Thursday Thinkpiece: The Remarkable True Story of Florence Kinrade

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Florence Kinrade: Lizzie Borden of the North

Creator: Frank Jones
Web page rely: 288
ISBN: 9781988824352
Writer: Durvile Publications
Publication date: Might 31, 2019

Excerpt: Abstract & from Chapter 4: Beginning the Inquest All Over Once more


With Florence Kinrade: Lizzie Borden of the North, Durvile’s True Circumstances sequence takes a spin into historic true crime. In 1909, Florence Kinrade is, by all appearances, the dutiful daughter of a rich educator, engaged to the parson’s son. Fascinatingly, she additionally leads a double life as a vaudeville singer and dancer in Richmond, Virginia. Florence turns into the central determine in a ugly crime — the homicide of her sister, Ethel. This story holds many parallels with Lizzie Borden, one other well-known thriller involving a household homicide and an inscrutable younger lady.

The creator digs deeply into up to date accounts and the testimony from Florence’s high-profile court docket inquest. Frank Jones’ masterful true-crime narrative particulars the challenges of a upper-class lady in search of a showbiz profession. Moreover, he reveals the little-known “tramp menace” feared by individuals of the period, and exposes Florence’s psychological diagnoses by a well-known psychiatrist of the time. Florence’s adventures span Canadian cities of Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary and Lethbridge Alberta. As well as it’s set in American locales of Virginia, Florida, Nevada and California. Within the ebook, we uncover for the primary time, the secrets and techniques of her inside life, suppressed feelings, and romantic escapades.

From Chapter 4: Beginning the Inquest All Over Once more

Some fifty newspapermen, as they have been all the time referred to, jostled for locations within the dreary inexperienced courtroom over Hamilton’s quantity three police station on the night time of Wednesday, March 10, 1909, two weeks after the homicide. However our consideration is confined to 1, and she or he a girl. ‘Equipment of the Mail,’ actually the best-known Canadian lady journalist of her time, was there to attend the inquest into the dying of Ethel Kinrade. Equipment Watkins, born Catherine Ferguson close to Galway, Eire in 1856, was billed as, “the world’s first accredited lady warfare correspondent,” on the energy of having lined the Spanish American Warfare in Cuba for The Toronto Mail and Empire in 1898. She was identified for her pink hair, her cinnamon brown eyes and her dramatic, if sometimes shabby, outfits. And wherever nice occasions have been happening, Equipment was to be discovered – occasions just like the Chicago World Honest, and Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in London – and her sequence on the disappearing London of Charles Dickens was widespread years later.

Inventing a brand new identify for herself, Kathleen Blake, and subtracting eight years from her true age, Equipment had immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba as a younger widow in 1884. She made her begin in journalism submitting an article to Saturday Evening in 1889 when she was thirty-three. Instantly after her triumph as a warfare correspondent (“Equipment Reaches Cuba’s Shores,” The Day by day Mail and Empire headlined her first dispatch), she married Dr. Theobold Coleman, a mining firm physician, and moved to northern Ontario the place she labored alongside him, preventing a smallpox epidemic. The couple later lived in Hamilton for a number of years.

She was not an important author, however an observant reporter, and her descriptions of the Kinrade affair are invaluable. She famous when she arrived for the inquest that first night a fantastic drizzle icing the sidewalk outdoors quantity three police station, the greystone constructing the place Bella Kinrade had come to complain about tramps. It was apparent the authorities had picked the small police station courtroom, reasonably than the extra commodious quarters at Metropolis Corridor, to maintain crowds to a minimal. Reporters and some newspaper artists occupied three-quarters of the area whereas the remaining seats and the area across the partitions have been occupied by these – nearly solely males – fortunate sufficient to safe a ticket from the police chief. The higher home windows have been open to the gentle winter night time and gasoline jets forged a skinny gentle over the room, which was dominated by a big lion and unicorn royal crest.

The first shock was the presence of Dr. James Anderson, a slight man watching occasions with a kindly however eager expression from the elevated coroner’s ‘throne.’ Coroner Dr. Anderson had been known as in on the final second to exchange Coroner Dr. McNichol, ostensibly in order that McNichol could be free to present testimony. Dr. McNichol was as shocked as anybody by the swap: he had meant having a deputy cowl for him whereas he testified. In reality, the swap appears to have been a deliberate ploy by the Legal professional Basic to cowl up earlier ineptitude.

