The Goss-Udderzook Tragedy: Being a History of a Strange Case of Deception and Murder, Including the Great Life Insurance Case and the Trial of William E. Udderzook for the Murder of W.S. Goss

The Goss-Udderzook Tragedy: Being a History of a Strange Case of Deception and Murder, Including the Great Life Insurance Case and the Trial of William E. Udderzook for the Murder of W.S. Goss

Baltimore: Baltimore Gazette Printers, 1873.

First Edition. 59 pp printed in double columns, w/frontis portrait of Goss. Original wrappers show light dust soiling, else fine. “Nonexistent in the 18th century, life insurance became a formidable industry in the 19th century, growing from fifteen chartered companies in 1840 to 129 in 1870. During this same period, the amount of life insurance in force grew from $4.7 million to $2 billion” (Library Company of Philadelphia Online Exhibit). While this development was of great benefit to widows and children, it opened the door to an accompanying rise in fraud. In 1872, brothers-in-law Winfield Scott Goss and William Udderzook colluded to fake Goss’s death and collect the insurance money. They staged a fire in which “Goss’s body” (in reality a medical school cadaver) was burned beyond recognition. The insurance policy was large, and the company typically reluctant to pay up. When an investigation was launched, a nervous Udderzook decided he could keep the fraud under wraps by killing Goss for real. He was quickly discovered and, after a sensational trial, hanged for the crime in 1874. McDade 1012.

Item #19783

Price: $75.00