#3 Edward Fennell & Minnie Murphy Scandal

Edward G. Fennell
b. 1875 California
d. 1889 San Francisco, CA
(son of Patrick Fennell b. 1862 Ireland d. Astoria 1882 & Margaret Luddy)
Edward was the eldest of the three children of Patrick & Margaret Fennell.

Edward lost his father at the early age of 7 years. Patrick Fennell b. Ireland 1862, died on board a steamship named “Oregon” as the second engineer in 1882. Per his obituary reads he just “dropped dead”.

I love to research archive newspapers and follow stories – such drama. . .I’ve been researching the Fennell surname in San Francisco, CA finding how they are all related to one another. Here is a great story that was headlining the papers for a about 11 months.

The news article tells it better than I could ever possible.

The Scandal of Minnie Murphy & Edward Fennell:
Feb 12 1889 – Daily Alta California:
“A Shooting Affray” Minnie Murphy Attempts to take the life of Edward Fennell”
Edward Fennell, employed at the Harbor Commissioners, nearly escaped his life Sunday night. In the company of his wife Mary, he was paying a visit to his mother who lives on Noe Street, San Francisco, CA.
At the corner of Sanchez & 24th Minnie Murphy, a domestic employee of Dr. Nelson W. Bardue, approached Mr. Fennell and stated “ I guess I’ll take one last look at your beautiful face”, pulled out a pistol from her dress pocket and fired three shots at him.
One of the balls, passed through his hat, missing his head and the other two did not even come close to his person. Lucky for Edward Fennell, Ms. Murphy is a terrible shot.
Ms. Murphy fled the scene.

According to friends and family, about three years ago Minnie Murphy fell in love with Mr. Fennell. Mr. Fennell took full advantages of young, naive, Minnie Murphy and then refused to marry her,when he got her in the “family way”. Her father was in such a rage at the news of his daughter condition that a vein in his head exploded, causing his death.
Not long after this scandal did Mr. Edward G. Fennell marry Ms. Mary “Mamie” Mullaney.

Minnie is now 18 years of age and has fled a crime scene and is not to be found . Her father is dead and mother an inmate at Napa Asylum for the insane. Her sister resides in San Francisco also as a domestic.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of one Minnie Murphy for the attempted murder of Edward G. Fennell, her former lover.

Police are unable to find Minnie Murphy. Officer Clifford & Dalton have been given this as a special assignment to arrest the young women and have been unable to arrest her. It is the opinion of her married sister, whom, lives at the corner of Castro & 25nd, that she has left San Francisco. According to residence of the Mission District, defraying the expenses of a trial will be no problem for Ms. Murphy. A purse has been subscribed by the residence and two very well known property owners and they are ready to go bonds to keep Minnie Murphy from jail.

Feb 20, 1889
Minnie Murphy Surrenders Herself – Minnie Murphy will answer for the shooting of Edward Fennell – the case never went to trial
Ms. Murphy surrendered herself to the City Jail for the charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon. She was promptly released with a bond of $2000.00, paid by her employer, Dr. Bardue.
Minnie Murphy expressed that Mr. Fennell seduced her about a year ago, and after she became a mother of his child, he refused to marry her. She stated that she saw Mr. Fennell & his wife walking along and called over to him to prepare himself, because she was planning to kill him. She drew the fire arm, however, she stated she was so upset and she could not remember to aim. Two of the bullets went wide by the mark (Mr. Fennell) and the other clean through his hat.

Feb 25, 1889 – Charges Dismissed
The charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon have been dropped. Another charge of threatening the life of Mrs. Fennell was booked against the girl. She was immediately released with a bond of $1000.00 paid by Dr. Bardue & Mr. McPherson.

March 9, 1889 – Minnie Sue Edward Fennell
Minnie Murphy, whom shot at Mr. Edward Fennell on Jan. 10th has now filed a suit against Mr. Fennell for $10,000.00 for damages of an alleged seduction. Now Eighteen year old Minnie claims that under the promise of marriage, Fennell has ruined two years of her young life. After Mr. Fennell was done with Ms. Murphy he left her with child and married Mary Mullaney.

Suit for grounds of Seduction – Minnie’s story – She was born in San Francisco, CA and now at the age of 18yrs, her father dead and mother in Napa Insane Asylum. She has one older sister and five younger siblings. She met Edward Fennell, now about 24yrs, over a year ago. He often went to her home. They became intimate with the promise of marriage. She soon found herself in a “delicate situation”. He then again promised to marry her. The night of Sept 20, 1888 she was to meet him at the corner of her street, she waited for hours. She then went looking for him at a friends home, it being late she was invited to stay and that night the child was born prematurely, Sept 20, 1888 . No doubt the early labor was caused of stress to the mother from Fennell’s lack of responsibility.
The child died shortly after birth and the following morning Edward Fennell and his mother arrived to claim the child as a Fennell. Took the body of the wee babe to bury in the Fennell Family plot. Minnie to this day does not know where the babe is buried.
Minnie states she was quite ill after the baby and remained at the home of friends, Fennell did not come by to see her during this time. Minnie states “When I was feeling better, I met him after his work and pleaded that he keep his promise of marriage. He smiled coldly and stated that he already married Mary Mullaney to get her house and lot. Later I found out he had been telling tales of me to ruin my reputation even further. When I confronted him with these, he of course denied them. Then one night I came across him and his wife, I only wanted to scare them with the gun.”

