Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Google Alert makes my jaw drop - Part 3!!!

You can catch up on the story of the infamous Cordelia BOTKIN in Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

When we left off Cordelia and Welcome were now separated.  Cordelia was living in San Francisco and Welcome was living in Stockton, CA. 

But what was Cordelia up to in San Francisco........this is were the story picks back up...

It's a fall day in 1895 and Cordelia and a friend were taking a stroll in Golden Gate Park.  They had  sat down on a bench to rest and must have noticed a gentleman having problems with the bicycle he was riding.  Cordelia went over and introduced herself to the man whose name she learns is John Dunning.  Cordelia introduces herself as a well do to woman from England names Ada.  John is forthright and introduces himself as a married man.  But that doesn't matter to Cordelia who finds herself interested in John.

The newspaper accounts of the story jump ahead at this point.  Eventually John learns who Cordelia really is, the wife of a successful business man and mother of one son 10 years his senior.  She learns more about John who is, a successful news correspondent with the Associated Press with a wife and a young daughter.  

It isn't long before Cordelia introduces John to the wild side of San Francisco and he falls into a life of gambling, sex and debauchery.  John loses his job, his wife and his daughter all due to the influence of Cordelia.  When the Spanish-American war broke out the news service remembered John.  They offered him a job as a news correspondent in Puerto Rico.  John jumped at the chance to get his life back and accepted.  He told Cordelia that the affair was over and that after his assignment he would be reuniting with his wife who had moved back home to Delaware with their daughter.

Cordelia cried and begged John not to go.  She even tried to convince the war board to send her to Cuba as a nurse so that she could be with John.  The board turned her down due to her age. 

In August of 1898 Cordelia hatches a plan to get her competition, John's wife, Elizabeth, out of the picture.  She purchased a box of candy in San Francisco, laced it with poison, wrote a note, "with love to yourself and baby, Mrs. C" and mailed it to John's wife in Delaware.  Elizabeth, her sister Ida, and other family members ate the chocolate laced with arsenic. Elizabeth and Ida both died.  The father, suspicious that the candy may have been poisoned had it tested and found the arsenic.  Meanwhile, John was summoned home from Cuba and was able to identify the handwriting on the note as Cordelia's. 

Cordelia is arrested in San Francisco for the murder of  Elizabeth and Ida.  The trial is about to begin, but like Cordelia herself, it would cause a sensation and keep the city of San Francisco spellbound for many months.

Part 4 - the trial of Cordelia BOTKIN is next......


  1. I love this series of posts. Can't wait to read about the trial.

  2. wow! now i have to go back and read the other posts. i'm sure i missed cordelia before...

  3. I was wondering if she was related to you and i see she is, by marriage, related. what a story. i need to do a google alert and see if i can turn up any manics.

  4. What a fascinating series - I'm on the edge of my seat!

  5. This is irresistible. Kinda like watching the oncoming train. You've done the posts beautifully, btw.

  6. Thank you for reading. The story is so fascinating and there was so much written in the newspapers about it. It was quite a sensational story in the day! I can't wait to find time to post the trial and what followed!

  7. How could she do that..I mean with a sweet name and all, she sure lived on the horrible wild side. What a girl. Come on Part 4.