The Town of Mendon and the Village of Honeoye Falls are today quiet western New York suburbs, but they weren't always so idyllic. In years past, the village was a center of commerce, manufacturing and railroads, and by the mid-nineteenth century, this prosperity brought with it an element of mayhem. Horse stealing was commonplace. Saloons and taverns were abundant. Street scuffles and barroom brawls were regular, especially on Saturday nights, after the laborers were paid. By Sunday morning, numerous drunks—like Manley Locke, who would eventually go on to kill another man in a fight—were confined to the lockup in the village hall. It was at this time that the Village of Honeoye Falls earned the name “Murderville.” As the town and village turn two hundred, join local historians Diane Ham and Lynne Menz as they explore the peaceful region’s vicious history.
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Honeoye Falls' Good Name Tainted
William Barrows and Edward Lake, August 11, 1849
After the years following the Revolutionary War, the building of the Erie Canal and the coming of railroads to West Mendon (now Honeoye Falls) and the Town of Mendon, New York, social and economic attitudes began to change. Many Europeans who had settled in the New England states, eastern New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were being crowded out and desired to own more land. Many of them came to western New York, including to the Town of Mendon and the Village of Honeoye Falls. Many folks purchased land, and others roamed around, filling their days with opportunity or more undesirable activities.
One young Honeoye Falls lad of fourteen was the first to have his name written in the Admittance Book at the Western House of Refuge, which was opened for delinquents in 1849 in Rochester, New York. According to a Rochester newspaper of August 11, 1849, William Barrows was committed for burglarizing a house and for associating with idle and vicious boys. The records of the Western House of Refuge indicated that William Barrows was "pretty and intelligent but seemed to have been considerable of a rogue." Thirty-eight boys were admitted that first year.
William Barrows was born in the Town of Rush, Monroe County, to American parents who had moved to West Mendon. His parents were temperate. His father, Jarvis Barrows, was a tailor and owned his house and lot in Mendon.
William had attended school pretty regularly until the previous two years. The summer before he was admitted to the "House," William worked on a farm. He said that for the past three years he had been in the habit of associating with idle and vicious boys and frequently committed theft. Once he broke into a grocery store. The offense for which he was sent to the institution was breaking into a private home in company with Edward Lake and stealing eighteen dollars. This had occurred the previous winter, at which time the boys were arrested and "admitted to bail" from time to time until they were sent to the House of Refuge. In April 1852, William Barrows was discharged to the care of his father, who was planning to move to the West in an attempt to save his "recreant" son.
Edward Lake, age thirteen, was also committed to the Western House of Refuge on August 11, 1849. He was born to American parents in Monroe County. His father, Robert A. Lake, was a farmer and lived in West Mendon as well. He had recently sold his farm and was planning to move to Wisconsin. Edward always lived at home, went to school and worked on the farm.
When he was admitted, Edward said he had never associated with bad boys or committed any criminal offenses until the previous fall, when he fell in company with William Barrows, with whom he committed two or three petty offenses and finally broke into a private home when the family was absent, stole eighteen dollars and was soon after arrested. He was also "admitted to bail" until the next term of the court, when they were both sent to the House. He read fairly well but often referred to himself as stupid. He did not appear to be vicious.
On March 6, 1850, Edward was discharged to his parents, who were about to move to Wisconsin. He had been in the House seven months and on the whole had conducted himself well. His parents were respectable and owned some property.
On April 19, 1854, Edward visited the House of Refuge. He had grown so large that it was difficult to recognize him. He was living with his father near Troy, Walworth County, Wisconsin. He said they owned a farm of 150 acres of land valued at between $40 to $100 per acre with good buildings and stock valued at $2,000. Edward seemed to be a respectable young man.
