Milton and the Hennessey Kidnapping – 1908

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | July 14, 2019

A sensational Charlestown, MA, kidnapping case ended with the kidnapper’s capture in a Milton barbershop. The kidnapped woman steered the kidnapper to Milton, as she had relatives here and was familiar with it.

(The victim’s name was not Eva Tanford, as given in the initial report, nor was she aged seventeen years).

SAYS FORCED TO GO AWAY. Eva Tanford States G. Galella Made Threat. Declares He Compelled Her to Go to Milton, N.H., With Him. Man Arrested, But He Will Be Released. Milton, N.H., May 16. Weeping and wailing and trembling with fright, pretty 17-year-old Eva Tanford of Charlestown, MA, told a startling story last evening to Mrs. Fred M. Chamberlin, wife of the proprietor of hotel Chamberlin, where she and a man had registered shortly before.

Chamberlin, Fred M.
Fred M. Chamberlin, near the Milton train station (Photo: Dianne O’Neill)

Fred M. Chamberlin, a hotel keeper, aged forty-two years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“Milton Village”) household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of fourteen years), Grace M. [(Dicey)] Chamberlin, aged thirty-two years (b. NH), his children, Guy Chamberlin, at school, aged twelve years (b. NH), and Pearl Chamberlin, at school aged six years (b. NH), his servant, Albert F. Downs, a hotel servant, aged fifty-two years (b. NH), and a boarder, D.L. Perkins, a paper mill operative, aged forty-six years (b. Unknown).

Mrs. Chamberlin had been attracted to the room assigned to the girl by the latter’s cries, and on her way upstairs she met the man coming down. As soon as he was out of hearing, the girl told Mrs. Chamberlin that her companion had forced her to come to Milton by threatening to shoot her, and after their arrival at the hotel had threatened to kill her then and there unless she consented to marry him at once. The man, it is said, is Granaro Calella, aged 27, an iron molder, who lived in Charlestown the last seven years and who became enamored of the Tanford girl about a year ago, at which time he sent back to Italy his wife and seven [several?] children.

The authorities (and the newspapers) seemed to have a great deal of trouble in comprehending Italian names. The accused kidnapper’s name was Genaro Colella. He was an Italian immigrant, aged twenty-seven years, who had emigrated from southern Italy to the United States, “about” seven years before, i.e., circa 1901. He was married already, with several children. He had sent his wife back to Italy “about a year previously, i.e., circa 1906-07.

McClung Catalog - Twisters
Police Twisters

Mrs. Chamberlin immediately had her husband notify the police of what had occurred. A half-hour later Calella was placed under arrest in the barber shop of Fred Hartford, on Main st., by policeman J. Harris Rines. Calella was plentifully supplied with weapons. There was taken from him at the police station a loaded 38-calibre revolver, a stiletto having a blade nearly a foot long, two rawhide blackjacks and a pair of police twisters, also a supply of cartridges.

Fred Hartford, a barber, aged thirty-two years (b. NH), headed a Milton (“3-Ponds Village”) household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of eighteen years), Hattie E. [(Downs)] Hartford, aged thirty-nine years (b. NH), his mother-in-law, Doris M. Downs, a widow, aged sixty-two years, and his brother-in-law, Fred Downs, a shoe factory leather worker, aged twenty-six years (b. NH). Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Theresa A. Gerould and Anna F. Berry, Nute High school teachers, and that of James D. Parkham, a news dealer, aged forty-three years (b. NH).

The charge on which he is held is assault with attempt to murder. As soon as the arrest was made the Charlestown authorities were notified.

Miss Tanford’s story, as told to a Globe reporter, is substantially as follows: Thursday night Miss Tanford attended a wake in Charlestown. On her way home, about 4 yesterday morning, when passing the foundry of Osgood & Withery, 3 Sherman st., Calella, who is employed by that concern, came out of the shop, and demanded that she accompany him at once to Boston. She refusing, he drew a revolver and threatened to shoot her unless she consented to so. Fearing he would carry out his threat she went with him. He had evidently planned the affair and waited for her return from the wake, as he was dressed in traveling clothes.

