Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Monday, February 25, 2008

Murder on Marble Row & the Andrus Murder Case

Last night, I told you all that I couldn't wait to get back to finishing up Victoria Thompson's Murder on Marble Row. It was a very engaging mystery in an historical setting. At the end of the book was a note on the author's inspiration for the book. It was an article in the New York Times from 1896 describing the bombing death of a wealthy man in his office. (I found the original article and linked to it.) Further articles reported the decision it was murder, the proposed inquest date, a report that there were no developments and lack of agreement between officials, an interim coroner's report stating he had not solved the case, and a report that the coroner's jury did not solve the mysterious death. The articles are about as fascinating as the book itself. In his will, he left an estate valued at about $200,000 to his wife. His brother John E. Andrus, died at age 93 in December 1934, leaving his estate to a charity he founded and to 10 family members. He was worth several million dollars at the time of his death. He had been president of Arlington Chemical Works where his brother Hamlin worked. They manufactured "peptonized foods." This appears to have been a method of making proteins more digestable for persons with who were ill or had "weak stomachs."

I located Hamlin's family in the 1880 Yonkers, Westchester Co., New York census. According to it, H. J. was a lawyer (age 31). This is a bit of a discrepancy if he was age 42 at the time of his death in 1896. I could not read the street name as it was very light, but he was residing at #64 on that street. According to the article describing his unfortunate demise, he resided at 68 Palisade Avenue in Yonkers. His wife in 1880 was Stella, age 25. He had a son Hiram, age 7; daughter Bonnie, age 2; and daughter Hattie, age 1. Two Irish servants, Catherine Jordan (age 28) and Mary Blye (age 19) were also residing in the household.

I located the family of John E. Andrus in the 1900 Yonkers, Westchester Co., New York census. John E. was born February 1841 in New York. His wife Mary was born in April 1847. Daughter Mary was born September 1871; son John E., Jr. in March 1883; son Hamilton F (other sources show his name as Hamlin F.) was born in March 1885; son Idea B. was born June 1887; daughter Helen W. was born August 1888. His mother Katherine was born in June 1821. Three servants were in the household--Cellia Butler who was born in New York to Irish parents in September 1867; Mary Mooney, an Irish woman who was born in May 1875; and Sina Nelson, a Norwegian woman born in July 1850.

This is an intriguing story, and I may have to spend a little more time tracking them down when I have time. There are a couple of things that don't initially appear to agree with the story regarding the relationship of Hamlin to John E. In the 1880 census, Hamlin lists his parents as having been born in Vermont. As nearly as I can tell in the 1900 census (it is quite light), it appears that John E. says his were born in Switzerland. Katherine (the mother) is listed though as having been born in New York, but she'd only been married for 18 years. Again, there are some discrepancies here that need further investigation.

I invite others to join me tracking down the Andrus family.

Sources consulted. (My apologies for possibly butchering the citations, but I don't have my copy of Evidence Explained with me at the moment. I think I'll get most of the correct info there.):

1880 U.S. Federal Census, population schedule, Yonkers, Westchester Co., New York, H. J. Andrus family, dwelling 270, family 470, sd 3, ed 134, p. 459A; NARA microfilm T9, roll 947;, accessed 25 February 2008.

1900 U.S. Federal Census, population schedule, Yonkers Ward 3, Westchester Co., New York, John E. Andrus family, dwelling 125, family 155, sd 3, ed 129, p. 10A (written) or p. 279A (stamped); NARA microfilm T623, roll 1177;, accessed 25 February 2008.

"The Andrus Inquest: Coroner's Jury Does Not Solve the Yonkers Bomb Mystery," New York Times, 14 November 1896, p. 6; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Andrus Inquest To-Day: There Is a Possibility, However, of Its Postponement," New York Times, 26 October 1896, p. 1; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Andrus Will Aids Charity He Began: 45 Per Cent of Estate Left to Surdna Foundation and Rest to 10 Relatives," New York Times, 5 January 1935, p. 13; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Coroner Miles at Sea: Admits That He Has Not Cleared Up the Andrus Mystery," New York Times, 28 October 1896, p. 2; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Man Shattered by a Bomb: Hamlin J. Andrus Killed in His Private Office," New York Times, 22 October 1896, p. 1; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Officials Still at Odds: Strong Feeling in Yonkers; No Arrests and Few Developments," New York Times, 27 October 1896, p. 1; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Was Deliberate Murder: Assassin of Mr. Andrus Carefully Laid His Plan," New York Times, 23 October 1896, p. 3; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

"Will of Hamlin J. Andrus," New York Times, 8 November 1896, p. 2; New York Times,, accessed 25 Feburary 2008.

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  • This is really fascinating, Lori - I have never heard of this case but you have inspired me to dig around a little bit. I'll let you know if I find anything you can use.

    Re the discrepancy in parental birthplaces - I know that there was some of this in my own family. In one case, one English-born family member confused the census taker (or whoever gave them the info) and other members would be listed as English-born. I have a ggg grandmother that family tradition insists was b in Scotland (with town specified) - both censuses have her b Ireland.

    By Blogger Laura, at 10:51 AM  

  • Hi Lori,
    I'm intrigued by your findings. I am currently working on a history for the NPS on an historic mining district in AK - one that John Andrus owned the majority of and Hamlin actually directed the work if the miners for nearly 15 years.

    I do not know much of their lives outside of mining, but it seems there was much that goes beyond what I have uncovered from their Alaska connections. I have found many discrepancies myself.

    If you are still seeking more info or would like to share, please let me know. Amanda

    check out:

    By Blogger myfriendamanda, at 6:31 PM  

  • Fascinating, Could it Be Hawthorne Avenue?

    By Blogger Sheryl, at 8:57 PM  

  • Interesting story. I stumbled upon this while reading about other members of this family. Also ran across a completely unexpected bit of information: Lindsay Davenport, the professional tennis player, is a direct descendant.

    By OpenID DrX, at 9:11 PM  

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