It is hoped that these two young men learned their lessons that stealing and other forms of crime were not acceptable and that they found ways to become good, respectable citizens. It is not known what became of either of them.CHAPTER 2
"I'm a Dead Man"
The Murder of Constable Starr, October 30, 1857
The Lockes, William and Lovisa, settled in the Village of Honeoye Falls in the 1830s. Their son, Manley, was born on February 22, 1836. He grew into a headstrong, often violent young man. According to his mother, he showed no interest in learning and was always prone to violence. The Rochester Union and Advertiser, in an article on November 7, 1857, indicated that "Manley Locke is a desperate character and has been the terror of the Village for a long time. When under the influence of alcohol, he was extremely desperate."
His first encounter with village constable Benjamin Starr occurred on July 3, 1857. On that day, Manley had been drinking and was most likely drunk and in a state of what witnesses would describe as depression. He went to his parents' home and, arming himself with a table knife from a drawer, confronted his mother. "He was crying and had a wild look in his eyes," said his mother, recounting the event. She asked him, "Manley, you would not hurt me, your mother, would you?" He did not reply. When his father entered the room, Manley moved toward him. His father recounted, "He looked like a creature that was scared. He came toward me and said he must kill me." At this point, William Locke left the house, and Manley followed him outside. He repeated again that he must kill his father, all the while crying. When Manley reentered the house, Mr. Locke asked a neighbor, Mr. Valentine, to see if he could get the knife away from him. According to Mr. Locke, Valentine went into the house, and after Valentine spoke with Manley for a while, Manley laid down his knife. Manley gave no reason for feeling that he must kill his father. After awhile, Manley left the house and went to the depot across the street, where he was seen walking around the platform.
After Manley left, Mrs. Locke went into the village to see the magistrate, Mr. Cummings, and apparently recounted what took place at the house. Mr. Cummings sent Constable Starr to arrest Manley. Starr found Manley at the depot, arrested him and, after fining him ten dollars, took him home in irons and released him after his father paid the fine. It was later claimed, at Manley Locke's murder trial, that upon his release by Starr, Manley had said, "If Starr ever attempts to arrest me again, another star will shine."
On Friday afternoon, October 30, 1857, Manley Locke and two companions, one named Badger and the other Spellacy, were in Mr. Peachee's tavern. Locke started a quarrel with an Englishman who was minding his own business. Locke asked the man if he could fight, and when the man answered, "No," Locke knocked the man down at the door and chased him down the street, beating and kicking him.
The injured man complained to the magistrate, Mr. Cummings, who issued another warrant for Manley Locke's arrest. Constable Starr was again sent to arrest Locke.
When Manley Locke heard that Constable Starr had a warrant for his arrest, he repeated his threat: "He will never arrest another man if he arrests me." Locke was armed with a shoe knife with a sharp point and a set of "leaden knuckles." Witnesses had seen him sharpening the knife two days before the murder.
At about 7:00 p.m., Constable Starr arrived at the tavern to arrest Manley Locke. The tavern was full. Constable Starr knew that Locke had a knife. Witnesses testified that Locke had "high words" with Constable Starr. When Starr grabbed Locke to arrest him, Locke struck Starr in the face with the leaden knuckles, breaking his nose. Locke started to run out the door. Starr pursued him and caught him, all the while calling for help. Locke then stabbed Starr twice. The first attack was through his arm, and the second entered the aorta, inflicting a half-inch-long wound, according to Dr. Avery, who examined the wound. Starr fell into the arms of one of the onlookers at the tavern and gasped, "I am a dead man." He expired within three minutes.
Meanwhile, Locke and his two companions, Badger and Spellacy, ran about a mile and hid in a cornfield behind a shock of corn. Their pursuers drove them from their hiding place. Locke was finally caught as he was climbing a fence to escape. His pursuers grabbed him and threw him to the ground with such force as to cause him to release the knife. Locke was such a powerful man that it took the strength of three men to subdue him. Locke confessed to the party who arrested him that he had, in fact, stabbed Constable Starr.
