Published in The Victoria Standard – Vol. 22, No. 20 – Nov. 10 to Nov. 10, 2014
Hanging Daisy, Murder Cruel & Callous, written by Paul Diekelmann, is a true story surrounding the 1957 murder and the mystery that surrounds it to this day. The story of Daisy Morrison’s murder at the hands of her husband Dan is a familiar one in the Cape Breton community of Baddeck, but in Diekelmann’s own words, it is “a complicated one, shrouded in drama, rumours, suspicions, even lies.”
Diekelmann was born in Chicago in 1932. His mother was from Cape Breton and she returned there with her infant son to live. Diekelmann went back to Chicago in 1954, joined the US Air Force and married a girl from Cape Breton. In 2003 the couple returned to Cape Breton and took up residence in Big Glen in the area known as Big Baddeck, just a mile from the scene of the murder at Baddeck Forks, frequently referred to by the locals as ‘spook hollow’. This is how Diekelmann first became interested in Daisy and Dan Morrison’s story.
In the beginning Diekelmann’s interest was largely curiosity fuelled by anecdotes and innuendos from his neighbours and the town folk of Baddeck. But over time he found he was becoming obsessed with Daisy, unwilling to believe the stories that painted her as the villainess, by some accounts a woman who married older widowers for their money then did away with them. True, Daisy had been married before, more than once. Diekelmann’s research into the lives of Daisy Delinger McEachen Leadley Fisher Morrison and Daniel Murdock ‘Spinney’ Morrison took nearly ten years and reveals strange and often contradictory information. Diekelmann clearly states that he is on Daisy’s side and that his purpose in writing this book is “to give voice to Daisy’s story and grant her justice in the eyes of local history”.
Diekelmann’s research is meticulous. His notes leave no small detail unnoticed. His writing style is compelling. He has documented, as far as possible, the lives of both partners in this strange marriage before and during their life together attempting to give a clearer sense of who they were as individuals, and to suggest the possibilities of what brought them to their tragic ending.
The book includes photographs, court records, newspaper accounts, medical reports, and trial testimony transcripts, as Diekelmann lays out all the available facts alongside popular myths and folklore, documenting the events that led up to that fateful day at Baddeck Forks.
Hanging Daisy is published by Boularderie Island Press and is available in bookstores now. The official book launch will take place in Sydney at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion (The Big Fiddle) at 4:00PM on Wednesday November 19th, 2014.