Monday, June 27, 2016

The Murder of Miss Louiza Fox

Egypt Valley Natural Area, Ohio
Base of the hill where Louiza Fox was murdered
“Do you purposely find the roughest roads for us to travel on when you plan out our journeys?” Zech asked as we entered into the Egypt Valley Natural Area of southeastern Ohio. “Honestly if you hit one of these potholes we’re never going to get back out of it.”

He did have a point. Never before had I seen potholes with potholes in them. But with it being a natural area, my guess is the state doesn’t take care of the road very often.

But it was not stopping me to get to my destination. After what seemed like an eternity of zigging and sagging to avoid the craters in the road, we finally arrived at the top of a lonely hill. I was immediately taken in by the beauty of the area – for the first time since our journey began there was no noise except for the whisper of the wind through the tall grass.

Egypt Valley Natural Area has always been near the top of my “Places Not in Pennsylvania I Want to Visit” List. The region seems to be a hot spot of ghostly activity. There a number of interesting stories that have come out of the area. Near the spot I presently stood taking in the region, people have reported seeing a phantom house, complete with red glowing candles in the windows - maybe it only is seen at night because no house appeared as we stood there. A cemetery in the region (not the one Zech and I would be soon visiting) is haunted by a ghostly arm. The phantom appendage has been spotted crawling around the grounds of the old cemetery. Of course this same cemetery is supposedly guarded by a violent pack of hell hounds.

Where Louiza Fox was murdered
But the most famous specters that roam the valley are said to be that of a young, thirteen year old girl and her crazed killer. Unlike the other legends, this story is based on a true event that happen in 1869.

We made our way up the small incline to the small memorial that stood along the edge of the dirt road. Somebody had been keeping the grass around it neatly cut, which I was extremely grateful – had the memorial been in the tall grass we would have never found it.

The simple plaque is flush with the ground on top of a small slab of concrete. Decorated by previous visitors, at least I wasn’t the only one who dared to travel this remote spot. The plaque placed by a private company states:

On This Spot
Louiza Catharine Fox Aged
13 Yrs. 11 Mo. 13 Da. Was Murdered
By Thomas Carr Jan. 21, 1869.
Carr First Murderer Hanged In County

At the murder site
As I looked into the murder, I found it sad that more has been recorded about the life of the murderer Thomas Carr than there is known information about the victim Louiza Fox. I've found that this is fairly common in the 1800s. For some reason (unless you were wealthy or famous) the victim's life was often passed over in newspaper articles, but the life of the murderer is often told in a lot more detail.

What I was able to discover was Louiza was the daughter of John and Mary Fox and she was described as being beautiful and graceful. She lived with her family on a farm roughly two miles east of Sewellsville and was employed doing housework for the Hunter Family. Louiza has 
at least two siblings. She had a younger brother, William – referred to as Willie in newspaper accounts who witnessed the murder..Louiza had an older sister who was married to a man whose name was Wallace (I’m assuming Wallace was his last name, but they only source I found him mentioned refers to him as a man named Wallace). Sadly that is all that is all I could find about the young Louiza Fox.

Thomas Carr was born in 1846 in Sugar Hill, West Virginia, a small community near Wheeling. It is known that he served with the Sixteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Although he was only fifteen at the time he enlisted, he lied claiming he was nineteen. Though he served, he saw very little action; he was captured at Cheat Run, West Virginia and was sent to a prisoner of war camp. He was released near the end of the war, but never saw any action. After the war he ended up in Belmont County where he found work in a coal mine owned by the Hunter Family. Here he met Louiza who was employed as a servant for the family.

Thomas became infatuated with Louiza and soon proposed to her despite the girl’s young age. Louiza’s parents, her brother-on-law, and the Hunter family objected and soon it was called off due to the age different and Carr’s violent temper. Some sources claim that he was fascinated with her beauty but she turned him away without the prompting of her friends and family.\

Louiza's Grave
Salem Cemetery
Whichever version is correct would no longer matter when, on January 21, 1869, Miss Fox would fall victim to Carr’s violent temper. Louiza and her brother were returning home when Carr approached them. They sent Willie on home so he could talk to Louiza in private. Carr kissed Louiza before he pulled a razor and slashed Louisa across the throat. In his rage he continued to stab her fourteen times. From a distance Willie turned to see Carr attacking his sister and he ran home to tell his parents.

The next day a posse lead by John Fox discovered Carr hiding in a coal bunker. Carr had attempted to take his own life by slitting his own throat and when that failed he shot himself. Both attempts at suicide had failed. The posse grabbed him and took him in to stand trial for his crime.

Carr’s trial was in June of 1869 and lasted five days: he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged for Louiza’s murder.  His execution date was originally set for August 20, 1869 but due to a writ of error, his execution would be delayed until March 24, 1870.

While waiting for his sentence to be carried out, Carr made a strange confession: supposedly he had killed fourteen others and attempted to kill five more. This confession seems to be an attempt at gaining even more attention – I was not able to find any sources that backed his claims. On March 24, 1870 the first and last legal execution would happen in Belmont County, Ohio. His execution took place in front of the courthouse in St. Clairsville and according to early reports his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the Methodist Cemetery, which may be part of the resent-day Union Cemetery in St. Clairsville.

Zech and I paid our respects to the young Louiza before continuing to our next stop at the Salem Cemetery, roughly a mile away. As we approached, Zech called out that he could see her stone in the corner of the cemetery. I parked and we entered the fenced off cemetery at the top of the hill and made our way down the hillside to where Louiza rested.

The wording on her tombstone is very similar to the plaque at her murder site..

Louiza's Grave

Although justice was served and her murderer executed, people began seeing Louiza’s restless spirit has been spotted sobbing at both her grave and at her murder site. And not long after Thomas was executed he supposedly joined Louiza in haunting the spot where he killed her.

We finished paying our respects to Miss Fox before leaving the cemetery and winding our way out of the Egypt Valley Natural Area.

Neither Louiza or Thomas appeared during our visit. I do want to note that I believe the mere solitude of the region, along with the lay of the land, is the cause of a number of the paranormal reports. I've read in places that phantom voices could be heard. While Zech and I were at the murder site, we could clearly hear voices talking, but could not determine the source at the time. As we left the spot, we were able to discover the possible source - three teenagers were sitting on the tailgate of a truck talking, over the hill and out of sight from where we had been standing.

I do ask if you visit the area, please do so with respect.

A side note/; While many of the newspaper accounts of the murder spell her name Louisa, I used the spelling Louiza, whi is the name on her tombstone and also the spelling used in most of the histories of the region,

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