Albert Constable (1838–1904)

Albert Constable (October 24, 1838 – August 22, 1904) was an American politician from Maryland. He served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing Cecil County in 1876. He was robbed and shot in Elkton in August 1904, dying a few days after in a hospital in Baltimore.

Albert Constable
Constable in a 1905 newspaper
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the Cecil County district
In office
1876–1876
Preceded byJames A. Davis, James Black Groome, James A. Mackey, James Turner
Succeeded byWilliam M. Knight, James M. Touchstone, James Turner
Personal details
Born(1838-10-24)October 24, 1838
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedAugust 22, 1904(1904-08-22) (aged 65)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Cause of deathMurder by gunshot
Resting placeElkton Presbyterian Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse
Elizabeth Black Groome
(m. 1866)
Children9
Parent
RelativesHenry W. Archer (uncle)
EducationHarvard Law School
Alma materDelaware College
Occupation
  • Politician
  • lawyer

Early life

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Albert Constable was born on October 24, 1838, in Baltimore to Hannah (née Archer) and Albert Constable. His father was a circuit court judge and served in the U.S. House of Representatives.[1] He attended school in Norwich and New London, Connecticut, as well as in Newark, Delaware.[1] He graduated from Delaware College. He attended Harvard Law School for one year and then continued his law studies under his uncle Henry W. Archer.[2]

Career

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In 1861, Constable started a legal practice in Towson, Maryland. In 1863, he moved his office to Elkton. Most of his legal career was in Elkton. In 1892, he had a law office in Wilmington, Delaware.[1][2]

Constable was a Democrat. He served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, representing Cecil County in 1876. He served as chairman of the judiciary committee.[1][3] At the time of his death, he was president of the Maryland Democratic Association.[2]

Constable managed the Cecil Democrat with George W. Cruikshank for a time.[2]

Personal life and death

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In 1866, Constable married Elizabeth Black Groome, sister of James Black Groome and daughter of John Charles Groome. They had nine children, Albert, John Groome (or John J.), Henry Lyttleton, Reginald, William Pepper, Arline, Catherine (or Katherine), Mary and Alice.[1][2][4]

 
Scene of the shooting of Constable

Constable was robbed and shot on the road at Gray's Hill near Elkton on August 18, 1904. He was shot three times, once near his right eye and twice in his back. He died several days later on August 22 at Maryland General Hospital in Baltimore following damage to his spinal cord and lungs.[2][5] Following his death, Governor Edwin Warfield posted a US$1,000 reward alongside Cecil County and his family posting a US$750 reward for the identification of his murderer.[6][7] He was buried at Elkton Presbyterian Cemetery.[8][9]

Murder trials

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In September 1904, a grand jury convened to assess evidence against two suspects. The evidence was reported by the newspapers as "circumstantial" and the grand jury declined to indict.[10][11] In December 1904, another grand jury was called due to new evidence against the same two suspects and Henry M. McCullough was selected to defend the suspects.[12] Both suspects were found not guilty in January 1905.[13]

 
Portrait of Simpers in a 1905 newspaper

In January 1905, the gold watch engraved "A. C." taken from Constable in the robbery was recovered at a pawn shop in Philadelphia.[14] The following month, John M. Simpers, a horse thief who was serving an eight-year term in the Baltimore Penitentiary, confessed to the murder.[15][16] The prosecutors for the case were Constable's son Albert and James Wilson Squier.[17] Simpers was convicted of first degree murder on March 30, 1905, and he was sentenced to hang.[18][19] He was hanged on October 20, 1905.[20] A photographer permanently captured that autumn scene in a series of shots.[21]

References

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  1. ^ a b c d e Portrait and Biographical Record of Harford and Cecil Counties, Maryland. 1897. p. 575. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Archive.org. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "It Is Murder Now". The Baltimore Sun. August 23, 1904. p. 12. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  3. ^ "Historical List, House of Delegates, Cecil County (1790-1974)". Maryland Manual On-Line. Maryland State Archives. February 1, 2000. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  4. ^ "Tells of Hold-Up". The Baltimore Sun. August 20, 1904. p. 12. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  5. ^ "Robbed and Shot". The Baltimore Sun. August 19, 1904. p. 8. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  6. ^ "$1000 Reward". The Baltimore Sun. August 23, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  7. ^ "The Assault on Albert Constable Results Fatally". Every Evening Journal. August 23, 1904. p. 3. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  8. ^ "Hundreds Gather at Grave-Side". The Evening Journal. August 26, 1904. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  9. ^ "Grave Gains Its Own". The Baltimore Sun. August 27, 1904. p. 12. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  10. ^ "The Constable Murder". The Baltimore Sun. September 28, 1904. p. 10. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  11. ^ "The Constable Murder". The Middletown Transcript. October 1, 1904. p. 2. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  12. ^ "Circumstantial Evidence". The Baltimore Sun. December 17, 1904. p. 10. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  13. ^ "Not Guilty". The Midland Journal. January 13, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  14. ^ "Find Constable Watch". The Baltimore Sun. January 29, 1905. p. 16. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  15. ^ "Admits Murder". The Baltimore Sun. February 8, 1905. p. 12. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  16. ^ "Indicted for Murder". The Baltimore Sun. March 7, 1905. p. 10. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  17. ^ "John M. Simpers in Court at Elkton". Every Evening Journal. March 27, 1905. p. 5. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  18. ^ "Simpers to Hang". Cumberland Evening Times. March 31, 1905. p. 5. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  19. ^ "Simpers Gets His Death Sentence". Cecil Whig. April 1, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  20. ^ "John M. Simpers Hanged". Every Evening Journal. October 20, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved October 22, 2023 – via Newspapers.com. 
  21. ^ "Photographing an Execution". Window on Cecil County's Past. August 6, 2014.
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