Strange Ties to the Clue Murder in Salem, Another Ghastly Murder, and Zachary Taylor’s attempted Assassination

Webster Prkman Murder SketchAround August 12th, 1849 in Meadville, Pennsylvania on a northern tour of the country Taylor would suffer from typhoid for 3 days and recover. In April 1850 he would dine with William H. Prescott who he tried to convince to write a history of the Mexican-War. Out of spite Prescott would write the Conquest of Mexico…about Cortez and his friends instead.

I wonder about Prescott. He had dined with Polk before he died. Polk had been sick afterward with a severe stomach complaint, but survived. Prescott was sick before leaving Boston to meet Taylor. Prescott would be a great spy. He had access to John Quincy Adams, James Polk, Arthur Wellington, Prince Albert, and Zachary Taylor. Prince Albert would die of typhoid as well. Two years after Prescott’s death though. Taylor would become sick 3 months after meeting Prescott and die.  I believe typhoid incubates for a week or two? Can it lay dormant longer? Well at least it was a valiant attempt by Prescott. His father was involved with the Essex Junto, Northern Confederacy, the Hartford Convention, an secession from America during the War of 1812. One of the fabulous smugglers who ventured through the tunnels of Salem, MA.

Now as Prescott was leaving Boston for Washington the famous Webster-Parkman trial was happening. Lemuel Shaw was the State Superior Court Justice on the case. He was the man Webster appointed to the position after he murdered Chief Justice Parker. Since he heard the case for Selman and Chase he could not hear the case for Knapps. He was also married to a Knapp. So it proved a horrible choice for Webster to make.

Also the suspect was John White Webster. Did Daniel Webster refuse the case because to many memories of the Captain Joseph White murder case in Salem? The suspect had White and Webster in his name. The judge, Lemuel Shaw, was his first choice for the White murder, after the Parker murder that was. Parker. Parkman? It does sound eerily familiar. Was Webster hearing the tell tail heart? Especially if he was sending his youthful friend to poison a president.

Now Prescott had just spent time with Parkman’s son at the time of the murder. Also Prescott’s aunt was married to John White Webster. Parkman and John White Webster were teachers at Harvard.
Parkman helped create the McLean Asylum which is now in Belmont, MA. He would also testify at the Abraham Prescott murder which tried using sleepwalker as a defense in the murder. He was testifying that insanity can be genetically passed along, since Abraham Prescott close family were all nuts. It was Daniel Webster’s friend Rufus Choate who first successfully used sleepwalking as a defense in American history in 1846. Choate convinced a jury that the accused, Albert Tirrell, did not cut the throat of his lover, or, if he did so, he did it while sleepwalking, under the ‘ insanity of sleep’.
John White Webster had murdered Parkman and dismantled his corpse and tried burning him in the incinerator in the school.

Trivia. Lemuel Shaw’s daughter Elizabeth marries Herman Melville. He presided over Cobb Vs Cobb in which Brigham Young was having affair with Augusta Adams and Henry Adams wins a divorce. Brigham Young will be at Bartholomew Felt’s house in Salem when he hears news of Joseph Smith’s death. Felt was married to John Quincy Adam’s cousin. Shaw was married to Elizabeth Knapp who was the daughter of Josiah Knapp. George Parkman’s sister married Robert Gould Shaw, grandfather of 54th regiment Robert Gould Shaw (the general Matthew Broderick played in Glory). Also Nathaniel Russell Sturgis was married to Susannah Parkman. Maybe they all bought to much opium from Sturgis.

McLean Asylum later would house Ray Charles, James Taylor, and John Nash. Ray Charles and James Taylor would be addicts of a form of opium..


For More tales like this from Salem, MA read Sub Rosa and learn how Salem shaped American History. The book is available at Barnes & Noble,, and your local Book Seller.
Support Local!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *