Gilmanton New Hampshire Serial Killer: Herman Webster Mudgett (1861-1896)

Herman Webster Mudgett, using the alias of “Dr. H.H. Holmes” was the first “identified” American serial killer.


Photograph of Herman Webster
Mudgett aka H. H. Holmes.
From “The Holmes-Pitezel case,
a history of the greatest crime of
the century and of the search for
the missing Pitezel children,” by
detective Frank P. Geyer;
Philadelphia 1896

Reportedly this serial killer trapped, then tortured and murdered possibly hundreds of guests at a hotel he owned in Chicago, Illinois, and opened for the 1893 Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair).  An early edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists him as “the most prolific murderer known in recent criminal history.” The Daily Republican (Illinois newspaper) called him the “Wickedest Man.” The North Adams (Massachusetts newspaper) called him “one of the cruelest and most heartless demons ever clothed in human form.”

One newspaper report indicates he may have had an “evil eye” as “it is a strange fact that a sinister fate has befallen many of those connected with his case.” Reportedly Dr. William K. Mattern, the coroner’s physician, who made an autopsy on Benjamin Pitzel (one of Howard’s victims), suddenly dropped dead, and Linford T. Biles, who was foreman of the jury in the trial was shocked to death by a live wire.

He attended medical school, then ran a drugstore in Chicago, Illinois, at the corner of 63rd and Wallace streets (possibly killing the original owner to obtain same, as she suspiciously moved leaving no forwarding address).  He built a hotel across the street for the upcoming 1893 Columbian Expedition. The bizarre three-story building of turrets and towers, hidden rooms, concealed stairways, trap doors, false walls and ceilings. The decor included an acid bath, a wooden slide that descended from the second floor to an iron vault in the basement. The basement itself housed a dissection table, lime pits, and a 3,000-degree crematorium. One full story of the buildings comprised over 100 window-less rooms which were soundproof and were fitted with gas lines that allowed him to asphyxiate his victims at any time he pleased. This building later became known as

"Murder Castle" built and used by H.H. Holmes to murder during the Chicago Exposition; Photograph From "The Holmes-Pitezel case, a history of the greatest crime of the century and of the search for the missing Pitezel children," by detective Frank P. Geyer; Philadelphia 1896

“Murder Castle” built and used by H.H. Holmes
to murder during the Chicago Exposition;
Photograph From “The Holmes-Pitezel case, a
history of the greatest crime of the century and
of the search for the missing Pitezel children,”
by detective Frank P. Geyer; Philadelphia 1896

Murder Castle,” and “The Castle of Horrors.” In 1894, after the house had been burned and boarded up, Chicago police entered the building and found the remains of more than 200 corpses in the basement.  Mudgett originally confessed to 27 murders in interviews with newsmen, but later said he was only responsible for two.

No Respite For Holmes. The Devil is Going to Get His Due,” The Boston Globe announced May 2, 1896, five days before he was hanged.

I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing…I was born with the Evil One standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.” Mudgett aka Holmes wrote as he awaited execution. He was executed on May 7, 1896, at age 35, for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel.

His body was placed in a coffin which, as Holmes requested, was filled with cement, to protect his corpse from grave robbers. He was buried 8 May 1896 at Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Delaware Co. Pennsylvania.


Additional Reading:

Herman Webster Mudgett
Holmes Memorabilia
Wikipedia on Mudgett
The Holmes-Pitezel case; a history of the greatest crime of the century and of the search for the missing Pitezel children – Geyer, Frank P; Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana; 1896

*****ANCESTRY OF Herman Webster Mudgett*****

Thomas Mudgett, son of Henry Mudgett, b. 1614 in County Essex or Middlesex England, d. 1663 [one rec says 1685/86] in Salisbury MA; m. 1663/64 in Salisbury MA to Anna Woreton of Salisbury MA.
Children of Thomas & Anna (Woreton) Mudgett:
1. +Thomas Mudgett, b. abt 1635 in Salisbury MA

