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Murder Creek

Murder Creek is nestled in the Town of Newstead, NY, where it runs from Akron Falls and joins Tonawanda Creek. Our focus is on preserving the history and natural elements that make this area so unique. Our commitment to sustainability and conservation is reflected in our work at the CW Native Plant Farm cultivating a variety of native plants exclusive to this region. We hope to share the significance of this area with others.  Murder Creek, as you would imagine, has a rich history as well as legends.  We hope you enjoy reading about them.  

Sulphur Creek

Murder Creek was originally named Sulphur Creek due to a Sulphur spring flowing near where Seneca Trail crosses the Creek.  Seneca Trail historically ran through Ransom's Grove - now Clarence Hallow - down Cummings Road and into Akron.  Sulphur Creek became Murder Creek in the early 1800's.  The earliest mention of Murder Creek came in an advertisement in 1812  edition of the Buffalo Gazette looking for workers to improve the Buffalo Road which ran between Pembroke and Batavia.  Sometime around 1817 maps began noting Sulphur Creek as Murder Creek.

Haunted Corners: The Many Legends of Murder Creek by Mark Saglian for the Newstead Historical Society

The First Legend of Murder Creek

The Legend of Murder Creek.
In the spring of 1820, a white man, named John Dolph came from Mohawk country near Utica and built his log cabin close to the See-un-gut. The creek attracted many settlers in those days because it was necessary to be near water as a source of power to operate mills. It was also important for the settler’s personal needs. 

John Dolph and Peter Van Deventer had planned to build a sawmill on the Creek. One evening in October, John and his wife were discussing plans when they heard a shriek from the woods. John opened the door and saw an Indian girl running towards him breathlessly yelling, “Save me. Please save me!” John let her in his cabin and closed the door on a man on the outside yelling “Let me in!”

The Dolphs hid the girl and allowed the man in.

“My name is Sanders,” said the man, “and that girl is a prisoner, whom I am to take to authorities in Canada. Her father, a chief, placed her in my hands, because she wishes to marry a bad Indian.” He looked around the cabin to see if he could find her. He couldn’t, and flew into a rage muttering, “She shall not escape, I will find her yet!” He then left the ca[b]in and hid himself in the woods.

Mr. and Mrs. Dolph then listened to the story of Ah-weh-hah’s (Wild Rose’s) life.  "My home is near Spirit Lake, under the cliff about a mile below the Tonawanda Falls. My mother has been dead several years and my father, a chief of the Senecas, has just been murdered by Sanders. For more than a year, this dreadful man has been staying around Spirit Lake begging me to marry him. I love Toh-yon-oe (Gray Wolf) and will become his wife very soon. Sanders told me that rather than see me the wife of a Seneca, he would murder me and all who stood in his way."

My father and I were going to the Cattaraugus nation to avoid trouble. Gray Wolf was going to meet us there. We started out on foot, taking the old trail, leading to Te-os-ah-wah, a place called Buffalo by your people. When we reached the See-un-gut my father sat down to rest. Sanders came up behind us and said he was sorry for his past conduct. He wished me happiness in my life with Gray Wolf. The man spoke so nicely, he tricked us. When I turned to look eastward, I heard a blow strike and then a groan. Quickly I turned to see my father laying dead on the ground with Sanders standing over him with a club in his hands.

I fled into the forest with him close behind yelling he would kill me too. Here I am. You know the rest.

The Dolphs located Gray Wolf and informed him of the tragedy. He came to his sweetheart and together they journeyed to her father’s grave where John had buried him. They chanted the death song, as a last token of their affection. A grave fire was lighted and the sacred tobacco incense rose to life the burden of their prayer to the Maker of All.

Suddenly Sanders appeared from behind a tree. He and Gray Wolf struggled with knife and tomahawk until Sanders fell from losing too much blood. He was dead. Gray Wolf tried to speak to Wild Rose but instead staggered forward and fell. They had both died at her father’s graveside.

Mr. Dolph heard her cry. He found her on her knees sobbing the death chant. John then buried both bodies and comforted Wild Rose.

She often went to visit the graves of her father and sweetheart to chant her grief. One day the Dolphs missed her, they went out to the graveyard and found her lying upon the grave of Gray Wolf, dead of a broken heart. Beside the graves of her father and sweetheart she was buried.

