Partner Alice Mitchell
Elmwood Cemetery, 824 S Dudley St, Memphis, TN 38104
Frederica "Freda" Ward (March 5, 1874 – January 25, 1892) was a murder victim in what has been called the most sensational crime of the 19th century in Memphis, Tennessee. According to newspaper accounts she was buried in a coffin with a glass window. Her case if the first use of the word "lesbian" in a newspaper article.
Killed by Alice "Jessie" Mitchell in front of several witnesses (including her sister, Jo Ward). When asked why she had killed Freda, Alice replied, "Because I loved her." Freda was 17, Alice 19. Initially, Freda was considered an innocent victim. During the trial, letters between Alice and Freda were read and it was revealed that they had planned to elope to St. Louis where Alice would dress as a man (a "passing woman") and they would be married and live as a couple. Witnesses testified that they were inseparable, seen to be often openly affectionate (which was common among young women of the period as were their nicknames Allie and Fred) and when the Ward family moved up the river to Golddust, Tennessee, both visibly upset. Freda was forbidden to see Alice after relatives discovered their letters and made to return a ring that Alice had given to her as an engagement present.
The trial was considered so sensational that it made newspapers in Atlanta and New York. The participants in the case included General Luke E. Wright, Malcolm Patterson (later governor and congressman), the attorney and assistant attorney general of the state of Tennessee and Judge Julius J. DuBose, known as one of the most colorful and controversial judges in Memphis of that period. Alice was declared insane and therefore not convicted of murder and died on March 31, 1898, in the asylum at Bolivar, Tennessee. One source says Alice committed suicide.
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