N 42° 13.289 W 072° 05.687
The site of the murder of Joshua Spooner is marked by a granite monument on
East Main Street in Brookfield, MA.
January 15, 1766 Bathsheba Ruggles, the daughter of Brigadier Geneneral Timothy Ruggles, had an arranged marriage to the prosperous farmer Joshua Spooner. In early 1778 she became pregnant by a Continental Army soldier Ezra Ross. Bathsheba convinced Ezra and two escaped British prisoners of war, Pvt. Williams Brooks and Sgt. James Buchanan, to murder her husband.
On March 1, 1778 the three men beat Joshua Spooner to death and dumped his body down the family's well. The perpetrators were soon caught and put on trial in Worcester, MA. All four were found guilty and hanged on July 2, 1788 in front of 5000 spectators. Authorities failed, or refused, to determine that Bathsheba was five months pregnant at the time. Bathsheba became the first women executed on for a crime in the United States following the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
A granite marker at the site known as Spooner Well tells the story of the murder.
JOSHUA SPOONER MURDERED
AND THROWN DOWN THIS WELL
MARCH 1, 1778, BY THREE
AT THE URGING OF HIS WIFE
ALL FOUR WERE
WORCESTER, JULY 2, 1778.