Peter Shevalier murdered

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

When researching family history, you never know what you might find. So far, I have found over 400 of my ancestors, and have found nothing as shocking as the death of my 4th great-grandfather, Peter Shevalier.

Peter Shevalier was counted on the Mortality Schedule taken on September 7, 1850, as "Peter Chevalier". It reports he was a married farmer, born in New York, and that he died in April of that year. The cause of death? "Murdered".

A simple newspaper search at led me to tragic details. It was printed in The Democrat, Penn-Yan, New York, Tuesday, May 7, 1850. (Transcription below):

The Murder of Peter Shevalier

"Intemperance and Murder. We learn from the Cortland Democrat that on Wednesday last, in the town of Marathon, in that county, two individuals, named John Hanes and Daniel Modelle, procured ten quarts of whiskey, and proceeded to the house of Peter Shevalier, probably for the purpose of having a 'spree' - They spent most of the day carousing, &c., until a dispute or quarrel arose between the parties, which ended in the strangling (as is supposed) to death of aforesaid Shevalier, and thrusting of the body into a hole in the floor. The first intimation of it was the finding of the above named Hanes and Modelle in the room in a state of intoxication, and the deceased in the hole with his head down and feet resting upon the floor. When spoken to on the subject, Modelle (who we believe is quite a youth) said that Hanes struck Shevalier and choked him to death and then thrust him into the hole. This was peremptorily denied by Hanes, who contended that Modelle had as much to do in the matter as himself. They are both in jail." - Syracuse Standard.

Peter's family was counted on the census that year on September 7, 1850, as follows:

His son, Christian, stepped in as head of the household. He was 25. Peter's widow, "Anna" (Joanna), was 50 and three daughters and a son lived in the home. Hannah, age 19, Jane, age 14, Abram, age 8, and Lucy Ann Shevalier, age 23. Lucy married the following year to Nicholas Hollenbeck.

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