On their arrival in Boston, Miss Tanford says. Calella urged her to board a train with him for New York. This she refused to do, but he renewed his threats, and to safeguard herself as far as possible, she suggested that they come to Milton, where she has relatives. She thought that by getting him to come here, she might effect her escape.

In the course of her conversation. Miss Tanford said she was a niece of Lieut. John Dobbin of station 14, Brighton, Mass.

Actually, she was Lt. Dobbyn’s sister-in-law. (His wife was Mary E. (Counihan) Dobbyn, Milton’s lifesaving heroine of 1902).

The two arrived here on the 4:09 p.m. train and went to the hotel where they registered under their own names, but gave Farmington as their place of abode. Later they went out for a walk and Calella began urging the girl to marry him, she says. The girl was seen weeping by persons on the street and was overheard to say: ‘”What will mother say, now that you have brought me up here?”

So insistent was Calella that Miss Tanford go with him to a minister and be married, and so resolute was she in her refusal, that on their return to the hotel. Miss Tanford says, Calella confronted her with his drawn knife and said: “You marry me, or you will never leave this place alive.” Calella. after making the threat, went out to get shaved. It was at this time Mrs. Chamberlin was attracted by the girl’s crying.

Miss Tanford says that Calella had boarded at her home in Charlestown about a fortnight a year ago. and since that time has been urging her to marry him. and has written her many letters. She says he declared in the presence of her mother that he would steal her, unless the latter consented to their marriage.

At the lockup, in broken English, Calella admitted to the Globe reporter that he intended to marry the girl. Said he:

“I brought her to Milton and was going to marry her or kill her.”

He said he came to this country from southern Italy seven years ago and had a wife and seven children, whom he sent back to Italy about a year ago. He declared that the girl’s family was on good terms with him and that they had been teaching him English. He says the girl is 27, but she looks to be no older than she claims, 17.

Miss Tanford. after Calella’s arrest last night, went to the home of a distant relative, John O’Loughlin, a mile and a half above this village, where she passed the night. Her immediate relatives are expected here this afternoon.

John Loughlin, an ice company foreman, aged fifty-four years (b. Ireland), headed a Milton household at the time of the Twelfth (1900) Federal Census. His household included his wife (of twenty-nine years), Ellen Loughlin, aged fifty years (b. Ireland), his children, Margaret A. Loughlin, aged twenty-seven years (b. MA), Celia Loughlin, aged twenty-two years (b. MA), and Robert E. Loughlin, handling ice, aged nineteen years (b. MA), and his grand-nephew, John Waxson, handling ice, aged thirteen years (b. NY).  They lived in close proximity to the household of Thomas B. Hamilton, an ice dealer, aged thirty-five years (b. Canada (Eng.)).

It developed today after the Strafford county authorities had been notified of Calella’s arrest by the local police, that there was insufficient ground for a charge of attempted murder of Miss Eva Tanford, and that he would be released (Boston Globe, May 16, 1908).

At which point we learn that the kidnapped woman’s name was not Eva Tanford at all, but Josephine F. (Counihan) Hennessey. She was born in Charlestown, MA, circa 1876-77, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Hand) Counihan. (Mrs. Dobbyn, Milton’s lifesaving heroine of 1902, was her sister).

Josephine F. Counihan married in Boston, November 27, 1900, John F. Hennessey.

TO BRING CALELLA BACK. Patrolman Hoy Goes to Milton, N.H., to Get Alleged Kidnapper of Mrs. Josephine Hennessy. Mrs. Josephine Hennessy of 3 Dorrance st, Charlestown. who caused the arrest of Granara Calella. a night watchman at an iron foundry near the girl’s home, for threatening her life and forcing her to run away with him to Milton, N.H., for the purpose or marrying her, reached home at a late hour last night with her brother, and today is confined to her home. All effort on the part of newspaper men and friends to talk over the case with the girl has been unsuccessful, as she has been urged to rest herself so that she will be able to appear in court against Calella when he is brought to Charlestown and arraigned in the municipal court of that district. She has also been warned against speaking to newspaper men, and these instructions have been faithfully obeyed. Capt. Yeaton had a long talk with the young woman upon her arrival in Charlestown as a result of which an application for a warrant for Calella’s arrest was made to the clerk of the court and granted on a charge of kidnapping Mrs. Josephine Hennessy. Patrolman James Hoy of the Charlestown police station, with the warrant, was instructed to go to Milton. N.H. and he started on the first train this morning for that town to take Calella from the custody of Chief Rhines of that town. Officer Hoy will not arrive in Boston before tonight as the train service is limited from Milton, N H to Boston. His prisoner will be arraigned in court tomorrow morning (Boston Globe, May 18, 1908).

