Surrounded by lonely toys, this Massachusetts gravestone marks the final resting place of six children who were murdered by poverty.
Frank Naramore was a notorious drunk and adulterer. He would often drink his wages before returning to his dilapidated house where his wife, Elizabeth, and six children waited in poverty.
Elizabeth reached out to family and friends for help. Eventually the tortured mother reached out to the welfare organization, Overseers of the Poor in Baldwinville, Massachusetts. When they visited her home in the now defunct village of Coldbrook Springs, the organization made the decision to place five of the Naramore children in foster homes, while Elizabeth and her 11-month-old daughter in a poor home in the town of Holden. They told her they would return in one week to carry out the plan, but tragically this would be too late.
On March 21, 1901, distraught at the prospect of losing her children, and possibly suffering from extreme postpartum depression, she brought them all (Ethel, 9; Charles, 7; Walter, 6; Chester, 4; Elizabeth, 3; and 11 month old Lena) one by one into the kitchen, and killed them with a club and axe. She tried to kill herself by cutting her throat and an artery in her leg, but was unsuccessful.
The horrifying crime was discovered later that day by a neighbor, dropping off some groceries. Elizabeth Naramore confessed her crimes to Deputy Sheriff Sylvester Bothwell and was taken swiftly into custody. At the childrens’ funeral, the presiding Rev. Charles Talmage railed against Frank Naramore for the tragedy, and at society at large for allowing the family to live in such poverty. At trial, Elizabeth was only charged with the muder of her eldest child, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Following the trial, Frank Naramore disappeared into obscurity. Elizabeth was placed in a state mental hospital, where she spent five years before being deemed sane, and being released. She too faded into history after her release.
The local cemetery in Coldbrook Springs did not have a pauper’s section and no one came forward to pay for a burial in the Baptist Church, so the children were buried outside of Riverside Cemetery in nearby Barre, Massachusetts. The graves went unmarked (except for slight indentations where the children were buried), until 2002 when donations were made to erect a granite tombstone.
Today the Naramore grave is located to the left of Riverside Cemetery in Barre. It is usually surrounded by toys and offerings to the Naramore children. However their deaths were not in vain. As it states on the gravestone itself, the murders led to many of the child welfare protections that exist today.
Know Before You Go
The grave is located on Granger Road, about a mile down a dirt road off Route 62
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