A Union City Love Triangle
February 4, 1909. The love triangle began in Union City about the year 1891 when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cross met Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Maynard. Mrs. Abbey Cross became infatuated with A.L. Maynard and he with her. They left Union City together and lived as man and wife in several cities in Ohio. Mrs. Cross was eventually convicted of poisoning Mrs. Maynard and sentenced to two years in prison for her supposed crime.
In 1906, Frank Cross, Abbey’s husband, died under what some people in Union City considered mysterious circumstances. Abbey Cross had been away from him either in Warren or Cortland, Ohio. Over the next two days after she returned, Frank was taken ill and suffered with attacks of severe vomiting. He died that Friday night.
Mrs. Cross’s son told William Harmon of Spartansburg, Pa., that “if Mrs. Cross is my mother, she poisoned my father.”
G.P. Gilmer, the prosecuting attorney of Trumbull County, Ohio, contacted Chief of Police C.M. Siverling of Union City, both by letter and telephone. He told Chief Siverling that he was coming to Union City with detectives to investigate the death of Frank Cross and to try to find evidence of poisoning.
In his letters, the prosecuting attorney also said he planned to exhume the body of Frank Cross and conduct tests to see if he could find traces of poison in his stomach. He also said that circumstantial evidence seemed to indicate that Mrs. Cross had tried to poison Mrs. Ida Maynard, who was the lawful wife of A.L. Maynard. Abbey Cross did admit that A.L. Maynard had been keeping her for several years, but then he had returned to his legal wife.
The Warren Ohio Chronicle picks up the story of forty-five year old Abbey Cross’s attempt to get rid of her rival. Professor Evan Mahaffey of Warren called police chief Frank Flowers to the high school there and told him that he had a matter which he felt needed investigating. Professor Mahaffey was the chemistry instructor of the faculty at the high school and he told Police Chief Flowers about an interesting visitor he had entertained. It seems that a Mrs. Maynard had brought him a cup and he analyzed the sediment in the cup. According to Professor Mahaffey, the cup contained enough arsenic to kill many people.
Mrs. Maynard had told him that Mrs. Abbey Cross had brought the cup full of milk to her house. After Mrs. Maynard had drunk the milk, she had been taken ill and her physician advised her to have the milk analyzed by chemist.
Chief Flowers went from the high school to talk to Mrs. Maynard who had rented rooms on Clinton Street in Warren. Mrs. Maynard told the Chief the story of her husband’s involvement with Abbey Cross. A.L. Maynard had become infatuated with Abbey Cross and he had tried to divorce Ida Maynard in both Meadville, P., and Warren, Ohio, so he could marry Abbey. Both courts had refused to grant him a divorce so he had resorted to living with Abbey Cross. Mrs. Maynard had gone to Canada to live with her son, and in June of 1908, her son had been stricken with paralysis.
Mrs. Maynard hadn’t known where her husband could be located, so she sent a letter to the Fenner Company of Buffalo where he worked, and asked that they forward the letter to him. A.L. Maynard came to see his son, and during his visit he patched up his troubles with his wife. He agreed to leave Mrs. Cross and Ida agreed to live with him as he wife once again. In December 1908, they came to Warren, Ohio, to live.
On December 16, Mrs. Cross telephoned the Maynards and tried to get A.L. to return to her. He refused. Abbey’s next move was to visit Ida Maynard in her rooms in Union City. She told Ida that she wanted to see her on some business. When Abbey arrived, she told Ida Maynard that A.L. owned her some money. Ida told Abbey that if her husband owned her money she would try to have him pay it, but to go away because she had already caused her enough trouble.
Abbey Cross had brought a quart of milk in a Mason Jar with her which she said she had purchased from a local dairyman. She asked Ida and her son to have a drink of milk with her. Ida Maynard got a tumbler and two cups and poured out her milk. The son drank his glass and Ida drank a small amount of hers. Abbey Cross also drank a little of hers. Mrs. Maynard recalled later that she detected an odor in the milk and that something seemed to stick on her tongue.
Eventually Abbey said that she had to catch her train and shortly after she left, Ida Maynard was taken ill. She suspected poisoning and quickly went to Dr. G.N. Simpson, who gave her an antidote for the poison. The doctor also told her that she should take the sediment to the chemist to analyze, but she couldn’t do it right away because of her illness. Ida was the only one to become ill from drinking the milk and her cup was the only one that contained any sediment. As soon as she was able, she took the sediment to be analyzed.
