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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.

Introduction

"Mrs. Belle Gunness of LaPorte's Murder Farm." May 28, 1908. Crittenden record-press (Marion, KY), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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.

Timeline

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.