Chad Reimer is the author of the new book The Trials of Albert Stroebel, based on a murder that took place in 1893 on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford. (Submitted photo)

New book details 1893 murder in Abbotsford and 2 trials that followed

Farmer John Marshall was found dead on his Sumas Prairie property

A new book details a sensational murder that occurred on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford in 1893.

The book by Chad Reimer is called The Trials of Albert Stroebel: Love, Murder and Justice at the End of the Frontier (Caitlin Press).

On a dreary April morning in 1893, John Marshall, a Portuguese immigrant and successful farmer on Sumas Prairie, was found lying sprawled across the veranda of his farmhouse, his body cold and lifeless.

The farmer’s face was a mess, his nose smashed in and cracked blood covering his forehead around a jagged black hole.

The shocked and unfortunate neighbour who discovered the body rushed to Huntingdon railway station to summon the authorities.

An autopsy, coroner’s inquest and murder investigation followed.

Only two days later, a local handyman named Albert Stroebel was arrested for Marshall’s murder. Stroebel was an unlikely killer: short and physically disabled, locals considered him a harmless “boy” who seemed much younger than his 20 years.

The community was shocked to imagine that Stroebel was capable of killing anyone, particularly Marshall, a man who had treated him like family.

Unravelling the mystery would take nine months and two lengthy trials that seized the attention of local communities on both sides of the Canadian-American border.

While the eastern U.S. was gripped with the Borden murders, West Coast newspapers devoted page after page of coverage to Stroebel’s trials.

Throngs of spectators squeezed into the courtroom galleries, debating the young man’s innocence and guilt.

The heaviest hitters of B.C.’s political and legal establishment took part, including former and current premiers, an attorney general, and a future Supreme Court justice.

The first trial in New Westminster ended with the jury hopelessly deadlocked. When the second trial ended with a guilty verdict, many in the public howled in protest, convinced that an innocent man had been sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.

RELATED: Fraser Valley’s lost lake was at centre of local life for centuries: new book

And the dramatic events would not stop there. With the condemned man sitting on death row, the case would take more twists and turns that would lead Stroebel to the shadow of the gallows.

Reimer, an Abbotsford resident, is the author of Before We Lost the Lake: A Natural and Human History of Sumas Valley. That book received an honourable mention in the 2019 B.C. Historical Federation’s Historical Writing Competition.

He also wrote Chilliwack’s Chinatowns for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. and Writing British Columbia History with UBC Press.

Reimer was born in Winnipeg, where he spent his first 14 years before moving to Abbotsford, teaching for some years at the University of the Fraser Valley.

The Trials of Albert Stroebel is available online at caitlin-press.com and other major book sellers, including Amazon and Indigo.

abbotsfordhistory

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

Mission company wins third award for Kermode Cabin

Lacey Construction nets Georgie Award for project at Sandpiper Resort in Harrison Mills

Two Chilliwack women make weekly Crime Stoppers most wanted list

Ashley Felix and Raina McDonald wanted on unrelated issues

Kilby Park in Harrison Mills under water

Area is often subject to flooding, Historic Site will remain open through the summer

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Most Read