Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Fall 2015, Vol 41, No. 3 - Page 11

More Inquests Scholars from Ohio University and others have assembled the Violent Crimes Database, available on the net, listing details of every reported death, inquest, grand jury, and capital trial in Vermont beginning in 1760 and ending in 1846.11 The Goodrich case is not listed among them, perhaps because the copy that turned up in the UVM archives is the only document to survive, suggesting that the sixteen inquests reviewed here are not a complete inventory. These are stories of passion, insanity, and tragedy, and illustrate the difficulty of dealing with violent crime in early Vermont. There was no state prison before 1808, and no facility for the mentally ill until 1891. There were county jails. Matthew Lyon languished in Vergennes jail for four months in the late fall and early winter of 1798-1799—an inhospitable place, in his opinion. Here is what we know of the inquests conducted by the juries of inquiry before 1856. The Supreme Court held an inquest to determine the cause of death of Lt. Ebenezer Hyde, who died after leaving the Isle La Motte shore in a canoe with Nathaniel Wales. The inquest was held in Bennington in 1791. Despite rumors of more devious actions on his part, Wales was not held sponsible for what the court found to be an accidental drowning.12 In 1800, Mrs. Samuel H. Holgate burned down her home, killing her stepdaughter Orrora and a woman who worked there. The day before, Mrs. Holgate had an argument with her husband Samuel, after she hid all his books and papers, and she had threatened to burn H