Kittle Double Murder

From Stephentown Genealogy: Roots & More

Horrible Affair in Stephentown

Troy Daily Times, Saturday December 17, 1870

A Double Parricide, A Blind Man Murders His Father and Mother, The Murderer Now in Jail

Coroner Brennan of this city yesterday afternoon received a telegraphic dispatch from Hoags Corners, in the Town of Nassau, asking him to come out and hold an inquest on the bodies of Franklin (Francis) Kittle and wife of Stephentown. The Coroner complied with the summons at once. When he arrived at Hoag’s corners he learned that a terrible crime had been committed, and that the couple had been murdered by their own son, who had been blind since his infancy.

As near as we can gather at this time, the facts are as follows. Mr. and Mrs. Kittle, who resided on the line dividing the towns of Nassau and Stephentown, were among the most respected people of the vicinity, and were in rather well-to-do circumstances. Some time ago, Mr. Kittle made a will leaving all his property to the blind man, but about two weeks ago the father and son had a dispute of some nature, which ended in the former burning the will. This act the son brooded upon, and told a number of persons that he thought it a very severe act on the part of his parent. Thursday night old Mr. Kittle, who had been drinking somewhat, went to the woodshed near his dwelling, where his son was at the time. The two had some words, and the son took a seven barreled revolver from the drawer. His mother then stepped in between the two. The son, being unable to see her, discharged the revolver, as he supposed at the father, but in reality at his mother. The bullet lodged in her abdomen, and she died almost instantly. Again the son discharged a barrel of the revolver, and this time he hit his father, the bullet entering the chin and passing upward, lodged in the brain. Then, dropping weapon, the double parricide pounded the father’s head upon the floor until it was crushed into an almost shapeless mass. A sister-in-law of the murdered (referring to the murderer) saw the whole transaction, and upon her testimony the Coroner had the murderer arrested. A jury was impaneled and a verdict rendered to the effect that the father and mother had died from wounds inflicted by their son. The parricidal murdered (the murderer) was brought to this city by an officer from Stephentown and lodged in the jail this afternoon at 1 o’clock. No effort was made by him to conceal his guilt. He admits that he intended to murder his father, but claims that he did not intend to take his mother’s life. His name is A.C. Kittle, and his is about twenty years of age. Those who have conversed with him say he acts like an idiot.

Coroner Brennan, who has had an opportunity to become familiar with the facts of this awful tragedy, says it is the most brutal and cold-blooded murder of which he has any knowledge-a statement which few who read the above recital will dispute.

The Stephentown Double Murder

Troy Daily Times, Monday December 19, 1870

Details of the Crime, How It Was Committed

Although Francis Kittle and his wife were murdered by their blind son on Thursday night last, the definite intelligence of the crime did not reach here until Saturday afternoon. During the morning there were rumors that a murder had been committed, but nothing of an exact nature was known Friday, early in the afternoon, Coroner Brennon received the following telegram from Hoag’s Corners:

“Come to Hoag’s Corners at once – Important
W.E. Kittle”

The Coroner immediately started on the journey, on his arrival at Hoag’s Corners he found the little village wild with excitement on account of the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Kittle, who resided about half a mile east of the place and the unnatural manner of their taking off. Impaneling a jury at once he proceeded to hold an inquest.

Martha (Tidd) Kittle, wife of David, who is a brother of the murderer, was the first witness examined. She said the old man was about seventy-two and Mrs. Kittle about fifty years of age. Thursday afternoon the old man left the house about 3 o’clock and returned some hours subsequently. He had been drinking somewhat and was rather contrary. Asa, the blind son, was in the house shelling corn. The old man, on entering the room where Asa was, reminded him that he had burned his will which left all the property to him. It seems, according to the evidence, that the old man, when under the influence of liquor, was cross and irritable, but that he never used violence to any one. The witness asked Asa to take care of her baby while she and her mother-in-law went to the barn to milk the cows. Asa was left in the north room of the house, while the old man occupied the south room. When the witness returned she asked the blind boy if his father had been in the apartment during her absence. He replied by saying that the old man had not been near him until after his mother, who had gone through milking first, had come back from the barn; he said it was well he had not. The witness sat her milking pail down and went for a pail of water. When she returned she found that the old man was endeavoring to get Asa into the wood house, which is connected with the south room. Asa had braced himself against the wall and was being pushed by the old man. The old lady was in the south room taking care of the baby, and of her the witness inquired the cause of the difficulty. The old lad said, “Father went to take the baby and I guess Asa choked him.” Witness then went into the other apartment, and as she was going she heard her mother-in-law say, “Asa, you would not murder, would you?” Asa made no reply that she could hear. The old man then left his son and went toward the baby saying, “Let me take him.” Witness said, “No, go and set down.” He replied, “Well, I will, I will.” Asa then came to where his father was standing. The old caught him by the collar. Asa said, “Let go of me.” The old man said, “you hit me in the stomach, you know you did. The old lady said, “Let him go, he is your blind boy, you are not going to hurt him.” The witness testified that Asa then went to a stand in the drawer of which was a revolver. He opened the drawer and the witness went to stop him. He ordered her to let him have it and forced himself away from her. The old lady stepped up to him and exclaimed, “Why Asa!” She, too, tried to get the weapon away from him, but did not succeed. Asa told her to go away, and as he spoke one barrel of the revolver was discharged. His mother fell at his feet dead, the contents having entered her abdomen and the bullet penetrating upward in the direction of her heart. The old man at the time was in the other room, and Asa, who seems to have been seized with an ungovernable rage, went to him and catching hold of him, backed him up against the wall. Witness, who, besides the murderer and his victims, seems to have been the only other person in the house, became frightened and retired to a bedroom. She heard the discharge of the revolver and then heard something fall to the floor. This was probably the weapon. Subsequently, she heard the old man fall. Then she came out of her hiding place, saw Asa on top of his father, pounding his head against the floor, and heard Asa saying “I’ll kill you, G-d-d-n you; I’m a murderer, G-d-d-n you, I’ve made away with my pistol, now I will with you, G-d-d-n you?” She grasped her babe and left the house. In her flight she stumbled over her father-in-law, whose head the parricide was still pounding against the floor. She besought Asa to desist, but he still kept on swearing and pounding his father’s head. After leaving the house she went to the residence of a neighbor named Turner and told the horrible tale of the double murder. In concluding her evidence Mrs. Kittle said that Asa always seemed to be good natured and sensible. He did chores about the house, and these were always performed cheerfully.

