Time: Two different time periods: the first is somewhere between 1780 and 1860 (and preferably between 1800 and 1840); the second is the present day.
Summary of previous search efforts:
Searched the following combinations through Google:
19th century multiple murder
19th century "multiple murder"
19th century "multiple murder" "New England"
"multiple murder" "Colonial New England"
List of mass murderers and spree killers by number of victims
List of events named massacres
Question: An important element in the backstory of my work is a multiple murder, "the massacre", that took place in the early-to-mid-19th century. Specifically what's important is how the main characters in the present day perceive and interpret that murder: what the various characters speculate to be, or perceive as, the story behind the massacre.
The only source of information they have on the massacre is historical accounts, and I want to include the text of some of those historical accounts they're looking through. For verisimilitude, I really want to find real historical accounts, especially first-hand accounts, of similar events; however, I can't seem to find any that are similar enough. If I just can't find anything that really matches, I'll have to work from imagination, but I want to get the best data points I can from reality before turning to imagination.
The massacre is actually very similar in pattern to some we've seen during the twentieth century: an individual that everyone describes afterward as "so quiet" suddenly seems to "snap", erupt in violence and kill a large number of people around them, ending their rampage with their own self-destruction. In this case, the killer is the mother of a farm household, using a blunt instrument; the victims are primarily the members of her own family, all killed save for one son who is maimed but survives. The mother's motives are a mystery; she leaves behind no notes or records hinting what causes her rampage. The act would seem very senseless to those trying to make sense of it afterward.
As I said, I can't seem to find any real-life examples that match up that well with my fictional example, but I'd like to "fudge" on as few points as possible. Does anyone know where I can find historical accounts of similar events, and how similar are they? I've thought, for instance, that survivors of attacks by Native American tribes might have perceived the destruction as equally 'senseless' (I haven't looked for such accounts yet, but only because I'm still hoping to get a little closer to my ideal.)
EDIT on 2009-04-18; trying to get the full LJ-cut text to appear