Monadnock Moment No. 151
Era 6: Development of the Industrial United States -
1870 to 1900
The Murder of Alvin Foster
On the morning of May 24, 1876, the citizens of Keene were startled to learn that businessman Alvin Foster had been found murdered in front of the Washington Street School. He was found lying on his face with a sponge saturated with chloroform under his nose. There were no other signs of violence upon his body. The New Hampshire Sentinel reported the murder two days later on May 26 in its weekly paper.
Another article on the murder was published in The New Hampshire Sentinel the following week on June 2. Foster, who was highly respected in Keene, left a wife and child. The coroner determined that he had died of suffocation by chloroform and a police investigation was begun. Although a Vermont man was arrested, he was soon released and little progress was made in the case for several months.
A year and a half after Foster's death, one George Hamilton was arrested for the murder in Louisiana and sent to Keene to stand trial. Hamilton had lived in Keene for a while and had made some suspicious remarks about the case to people in the south. It was soon determined, however, that Hamilton had contrived the entire situation and used the arrest as a means of escaping from Louisiana, where he was suspected of another murder. After another year and a half one Frederick Dodge of Vermont was arrested for the murder. The investigation had shown that Foster and Dodge had been rivals for the affection of a young widow who had moved to Keene shortly before Foster's death and whom he had visited often at her hotel room. It was suggested that Foster had been the victim of a lover's triangle, but Dodge gave evidence that he was elsewhere on the night of the murder and was acquitted of the charges. Many local residents felt that Foster had committed suicide, but the circumstances of the death were never proven and the case of Alvin Foster was never solved.
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