The Murderer’s Story

Asa Kittle, the murderer, was the next witness called and gave the following evidence:

I shall be twenty years of age the 20th day of next April; I am blind; never had the use of my eyes to my knowledge; I live in Stephentown; was born in the town; today is Friday, yesterday was Thursday; the homicide was committed yesterday between 4 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon; mother and Martha went out to milk, and they told me to take care of the baby; while they were gone, my father, Francis Kittle, tried to get in the north room where I was, and I shut the door and kept him out. Mother, Lucinda Kittle, came in. My father pushed the door open. This door is the one between the north and the south room and took the baby from me, and that made me a little worse. They got him away from me and I stepped to the drawer and took out the pistol. Mother tried to get it away from me. She was between me and my father. I was not mad at her. The pistol went off accidentally. I did not know at the time that I shot and killed her, but recollect hearing her fall. I then snapped it, but do not know whether it went off again or not. I was making for my father when I snapped the pistol the second time. I was just about going through the door when I caught hold of my father (partly in the south room) and hit him on the head with the pistol. The second time the pistol snapped he fell. If I recollected pounding his head against the floor I should tell it. I know that my father is dead. I suppose I have killed him. I told Henry Bogart, my brother-in-law, that I meant to kill my father, but I did not mean to kill mother.

Meriam A. Turner, a neighbor, testified that he came in after the murder and found the old man dead on the kitchen floor. Asa sat in a chair with his back against the side of the house in the same room, south of the old man, and was shelling corn. Witness then left the house and sent and alarmed the neighbors. He went back to the house later in the evening, in the north room he saw the old lady lying on the floor apparently dead, her feet toward the northeast and head between the stove and door, which is between the two rooms. Saw Asa sitting in the north room, he said he broke the revolver over the old man’s skull. The pistol lay in pieces on the floor in the south room.

Dr. John Haynes, who made the post mortem examination of the bodies of the murdered couple, testified that there was a pistol shot wound under the lower lip of the old man. The ball passed beyond the reach of the probe, and probably lodged in the brain. There were some lacerated wounds on the upper lip and a large wound on the back of the head. These wounds, except the first, were not responsible for the deaths. The first was undoubtedly fatal. On examining the body of the old Mrs. Kittle the doctor found no marks, excepting the one made by the bullet in the pit of her stomach.

The jury rendered a verdict on the effect that Francis and Lucinda Kittle had died from wounds inflicted by their son Asa, and that “the killing was neither justifiable nor excusable.” Asa was brought to the jail in this city on Saturday by a Stephentown officer, and held for murder on a warrant issued by the Coroner. When he arrived he acted and spoke like an idiot, but yesterday he seemed perfectly sensible and disposed to answer any questions put to him. In conversations with our reporter he stated that he was not yet twenty years of age, that he was born and brought up in Stephentown and that he had been without sight since he was two weeks old. In reply to the question “What induced you to kill your father?” he said that since the destruction of the will he and his father had had a number of quarrels, and that he had brooded over them for a long time. On Thursday afternoon, while his father was pushing him about, he happened to think of the revolver which belonged to his brother, and as soon as he could, he obtained it. He earnestly disclaims any intention to harm his mother.

The funeral of the murdered persons took place yesterday. Their remains were interred in the Stephentown burying ground. The dead woman was Kittle’s second wife. By the second marriage he had six children, four sons and two daughters. The family appears to be very ignorant all by one son, it is said, being unable to read. The neighbors speak in rather severe terms of the old Kittle and his wife. The property left by the murdered man will not exceed $1,500. This comparatively small sum was the indirect cause of the murder. The fear that he would be to share in its division took possession of the mind of Asa Kittle and nerved him to commit the terrible parricide of which he is confessedly guilty.

