Thrown Down A Well: An Attempted Murder in Kingsville

June 27, 1850
Kingsville, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Kingsville is a quaint town in northern Ashtabula County, having been established in 1810, but has a profound history for the macabre as well. Residents were scandalized in 1853 by the suicide of one of its own, Abel Brumbley, who wound a rope around his neck, attached a stone to the end of it, and jumped in a pond to his death. Kingsville was also the seat of the county infirmary which burned down in 1858. The fire was started accidentally by one inmate who survived but caused the death of six other inmates. 

Not only does Kingsville have its store of tragedies, but is also home to several ghosts, one a railway spirit made famous when the Marion Daily Star remarked on the phenomenon.

Kingsville has a ghost that promenades the railway track and swings a blue lantern in its ghostly hands. An express train was stopped one night by the light, and the ghost disappeared into the woods.

Marion Daily Star, January 22, 1885 

The Kingsville Library on Academy Street has a resident ghost wearing a suit and top hat who has been spotted by a few librarians over the years. Also, mysterious occurrences have been recorded at the Simak Welcome Center on School Street. The building was once the old brick schoolhouse, originally built in 1908. After visitors experienced the sounds of children’s voices and other unexplained occurrences, a team of ghost hunters, Lakeview Paranormal, went to investigate. They caught EVP’s, strange noises, and even witnessed a flashlight operated by an unseen hand.

Yet prior to these known stories of Kingsville, one such story exists that without one newspaper article, would be lost to time. 

Rollin Harlow Harmon was born in about 1823 in Kingsville, the son of Reuben Harmon and Harriet Sheldon. Both of his parents had died prior to his marriage to Anna Mohr on March 19, 1850 in Kingsville. Anna was 24, having been born in Canada on October 15, 1825 to Thomas Mohr and Anna Elizabeth Yeager.

With Rollin’s marriage to Anna, he obtained a fine piece of property. There they lived for three months before Rollin decided he was quite weary of his new wife. Within the first month of marriage, Anna conceived a child, but whether or not Rollin was aware of the delicate condition of his wife before hatching his evil plan is quite unknown. Perhaps the information aided his decision to murder Anna and keep the parcel of land she had brought to their union. 

On June 26th, Rollin began to behave very oddly and often lost himself in thought. He eventually told Anna he very much wished to be rid of her, a comment that put her on edge. He ordered the hired man away from the vicinity, busying him with far off tasks. Rollin attempted to draw Anna out of the house by pulling her from about the waist. He told her that the bucket to the well had fallen in and he required her help to retrieve it. She obeyed, albeit with much suspicion, and stood at the side of the well opposite him. When she peered down to see if the bucket was truly down the deep hole, Rollin dashed around and shoved his wife. Despite his determination to pitch her forward, she managed to keep her footing and did not fall in. Trembling in fear, she hastened to the safety of the house and he followed. When she asked him why he had pushed her, he told her he was simply acting in jest and asked her to come back outside. She adamantly refused and spent the remainder of the day perplexed and frightened. Perhaps Anna eventually came to accept the notion that Rollin had been fooling with her, because she told no one and continued with her daily activities.

The following day, Rollin sent the hired man into the woods to fetch the cattle. Anna was engaged in the household chores when Rollin approached her, once again asking her assistance at the well. She rebuffed him and he reacted by scooping her up. He stifled her screams beneath the firm clamp of his hand, his fingernails causing cuts on her cheek and eyelid. Rollin carried her outdoors while Anna attempted to kick herself free. He brought her to the well where a struggle ensued. He could not lift her over the well’s curb, so he kicked the stones away and held her over the chasm, releasing her to the darkness below. She dropped headfirst thirty feet downward, twisting in midair so that her feet landed in three feet of water.  Following a great splash, Anna found herself overall unharmed but in the predicament of being trapped down a well while her murderous husband loomed overhead.

Rollin looked down at Anna in disbelief, angry that all his scheming and effort had come to naught. He called down to her that he would help her climb out, but she fretted that as soon as she was above, he would attempt to throw her down again. Yet she had no choice, unless she wished to remain standing waist-deep in cold water, so she complied by attempting to hold onto a pole he thrust down towards her. She could not grip it, therefore they abandoned that idea. Thinking industriously, Rollin fetched the ropes used for tying the cows and by using them was able to pull Anna up and out of the well. He ordered his shivering wife to immediately return to the house and change her clothing. However, the hired man came along at that moment and witnessed the battered and drenched woman retreating from the well, trembling with cold and fright. Rollin told his man that Anna had fallen into the well on accident, but there was no cause for alarm as he had managed to pull her out on his own. 

