Long before the fictional and shocking “Peyton Place” of TV and film fame came along in the late 1950s, and early 1960s there was an actual suburban community where its residents were roiled by rampant scandal, moral and religious hypocrisy and a sensational a murder in their midst. [Read more…] about The Prophet Matthias and Elijah the Tishbite
Crime and Justice
Following his election as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln undertook a train ride to Washington that took him through Albany. He arrived in the city on February 18, 1861 with his wife and three sons.
As their train passed the West Albany railroad shops, an electrical switch was turned off at the nearby Dudley Observatory, causing an electromagnet mounted on the roof of the Capitol in downtown Albany to release a metal ball that slid down a pole, signaling to military officials to start a 21-gun salute in Capitol Park. [Read more…] about 1861: Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth in Albany
On the evenings of October 16, 17, 18, 19 and October 23, 24, 25, and 26, Historic Cherry Hill will present a dramatic tour reliving the infamous 1827 murder that occurred at the Cherry Hill mansion, one-time home of the Van Rensselaer family.
The public is invited to step into the experiences of the Cherry Hill household on the evening of May 7, 1827, when a hired hand murdered a household member. [Read more…] about Dramatic Tours Recapture Harrowing Night at Cherry Hill
Seventy years ago this month, a lower Manhattan courtroom provided the stage for a remarkable confrontation – much of which played out in New York – that symbolized the frustration of a nation that had recently won the Second World War but felt more insecure than ever.
The euphoria of victory had been quickly succeeded by a perception of global communism on the march. In Europe, the Soviet Union had only recently ended an 11-month blockade of Berlin and had, since 1945, rung down the Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe. In China, Mao’s communists were winning their civil war against Chiang Kai-Shek’s U.S.-backed Nationalists, who would soon flee the mainland for Taiwan. And the Soviets were about to end the U.S. monopoly on the atom bomb with a successful test explosion. [Read more…] about Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss in New York
George R. Dekle Sr.’s new book Six Capsules: The Gilded Age Murder of Helen Potts (Kent State University Press, 2019) takes a look at the Harris case of the 19th century, an important milestone in American legal history. [Read more…] about Six Capsules: The Gilded Age Murder of Helen Potts
Jerry Kuntz’s new book The Writing Master: The Story of the Gentleman-Thief and Forger, James B. Crosse (Wickham House, 2019) reveals, for the first time, the career of a nineteenth-century criminal mastermind, James B. Crosse.
New research shows Crosse committed many crimes under undetected aliases, including store break-ins, bank robberies, Wall Street stock forgeries, counterfeiting conspiracies, and more. His career revolved around a female blackmailer who matched his capacity for deceit and cunning, Jane Fleming. For several years, his accomplice was a mixed-race slave, Bob Burwell, whom some observers believed to be craftier than Crosse himself. [Read more…] about Writing Master: The Notorious Thief and Forger James Crosse
This week on The Historians podcast with Bob Cudmore, Frankie Y. Bailey, a criminal justice professor at the University at Albany, discusses issues in the history of crime, such as the popularity of mugshots, and her own career as a criminal mystery writer. [Read more…] about Frankie Bailey On Albany’s Mugshot History
In 1904, one year after his release from prison, a felon who used only the pen name Number 1500 wrote the book Life in Sing Sing, a rare look at what it was like to serve time inside the legendary penitentiary. The author also presents his thoughts on effective methods of rehabilitation. He comments, “The attitude…toward convicts that belong to the recidivist class is to punish them severely and, having failed with hard measures, to try harder ones.”
In 1738, a cooper named Benedict Arnold petitioned the Rhode Island General Assembly for a divorce from his wife Mary Ward Arnold. Benedict claimed that Mary had taken a lover and together they had attempted to murder him with poison.
How did this story of love, divorce, and attempted murder unfold? What does it reveal about the larger world of colonial America and the experiences of colonial American men and women? [Read more…] about Poison Plot: Adultery and Murder in Colonial Newport
On the evening of June 27, 1892, in a St. John’s Street boarding house in South Troy, New York, 66-year-old Thomas Jones was nearing the end of a three-day bender. He was fond of drawing a .32-caliber pistol and showing it off, something Jones had done repeatedly that day, much to the alarm of others. He hadn’t been on the job for several days at the Burden iron works, and had argued repeatedly with a coworker and co-resident of the boarding house, 22-year-old William Wesson, even offering to fight him in a duel. It was dismissed as nothing more than the ramblings of an old, annoying drunk. [Read more…] about The 1892 Troy Murder of William Wesson