The substitution of a brand new coroner was given because the excuse for beginning the inquest over again, re-swearing the jury – and right here was the purpose – exhuming Ethel’s physique in order that, in response to the legislation, it could possibly be examined by the jury. In reality, there was critical concern concerning the thoroughness of the unique autopsy, and the exhumation offered the excuse for doing a extra thorough second examination.

A letter addressed to Ontario Premier Sir James Whitney from an clearly in-the-know ‘W.J. Wells, Ontario Folks’s Detective,’ writing from Victoria, British Columbia, and revealed within the press makes the purpose: “Why was this lady’s physique allowed to be buried with out a full autopsy examination having been made? Who’s answerable for this error?” The author identified that the our bodies of no fewer than three homicide victims had lately been exhumed in Ontario. “Who has once more been asleep on the wheel?” inquired the author.

If there had been preliminary failures, the presence of George Tate Blackstock Q.C. on the entrance of the courtroom confirmed that the Whitney authorities now took the Kinrade case very critically certainly. Blackstock, associated to the Gooderham booze dynasty, made his repute defending Reginald Birchall in maybe the best homicide trial of the period at Woodstock Assizes in 1890. Birchall, an English confidence man, duped well-to-do British fathers into paying massive sums to have their sons skilled and arrange at Birchall’s (non-existent) Canadian farming property. When his scheme started to unravel, Birchall, who known as himself Lord Somerset, shot and killed one of his victims, Frederick C. Benwell. In spite of Blackstock’s extensively admired defence, Birchall was discovered responsible of homicide and hanged. (As he awaited his appointment with the hangman, Birchall earned pocket cash promoting his ink drawings, one of which decorates the desk of this author.)

Crucially, the journalists and residents gathered that night time weren’t attending any kind of trial, however one of essentially the most historic investigative procedures of all. Inquests date again to tenth century Europe, their function to ascertain the information the place a suspicious dying or one of public concern (like an industrial accident) has occurred. Inquest juries can actually ascribe blame for an untoward dying, however it’s as much as the Crown to put costs.

At 8:10 p.m., according to its lengthy traditions, the inquest commenced with the traditional cry, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!” The names of the jurymen – the foreman R.B. Spera, a small businessman, the others ranging in occupation from fruiterer, to barber, to avenue violinist – have been known as. Regardless of sturdy hypothesis that Florence could be the primary witness, this, in any case, was the period of patriarchal energy within the middle-class family, Constable Lentz introduced, “Mr. Kinrade.”

“An enormous, broad-shouldered man walked slowly throughout behind the coroner and took the stand,” recorded Equipment.

His rugged options have been seamed with grief… his very bigness made him look all of the extra helpless. And, standing reverse him was that man of wonderful character and magnetism, Mr. George Tate Blackstock. Tall, slender, a little bit worn with life… together with his deep eyes and expressive arms…he offers an impression of skill and energy that’s nearly uncanny… Personally, I could say that I feel that I might swear to something Mr. Blackstock wished if he requested me in these deep, resonant tones of his.

The first exchanges have been anticlimactic: Thomas Kinrade couldn’t recall if Ethel was twenty-four or twenty-five. Unwell well being? “Nicely, she complained a little bit of indigestion … she took little tablets and one factor and one other for indigestion.”

Blackstock: “Other than trifling illnesses of that sort, she was of pretty good well being and sturdy structure?”

Thomas Kinrade: “Sure, I feel so. Not so very sturdy, a sort of slight construct.”

Blackstock had his witness undergo a household roll name: Ethel, the eldest daughter, the truth is twenty-five, Florence, twenty-three, Gertrude, sixteen, son Earl, nineteen, working for the Financial institution of Commerce in Montreal, and the oldest sibling, Ernie, twenty-six, a builder contractor residing within the east finish together with his spouse and three youngsters. Tom Kinrade stated he was fifty-seven, his spouse, “is probably the identical age.” He then talked about that she had been adopted as a baby.

Isabella (Bella) was a church organist, and he was singing within the choir once they met and married in 1877. He was now principal of the Cannon Road College in addition to head grasp of the Cannon Road faculty district, comprising 4 faculties.

