Author’s Note: I was told this week that this pair of columns, which ran in the Cumberland Times-News last year, won a local column award from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association. Since I like the story, I thought I would share it with those of you who live outside of the Cumberland, Maryland, area.
January 1, 1911 was supposed to be a special day in the lives of Charles Twigg and Mary Grace Elosser. It was their wedding day. Unfortunately, the night before was their death day.
The discovery of their bodies on New Year’s Eve 1910 was a shock to everyone who knew them. The young couple was happy and in love.
Twigg was a fruit grower from Keyser, W. Va. He was also a widower whose wife had died four years previously and his infant child had died three years ago. Elosser, who was a young divorcee, had seen her own share of sadness in her life.
“Losing his heart to her in the Indian Summer of the last Autumn, his impetuous wooing soon won her for himself,” the New York Times reported.
On the day he died, Twigg arrived in Cumberland to prepare for his wedding. He purchased a wedding ring for his new bride and train tickets to Florida for their honeymoon. He also bought himself a new suit that he planned on wearing to his wedding.
Errands done, he called his fiancée on the phone.
“She laughingly told him that she was up to her eyes in the work of preparation for their marriage on the next day, and did not have a moment’s time for him that afternoon,” the New York Times reported.
He convinced her to meet with him for just a few minutes, though. Tradition says that it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding and so it proved to be for these lovebirds.
“Charlie is the best man that ever lived and I am the happiest girl in the world to get such a treasure,” Elosser told one of her close friends on New Year’s Eve.
Twigg arrived early in the afternoon and the couple met in the parlor. Although they were alone, there were plenty of people in the house. Grace’s mother, Anna Elosser, popped in after half an hour to tell Grace that her seamstress for her gown needed to speak with her on the phone.
Twigg talked to his future mother-in-law until his fiancée returned.
“When Grace returned, Mrs. Elosser left, playfully shaking her finger at the couple as they sat cosily on the divan and warning them that time was too precious to spend in loverlike endearments when there was so much in the way of preparation for the wedding,” the New York Times reported.
An hour later, Anna Elosser interrupted them again to find out what arrangements had been decided on their wedding tour.
Grace’s mother told a New York Times reporter, “I knocked on the door with a smile on my face for when I had been in the parlor before both Grace and Charlie Twigg seemed so supremely happy that I could not but smile at the recollection of it. I gave a short knock and entered without waiting a reply. The doorway though which I entered is on the same wall as that against which was the sofa whereon Grace and Charlie sat. I did not fully enter the room, but merely thrust in my head, saying as I did so, ‘Grace, dear, I want to ask you something. You won’t mind my coming in, will you?’
“And then I stopped. There was a silence in the room, a queer, strange silence. Looking towards the sofa I saw the odd, strange attitudes of my daughter and her betrothed. It looked as though they had fallen asleep, but in a most grotesque position.”
Twigg’s head was resting on Elosser’s shoulder. Her head was tilted back staring upward. Their hands were clasped together.
The young couple were dead, but just what had happened?
I’ll post part II next week.