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Thomas Mudgett, son of Thomas & Anna (Woreton) Mudgett, was b. abt 1635 in Salisbury MA, and was baptized about 1701 in Exeter NH. He married 1st) 8 Aug 1664 in Salisbury NH to Sarah Clements, dau of Robert & Lydia (Drummer Clements). She b. abt 1626 in Ansley, Warwickshire England and d. Aug 1694 in Salisbury MA. He married 2nd 1695/96 in Salisbury MA to Ann (French) Longe, daughter of Joseph & Susanna (Stacy) French, and widow of Richard Longe of Salisbury MA.  She b. 10 March 1659 in Salisbury MA. After his death, his widow Ann married 3rd) aft 1713  to Alexander Magoon, who died 1731 in Exeter NH. Her first husband Richard Longe was killed 4 Sep 1694 near Haverhill while on his way to Amesbury MA by Indians.
Children of Thomas & Sarah (Clements) Mudgett:
1. Mary Mudgett, b. 30 Apr 1667 in Salisbury, MA; m. John Quinby, had issue
2. Temperance Mudgett, b. 10 Oct 1670 in Salisbury MA
Children of Thomas & Ann (French) Mudgett:
3. William Mudgett, b. 16 Oct 1696 in Salisbury MA; m. Dinah Davis, had issue; One child, Ebenezer Mudgett was famous for his involvement in Weare New Hampshire’s “Pine Tree Riot
4. Thomas Mudgett III, b. 3 Jan 1698 in Salisbury MA; m. Elizabeth Smith, had issue
5. +John Mudgett, b. 17 Dec 1700 in Salisbury MA

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

John Mudgett, son of Thomas & Ann (French) Mudgett), b. 17 Dec 1700 in Salisbury MA, baptized 16 march 1701 in Salisbury MA, and d. 28 May 1746 in Brentwood NH. He married 1725 in Brentwood NH to  Susanna Scribner, dau of John & Elizabeth (Clayes/Cloice) Scribner.  She b. abt 1700 in Exeter NH and d. after 1758 in Brentwood NH. He was an early settler of Brentwood NH (a parish of Exeter NH at that time). He was one of the proprietors of Gilmanton NH where several of his sons were among the first settlers. His will was proved 28 May 1746 in Brentwood NH. He served in the colonial wars.
Children of John & Susanna (Scribner) Mudgett:
1. John Mudgett, b. 1730 Brentwood, Rockingham Co NH; m. Elizabeth Sanborne, had issue
2. Joseph Mudgett, b. abt 1731 Brentwood NH; m. Hannah Mead, had issue.
3. Benjamin Mudgett, b. abt 1732 Brentwood NH; m. Hannah Bean, had issue.
4. Susanna Mudgett, b. 5 March 1737 Brentwood NH; m. Gilman Lougee, had issue.
5. William Mudgett, b. Sep 1740 Brentwood NH; m. Tabitha Gordon, had issue.
6. Simeon Mudgett, b. 24 Nov 1742 in Brentwood NH; m. Mary Smith, had issue.
7. Samuel Mudgett, b. abt 1744 in Brentwood NH; m. Mary –; had issue.
8. +Edward Scribner Mudgett, b. Aug 1745 in Brentwood NH

