Magnitude of the Crime Beginning to be Felt.


Prospects That Further Trouble Will Ensue.

[...] Per Dominion Line.

[ Donnelly Family Tombstone at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Biddulph, 2005, Copyright Great Unsolved Canadian Mysteries Project, Jennifer Pettit,   ]Lucan, February 4.- The wildest excitement reigns throughout the township. About midnight 20 persons went to the house of James Donnelly, sen., and knocked at the door. The inmates of the house were James Donnelly, sen., about 70 years of age; his wife Judy, aged 60; Thos. Donnelly, about 21 years of age; Bridget Donnelly, aged 25 years (niece); and James Conners, aged 12 years, in the employ of Donnelly. The son John, aged 28, usually resided at home with his father, but this evening he had gone to his brother William's, about three miles away on the eight concession. As before stated, about midnight a gang of men with


many of them dressed in women's clothing, knocked at the door of Jas. Donnelly's house, a 1 1/2 story log building, and demanded admittance. Thomas Donnelly, the son, went to the door and was immediately arrest by the crowd. An altercation ensued, Thomas being outside the door when the cry of


was raised, and one of the men who carried a spade appears to have struck him on the head with that instrument and another man used a pick. He fell down, probably dead, and was then thrown inside the door. The other inmates of the house, with the exception of James Conners, the boy, were then clubbed and beaten to death. The boy first hid underneath the bed in a clothes basket and afterwards escaped. The murderers after


set fires to the building, which was consumed down to the very foundations. The charred remains, burnt to a cinder, were found in the position where they fell — Thomas' remains just inside the front door, Mr. Donnelly on the floor of the kitchen, and James Donnelly and Bridget Donnelly behind the stove, where they had crouched and were killed. The spade with which the murder of Thomas was committed was found among the debris. It was


but the handle had been burnt out, and all possible means of indentification were thus destroyed. There are three farm houses within a hundred yards of the house, but strange to say, they glare of the fire did not awaken any of the inmates of these houses. The watch dogs also gave no alarm, which leads to the belief that they were enitced away or kept quiet by the murderers. The awful tragedy, which is without rival in the annals of the country, and would rival Texas borders for its atrocity, was not discovered until 9 o'clock this morning, when Patrick Whalen, who lives opposite, upon getting up saw the


and immediately raised an alarm. At about that time of the murder of the elder Donnelly two men knocked a the door of the residence of William Donnelly, his son, about three miles away on the eighth concession, Biddulph, and called for William Donnelly. John, his brother, who, as before stated, was that night staying there, got out of bed, and without dressing he opened the door and immediately two shots were fired, apparently one from each side of the door. He immediately fell back and exclaimed,


The two men then went away. William got up and took the body in, and it was found that he had been shot in the right breast and also lower down in the stomach. The wound in the breast contained seven or eight slugs, and the wound in the stomach was made by a bullet. As the men were going away they fired several revolver shots and this scared William, who was afraid to go for assistance. This evening the body of John was moved to Lucan where an inquest will be held.

[...] The family have for a long time past been engaged in broils with some of the neighbors. The quarrel originally between the Donnelly and another family spread until the whole of that section became either friends or foes of the Donnellys, who, with the usual readiness and spirit of the Celt, resented any insults or slurs, either real or imaginary, by blows. This manner of recrimination worked up a bitter hatred between the two parties, who, whenever they met, never lost an opportunity of making their opinions known, and frequent fights were the result. Both parties would have recourse to the Magistrates' Court, summonses and cross-summonses were issued, and as a natural consequences, in their state of feeling towards each other, the losing side would only become more embittered than ever against the other. Frequent robberies occurred in that vicinity, and their opponents loudly declaimed the Donnellys as culprits. Fires, which were without doubt incendiary, also occurred, and for these, as well as all other offences, the finger of suspicion was pointed to the Donnellys. It will be remembered that the barns, etc., of Patrick Ryder were burnt recently, together with their contents, and suspicion pointing to the Donnellys. The father and mother were


Several adjournments were had, and yesterday afternoon they were to have again appeared and surrendered to their bail upon the charge.

Some months ago, a number of the oppenents of the Donnellys, believing that some means were necessary to detect offenders, held a meeting, when it was decided to establish a Vigilence Committee, which rapidly swelled in numbers, so that at the present time it is thought that it had 150 members. As the meetings were held in secret the discussions were not made public, but a general feeling pervaded that the deliberations of the committee boded no good to the Donnellys. The feeling between the parties, and which undoubtedly led to the commission of these diabolical crimes, will thus be seen.

The movements of the assassins and the exact manner of the assassination of the people will probably remain veiled in the deepest obscurity, the only survivor, James Connors, being a boy, can only give a rambling statement of the horrowing scene which he witnessed. [...]

Source: Unknown, "Lucan Horror — Magnitude of the Crime Beginning to be Felt," London Advertiser, February 5, 1880.

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