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Episode 123 Lena Clarke The Murdering Postmistress

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.

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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.

Episode Sources

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

Episode Music

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