Sunday, February 23, 2014

52 Ancestors. John C. Colt: murder, mystery and a body switch?

I just discovered my Colt line.  My 8th great grandmother was Dorothy Colt.  My distant cousins are absolutely fascinating with intrigue in several of the family members.  I found John C. Colt and thought his story was so intriguing that I had to share the information.

My 4th cousin, 6x removed was John C. Colt.  John was born in 1810 to Christopher Colt and Sarah Caldwell in Hartford CT.  He had a well known older brother whom I will write about at another time. John was a rambunctious child and it seemed like his parents could not contain him.  There were tales of him almost dying on 3 separate occasions due to his mischievousness. Sarah Caldwell came from a very well to do family and Christopher worked very hard for his father in law, which afforded the family a very nice upbringing.  Several things led to an upheaval in the Colt household.  In 1819, the family lost their fortune due to the economy and in 1821 Sarah died of tuberculosis.  Christopher remarried in 1823 to Olivia.  Olivia was more of a realist than the children were used to.  The children were still used to the wealth they had in the early 1800s, but the money was gone.  Olivia insisted that the children work instead of going to school in order to keep the family afloat.  In 1829 John dealt with another blow when his beloved older sister, Sarah Ann, committed suicide.  Rumors swirled about the exact reason, but some believed it was because of her step-mother Olivia.  After this John floated around and ended up as a bookkeeper.  He even wrote a textbook that was used in schools around the country!

Samuel Adams went to see John about some textbooks that Samuel made for John and there was a disagreement about money, or so the story goes.  Samuel wound up dead and John was tried for his murder.  He was found guilty and sentenced to death.  On the day of what was supposed to be his execution, he committed suicide.  There are conspiracy theories that suggest John Colt did not actually die that day.  John's body was discovered after a fire had broken out in the prison. The theories are that he killed another prisoner, put their body in his cell and escaped during the fire, but none of this was ever proven.

It is also stated that Herman Melville and Edgar Allen Poe both made references to John in their stories Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Oblong Box respectively.

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