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Edward Scribner Mudgett, son of John & Susanna (Scribner) Mudgett, b. Aug 1745 in Brentwood NH, and d. 5 Feb 1826 in Gilmanton NH. He married 1 Jan 1770 in Loudon NH to Sarah Smith, dau of Richard & Mary (Hardy) Smith. She b. 21 June 1749 in Exeter NH and d. Aug 1832 in Gilmanton NH. They moved to Gilmanton NH in March of 1771.
Children of Edward S. & Sarah (Smith) Mudgett:
1. Susanna Mudgett, b. 7 Nov 1771 in Gilmanton, Belknap Co NH; m1) Edward Gould; m2) Enoch Foster
2. Mary “Polly” Mudgett, b. Gilmanton NH; m. David Clifford
3. Edward Mudgett, b. 9 Dec 1774 in Gilmanton NH; m. Mary Clifford
4. +Samuel Mudgett, b. 1776 in Gilmanton NH
5. Richard Mudgett, b. 1778 in Gilmanton NH; m. Nancy Blake
6. Sarah “Sally” Mudgett, b. abt 1780 in Gilmanton NH; m. Levi Sleeper
7. John Mudgett, b. 26 Sep 1782 in Gilmanton NH; m. Anna –.
8. Joseph Mudgett, b. abt 1783 in Gilmanton NH; m. Mary –.
9. Betsey Mudgett, b. 1 Aug 1788 in Gilmanton NH; m. Elijah Bean
10. William Mudgett, b. 1 Aug 1788 in Gilmanton NH; m. Eunice Prescott

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Samuel Mudgett, son of Edward Scribner & Sarah (Smith) Mudgett, b. 1776 in Gilmanton NH and d. 10 Dec 1858 in Gilmanton NH; He m. 16 Oct 1800 in Loudon NH to Mary Morrill. She b. 1776 in Gilmanton NH. He married 2nd, 9 March 1817 in South Hampton NH to Hannah French, dau of Elihu & Hannah (Barnard) French. She b. 30 May 1782 in South Hampton NH.
Children of Samuel & Mary (Morrill) Mudgett:
1. +Scribner Mudgett, b. 6 March 1801 in Gilmanton NH
2. Moses Morrill Mudgett, b. 10 March 1803 in Gilmanton NH; d. 27 Sep 1877 Gilmanton NH; m. 1827 to Ascenath Smith; m2d) Mehitable Millett; had issue.
3. Fanny Mudgett, b. 1810 in Gilmanton NH; d. 9 March 1821 Gilmanton NH
Child of Samuel & Hannah (French) Morrill:
4. Samuel Barnett French Mudgett, b. 28 Jan 1819; m. 1843 Susan L. Rundlett; had issue

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Scribner Mudgett, son of Samuel & Mary (Morrill) Mudgett, b. 6 March 1801 in Gilmanton NH, d. 8 Dec 1831 in Gilmanton NH; m. Nancy Prescott, dau of Samuel & Anna (Healey) Prescott. She b. 30 Aug 1797 in Gilmanton NH.
Children of Scribner & Nancy (Prescott) Mudgett:
1. Edward Scribner Mudgett, b. 10 Feb 1830; m. Cynthia Ann Jones and had issue.
2. Albert Newell Mudgett, b. 12 Oct 1826 in Gilmanton NH
3. +Levi Horton Mudgett, b. 11 Nov 1827 in Gilmanton NH

