Frederick Small

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Frederick L. Small (d. January 15, 1918) was the convicted murderer of his wife, Florence Aileen Curry Small, in New Hampshire. Mr. and Mrs. Small took out a joint life insurance policy of $20,000 USD on March 16, 1916 from the John Hancock Company of Boston. The policy was written that the other spouse would collect if one spouse died. Mr. Small was 49 and Mrs. Small was 37 years old. One premium of $1,107.60 was paid before the incident.[1]

Her body was found in the ruins of her burnt Ossipee Lake two-story cottage on September 28, 1916. Mr. Small had been at the cottage that evening, but was traveling back to Boston when the body was found. Mrs. Small's skull was crushed and also had a cord wrapped around her neck. She had also been shot, and there was evidence she had been chloroformed. The body would have been destroyed by the fire except for the fact that the fire had compromised the floor of the cottage. The body was found floating in the flooded basement.

At first the alibi of being in Boston was a good one, until investigators discovered an alarm clock, spark plug, fire screen, clock spring and some hairpins to make a timed arson device. Mr. Small was known to be a tinkerer who enjoyed mechanical projects.

Mr. Small offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the murderer after he was taken into custody.

Mr. Small was employed as a stock broker in Boston. He was married three times.

In 1909 Small sued Arthur Soden, who was the president/part owner of the baseball team, Boston Beaneaters of the National League, for $500,000 USD. Small claimed that Soden had alienated the affections of Small's second wife.[2] At the time the damage amount of the lawsuit was the largest in United States history, the equivalent of almost 12 million today's US dollars. Soden was ordered to pay Small a judgment of $10,000.[3]

Aftermath of the crime[edit]

The State of New Hampshire executed Small by hanging on January 15, 1918.

Mrs. Small is currently buried in the Grant Hill Cemetery in Center Ossipee. Through the efforts of the Ossipee Historical Society and citizens of Ossipee, Florence Small was given proper ceremony on the 91st anniversary of her death, and her site is now identified with a marker.

See also[edit]


Petrie, Janice S. C., PERFECTION TO A FAULT: A SMALL MURDER IN OSSIPEE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1916, Seatales Publishing Company, Topsfield, Massachusetts, (2000), 152pp, good, wraps (softcover) signed by the author, ISBN 0-9705510-0-2. When Florence Small's smoldering body rose to the surface of the basement water, local folks immediately suspected her husband, Frederick Small, of the crime.