Murder on Ossipee Lake: The Case of Florence Small

It started with a piece of family folklore. Janice Petrie was just a baby when her parents brought her and her brother to stay at their grandparent’s cottage on Ossipee Lake for a week-long family vacation.

But the first night would be their only night. Was the cottage haunted? The energy was unsettling. Dark. Cold. Neither parent could sleep a wink that night. They waited for sunrise to signal their chance to get out.

Janice had heard the story from her parents of that strange night at the Ossipee summer cottage. She decided to take a closer look. What she uncovered was a story more unbelievable and bizarre than she ever could’ve imagined. “I had to write a book about it,” Janice told me.

Janice Petrie is the author of Perfection To A Fault: A Small Murder in Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1916. The book is a deep dive into the story of Florence and Frederick Small and what happened at their cottage on Ossipee Lake. 

The place Janice’s grandparents once owned, where her parents stayed just one haunted night when she was a baby, was built on the original stone foundation of Florence and Frederick’s cottage that burned to the ground in 1916 leaving a homicide case in its smoldering rubble.

Janice dug through the original source material herself, wading through century-old case files, speaking to relatives of those who remember the Small family, and piecing together the true tale of a perplexing crime that was almost lost with time.