The coroner's inquest found that Constable Starr's death was the result of his stab wounds. Manley Locke was held for trial and charged with murder.
Constable Starr was buried in Honeoye Falls Cemetery. His obituary in the Rochester Union and Advertiser on November 7, 1857, read:
Mr. Starr was an esteemed citizen of Mendon and was about fifty-six years of age. He leaves a wife and several children, most of who [sic] have arrived at majority. His family is in deep distress and has the sympathy of their neighbors and fellow citizens, who are deeply indignant at the act. They hope they are relieved forever from the presence of the wicked perpetrator of the deed. Mr. Starr was a brother of the gentleman by that name who is Postmaster at Medina, Orleans County. His funeral took place yesterday [November 6] and was largely attended.
The trial of Manley Locke began in October 1858 and "excited great interest," not only for the facts, but also for Locke's unusual defense. The facts of the case were indisputable. The murder was committed in the sight of many witnesses. Manley Locke murdered Constable Starr. The real issue of the case concerned premeditation. The question concerned Locke's "mental state." Locke was known as a violent man. He had threatened to hurt his mother and kill his father. He was known as the "terror of the village." Yet at his trial, he was fully supported by his family, who testified that he suffered from mental illness. Family members from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia — all persons of reputable standing — attended and supported him at his trial. The defense argued that Locke was "never a master of his actions: that at school he evinced no capacity for knowledge and that both his mother and father were in fear for their lives from him." Some of the witnesses for the defense testified to indications of insanity in the Locke family going back three generations. It was a hard-fought trial, and Locke was well represented.
It took the jury about a day to reach a verdict. When the verdict was read, Locke was convicted, but not on the charge of murder. Instead, the jury found him guilty of manslaughter. Locke was remanded to Monroe County Jail (also known as the Blue Eagle Jail) in Rochester to await his sentencing.
The case then took an unanticipated turn. On December 13, 1858, Locke and fourteen other prisoners escaped from the jail. Using watch springs, they sawed through the iron bars in five places, making an opening ten by sixteen inches through which they could crawl. To lower themselves to the river below the jail, they took the halter with which Ira Stout had been executed some years before. It is supposed that they chose the night of December 13 because Mr. Gatens, one of the night watchmen, had gone to the country to see his family, thereby leaving the night force at the jail reduced. The escape probably took place about midnight after bed check and was not discovered until the next morning, giving the escapees, Manley Locke among them, about an eight-hour head start.
According to the Rochester Union and Advertiser, on December 15 Sheriff Babcock received a telegram from N. Dennison of Mount Morris notifying him of the capture of Manley Locke. Locke was returned to Rochester. On December 26 and again on December 30, Locke tried to escape. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
On January 4, 1859, Manley Locke received his sentence under the conviction of manslaughter in the first degree. He was attended by his sister, one of his uncles and J.H. Martindale, Esq., his counsel. The district attorney admitted that if the case was not murder, it was manslaughter in the third degree. He went on to say that Locke was of weak mind and appealed to the court on behalf of Locke's relatives, who "were worthy of pity and would suffer most by the infliction of a severe sentence." After discussion among the members of the court and a consulting of the statutes, the prisoner, Manley Locke, was brought forward. Locke swore that he was an American by birth, twenty-two years of age, could read and write, had no trade and had religious instruction as an Episcopalian. Judge Strong asked Locke if he had anything to say after hearing the charges and the verdict, and Locke made no reply. The court then sentenced Manley Locke to life in Auburn Prison. Following the sentencing, District Attorney Hudson moved that Manley Locke be sent to Auburn Prison "forthwith" because of his three attempts to escape.
