this day in crime history: august 15, 1914

On this date in 1914, Julian Carlton murdered seven people on the estate of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Carlton, a native of Barbados, was employed as a servant at Taliesin, Wright’s estate near Spring Green, WI. Wright was out of town on the day of the murders. Carlton struck during lunch. Several estate employees were in the dining room, Wright’s mistress and two children on a nearby screened in porch. Carlton bolted all but one of the dining room doors shut. He poured gas under the doors and started a fire. After starting the fire, he ran to the screened-in porch and murdered Martha “Mamah” Borthwick and her two children with an ax. He then waited outside the dining room and attacked the employees as they tried to escape the fire. Three employees and the thirteen year old son of the estate’s head carpenter were killed. Only two of the dining room’s occupants survived.

After the fire was under control, Wright’s neighbors went looking for Carlton. They found him hiding in the basement furnace room. He had attempted unsuccessfully to commit suicide by drinking muriatic acid. Carlton was brought to the local jail, and later made several court appearances. He died of starvation before coming to trial. He never gave a reason for the attack. Calrton’s wife Gertrude, who worked at the estate as a cook, claimed she did not know why her husband committed the murders.

Further reading:

Provedentia – The Taliesin Murders

Wikipedia – Frank Lloyd Wright

7 thoughts on “this day in crime history: august 15, 1914

  1. John D.:
    I saw this passing when compiling events for today. Glad YOU didn’t pass it over like I did…it’s a pretty good story uou posted.

    Drinking MURIATIC ACID???
    Cripes, that sh*t’s nasty to handle and smell, let alone DRINK!
    We used to use it for plating metal (and it cleans concrete well, too)
    (whatta loon)

    Good call.

    Stay safe out there.


  2. I have heard that Julian Carlton was a hard working quiet man. I have also heard that he was constantly harassed with racial slurs while working at Taliesan. Given the racial climate of the era I believe it. I don’t condone what he did, but I can understand it.


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