The Case of Frederick Lincoln Small in Ossipee

On September 28, 1916, a summer cottage went up in flames in Ossipee, NH. The intensity of the flames attracted residents from all over Lake Ossipee when first noticed around 10:10PM; the conflagration reached its high point around 11:30PM. A resident of the cottage, Florence Small, was in the cabin at the time of the fire and did not survive the inferno. Earlier in the afternoon Mrs. Small’s husband, Frederick Small, had left Ossipee by train to Boston with a business associate for business-related reasons. It would be determined later that Mr. Small was a suspect in the arson and sadistic murder of his wife, that the scheme was premeditated and hashed out before his trip. Mr. Small was arrested, tried in court, found guilty, and executed by hanging.

Years later, a buyer built a new cottage over the previous cottage’s foundation, sold it to a Massachusetts couple, and it would be the couple’s granddaughter years later that wrote a true-crime narrative about the murder and subsequent eerie supernatural encounters in this newer cottage.

In 1955, Dorchester was a nice but modest neighborhood on the south side of Boston. From a Dorchester perspective, only the rich had country cottages to escape the sweltering, summer heat of the city. Thus, when short and stout Anna traipsed into Ossipee’s general store dressed in her bright shift, she had the air of someone of status, of grandeur, and of regality. When she assembled her items to be purchased on the checkout counter, the clerk noted she was strange to the community. The conversation that ensued went something like this:

“You’re new around these parts, aren’t you?”

“Ya, I’m from Dorchester. My husband bought a cottage just around the corner from here on Pine Shore Road,” Anna replied.

“Not number 60?!” interjected a customer who couldn’t contain her curiosity while eavesdropping on the conversation. Anna turned to face the woman.

“That’s the one,” said Anna, with a note of apprehension in her voice. She couldn’t imagine why this woman, who was a total stranger to her, should sound so alarmed. The clerk quietly snickered while the customer revealed to Anna the nature of her husband’s recent purchase.

“I can’t believe anyone would be interested in buying that place where such a dastardly thing happened. We heard that someone from down Boston way bought the old cottage. Guess the only people they could sell that place to were outsiders. No one around here would take the gift of it.”

“What are you talking about?” Anna questioned, genuinely concerned by the woman’s remarks, unable to imagine what she could possibly mean.

“Murder, that’s what I’m talking about. Some poor, mousy woman from down your way in Boston was murdered in that cottage. Surely, you must have known!” the woman declared quite unsympathetically. Anna gasped, and turned to Joe, who had just entered the store. She studied Joe’s face for a sign that the woman was mistaken. Anna found no comfort in Joe’s expressionless features.

“Do you know anything about this?” Anna shrieked. Anna was known for her shrill voice, and now, being fairly agitated, Anna’s voice was as piercing as a siren.

“We ought to be running along,” Joe said quietly, to nobody in particular, totally ignoring his wife’s outburst. Joe had already guessed the topic of conversation that had just taken place, and felt it better to avoid a heated argument. He didn’t wish for his personal matters to become the latest subject of gossip in this small town.

“Are these bags ours?” Joe asked the clerk. The clerk nodded and turned to the next customer in line, anticipating an altercation and glad he wasn’t standing in Joe’s shoes. Joe struggled to lift the heavy sacks of groceries, for Joe was a somewhat tall, but slender man, whose muscles had long since given way to his sedentary lifestyle. Joe’s tank top shirt and chino pants drooped down around his aging body—a sharp contrast to his wife’s rotund physique.

“Is it true?” Anna asked, furious now for his deception. “How could you buy the place and not tell me?!”

“I’ll explain on the way home,” Joe said calmly as he walked out of the store, leaving Anna to storm out after him.

Janice Petrie

Janice Petrie’s Perfection to a Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916, is the definitive source for summarizing the breadth of this heinous event. Often, it is the intrinsic motivation of the author’s own relationship to the events that can demand work of a higher standard:

The man’s matter-of-fact answer went something like this.

“Oh the cottage is definitely haunted. We’ve seen evidence of this many times throughout the years.”

“In what way?” I asked, not anticipating this response and a little jealous that my family hadn’t held on to the cottage, allowing me to experience the phenomenon for myself.

“Oh, subtle things,” he replied. “Occasionally we would hear footsteps, or things wouldn’t be where you left them, or lights would turn on and off for no good reason.”

“Really,” I said. “Who do you think is haunting the cottage?”

“We think it’s the wife,” he said.

