory after theory was advanced and the stomachs of the dead children had in the meantime been taken to Louisville for an analysis.
Detectives T. J. Moore and Will Baker were put on the case and and worked incessantly, their efforts finally being crowned Monday afternoon by a voluntary confession from Mrs. Brockwell. She was placed in a cab immediately after the confession, brought to the county jail and locked up.

The Confession.

Detectives Moore and Baker, who secured the confession from the mother, worked hard on the case. Mrs. Brockwell finally broke down under the strain and admitted all.

“I killed my children because I could not take care of them and saw no way out of it. I had been boarding George Albritton and he promised me if I got rid of three of my children, he would marry me,” she told the detective, “but I did not consider the matter at first. My father-in-law, Pink Brockwell, of near Gilbertsville, Marshall county, has come to the city several times of late and threatened my life, and this, with the leaving of Albritton, who contributed by his payment of board to the support of myself and little ones, completely upset me, and after he had been away more than two weeks, I saw he did not intend returning unless I did away with three of my little ones, and so I gave them morphine. I bought the drug at Vize’s drug store about 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, securing ten cents worth from Dr. Vize, the proprietor, and we ate supper about 5:30. Directly after supper my little ones began coughing and I secured some coal oil which I gave them to ease their throats. I placed the morphine in the coal oil, because Albritton told me it meant a painless death, and you know the rest.”

With this the woman dropped her head and remained silent. She admitted the confession in the presence of witnesses and was then conveyed to the jail from the home of Constable A. C. Shelton, about two squares from Mrs. Brockwell’s house, where the mother had been kept since the tragedy.

Albritton Arrested.

Detective Will Baker, imediately after the woman was taken to jail, started out after Albritton and apprehended him on the Hoverkamp farm about four miles out on the Benton road. Albritton was working when arrested and took his seizure with great surprise. He is a young farm hand, only 21 years of age, of honest face and manner.

“My name is George Albritton, and I am from Hickman, Fulton county, Ky.,” he stated to a reporter, “and have been working about Paducah about a year. I have been in Paducah only about two months—this when I worked at the mills and boarded at Mrs. Brockwell’s house. I deny that I asked her or in any way suggested the killing of her children, but did three weeks ago quit boarding at her home because it took all the money I made to support the family and I told her this when I left. I explained to her that I would have to quit and three weeks ago Sunday left her house and have never been in conversation with her since. I will not deny that I have lived with Mrs. Brockwell as I would a wife, but I am not the only person who did, and she thinks more of several fellows than of me.”

Albritton talks freely and impresses all with his apparent honesty.

The Woman’s Answer.

When told of Albritton’s story, Mrs. Brockwell denied that she had acted in any way indiscreet with him, but says he did ask her to rid herself of three of her infants and he would marry her—would, moreover, furnish the money for a divorce. She failed to state why he wanted three killed and not all of the children. She stated that his leaving her house and the poverty she was thrown into by having to work harder to put bread into the mouths of her little ones, caused her much mental anguish and completely upset her—so much so that she bought the drug and administered it to her babies. She says she is addicted to the use of chewing tobacco and snuff and at times had [sic] a lapse of memory when she cannot remember anything, and thinks she was irresponsible when she administered the drug, although she can remember everything connected with the poisoning, even the fact that the children turned over, scratched their necks and thought something was biting them. She says her daughter Hazel heard on one occasion Albritton ask her to do away with three of her children.

Had No Preference.

“No, I had no preference, and had I have had any more morphine than what I thought was enough to kill the three of my little ones, I would have administered it to Hazel, my living child, and myself, too.” Mrs. Brockwell declared when asked why she selected the oldest child to live, “I do not love Albritton, but thought if he would marry me, I might have to work less. I love my husband, but he is in the asylum and cannot help support the family.”

Dr. B. T. Hall’s Story.

Dr. B. T. Hall, the minister-physician, has been acquainted with Mrs. Brockwell since she was born, having attended her mother at the birth of Mrs. Brockwell. He gives her a good name, but thinks she is very ignorant, possibly mentally unbalanced. Mrs. Brockwell’s maiden name was Mary Fletcher, of Symsonia, Graves county. She is the daughter of Pat Fletcher, and is 29 years old. She married young—12 years ago—and had been living in Paducah about three years. She married Plenny Brockwell, a celebrated watermelon raiser of Graves county, who left farming and came to Paducah to work in mills three years ago. He became mentally unbalanced and went to the asylum several months ago. Since that time the wife struggled along to support herself and family and was often the object of local charity. Dr. Hall stated that he did not recognize her at first, when he was present Saturday at the autopsy, but on leaving she spoke to him and he recognized her.

“You may say that she is a woman of good morals, or had been so until she reached Paducah,” Dr. Hall stated, “but I do not consider her very bright—in fact she is a little below the average in intelligence. She came of good people, however, and the affair is a surprise to me.”

