Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Murder of Josie Langmaid, Pembroke, New Hampshire

This week I twice watched the NH Public TV presentation of “Josie Langmaid: Murdered Maiden of Pembroke”. The young school girl was murdered in October 1875, and the drama rocked New Hampshire with lurid headlines and court testimony that was transcribed in detail in the local news papers. It was broadcast on October 5, 9 and 12th, and the story has also been told on NH Chronicle. Both were narrated by Fritz Wetherbee, my favorite voice of the Granite State. It is available for $29.95 at the NHPTV website.

Seventeen year old Josie was a beautiful young girl, murdered, raped and beheaded by a French Canadian drifter named Joseph LePage. This trial divided the Yankee New Hampshire community and the newer French Canadian residents, and resulted in LePage confessing to the crime and later hanging at the Concord State Prison in March 1878. Not only did it inspire hot headlines, but also a ballad “Suncook Town Tragedy” and a monument at the place where the murder happened, on Academy Road in Pembroke.

Sadly, just after Josie’s murder, her brother, Waldo, and last surviving sibling, died of Typhoid Fever. The Langmaid chidren are buried together in the Pembroke Cemetery. Of course, after learning about the family, I found a connection to some Nutfield History…..

Langmaid Family Tree:

Generation 1. William Langmaid, born about 1650 in Scotland or England

Generation 2. Samuel Langmaid, born about 1680; married to Mary Hanson

Generation 3. Samuel Langmaid, born about 1710;

Generation 4. Thomas Langmaid, born 29 September 1785 in Chichester, New Hampshire, d. 13 Nov 1845 in Chichester; married 5 April 1812 to Grace Pousland of Beverly, Massachusetts.

Generation 5. James F. Langmaid, born 25 April 1833 in Chichester, died Granite Falls, Minnesota, 1902; married 2 May 1867 in Pembroke, New Hampshire to Sarah Haseltine Cochran.

Children (all died young, all buried with their father and first wife at the Buck Street Cemetery in Pembroke):
1. Josie A. Langmaid, born about 1858, died 4 October 1875 (murder victim)
2. Waldo H. Langmaid, born about 1859 died 15 December 1875
3. Ella B. Langmaid, born about 1861, died 25 May 1862
4. Clarence B. Langmaid, born about 1862, died 12 September 1863

(James F. Langmaid had a brother, John Pousland Langmaid, born 24 April 1817 in Chichester who married Rebecca Morrison Taylor, born in Derry. Rebecca was the daughter of Robert Taylor and Dolly Colby. Robert Taylor was the son of David Taylor, born 10 August 1735, the fourth son of Matthew Taylor and his wife Janet, one of the first settlers of Londonderry.)


The New York Herald, 1875

The Boston Globe, 1875.

The memorial erected after her murder "by the citizens of Pembroke and vicinity to commemorate the place of the tragic death of Josie A. Langmaid."

“The Murdered Maiden Student: A Tribute to the Memory of Josie A. Langmaid” by Rev. S. C. Keeler, courtesy of the Pembroke Academy

“Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts”, Volume 4, by William Richard Cutter, New York: Lewis Publishing Co, 1908

Suncook Town Tragedy Ballad

Come all young people, now draw near;
Attend awhile and you shall hear,
How a young person of renown
Was murdered in fair Suncook Town.
It was in the morning very cool
When Josie started for her school,
And many the time that road she passed
But little thought she it would be her last.
It was at the foot of Pembrook Street
La Page lay ambushed with a stick;
Long time ago his plans were laid
To take the life of the fair maid.
The mother watched with eager air,
Hoping her daughter would appear,
But when the shades of night drew near
Her darling child did not appear.
The weeping father and the son
All thro' the woods their search begun,
And found at last to their surprise
The murdered child before their eyes.
Her head was from her body tore,
Her clothes were all a crimson gore,
And on her body marks did show
Some skillful hand had dealt the blow.
This monster now so deep in crime,
He thought the peoples' eyes to blind,
But found at last to his mistake,
They had him fast behind the grate.
It was at Concord he was tried.
Unto the last his crime denied,
But he was found to guilty be
And the judge said, "Death is your plea."
And now, La Page, your work is done
And you like Eveuse must be hung,
For we must all examples make
Till crime shall cease in the Granite State."


Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. This is so helpful. I got to Three Rivers School in Pembroke NH and i'm in 6th grade. We have a history project and I choose Josie Langmaid as my topic. You can expect this website in my bibliography.

    1. I'm glad I could help, Colby! Thank you for citing your sources

  2. we have a first edition ( I believe) copy of the book written in 1878 by Rev. Keeler; please visit it at