First Mass Murder in America 236 Years Ago Today

If you listened to Barack Obama and other anti-Second Amendment fanatics, you might come to the idea that mass murders are a fairly modern symptom of a troubled nation with too many guns. If you did, then you will be very surprised to learn that today is the 236th anniversary of the first official mass murder in America and yes it involved a gun but no one was shot.

The following account is taken from the following sources and melded into one account:, News Times, Hartford Courant, and Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic Imagination.

Meet Barnett Davenport, born 1760 in rural Connecticut. He was a troubled youth who later admitted to having the desire to commit murder by the age of 14. Trying to keep the blood thirsty urge at bay, Davenport took to stealing. At the age of 16, he enlisted in the newly formed Continental Army where he served under George Washington at Valley Forge and with Benedict Arnold at Fort Ticonderoga.

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Some reports say that Davenport deserted from the army and ended up working for Caleb Mallory, who owned a grist mill in the New Milford area of Connecticut. Historians look back at Davenport and say that he most likely suffered from a form of PTSD but those of the time described him as a very troubled youth.

Caleb Mallory lived with his wife, Jane. His two grown daughters also lived on the farm. One of the daughters had three children, a 9-year-old daughter, 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons.

Prior to Feb. 3, 1780, Davenport convinced Mallory’s two grown daughters to take a trip, leaving the three grandchildren to stay with Mallory and his wife. On the 3rd, Davenport waited for everyone in the house to fall asleep. Shortly before midnight, he entered the Mallory home and beat Caleb to death. He also beats Jane Mallory to death with the butt of a rifle. Mallory’s granddaughter apparently heard the screams of her grandparents and upon entering the room, Davenport beat the girl to death.

The two Mallory grandsons woke but Davenport convinced them that everything was okay and he helped put them back in their beds. Then Davenport proceeded to loot the house, taking anything of value. Knowing the two young boys were still inside the house, Davenport lit the house on fire to hide his heinous crime. The young boys were killed in the fire.

Davenport then hid out in a nearby cave for six days. Upon his capture, Davenport gave a detailed confession of his crime. It is believed that Rev. Judah Champion of the First Congregational Church in Litchfield, took down the confession, which was recently discovered by New Milford historian and researcher Michael-John Cavallaro. Champion described Davenport as psychopath.

Davenport was tried for his crimes. Presiding at his trial was Roger Sherman. Sherman served on the Committee of Five that had the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. He also has a unique distinction of being the only Founding Father to sign Continental Association papers, the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. He served as a US Representative from Connecticut at the time of Davenport’s trail, and later served as a US Senator from Connecticut.

Sherman sentenced Davenport to 40 lashes to be followed with hanging. Barnett Davenport, America’s first official mass murderer was hung at Gallow’s Lane in Litchfield on May 1780.

As I was researching Davenport’s mass murder, it occurred to me that someone like Obama couldn’t blame guns for the killings. Other than Davenport’s mental state of mind, the only other thing that could possibly be blamed for the killing of the Mallory family is war. Perhaps we need to ban all wars from now own.


Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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