A new episode of Haunt Heads is now available for download!
S3 Ep. 3: Just Pan Bein’ Pan, Yo!
This week, Katie takes us to Athens, Greece and we explore the myths, hauntings, and legends surrounding Davelis Cave. Janine goes back to her roots and shares the tale of Catherine Mandeville Snow, the last woman to be hanged in Newfoundland, Canada.
This episode contains ghostly footprints leading nowhere, Pan the original bar creeper, a haunted courthouse, and a murder mystery.
Intro/outro provided by Fox and Branch (www.foxandbranch.com)
The Haunting of Catherine Snow
Neighbors said their relationship was strained and their marriage when they finally took that next step, was even worse, prone to terrible fights and noise, so they were puzzled when the racket finally ceased. Then, they wondered what had happened to Catherine’s husband, John Snow, and their minds instantly settled on murder.
Catherine Mandeville Snow was born in Harbour Grace around 1793 and married John Snow in 1828 and lived with him in Salmon Cove near Port de Grave. Snow was originally from Bareneed and was a planter and fisherman by trade. Catherine and John quickly grew their family from two to nine and lived together in a modest home in Salmon Cove. On the night of August 31, 1833, after another of their knockdown, drag-out brawls, Snow disappeared without a trace
Police investigated Snow’s disappearance, finding nothing but a patch of dried blood on Snow’s wharf (fishing stage.) The police, instantly convinced they were dealing with a murder, quickly arrested Tobias Manderville (first cousin of Catherine Snow) whom they believed Snow’s wife was carrying on an affair with, and Arthur Spring, a household servant. Catherine went into hiding, running into the woods to evade capture, but she eventually turned herself in to the authorities in Harbour Grace. She likely thought that the police would simply question her and let her go given they had no evidence with which to hold or convict her.
The Newfoundlander (http://ngb.chebucto.org/Newspaper-Obits/nflder-1831-34.shtml)
Thursday, September 12, 1833
A most atrocious and unnatural murder has lately been perpetrated at Port-de-Grave, in Conception Bay. Mr. JOHN SNOW, a respectable planter of that place, having suddenly and mysteriously disappeared inquiry was set on foot, and from certain suspicious circumstances, a servant of SNOW’S named ARTHUR SPRING, and another man of the name of (Tobias) MANDEVILLE, were arrested, but there not being sufficient evidence to criminate them, they were, we understand, released on bail. We learn, however, that on Saturday last, SPRING made a voluntary confession, in which he stated that his master had actually been murdered, at the instigation of his own wife, that he had been shot by MANDERVILLE in his (SPRING’S) presence; and that after the deed was accomplished, they had attached the body to a grapnel and thrown it into the sea. MANDEVILLE, we understand, on being arrested and examined, admitted part of SPRING’S evidence, but denied having been the actual perpetrator of the crime – alleging that SPRING was the principal. MANDEVILLE and SPRING were brought to this town and committed to Gaol on Sunday evening. The woman had previously quitted Port-de-Grave, but although an active search has been made for her, she had not, at the time of writing this article, been discovered. SNOW and his wife were the parents of a large family and had been married about 17 years. The two prisoners underwent a long examination yesterday – the particulars of which have not transpired; but we understand it to have been similar to the former examinations.
Shortly after his arrest, Arthur Spring told the sheriff that he, Tobias Manderville, and Mrs. Snow had shot and killed John snow and tossed his body into the Atlantic. The two men each tried to blame one another for the crime during interrogation, but Catherine maintained her innocence throughout hours of questioning. Both Manderville and Spring plead not guilty (despite their previous admission) to the murder and were brought to trial with Catherine Snow on January 10, 1834. After 12 hours of deliberation, it was decided that all three were guilty of murder (despite there being no evidence to support Catherine even being at the scene or having a hand in it.) The attorney general told the jury, I can’t prove which one fired the shot, both were present for the murder. As to Catherine Snow, there is no direct or positive evidence of her guilt. But I have a chain of circumstantial evidence to prove her guilty. Attorney James Simms told the jury that there was no “direct or positive evidence of her guilt,” but she was nonetheless found guilty of murder along with Mandeville and Spring by an all-male jury. The trio was sentenced to hang by the neck until dead. Within days of the conclusion of the trial, Mandeville and Spring would meet the hangman’s noose, but Catherine received a 6-month stay of execution. She was pregnant with her 8th child and public outcry demanded she be allowed to give birth and to nurse the child prior to execution. While his mother sat in prison, Catherine’s newborn son would be Christened at the Old Catholic Chapel on Henry Street. On July 21, 1834, a large crowd gathered in front of the courthouse on Duckworth Street to witness the public spectacle. Catherine’s last words were, “I was a wretched woman, but I am as innocent of any participation in the crime of murder as an unborn child.”
