The Blue-Eyed Six


SOLSC – Day 27

Are you familiar with the story of the blue-eyed six?  Chances are that if you are not from Lebanon and the surrounding counties you don’t know their story.  I knew they existed but didn’t know the details.  On Thursday I found out.

Kathy and I attended a brunch organized by the Dauphin and Lebanon Counties School Retirees.  The guest speaker was the great-grandson of one of the blue-eyed six.  He had written a book about the event and we bought it, but I haven’t read it yet.  All six men had blue eyes, thus the name the Blue-Eyed Six..

Anyway in case you don’t know the story here goes.  In 1878 four men took out an $8000 insurance policy on another man, Joseph Raber, promising to look after the pauper.  The men got Joe to sign the policies with promises of keeping him provided with food  This was legal back then.  Times were hard, the men had families to support, and not much money coming in. The didn’t want to wait for Joseph’s natural death so they conspired with two other men to kill Joseph and collect the insurance money. Although six conspired, only two did the actual killing, one being this man’s great grandfather.

Someone saw them and reported the incident to the sheriff.  The six men were arrested, tried, and all but one were convicted and sentenced to be hung until death.  The speaker told us the story of each man and where each is buried and yes, you can visit the grave sites of the six men as well as the victim.

“Apart from the actual murder trial, the whole proceeding turned out to be an indictment of the murky business of assessment life insurance, which led to major changes in insurance law, particularly with regard to the practice of insuring people in whom one had no legal interest.”…

I am now anxious to read the book and find out more about this notorious, at least in this area, group of men.


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30 responses to “The Blue-Eyed Six

  1. Yikes! It seems odd that Joseph Raber would agree to the policy. I bet it was a very interesting presentation.

  2. Embekka

    Wow! I had never heard of that story. Sad but interesting.

  3. Judy C.

    You know, the unfortunate thing is that this probably still happens today even with the change in insurance laws. Interesting read.

  4. lindabaie

    Money (or lack of it) changes people. And sometimes a group mentality is hard to combat. What a story, and how interesting that this great-grandson is speaking about it. Is this”his” claim to fame? When you read the book perhaps you’ll share more? Thanks!

  5. Interesting! I had never heard that story. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Now that’s a bit of history I’d never heard of before either. Love or money is often the source of evil.

  7. How very gruesome and sad – money does not often bring out our best selves.

  8. I knew about the insurance law in general but had no idea of the story behind it–one man murdered and five hanged. Evil to obtain money is as old as man.

  9. Ok, that’s just wild! What an interesting read that will be and it sounds like a movie, too!

    • There actually is a locally produced movie and it has been shown in area theaters. The man we heard speak played the part of his great grandfather in the film.

  10. Well, I’ve never heard this story before myself. Quite interesting! What people will do for money, even family members! Once the SOLSC is complete you should have plenty of time to read your book and keep us updated!

  11. What a fascinating piece of history and told by an actual descendant, too. Something about the name of the story immediately made me think of murder.

  12. Such an interesting story and to be turned in by a relative. I can’t wait to hear more details!

  13. History told through direct descendants always adds a unique layer of realism. Regretfully, the nature of some, you hate to think it, but you know there most be a 31st century equivalent. Your title gave me a feel of Edgar Allen. Was not surprised this was about death. Interesting tale nonetheless.

  14. I never heard about it – sounds like a fascinating presentation and book.

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