Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

An American Tragedy: The Murder of Grace Brown

Grace's Last Journey

Brandon states that Grace joined Chester in DeRuyter the next morning, and many believe that she expected an informal wedding to be included somewhere along their journey.

On the morning of Monday, July 9, they boarded a train and arrived in the town of Utica later that day. Chester registered at a hotel as "Charles Gordon and Wife of New York City."

The following morning, before moving on, Chester gave some of his clothes to a local laundry, and asked them to be sent, when done, to him (he used his real name) at the town of Old Forge. Going back to the hotel, Chester hurried Grace onto the train, and left without paying the bill – knowing that the fictitious Charles Gordon couldn't be traced.

Late Tuesday, they arrived at Tupper Lake Village, Chester registering this time as "Charles George and Wife."                         

About this time Grace sent a vague postcard back home:

"Dear Mother: Am having a lovely time. Don't worry. Will write you more tonight about the trip. It was rather unexpected, but am glad we are here."

The family most likely presumed Grace had returned to Cortland when she left their house days earlier, and were surprised to hear that Grace was on a journey they knew nothing about. That was not like Grace at all.

Chester sent a postcard for a different reason: a request to the Gillette Skirt Factory to send $5 of his pay to him at Eagle Bay, New York.

The Gillette Skirt Factory
The Gillette Skirt Factory

By the morning of Wednesday, July 11, Grace's optimism about the trip was coming apart at the seams. Brownell and Enos's book states that after breakfast that morning, Grace fell into a crying fit to the degree that a waitress needed to help her out of the dining room.

After having composed herself, Grace left with Chester to catch a train to the town of Old Forge (where Chester could pick up his laundry), but they decided to stop first at Big Moose Lake, a spot popular with tourists. Grace had her trunk sent ahead and asked about trains leaving during the day that could take them to Old Forge later. Even though they were only scheduled for a day at the lake, Chester registered them at the lakefront's Glenmore Hotel as "Carl Grahm of Albany" – but gave Grace's real name and her family's hometown of South Ostelic.

The day was fair, and they had time to kill, so Chester (with his suitcase and tennis racket) led Grace down to the boathouse to rent a rowboat for the fine summer afternoon.


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