Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Brooklyn Tragedy

From The Oakland Tribune, 28 May 1874

The Brooklyn Tragedy

The Tribune yesterday referred to a rumor of a terrible tragedy in the environs of East Oakland. The reports were fully corroborated last evening. Following are the main facts of the startling affair:

The perpetrator of the tragedy was Patrick Feeny, a well-to-do farmer residing about two miles north of East Oakland. Early yesterday morning he entered the bedroom where his wife was sleeping, and approached her with his hands behind his back. A light was burning on the table, and the wife saw evil in his eyes. she asked him what he had there, and he answered nothing; but she instantly sprang out of bed, threw her arms around him, discovered that he was armed with an axe, and concluded that he meant to murder the whole family. She called loudly to her three girls, the oldest of whom was about twelve years of age, to get up and leave the house, but instead of this they rushed to their mother. She managed to blow out the light before this, in order that he might not see the children. He aimed several blows of the axe at their heads, striking each several times, but in consequence of the mother's struggles to disarm the maniac, none of them fell with great force or precision. The eldest girl, however, received a dangerous cut on the back part of the head and another on the cheek. Another child received a cut on the cheek and a slight blow on the lower part of the back. The only dangerous wound is that on the head of the elder, but it is not probable that it will result fatally.


Having been finally disarmed by the brave wife, the madman disappeared from the house. At daylight he was discovered lying in a pool of blood near the residence of John Hampet, half a mile distant, with eight wounds in his left breast, inflicted with a butcher's knife, which lay close by. That the unfortunate man had inflicted these wounds upon himself there is little reason to doubt. They were all in the body, and several of them are deep cuts. One, at least, which penetrated the lung, is necessarily fatal. Father Gleeson and Dr. Ramford, who were sent for, visited the wounded man in the morning. The Doctor dressed his wounds and the priest attended to his spiritual welfare. He subsequently made his will, and is now prepared to die. The doctor says there is little probability of his recovery, although he may live a few days. It is thought by his wife that a recent transaction in real estate, with which he was dissatisfied, weighed upon his mind and drove him to desperation.


Feeny is a man about fifty years of age, owning a valuable farm in Brooklyn township, where he resided, and other real estate, including town property in Oakland. He has been temperate and acquisitive and is probably worth from $60,000 to $70,000. About a year ago he received a fall, by which he hurt his head badly. For some days past, his wife noticed that her husband's manner had been strange, causing her some alarm.

Some time since he attempted to poison himself and his children, but regretting what he had done, he gave speedy information and remedies were applied that saved their lives. On last Tuesday night he appeared very restive, getting out of bed several times, going out of doors and returning. His wife did all she could to compose him.

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