The Town of Boston’s website calls it “the most widely known of any event in the history of Boston.” And it is a grisly one.
The story of the North Boston Love murder took place not even a decade after the town was formed in 1817, when it was still mostly a wilderness with fewer than 200 settlers.
The true tale tells of the Thayers, a poor family headed by the father, Israel Thayer. He had three sons – Nelson, Israel Jr. and Isaac, according to the town’s website. The family borrowed money from a boarder, John Love, who lived with the Thayers when he wasn’t sailing during the summer or peddling during the winter.
The town’s website continues:
In the fall of 1824, John Love disappeared after staying for a time with the Thayers. Soon after this the Thayer boys were observed to have more money to spend than formerly and to be riding Love’s horse about. When questioned [they] said that he was away but had given them the use of the horse. Shortly after this they tried to collect debts owed to Love and when they produced a power of attorney, which was obviously forged, suspicion of foul play was aroused.
A $10 reward was offered to anyone who could find Love’s body, which was eventually located “a few yards from the cabin of Israel Jr. where it was buried in a shallow grave with some brush thrown over it … in the gully between the present Zimmerman and Heinrich roads,” according to the town. The website Buffalo Architecture and History noted that the grave was frozen and that “several months” had passed between Love’s disappearance and the discovery of his corpse.
All four Thayers were arrested. When the three boys confessed to Love’s murder, the father was freed. The three brothers were hanged on the west side of Buffalo’s Niagara Square on June 7, 1825, according to the town. A sermon was preached before the hanging.
There were 30,000 citizens in attendance at the hanging, according to Buffalo Architecture and History, and the brothers were hanged on one gallows.