Residents hear court history

Belmont County Court of Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato and lawyer Daniel Frizzi Jr. on Wednesday present historic Belmont County court cases at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Clairsville. T-L Photo/MIRANDA SEBROSKI

ST.CLAIRSVILLE — From land disputes to the first public hanging, there is a lot of legal history in Belmont County, according to Court of Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato and lawyer Daniel Frizzi Jr.

At St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Clairsville on Wednesday, a crowd gathered to hear Fregiato and Frizzi discuss some historic cases.

Fregiato made a presentation on the case of Thomas Carr. Carr is known to be the first public execution in Belmont County’s history and took the life of Louisa Fox.

Carr was a member of the U.S. Army during the Civil War Era. He reportedly struggled with alcoholism, fights, and even murders before being discharged.

According to Fregiato, Carr then met Fox who was around 13 to 14 years of age. They then decided to get married. Fox was reported to say she would rather die than to not be married to Carr.

Her parents agreed to the marriage, but then had a change of heart. Carr took Fox’s words literally about her wanting to be dead if she could not marry him, so he developed a plan to kill Fox and her parents.

Fregiato said Carr cut Fox all over and almost severed her head from her body. He then attempted suicide with a gun, then by a knife, but failed both times. Carr was then taken to the hospital to get stitches and was found to be suspicious in the murder. The Belmont and Monroe County Common Pleas Court Judge at the time was John Way. He sentenced Carr to death by hanging after his conviction for first degree murder. Carr’s reported last words were about how whiskey was his downfall, wishing it to banned from all citizens.

Fregiato said he had researched the case extensively through old newspapers such as the Spirit of Democracy and the Marietta Register. He also found the burial and murder site of Fox with his other colleagues.

“What we discovered at the burial site was what looked like a shrine,” Fregiato said. “There was everything from teddy bears to beer bottles.”

Fregiato said there were also reports in various newspapers that Carr’s burial site has an unmarked grave. He also presented old maps of St. Clairsville from the 1880s to determine where the possible hanging of Carr took place.

Frizzi then presented a case from Bellaire about a dispute over land in the village that took place during the 1800s. Frizzi’s knowledge of the court case comes from research and being able to obtain documents from that time period.

The spot that was fought over is Union Square Park near Bellaire High School. The park was split by John H. Sullivan, Benjamin Rush Cowen, and William Barnard who were proprietors of Harris Farm on the north side and John H. Heaton who was the proprietor of Rodefer Farm on the south side.

Eventually, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that Union Square Park was public land. It is now a site honoring the proprietors and military veterans.