Her Name Was Jane

courtesy photo
Elexia Hodgdon, AWARE Intern and Ashley Gravel, AWARE’s Youth Advocate are at the grave in the Main Street cemetary of Jane Shepard Buck, who was killed by her husband in 1901.

by Elexia Hodgdon, AWARE Youth Advocate

HARDWICK — This October, AWARE is honoring and remembering domestic and sexual violence survivors. Domestic violence has a long history, and Hardwick has not been spared in this history.

Over 100 years ago, on December 2, 1901, Hardwick resident James Buck attacked his wife, Jane Shepard Buck, with an iron vice screw in their home a couple miles outside of the village.

James Buck was notorious in Hardwick. He frequently committed petty offenses and would flee back to his home in Quebec to escape the consequences. Some residents of the town even threatened to tar and feather him. He was always a suspicious character, known to carry the 18-inch iron vice screw he used to kill his wife in a leather thong, presumably attached to his belt. His daughter, Jennie Buck, knew him to be extremely violent at times and stated that he had made threats to kill her mother on several occasions.

This violent attack on Jane Shepard did not come as a complete surprise. There were many warning signs. While we will never know many of the details of this case, it is likely that Buck was violent towards his wife often.

Not much is known about Jane Buck. In fact, her name was not mentioned in any articles about her murder. She was simply referred to as Mrs. James Buck. She was the first child of Thomas and Catherine Shepard, born in Quebec in 1847. Jane Shepard Buck had four children, three with James Buck and a son from a previous marriage. Ernest Brown was her oldest, followed by Katherine “Cassie” Buck, William Buck, and Jennie Buck. She had a family that cared about her deeply. She was killed when she was only 54 years old. She is buried in the Main Street cemetery in Hardwick. Her gravestone lovingly marks her as “Mother.”

This case was a topic of much discussion in Hardwick and the surrounding towns at the time. Knowing that James Buck was drinking alcohol at the time of the murder, some were led to believe that alcohol could have been part of the cause. Others believed that this proposition was ridiculous, and that the alcohol could not have caused a person to kill another. It is true that alcohol and domestic violence are often paired together, but it is not true that alcohol causes domestic violence. When a person drinks alcohol, their inhibitions are stripped away, causing them to make quick and impulsive decisions. As a result, perpetrators of domestic violence are more likely to act aggressively and violently.

October is domestic violence awareness month, first declared in 1989. This month is an important time to acknowledge survivors of domestic violence. Please keep in mind the hundreds of people who have experienced and are currently experiencing domestic violence. Jane’s story is one that has been repeated too often in the 121 years since her death. By bringing awareness to the abuse that people are still experiencing and to healthy ways of communication, we hope to change the outlook of domestic violence in the future. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual violence, AWARE is always here to help. You can call our hotline at any time at 802-472-6463.