Welcome to another riveting episode of Foul Play: Crime Series. In this three-part series, we explore the tragic story of Joseph Orton, a man whose life took a dark turn when he encountered the enigmatic Elsie Whipple. In part one, we dive into the fateful events that led to their meeting and the beginning of the end for Joseph Orton.
Join us as we unravel the intricate web of deceit, love, and obsession that led to one of the most notorious crimes of the 19th century. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we further uncover the shocking confession of Jesse Strang and the tragic consequences of his actions. Immerse yourself in this tale of passion and betrayal in this episode of Foul Play: Crime Series.
Support our podcast by becoming a patron.
Find us on all platforms.
Visit us online.
Visit us on Facebook
, and TikTok
[00:00:00] July 1st, 1826, James Orton stepped off the stage coach and connected in New York. He planned to spend the night in a public house. And in the morning, once his trunk arrived, head northeast to the town of Stillwater. But when Joseph woke up the next morning, he found that his trunk never arrived. Instead, it went to Albany.
When Joseph arrived in Albany, two hours later, he learned that his trunk yet again, was not there. This time it was on a steamship heading to New York. Joseph decided to stay at a boarding house [00:01:00] on South Market Street until his trunk was returned to him. After three days. Joseph received the trunk, but it wasn't his.
At this point, Joseph needed work. He was running out of money. After traveling to Greenbush, Joseph met a man by the name of Otis Bat. Otis owned a tavern in Albany and offered Joseph work and a place to sleep. Finally, after a few days, Joseph's trunk arrived and he left for Stillwater. At the time it was called Saratoga, but he came back to the Albany Tavern.
He should have stayed away. If he had, things would have ended up differently for him on the evening of August 10th. Joseph was helping Otis around the tavern. When two women came through the door, he knew one of them [00:02:00] as Maria Van Rennselaer. She came in often, but the other woman he didn't know, she was absolutely beautiful, sprightly, playful and giddy, laughing as she pushed Otis around the room dancing.
He was bewitched by her and he wanted to know more. That night after closing up the tavern, Otis and Joseph went upstairs to the room they shared while laying in bed. Joseph asked Otis what Spritely girl that was below. He paused a moment before adding, I should like to sleep with her. Otis laughed and told him, you never know until you try.
He certainly tried into new. Otis told Joseph that she wasn't a girl, as Joseph called her, but a married woman.[00:03:00]
Her name was Elsie Whipple, and lived at Cherry Hill with our husband, John. Through the grapevine, Joseph learned that Mr. PP Van Renz layer, the owner of Cherry Hill, was looking for a farm hand. He told Mr. Van Renz layer that he owned 300 acres of land in Ohio and was well educated on the matter. Joseph was hired and on August 28th, moved into Cherry Hill.
This will be the beginning of the end for Joseph Orton.
Ellc, Dow Lansing was born March 23rd, 1802 to Abraham and Christina Voorhis, Lansing from a young age, ELLC has been [00:04:00] spirited and carefree. Being an only child, she was doted on by her parents, but when Elsie was four, her father passed. From an unknown illness. Her grandfather, Abraham stepped in to raise his son's unruly daughter.
Not much more is known about her childhood, but while Elsie was still young, her mother passed away and her grandfather became her legal guardian. He moved her in with his daughter at Cherry Hill. But to his dismay, Catherine and his wife doted on her even. He expected her to be taught to be well-read, but Elsie would run and play.
He made the decision to send her to the Waterford school. Being away from Cherry Hill, Elsie studied and did well in school, but during her breaks, when she returned to Cherry Hill, [00:05:00] she was back to her carefree self. The backyard, and the stables was her play. Often inviting her friends to sneak in through the back way.
Very rarely was Elsie inside, only coming home for evening prayer into sleep.
When Elsie turned 14, she became close friends with her close neighbor, and when often walked there daily walking past the Whipple. The Lansings and Whipples were friendly to each other, but not particularly close. Elsie was beautiful and had long blonde hair, which was past her waist. She caught the eye of 19 year old John Whipple while the Whipple name had high standing in New York.