Dr. Vize Denies.

Detective Moore and Baker visited the Vize drug store in Mechanicsburg Saturday morning and asked if any drug had been purchased by the Brockwell woman, or any other person, and the proprietor denied that there had been. In fact he had no record of the sale alleged to have been made to Mrs. Brockwell, and when she was being taken to the jail in a cab yesterday afternoon was taken by the drug store and confronted by the druggist.

“Do you know this woman?” Detective Moore asked Dr. Vize.

“I don’t believe I do,” was the reply, but he had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth when Mrs. Brockwell spoke to him, and when asked if she recognized him, replied that it was Dr. Vize.

“Did you sell Mrs. Brockwell any drug of any kind on Friday afternnon about two o’clock, or at any time in the afternoon?” the pharmacist was asked, to which he replied in the negative.

“Mrs. Brockwell,” the detective asked, turning to the woman, “Did you buy anything from Dr. Vize on Friday afternoon, and if so state what it was.”

“I bought ten cents worth of morphine from Dr. Vize on Friday afternoon about two o’clock, I think it was,” she answered, and with that the cab was driven off to take her to jail.

The officers have thus far secured no evidence that Mrs. Brockwell bought the poison of Dr. Vize, except her own statement, and Dr. Vize denies it.
Albritton’s Career.

Albritton came from Hickman, Ky., and for the past year has been working about farms in the county, being employed last by Mr. Henry Hoverkamp. He says he lived with Mrs. Brockwell about one month and she always seemed to be a sensible woman who cared for all her children alike, although she did not take much pains to keep them clean. He stated that he had never been in jail before and this was the first trouble of any kind he was ever in.

Wants to Go to Funeral.

“They promised to take me down and let me see my babies today, but they have not done so yet,” said Mrs. Mary Brockwell to a Sun reporter this morning.

“Do you expect to go to the funeral?”

“I want to go to the funeral. It is my desire to see them laid away.”

At this juncture the prisoner’s eyes became moist, and she was on the verge of bursting into tears, when two ladies appeared in the jail reception room, where she sat. Mrs. Brockwell placed her hand over her eyes and did not remove it until they left.

Mrs. Brockwell stated this morning that she wanted to see her dead babies and would like to attend the funeral if permitted. She also wants to dispose of everything she has in her house and buy a nice dress and her wishes will doubtless be carried out.

Mrs. Brockwell has been visited today by many ladies, but will talk little, covering her face when they approach her. In talking to men she is different, however, and can talk without emotion.

This afternoon Detectives Baker and Moore are with the mother again securing additional evidence against others said to be implicated in the matter.

The authorities have not decided whether or not to allow her to attend the funeral.

Hazel Brockwell Located.

Last night the whereabouts of Hazel, the only living child of the inhuman mother, could not be located, but this morning Constable Shelton found her and carried her to his home in Mechanicsburg. She will be detained at his home for the purpose of a witness, but it is understood the Charity club has secured a good home for her.

The little girl denies that she ever heard Albritton make any promises to her mother in the way of marriage, and denies that she heard him say he would marry her if she would get rid of three of her children. Mrs. Brockwell, however, last night told a Sun reporter that her daughter Hazel did on one occasion hear Albritton make such a statement, and that this afternoon the secret service men will talk with the girl again and ascertain the facts, if possible.

The Sun’s Scoop.

The Sun scored a clean scoop on its afternoon contemporary yesterday afternoon, having the facts and material details of Mrs. Brockwell’s confession in its first and only edition. The Sun reporter was present when the confession was signed, of course. It takes but one edition for the Sun to give the news.


Richmond Times Dispatch (VA) ~ March 28, 1905


Paducah, March 27.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances Saturday, broke down today and confessed that she gave the children morphine and coal oil. The woman said that her husband was in an asylum and that she could not support the children. She also stated that George Albritton promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Albritton was arrested as an accessory.


Saint Paul Globe (MN) ~ March 28, 1905


Paducah, Ky., March 27.—Declaring that George Alberton promised to marry her if she would get rid of her three children, Mrs. Mary Brockwell confessed that she killed the little ones, aged 3, 4, and 5, by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman further stated that her husband was in an asylum and she could not support the children. Alberton has been arrested as an accessory. Last Saturday night the three children died under suspicious circumstances.


Salt Lake Herald (UT) ~ March 28, 1905


Paducah, Ky., March 27.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children, aged 3, 4, and 5 years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances Saturday, today broke down and confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. She stated that George Alberton promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as an accessory.


New York Times (NY) ~ March 28, 1905


Mother Confesses and Implicates a Man—He Is Arrested.

Paducah, Ky., March 27.‚Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances on Saturday, confessed today that she gave them morphine and coal oil. Her husband was in an asylum and she could not support the children, she said, and George Alberton had promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as accessory.


