On Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29, Historic Cherry Hill will present a dramatic tour reenacting the infamous 1827 murder that occurred at the Cherry Hill mansion.
The public is invited to relive the experiences of those who were at Cherry Hill on the evening of May 7, 1827, when a farmhand murdered a member of the household. The tour will investigate the scene of the crime and the differing perspectives of those who witnessed the events of that fateful night. Actor James Keil will appear as murderer Jesse Strang, bringing to life his violent act, and divulging his motives, including a romantic attachment to his victim’s wife. The murder resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Continue reading
The Cayuga Museum will host a new film and guided discussion series titled “Exploring the Prison through Film: A Journey with Dr. Lucien Lombardo.” The series will show four films, each exploring a different theme within the context of imprisonment. Each film will be screened and then followed with a conversation guided by Dr. Lucien Lombardo, who will place the themes of the film in context in penal history.
The series begins on Tuesday, October 18 at 6 pm with the 1932 film “20,000 Years in Sing Sing,” starring Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. Exploring the theme of managing a prison, this film was loosely based on an influential book by Lewis Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing. Scenes from the movie were filmed at Sing Sing, using real prisoners as extras. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast, Tara Hime Norman discusses her book The Vindication of Lewis M. Roach (Dorrance, 2016) Norman makes the case that a Montgomery County trial convicted the wrong man in a sensational 1913 murder inside a rural farmhouse.
Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
Pirates are alive and well in our popular culture. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and television shows like Black Sails, we see pirates as peg-legged, eye-patch wearing, rum-drinking men.
But are these representations accurate? What do we really know about pirates?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mark Hanna, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and author of the award-winning book Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, (UNC Press, 2015) helps us fill in the gaps in our knowledge to better understand who pirates were and why they lived the pirate’s life. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/099
On September 5, 1913, Mary Bann, of Woodcliff, New Jersey, and a male companion, were walking near an abandoned dock near the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, when she spotted a bundle resting near the riverbank. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, and fairly large in size. Though her companion wished to dissuade her from getting near it, Mary had a stubborn mind, thus she hiked down to the side of the river and grabbed the package. She untied the string, unfurled the brown paper and the newspaper under it, and was soon shocked by the sight: it was the upper torso of a young woman. Her companion quickly hurried to find a policeman. Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast Jack Kelly discusses topics as diverse as the origin of the Mormon religion and how Americans learned how to make cement in an interview about his book Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal (St. Martin’s Press, 2016). Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
The one-year anniversary of the infamous Dannemora prison break recently passed, so here’s the story of an inmate linked to a pair of unusual breakouts, excerpted from my book, Escape from Dannemora.
Despite media stories claiming early on that Richard Matt and David Sweat were the first-ever escapees from Clinton Prison, some in the past did it in even more spectacular fashion, and overall, hundreds managed to escape under various circumstances. Among them was Jack Williams, a participant in two Clinton exits involving unusual components featured in no other Dannemora escapes. Continue reading
When presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.
It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.
Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. Continue reading
On Tuesday, April 14, 1903, an Irish woman named Frances Connors leaned out of her window from the fifth floor tenement house at 743 East 11th Street on Avenue D, New York City, and discovered a man’s body stashed inside a wooden barrel.
The man, who sported a thick mustache speckled with gray hairs and a scar shaped like the letter ‘v’ on his left cheek, had been viciously stabbed, his neck almost severed from side to side. Inspectors on the scene had an inkling the man was one of the many Italian immigrants who had recently made their way into New York, and who perhaps had become involved with La Mala Vita, the bad life. Continue reading
American prisons are overcrowded. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and nearly 2.5 million Americans are serving prison sentences.
Nearly all politicians agree that we need to reform the American prison system, but they disagree on how to do it. Can gaining historical perspective on this present-day problem help us solve it?
in this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate early American prisons and prison life with Jen Manion, an Assistant Professor of History at Connecticut College and author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/080