Albert Fish had a turbulent childhood. One that set the foundation for his murderous adult life.
Please see Albert Fish Gallery for this killer’s background.
A Day in the Life of a Young Serial Killer
Hamilton hit the ground hard. His hands had sprung out to brace himself, but slipped in the muddy lawn, and the side of his face smacked into the slick mess. Around him lie his penmanship papers sopping up the mud, his thick blue pencils scattered beside him, and his math book flipped face down. The pages had already begun to stain.
The kids gathered around him. One boy stepped up and pushed Hamilton’s face back into the mud. “Little freak,” the bully said and stepped on one of his pencils.
“Ham and eggs! Ham and eggs! Ham and eggs!” they chanted, a riff on Hamilton’s name. The chorus sounded more like choking crows than elementary school kids.
A blond girl with light blue ribbons in her hair leaned in and told him to drown himself. “I can see why your mother never wanted you,” she whispered.
They turned when they heard a voice yelling at them to stop. The school mistress ran from the building, hiking up her grey dress, and dodging the puddles.
“Everyone! Get back inside this instant!,” she commanded. “If I see you touch Hamilton one more time, I swear I will reach for the paddle!”
She crouched down and lifted Hamilton’s face, wiped away the mud, and brushed his light brown hair to the side.
“Dear boy, I have good news. Your mother has sent for you. You’re going home,” she said smiling.
But Hamilton didn’t react when he heard the news. His face sat neutral, nary an expression. He turned his head and leered at his classmates.
And imagined how they’d look with cut throats …
Albert Fish’s Younger Days
Hamilton Fish was born to Randall and Ellen Fish in 1870. His father was 75-years-old when the Hamilton was born, and his mother was 32. They had 5 children but one died. His name was Albert. His father worked as a river boat captain for most of his career but manufactured fertilizer by the time Hamilton was born. Randall died of a heart attack 5 years later. Ellen suffered from mental illness and couldn’t take care of Hamilton, nor his siblings. She sent him to St. John’s Orphanage in his hometown, Washington, DC.
That life was difficult on Hamilton. The staff beat the children, whipping or paddling them until their bottoms bled.
The kids bullied Hamilton. Besides the incessant chants of “Ham and eggs!,” they punched, tripped and shoved him away. The torture he received developed into sadomasochism. Hamilton liked the abuse. It’s during his time at the orphanage we see a hint of what Hamilton will become.
At 10-years-old, his mother asked for his return. She now had a job with the government and could support her children again. It’s unclear if Ellen had recovered from her mental illness or if she learned to manage it.
Once he came home, Hamilton started to use his dead sibling’s name, Albert. He said he chose it to honor his brother, but it also helped him forget the abuse at the orphanage. Using aliases would become common for Hamilton later in life.
In 1882, the 12-year-old Albert Fish met a young man who introduced him to different fetishes. Historians aren’t sure if these perversions led Albert to become a killer or not.
Albert’s life seemed stable and uneventful through high school and most of his adult life. In 1898, Albert (now 28) married Anna Hoffman (19) and they had 6 children over their 19-year marriage. He was a doting father, but that appearance was a charade. The bullied young man from Washington, DC had tortured and raped innocents across the East Coast for years, unbeknownst to his wife and family.
In the next chapter, we’ll examine the tale of Thomas Kedden, Albert’s first known victim.
The most sensational perversions included eating feces and drinking urine. A young telegraph boy, whose name isn’t known, had 12-year-old Albert try them. Not only that, Albert became fond of watching young men undress at a public bath. However that may be explained as a pubescent child becoming aware of his bisexuality. You see, Albert wrote sexually explicit letters to women, too.
You could say the genetic deck was stacked against Albert. His family suffered from different mental diseases, which would haunt him later in life. His mother suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations. An uncle had been institutionalized for mania, and 2 siblings needed hospitalization for mental disorders.
It’s interesting to note that Albert didn’t kill animals. Many serial killers torture and kill animals as children, not Albert. Of course, there may be no records of it, or they’ve been lost to history.
Various editors. (2020, April 30: last edited), Albert Fish. Wikipedia, Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Fish#Childhood
Rosewood, Jack and Rebecca Lo. (2017). The Big Book of Serial Killers. Self published.
Keller, Robert. (2016). Confessions Of A Cannibal: The Shocking True Story Of Depraved Child Killer Albert Fish. Self published.
Borowski, John. (2014). Albert Fish In His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of the Child Killing Cannibal. Waterfront Productions.
Simpson, Mark. (2016). The Serial Killers: Albert Fish. Self published.
Philbin, Tom and Michael Philbin. (2009). The Killer Book of Serial Killers: Incredible Stories, Facts and Trivia from the World of Serial Killers. Sourcebooks.