Perhaps to collect his emotions, Rollin left at once for his brother’s and returned a short time later. He harnessed the horses and commenced harrowing his field. Anna took this opportunity to escape; crossing a field, climbing over a fence, and finally collapsing at the doorstep of her neighbor’s, the Parkers. They pulled her inside and attempted to discern what horror had befallen young Anna, but she proved to be in such a state of shock that much time passed before she could begin to murmur of her husband’s attempt on her life. Dark bruises formed across her skin and her face bled from the lacerations caused by Rollin’s fingernails. After she could alas tell her story to the Parker’s, Mr. Parker walked to the field Rollin was working. Parker felt out the situation by first engaging Rollin in conversation concerning the crops and found the farmer to be calm, lacking any appearance of agitation. Parker then approached the subject of Anna falling down the well and Rollin assured his neighbor that she had fallen in quite by accident.

The Parkers notified the local esquire, J. G. Thurber, of the attempted murder and Rollin was arrested. During the first night of his incarceration, Rollin managed to escape, fleeing into the cover of the woods. After an arduous manhunt, a Mr. Benson came upon Rollin in his hiding place and the rogue man brandished a knife at his pursuer, threatening to “rip him up”. However, Rollin was alas subdued and booked into the county jail on charges of assault with intent to kill.

What happened after is a mystery lost to time, however we have a vital clue that tells us Rollin was most likely acquitted. In 1850, it was the year of the census and Kingsville’s census was recorded on the 4th of September. In this record, Rollin was shown as living in the home of his brother Catlin with their younger brother Hollis. Anna was listed living with her parents Thomas and Anna Mohr and brother Samuel. It appears that Rollin and Anna were blessedly living separately lives at this point, but Rollin was living a life of freedom with his family. It is possible Rollin received a light sentence that did not involve incarceration or was set free altogether, though we cannot say for sure. Had he been incarcerated at this time, he would have been listed as an “inmate” in the city of his imprisonment, not listed at his usual place of residence.

In January of 1851, Anna gave birth to a daughter, Ella.

Seven years after the attempted murder of his wife, Rollin died. He was a young man of 33 or 34, and was buried in East Lake Cemetery in North Kingsville. His brother Martin named his infant son after Rollin in 1860, but the child died when he was a year old.

Anna and her parents relocated to Erie, Pennsylvania. There, she married Isaac Mosher and they had at least one child for certain according to records, a son Frank in 1867. Anna spent the remainder of her life in Erie, raising her children and stepchildren. She died in 1888 at the age of 63 in Millcreek Township and was buried in Erie Cemetery. Rollin and Anna’s daughter Ella lived a long life and died an old woman.

Though it is frustrating to find no reports of what occurred to Rollin after his arrest and details of his trial—if there was a trial—it is comforting to know that Anna went on to enjoy a relatively long life. The fact that she survived falling down a well is truly remarkable. If it were not for the painstaking efforts of Find A Grave volunteers, we would not know what happened to Anna after her husband in his viciousness and complete lack of empathy, attempted to take the life of her and their unborn child. His actions were premeditated and not performed in a heightened emotional state as his failed attempt one day was carried out in a second attempt on the next. He was truly a cowardly, cold-hearted man who can be placed in the ranks with Ira Gardner in regards to the criminals of Northeast Ohio history. 


  • History of Ashtabula County, Ohio; Large, Moina W.; Topeka; Historical Pub. Co. 1924
  • Ohio Ghost Hunter Guide VI by Jannette Rae Quackenbush, 2014, pages 37-41
  • Marriage Record: “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 July 2014), Ashtabula > Marriage records 1849-1872 vol D > image 16 of 150; county courthouses, Ohio.
  • United States Census,1850: Rollin Harmon in the house of Catlin Harmon,
  • United States Census, 1850: Anna Harmon in home of Thomas Mohr,
  • Assault with Intent to Kill: Portage Sentinel, July 8, 1850

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