Famous Last Words
October 26, 1855
“Susan, receive me; I will soon be with you.”
Crane, who was married with 4 children began an affair with an 18-year-old woman, Susan Newham and believed the relationship to be “sanctioned by heaven.” According to the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Sept. 21 1855, Crane asked Newham if she would live with him to which she replied “no, I will die first.” He responded “then you must” and seized her. A struggle ensued and her eye was injured before Crane drew a knife to stab her. She was able to evade the stabbing only to have Crane take out a revolver. He shot her once in the breast, the ball lodging itself in her shoulder in a wound that would probably not have been fatal. She wrestled herself free of Crane again, and he shot at her a second time but missed. Newham tried to flee into her home and, as she ran through the door, Crane shot her through the back of her head. She didn’t immediately succumb to her injury, but the head wound was fatal.
Crane attempted suicide afterwards, the gun he tried to fire in his mouth jammed, and he was unable to slice his wrists with a razor (depending on the source, another person stopped him or he failed to gather the nerve to end his life). When found, Crane was bathing Newham’s head in water while she, having regained consciousness, told him not to kill her or himself and “that she would yet live to be his companion in this world and the world to come.”
Crane’s last words were to his victim, wishing to see her in the afterlife.