As the legend goes ——- if you stroll along Murder Creek at midnight, you may hear the voices of the two lovers as they wander over the new dust on the ancient trail. Death united them in a bond the years have not broken.

Fred Schrock


Legend of Sadie McMullin

It was October 31, 1890 a spoooooky Halloween just like any other when 17 year-old Sarah Sadie McMullen made a trip to the local store to buy some butter...Once at the Johnson’s store, Sadie began acting very strangely.  She took out a quarter and slammed it on the counter.  She walked away before the store clerk could get her butter from the ice box or give her change.  A quarter in 1890 is the equivalent of $7.15 and you know something’s up if you literally just throw away money.  And it only gets creepier from here.

After leaving the store, Sadie, with the children in tow, walked to the New York Central Railroad Bridge that stood over 50ft above the Murder Creek gorge.  She coaxed the children to the center of the bridge before hurling little Nellie May Connor into the rushing waters below.  Then Sadie turned on Delia, the girl who she supposedly loved like a daughter, and after a short struggle, managed to heave her off the trestle as well.  “Hello Sadie”

After committing these treacherous acts, Sadie made her way back to the Brown’s house, walking through the front door without the children.  Simon was not home, he was barkeeping at his saloon.  Sadie was greeted instead by Hannah, Simon’s sister.  Sadie just stared back at Hannah and held out her hand. “Goodbye Hannah”

“Where are you going?” asked Hannah, confused.  “WELL FINE!  If you don’t want to shake hands with me, well then alright” Sadie exclaimed, turned on her heels and stormed out of the house.  It was then that Hannah realized the children were not with her.  Concerned, Hannah went to tell her father of her apprehensions.  In the midst of her explanation, Simon happened to stop by and Hannah relayed her worries once more.  Simon simply laughed and assured Hannah that the children were in good hands.

Meanwhile, Sadie made her way through the dark to a bridge behind the saloon owned by Mr. Brown.  This bridge was much smaller than the trestle bridge, a mere 10 feet from the water.  Sadie looked down at the stream below her, took a deep breath, and dove into the water.  Now drowning Sadie screamed in the night.  Sadie was eventually rescued from the waters by the father of Delia, Simon Brown and his friend George Jones.  Hannah claims she was there to extend her hand and help pull Sadie safely to shore.  Sadie screamed and shrieked that they put her back into the water immediately, but against her wishes they carried the hysterical girl back to the Brown’s family home where a doctor was called to tend to her...

A search party was set out for the girls.  Nellie May Connor was soon discovered, her body twisted in a horrible manner, her lifeless eyes staring up at the bridge some 50 feet above her.  Hours later, around 3 am, the search party heard a moan and followed it to find that Delia Brown had survived.  As they carried little Delia up the gorge they heard her mutter weakly “Sarah was smart to throw us off the bridge”  Sadie was soon brought to trial and if convicted, was to become the first woman to be put to death by the electric chair.  Many of the articles of the time oddly focus on her appearance....

Sadie’s past was full of trauma and she was plagued by mental and physical illness.  An Irish American, Sadie was raised in poverty with an absentee father and a mother described as “an irritable, quick-tempered, troublesome woman, with suicidal and homicidal tendencies.” Sadie appeared to have suffered from epileptic seizures and lost time beginning very early in her childhood, presumably something inherited from her mother.  When Sadie was only three her mother came across a bear while in the woods of Wisconsin and after running to a nearby house for help, she died soon thereafter, seemingly from shock...  

Upon their arrival in Akron, Sadie’s strange behaviors did not stop.  Once Sadie had found herself atop a ladder picking cherries, miles and miles from home, and another time she found herself at her front door wearing nothing but her underwear, her clothes were tucked underneath her arm and were soaking wet and she could not remember why.  All of these stories of her losing time were never brought up until the trial.  So, it’s debtable whether she was insane.  But let us give her the benefit of the doubt.  Despite this history of mental illness Sadie showed many signs that her murders were premediated.  Two days prior to the murder, she sent a letter to her aunt in Buffalo, on October 29, which reads, in part: “I don’t care if I never hear from him. I won’t look at him when I come back. He will find that I ain’t as soft as I look.” Clearly a strange letter about a liaison with a lover.

