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On December 25, 1898, Harry Cornish received a package containing a silver medicine bottle-holder that was marked ‘bromo seltzer’ – a cure for headaches. Three days later, Kate Adams died from the potassium cyanide contained in that bromo seltzer, and the search for the sender of the package began. Over a year later, Roland B. Molineux was convicted of the murder of Kate Adams, but the only non-circumstantial evidence against him came from handwriting experts who had examined the package and testified that it was written by Molineux. After a second trial Molineux was acquitted, but the debate continued – if he didn’t send the package of poison, who did? 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.
|December 28, 1898||Kate J. Adams dies after taking headache medicine that contained poison.|
|January 2, 1899||A newspaper article claims that Roland Molineux is responsible for the bottle of poison that was sent to Harry Cornish and caused Kate Adam’s death.|
|February 27, 1899||Molineux arrested following coroner’s inquest into Kate Adam’s death.|
|February 10, 1900||Based upon circumstantial evidence and handwriting, Molineux is convicted of murder in the first degree.|
|October 13, 1902||A second trial in the court of appeals begins.|
|November 11, 1902||The jury acquits Molineux after debating for only thirteen minutes.|
|November 17, 1902||Molineux’s wife moves to South Dakota in order to obtain a divorce.|
|January 20, 1903||Molineux publishes book, The Room with the Little Door, about his time in prison.|
|March 16, 1907||The New York Herald and the Deseret Evening News begin publishing short stories written by Roland Molineux.|
|November 7, 1913||Margaret Connell and Roland Molineux are married in New York courthouse.|
|September 7, 1914||Molineux committed to an insane asylum after a series of breakdowns.|
|November 2, 1917||Molineux dies of paresis in asylum.|