|Death: ||May 3, 1851|
NOTE TO FINDAGRAVE STAFF: Please do not delete, as this is not a duplicate. A mother and child of the same name died the same date.
If not for my dear grandpa I'd never have investigated Caroline, her family, and their tragic deaths.
On the 1850 census, she is listed as Caroline. On her death certificate, she is Leina. It's possible her name was Carolina, similar to the name of her daughter. Whatever her proper name, she is remembered, and she met an awful fate.
Caroline Bartle, about 30 years old and pregnant, along with her 1 year old child Caroline, and her husband Valentine, was murdered at the family's Roxborough Philadelphia farm during the night or very early morning. In a gruesome tale that received nationwide press coverage, the story was told of the three perishing terribly, axed to death.
It is said the murders were probably committed by a former employee who was paid by the month. When he quit before his final month was out, he and Mr. Bartle quarreled over his final wages. Mrs. Bartle had expressed her concern to a neighbor, saying she feared he might return to do them harm or burn the farm. In an inquest, that man was identified as J. Christian Aufrecht, also known as Robert. This information more or less matches the description given of the employee given in the first account of the tragedy in the newspaper the North American on May 5, 1851 which said the employee was from Germany.
That same day the Philadelphia Inquirer's recap suggested the employee was of Italian extraction. Several accounts from the time say the employee was sullen, did not speak much, was dark in complexion, small. It was said he looked no more than age 19, but may have been as old as 28. A man who worked at Schuylkill Falls Laboratory who said he knew the man who worked for Mr. Bartle says his name was Christian. That Christian seems to have been at a guesthouse downtown who checked out a day or two before the murders. His passport said he was born February 23, 1822, which would make him about age 29 at the time of the murders. Hmmmm.
No one was ever brought to justice for the murders. In June of 1897, a letter was left on the floor of the Roxborough police station, written in broken English or by someone attempting to sound as thought English were not his native tongue. The writer, signed as "Mike Narjola" (though the name was smeared and the paper had been roughly handled) claimed to be bearing news of the death of the murderer. "Mike" claimed that just two months before, a man named Robarta Parcalla had died, and he had committed the murders. He claimed Robarta spoke of them in his sleep and had asked Mike before he died to tell the police in Roxborough he'd done it. Mike went on to say that Robarta had gone to "Californy" and had done well financially but had lost it all to gambling. He'd moved to Mexico and died very poor, had never married, was always in trouble. Robarta said he was sorry for "Bartel wife and baby". Robarta was said to have been about age 70, making him about 23 at the time of the murders, so that part fits, as does his being Italian, if you go with the Inquirer's version from 46 years earlier. So far, I have not found anyone with these names or close on any censuses, or in Mexican death records. Roxborough's Lt. Lush regarded the letter as a hoax, saying that in 1866 or 1867 a man in Hartford, Connecticut had made a deathbed confession, according to Horatio Gates Jones (who was a former Philadelphia sheriff). I have been unable to find any published account of this confession. One might doubt that a hoaxer would choose to play with murders from 46 years before, and think the details he shares lends credibility. On the other hand, why was the letter merely left on the floor? Anonymity? It was signed. But maybe with a fake signature? Either way, why didn't the writer, "Mike" just mail it?
The Bartle family members who were killed were buried in Kensington Mutual by Mr. Bartle's brother Frederick of that neighborhood. That cemetery was reportedly relocated, perhaps in 1922-1923, possibly to Fernwood. Once this issue has been resolved clearly, the new location will be reflected on this memorial, along with more information from newspapers of the time which covered this horrific tragedy.
The Bartles were killed in what is now known as "Murder Hollow". I used to live there, not knowing the story much at the time. When I brought my grandpa to come see where I was living, he knew the area well, and told me he had gone and slept outside there as a young boy, so he could brag to his friends he'd been brave enough to do so.
My grandpa was born 1910, so he camped out there during the years 1920 to 1925 perhaps, and the Murder Hollow story was considered old then. Grandpa did not know the details other than that a family had been axed to death there many years before. It has been amazing to research this and find that he was not only right about the story and locale, but that the scary tale was still remembered by him as a child about 70 years after its occurance, and again recounted to me 130 years later.
Details from her death certificate:
Name: Leina Bartle
Death Date: 03 May 1851
Death Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Death Age: 30 years
Estimated Birth Year: 1821
Cemetery: Mutual Of Kensington
Burial Place: Philadelphia
Burial Date: May 1851
Information has been found suggesting the family surname was probably Barthel. Please see Valentine's memorial for more information.
Valentine Bartle (____ - 1851)*
Caroline Bartle (1850 - 1851)*
Specifically: Believed to be at Fernwood in Delaware County, just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jul 16, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 73453563