Newark Advocate (OH) ~ March 28, 1905


Thinks Dr. Pendley, Who Will Try to Place Mrs. Brockwell in Asylum.

Louisville, Ky., March 28.—Dr. J. W. Pendley, the physician who brought the stomachs of the three Brockwell children from Paducah to this city for chemical analysis, when informed that the mother of the children has confessed administering the potion that caused their death, said:

“While it is a great shock to me, I maintained all the time that the children did [not] die from ptomaine poison in the cabbage, as was the contention of many.

“It was an unnatural crime, and don’t see how the woman could have been in her right mind to have committed such a deed.

“The three little girls were all beautiful and perfectly formed, and it makes the heart sick to think that the soul of a mother could become so depraved as to kill her own offspring in such a manner.

“The family were often forced to call upon charitable institutions for help, the father, Lenny Brockwell, being confined in the asylum seven months ago. He became insane on the subject of religion. For some time Mrs. Brockwell has been keeping a boarding house for laborers. Two of her boarders were young fellows by the names of Burke and Powers, who were said to have been on intimate terms with her.

“I can’t help but believe the woman is mentally unbalanced, and I shall use my influence to have her sent to the asylum. If she has confessed I shall defend her every way in my power.

“I have paid Dr. Vernon Robins $100 for the analysis of the stomachs which will take him three days to complete.”

Dr. Pendley is county physician of McCracken county, and returned to Paducah last night.


Hartford Herald (KY) ~ March 29, 1905

Paducah Woman Kills Three Children

Paducah, Ky., March 27.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children, aged three, four and five years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances last Saturday, today confessed she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman said her husband was in the asylum, and she could not support the children. She also said George Alberton promised to marry her if she got rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as an accessory.


Racine Daily Journal (WI) ~ March 28, 1905


Poisoned Daughters ~ Suggestion of Man Who Would Wed Her

Paducah, Ky., March 28.—There is believed to be danger of lynching Mrs. Mary Brockwell, aged 29 years, who admitted that she poisoned her three little daughters, and George Abritton, the youth who, she says, proposed to marry her if she would do so. Both were arraigned in police court today and remanded until Monday. Mrs. Brockwell says that suffering and inability to find homes for her children drove her mad and that she did not know what she was doing. Albritton denies any knowledge of the murder.


Trenton Times (NJ) ~ March 28, 1905


Paducah, Ky., March 28.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children died in agony last Saturday after a sudden and mysterious attack, has confessed that she poisoned the little ones with morphine and kerosene. She said that George Alberton had promised to marry her if she got rid of the chidren.
Mrs. Brockwell’s husband is living, a religious maniac, in an asylum, and the woman would have added bigamy to murder if she had married Alberton. She is in jail, charged with murder, and Alberton is under arrest as an accessory.

The children are Lucy, [Lila?] and Ola, aged respectively eleven, five and two years. The mother did not attempt the life of Nellie, her fourteen year old daughter, because she thought the girl was too clever to take the poison.
The confession was brought about by Peter Brockwell, [?] brother of Mrs. Brockwell’s husband before the report on an autopsy now under way at Louisville [...?] [Last paragraph not readable]


Los Angeles Herald (CA) ~ March 29, 1905



Kentucky Woman Pleads Insanity Through Suffering and Inability to Find Homes for Her Daughters

Paducah, Ky., March 28.—There is believed to be danger of the lynching of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, aged 29 years, who admitted that she poisoned her three little daughters, and of George Albritton, the youth who, she says, proposed to marry her if she would commit the crime. Both were arraigned today and remanded.

Mrs. Brockwell says that suffering and inability to find homes for her children drove her insane. Albritton denies any knowledge of the matter.


Fort Wayne Sentinel (IN) ~ March 29, 1905


Mob Spirit Rising Against a Kentucky Woman and Man She Would Wed

[rest of story essentially the same as Los Angeles Herald, March 29]


San Francisco Call (CA) ~ March 29, 1905


Woman Who Committed Crime to Wed and Youth Involved Stir Public Wrath.

Paducah, Ky., March 28.—There is believed to be danger of the lynching of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, aged 29 years, who admitted that she poisoned her three little daughters, and George Albritton, the youth who, she says, proposed to marry her if she would commit the crime. Both were arraigned today and remanded. Mrs. Brockwell says that suffering and inability to find homes for her children drove her insane. Albritton denies any knowledge of the tragedy.


London Daily Mail (London, England) ~ March 29, 1905

An astonishing tragedy is reported from Paducah in Kentucky, where a Mrs. Mary Brockwell has confessed that she killed her three daughters, aged eleven, five, and two, by poisoning them with morphine and kerosene and by making them eat cabbage poisoned by snakes.


Earlington Bee (KY) ~ March 30, 1905


Paducah Mother Says She Killed Her Three Babies With Poison.

Paducah, Ky., March 27.— Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children, aged 3, 4 and 5 years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances last Saturday, today confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman said that her husband was in an asylum and that she could not support the children. She also stated that George Alberton promised to marry her if she would get rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as an accessory.


Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) ~ March 30, 1905


Admits the Murder of Her Three Children.

Paducah, Ky., March 29.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, aged 29 years, yesterday admitted poisoning her three little daughters. She was arraigned in court with George Albritton, the youth who she says promised to marry her if she would do so. Both were remanded until Monday.

Mrs. Brockwell says that suffering and inability to find homes for her children drove her mad and that she did not know what she was doing. Albritton denies any knowledge of the matter.


Kentucky New Era (KY) ~ March 31, 1905

[courtesy of Megan Petersen]

Mother Accused Of the Murder of Her Three Children

The Father Is An Inmate of the Western Asylum

Three little girls aged three, four and nine years respectively, daughters of Klenny [Plenny] Brockwell, are dead at Paducah and their mother is accused of murdering them by placing poison in cabbage they ate for supper.

Mrs. Brockwell, the mother, and Hazel Brockwell, an older sister of the dead children, aged eleven, the only surviving members of the family, say that the three ate heartily of cabbage which was prepared at the evening meal served at 5:30 o’clock Friday afternoon.

Mrs. Brockwell and Hazel say that the cabbage tasted bitter and they ate but little of it.

Saturday night ‘’Pink’’ Brockwell, a brother of Mrs. Brockwell’s insane husband, forced his way into the home of her cousin, Levy Gamblin, at No. 134 Clemmens Avenue, where she had taken refuge from the hundreds of curious neighbors who flocked to her home, and, after accusing her of poisoning the three children, threatened to being a mob to lynch her.

The deaths of the three Brockwell children were due to poisoning.

This was the unanimous decision reached by half a dozen of the most prominent physicians of Paducah, who were with them when they died, and the police are now trying to run down the person or persons responsible for the crime.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell is twenty-eight years of age and has lived at the Ashbrook Avenue address for three years. Less than one year ago her husband, Plenny Brockwell, became insane as the result of intense religious zeal, and was sent to the Western Kentucky Asylum for the Insane.

According to one story relatives of the father of the family have been endeavoring to take the children away from Mrs. Brockwell, on account of her extreme poverty.

When the children’s grandfather, Mr. Brockwell, of Gilbertsville, asked to take the children, the mother declared:

“We will all starve together. They shall not take my children.’’

The stomachs of the children have been taken to Louisville for chemical analysis.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ April 1, 1905

The police report for March shows 191 arrests, quite an increase. Three of these arrests were for murder, Mrs. Brockwell and George Albritton, and Martin Patterson, the latter a negro who killed George Macklin. The arrests were for the following offenses: Breach of the peace, 56; drunk, 24; fugitive, 5; forgery, 1; selling liquor to minor, 1; breach of ordinance, 8; vagrancy, 3; petty larceny, 5; disorderly conduct, 16; violating Sabbath, 3; obtaining money under false pretenses, 4; immorality, 6; murder, 3; flourishing a pistol, 2; trespass, 3; malicious cutting, 4; malicious assault, 1; drunk and disorderly, 11; shoplifting, 1; peace warrant, 2; selling liquor without license, 3; housebreaking, 5; disorderly house, 9; bench warrant, 3; false swearing, 2; grand larceny, 2; carrying concealed weapon, 5; using insulting language, 2; selling cocaine, 1; total, 191.


Adair County News (Columbia, Kentucky) ~ April 5, 1905

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who poisoned three of her children to gain a husband, at Paducah last week, sets the plea of insanity. Such insanes should be roped.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ April 5, 1905


Dr. M. M. Smith Comes to Make Phrenological Study.

Says Medical Profession and Criminologists All Over the World Will Be Interested in Case.


Dr. M. M. Smith, of Whiteville, Tenn., returned home this morning after a visit to Paducah for the purpose of making a phrenological examination of Mrs. Mary Blackwell, the woman in jail for poisoning her three children. Dr. Smith is a prominent physician, and father of Mr. Auber Smith, of the C. E. Jennings real estate agency here, and of Mr. Lothair Smith, of the Equitable Life Insurance society of Louisville, but formerly of Paducah.

He came to Paducah to make the investigation of the Brockwell case solely in the interest of science and to satisfy his own desire for knowledge.

He said while here that it is one of the most remarkable cases in the annals of criminology, although the people of Paducah do not seem to realize it. The case has attracted far more attention among the doctors of Tennessee, he declared, than it has among those here in Paducah, and the medical profession all over the United States and even in London has become interested in the murder.

The reason of this is that the crime is almost unprecedented. Dr. Smith says that mothers have often been known to kill themselves or others for the sake of their children, and have even been known in fits of passion or of insanity to kill one of their own offspring, but for a mother to deliberately poison three children, Dr. Smith says, is something that is most unusual, if not wholly unprecedented, and doctors all over the world will as soon as they learn of it take a great interest in the case.