On Halloween, the day of the murders, Sadie received a letter while in the company of Simon Brown’s sister, Hannah.  While Hannah did not know the letters’ contents, she could tell it upset Sadie.  It was from a servant at one of Sadie’s former employers in Buffalo, accusing her of stealing diamonds and valuables from the mansion she used to work at.  Barely hiding her emotions, Sadie ran home and penned the following letter to her aunt:



When you get this I will be far from earth, I am sick and tired of living and as I told you my last hope is come at last—I am thankful to die, people rebuke me for things that I am not guilty of and as I have no one to love me, I can go in peace, as my heart I leave in Akron with the one I always spoke to you of, as he seems to not care for me. I know it is a sin to put an end to myself, but I am not the only one, my brain is longing for the end, now if I only had my little brother to take with me I would be happy. If I had died when I was young how thankful I would have been, but as it is, I must die as it is, so tell my sister that I love her as much as ever, but could not stay with her. I hope you will see to them as I know you will and when I am dead I will come to you and explain, but do not fear me I will not hurt you and the man I loved will know me as a frequent visitor. Oh dear, if it was only over how thankful I would be. I think I will take some one with me so I will close my last letter on earth, hoping God will do justice with me, as he does with everybody, so when you get this you will know that I am no more, you will find my body in the basin in Buffalo, please bury me in Akron as I will be near my loved one so good bye—from Sadie, your no more niece.

The letter was written in a haphazard scrawl that did not resemble Sadie’s handwriting, and Sadie herself could not remember writing it.  SoI believe that either someone else wrote it for the newspapers or she really had written it in an epileptoid state. Later, it was also discovered that the stolen valuables from her former employer were recovered, seemingly misplaced in one of Sadie’s blackouts.  So who was this man that Sadie was obsessed with?  Rumor has it that Sadie was in love with Simon Brown, jealous of Mrs. Eliza Connors, a widow and Nellie May’s mother, whom was said to be involved with Simon.  It was believed that Sadie and Simon were once engaged but he had put an end to it because of Eliza or because it was inappropriate, or even because he may have realized Sadie was a little off her rocker.  Others purport that Sadie was in love with Simon Brown’s brother, and this was the man mentioned in her letters. Regardless, people believed the murders were to exact revenge on her former lover and his new betrothed, but these claims were unfounded and mainly based on the sensationalist headlines...

That being said: Sadie’s trial was extraordinarily short, lasting only two days.  In fact, she was acquitted of the crimes due to insanity.  Even though all the newspapers said she didn’t seem insane, all the witnesses said she didn’t seem insane, the medical community of Buffalo believed that she had carried these acts out in an epileptoid state and that she was not at fault.  And so, the medical community decided that she should be institutionalized and treated.

Sadie was sent to the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane.  Which, by the way is very famous for its architecture, it has served as inspiration for horror movies and video games and is very haunted.  It is still an active asylum…and I attended undergrad only hundreds of feet from it.

After only a year and a half, the Asylum Superintendent, (J.B.) Andrews, said, “that she is now perfectly sane” and they just released her.  That’s it.  I thought there might be some outrage in newspapers at the time but I was reading them and they were more or less apathetic.  “Oh, yeah, Sadie got out.  She’s cured now.”  Which a) I think is rare for them to be like “Oh someone is cured of mental illness!” instead of just torturing them but also b) it’s also weird that they just didn’t report on it... 

Sections taken from:


Legend of Mary Carney

In 1869, Mary Carney was accused of killing her nephew Patrick Carney.  On the day seven year old Patrick had been reported missing Mary Carney was also observed with him.  A frantic search of Cedar and Carney roads occurred and Patrick was found at the bottom of a farmer's well.  

Mary Carney was charged with murder and represented by an attorney named Grover Cleveland. At this time Grover Cleveland was a young attorney who eventually became sheriff, mayor then President of the United States.  

The trial lasted for four days and was followed closely by the whole town. In the end, Mary was acquitted, leaving the rest of her days in Akron, Ohio. Some people still believe she was guilty, and the legend has been kept alive through ghost stories and urban legends.

Mark Saglian Haunted Corners: The Many Legends of Murder Creek June 2019

We Hope you enjoyed learning about Murder Creek and her Many Legends.   
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