Image via Chad Madden

The 1890s Girl Who Loved Funerals So Much She Began Killing Friends So She Could Go To More

14-year-old Ella Holdridge had an obsession with death that led to her poisoning a number of her neighborhood friends in 1892

Andrew Martin
4 min readFeb 9


There are a good number of people who may act morbidly from time to time, but few who have it fully consume them. Unfortunately, 14-year-old Ella Holdridge loved death and funerals so much that she began killing her friends in 1892 because she believed they would look nice dead, and she also wanted to attend their services.

The July 20, 1892 edition of the San Francisco Examiner carried a bizarre story from the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. In the Tonawanda community lived a 14-year-old girl named Ella Holdridge. She was long considered to be odd, especially given her obsession with death. Her stepmother later said that she would run after any funeral procession she saw, and whenever she learned of someone having recently died, she would dance around the house, clapping her hands and joyfully shouting, “He’s dead! He’s dead!”

Holdridge’s attraction to death turned out to be not just a passing dark fancy of youth. It was discovered that in an attempt to feed her obsession, she had killed one of her friends and poisoned three others, bringing them to the brink of losing their lives as well.

On July 7th of that year, Holdridge was playing with seven-year-old neighbor Louisa Stermer. Unfortunately, she became violently sick shortly after going home. The doctor who came to treat her tried a number of things, but nothing seemed to work and she passed away just two days later. Her funeral was then held, which was attended by Holdridge, among others.

Apparently seeing how easy it was to scare up funerals at the snap of the fingers, the teenager went to work again to find more friends to become corpses. Just days later she was entertaining the two young daughters of Mrs. Eggleston, who had left town for the day to shop in Buffalo — ten miles away. Left home alone, the older girl brought the sisters inside and locked them in a room, promising she was going to make them a treat. She made a pot of cocoa, but stirred in a handful of rat poison to achieve her dastardly goal.



Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.


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