Part 770h – Brunhammer Doherty Genealogy – News Flash – The Mystery of GG-Grandfather Audley Holmes – 1854 Cold Case Opened – Who Dunnit?

21 September 2012

Good Day,

And the Murder Mystery continues…

As you, the reader of A Genealogy Hunt, and most interested descendant of great-great-grandfather Audley Holmes, know and have been following, I have opened the possible cold case of the 1854 murder of gg-grandfather Audley.

The questions are, of course: Who? What? Where? When? How? And Why?

Our first discovery, Part 733h and Part 734h, in the Calvary Episcopal Church of Tamaqua, in Pennsylvania, Parish Register, reveals that gg-grandfather Audley Homes was buried 16 December 1854. The scribe who entered the Burial Registration had entered the all descriptive, single word “Murdered”… Well deductively that answers two, maybe four questions. So I thought.

Who?GG-Grandfather Audley Holmes, The Cook, Elizabeth


Where?Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania

When?16 December 1854

No answer to How? and Why?

I next discovered, with assistance from the Schuylkill County Historical Society, that my question Where? was actually directed to another location. According to the 23 December 1854 copy of the Miners’ Journal and Pottsville General Advertiser, gg-grandfather Audley may have been murdered near the Susquehanna River in Wilkesbarre in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. (See Part 739h.) The details in the news clipping opened up a number of questions. What was gg-grandfather Audley doing, to be murdered approximately 40 miles from his home in the Tamaqua area? Who was the Cook? Why did the Cook have gg-grandfather Audley’s gold watch? Who was Elizabeth? And what did the murder have to do with New York?

I contacted the Luzerne County Historical Society to continue with my investigation. My recent call revealed that the research is still ongoing.

Today, A Genealogy Hunt received an Anonymous comment affixed to Part 733h.

Yes, Jim, his body was found near the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, on the morning of December 12, 1854. A woman by the name of Margaret Burk was accused and put on trial for his death, but I can find nothing on the trial or the results. I wish I could help with more details, but this is all I found. (Reported 24 January 1855.)

Our questions have changed somewhat,

Who?GG-Grandfather Audley Holmes, The Cook, Elizabeth, Margaret Burk


Where?Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

When?16 12 December 1854

And the plot thickens… Still no answer to How? and Why?

So who was Margaret Burk? Why was she held on trial for the murder of gg-grandfather Audley Holmes? What was the outcome of the trial? Who is the Cook? Who is Elizabeth? What happened to the gold watch?

And the search continues.

Who knows what lurks beneath the swirling waters of the Susquehanna River?




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