Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Frederick Crill Papers, 1879-1880

James V. Medler Crime Collection

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff, September 2006, and Meg Hixon, January 2012

Summary Information
Title: Frederick Crill papers
Creator: New Jersey. Court of Oyer and Terminer (Sussex County)
Inclusive dates: 1879-1880
Extent: 11 items
This collection contains seven copied documents, two letters, and two telegrams related to the trial of Frederick Crill of Vernon, New Jersey, for the murder of his daughter, Eliza Babcock. Items include copies of the formal complaint against Crill, initial witness statements, and correspondence related to Lewis Cochran, the prosecuting lawyer in the case.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:


Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Frederick Crill Papers, James V. Medler Crime Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Frederick Crill was born in New Jersey in the early 1800s, and married Ann Slack on April 12, 1836; the couple divorced soon thereafter. According to later reports, he remarried and moved to Paterson, New Jersey, where he was rumored to have murdered his second wife, though he was never charged with the crime. He and a third wife, Elizabeth, lived in Vernon, New Jersey, in the mid-1800s, and had at least four children: Henry, Hannah, Elizabeth (Eliza), and Harriet. Around 1875, they moved in with their daughter Eliza and her husband, William Babcock. On June 5, 1879, Frederick Crill shot and killed Eliza after a minor dispute; his wife witnessed the crime. After being indicted later that day, his formal trial began on October 15, 1879. Judge Van Cleve Dalrymple presided, Lewis Cochran acted for the prosecution, and Lewis J. Martin, Michael S. Kimble, and Martin Rosencrans served as Crill's defense. After unsuccessfully attempting a plea of insanity, Crill was convicted and, despite a brief reprieve from New Jersey Governor George B. McClellan, was hanged on April 24, 1880.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains seven copied documents, two letters, and two telegrams related to the trial of Frederick Crill of Vernon, New Jersey, for the murder of his daughter, Eliza Babcock. The first item is a copy of several documents dated June 5, 1879, the day of the murder: a report of Judge J. B. Hendershott's inquisition against Crill; a statement by Elizabeth Crill, wife of the accused; and the formal charge against him by his son-in-law, William Babcock. It also includes the judge's report of Crill's statement and a document formally calling for Crill's apprehension. Other court documents are grand jury minutes (September 2-3, 1879), the closing arguments of prosecuting lawyer Lewis Cochran, a list of potential and final jurors, and additional court reports about the trial and about Crill's subsequent death sentence. Two items relating to Cochran are a list of witnesses providing statements to J. B. Hendershott (August 27, 1879), and Cochran's letter to New Jersey Governor George Brinton McClellan asking him to oppose the commutation of Crill's sentence. In the first of two telegrams written in March 1880, John A. Hall of the Court of Pardons requested evidence related to Crill's case; in the second, he reported their eventual refusal to commute the death sentence.

Subject Terms

    • Capital punishment--New Jersey.
    • Filicide.
    • Murder--New Jersey.
    • Sussex County (N.J.)
    • Trials (Murder)--New Jersey.
    • Vernon (N.J. : Township)
    • Cochran, Lewis.
    • Hall, John A.
    • Hendershott, J. B.
    Genre Terms:
    • Legal documents.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Telegrams.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   3, Medler Crime Collection  
    Frederick Crill papers,  1879-1880 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    "For the Murder of His Daughter..." New York Times 16 October 1879.

    "Frederick Crill Hanged." New York Times 25 April 1880.

    Snell, James P. History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey: with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers. Volume 3. Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881.