INFORMATION FROM MY PERSONAL FILES
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I have very limited information in my files on this county, but it might be helpful to the right individual. Check below to see what I have. PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR THINGS THAT DO NOT PERTAIN TO WHAT I HAVE BELOW. I do have a database for the cemetery headstones and will check for your requests in that manner if you don't know the name of the cemetery.
1. Mountain Presbyterian Church Cemetery - Boyle's Run in Lower Augusta Twp.
DAISY SMITH: I have done a lot of research on the Murder of Daisy who is buried at the above mentioned cemetery. This murder took place in October of 1898. She was killed by a young man by the name of Edward Cressinger.
Mountain Presbyterian Church, Lower Augusta Twp.
THE MURDER OF DAISY SMITH OCTOBER 10, 1898
Location: Boyle’s Run in Lower Augusta Twp., Northumberland Co., PA
(just south of Sunbury)It was Monday morning, Oct. 10th when Mr. Henry Smith was tending to the needs of a sick horse. He asked his 16 year old daughter, Daisy, to go to a nearby field and gather some sweet fern, which he wanted to mix with other herbs for the treatment of the animal. After a lengthy period of time, Daisy had not returned. When she was not in the house for lunch her father was concerned and went out to the field in search of his daughter. That was when he made the gruesome discovery that Daisy had been murdered. She was shot several times in the back and her neck was slashed from the base of one ear clear around her throat almost to her spine.
As the news of the tragedy swept over the farming community, it was immediately suspected that EDWARD CRESSINGER, 18 years old, knew something about Daisy’s mysterious death, due to his previous reputation. A year earlier he spent 30 days in jail for assaulting a young girl. After being questioned by the authorities Edward was taken to the jail in Sunbury, where he continued to protest that he was innocent.
The coroner and county detective gathered much evidence which appeared to be very damaging to the prisoner. Even his half sister, Essie Keiser, had a much different story of Cressinger’s whereabouts on the day of the murder than he himself had. The coroner felt he had plenty of evidence to hold the lad for trial.After being confronted with the facts of the found knife that was used in the murder, Edward made a confession. With the leak of information to the public the community was ready to lynch him without a trial.
Once a jury was selected, the trial got underway on Wed., Feb. 8, 1899. The prisoner pleaded “not guilty”. It was estimated that about 1200 spectators were present for the trial. In the courtroom, the aisles were packed; people were standing on the window sills and radiators. Even the attorneys and officials had to fight their way through the crowd to get to the front of the courtroom.
The counsels argued as to whether Edward’s confession could be used in court. The defense said it was obtained in a deceitful way, and that the prisoner was tricked into giving evidence against himself. After hearing the arguments of both sides, the judge allowed for the written confession to be read.
I, Edward Crissinger, do voluntarily make this statement and confession, and have not been promised any favors, having made the same voluntarily, as my connection with the murder of Daisy Smith on the 10th day of October1898. After I came back from the store, as I told Dr. Shindel, also MilesDaugherty and J.L.Grimm, about 10 or 11 o’clock a.m. I got my gun and two loaded shells. Then I went up in the woods. I had my dog with me; he was hunting for rabbits. Then I got on Hen Smith’s ground and sat down at the corner of the woods. Then I shot to call my dog, then Daisy Smith came there. She told me I would get arrested for hunting rabbits there. I said Iwas not hunting rabbits. I went right up to where she was and told her Iwas not hunting for rabbits. Then I got quarreling with her, and she slappedme. Then I just held up my gun and shot her, being away about thirtyyards. She hollered, then I killed her; I cut her throat. She got up afterI cut her throat, wobbled around a couple of steps and fell over. Then Iwent home. The above is a true and correct statement given to J.L. Grimmand Miles Daugherty at the county jail office, Tuesday evening at 7:15, being the eleventh day of October, 1898. Signed, Edward Cressinger (Note: On the night before his death, the warden spent considerable time withCressinger. He once again gave a lengthy account of his terrible crime, whichwas about the same as his written confession. Only this time he did not mentionbeing slapped by Daisy. He said he had referred to that because one time they were walking home from church and they words, and she slapped him in the face. Ever since that time, which was over a year earlier, he held spite. He stated positively that Daisy was never closer than forty yards to him.)
Shortly after the confession was read, the Commonwealth rested their case. But the defense used the line of insanity of the prisoner, giving examples of family mental problems and that from his infancy Edward was a moral derelict & a sexual pervert. He was also a man of a very low degree of intellect.On Saturday afternoon, the 11th of February, the jury found Edward Cressinger guilty of murder in the 1st degree. His counsel made an immediate motion for a new trial. They had 30 days to file the petition.
After the defense submitted 8 points of why the Cressinger murder case deserved a new trial, the judge overruled the motion, stating that he believed the prisoner was tried fairly and the verdict was a just one.On Saturday, May 13th, 1899 the prisoner was once again brought to court and stood before the judge. These were his words: “Edward Cressinger, you have been convicted of the murder of Daisy Smith, the jury having found you guilty in the first degree. She never done you any harm; you met her in a lonely spot, while she was in a weak and helpless condition when compared with your manly strength, and the deed, which stands almost without a parallel, was done without any provocation whatsoever. Nothing remains for the Court but, to carry out the law..…… The sentence of the Court is that you be taken back to jail and from there to the place of execution, where you shall hang by the neck until you are dead, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.”
Edward’s attorneys appealed to the Governor for a respite. But the pardon board refused the application for a commutation of sentence. That meant that Cressinger’s execution would be carried out to the letter on January 3, 1900. The gallows would be borrowed from Dauphin County and very few would be allowed in attendance to witness the execution.Isaac Cressinger visited with his son the morning of the execution but chose to stay inside while it took place. Henry Smith, father of Daisy, stood with the viewers in the front of the scaffold. At 10:29 a.m. the trap door fell and Edward Cressinger entered into eternity. He was the first minor to be hanged legally in the state of Pennsylvania.
Edward was laid to rest on Thursday, January 4th, 1900 in the orchard near the Cressinger home. The same people who mourned at the funeral of Daisy Smith shed tears over the casket of this young man whose life also ended in tragedy.
This is a brief synopsis of the murder of Daisy Smith which I wrote from reading the newspaper articles from The Northumberland County Democrat. It is a condensed version of the story.