Dr. Smith while here called at the jail and examined the woman’s head. He is an expert phrenologist, and by locating and examining the elevations and depressions on Mrs. Brockwell’s cranium, better known as “bumps,” one can get a good idea not only of her disposition, intelligence, and good traits, but of her sanity as well.

He made a careful examination, but did not give out a report of what he found, before he left the city. In fact, he will have to make comparisons, etc., before he is ready to report on the case.

It is likely that he will find that he has not taken his trouble in vain, for when the case becomes more generally known, there will be a great demand for just the information he has taken the trouble to come here and obtain.

It is said that one thing that was very evident without much of an examination, however, is that Mrs. Brockwell is of inferior intelligence, even if entirely sane.

The grand jury has heard a number of witnesses in the Brockwell case, but has not finished, and will take up the case again this afternoon.

It is understood that Albritton will not be indicted with her, as there is no evidence, practically, against him.


Berea Citizen (KY) ~ April 6, 1905


It Is Feared the Colored Woman May Be Lynched.

Paducah, Ky., March 28.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell, whose three children, aged 3, 4 and 5 years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances, broke down and confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil. The woman said that her husband was in an asylum and she could not support the children. She also said that George Alberton promised to marry her if she got rid of the children. Alberton was arrested as an accessory.
Mrs. Brockwell is now trying to claim she remembers little about the poisoning. She says privation, destitution and suffering during the cold months have made her crazy. She is a native of Symsonia, Graves county, and, while attractive looking, is of inferior intelligence.

Paducah, Ky., March 31.—The police are losing faith in Mrs. Mary Brockwell, the confessed murderess of three of her children. In the latest statement she says Jerry Tubbs, a cousin of George Albritton, also persuaded her to poison her children.


Crittenden Press (Marion, Kentucky) ~ April 6, 1905


Crowds in Paducah Court Room to See Woman Who Killed Her Babes.
Paducah, Ky., April 3.—The cases against Mrs. Mary Brockwell for poisoning her three children, and George Albritton, for being an accessory, were today called in police court and turned over to the grand jury, which convened today.

An immense crowd was on hand to see the prisoner.

The morbid crowd at Oak Grove cemetery yesterday to see the burial of the children numbered fully 6,000, and the damage to the cemetery from trampling feet is estimated at several thousand dollars.


McCook Tribune (NE) ~ April 7, 1905

Mrs. Mary Brockwell of Paducah, Ky., whose three children, aged 3, 4 and 5 years, died from poisoning under suspicious circumstances, broke down and confessed that she killed them by giving them morphine and coal oil.


Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) ~ April 11, 1905

Life Sentence.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of Paducah, Ky., who poisoned her three small children, will probably be sentenced this week to life imprisonment in the penitentiary, her attorneys and the attorney for the Commonwealth having reached an agreement to this effect.


Springfield Sun (KY) ~ April 12, 1905

[courtesy Megan Petersen]

Attended Funeral

Did Mother of Her Three Children Whom She Had Killed With Poison

Sympathy With Her

Paducah, Ky., April 4 - The three Brockwell children who were poisoned by their mother, according to her confession, were to-day laid to rest in Oak Grove cemetery.

Three white caskets held the bodies of the little ones. The caskets were made especially for them and each was deposited in a separate grave. The original plan was to bury the children in one casket in the same grave. A lot was purchased with money donated by the citizens. There is some left and with additional subscriptions a monument will be erected on the lot.

Two white hearses, one bearing two of the caskets, carried the remains to the cemetery. White horses drew the hearses and the cortege was almost a mile long. Flowers were numerous. The local florists had to send out of town to fill all the orders. The caskets were buried in beautiful blossoms, and it is estimated that $300 was spent for them.

Rev. Mr. Newell delivered a beautiful, simple oration, making brief mention of how the children came to their death. Mrs. Brockwell, the mother and self-confessed poisoner of the dead children, attended the services under guard.

At the graves the ceremony was short. Such a crowd surrounded the graves that the people had to be kept back by men selected for the purpose. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 people attended the funeral. The caskets were not opened at the church or cemetery.

Tomorrow morning the examining trial of Mrs. Brockwell and George Albritton, her alleged accomplice, will begin. Albritton will be carefully guarded, as he has been threatened with lynching and burning at the stake.
Sympathy is with the woman and she is in no danger. Hazel, the surviving child, will be a star witness. It is claimed by the mother that Hazel one night overheard Albritton suggest the heinous crime. Extra policemen will be on duty in the police court to preserve order.

(same paper, next column over)

Given a Life Term

Mrs. Brockwell Will Be Given a Life Sentence For the Murder of Her Three Children

Paducah, Ky., April 8 - Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who, March 24, murdered her three small children, will probably be given a sentence of life imprisonment in the penitentiary. The attorneys for Mrs. Brockwell and the Commonwealth’s Attorney have agreed on this, and next week sentence will be passed upon the murderess, and she will immediately be taken to the penitentiary at Frankfort.

George Albritton, the young man who Mrs. Brockwell said was an accomplice in the murder of the children, and who, she claimed, suggested that she poison the children, was released from the county jail this morning. The grand jury, finding no evidence upon which to indict him, voted as a whole to liberate him. Mrs. Brockwell was today indicted by the grand jury on three separate counts charging her with willful murder. It is now believed that there will be no other indictments in connection with the murder, as the story of Mrs. Brockwell that someone told her to poison the children is not credited.

The attorneys for the prosecution think that the murder of the children was deliberately planned by the mother for many days, as Hazel Brockwell gave testimony to that effect to Commonwealth’s Attorney Lovett and County Attorney Graves Friday afternoon. Hazel said that her mother came to her on Thursday afternoon, the day previous to the murder, while Hazel was playing with the baby, and asked her what she would do if the baby should die, and if she would care much. Hazel replied that she would never get over the shock if the child, which was her pet, died.


Earlington Bee (KY) ~ April 13, 1905

Mother Indicted for Poisoning Her Children.

Paducah, Ky., April 8.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell was today indicted on three counts for poisoning her three children. George Albritton, her alleged accomplice, was exonerated by the grand jury and released.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ April 14, 1905


Mrs. Brockwell Pleads Guilty and Gets Life Sentence.

Motion for a New Trial to Be Acted On at the September Term, After Inquiry As to Sanity.


Mrs. Mary Brockwell yesterday afternnon about 4:30 o’clock in circuit court pleaded guilty through her attorneys to the murder of her youngest daughter, Lillie, aged 3 years and was sentenced to the penitentiary for life, the jury endorsing the verdict without leaving its seats. This was a mere formality preliminary to testing her sanity. Her sanity is in question, and her attorneys, as stated yesterday, filed a motion for a continuance of the case when the case was called yesterday morning. The affadavit was ready in the afternoon at 4:30 o’clock when the case was called, but the objection of the prosecution to a continuance was so strong that the prisoner’s attorneys finally agreed to let their client plead guilty and have her sentenced, on condition that motion for a new trial be filed and set for argument at the September term of court, so the question of her sanity may be settled in the meantime.

The woman will be examined by experts, and if she is found to be insane, or to possess a homicidal mania, the fact will be brought out at the argument in September for a new trial. If she is found by experts to be sane, the motion for a new trial will be overrruled and she will be taken to Frankfort.
Mrs. Brockwell stood the ordeal of being sentenced well, shedding a few tears but otherwise being unmoved. She was tried on only one of the three indictments. She will now remain in jail until September term of court and in the meantime steps will be taken to determine the condition of her mind.
The final action in the case yesterday was satisfcatory to both sides, the prosecution not having to consent to a continuance, and the defense being given an opportunity to prove insanity.


Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) ~ April 15, 1905

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of Paducah, who murdered her three children, pleaded guilty to the crime, and by agreement of attorneys was sentenced to life imprisonment.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ April 19, 1905

The motion for a new trial in the case against Mrs. Mary Brockwell, given a life sentence for killing her three children, was filed this afternoon and continued until the September term of court.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell Ready to Break Down Under the Strain

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, alleged murderess, who calmly administered morphine to her three children to get them out of her way, has at last broken down and is forced to lie in her bunk at the jail day and night, now being unable to sit up.

Yesterday afternoon late Mrs. Brockwell was seized by a nervous attack, or rigor, to which she has been subject all her life, she says, and County Physician Pendley had to be called. He found her completely broken down and in a deplorable condition. He gave her medicines to ease her and this morning she was better, but still unable to leave her bed.

She stated today that two men having an altercation got her nervous and caused her to collapse. A trusty and prisoner had a quarrel near her cell yesterday but it is thought the constant strain on her mind of thinking of her crime, is really what has upset her.


Richmond Climax (KY) ~ April 19, 1905


Mrs. Brockwell Will Be Given a Life Sentence.

Paducah, Ky., April 14.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell was arraigned in the McCracken circuit court. Her attorneys argued for continuance. After three hours’ deliberation by the lawyers at 5 p.m. she came into court and pleaded guilty to willful murder. By agreement of her attorneys and the commonwealth she was given a life sentence in the Frankfort penitentiary.


Earlington Bee (KY) ~ April 20, 1905


Inhuman Mother at Paducah, Ky., Is Given a Life Sentence In Prison.
Paducah, Ky., April 15.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell was arraigned for poisoning her three children three weeks ago. Her attorneys wanted a continuance to prove she is insane, but the motion was overruled. She then pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison for life.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ April 20, 1905

Mrs. Brockwell Better.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell is still in a nervous condition, and is mentally suffering a great deal, County Physician Pendley thinks.