There is one more twist to the case of Manley Locke. In 1865, for reasons unknown, Locke was pardoned and released from Auburn Prison. In 1866, he married Caroline Dean. They had a daughter in 1867 and a son, Maynard Locke, in 1869. His wife, Caroline, died in March 1872. Sometime between 1869 and 1879, Manley Locke was once again sent to prison, this time to the Buffalo Penitentiary, where on October 20, 1879, he died of "progressive dissipation." He was buried back in Honeoye Falls, where a simple stone reading, "M.T. Locke 1836–1879," marks his grave in the Honeoye Falls Cemetery. He was only forty-three years old.CHAPTER 3
Insanity Kills Again
The Murder of Margaret DuPlante, May 31, 1858
On May 31, 1858, the second murder in less than a year was committed in Honeoye Falls. Yacente DuPlante was arrested for killing his wife, Margaret, for some unknown reason.
The DuPlante family consisted of Yacente; his wife, Margaret; and their six children — Albert, sixteen; Rachel, fourteen; Sarah, ten; Margaret, nine; Francis L., six; and a three-month-old infant. Mr. DuPlante was a cooper by trade, and he and his family lived with Asa Gillette in a stone house in Honeoye Falls (at least at the time of the 1855 census). Mr. Gillette was also a cooper, so DuPlante was probably learning the cooper's trade from him. DuPlante had been working for Hiram Finch until three or four weeks before the incident. They were very poor. He indicated that he had quit his job because of poor health so was not working at the time.
On that fateful day, the family had eaten breakfast, and Mrs. DuPlante asked her husband to go and get her some flour since the flour bin was empty. He went to the store of Ogden & Case to get the flour. While he was there, he asked Mr. Case to loan him a gun and load it since he had no powder or shot. He claimed he was going to shoot chickens. It was an ordinary single-barreled shotgun.
DuPlante arrived back home about 8:30 a.m. with the gun. He put the gun in one corner of the room, where his wife and children were, put away the flour and sat down. Mrs. DuPlante was bathing the baby. She asked her husband why he didn't go to work, as she didn't see how they were going stay alive. He replied that he was weak and unable to work. He thought they should move to the city. His wife objected and said that he could go ahead and move, but she would not go with him. After Mrs. DuPlante put the baby in the cradle, she went to the pantry, passing the chair where her husband was sitting. After a short time, DuPlante got up and took the gun from the corner, placed the muzzle a few inches from his wife's right side and discharged it. The whole charge entered her body near her waist. Margaret DuPlante turned part way around, screamed and immediately fell to the floor. She probably expired within six or eight minutes.
DuPlante then told his oldest daughter to take care of the baby, who was screaming violently, and went out into the street intending to give himself up. His six-year-old son was with him. The young boy was crying, "Oh dear, oh dear!" and attracted the attention of Judge C.C. Davidson, Esq. When questioned, the child told him that his father had shot his mother. Mr. Davidson took the gun from DuPlante and returned with him to the house. DuPlante was then arrested, taken before a magistrate and fully committed for murder. Deputy Sheriff Yorks took him to the Monroe County Jail in Rochester at about noon. DuPlante made no attempt to escape.
Coroner Quinn was summoned to the scene of the murder. The following men were impaneled as a jury of inquest: A.D.J. McDonald, foreman; E.P. Lacy; S. Rand; Asa Pride; C.T. Whitney; Albe Allen; Stephen Barrett; Sylvester Kellogg; James Annis; Thomas Hill; Richard Ostrander; and Adam W. Willis.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Murder & Mayhem in Mendon and Honeoye Falls"
Copyright © 2013 Diane Ham and Lynne Menz.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Honeoye Falls' Good Name Tainted,
2. "I'm a Dead Man",
3. Insanity Kills Again,
4. Burglary of the Post Office,
5. Another Starr Murdered,
6. Murder or Self-Defense?,
7. Murder at the Junction,
8. Money Mayhem,
9. Misses Dog — Kills Wife,
10. Love-Lost Murder,
11. Ontario Street Murder,
12. Dead Under the Tree,
13. "I Thought She Was Dead",
14. Junkyard Murder,
15. Railroad Mayhem,
16. Miscellaneous Mayhem,
About the Authors,