1876 Murder Shocks Local Communities
SummerMerrick Belknap writes: “I first became interested in this case after becoming acquainted with Joseph Maheux of Stanstead. ‘Joe’ was a wellknown local historian and did much to preserve Stanstead’s history. He
first brought the story to my attention over fifty years ago and we discussed it many times in the intervening years. It was his intention to write a story about the case , but ‘the fickle finger of fate…..’ I would like to dedicate this contribution to the memory of Joe Maheux, a fine person,
admired and respected by all who had the privilege of knowing him”. was fading into Fall when E.C. Hayden left his job at the St. Leon Spring Hotel in late August, 1876. His destination was Stanstead, then Derby Line. As events unfolded, they would shock these local communities as nothing has before or since.
Edwin Hayden, well known in the area, was a native of Montpelier, Vermont and had married Gertrude Spalding, daughter of Levi Spalding of Derby Line. Four years previously. The marriage took place in Boston, where he was then residing. He obtained through this marriage the bulk of her estate, amounting to $40,000, which he soon squandered in unprofitable businesses and fast living. The couple moved to Stanstead in 1874, where he leased the Russell House (the Studdert Hotel), but, as a result of poor management, was forced to surrender the house within a year.
During the period of their residence in Stanstead, it came to be known that he treated his wife with severity and, even, brutality. At about the time they left the hotel, she went to Boston to visit a brother and sister and then returned to Derby Line a few days later to visit another sister, Mrs. Charles Brigham, and local friends. In the meantime, Hayden had been at St. Leon Spring, Quebec, working as a clerk in the newly opened boarding house. Learning that his wife was at Derby Line, he returned to Stanstead with the avowed intent of killing her if she refused to live with him. He met her on the street and accompanied her to Mrs. Brigham’s room at the Derby Line Hotel, where he tried to persuade her to resume living with him. He swore that if she did not, he would kill her the next day. Being accustomed to his bullying in order to obtain money, she did not attach sufficient importance to his threat as the sequel demonstrates.
Gertrude Spalding, daughter of Levi Spalding
of Derby Line, and wife of Edwin C. Hayden
Edwin C. Hayden, The husband of Gertrude Spalding.
Levi Spalding, 1805 – 1871, father of Gertrude Spalding of Derby Line.