Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Richard D. Carter

Richard D. Carter
Born about 1830, probably in the United States
Murdered about 1869 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Mother: Mary Fitzpatrick (1805-1885), came to America from northern Ireland
Father: Andrew Carter (1806-1885), came to America from northern Ireland

Married: newspaper clipping says he was married at the time of his death

Children: newspaper clipping says he has one child, name unknown

Margaret Carter
William Carter
Andrew Carter (1834-1902)
Thomas Fitzpatrick Carter (1842-1913)
Robert Carter (1849-?)

A distant relative, Robert Lyman Carter, sent me the following newspaper clipping, which appears to be from The Philadelphia Inquirer, recounting the details of Richard’s murder on Sept. 4, 1869. Robert told me this was part of the reason that my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Fitzpatrick Carter, and his brother Robert Carter, moved to Virginia about 1870. 

Text of this clipping:

A Man Shot Dead in Fairmount Park
Revenge the Cause of the Deed

“On Saturday morning, about half-past nine o'clock, Richard D. Carter, foreman of the masons employed at the Water Works by the Water Department, was shot by Joseph Snyder in Fairmount Park, and died in a few minutes afterwards. Captain Lyon, of the Park Police, was sitting in his station house when he heard the shot. He ran out over the forebay to the foot of the reservoir, on Coates street, and saw a numer [number] of people running away from Snyder, who was walking down one of the paths with a revolver in his hand. Suspecting that something was wrong, he went up to Snyder and said, "Joe what does this mean?" Snyder replied, "I will not be taken inside the Park: I am going home," and at the same time pointed the weapon at Captain Lyon, who immediately struck him in the face and seized the hand containing the revolver. Lieutenant Jacoby, of the Harbor Police now came up and threw his arms around Snyder, and he was then secured. During the struggle Captain Lyon has his hand badly lacerated by the trigger of the revolver.
The facts of the case are about as follows: –
Snyder had been seen lounging around the Park for nearly an hour apparently in search of some one, but no particular attention was paid to him, as he was well known. A few minutes before the tragedy he met the deceased, and some angry conversation passed between them, but its purport is not known.
Carter then turned away and began measuring some stone. He was on his knees, and arising said to one of his men, “I guess that will do.” Snyder, who, at this time, was within about ten feet of him, now drew a revolver and fired at Carter, the ball entering the left breast, about one inch and a half below the heart, and passing diagonally through the body and coming out on the right side.

The wounded man was picked up and carried to the Park Police Station House, where he died in a few minutes. Snyder, after firing began to revolve the chamber of the revolver, and as some workmen approached him he pointed the weapon at them and then walked off.

Dr. E. B. Shapleigh, on Saturday afternoon, made a post mortem examination of the body. The body of Mr. Carter was conveyed to his late residence, No. 2209 Coates street and during the remainder of the day a knot of people were assembled n the vicinity discussing the terrible tragedy.

After he was captured Snyder was taken to the Park Police Station House, where he was given in the charge of Sergeant Phy, who took him to the Mayor's office at Fifth and Chestnut streets, where he was afterwards locked up in a cell. On the way he conversed with the Sargeant and told him that he had taken the pistol that morning and put it in his pocket and went to the Park with the intention of committing the deed.

He refused to see any one during the morning except one of his sons, who remained with him for some time. At two o'clock he was taken before Alderman Kerr, where the above facts were detailed by Captain Lyon and Lieutenant Jacoby. He was then committed to prison to await the Coroner's investigation. He is a man well advanced in years, having been born in 1803, but he carries his age remarkably well. He is about five feet nine or ten inches in height, and has an exceedingly broad and thick body. He has a wife and three children, who reside on Corinthian avenue, above Parrish street.

The deceased was about 40 years of age, and leaves a wife and child. He was an active member of the Masonic Order, and also a prominent member of the Republican party in the Fifteenth Ward.

The pistol is a seven-barreled navy revolver, and when examined tow loads were found in it. It will be produced by Captain Lyon at the Coroner’s inquest this morning.

It seems that Snyder had entered the Park shortly after seven o'clock in the morning, and had made many inquiries as to the whereabouts of Carter before he succeeded in finding him. It is supposed that he desired employment as he had been formerly engaged by the department, and had been visiting the Park frequently of late. His connection with Carter ceased nearly two years ago, when he was discharged on account of his intemperate habits.

Th impression on the minds of those who have examined the subject seems to be that Snyder believed that he had been removed without good cause, and having repeatedly applied for a job and refused, be determined to punish Mr. Carter. Only about two weeks since, the deceased was waylaid in the evening and beaten by a crowd, who, on quitting him, remarked that he had not seen the last of it.

For deliberation and wilfulness this murder is not surpassed by any on record, and the age of the murderer and his having a family serve to make all the details of this terrible crime most painful to relate.

Captain Lyon and Lieutenant Jacoby deserve great credit for their courage in thus arresting a murderer who had in his hand the weapon with which the deed was performed.”
According to an account I found online in the William Penn Public Ledger Almanac, Volume 187/1878, Snyder committed suicide in his cell a few days after his arrest, on September 7, 1868. He drowned himself in a bucket of water. His death certificate says he was 66 years old.

The Water Works, which sits on the bank of the Schuylkill River below the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was built as the water purification system for the city of Philadelphia, and in the late 1860s, was undergoing major renovations to deal with the effects of the industrial revolution, as well as pollution due to Civil War encampments. It was built to look like a Greek temple. More information on the history of the Water Works is available on the website Philadelphia Reflections. The Philadelphia Museum of Art now sits on land in the decommissioned Fairmount Water Works.

Old postcard showing the Water Works at Fairmount Park

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