FAMOUS MURDER STIRRED WHOLE OF CONTINENT
One Who Had Part In Terrible Donnelly Killings Recalls Case Vividly.
BY J. LAMBERT PAYNE
On the fourth day if February, 1880, I drove from London to the Roman Line in Biddulph Township, where I saw Four bodies in the smouldering ruins of the Donnelly homestead, then went on to the next concession south where I saw another body. These five human beings had been murdered in cold blood. Such a tragedy had not occurred in the history of Canada and nothing in the way of homicide on such a scale has since happened. It stands by itself in the Canadian annals of crime. At the time it stirred a continent. [...]
What had been the log house of the Donnellys was still smoking. There was not a soul in sight. At the time, I did not attach any significance to that fact; but I DID LATER. The cause was fear. I saw four bodies, headless. And half-consumed, two of them in the ruins of what has been the kitchen, and which were afterwards identified as being those of old man Donnelly and his wife. Another body was lying about 15 feet away, and the fourth was near where the front door had been. The former was that of Bridget Donnelly, and the latter that of Tom Donnelly. Out in the fresh-fallen snow in front of the house were many footprints and a small pool of blood. [...]
Then I drove over to Bill Donnelly's home on the next concession, about a mile or so east of the Cedar Swamp schoolhouse, and there I found Bill's wife weeping over the body of Jack Donnelly. [...]
When I asked her if she had seen and recognized any of the men who had committed the murder, she seemed afraid to talk. She said, however, that Bill had seen some of them. Latter, it transpired that Bill had claimed to recognize his own brother-in-law, John Kennedy, and Martin McLaughlin. He also said he was reasonably sure of the two Ryder boys, Pat and Jim.