In 1920 Lena Clarke made history when she became the first woman to be named postmaster of West Palm Beach, Florida. Within a year, she gained notoriety as “the murdering postmistress when she stood trial for killing her lover to cover up an embezzlement scheme.
Poem written by Lena Clarke while she was in jail awaiting trial:
A Fool’s Wisdom
I told you the course you pursued was wrong
But you laughed and said women are poor, weak fools
So I hushed on my lips life’s merry song
To pray, while you all disregarded God’s rules
I knew how your castle would crash on your head,
How the flowers would turn in your hands to weeds;
I saw when you turned from the ruins and fled;
Do you think I can meet, now, your soul’s sorest needs?
You expect I will comfort you and show you how
To bring your mistakes to successes still.
You look to my cunning to save you now.
Weak fool of a woman, perhaps I will.
Of course, love will fill the bitter years;
Perhaps was too cruel of a word to say.
Angels, blot from your records my prayers and my tears.
Lest they hide them from God at the judgment day.
Florida history: The story of West Palm Beach’s murderous postmistress. The Palm Beach Post. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/2022/01/09/lena-clarke-mysterious-murderous-postmistress-west-palm-beach/9084494002/
Going Postal, 1920s Style – The Strange Case of Lena Clarke. Palm Beach Past. Accessed January 29, 2023. https://palmbeachpast.org/2021/07/going-postal-1920s-style-the-strange-case-of-lena-clarke/
The Murdering Postal Woman, Lena Clarke, 1921. Historical Crime Detective. Accessed February 2, 2023. https://www.historicalcrimedetective.com/the-murdering-postal-woman-lena-clarke-1921/
Lena Marietta Thankful Clarke. Find A Grave. Accessed February 3, 2023. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23950611/lena-marietta_thankful-clarke
Theft of $32,000 Solved by Lena Clarke but Murder of Miltimore is still a mystery. The Orlando Sentinel. Accessed February 3, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/image/313585521/?terms=lena%20clarke&match=1
The Life of Lena Clarke In Her Own Pen. The Miami Herald. Accessed February 3, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/image/616088404/?terms=lena%20clarke&match=1
Lena Clarke Murder Trial. The MIami Herald. Accessed February 3, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/image/616088368/?terms=lena%20clarke&match=1
Postmistress Called Insane Freed of Murder. The New York Daily News. Accessed February 3, 2023. https://www.newspapers.com/image/410910479/?terms=lena%20clarke&match=1
St. Francis by by Josh Lippi & The Overtimers. Licensed under Creative Commons; Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use