Kinrade was imprecise once more about his actual property holdings. Ernest, who lived in a home offered by his father, had constructed “ten or twelve homes for me altogether … I’ve thirty homes now …” he regarded considerate “… or possibly extra.” Rents, he defined, have been collected the primary Monday of every month by his spouse and two oldest daughters with Florence taking the west half of town, Ethel the centre half, and his spouse the east finish. “And I paid them,” he added, “three per cent or fifteen {dollars} or so.” Whereas Florence was away in Virginia in 1908, Ethel and her mom shared the accumulating duties.

Was theirs a family the place there have been many guests?

“Not many guests, besides on my spouse’s calling day, Thursday. We hadn’t many guests, we hadn’t many at-homes or issues of that kind.”

“Then within the household,” stated Blackstock, probing ever-so courteously,

… could I ask, Mr. Kinrade, what was the connection between the assorted members of the household? I hope that you’ll forgive my asking the query. All I need to know is what your illustration could be as as to if there have been any estrangements on the fireplace, or whether or not every part was affection.

Kinrade replied with Pickwickian geniality: “We lived, essentially the most affectionate household, my pricey sir. The youngsters wished for nothing, and I stored nothing again from them, and my spouse might spend what cash she appreciated.”

The query was probably not about affection measured in cash phrases, however Blackstock let it go.

“In order that, inside the home, your illustration to the coroner and the jury is that of an affectionate family?”

“Very a lot so.”

“Any exceptions?”

“No exceptions in any respect. I by no means heard one say a cross phrase to the opposite.”

Blackstock left the jurors with the picture of this fairly remarkably amicable household whereas he moved on to ask about Mrs. Kinrade’s well being. “My spouse wasn’t in the most effective of well being. She was a little bit nervous. I wished her to go to the physician, however she was afraid of an operation.”

“Was there any time when these sicknesses of hers took the shape of lapses from consciousness?”

“Nicely, via her life… particularly within the youthful half of her married life, particularly if she was apprehensive or nervous, she would turn out to be very weak and faint. It might be merely like a sleep or a swoon for a short while.”

The swap was abrupt: “Was Florence residing at house on the time of the homicide?”

“Florence has been house since per week or so earlier than Christmas. She got here from Portsmouth (Virginia).” A be aware of hesitancy: “Not less than I suppose so.”

“How lengthy had she been away from house?”

“She went away about this time final yr, in March someday I feel. She was supplied a place in a church to sing as soprano soloist.”


“That was in Richmond.”

“Richmond, Virginia?”

Sure… after which she wrote house to us. She all the time wrote to her mom, and about June, I feel it was, she had signs of malaria and she or he was suggested to go north directly, so she got here house, I feel maybe the top of June and stayed with us all July. After which I feel the 2 women and myself went to Chautauqua (scene of an annual arts pageant in Upstate New York) within the month of August… she stayed at house in September and she or he spoke of going away the primary of October. However we stored her house to listen to (American opera singer) Nordica on Eight October. Then she went away, I feel, instantly after that.

“The place did she go then?”

I understood she was going to Portsmouth (Virginia). My spouse went so far as Buffalo along with her, and noticed her take a sleeper to Philadelphia; that was within the night, and she or he wrote from Philadelphia (to say) she had missed the morning prepare by about 5 or ten minutes, and so she needed to keep in Philadelphia all that day till the night after which went south.

“Your daughter was going then to Portsmouth, was she?”


“Do you know what for?”

“Sure, I knew she was singing there and getting about fifteen or twenty {dollars} per week.”

“What was the distinction within the employment at Portsmouth from what it had been at Richmond?”

“Very a lot totally different. I feel she sang songs on the stage.”

“As I understood, you discovered that for the primary time throughout the time she was house in the summertime?”

“No, she wrote, I feel, earlier than she got here house.”

“In order that, earlier than she returned in the summertime, you came upon from her letters?”

“I’m not so positive about that. I feel it will need to have been in July, or very late in June, if I knew at that date. I knew it when she got here house, and she or he persuaded me to let her return, as she thought she had a expertise in that route.”

“However it got here as a shock to you to seek out, with out consulting you, she had gone into singing on the stage?”

“After all I didn’t know till after she did so.”

“When she went again to Portsmouth, she went with the data of your self and your loved ones that she was going to sing on the stage?”

“The supervisor wrote to her a letter whereas she was house and she or he prevailed upon me to let her go, though her mom was all the time against it.”

“Do you know something of the character of the place the place she was to sing? The theatre?”

