The Dearing Tragedy. The Only Authentic History Published of this Heartless, Fiendish Crime. With a Full History and Confession of Antoine Probst, The Monster

The Dearing Tragedy. The Only Authentic History Published of this Heartless, Fiendish Crime. With a Full History and Confession of Antoine Probst, The Monster

Philadelphia: C.W. Alexander, [1866].

First Edition. [30] pp (paginated 18-48), in original wrappers, illustrated with a portrait of Probst and several views showing different features of the Dearing farm, where the crime occurred. Wrappers somewhat soiled and edgeworn, one horizontal tear (.75 in.) affecting all pages; good. Anton (or Antoine) Probst was a German immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1863. He drifted among jobs and scams (among them repeatedly joining the Union Army, collecting a bounty, deserting, and re-enlisting with a different unit) until, in 1865 he happened upon the Dearing farmstead in a rural part of South Philadelphia. Christoper Dearing took him on as a laborer, but Probst quit after three weeks, unwilling to work on "a rainy, very rough day." A few weeks later he was back, having blown all his savings on alcohol and prostitutes. Dearing re-hired him, not knowing that Probst had once observed him in possession of a sizeable amount of cash. This money was Probst's purported motivation for the vicious slaughter of all six members of the Dearing family, as well as two guests. After a brief but sensational trial, the jury convicted in just 20 minutes, and he sentenced to hang. McDade (772) notes that "After [Probst's] execution, the doctors had a field day with his cadaver, putting it through all kinds of tests, including one to test the theory that the retina of the eye of dying persons retains the last image seen." Of the several contemporary accounts of the case, this one appears to be the least common, with just 3 physical copies located in OCLC.

Item #19782

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