She has not improved much since seized by the attack of nervousness two days ago, but Dr. Pendley thinks her condition is not serious. Few visitors come to see her now and her confinement seems to be having a more depressing effect.


Richmond Climax (KY) ~ April 26, 1905

Motion For a New Trial.

Paducah, April 21.—The motion for a new trial of Mrs. Mary Brockwell under life sentence for the murder of her three little daughters, was continued by Judge Reed in the circuit court until the next term of court on the grounds of probably insanity.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ June 15, 1905

$50 PAID

For Analyzing Stomach of Mrs. H. T. Hessig.

Prof. H. D. Sullivan, master of science at the Paducah High school, this morning received his pay for analyzing the stomach of Mrs. Ida Hessig. He received $50 which is less than paid experts who analyzed the Brockwell stomachs in Louisville.

Since the labratory [sic] was installed in the High school and an expert scientist placed in charge, it is not necessary that any work be sent away, and the result can be determined quicker here.

It is presumed that the county will hereafter have all such work done here which will be a great deal cheaper and will at the same time encourage work of this kind in the schools.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ August 22, 1905


It Has Not Been Decided Not to Try Mrs. Brockwell for Lunacy.

Attorney Hal S. Corbett states that the publication in another paper saying that the attorneys had agreed to let Mrs. Brockwell take a life sentence for killing three babies instead of testing her sanity, was unauthorized and was news to him.

Attorney Corbett, with Attorneys Wheeler Campbell and C. C. Grassham, are acting for Mrs. Brockwell, and a conference was to be held this week to take some action towards having her sanity tested. Attorney Corbett states that two reputable physicians say she is undoubtedly insane and if she is, she will be placed in the asylum. He stated that he had held no consultation and that the report of the alleged decision was erroneous.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ August 28, 1905

There are now 33 prisoners in the county jail, five of them women. Two of the women are white, Mrs. Mary Brockwell, charged with murder, and Bertha Lassiter, charged with passing a counterfeit bill.

The Brockwell Case.

Attorney Hal S. Corbett this morning stated that the defense in the case of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who is in jail for killing her three babes, has not taken any definite steps towards securing experts to test her sanity, but would be ready with a defense by the time the case was called in circuit court. Mrs. Brockwell was given a life sentence on pleading guilty, but her attorneys were confident that she was insane and allowed her to plead guilty only upon condition that she be tried for insanity. The first steps will be to show that her mind is affected and that she is entitled to a new trial and when the new trial is given, if this be the case, the plea of insanity will be made.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ September 1, 1905


Two For Murder—Other Cases Have to Be Investigated by the Grand Jury.
The criminal docket of the McCracken circuit court contains a total of 90 cases.

Of these ninety cases there are only two for murder in which indictments have been found, and the cases set for trial. Rufe Neece, colored, who killed a negro named Ingram on the Benton road, will be tried, and also will Willis Mount, who killed Willis Nutty, a jockey.

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who was given a life sentence for killing her three babies, will be before the court, probably for a test of her sanity.

[rest of story not copied]


LaCrosse Tribune (WI) ~ September 6, 1905


Paducah, Ky., Sept. 6.—Mrs. Mary Brockwell who killed her three children by poisoning was sentenced to life imprisonment this morning.


Newark Advocate (OH) ~ September 6, 1905


Paducah, Ky., Sept. 6.—Judge Reed sentenced Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who killed three children by poisoning, to life imprisonment today.


Logansport Journal (IN) ~ September 7, 1905


Paducah, Ky., Sept. 6.—Circuit Judge Reed today sentenced Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who killed her three children by poisoning, to life imprisonment.


Earlington Bee (KY) ~ September 7, 1905


Given Life Sentence at Paducah for Murder of Children.

Paducah, Ky., Sept. 5.—Judge W. M. Reed, of the Circuit Court, this afternoon overruled a motion for a new trial, and passed a sentence of life imprisonment upon Mary Brockwell for the murder of her three daughters, and she will be taken to the Frankfort penitentiary in three weeks.

Mrs. Brockwell was convicted at the April term of court and a life sentence fixed by the jury. Motion for a new trial was made, and Judge Reed withheld decision until today as attorneys wanted to examine her for insanity. Nothing developed indicating insanity, and the motion was overruled.

Mrs. Brockwell’s crime was one of the most shocking ever committed in Western Kentucky. She deliberately murdered three of her little daughters by giving them morphine in coal oil last March, telling them it was medicine.


Owingsville Outlook (KY) ~ September 14, 1905


Woman Confessed That She Killed Her three Babes.