Mrs. Hennessy Still in Milton, N.H. Mrs. Josephine Hennessy, the 27-year-old daughter of Mrs. Everett [Edward] Counihan of 3 Dorrance st, Charlestown, is still under the care of a physician and friends in the home of James O’ Loughlin at Milton, N.H., being in a highly nervous and excitable condition since, as she alleges, her life was threatened In Charlestown by Granuro Calella, a 28-year-old Italian, unless she would go with him to New York and marry him. It is not definitely known by the relatives of the young woman In Charlestown when she will leave Milton for home (Boston Globe, May 18, 1908).

ON KIDNAPPING CHARGE Calella is Held in $10,000. at Charlestown in Hennessy Case. Woman in Court, Veiled, But Did Not Testily. G. Calella. who is accused of threatening Mrs. Josephine Hennessy. 27 years old, of 1 Temple st. Charlestown. last Friday morning, while armed with a 38-caliber revolver, policeman’s billy, two knives and a razor, was arraigned before Judge Bragg In the Charlestown municipal court this morning on a on-charge of kidnapping Mrs. Hennessy on the street. Patrolman James Hoy, who brought Calella back from Milton, N.H., where he had been arrested, appeared against Calella this morning and told the judge about the case. Patrolman Hoy exhibited the revolver, cartridges and some other equipment. Lieut. John Dobbyn of division 14, a brother-in-law of Mrs. Hennessy, also spoke to the judge. When the clerk of the court read the charge against Calella to him, the defendant nodded his head, but did not

Continued on the Seventh Page.

ON KIDNAPPING CHARGE. Continued From the First Page.

Colella, G..jpgspeak. The court held Calella in $10,000 bail for appearance before the superior criminal court. Calella didn’t have any one to put up that amount of bail for him and was committed to the county jail. Calella is 27 years old, and has been employed as night watchman at the foundry of Osgood & Witherly on Sherman st., Charlestown. He boarded at 3 Hildreth pl., Charlestown. The house where Mrs. Hennessy lives with her mother is next door to the foundry. Calella is said to have become infatuated with Mrs. Hennessy because her family had treated him courteously. It is said he misconstrued the young woman’s politeness and began making love to her. Last Thursday, according to patrolman Hoy, Calella wrote Mrs. Hennessy a letter, after having professed his love for her in vain, and in the letter said, according to the way it was read in court this morning: “My eyes blind for you. Me shoot you some time. If you don’t come in to see me some time will kill you Friday, girl. First me kill you; last I kill myself. Me catch you, me kill you if you do not love me, me kill you. Me crazy for.” As the police tell the story, Mrs. Hennessy went to a wake Thursday night. At 4 o’clock Friday morning, when she was on her way home, she asserts that Calella met her in the street near her house and threatened to kill her if she did not accompany him. He took her to a hotel near the North station and menaced her with the revolver, club, the razor and knives. Mrs. Hennessy is married. Calella has a wife and several children in Italy. He insisted on her going to New York with him to be married. Mrs. Hennessy asserts that she was so frightened that she dared make no outcry, but she partly promised to accede to Calella’s wishes if he would take her to Milton, N.H., where she has friends. Calella, she says, took her to Milton, and after taking her to a hotel again threatened her with death unless she married him. Then Calella went out to get shaved preparatory to the ceremony. After he had left the hotel, the landlady heard Mrs. Hennessy crying and the young woman told her of her troubles, with the result that Chief of Police Rhines was notified and he arrested Calella. The disarmament was safely accomplished. The mother of Mrs. Hennessy was notified. She went after her daughter and patrolman Hoy went after Calella with a warrant. Mrs. Hennessy was in court this morning, but wasn’t called upon to testify. She wore two veils, and kept them down so that the photographers couldn’t get a snap shot. At the conclusion of the proceedings in court Mrs. Hennessy was escorted out through a side door by Lieut. Dobbyn, who put her aboard a car for her home (Boston Globe, May 19, 1908).

