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The Sentinal

Trumansburg, NY

March 24, 1888





            The almost double murder of Mr. and Mrs. Mason has brought to the remembrance of many the Ferguson crime which occurred in the town eighteen years ago month and lacking only sic days of the same day of the month. From the Sentinel of the 24 of March, 1870, we extract the following:

            On the shore of Cayuga lake, a little way south of Goodwin’s Point, lived a man named Jonathan Lunger, who employed himself in boating and fishing for the most part of the time. He with his wife and daughter Annie, lived in what was once a boat, roofed over and made into something of a dwelling.

            On Monday, March 21st, between one o’clock and daylight, this dwelling was destroyed by fire, and in the debris of the building was found the charred remains of what is supposed to have been Jonathan Lunger and his wife.

            The body of the man was not wholly consumed by the fire, nothing being left of the lower portion except bones which dropped into ashes at the touch. The body of the woman was in a still worse condition than that of the man, there being no piece of her left together as large as an apple.

            The bodies, or remains, lay side by side as if the couple had been in bed when the fire took place, and so had been consumed and dripped to the ground. On the body of the man was found a tobacco box, and in the ashes a ring, identified as belonging to Mrs. Lunger.

            For the last year or two a man named Mike Ferguson had lived a part of the time with Mr. Lunger. He has been in the workhouse at Rochester, and seems to have borne no very good reputation in this town. This man, who was seen near the premises on Sunday last (so we are told) has been missing, as also the girl Annie, since the fire. A skiff belonging to the deceased is also gone. And a watch known to have been worn by Mr. L could not be found in the ashes.

            Office Fish returned on Wednesday and reports Annie Lunger in custody. An officer was in pursuit of Ferguson and it is probable that he is by this time under arrest.

            Ferguson was arrested near Elmira, He was taken to Ithaca and lodged in jail. He was not brought here on the inquest, for the reason it is said that a demonstration by the excited people was feared.

            The inquest was held at the Town hall on Friday afternoon.

            The examination of witness was made by District Attorney Merrit King.

            The following are the names of the jury: Lewis Halsey, foreman, John Willis, Roswell Wilcox, Henry Lucky, Samuel R. Riddle, A.L. Williams.

            The only witness against Ferguson was the girl Annie Lunger, who told her story at the inquest in the following words;

            Annie Lunger sworn. That is my name; father’s name Jonathan; mother’s name Maria; am 14 years old; lived with my parents at the point. Mike Ferguson lived with them; had been there about all winter; he was 22 years old, and had lived there for several years. Was at home on Sunday in morning till half-past twelve. I went to bed at 8 o’clock; father and mother were up; Mike had not gone to bed; he was playing checkers. I went to sleep immediately. Next thing I knew of, saw father getting up; about 2 o’clock. Mother was in bed at the time; Mike was out doors; mother was neither asleep or awake-was almost dead. Father tried to wake her up. Bed clothes were bloody all around her; she was not making any noise. Father went to the door and asked Ferguson what he had been doing; he did not say anything but drew up an axe. I saw Mike right by the door. Father told him to come in, he wanted to talk to him; he came in; father said he wanted Ferguson to go for a doctor; father’s arm was all bleeding, did not know what was the matter. Suppose report of gun woke me up. Ferguson didn’t like to go up there (for doctor.) Father put on his clothes; was going out doors to see what ailed the house. He took down watch, and put on his hat; Ferguson stood up he drew up the axe; told father to take off his hat; father did so and told Ferguson he had done so. Ferguson kept following him up and father kept backing; he struck him on the side of the head with the axe; it knocked him down; father did not say anything after he was hit. Ferguson struck him as hard as he could; father did not move after he fell he fell near the bed.

            Mike then said to me now comes your turn; he had the axe in his hand at the time. I told him not to kill me; he said if I’d get up and follow him he would save me; I told him I would. He took what things he wanted; he took father’s rifle and a tin box of mothers and a box with a glass cover with candies in it; took mother’s pocket-book, it had two cents in it; took gold dollar out of trunk and some silver; took father’s watch out of his pocket. He told me to get the watch, I said I wouldn’t. Watch was a Hunter case, silver; took brass handled knife; did not take other knife from pocket. After he got all he wanted he set fire to the house on the inside. Afterwards we went out doors, got in the skiff and started across the lake. He threw the axe in the middle of the lake; said he did so that no one would see it. He did not strike father after he fell; threw bed clothes over him. Landed at Frog Point on the east side; staid by a haystack on the hill till morning. He asked me if I noticed how father acted; I told him nothing; he told me not to tell anything more about it. He said he was going to Pennsylvania. Told me not to tell. This was next day. Started before sunrise from the haystack and went to Ludlowville, then to Ithaca. Swartwood’s hotel is in the town of Cayuta, eight miles from Newfield. Was scared when father was killed. Ferguson took gun with him. He told me I should fare just as bad if I told. This was next day. He loaded gun where we stopped to get something to eat. Went down to Aunt Lib’s on Sunday morning; staid two hours; come back with Ferguson. Never heard Ferguson threaten father.

            The jury brought in a verdict charging Michel Ferguson with causing the death of Jonathan Lunger by a blow from an axe, and of Maria Lunger by a gunshot wound.

            Ferguson was hanged at Ithaca in the summer of the following year.

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