According to the Public Ledger, “The unhappy woman, after a few brief struggles, passed into another world.”
Following her execution, the Catholic Church rallied hard to have her sentence commuted, but all efforts to do so were fruitless. They were able to give her a Christian burial because they believed she was innocent of murder so she was laid to rest in the old Catholic cemetery in St. John’s.
But this isn’t the end to Catherine’s story. Within days of execution, her ghost was seen roaming the interior of the courthouse and was spotted outside where the hanging had taken place. Her apparition was also witnessed in the cemetery where she’d been buried and the local newspapers reported each sighting.
Everyone reported seeing Catherine’s ghost from blue collar workers to the upper crust of society. There was a buzz about the great injustice done and those who had seen her ghost believed that her spirit was unable to rest. It was apparent to that group of believers that Catherine snow, doomed to wander having been accused of a crime she didn’t commit, was innocent.
In 1846, the courthouse in which Catherine’s trial had been held, and in front of which she’d been murdered, burned to the ground. Her spirit was seen wandering after the fire and also during the building of the new courthouse. Once the new building opened to the public, sightings of her ghost began again. The new courthouse was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1892 (St. John’s apparently has shit luck when it comes to courthouses,) but when the building was restored once again and reopened in 1902, Catherine’s spirit was seen again. Her presence is still felt and her apparition still seen in the building, climbing the stairs or in the hallways. The elevator moves from floor to floor without being called and ghostly footsteps can be heard, but no explanation can be found for these occurrences.
In 1893, the old Catholic Cemetery was sold and St. Andrews Presbyterian was built on the site, opening its doors in 1896. It’s said that the remains of Catherine Snow weren’t moved prior to St. Andrews being built and supposedly lay somewhere under the structure. Reports of a woman wandering the grounds began to surface.
But that’s not the end of Catherine’s story…
179 years later, a new trial and a different verdict (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/179-years-later-a-new-trial-and-a-different-verdict-1.1180508)
Catherine Snow, who protested her innocence, was the last woman hanged in Newfoundland
CBC News · April 1, 2012
A modern-day jury has acquitted a Newfoundland woman who was hanged after being convicted for the murder of her husband in 1833.
The case, which depended largely on circumstantial evidence, almost led to riots and has troubled jurists ever since.
About 400 people turned out in St. John’s this week as a panel of experts tried to set the record straight.
The basics were the same: a judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a jury — the audience.
The only thing missing was a proxy for the accused, 41-year-old Catherine Snow.
Just before her hanging, Snow acknowledged that she was a “wretched woman” but said she was as innocent “as an unborn child” in relation to her husband’s death.
The long-ago trial saw a testimony about traces of blood, marital infidelities and a keen wish to have her husband dead.
The circumstantial evidence was enough to convict her.
“The evidence of the affair is so prejudicial, it’s impossible to extricate it from the statements … there’s no way she could have a fair trial,” modern-day defense attorney Rosellen Sullivan said.
Today’s jury voted to acquit Snow.
She was the last woman to be hanged in Newfoundland — and may also be one of the earliest recorded cases of wrongful conviction.
Have you ever visited the courthouse in St. John’s or wandered the grounds of St. Andrews and witnessed Catherine’s ghostly form? We’d love to hear about your experiences!
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