“Nothing extra than simply what the supervisor of the theatre wrote – that he wished her to return and that he would improve her wage.”

“Maybe you’d inform us, what wage did you perceive that she was getting after she went again within the autumn?”

“When she went again, we anticipated she would get twenty {dollars} or twenty-five {dollars} per week.”

“And in level of reality, what did she get?”

“When she went again I don’t assume they raised her wage.”

Tom Kinrade was not the sort Blackstock might bully. So when he had some extent to make, he usually got here at it backwards, sideways, any manner however up entrance: “What I used to be involved about asking for the second, Mr. Kinrade, was whether or not you knew something of the character of the theatre. I imply to say, as I perceive it, it was not a theatre at which performs have been enacted, extra of what we name…” as if the phrase left a unpleasant style in his mouth, “a vaudeville efficiency?”

Vaudeville was the main widespread leisure of the day. But to recommend {that a} respectably brought-up younger lady from the skilled lessons would carry out in vaudeville was subsequent to saying she was aspiring to a profession as a burlesque stripper. So Kinrade hastened to throw a mantle of respectability over Florence’s actions:

I understood when she went to sing, (that) the supervisor wished to placed on some little, what he known as, sketches. She informed me she took the half of a ‘faculty marm’ in a little bit play known as College Days, after which she took an element in a bit known as The Musician, and she or he went over these performs with me, and so they have been very humorous and nothing in them that was something unsuitable that I might see.

Blackstock wasn’t having it! A ‘faculty marm’ possibly, however he wished to clarify that the ‘little performs’ have been being carried out in less-than-respectable environment: “What I meant, reasonably, was that it was a budget, widespread kind of leisure?”

“There was not something dramatic about it, nothing that manner.”

“And the costs of admission could be comparatively small and trifling?”

“I by no means heard nor requested about that. It was approaching October and November after we determined for her to return house.”

“Then you definately say that your daughter prevailed upon you to permit her togo again; however that she by no means succeeded in gaining over her mom to that view?”

“Her mom was strongly against something of the sort.”

“And I suppose that you simply your self yielded with some reluctance to the concept of her going again?”

“She stated that she had found that she was good at these sketches and singing, and bought a lot applause that she found she had that expertise. And on that account I assumed that I might let her strive for a short while anyhow.”

“Did she voluntarily give the matter up, or was it because of this of your adversarial choice that she finally deserted the concept?” Kinrade answered:

Nicely, she wrote us a letter that there was an individual there that was paying her consideration, and eager to see her house and again and ahead; and we all know she was engaged (to be married). She wrote that he thought an important deal of her, however she had informed him she was engaged, and her mom and I grew to become nervous about it, and thought she had higher come house. So her mom wrote her a letter to that impact, and if she was not going to return, we have been all happening there Christmas time, anyway, to see what it was like and get acquainted with the individuals.

“Did she inform you who the younger man was?”

“Sure, she talked about his identify.”

“Do you recollect who it was?”

The identify didn’t come simply from Kinrade’s lips: “Fairly nicely.”

“What was the identify?’

“She gave me the identify of James Gordon Baum.”

“Did she inform you what his occupation was?”

“Sure, she stated he was an actor.”

Blackstock was making precious factors: an actor boyfriend and Florence beneath stress at house. Now he might fill in additional of the image. His daughter Florence, Kinrade agreed, was engaged on the time to Claire Montrose Wright, of Victoria College. Whereas Monty studied and lived in Toronto, he had met each Florence and Ethel when he sang for a time within the Centenary Church choir, of which each sisters have been members. He would take the 2 women out to live shows, stated the daddy. “That was at the start, earlier than he was engaged (to youthful sister Florence).”

“And also you say within the early levels of the acquaintanceship he was accustomed to take them each out?”

“In the event that they went anyplace, they’d go collectively.”

“However afterward he confirmed some desire for Miss Florence and finally grew to become engaged to her?”

“Sure.” That they had been engaged a few yr and a half, though Kinrade couldn’t recollect Monty coming to see Florence when she was house in the summertime and even within the fall, after the household returned from Chautauqua.

“He despatched flowers often, however in July and August, as I understood it,” he defined, “he was engaged as a fireplace ranger away up within the north someplace for his well being.”

“Was there something within the attentions of Baum, as reported to you by Florence, which excited any alarm in you, or was it simply that you simply didn’t take care of anyone paying her consideration at a time when she was engaged to Mr. Wright?”