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Levi Horton Mudgett, son of Scribner & Nancy (Prescott) Mudgett was born 11 Nov 1827 in Gilmanton NH. He married Theodate Page Price, daughter of Moses & Theodate (Page) Price. She was b. 1 Oct 1827, and died 23 Dec 1903 in Arlington, MA. They are buried in Gilmanton, NH. His occupation: house painter.
1870 US Census > NH > Belknap > Gilmanton
Mudgett, Levi H. 43 M W House painter 500 NH
Mudgett, Theodate P. 43 F W Keeping House 2500 NH
Mudgett, Ellen P. 18 F W Teaching NH
Mudgett, Arthur P. 13 M W Works on Farm 500 NH
Mudgett, Herman W. 9 M W attending school NH
Mudgett, Henry L. 5 M W NH
Marden, Albert L. 18 M W attending school NH
Children of Levi H. & Theodate P. (Price) Mudgett:
1. Ellen P. Mudgett, b. abt 1852 in Gilmanton NH
2. Arthur P. Mudgett, b. November 1856 in Gilmanton NH; m. Flora Belle Pettingill, daughter of Frank & Betsey (Stevens) Pettingill.  She was born Oct 1858 in NH, and d. 11 Jun 1910 in Gilmanton NH. In 1900 residing Webster, Merrimack Co. NH. From 1910-1930 living in Andover, Merrimack Co. NH. Children: (1) Cecil Fremont Mudgett, b abt 1879, married 24 Dec 1899 in Belmont, Belknap Co. NH to Nellie May Haddock, dau of Henry & Elvira Louise (Wilcox) Haddock. (2) Henry L. Mudgett, b. July 1882 in Andover NH, m 30 April 1903 to widow, Carrie Lonigvel, daughter of Charles & Hannah (Ford) Bickford; (3) Harry H. Mudgett, b. July 1887 in Andover, NH; (4) Oscar Mudgett, b January 1889 in NH, he married Faith — by 1930 and had a daughter Marilyn, resided Waltham MA; (5) Herbert R. Mudgett, b. August 1890 Andover NH.
3. +Herman Webster Mudgett, b. 16 May 1861 in Gilmanton NH
4. Henry L. Mudgett, b. 15 Oct 1864 in Gilmanton NH; d. 23 Apr 1900 in Boston Mass, aged 33; he was a grocer; buried Gilmanton NH. He married 25 Dec 1888 in Saugus,  MA [minister was from Saugus, recorded in 3 places] to Minnie B. Shields, dau of Daniel & Sarah (Douglass) Shields. She was b. abt 1865 in Nova Scotia.
5. Mary Adams Mudgett, b March 1871 in Gilmanton NH; m. 18 Aug 1897 in Lexington MA to Herbert Fowle, son of Charles A. & Sarah T. (Austin) Fowle. He was b 10 Jun 1867 in Lexington MA, and died 10 Jun 1915 in Westfield MA [per Masonic records, Mt. Moriah Lodge]. In 1910 Residing in Arlington, Middlesex Co. MA with Mary’s father Levi H. Mudgett, then 82, residing with them.  Herbert’s occupations include: wood carver and architectural draughtsman. His death record lists ‘architect’.

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Herman Webster Mudgett, (alias Henry “Harry” Howard Holmes alias Henry Mansfield Howard) son of Levi H. & Theodate P. (Price) Mudgett, was b. 16 May 1861 in Gilmanton, Belknap Co. NH and died 7 May 1896 in Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia PA by hanging. He was buried 8 May 1896 at Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Delaware Co. PA. In 1880 residing in Loudon NH on a farm with his father-in-law; He graduated June 1884 from the University of Michigan Medical School; in 1886 residing in Englewood Chicago, druggist. He married 1st) 4 July 1878 in Alton, Belknap Co NH before a justice of the peace, to Clara A. Lovering (his only legitimate wife), daughter of Samuel B. & Lucy (Grace) Lovering. She b. 19 July 1861 in Loudon, Merrimack Co NH, and died 9 March 1956 in Canterbury NH. She later married 31 Oct 1906 in Penacook NH to John S. Peverly of Canterbury NH as his 2nd wife [her son’s WWI draft card of the time shows her as Mrs. John Peverly]. John S. Peverly had m1st) 1 January 1890 in Canterbury NH to Leonora Dow, dau of Olwyn W. & Sophia (Clifford) Dow. Herman W. Mudgett married (as a bigamist) 2nd 28 January 1887 in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co MN to Myrta/Myra Z. Belknap, daughter of John Sands & Lucy (Biers) Belknap.  She was b. Oct 1862 in Pennsylvania, and died 28 May 1924 in Paw Paw, Van Buren Co. MI.   . He married 3rd [as a bigamist], 17 Jan 1894 in Denver Colorado to Georgiana Yoke, daughter of John & Mary (Toner) Yoke, and a niece of Nelson Yoke. Georgiana was born 17 Oct 1869 in IL and died 20 July 1945 in Santa Ana, Orange Co. CA.  She m2d) 10 Nov 1898 in Marion, Grant Co. Indiana to Harry C. Chapman.
1910 United States Federal Census > Illinois > DuPage > Hinsdale > District 5
Sabin, Mary, Head F  W36 single IL NY NY Stenographic, law office
Blair, Nettie, boarder F W 62 widow 1 ch 1 living IL MA NY no occup-own income
Blair, Mabel, boarder f W 26 single IL NY IL
Holmes, Myra B. boarder f W 47 widow 1 ch 1 living PA NY Iowa no occup-own income [b abt 1863]
Holmes, Lucy T. Boarder F W 20 single IL NH PA Teacher-Public Schools

Lucy Theodate Holmes.

