Many people believe that women being murdered for being a “witch” ended once the Salem Witchcraft Trials were over. Unfortunately, it did not and it still goes on around the world to this day. This is only one of those tragic stories.
As the month of May came to a close in 1911 so did the life of Aldina Eisenbarth. Not more than a month earlier had she married Alois Eisnenbarth against the wishes of her friends.
Aldina a 63 year-old widow had moved back to St. Louis three years earlier after the death of her husband. She met Alois while doing odd jobs around his house and soon, the two married. Aldina’s friends were outraged when almost immediately Mr. Eisenbarth demanded his new bride transfer all of her property and savings over to him. In opposition to the protesting of her friends the newly wed Mrs. Eisenbarth signed over all of her savings totaling in excess of $5000. Adjusted for inflation the sum, today, would be over $125,000.
Obsessed with Witches
Anna Potter, who had been Mr. Eisenbarth housekeeper for 19 years, had warned not only Aldina but people in the community that Mr. Eisenbarth had a growing obsession with witchcraft and often dreamed that witches were attacking him. She stated to police that when she had a headache Mr. Eisenbarth would explain to her that “witches put a spell on you.” After the tragic events she showed police where Mr. Eisenbarth kept his money. Down in the cellar of the house Mr. Eisnbarth kept all of his currency and coins in a can attached to a wire and lowered into a pipe in the ground. The can was covered with red and green rags so that “witches” wouldn’t be able to go near it.
Less than a month after Aldina and Alois married she, on the advice of her friends, decided that the marriage was a failure and that they should separate. Taking her friend, (Mrs. King who was also Alois’ sister-in-law), with her back home the two women began packing clothes so that Aldina could finalize the separation from her husband. Once they were finished they planned to meet with a local notary and have the marriage annulled. They never got the chance.
When Mr. Eisenbarth saw the women packing he became enraged and started screaming that the women were going to take his money. He was convinced that the women had used witchcraft on him and would cast spells that would leave him penniless. Grabbing an ax Mr. Eisenbarth hit his wife in the head killing her. He then proceeded to stab her body multiple times with a pitchfork. Mrs. King escaped but she too had been horrible wounded.
When the police arrived Mr. Eisenbarth offered them glasses of whiskey and told them that he had been “bewitched.” He also told the arresting officers, “I’m glad I did it. They were plotting to get my property from me. They can hang me tomorrow I don’t care.”
How Much is a Life Worth?
When police finished their investigation they found, that without his wife’s money and property, Mr. Eisenbarth’s owned the home which was worth approx. $2000 and he had $70 in cash…hidden in a pipe in the cellar.
The story of the murder was carried in newspapers around the country. In those reports many simply stated that a man had killed his wife over money. Most articles never even broached the “witch” aspect of the case and even fewer reported the fact that Aldina was the wealthier of the couple.
The sentencing and ultimate fate of Mr. Eisenbarth remains unknown.