“My parents always thought it was Florence haunting the cottage, too.” I reminisced.

“But there is something interesting about this spirit,” the caller continued. “She only shows her presence when the cottage is practically empty. If there are a lot of people around, we don’t know she’s there.”

“That would explain why my parents were the only ones in my family who experienced her presence. Most of the time there were many people in the cottage.” I said.

Janice Petrie

And the nature of the trial:

With the circumstantial case becoming stronger and stronger against Frederick Small, the prosecution was acutely aware they had to produce some form of incendiary device to fully incriminate the defendant. Without a timed fire-starting device, Frederick Small’s alibi was airtight, and history of former spousal abuse was not enough to convict the man of murder. There were plenty of abusive, dysfunctional families known to authorities throughout New Hampshire where nobody turned up dead. Simply because a relationship was abusive didn’t mean that participants were necessarily in a life-threatening situation.

Considering the fact that nothing was found on Small’s person to directly link him to the crime, barring the meticulously written inventory and personal items that were thought to have been peculiar articles to accompany a man on an overnight business trip, there was no solid evidence that Small was involved in the murder. These items found in Small’s satchel didn’t prove involvement in the crime, they simply appeared to be strange, considering what occurred in Ossipee the night Small chose to take them with him. Instruments of murder found in the cottage ruins—such as the revolver, the cord, the fireplace poker, and the kerosene—were already present on the property, being used for common household purposes, and anyone who broke into the cottage could have used them.

The only proof the prosecution had that Florence was dead when Frederick Small left for his overnight to Boston was the fact that her stomach contained bits of undigested meat and vegetables, and it was pure speculation that the Smalls ate their dinner on September 28, 1916, around the noon hour, a meal that consisted of meat and vegetables. Nobody witnessed the Smalls eating their dinner that day except for Frederick Small himself, who insisted he and his wife ate a light meal of canned shrimp. This fact could only be disputed with the use of friends and neighbors establishing the habits of Florence and Frederick Small, by stating that they usually ate their heartiest meal at noontime. However, it came to the prosecution’s attention that Dr. Carleton once witnessed the Smalls cooking a hearty meal, which included meat and vegetables, around the supper hour, just before dusk. Thus, the Smalls didn’t habitually, 100% of the time, take their heartiest meal during the early afternoon. It was possible that Florence Small may have warmed over a bowl of soup or stew at the supper hour, as the defense team had speculated. Dr. Carleton’s testimony couldn’t be avoided at the upcoming trial since he was instrumental in performing an extensive examination of Florence’s partially charred body. Yet his testimony concerning the Smalls’ dining habits could potentially destroy the basis for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Florence was dead when Frederick left for Boston.

Janice Petrie

While the couple’s birth charts are challenging to determine since a birthday and time are unknown for both in the book, we do have a window to determine astrologically subtle nuances to Mrs. Small’s moment of death, as well as Mr. Small’s exact moment of execution; however, Wikipedia does include a birthday and place of birth for Mrs. Smith: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Small

Forensically, gleaned from the hermetic principles of Mrs. Small’s estimated final moment, Capricorn had just risen in the east, indicating the planet that rules the ascendant, Saturn. I strongly feel as the 1300 time was speculated based on the digested condition of food in Mrs. Small’s stomach and the belief the couple took their lunch at noon, any time a few minutes prior would present a Sagittarius rising and Jupiter, as ruler of Sagittarius, placed in Taurus in the 6th house, instead. While Jupiter is peregrine in Taurus, it is not conditioned in the same manner as Saturn in Cancer is. Considering the nature of the earth’s and individuals’ EM fields, we must look at astrology in the same way.

Where then might we see planetary geophysical features corresponding with vibration? Like the invisible water in which all fish swim we emerge into  and throughout our lives within the vibrating geomagnetic field of the earth. Constantly bathed by this swirling vortex of geomagnetic radiation, we never see nor seldom think of the fact that directly below us, occupying half of the diameter of the planet, is a glowing vibrating source of geomagnetic radiant flux emanating from an enormous crystalline iron-nickel core of glowing energy.

Shelli Renee Joye, Tantric Psychophysics

For a forensic chart the ascendant indicates the victim, while the descendant indicates the opposite or antagonist, Saturn in detriment in Cancer in the 7th house is strongly symbolic of not only the antithesis of where Saturn “belongs” by sign. Based on the position of Saturn’s domicile, Capricorn—this interface of what traditional astrology in history has called “cardinal earth” and this very sphere beyond Jupiter—where the house(s) both Saturn and Capricorn occupy in any chart relates in symbolic form the current quality of the Saturn-Earth EM signature. In this case, by houses of the 1st and 7th, we’ve often found this symbol indicative of the victim, by means of body, in the realm of the partner.

