Reverend Jacob S. Harden was only 22 years old and trying to establish himself as the pastor in Andersontown, New Jersey. He had married Louisa Dorland under pressure from her parents and rumors about him that Harden suspected they started. It was not a happy marriage, and they weren’t even living together. But Louisa visited her husband at a parishoner’s home where he was staying, and there died after a short illness. An autopsy revealed she had ingested arsenic, and suspicion turned to the young pastor. So he fled.
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In March 1859, the coroner’s jury indicted Jacob Harden for the murder of his wife, but he was still at large. A month later there was still no sign of Hardin until the editor of the Warren Journal received a subscription request that caught his attention. A man named James Austin in Fairmount, a small village near Wheeling in what was then western Virginia, requested a subscription to the paper as he was “… very anxious to learn whether Jacob S. Harden had been indicted for the murder of his wife at the approaching term of court.” The editor was immediately suspicious and sent a copy of Harden’s photograph, along with a copy of the governor’s proclamation offering $500 for his arrest to the police in Wheeling. Before long Jacob Harden was in custody and on his way back to New Jersey.