A chance meeting at a presentation led me to a woman who shared this story. I share our conversation below as well as a newspaper article citing Arthur Hyre, and the sole remaining photo of the Duncarrick Mansion (Gaelic for “Home of the Kennedys) barn and carriage house, commonly called the Grafton-Kennedy Estate, where Mary Forschner’s body, my great aunt and the fourth girl murdered, was found. Here are her comments followed by her reaction to my sending her the attached newspaper article.
“It has been so comforting to me to have one of my childhood memories confirmed after reading your book. My father had told me about a terrible murder over the wall of the Grafton-Kennedy mansion when I was almost 3 and living in a house a half block away. I am sure now that my father heard about this tragic event from his mother, “Nonie” Booher Hyre, who in 1909 was a young wife from the northern countryside. The way downtown to market was straight down Keowee Street, passing the infamous wall every time. I am certain now that the murder of your great aunt made a big impression on Grandma who was just a young woman herself and that she shared this horrible news with her children. Grandma was a great teller of family stories and news, some of it back from the Civil War time. This sad story about your Aunt Mary has haunted me my whole life because no one could tell me the name of the young woman or any details. So now I know and feel some peace. I am truly sorry for the loss of your great aunt. Aunts are very important family members, and I think that your informative book has brought closure to many people.”
I knew the name Hyre sounded familiar. When I went back over the newspapers of the time, I found the article below. Arthur Hyre was a friend and neighbor and the first person contacted to help Mary’s step-father find her. I sent her the newspaper article below. Here is her reaction.
“Arthur Hyre, cited in the article below from 1909, was my grandfather Lester Hyre’s brother and,thus,my great uncle. I remember him and his second wife Mabel well since they spent many Sundays at my grandfather’s house on Webster street near Needmore Rd. The Hyres were a Brethren German family who settled in what is now the Northridge/Huber Heights area in the 1840’s. The Hyres would always volunteer in the community, even after the 1913 flood. Uncle Art and my grandfather Lester as well as their father Jacob were plasterers and worked in the city.
I do remember asking my father if the girl had been a Kennedy, but he told me no. I cannot begin to explain to you how often I have thought about that poor girl over my lifetime. I feel much better now that I have read your book and know her name. I shall keep her in my prayers. I wish my father were alive to know all this. I am sure he had heard all about this from Uncle Art if Art had helped in the search that night. It all makes sense now.”
You know, there could be other local families who have family stories about these murders and are finding closure now, too. It was a fine thing you did when you set out to write your book.
This chance meeting and discovery was an emotional one for both of us.
Dayton Herald, Feb 3, 1909
This is a photo of the original Duncarrick Mansion carriage house and barn, known also as the Grafton-Kennedy Estate. The photo was taken in 2007 just prior to its demolition, courtesy of Lisa Rickey, owner of the digital image, and Special Collections & Archives, Wright State University. A prayer garden sits on the site today, sometimes used for marriage ceremonies, a fitting memorial to Mary’s life and dreams. The story of the cite has never been told.