The Case of Charity Lamb (pt. 1)
First Murderess of Oregon
On May 13th, 1854, in a small cabin on the Clackamas River, 9 miles outside of Oregon City, Nathaniel Lamb sits at his dining room table after a long day of hunting. He brags to his sons, Abram (13) and Thomas (9) about how based he is for killing a bear. Mary Ann (19), depending on who you ask, is either sitting at the dinner table or in the next room over, checking out the bear’s paws. But where is Charity? Maybe she’s preparing the meal? Then again she could be taking care of their newborn baby boy, Presley. Oh wait…there she is…she’s just grabbed an axe from the woodcut pile outside. She walks up behind the head of the table, as Nathaniel, unaware, keeps eating his dinner. Like the sword of Damocles, the axe hovers above Nathaniel…and then, suddenly, Blammo!, Charity swings the axe right into Mr. Nathaniel’s head, piercing his skull. She pulls out the axe, and as if for good measure, pierces the skull a second time with another wammo. She then drops the axe and books it out the door. Mary Ann follows her. Nathaniel, still alive and conscious, takes off after them, stumbling around, calling out “What’s the matter?!”, before his legs give way. He has begun to die, a slow death that will last about a week.
Since there wasn’t a twitter, news about the killing would take about a week to reach the public. The Oregon Weekly Times, on May 20, 1854, calls the acts “cold blooded”, Mrs. Charity Lamb a “monster”, and Mr. Lamb, “an industrious and quiet citizen”…basically trying to get #Charityisapsychokiller trending across the Oregon Territory. Keep in mind, Charity has not yet been charged or put on trial. The editor, a man named John Orvin Waterman, had talked to Philip Foster, Lamb’s neighbor, and read a deposition by Mr. Lamb, the dead guy. He goes on to claim that Charity is not just #apsychokiller, but also #awhore. In fact, they believe that Mary Ann and Charity are both madly in love with a young stud, you might know him, he goes by Collins ;). Now supposedly, Collins makes the pannies drop. There’s rumours that he’s shacked up with several women in the area, in one instance causing a divorce. He had been hired by Mr. Nathaniel as a second hand to help prepare their newly acquired 320 acres of land for use. Collins spent a considerable amount of time with the family, staying with them in their cabin, before taking off down to California to cash in on the gold rush. Nathaniel got the tip that something sneeky was going on behind his back when he discovered a letter Mary Ann had stuck between “her bosom”, which he demanded to read. As he’s reading, he notices the handwriting belongs to…Charity?! The note was addressed to Mr. Collins, prompting him to come take Charity and her away with him, to California, presumably to live happy ever after. Mary Ann snatched the letter back and ripped it to shreds. According to Nathaniel Lamb, in his deposition, he supposed this was the reason Charity attacked him. Mr. Nathaniel Lamb lived a cuck, and died a cuck.
But what really is going on here? and what happens to Charity and Mary-Ann?
Find out next time
in part 2