Historical Gorham murder

In an unsolved crime, Byron G. Coburn, 58, was murdered with an ax in his barn on the full moon night of Dec. 13, 1894. The barbaric murder was widely reported including in the Portland Daily Press.

Coburn, a partially crippled widower, owned a farm in a field across Main Street from today’s Shamrock Drive. His farm produced apples, cider and  hay.

According to a neighbor’s diary, Coburn had an adult daughter, Etta; granddaughter, Bessie Florence; and a housekeeper and her daughter, Mrs. Kimball and Minnie.

The night of the murder, Coburn made his way to the barn to investigate a disturbance and never returned. Kimball sent James Lewis, a farmhand, to find Coburn, but Lewis returned unsuccessful. So, Kimball went, discovering the body of the slain Coburn on a cow stall floor.

Gorham had five constables but Cumberland County Sheriff Leander Cram arrived by train from Portland to investigate the murder. The motive might have been robbery.

Coburn on Dec. 11 had been seen with a roll of bills in Cy Abbott’s Store. Abbott’s was located at the corner of Main and South streets, according to Kelly Dearborn of Gorham Historical Society.

But Kimball said that Coburn’s purse contained only a dollar and some change. No cash was found after the murder on Coburn’s body or in the farmhouse.

Lewis was accused and found guilty of first degree murder. But later, he requested a new trial after additional evidence turned up and he was free when the state dropped prosecution.

Lewis was reportedly a “chum” of Edward Graffam, who was later convicted in the 1901 murder of Cliff Mosher in the same neighborhood.

Lions Club car show

The Gorham Lions Club’s 13th Annual Classic Car Show will be held in the parking lot at Gorham High School, 41 Morrill Ave., from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 25.

General admission is free and car registration is $10.

“Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to see, up close, lots of awesome and unique rides, and talk directly with the proud owners,” a club announcement said.

50 years ago

The American Journal reported on July 15, 1971, that Kimball’s Meat Market, 8 Main St., closed after 71 years when owner Clinton Kimball retired.

U.S. taxpayer debt

The Bureau of the Fiscal Service reported on July 8 that the U.S. public debt was $28,480,154,358,537.50.

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