The disappearance of Miss Susie Babcock from Milford, 1905
Thursday, July 3, 2014
My great-grandmother, Kate Langdell, kept a diary from 1863-1930, writing of weather, events, cooking, and other things that happened in her daily life. While living in the Gilson house on the north side of the Stone Bridge (where the Milford Post Office is today) she writes of an event that happened in 1905 that gripped the town of Milford for nine days. Here is her story.
“We had first met Mr. Babcock and his daughter Miss Susie Babcock when they moved into the tenement next door in the spring of 1904. Mr. Babcock was the minister at the Methodist church just up the hill from our house on the corner of Mont Vernon Street. Zaph (Kate’s husband, Elzaphan Langdell)and I visited with them on a regular basis and Miss Babcock was always over here visiting with Annie Maud, my granddaughter. They were very dear friends of mine. We shared suppers, vegetables and visits on the porch many times.
Friday – March 31, 1905 – 34 degrees above in morn – Another busy day, I cooked d. bread and mince & apple pies this AM. I have been in to Mr. Babcock’s both PM & eve. Susie is not feeling very well today, she went up to Wilton yesterday. It was too much for her.
Saturday April 1, 1905 – 30 degrees above in morn – I called in to see how Miss Babcock was this PM, she is not as well as she was this AM. I went around to the door this eve but her Father said that she was asleep so I did not go in.
Sunday – April 2, 1905 – 28 degrees above in morn – this has been a dreadful day. Susie Babcock went out to walk this morning before 6 o’clock and did not come back. Searching parties have been out from half past 10 AM until about dark tonight and have found no trace of her. (According to the Milford Cabinet story of the event, Kate’s husband, Elzaphan Langdell, was one of several who set out on a search party later in the day.). We fear that she is dead. Sometimes it seems as though I could not bear it. Mrs. Sears and Mrs. Crosby and Mrs. Hodgeman and Mrs. McFarland & Frank and Mr. Smiley and several others have called today.
Monday – 28 degrees above in morn – Another trying day. They have been searching the river, woods and roads about, and have found no trace of Susie as we know of yet. How can her poor Father endure it, when it is so hard for others. I do wish she could be found. 15 or 16 different people have called here to come into the house today besides several at the door.
Tuesday – 34 degrees – It is a dull morning, rains a little. Am not feeling very strong this morning, did not sleep very much last night. My nerves have been strung up for the last two days and I guess they are a little unstrung today. Evening – Am feeling some better than I did this morn. They have found no trace of Susie yet, have been at work on the river dragging etc. most all day. Miss Eliza Holland and Mrs. Darracot called this PM and Frank this eve, all the calls I have had today.
Wednesday – 40 degrees above in morn – Another dull day, has rained considerable. They have been at work on the river all of the PM, have not found any trace of Susie yet. Zaph was told that the clairvoyant has located her in the river near her home. Oh! how I do wish that she could be found somewhere. The suspense is terrible. I called in to see Mrs. McFarland and Mr. Babcock this PM, found his son-in-law Mr. Dinsmore there.
Thursday – 38 degrees above in morn – I think that it rained most all night and I fear that it will all day. Later – cleared off and is rather cool. Annie and Mrs. Add Crosby called to see me this PM and Frank & Sarah this eve. Sarah did not go to Manchester the other day because it rained but she intends to go tomorrow. After they went away Mr. Babcock called in. They have not found Susie yet. The Cabinet has a fine picture of her in it tonight.
Friday – 32 degrees above in morn – A fair cool day. I cooked d. bread and doughnuts this AM and fried fish for dinner. The searchers have been at work on the river again today without success. Mrs. Harry Wilkins called to see me this PM. I called in to see the people in the other side this PM just a few minutes. Found John Hutchinson’s wife in there.
Saturday – April 8, 1905 – 32 degrees above in morn – Have cooked beans & apple pies today. There is going to be a Search Party tomorrow. The people heard what they thought was a clue in Tyngsboro but Dodge went down tonight and telephoned back that it was all a fake.
Sunday – April 9, 1905 – 25 degrees above in morn – This has been AM long to be remembered by all that knew and loved Susie Babcock in the Town of Milford and I may say by everyone in Town. The Search Parties were organized this morn and sent out in different groups on the North side of the river and the first party found her body in a swamp north of the river near (can’t read). John & Chas both went. It is a sad thought that she died of exposure but we know that she did not commit suicide. Has gone to her Mother. Dear Girl!
Monday – 48 degrees above in morn – Another trying day. Mr. Babcock came in this morn and I told him that if he had people to stay overnight they could use my spare room so there is a Mr. Howard & wife in there tonight. And we had the door open and they used our parlor today also. Zaph, Chas & I went to Susie’s funeral this PM, she did not look as natural as expected she would from what Mr. B & Zaph had told me. Mrs. McF called in this eve.
Tuesday – 50 degrees above in morn – Has been a rainy day. Mr. Babcock started with Susie’s remains this morning to bury her beside her Mother in Pennacook. I have not felt able to do very much today but have kept at work some of the time. Made doughnuts this AM. I wrote a part of a letter to Mary Emerson this eve.
Tuesday – 34 degrees above – Eve – Mr. Babcock went up to see where Susie died this PM. It was sad to him. He brought in the dress that she had on when she died and showed to me after he got home. She was just about to turn 41 years old.
There was a picture and story of the events in the April 6, 1905, Milford Cabinet stating that Miss Babcock was the victim of nervous troubles since the death of her Mother. She was a very well educated woman for her time, graduating from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1886. She taught in several schools in New Hampshire including Lancaster, Claremont, Franconia and Whitefield.”