Chief Flowers discovered that the only Warren druggist to sell arsenic on December 23 was Hapgoods. Here, a woman calling herself Jennie Brown of Leavittstown told Druggist Hapgood that she wanted the poison to preserve specimens. Instead of writing her name in the poison book, she made her mark, excusing herself on the grounds that she could not write. Druggist Hapgood positively identified Abbey Cross as the woman who had purchased the poison. The fact that Abbey could not write added weight to his testimony.
Abbey Cross was arrested and brought to trial on charges of the murder of her husband, Frank Cross, of Union City, and the attempted murder of Ida J. Maynard. In March 1909, Ida Maynard did not appear at Abbey Cross’s hearing in Warren, Ohio. In fact, Ida left Warren suddenly, and police officers diligently searched for her. They finally located her near Centerville, in Crawford County, Pa, and they immediately placed her under arrest. The police took her to Warren and turned her over to the sheriff of Trumbull County, Ohio.
Officials asked Mrs. Maynard why she had been hiding. She said she had been hiding because her husband asked her to hide, which according to the officials placed Mr. Maynard in a very unfavorable position in the case.
In May 1909 Abbey Cross was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison in the penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. A.L. Maynard was also taken into custody and held supposedly as a witness. He stayed in jail from January to May of 1909, and according to his statement, he was never called as a witness and never participated in the case in any way.
In 1910, A.L. Maynard brought a suit for damages against Trumbull County, Ohio, where he had been held in prison. He asked for $11,000 for false imprisonment and his attorney intended to vigorously prosecute the case. Many of A.L. Maynard’s friends felt someone had made him the scapegoat in the case. They said he was never asked to tell what he knew about the case, and he was never called by the defense or prosecution to take the witness stand.
A.L. did make a statement to the Titusville Herald where he said that there wasn’t a word of truth in the case against Mrs. Abbey Cross. According to A.L., his wife, Ida J. Maynard, hadn’t drunk the poisoned milk as she said she had. He alleged that Ida and Chief Flowers and the district attorney had concocted the entire case against Mrs. Cross.
“They sent my wife Ida J. Maynard to Kansas the same day that Mrs. Cross was sentenced. They held my pay for being a witness until last August,” A.L. said.
He charged that the state had never called him to be a witness and he was never sworn in the poisoning case at all.
“Furthermore, they forbid Johnny Maynard, my son, and Ida Maynard, my wife, to come to see me for eight or ten days after I was put in jail. I was not allowed to leave my cell, even to attend the meetings on Sunday for two weeks. Mrs. Maynard has testified to things that are untrue about Mrs. Cross and about me, so that she does not care to return to this section.”
Again, according to A.L., the district attorney had written and convinced Mrs. Cross to sign her confession under false pretenses. He promised that he would set Mrs. Cross free and he tried to A.L. to convince her to confess as well.
The district attorney also threatened to have the body of Frank Cross dug up and examined for poison unless he confessed. He told Abbey that her case would cost the state $500 to $600 and that she would have to work out the money in prison at fifty cents a day. He charged that Abbey and A.L. Maynard had lived together as man and wife in Ohio.
A.L. Maynard counter-charged that the state had spent hundreds of dollars to convict Mrs. Cross and if the district attorney had used him as a witness before the grand jury, the case would never have gone any further. He said that there was no case whatever, except that Mrs. Cross bought a quart of milk at Mrs. Maynard’s request and that Mrs. Maynard had bought the milk with her own money.
“These are only a few of the facts which should have come out in my trial had I been used as a witness by the state of Ohio against Mrs. Abbey Cross. Mrs. Cross was in a serious condition of health and mind when she signed the confession.”
The newspaper accounts of the trial, charges and countercharges end here, leaving some very intriguing questions about Abbey Cross and Ida and A.L. Maynard. Did A.L. Maynard stay with his wife Ida or did he return to Abbey Cross? Did Ida Maynard stage the so called poisoning to avenge herself against the other woman? And probably most intriguing, exactly what part had A.L. Maynard played in this triangle? Did he play the two women against each other for his own benefit or was he simply a hapless pawn caught between two strong women?