So, in the concept of derivative houses, the 8th house being the 2nd house for the partner, etc., as we see Saturn in the second to last degree of Cancer, we see the Cancer’s/the partner’s/Mr. Small’s ruler in the Libra 10th OR his 4th house of home. And we also see the ruler of Libra in Mr. Small’s 2nd house of income/possessions. Lastly, we also see the ruler of Leo, the Sun, in detriment in his Libra 4th. Connecting the principles concisely as whole-sign sextile aspects operate, especially in the case of mutual reception, between Mrs. Small’s partner’s/antagonist’s attraction (Venus) to finances (2nd) and the detriment of burning home (Sun in Libra 4th), there is no doubt in my mind Mr. Small was the murderer of his wife.

Keeping with the theme of analyzing planets conjunct fixed star Spica, as we know the strength of a detriment Sun is weak, as is the strength of a detriment Saturn, a Spica Moon on its own seems to have its own agenda. Yet, something else that was hinted on but not expanded on in Petrie’s book reveals clues in the 11th house Mars in Scorpio given what Mr. Small brought on the train to Boston and the forensic analysis of Mrs. Small’s murder:

As the sheriff dug deeper into Frederick Small’s satchel, the items got more interesting as well as suspect. It was natural to have a fountain pen filler, especially when planning to conduct business, but a Masonic lamb-skin apron? What possible purpose could Small have had for this in Boston? Such an item, inscribed with the words: “F. L. Small, Portland Lodge, No. 1, Maine, Saturday, March 13, 1889” must have been an invaluable keepsake to Small.

As he held the soft apron in his hands, Sheriff Chandler had to have been asking himself, “Why would Frederick Small take a keepsake like this with him on an overnight business trip to Boston? Unless, of course, he knew he was going to lose it in a fire.” The satchel had become far more than a routine cataloguing of items for the prosecution; it became a new and intriguing piece of evidence for the sheriff. As Chandler continued to empty the satchel, he came across two letters written by the same person, who’s signature was somewhat illegible. One was dated December 14, 1908, and the other April 20, 1909, both signed by a person who appeared to have been named “Lama.” Still more intriguing, underneath the letters, the sheriff found the warranty deed to Small’s cottage, inscribed “A. L. Hodsdon and wife to Emma S. Harton-Carroll County Records, Ossipee, Received July 17, 1914.”

Dr. Hodsdon testified that he and Medical Referee B. Frank Horne found the cord around Mrs. Small’s neck after lifting what appeared to have been a cloth mask off the face of the victim. Subsequent tests showed the cloth was covered with a mixture of grease and resin, which in all probability was placed on the body to assure its total disintegration in the fire. Physical evidence demonstrated that the trauma to the head and throat of Florence Small was brutal. The cord had actually cut into the throat of the woman, leaving a wound half as deep as the cord was wide. The force of such a severe strangulation actually caused Florence’s tongue to protrude from her mouth. However, Dr. Hodsdon agreed that in a death by suffocation, such as in a fire, the tongue also may protrude from the mouth of a victim. The marks on the side of Florence’s skull were evidence that she was beaten with the butt end of a fireplace poker. As proof, Dr. Hodsdon took the fireplace poker found in the ruins and matched it to indentations in Florence’s skull. Three cuts in her skull were said to have been produced by several blows to the head with the sharp end of a coal-slicing bar. Indications of strangulation and beatings were almost overshadowed by evidence of a bullet wound in Mrs. Small’s skull. The bullet was thought to have entered Florence’s head above her left eye, shattering the hinge of her right jaw, where it became lodged in her jaw bone. It appeared that the shooter was standing over Florence when the .32 caliber revolver was fired, as the angle of the entry wound demonstrated. Dr. Hodsdon conceded, the bullet wound would have been fatal, but Florence actually died from strangulation. Although her body was set on fire and most of the front was severely burned, miraculously Florence’s back was only slightly discolored, leaving her heart, lungs, and other internal organs intact. Following examination by Doctor Horne at Dartmouth, Mrs. Small’s organs were sent to Dr. George Magrath, the medical examiner for Suffolk County in Boston, to undergo analysis. Dr. Magrath’s testimony echoed the testimony of Dr. Hodsdon. According to Dr. Magrath, Florence’s head had all the appearances consistent with a death by strangulation. Dr. Magrath used a probe to trace the path the bullet took, to help the jury understand the medical examiner’s conclusion that when shot, Florence was prostrate with the shooter standing over her, to her left. The wounds on Florence’s skull were not said to have been fatal blows. Further, Dr. Magrath confirmed that the bullet wound probably would have been fatal, if the strangulation had not occurred. However, death would not have been instantaneous from the bullet wound. As Dr. Magrath testified, Frederick Small sat with a good part of his face covered by a handkerchief. When Florence’s skull was exhibited, Small squirmed uneasily in his seat. His face was reddened during the entire testimony, and Small was visibly shaken. However, few people in the courtroom noticed Small’s reactions because their attention was riveted to the skull on exhibit and the words of the doctor.

