Belle Gunness Murder Farm: Topics in Chronicling America
In 1908, a suspicious fire at the home of Belle Gunness leads police to discover a murder farm. This guide provides access to material related to “Belle Gunness” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
Lured by matrimonial ads from Chicago area newspapers to a farm house in rural LaPorte, Indiana, over 40 wealthy suitors meet their ends at the hands of Belle Gunness, one of the century's "most fiendish" murderesses. After a suspicious fire leveled the house killing her children, authorities would later unearth scores of missing men's bodies from the "murder farm," many beheaded and dismembered. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
April 28, 1908
The house of Belle Gunness in LaPorte, indiana, burns down in the middle of the night, killing her and her three children. A headless body and suspicious graves mystify police.
May 8, 1908
Federal authorities order the arrest of Chicago matrimonial agency managers in connection with the suspected murders.
May 8-29, 1908
Investigators unearth over a dozen bodies, most of men that Belle Gunness lured to their deaths through matrimonial ads.
November 26, 1908
Ray Lamphere, charged with the murder of Belle Gunness and her children, is found guilty of arson.