- Conservator Virginie Ternisien works at removing the encrustation from the hull of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley at a conservation lab in North Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 27, 2015. Scientists say that after six months of work, about 70 percent of the encrusted sand, silt and rust from the outside of the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship has been removed. Scientists hope that when the entire hull is revealed, it will provide the clues as to why the Hunley sank after sinking a Union blockade ship off Charleston, S.C., in 1864.
Within a month, Chapman began to suffer severe stomach cramps and nausea. Chicken soup made by Lucretia made him sicker. On June 22 he died. Two weeks later, Lucretia and Mina wed in a secret ceremony in New York. While she visited her sister in Syracuse, he returned to Andalusia, where he sold the Chapmans’ household valuables and split for Washington. There he swindled a businessman, initiating a search for him. Authorities located him in Boston and he was arrested.
Meanwhile, a Philadelphia newspaper speculated that Mina and Lucretia conspired to kill Dr. Chapman. His body buried in Hulmeville was exhumed. A medical examiner suspected arsenic poisoning from the odor in his stomach. First-degree arrest warrants were issued. Lucretia took flight but was apprehended in Erie.
In February 1832, her trial got underway in Doylestown, drawing crowds of spectators and wide press coverage. Top Philadelphia defense attorney David Paul Brown, hired at Lucretia’s expense, convinced the jury Chapman died of cholera. A physician buttressed that idea, testifying it was impossible to differentiate between death by arsenic and cholera, a common illness of the time. His star witness was Lucretia’s 10-year-old daughter who testified she ate the same soup as her father and never got ill. The jury freed Lucretia.
The following April, Mina’s trial began. Two court-appointed lawyers represented him and called no witnesses. The attorneys leaned on Lucretia’s acquittal. Evidence that Mina had purchased arsenic, however, swung the jury. Guilty.
On June 21, 1832, the condemned man stood on the gallows before a throng in Doylestown Township. Newspapers compared the scene to “Philadelphia on the Fourth of July.” The prisoner’s last words before the trap was sprung: “Farewell my friends. Farewell, poor Mina, poor Mina. He die innocent. He die innocent.”