The Ithacan


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The Ithacan










Prompt work of the offices-Return of the guilty parties-Full statement by the girl Anna Lunger-Probable pulling of hemp—Full particulars.


One of the most shocking murders we have ever known was perpetrated in the town of Ulysses in this county, on Sunday night last. The victims were Jonathan Lunger and his wife who, as far as circumstantial evidence goes to show, were deliberately murdered, then placed in there bed side and side, the house set on fire, and the bodies burned to ashes. The remains were discovered about eight o’clock Monday morning. The news of the tragedy spread quickly and reached Ithaca Monday night by the arrival of an officer who came to confer with Sheriff Root and to get aid investigating the whereabouts of the perpetrators. Tuesday morning The Ithacan dispatched a reporter to the scene of the crime for the purpose of gathering facts. On arriving in Trumansburgh, he found Poormaster Hale just depositing a box containing the remains in the cemetery.  As the result of our reporter’s investigation we are enabled to present the following




Visitors from Ithaca to Taghanic Falls by water, last summer, will remember a little nook setting back from the lake shore, a few rods this side of Goodwin’s Landing, the place where they disembarked for the Falls.. In this nook stood a small hut built partly of a canal boat. Here lived for a year or two past a man by the name of Jonathan Lunger, his wife and daughter, a girl of not more than fourteen years of age. The father and (step) mother were past middle age, of fair intelligence and good repute among their class. They lived in a humble manner, in summer getting a livelihood by fishing and trading with the steamboats, schooners and lake navigators generally. In the winter the man did various work for those living along the shore, and tinkered in his shanty, mending guns and fishing tackle, and getting ready his nets for the summer. The man was above ordinary size, and the woman was unusually large. Previous to their building the hut in the nook above mentioned, they had lived at Frog Point and at Ludlowville Landing, and were generally known by lake goers. Anna, the daughter of Jonathan Lunger, is a girl of low intelligence and, uninfluenced, quite incapable of harming any one. Hanging about Goodwin’s Landing of some time past, has been one, Mike Furguson, a worthless, hard character, who has been in prison two or three times, we understand, for various offenses against law and order. This Furguson has made a headquarters of the Lunger abode, attracted there partly by Anna Lunger, partly by the gun and fishing tackle of the old man, and partly because the humble hut of the latter afforded him a shelter. To all appearance there has never been any outbreak between the Lungers and Furguson, although it is said the former had frequently tried to get rid of their dangerous companion and to keep their girl out of his reach. But, doglike, he hung on and with what results the frightful tragedy of last Sunday night shows. Sunday afternoon some neighbors were at the Lunger hut, having dropped in to gossip about the near approach of spring and the beginning of the lake work. These saw Furguson there, also the girl Anna Lunger. Monday morning, as we have said, a man having occasion to visit the locality, discovered a smoke near where the Lungers lived and on going to the spot found the shanty burned to ashes, and the remains of animal matter simmering and burning in the midst of the ruins. On the bank a little piece from the fire, sat two dogs which belonged to the Lungers, gnawing some bones which they had dragged out of the ashes. The burning flesh has excited their hunger, and they had ventured into the fire to get a bone of ther former master on which to make a breakfast.


Corner Lewis, of Trumansburgh, was immediately informed of the condition of things at the lake. The latter summoned a jury and repaired to the scene for the purpose of investigation. The remains had been undisturbed, and hence the Corner had every opportunity to take cognizance of the circumstances. The few bones which were not burned shown to be those of human beings. The feet and lower bones of the woman were hardly recognizable as those of a human being, only two or three of the larger being left.  The skull of the man was nearly whole but so charred that it would break by touching. A hole was found just over the eyes in the man’s skull and it was thought at first that it might be a bullet hole, but by touching the forehead anywhere a hole could be punched through. The idea of the bullet hole, therefore was hardly credited by Coroner Lewis. Those who knew the situation of things in the hut say that the remains ere found just where the bed stood. And the remains of the man were so situated as to show that he was lying at the foreside of the bed. The remains of the man ere distinguished from those of the woman by the fact that on one side and in the charred remains of the hip bones was found a tin tobacco box and the other side a pocket knife. Also along the middle of the remains where the spinal column had been were found metallic buttons. The finger ring (bone or stone of some kind) was found broken in three pieces, just where the hand of the woman would have lain, the finger burned away and no trace left of the had but this ring. There was those present who said they had seen Mrs. Lunger wear a ring just like the one which was found broken. The bone of the forearm of the man lay across the other remains of his body and all about where he had burned were found charred remains of woolen cloth-another evidence by which the remains of the man and woman were distinguished. The buttons, tobacco box and knife and buckles of suspenders showed that the old man had his clothes on when he was reached by the flames. The stove was there; also burned and broken dishes, spoons, knives and everything which was known to be in the house, except a silver watch belonging to Lunger and a first class rifle which were gone, and no remains of them were to be found.


After finishing this examination, Coroner Lewis sent for Poormaster Hale, to come and dispose of the remains, a duty which belongs to him. Mr. Hale had a box made and brought to the spot where he gathering up all that was left of the two human beings, put it in the box and deposited it in the cemetery. The funeral was simple. No church bell, no kind offices of clergymen, no retinue of mourners. On a rough sleigh the box was bone to the graveyard, the only attendants being the driver, the Poormaster and a sister of Mr. Lunger and her husband, who lives north of Trumansburgh.


Mr. Hale also took possession of what property was found about the premises, consisting of a few ground tools, a grain cradle, something like a dozen fowls and some eatables which were deposited in a cellar dug in the bank. These will be held and disposed of, to pay expenses of the burial.