Child of Herman W. & Clara A. (Lovering) Mudgett:
1. +Robert Lovering Mudgett, b. 3 Feb 1880 in New Hampshire; d. 3 Nov 1956 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Child of Herman W. & Myrta/Myra Z. (Belknap) Lovering:
2. Lucy Theodate Holmes, b. July 1889 in Wilmette, Cook Co. IL. In 1910 living in Hinsdale, DuPage IL with mother.  She died 29 December 1956 in Los Angeles California, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, LA County, CA. She m1) 11 July 1919 in France [recorded also at Kalamazoo Michigan] to James Douglas Hunter, son of Ronald M. & Josephine C. Hunter. He was born 10 Sep 1892 in Duluth MN and died 24 Nov 1947. They had one child a boy who died in 1919. They divorced. She m2d) 27 June 1917 in Chicago IL to John Thomas Moss, son of Frank Moss. He was born 17 Aug 1884 in Whiston, South Yorkshire, England and died 12 February 1937 in Santa Monica, California. He had m1) in 1908 in Lancashire England to Hannah Garsden and had 2 children by her, Vera Moss, b 1909 and Francis “Frank” Morse, b 1911.

>>>>>Next Generation<<<<<

Robert Lovering Mudgett, son of Herman W. & Clara A. (Lovering) Mudgett, b. 3 Feb 1880 in New Hampshire; d. 3 Nov 1956 in New Smyrna Beach, Floria. He m1) 19 Oct 1903 at Loudon, Merrimack Co. NH to Alexandra Gilbert. She born 6 March 1880 in Fairfield, VT, dau of Loren S. & Grace N. (Farrand) Gilbert. Robert L. Mudgett m2nd) 8 December 1923 in Volusia FL to Mary J. Griest, dau of Thomas Elwood & Martha C. (Russell) Griest [they resided in Smyrna FL in the 1920’s]. She b. 22 May 1880 and d. 3 Nov 1934. In 1905 living in the Hyde Park, Vermont area. In 1917 living in Milwaukee Wisconsin working as a public accountant in business for himself. By 1921 residing in Tampa FL, and in New Smyrna FL (including the Rio Vista Hotel); he was secretary of the New Smyrna Board of Trade in July of 1921, his wife Mary was secretary of the Woman’s Club; ; in 1925 he was Alderman; in 1942 he was City Auditor and Clerk.

Children of Robert L. & Alexandra (Gilbert) Mudgett:
1. Morris “Maurice” Lovering Mudgett, b. 22 May 1905 Hyde Park, Lamoille Co., Vermont, d. 27 February 1996; he married Margie Ajunia Porter. She was b. 1 Oct 1908 in Nebraska and d. 16 Sep 1988 in Chula Vista, San Diego Co., California. They had daughters, Cynthia Ann Mudgett, b. 2 Aug 1940 in Los Angeles Co., California; and Sandra Lee Mudgett, b. 11 Aug 1945 Los Angeles Co., California.
2. Harold Bertram Mudgett, b. 1 May 1906 Hyde Park, Lamoille Co., Vermont, died 13 Jul 1989 in San Luis, Obispo, California. [death date corrected December 2013]. He married in 1930 to Ruby Gail Lee Green.  Had two sons, John Loren Mudgett, b. 14 Jul 1931, and Richard Lee Mudgett, b. 9 Oct 1932, both in San Francisco County, California.  [Richard Lee Mudgett is the father of Jeffrey Lee Mudgett, born 1957 in Oakland, California, author of the book “Bloodstains.”

