Monadnock Moment No. 2: The Mysterious Death of Martin Ahern
On the morning of March 25, 1869, the readers of local newspapers were greeted by the following advertisement: “Information wanted: of Martin Ahern, an Irishman, about 40 years old, well-built, straight, full, red face, and weighing about 1751bs. Any information concerning him will be thankfully received by his family.” Ahern was an Irish immigrant who had arrived in Keene in 1861, found employment with the Cheshire Railroad, and built a home on Island Street.
It seems that on the evening of March 20, several friends of Thomas Boyd, Ahern among them, enjoyed dinner and liquors at Boyd’s home on Ashuelot Street after helping him saw a large pile of wood at that address. The men laughed and sang until 2:00 a.m. when they separated and headed to their own residences. Martin Ahern, however, never arrived at home.
Early the next morning the night watchman from the railroad shops found Ahern’s sawhorse, saw and hat under the railroad bridge near the Faulkner and Colony Mill; there was no sign of Ahern. A search was launched and spikes were driven into the bed of the canal to intercept the body if it should float to that point.
The disappearance caused quite a commotion in town. The police questioned many people, but nothing more could be learned. On the morning of April 28, six weeks after the mysterious disappearance, Ahern’s body was found lodged against the spikes, which had been placed in the canal for that purpose.
Ahern’s skull was badly fractured and it was the opinion of coroner Samuel Woodward that Ahern had come to his death by violence at the hands of some unknown person.
Public opinion was again aroused and many felt that the body had not floated to the spikes in the canal, but had been placed there a short time before by the murderer. Despite the attention attracted to the death due to the unusual circumstances, the mysterious case of Martin Ahern was not solved, and remains unsolved today.