3. The grisly murder of a young woman was discovered there and a minister was accused of the crime
The location gained national attention in December 1832, when the pregnant lifeless body of Sarah M. Cornell was found hanging from a stackpole there. Her death was later deemed to be murder. Methodist minister Ephraim K. Avery was accused of the crime, but was acquitted after a sensational trial. The verdict outraged many local citizens.
Per author Rory Raven’s book on the subject, Wicked Conduct: The Minister, the Mill Girl and the Murder That Captivated Old Rhode Island, “Sarah’s body rested on John Durfee’s farm for years, until he moved it to an unmarked location; he had grown weary of the many, many visitors to the site, knocking on his door and asking questions. In 1909, Sarah was moved to Oak Grove Cemetery. Her stone is a simple white granite, much worn with the passage of time, the words still just discernable.”