Albany’s Final Hangings

Shall we continue with the recitation of murders from 1902’s “History of the Police Service of Albany”? Yes, let’s do.

On April 1, 1858, Emil Hartung of Division Street, just below Green Street, died under suspicious circumstances. “Living in the same house was William Rheinmann, and it was current gossip that his relations with Mrs. Hartung were not on a moral basis.” Appears that Mary Hartung was lacing Emil’s food and soup with arsenic. She was convicted and sentenced to death (Rheinmann was acquitted). A second trial came to the same conclusion. Nevertheless, at some point she managed to slip out of jail, “took a walk through the city, returning at nightfall. The story was current that while in jail she became enceinte. At all events, she was finally released and never again apprehended. She is still living [in 1902].”

In 1863, Matthew Brumaghim shot Charles Phillips in the bar-room of the Delavan House. “Phillips was a man of sporting proclivities and much pugilistic ability. He was something of a politician and had made himself quite obnoxious to party magnates. There was much bad blood between him and Brumaghim. On the night of the shooting Phillips followed Brumaghim from place to place seeking a quarrel. In the Delavan House he reached the limit when he deliberately spat in Brumaghim’s face and attempted to follow up the assault with his fists. Brumaghim then shot him and was acquitted on the ground of self-defense.”

Major George Washington ColeJust a few years later, in 1867, there was a famous murder in the Stanwix Hall rotunda. Again, a love triangle. Major-General George W. Cole shot and killed L. Harris Hiscock of Syracuse for the seduction of Mrs. Cole. Hiscock was in town for the state Constitutional Convention, but his offense dated back to the Civil War. Hiscock had “just come down to tea from his room, and was leaning against a pillar, his face towards Broadway, engaged in conversation with two gentlemen. The weather was warm and pleasant, and the front doors were open. While Hiscock was standing there, General Cole, coming on from the Maiden Lane door, entered the rear of the public room, advancing rapidly; and when he got near enough, holding his Derringer pistol almost at the ear of his victim, discharged it into his face and head, producing death. A horrified bystander exclaimed: ‘What was this for?’ to which Cole replied: ‘He has betrayed my wife. He has got it. He violated my wife while I was at the war; the evidence is clear; I have the proof.'” Mrs. Cole produced a written confession affirming that he had been the victim of force in the first instance, and that subsequent acts were submitted to from shame and fear of exposure.  The defense was “irresponsibility through melancholia super-induced by a knowledge of the criminal acts of Mrs. Cole and Hiscock.” The first trial came to no conclusion, the second acquitted Cole.

Then there was the case of Emile Lowenstein, the mad barber. Lowenstein lived in the same house in Brooklyn as James D. Weston, a one-armed veteran and newspaper peddler on the Hudson River Railroad, and Weston’s wife. On August 3, 1874, they all went to the theater together, and the men agreed to meet the next morning. Weston showed up with a new satchel; they parted for a time, during which Lowenstein went to the shop where he worked and collected his razors. Then they went by train to New York, thence to Chatham, and finally to Albany. They ventured to West Albany where, “in a lonely ravine on Jones’ farm, [Weston] was murdered by being shot and horribly slashed with a razor, which was found near Weston’s body.” Lowenstein took the bag of money, about $300, that Weston had drawn from the bank prior to their journey, got on a train at West Albany and returned to New York, where shortly after he purchased a barber shop of his own.

Mrs. Weston, not surprisingly, was concerned that her husband never returned from this trip, and suspected Lowenstein from the start. At some point she bought a loaf of bread wrapped in a newspaper, and in the paper saw a story of the discovery of a body in West Albany, with a description that matched her husband. She accused Lowenstein, who protested his innocence before fleeing to Canada. He had left a razor behind at the scene of the murder, which was evidence enough. He was found in St. Catherines and brought to Albany to face trial; he was sentenced to die and was hanged April 10, 1874.

The last hanging in Albany was that of Hillaire Latremouille. He was well known to the Albany police. He had spent three years in Clinton Prison for horse stealing and came back home to Cohoes in March of 1879. He went to Dunsbach Ferry and sought work on the farm of Martin Dunsbach, who told him to come back another time as he had to go to Cohoes. When Dunsbach returned home, he found his daughter Catharine had been murdered rather horribly. Latremouille, who had been seen hanging about, tried to escape to Canada but was caught at Whallonsburgh and brought back to Cohoes. He was convicted and hanged in the Maiden Lane jail August 20, 1879.


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