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Crime Drama

[Warning : This is a True story with graphic parts.]

The house was fully ingulfed in flames as it's smoke filled the sky near a small Wisconsin town. It was August 15th 1914 in the flat plains near the town of Spring green.

There were five men and a young boy inside trying to escape as the fire raged. The men would try to open the door but it had been locked from the outside. Each time one of them would try to go through a window, Carlton would be waiting on the other side with an axe. Screams could be heard from far away and the smell of burning flesh filled the air. Herbert Fritz, a care taker of the Taliesin estate, would finally smash through a window with out Carlton seeing him. After getting through the window Fritz rolled down a hill to a nearby creek where he would then be able to go and get help.

Just before all of this had happened, Martha Borthwick Cheney , and her two children, John and Martha had just sat down to eat their lunch in another part of the big mansion. Carlton had served them their mid-day meal and then left the room. Carlton soon returned, but the unexpecting mother of two would not see him or the axe he had been holding. With a few quick steps towards his victim, Carlton raised the axe and drove it deep into Martha's skull splitting it in two. The two children that were dinning with their mother did not have a chance. They both were pleading for mercy as they tried to run, but in the end, each would suffer the same fate as their mother.

The Taliesin house had been built by a famous architect named Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank was born June eighth eighteen sixty-seven, and until his death in April of nineteen fifty-nine, he would design and build over a thousand structures. Frank Lloyd Wright would go on to be a famous influence to architects around the world.

Frank had designed and built this prairie school style estate for his mistress Martha Cheney and her two children to live with him after he had left his wife in Illinois. Frank named the house "The Taliesin". The word Taliesin in Welsh means "Shining Bow".

Frank met Martha through Martha's husband Edwin Cheney in 1903. Edwin Cheney, a wealthy Chicago businessman had hired Frank to design and build a home for him and his wife. Mr. Cheney's wife Martha, was a beautiful high spirited feminist that was filled with life and would soon fall in love with Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect.

Frank had a wife of twenty years at the time with a woman named Catherin Lee Tobin. The two had six children together. Frank had felt the marriage was going nowhere and that's about the time he had met Martha and would end up indulging in the world of adultery. Soon the two would elope to Europe and would not return until nineteen-ten.

After returning to America Frank Wright would build the Taliesin in nineteen-eleven. Although Martha's husband gave her a divorce, Frank's wife would not give him one until nineteen twenty-two.

The serial killer's name was that of Julian Carlton. He and his wife Gertrude was hired to cook and serve food at the Taliesin by Frank Wright himself. Julian Carlton and his wife came from Barbados and worked for a well know caterer up in Chicago. Other than their good credentials that they gave MR. Wright, no one really knows much more about the two.

To this day no one knows why Carlton had gone on a murderous killing spree at the Taliesin place. There would only be speculation through the years as to what had drove him to kill.

It was speculated that there had been racial slurs from Emil Bredell, a draftsman that worked for MR. Wright whom would later be killed in the fire. Some say it was because Martha was going to fire Julian Carlton and his wife Gertrude. It had been rumored at the time that Martha had already started to recruit a new cook and a new server for the Taliesin. Some offered the idea that Frank himself hired Carlton to kill Martha because of the mistress title that would hinder the couple in Spring Green Wisconsin.


Frank Wright had been in Chicago at the time of the murders and if Mr. Wright needed an alibi he would have a solid one. He had been working on a project called "Midway Gardens", which was a beer garden and an art center in downtown Chicago, where he had been for some time. Those who knew Frank and Martha would say the two were deeply in love and it would be impossible for Frank to have something so evil, and filled with hatred, carried out on someone whom he loved so dearly.


The only other survivor of the killing madness was William Weston. Carlton had hit him with the axe as he jumped out of a window but did not realize that he had left William alive. William actually helped put the fire out after Carlton had finally disappeared with his axe. This must have been real hard for Mr. Weston because Ernest Weston , his young son had been in the inferno as well.

Altogether there would be seven people murdered with two injured, and scares that would go on to haunt the small village of Spring Green Wisconsin for ever.


In the end Carlton was found by a group of local people helping the police search for the killer. He would be found hiding in a furnace where he was still holding the blood covered axe. Carlton had unsuccessfully tried suicide by drinking hydrochloric acid before anyone had reached him. The towns people wanted to hang Carlton right away but instead, they had taken him to jail where several weeks later he would die of starvation due to the acid eating up his stomach.

The House would burn down once more due to bad wiring but Frank would rebuild it again in nineteen twenty-five. The Taliesin still stands today and is now called the Frank Lloyd Wright museum, a national historic landmark. The Taliesin will always remain a reminder to those in Spring Green of the horrors that took place over a hundred years ago.

Some people say that while visiting the museum, you can still hear the screams from the innocent souls who lost their lives trying to get out of the Taliesin on that hot august afternoon in 1914...


August 24, 2021 09:53

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Del Gibson
20:21 Sep 20, 2021

Fantastic story Holland. I like the way you describe Frank, who indeed was an extraordinary Architect. Some of his creations are mind blowing (I love Architecture!) Although there is no dialogue, no character building - some of things you would usually find in fiction, this creative non-fiction was delivered really well and I enjoyed the beginning, it pulled me in. The suspense was great and the momentum of the plot kept me interested. Well done Holland. Keep up the great work and happy writing! Del.

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