Paducah, Ky., Sept. 7.—Circuit Judge Wm. Reed has sentenced to life imprisonment Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who murdered her three children by poisoning. She confessed at the last April term, and later moved for a new hearing to plead insanity, but her lawyer Wednesday decided to let her go to the penitentiary. After Judge Reed finished she said: “It is too long a term.” He replied that the jury fixed it and he could not change the sentence.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ October 3, 1905

Sheriff Lee Potter did not take Mrs. Brockwell and the other female prisoner to Frankfort today owing to the rush of business in his office.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ November 13, 1905


Officers of the Home of the Friendless, It Is Understood, Desire to Keep Her.
From present indications there is to be a fight over the custody of Hazel Brockwell, daughter of Mrs. Mary Brockwell who is now serving a life sentence in prison for murdering her three babes.

The child is now in the Home of the Friendless and her grand parents, who live in the county, have taken a great liking for the girl and desire to adopt her. The officers of the Home of the Friendless it is reported, desire the girl to remain at that institution a little longer and expect then to place her in an excellent home, and one better, they think, and offering more advantages.
The grand parents desire possession of the girl and made application to adopt her. The case was to have been tried today before Judge Lightfoot but on account of his absence from the city will probably be deferred until he returns or else the attorney for the grand parents, D. A. Cross, will go before a magistrate and have the case tried.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ November 28, 1905


To Get Possession of Mrs. Brockwell’s Daughter—An Appeal Taken.

County Judge R. T. Lightfoot this morning appointed F. G. Rudolph, public guardian, guardian for Hazel Brockwell, daughter of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, who is serving a life sentence in the state prison for the murder of her three children.

Pink Brockwell and wife, grandparents of the girl, desired to take her out of the Home of the Friendless and adopt her and made a motion to be appointed guardian for the girl. Judge Lightfoot heard the argument and evidence this morning and overruled the motion, appointing Mr. Rudolph the guardian.
The grandparents through their attorney then took an appeal to the circuit court on the action of the lawyer court, hoping to still secure the child.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ January 26, 1906

Asked About His Wife.

Pleny Brockwell, husband of Mrs. Mary Brockwell, given a life sentence here for poisoning her three children, is in the Hopkinsville asylum and according to Patrol Driver John Austin, who took Parrish Jones to Hopkinsville a few days ago, Brockwell seems to be regaining his reason and asked about his wife poisoning their three children, and if it was true that she was given a life sentence. He has been in the asylum two years. He also asked about his child Hazel, who has a good home here.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ March 28, 1906


The following is a copy of a letter Mrs. Mary Brockwell wrote to Dr. B. T. Hall, the old family physician, several days ago from the Frankfort penitentiary, where she is serving a life sentence for poisoning 3 of her 4 children. It was deciphered with the greatest difficulty, and then all of it could not be read, as the writing is very bad, and the spelling almost unintelligible. Mrs. Brockwell seems to want to hear something of her daughter, Hazel, who was taken to the Home of the Friendless here. The letter reads as follows:

March 8, 1906

Mr. Hall,
Dear Kind Friend—I set myself to drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. Am not very well at present. I hope the few lines will find you well and enjoying best of health. I thought I would write a few lines to you to see if you would tell me anything about how my little girl is getting along. I have wrote back there so many times to try to hear from my little girl. I can’t hear from her at all. I wish you would see about her. See how she is getting along and write to me about her and tell me where she is at. Now, Mr. Hall, I take you to be a good friend to me because you have been one ever since I was a little girl and was doctor in my mother’s family. You told me anything I thought you could do for me to let you know and I thought of you today, and thought I would write a letter to you and if you think you could do any thing for me, please see, and I would be glad to get your help. Now you no that I am far enough from my friends but I think of them all the time and think of my little girl too. I want to see her so bad. Mr. Hall, will you see about my little girl and write and tell me about her for I want to hear from her so bad. I have wrote to three or four [times] to see if I could hear from my little girl but can’t hear any thing at all about my little Hazel, for I think of my little girl all the time. Hazel is her name. And go to the Home of the Friendless and ask about little Hazel Brockwell. I hear that the matrons were going to change her name. Matrons are good to me here. Miss ———— is day matron here, and Miss ———— is night matron here, and she is a good little woman. Also Miss ———— is a good woman and is good to me. Mr. ———— is good to me. I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon.

I will ask you to pray for me. So good-night. Cell No. 20.


Paducah Sun (KY) ~ October 28, 1908


Native of Tennessee Is Survived by Wife and One Son—Funeral.

Mr. Pinkney Milburn Brockwell, 65 years old, died at 6 o’clock this morning at his home, 300 Powell street, Mechanicsburg, of catarrh of the stomach. Mr. Brockwell was a native of Tennessee. He is survived by his wife and one son. The funeral will be held tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock. The burial will be in Clark’s River cemetery, in Graves county.

[Note: This was father of Pleny Brockwell, father-in-law of Mary Brockwell, and grandfather of Hazel Brockwell. It was he and his wife who wanted to adopt her.]


Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) ~ November 15, 1917

Mrs. Mary Brockwell, of Paducah, who killed her three children while crazy from dope, has been paroled from the penitentiary, where she had been since 1905.


Last Update: July 17, 2011