1900 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Loudon > District 169
Lovering, Fred/Frank B. Head W M Apr 1863 37 single NH NH NH
Lovering, Selara S. sister W F July 1860 38 widow 1 ch 1 living NH NH NH, house keeper
Lovering, Edwin C. brother W M Apr 1865 35 single NH NH NH, day laborer
Mudgett, Robert L. Nephew W M Feb 1880 20 single NH NH NH, fireman, — mill
1910 United States Federal Census > California > Los Angeles > South Pasadena Twp > District 347
Zischank, Max A Head M W 33 m1x 6 yrs Ger Ger Ger imm 1899 alien, office manager jewelry mfg
Zischank Matilda wife F W 28 m1x 6 yrs 2 ch 2 living Ohio Ger Ger
Zischank, Marjory, dau F W 4 single Calif Ger Ohio
Zischank, Max A. Jr. son M W 10/12 single Calif Ger Ohio
Mudgett, Alexandra servant F W  30 m1x 5 yrs VT Can-English VT, servant, private family
1930 United States Federal Census > Florida > Volusia > Ormond > 22
Mudgett, Robert L. Head M W 50 married at age 21 NH NH NH municipal supervisor
Mudgett, Mary J. wife F W 49 married at age 43 PA PA PA
Griest, Martha C. mother-in-law F W 80 Widow m. age 25 PA PA PA

[story first written in May of 2006; updated September 3, 2013, November 1, 2013, September 2016, and 20 September 2017]

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10 Responses to Gilmanton New Hampshire Serial Killer: Herman Webster Mudgett (1861-1896)

  1. Julie says:

    Good lord. I’ve never seen this information before. Do you have any idea where the descendants of Mudgett are now? I wonder if they know…

    • john says:

      Yes I Jeffery Mudgett the great great son of Holmes wrote a book called Bloodstains and is living in California

      • Jennifer Saber says:

        Maurice Lovering Mudgett was my grandfather. He passed away in 1996 (on Feb 27…not Bert as it shows above) at the age of 91. My mother, Sandra Lee Mudgett (Saber), passed away last year. I am her only child. My aunt Cynthia lives near me, but we rarely see eachother.

        I live in San Diego and just recently discovered my family connection to Herman Webster Mudgett in May of this year. My grandpa never spoke much about his family. Whenever I would ask him about his parents or anyone else, he would just brush off the question. I was 17 when he died. We were very close. My mother and I lived with him for close to two years before he passed away because he needed a lot of assistance. He was my superhero and I still miss him like heck every single day.

        I never had a chance to meet Bert, his children, or Jeff Mudgett, the author of Bloodstains. Maybe someday I will. There is a lot I would like to share and so much I want to know.

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  4. My wife is related to Herman W Mudgett via John Mudgett > Edward Scribner Mudgett. The Mudgetts come from a long line of hardy, hard working people. Mudgett’s can be proud of those who came before.

    My wife’s family had Doctors and Lawyers as well as farmers. Lizzie Mudgett ran a boarding house in Oklahoma to keep a roof over their heads and food in 8 children’s bellies when her husband Dr. Abraham Mudgett fell ill.

    Every family has a black sheep in the family, so to speak. You cannot dwell on these dark things or you will go mad yourself.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Kelly, I entirely agree with you. What one man did should not reflect on his family. I included his family tree hoping to show that and also to allow people who wondered if they were related to Herman, to be aware (now especially with a movie coming out). The Mudgett family has much more to be proud of, than to be upset about.

      • Shannon says:

        I’m gonna have to do some research. I come from the mudgett family. My mom said they always heard stories of Holmes but they never believed them. They all thought it was made up folklore passed down. She is very interested in following the tree and see where we fall.

  5. Noel Marin says:

    My grandmother was Annie Mudgett Browne born in Hopkinton, NH around 1864. Died in Canterbury, NH around 1941. I think she was an only child, not sure.

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