The History of Muhlenberg County (KY) mentioned that Robert Maxwell Martin, a Confederate "hero," (and a fellow descendant of William Roark -- see "Roark" posts) married a Miss Wardlaw of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and had a daughter Oceania "Ocey" Martin Snead. Then the cryptic sentence "It was the death of this daughter...that brought her mother and maternal relatives into such trying and pitiful prominence in New York in 1910, nearly ten years after Colonel Martin's death." Many possibilities came to mind, but none of them approached the truth of Ocey's tragic circumstances.
First it was determined here on the 1900 Census that Miss Wardlaw's name was Caroline. "A GOOGLE search of Wardlaw and Murfreesboro revealed headlines in the New York Times stating WELL KNOWN IN TENNESSEE; Miss Wardlaw Once President of a College in That State, referring to Virginia Wardlaw, but what were the odds? Besides, the Muhlenberg County history book mentioned Ocey's mother and maternal relatives. Bingo -- Virginia Wardlaw was one of the three Wardlaw notorious Wardlaw sisters.
The story unfolds in the Mysterious Black Sisters (the Wardlaws who dressed in black). Bottom line -- Caroline Martin and her sisters murdered Ocey Martin Snead in a slow, agonizing way, after securing thousands of dollars in life insurance for Ocey. The bottom line does not do this story justice (no pun intended); the machinations of the sisters Wardlaw exudes evil.
The death of Robert Maxwell Martin described here was thought to be murder after his widow, Caroline Wardlaw Martin, was found guilty of murdering their daughter, Ocey Martin Snead.
See obituaries for Ocey Martin Snead and Virginia Wardlaw at findagrave.com. After Caroline Wardlaw Martin was convicted, her sister, Mary Wardlaw Snead, was released and lived with her son in Colorado and perhaps in California.