THE MRS. THOMPSON TRAGEDY (1878)
On the evening of May 29, 1878, a fearful tragedy occurred in Springfield, which horrified the citizens at the time, and must ever be remembered with a shudder. The locality where the terrible event occurred, was the residence of W. H. Lawson, Esq., on East Walnut street, between South and Jefferson streets, and the actors were Mrs.
F. M. Thompson and Miss Nettle Thompson, mother and sister of Mrs. Lawson.
Mrs. Thompson cut her unmarried daughter's throat, and then committed suicide. The alarm was given and a number of citizens repaired to the scene. Those who first arrived say that when they entered the room one woman was lying on the bed in a pool of blood, and the other on the floor, each with her throat cut almost from ear to ear, and the blood still spurting from the ghastly wounds. The coroner and jury unite in asserting, that it was altogether the most horrible sight ever presented to their eyes.
Before the coroner's jury, Mr. W. C. Holland testified that he was going home, passing Dr. Clements' house, between half-past ten and eleven o'clock, when he heard the doorbell ringing at the scene of the tragedy, and going on, saw Mrs. Lawson standing on the steps of her house. She asked him to come in, when he inquired what was the matter, but she replied she could not tell him. He thought possibly that burglars were in the house, and hesitated for a moment, when Dr. Clements arrived, and the two went in together. Going into the parlor, Mrs. Lawson said that her mother had killed Nettle and then herself. The first intimation which Mrs. Lawson had had of the tragedy was hearing a strange gurgling noise, and the fall of a body on the floor. She thought it was her children; calling to them, and finding them all right, she went into her mother's room and found her and her sister, with their throats cut.
Dr. Clements testified that about six weeks previous he was called to see Mrs. Thompson, and learned that at times she could not sleep. She was an oldish-like lady, being something near fifty years of age, and at times was very nervous. He had seen her every day after that up to the time of the tragedy, two weeks prior to which she had another attack of melancholy, but had been better and eaten heartily. The day before her suicide the doctor saw her, and she seemed cheerful, talking and laughing as lively as a young girl. At near eleven o'clock he was called in by Mrs. Lawson, and found Nettle Thompson on the bed and Mrs. Thompson on the floor near the bed, in the terrible condition before described. Other witnesses testified to the same effect. The jury rendered their verdict in accordance with the above facts, further finding that the act was committed by Mrs. F. M. Thompson while laboring under temporary insanity, induced by recent sickness.
The instrument with which the deed was done was an old, dull and rusty razor, which one of the children had found in the cellar a few days before. The razor was found on the bed, seeming to have been thrown or dropped there by Mrs. Thompson. Some of the young lady's garments, lying in a chair near the bed, were marked with bloody streaks, showing that time razor had been wiped off before it was used the second time.
Miss Nettie Thompson was aged about sixteen, and was a young lady of much promise. The three ladies, with the children of Mrs. Lawson, were living alone in the house, Mr. W. H. Lawson being in St. Louis, where he is employed in business.
(History of Greene County, Westerm Historical Company, 1883)