John being the third cousin of William Whipple, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. [00:06:00] John and his family didn't have money. They had no land of their own besides the house they lived and worked in, but that didn't matter to Elsie. She stopped each morning and talked to John, the two becoming fast friends.
Elsie went back to school at Waterford after the break and things at Cherry Hill calmed down. Break had come yet. And Abraham traveled to bring his granddaughter back. She begged him to stay another day, which he agreed with her.
When the morning came, Elsie had disappeared. Abraham returned to Cherry Hill alone. The family was shocked and unable to determine who she could have ran off with. If she ran off with anyone, it [00:07:00] wouldn't take long though. When Elsie would return to Cherry Hill, she didn't come alone and she had an announcement.
She was married, her husband, 19 year old John Whipple, the family was outraged. John didn't have any property of his own and only earned $10 a month working at his brother's shop. How can someone with no standing take care of Elsie? Abraham accused John of trying to steal away Elsie's inheritance. She was left money and property after her father died, and it was clear that they were not welcome at Cherry Hill anymore.
John turned out to be an amazing husband to Elsie. He turned into a wonderful businessman and had increased Elsie's worth and property. The two were eventually welcomed back to Cherry Hill with open [00:08:00] arms after her grandfather passed away in 1822. Elsie, who is now 21, John 30, and their one-year-old son, Abraham, moved back into Cherry Hill.
The family was back together again,
but Elsie was still a spirited woman, always laughing and dancing. Going to the tavern with her cousin. One night, Elsie and her cousin Maria went to the Bates Tavern for a night of drinking and dancing with John, either out of town or at home. Elsie flirted freely with the owner Otis dancing with him around the room.
But Elsie noticed something someone knew was in the room and he was watching. When Joseph started living in Cherry Hill, he noticed Elsie again. Right away, her long blonde hair [00:09:00] that was rarely pinned up, her laugh and her smile. But John and Elsie traveled to Kingston the day after for business. The two were gone for four weeks, but when they returned, John ended up leaving again to continue his work in Kingston.
Elsie was never alone though her cousin Maria or John's niece Henrietta, would come and spend time with Elsie always sharing a room with her. While the two saw each other. Often they didn't speak, nor were they alone in the same room together. Joseph believed that the attraction he felt the night he first saw her was one-sided.
And left it at that. But then Elsie surprised him on October 20th, a group of them went to the orchard to gather nuts. [00:10:00] There were six of them in total. They spent a good amount of the day there. On their way back to Cherry Hill, ELLC started walking next to Joseph and struck up a conversation with, The enjoyment of the conversation surprised Joseph since he believed she wasn't partial to him.
Maybe he was wrong. A couple of days later, after having dinner in the dining room, Elsie came up to Joseph and whispered to him, doctor, I want you to write me a letter. Doctor, was an affectionate name that Joseph was called due to the glasses He wore this again, surprised Joseph. What I write you a letter he asked making sure he hurt her correctly.
Yes, she said. And then explained how she hated writing the first letter and she wanted him quote to consider well of it from this to the bush and back [00:11:00] again and want you to write tonight. Numerous thoughts came to Joseph's mind after that conversation. He wondered what her intentions were. Was her request for a letter true enough, or did she have every intention to show her husband the letter and get him removed from Cherry Hill?
But after some thought and remembering the conversation between them the other day, he decided to sit down and write her a carefully worded letter. Dear Elsie, I have seriously considered on it, as you requested of me, y. And I have concluded to compose a few lines to you and I thought it was not my duty to write very freely not knowing your object.
Perhaps it is to get some of my writing to show your husband as you are a married woman, and if that is your intention, it is my wish for you to let me know [00:12:00] it before it is a thing that I scorn to make a disturbance between you and your. But if in the other hand it is out of your purse affection, I should be quite happy to have the information in your handwriting.
And I hope that you will not take any offense in my manner of writing to you as we are perfect strangers to each other, but hope that those few lines may find free exception with you. And after I find out your motive, I can write more freely on the subject. And as my affections, they are quite favorable.
I shall expect an answer from you if that is your motive, so I remain your well Wisher Joseph Horton.[00:13:00]