Knick Family Murders, 1869

Born in Alsace in 1848, Jean-Baptiste Troppmann’s lethality led him to the guillotine at the tender age of 22. In 1869 he hooked up with Jean Kinck with who he planned to set up a counterfeiting operation. However, Jean-Baptiste had a different get rich quick scheme in mind. As the two travelled to Herrenfluch to survey a site for their money printing plant, Troppman fed his partner a lethal dose of prussic acid mixed in wine.

Once Mr. Kinck was out of the way, Jean-Baptiste wired to his wife asking her for money. Mrs. Kinck, believing Jean-baptiste was acting in behalf of her husband, sent him a check allong with her. Unable to cash the money, he arranged a meeting with the wife in Paris and, having no more use for the boy, hacked him into to pieces.

On September 1869, Hortense Kinck met Troppman in Paris and gave him 55,000 francs thinking that they were for her husband. Once he had the money in his pocket he butchered Mrs. Kinck and her remaining five children in a remote spot near the Pantin Common.

The next day the bloodbath was uncovered by a workman who uncovered the mutilated remains of Hortense and her children. More charges were added against Troppman once the bodies of Gustave and Jean Kinck were unearthed. Jean-Baptiste was sentenced to death for the eight killings and, on January 19, 1870 — at the tender age of 22 — he was guillotined.

A Painted Tintype

Large, hand painted tintype of a child, measuring 8.5″ x 6.5″. This style of “folk art” tintype was most popular from the mid-1860s and 1870s. After a tintype photograph was made, an artist would use oil paints and watercolors to paint over the image, which was then typically placed in a wall frame. The whole process was a relatively inexpensive way, especially compared to a traditional painted portrait, of obtaining a framed, colored portrait of a family member.

I believe the tintype shown here is a post mortem portrait – note the flower in the child’s hand, the way the head is resting back against the chair, and how the eyes are not looking at the photographer.. in fact, while there are many post mortem photos of deceased people with their eyes open, I believe that here, the artist probably painted open eyes over closed, or partially closed eyelids.

Full-plate, painted post mortem tintypes are relatively rare, but there are a few examples in The Thanatos Archive collection. Log in or create a free account, then type in “painted and tintype” in the search box to see a few of our examples.

Willie Bleck Death, 1913 Clipping

Clipping detailing the death of a 7-year-old Willie Bleck. The Shehawken House was a small hotel that was owned by Peter Bleck, Willie’s uncle. It was still around operating as that business at least until 1951 and owned by Peter’s daughter, who died of a heart attack in the hotel. Willie is buried at Riverview Cemetery in Hancock.  If interested, you can view Willie’s memorial card in our members’ section. If you’re not yet a Thanatos Archive members, please review membership options here! Thanatos Archive memberships.