San Francisco, CA – Dec. 12 1889
Edwards Fennell’s Death – A Guard Dies from the effects of a shooting.
Edward G. Fennell age 24yrs– a guard at the Industrial School was shot and killed by Joseph Hughes, yesterday morning. Fennell has just returned from hunting and set his shotgun down by the stable wall. Hughes was examining the piece when it went off accidently entering Mr. Fennell through the right side of his body. Prior to his death, Mr. Fennell exonerated Mr. Hughes for his wound and impending death.

SF Chronicle – Fennell and Hughes went to school together
Hughes was a prisoner at the House of Correction doing his duties at the stable. Fennell, a guard. Hughes and Fennell were former schoolmates and friends and when Hughes went to prison for smuggling whiskey Fennell used his influences within the city system to give Hughes light duties at the facility.
Fennell ordered Hughes to lay down the gun, however, a load explosion went off and Fennell was struck in the chest by a bullet. Captain Foley of the House of Correction exonerated Hughes, that the shooting was accidently fired and Fennell should not have brought a shotgun to the stables of the Institute. Fennell is well known for his Buckley Politics and ran the district of 24th and Noe Valley. He had trouble some time back with one Minnie Murphy, however, all accounts were dropped.


6 thoughts on “#3 Edward Fennell & Minnie Murphy Scandal

  1. Jo Henn January 22, 2014 / 10:08 pm

    That was terrifically entertaining! Thank you for sharing that! I’m glad that she didn’t manage to shoot him as it would have further ruined her life. But I’m also glad that karma got the cad!

  2. jmfennell January 22, 2014 / 10:41 pm

    Yes karma got him in the end.

  3. Cindy McKenna May 24, 2014 / 4:36 pm

    Times were pretty wild and crazy in
    San Francisco during that time period. I found the newspaper articles while researching my husband’s family and , yes, he is related. His father died in Astoria, Oregon while the ship was in port. His body was shipped home and he is buried in the old Calvary cemetery. In abt 1942 the city decided the property was too valuable and moved the internments to cemeteries in Colma, Calif. He indeed was a cad but I have not been able to find out what happened to his wife.

  4. jmfennell May 25, 2014 / 12:53 am

    Hi Cindy,

    Love the old newspaper stores of the Fennell’s.
    Patrick’s wife, Margaret is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA with Julia Nolan (her daughter) and Thomas Luddy. But I’m sure you know that already. I’m not sure about Mamie, I’m sure she is also buried at Holy Corss, she may have remarried and may be under a different name. I’ve looked for Patrick at Holy Cross, do you by chance have a grave site?


  5. Cindy June 15, 2014 / 10:53 pm

    Findagrave memorial #105173408. “Patrick J. Fennell, b. Mar. 10, 1829 County Dublin, Ireland; d. Dec. 16, 1882, Astoria, Clatsop County, Oregon, USA. Included on this site is a copy of the CALVARY CEMETERY, SAN FRANCISO Removal Record #33515: “Family Name: Fennell, ,AT [Pat] J., Dormitory: 6, Station 12, Area 7, Grave 1.2″, Relationship: xxx, Age: 54, Date of Burial: Dec. 16, 1882, Register-Volume-Page: III, 328; Name of Purchaser: Mrs. Fennell Dec. 19, 1882; Nature of Find: Skull-bone-leg bones-fragments of bones. Holy Cross Cemetery Date of Reburial: 5/17/40, Dormitory H, Station 2, Area 21, Grave 12, Number of Family buried or Single Interment: 2. Signature of Foreman: 26, Name of Workman: 40-72-74”. Obit: “FENNELL – At Astoria, Oregon, December 16 on the steamer Oregon, Patrick J., beloved husband of Margaret Fennell and late Second Assistant Engineer of the steamer Oregon, a native of Stratbrook, Black Rock, County Dublin, Ireland, aged 54 years, 9 months, and 6 days. (New York and Dublin papers please copy). Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, tomorrow (Wednesday), at 2 o’clock pm, from his late residence, 4 Noe Street, near Twenty-fourth.”
    Also have a photo, obit sources, directories, Ancestry tree.

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