March 24, 1888
THE LUNGER MURDER
A PARALLEL TO THE BARBER CRIME
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
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
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.