“It appeared to happen to me that he was an actor with out means and that he was getting very a lot in love along with her, and going as far as, maybe, to suggest to her.”

“Did she so report?”

“It appears to me she did say he proposed to her, or was about to suggest to her, and she or he stated she was engaged.”

“She talked about Baum’s identify… in such a manner as to make you infer he was an individual of not very a lot consequence?”

The father smiled: “Oh, very a lot in order that manner, laughed about him and appeared that he was a really inferior sort of man.”

“You didn’t collect from her letters that there was any change in her perspective in direction of him after she returned within the autumn to Portsmouth?”

“Her letters in direction of winter indicated he was paying her consideration and appearing a little bit in a different way in his method and courtesy and his habits.”

“How so?”

“I understood that the person had been accustomed to drink, however that he was residing a unique life to attempt to get her.”

“Did she report that her personal emotions have been present process some change in direction of him?”

“No, nothing that manner that I do know. She merely stated that she informed him she was engaged to Mr. Wright, that (he) was a younger minister; and I understood that she wrote to the minister and informed him all about it.”

“Nicely if she didn’t take care of this younger man, and if she informed him that she was engaged to any person else, there was nothing that will event you any alarm in any respect!” Blackstock waited for Kinrade’s response.

“I didn’t get alarmed! However I assumed she had spent sufficient time in that manner anyway as she was not advancing within the occupation in any manner.”

He had regarded the ‘journey in Portsmouth’ as an experiment, insisted Kinrade, one which could result in a profession in opera in New York.

“These hopes at the moment appeared to you to not be more likely to be realized?”


“So you set an finish to the dialogue by deciding that she should stay at house?”

Tom Kinrade didn’t need to seem the tyrant: “Not determinedly.”

“You gave that opinion?”

“I felt that, and she or he didn’t urge it in any respect.”

However now Blackstock introduced the highlight again to Herkimer Road: “What was Ethel’s perspective in direction of this stage enterprise of Florence’s?”

“Oh, I don’t assume she appreciated it. She, being the eldest lady, was extra in contact with the mom throughout the time Florence was away; I don’t assume she appreciated it in any respect.”

“That’s the manner she expressed herself on the topic?”

Kinrade answered

I don’t bear in mind her expressing herself to me personally, however I might get issues from her mom after we talked collectively. They have been in concord with one another, the mom and Ethel, and the mom was strictly against any life of that sort. We didn’t count on she would proceed that if she bought married, however we thought if ever she wanted, she would have some strategy to fall again upon making a residing for herself.”

“In order that Ethel supported your spouse in her opposition to this stage enterprise of Florence’s?”

Kinrade sensed he was slipping right into a lure. “It wasn’t something of decided opposition.”

“You could have already informed us that your spouse was strongly against the stage work.”

“Sure, she expressed herself strongly to me. She by no means gave her consent.”

“And your daughter Ethel took the identical view?”

“Not like her mom in any manner. She didn’t have a lot to say about it, or something that I do know of.”

The lawyer was not going to let him off the hook. He stated:

I’m solely utilizing an expression utilized by your self, however it’s possible you’ll put it any manner you want… However I understood you to say a couple of minutes in the past that your daughter, Ethel, was against Florence’s stage enterprise, and took the aspect or views of your spouse in opposing it. Is that true?

Grudgingly Kinrade answered: “To a sure extent that’s true.”

“Then the topic of Florence returning to the stage would, of course, be mentioned in the summertime, when she was at house?”


“And that was the time once you say that your spouse expressed her opposition, which she by no means yielded upon, and during which she was supported by Ethel; however you took the aspect of Florence and finally gave your consent to her going.”


The wind gusted via the open home windows, inflicting the gaslights to flare and brighten. Equipment Watkins noticed, “The massive, uneasy determine” of Tom Kinrade, squeezed into the witness field and later, fidgeting on the stool introduced for him, “prompt energy delivered to low ebb certainly.”

Questioned minutely, persistently, recorded Equipment.

He was directly infinitely affected person and very sharp and sudden. His voice, in his affected person moods, was low, halting, cautious – nearly intimate, as if speaking to a buddy. However when the second for the vital question got here, it rose, it grew to become incisive, nearly thunderous and closely weighted with which means.

Thursday Thinkpiece: The Remarkable True Story of Florence Kinrade


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