BEFORE INSPECTORS. G. Calella is Measured, Photographed and Finger Printed at Police Headquarters. G. Calella, who was arrested by patrolman James J. Hoy of the Charlestown police station at Milton, N.H., yesterday on a charge of abducting Josephine Hennessey of Dorrance st., Charlestown, was brought back to this city early last evening. This morning, following roll call at the bureau of criminal investigation, he was paraded before the inspector and measured, photographed and fingerprinted. This morning at headquarters Calella said: “Josie is a very nice girl,” and he tried to spell her name when the reporters were taking notes. In reference to the abduction charge he would say nothing, making strange gestures when he was questioned by the police. When Hoy arrived at Milton, N.H., yesterday, where Calella was being held for the local police, he found that the prisoner had waived his extradition rights and was willing to return to Boston without going through the usual formalities. He passed last night at the Charlestown police station. This morning, following his appearance at Headquarters, he was taken back to Charlestown. The prisoner is short in stature. He is 28 years old. He is said to have threatened the Hennessy woman with a revolver the morning when it is alleged that he compelled her to accompany him to the Granite state (Boston Globe, May 19, 1908).

CALELLA NOT GUILTY. Judge Orders the Verdict on Kidnapping Charge Action Based on Testimony of Mrs. Hennessey, the Complainant. Gerara Calella of Charlestown, accused of kidnapping Mrs. Josephine Hennessey, wife of John Hennessey, May 14, was found not guilty by a jury in the superior criminal court yesterday by order of Judge Pierce. Calella is a night watchman in the foundry adjoining the house where Mrs. Hennessey lives. Mrs. Hennessey claimed that the defendant stopped her on her way home May 14 and compelled her to go with him. He had a revolver with which he intimidated her, she said. He later took her to a hotel in Boston, then to Lynn, and then to Rochester and to Milton. N.H. She was hysterical at times on the stand, and also rather dramatic in her manner. At the close of her evidence the court said that on her own testimony he felt it necessary to ask the jury to return a verdict of not guilty because if a verdict of guilty were returned he would set it aside (Boston Globe, June 11, 1908).

Judge Pierce’s directed verdict of Not Guilty – based upon the alleged victim’s testimony – must surely have been a surprise.

Elizabeth Counihan, a widow, living on her own income, aged sixty-eight years (b. MA), headed a Boston, MA, household at the time of the Thirteenth (1910) Federal Census, Her household included her daughter, Josephine Hennessey, aged thirty-four years (b. MA). They shared a two-family dwelling on Temple Street with the household of Phillip J. Timmons, a street railroad flagman, aged forty years (b. MA).

Several men named Genaro Colella resided in the Boston area, although mostly they came in later years. One whose characteristics best seem to match the newspaper accounts would later petition for US citizenship in Boston, MA, March 20, 1933. He had been born in Montemiletto, Avellino, Italy, in February 1879. He stated that he had arrived in Boston, MA, April 26, 1902, on board the steamship Vancouver. His wife, Tomassina [(Palma)] Colella, was born also in Montemiletto, in August 1878, and they married in Montemiletto in 1898. She arrived in 1905. They had three children: Clementina Colella (b. Italy, April 25, 1900), Antoinette Colella (b. Italy,  May 24, 1902), and Italia Colella (b. Boston, July 9, 1906 [July 10, 1905]).

Josephine F. (Counihan) Hennessey died in Somerville, MA, April 16, 1949 (Boston Globe, April 18, 1949).


Wikipedia. (2019, February 8). Montemiletto. Retrieved from


Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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