At four o’clock Coroner Lewis organized the Jury in the Town Hall at Trumansburgh, swearing in the following gentlemen as jurors: Forman, Lewis Halsey, Henry Lucky, John Willis, R. Wilcox, Samuel Riddle, A.J. Williams.

Witnesses were summoned and after organizing, Coroner Lewis adjourned the Court to Friday at one o’clock, in order to secure the presence of one or both of the main witnesses, Mike Ferguson and Anna Lunger.




We have said the gun and watch of Lunger were all that was missing on Monday morning. Three things else may be mentioned, the parasite Furguson, Anna Lunger and the skiff which belonged to the burned man and in which he had skimmed over our fair lake in quest of a fisherman’s livelihood. These were all there Sunday afternoon, but Monday morning they were in parts unknown. Of course, circumstances pointed to Furguson as the cause of this shocking destruction. The fact of the skiff being going at first led to the supposition that the two had crossed the lake and made their escape northward. But on learning that Furguson had relatives living in the south part of the county or in that direction, search was set on foot in this direction. Monday night Deputy Sheriff Fish, of Ulysses, came to Ithaca and organized a systematic chase for the guilty parties. The first heard from them was that they were seem Monday afternoon on the road towards Newfield, the man having a rifle on his shoulder and a pail in his hand, the girl following him. Another man, Grover we understand, saw the two riding in the back of a sleigh.  Tuesday about two o’clock officer O. K. Dean and Deputy sheriff Gee, of Ithaca, set out with the date they had, taking the Newfield road, Arriving a the latter village, they met the stage coming toward Ithaca, On this stage they found the girl they wanted, thoughtlessly returning to Ithaca, not realizing the awful situation she was in. The officers took her in charge and proceeded on their way. At Swartwood’s in Pony Hollow, they learned from the landlord that the two had come there and from their actions he mistrusted something was wrong.  They had a dispute about the girl’s going on with the man, which resulted in his leaving her. The landlord then put her on the stage and sent her back. The officers pushed on and arrived in Horseheads about twenty minutes after Furguson had taken the train south giving him time to reach Elimra.


Owing to the rapid work officers Dean and Gee made in prosecuting their search, we are enabled to give correct statements with regard to.




of both the girl and Furguson. The girl, as we have said, was overtaken at Swartwood’s where she was detained till called for. Furguson was taken at his home in Pennsylvania, at a place called Mitchell’s Creek, near Tioga village. The officers returned their prisoner Thursday night. Officer Dean informs us that their prisoner took the cars at Horseheads for Corning and thence went to Tioga by the Blossburg road, and went directly to his stepfather’s house, where he was found. The officers pushed on from Horseheads, not going to Elmira, but putting directly for Mitchell’s Creek. They arrived there in the afternoon of Wednesday. Mr. Dean, whom Furguson knew, remained some distance back from where their game was supposed to be. Mr. Gee went to the house and began talking with the step-father on general matters. Presently Furguson made his appearance and said he had been “breaking steers.” The officer put his hand on the subduer of bovines, and told him he had business of special importance with him. Furguson made no resistance but got up and left with the Mr. Gee with a biding to his mother goodbye. The return to Ithaca was very quickly made, the prisoner showing no signs of concern till the came near the town, when he became excited and perspired profusely. The girl was brought also and both were put under Sheriff Root’s care in our jail Thursday night.




This (Friday) morning The Ithaca reporter called at the jail and held an interview with the young girl and Furguson. The girl says she is past fourteen years old. She is small of her age, She is very dark complexioned, with thick lips, not very low forehead, broad cheeks, and short neck. Her eyes are neither wicked nor expressionless. She talks freely, uses good language, is remarkably courteous, using the “no, sir”, and “yes, sir” with the precision of the more refined. She tells all about the occurrence without reserve or thought of evasion. She says that Sunday night Furguson stayed at their house and slept on the floor, while she slept in a bed alone and her father and mother in another bed, all in the same room. In the night she was wakened by a sharp noise which also wakened her father, who sprung up and she noticed that his sleve was all over blood. Furguson was up and was near the door with an ax in his hand. Her father asked him if he was splitting kindling wood, and also asked him “what was the matter with the shanty,” he supposing the noise he heard to be a cracking of the timbers. Some words then passed between the two and Furguson cut the old man down with the ax. The girl attempted to get up but was to lie still or she would get the same treatment. After her father was killed, she saw that her other was dead, the villain having deliberately shot her, while asleep, with a shot gun, part of the contents wounding the arm of her father. Furguson then told her that he was going to set the house on fire and that he would kill her. She said, “Good Lord, what do you want to kill me for?” He said he would let her live if she would go with him and not tell what he had done. They then picked up some traps, Furguson set the house on fire under the bed of the old folks, and in the light of the incipient flames the two shoved off in the missing skiff. Furguson rowed across the lake and landed them at the Frog Point Ferry Landing, then they went up across the country, and in a field they lay don under a straw stack where they lay til daylight, when they went to Ludlowville, thence got a ride to Ithaca, from which place we have above trace them. The girl says they buried a satchel near the straw stack where they lay down. There was a saucer in the satchel.


Furguson is just such a looking being as we should expect to find. He is medium height, a little bent peaked face, nose slightly Roman eyes blue or grayish, hair sandy, forhead narrow and low, face shaven, He says nothing, and did not look the reporter in the face. He combines low instinct with revenge and ignorance.


This morning, Attorney M. King went to Trumansburgh with officers and the girl. We learn by special dispatch to The Ithacan from Coroner Lewis that the inquest will be held at 2 o’clock this (Friday) morning.




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