The prisoner this morning was in good spirits. He does not appear to have the slightest idea of the terrible tragedy in which he was the criminal actor but is disposed to speak of it lightly. Evidently he does not feel the least regret, so far as his father is concerned, but expressed himself as feeling sorry that his mother was killed.” Asa Kittle lived a very long life, and if he spent any time in jail, it wasn't a long time, as he appears on the 1880 Stephentown census, living with his sister Elizabath and her husband Henry Vanderbogart. He is shown on every subsequent census in this household, until the 1930 census, when it appears that Asa was living with Henry in the home of Henry's son, while Elizabeth was living in the home of another of their children. All three were elderly at the time, so speculation could be that they could not be taken care of together.

Asa Kittle died in 1932 and is buried in the Stephentown Hillside Cemetery, next to the grave of Henry and Elizabeth (Kittle) Vanderbogart.

Interesting Information

Written by Tina Ordone

This was found online, and I thought I would include it here for those interested in the history of the Kittle (and its various derivations)name.



American correspondents of our foundation:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. and Rina Silvera-Ketel
1140 Canterbury Drive
Hercules, CA 94547
phone: (510)-799-4341

Address of the foundation:

Mr. Jaap H. Ketel
Postbox 344
3840 AH
Harderwijk, The Netherlands

Today quite a number of families with a "KETEL" name are living in the USA, although some of the spelling variations may hide that the origin of their family name is Ketel.

The majority of present day Ketels' are descendants of migrants from the northwestern parts of Europe where Ketel (N-Germany and Holland) and Ketil or Ketel and Ketelsen (Scandinavia) are common family names.

Both names are patronymics of the Scandinavian Christian name KETIL of which the meaning is 'protector'. Migrants from Great Britian brought the Anglo-Saxon equivalent "Kettle" to America.

In the course of the centuries many spelling variations evolved from Ketel, Kettle and Ketil, such as Kettel, Ketele, Ketell, Cetill, Ketyll, Kyttell, Kittle, Kittel, Kittelle, and many more.

Early migrants from Great Britian with a Ketel name are reported (1) to be Richard Kettle (1633, Charlestown, Mass.), Peter Kettle (1635, New England) and Thomas Kettle (1635, Virginia).

They were followed in 1642 by Joachim Ketel from Demmin, Mecklenburg, Germany. With a group of Dutch settlers he sailed from Amsterdam to New York and up the Hudson River, where they joined the Dutch colonists at Fort Orange (now called Albany, the capital of the state of New York).

There Joachim Ketel married a girl of Holland Dutch blood and for several generations his descendants did likewise. In the early 1800's they changed their name via Kittle into Kittelle and it was Rear Admiral USN S.E.W. Kittelle (born 1867) who in 1946 published the book "The Ketel Family ".(2) Some of his ancestors were known under the name of Ketelhuyn, refer also for more information on them and other Ketel families in "The Ketelhuyn Chronicles".(3)

Two centuries later two sons of Carl Christoph Ketel, the elder one called Wilhelm Karl Friedrich (William Carl) Ketel, born December 3, 1843 in Borrentin, Mecklenburg, Germany, and his younger brother August Ketel migrated to the USA arriving in New York by the end of 1868. Their father arrived in the USA two years later with his other son Herman and daughter Ernestine.

William Carl Frederic Ketel married in 1871 to Mathilda Mueller at Kewaunee, Wisconsin and a few years later they moved to Neillsville, Wisconsin where he was admitted as a citizen September 6, 1884. His descendants are still living in Oregon and Washington. Because his birthplace, Borrentin, is only 7 miles south of Demmin; it would not be a total surprise if he possibly might have ties with the family of Joachim Ketel mentioned earlier.

Several Ketel families in Michigan are the fourth generation of Christoff Ketel who came to America about 1870 from the vicinity of Essen, Germany.

A Kittle family has been living in West Virginia for two centuries. Their ancestors came from Kingston, New York, were they were baptized and married in the Old Dutch Church as of 1675 (4).

Several other Ketel families in South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana are descendants from Gorus Ketel and Lawrence Ketel (1834-1926) who arrived in the USA from Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, in 1871 together with their sister Logina Ketel with husband and children.

Some families in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, are the children of Johannes Ketel, whereas his second cousin Jan Ketel had settled in Fairport, New York.

We have to admit that our publication is far from complete where the American relatives are described. Any further help from our readers to fill the many open spots will be appreciated highly. Please send your corrections or additions to the American correspondents of our foundation or to the secretary of the foundation, their addresses are listed on the title page of this leaflet.

For further reference we list here the bibliography of early Ketel/Kittle
families in the USA.
(1) The Name and Family of Kittle, manuscript nr 1493 of
Roots Research Bureau, New York, 1984
(2) The Ketel Family, by S.E.W. Kittelle, Washington DC, 1946.
(3) The Ketelhuyn Chronicles, by Arthur James Weise
(4) Baptismal and Marriage Registers of Old Dutch Church of Kingston, New
York from 1660 to 1809, published by Roswell R. Hoes

Other links to Kittle related information

  • Descendents of Francis Kittle
  • Descendents of Edward Kettel
  • Jenks Murder in Stephentown