Janice Petrie

Given the horror and intensity of the crime as well as the obvious occult interest a Mason like Mr. Small would possibly have, could it be far-fetched to consider that Mrs. Small may have been part of an occult ritual by Mr. Small? While Janice Petrie points out that “Lama” was explained by Mr. Small to be a misinterpretation of the name of his second wife, Laura, oddly, the name is similar to the name of the extra-terrestrial entity Aleister Crowley described from 1917: https://www.vice.com/en/article/mvpvyn/magickal-stories-lam.

The Frederick Small Wikipedia article also claims Mrs. Small “had two previous mysterious fires before the one that claimed the life of his third wife Florence.”

I’ve rectified Mrs. Small’s birth time to 2:00PM because that would not only make her a Leo ascendant and the Sun as the ruler of the ascendant in the 8th house of death, but the fact Mrs. Smith also had the Moon in detriment in Capricorn and Saturn in exile in Aries shows on the day of her death an expression of the dignities of both the Moon and Saturn, and also Mars, in more challenging placements in her birth chart like the 6th and 9th houses. Saturn in exile represents and reflects challenging relationships to the signs Saturn rules (6th and 7th), coinciding with the regions of suffering (6th) and partners (7th) based on the energy of the dignities and strong square aspect between the Capricorn Moon and Aries Saturn. There is mutual reception between Aries and Capricorn since the exalted Mars that rules Aries is in Saturn’s sign and vice-versa–the strength of Mars here in the 6th much stronger than Saturn in the 9th, but both in the cadent houses/on the decline. The Capricorn-Cancer 6th-12th axis quite volatile, and this shows on the forensic chart on the day/time she died. Also, the Moon on Mrs. Small’s day of birth conjunct the degree on the day of her death. We also see Rahu near this degree the day Mr. Small was executed and the Moon also on the day Mr. Small was executed near the degree of Mrs. Small’s descendant. The symbolic patterns in both lives of this couple are dynamic.

The time-frame of Mrs. Small’s death—Mr. Small represented by the Cancer 7th house and Moon conjunct Spica—is symbolically in sync with Mr. Small’s execution 16 months later where at 12:18AM on January 14, 1918 the sheriff stepped on the release spring for the trap door that fell away as Mr. Small was hanged at the Concord State Prison. At this moment, the ascendant was conjunct Spica. What does this say about the influence of this star? Mars just entered detriment in the 1st house Libra indicating the native’s/victim’s own detriment from the 7th house Mars-ruled Aries descendant. The ruler of Libra, Venus, was in the Aquarius 5th house, and the ruler of Aquarius, Saturn, was in detriment in the 11th. The Moon, also in Aquarius, just applied a 2 degree orb to Saturn and formed a grand kite from Jupiter (also in detriment in Gemini) and Mars. Venus also ruling the 8th house Taurus demonstrates the end state of negative energy of this kind. The mutual reception between the Sun in 4th house Capricorn and Saturn in 11th house Leo may be considered a shared support of this detrimental energy, but to what end? The sentence was clear and concise.

Perhaps exhibiting subtle sensitivity to this couple, it can come as no surprise Petrie’s just how mesmerized she was by this case:

This story interested me because although I have no memory of the cottage or any of the events that took place inside it that night, I was one of the occupants of the cottage described in the first chapter. My role was merely as an observer, a fifteen-month-old baby whose parents had chosen to vacation at Lake Ossipee in August 1956. Throughout my childhood, when different relatives on my father’s side would come over for a visit, the story of the “haunting” would inevitably be retold as supper dishes were stacked for washing and twilight approached.

Janice Petrie

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