Saturday, August 29, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday: Children at the mercy of the blackest sheep of all

Violence towards children is not a new phenomenon. Relatives, guardians, and silent by-standers can be the blackest sheep of all.
These tender children never knew what it was like to be a happy, worry-free child. Instead, they knew pain, both emotional and physical, at the hands of their caregivers. Only one of these children had an advocate, her big brother. In another's girl's case, her big brother was her harshest perputrator.
Please be aware that these are very distressing stories.

I can't locate a newspaper online that tells me the end of Aggie's story or the disposition of James Flemming. Did Della's brain trauma slowly heal after she was removed from her tormentors? Was Marvie better cared for after the court appointed him a guardian? So many fearful questions!
If anyone comes across any of these answers, please let me know what you've discovered. Meanwhile, I'll hope for the best.

Oakland Tribune
7 Oct 1905
page 1, column 4
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
24 Jan 1873
page 4, column 6
The Washington Herald
13 Aug 1910
page 1, column 3
CRUELLY BEAT LITTLE GIRL. [in two sections]
Waterloo Daily Courier [Iowa]
2 Apr 1903
page 1, column 4

Henderson v. Rockwell: Biography of a cemetery plot

A small portion of the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.

The Green-Wood Cemetery (it's actual spelling), founded in 1838, is located in Brooklyn, New York. According to it's website, it is currently a spacious 478 acres of history, sculpture garden, and wildlife with 560,000 permanent residents. "By 1860, Green-Wood was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country’s greatest tourist attraction."

Quoting from the cemetery's website:

"A magnet for history buffs and bird watchers, Green-Wood is a Revolutionary War historic site (the Battle of Long Island was fought in 1776 across what is now its grounds), a designated site on the Civil War Discovery Trail and a registered member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.

On September 27, 2006, Green-Wood was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, which recognized its national significance in art, architecture, landscaping and history."

The biography of the William Henderson burial plot, located in the Green-Wood Cemetery, is given in detail in this newspaper article: from Mr. Henderson's purchase in 1855 through to the Supreme Court of New York's ruling in 1887. The case is similar to any real estate tug-of-war with the added wrinkle of being the resting place of two bodies. 

The decision is given by Judge Ingraham:

Green-Wood is well known for this extraordinary view of New York harbor in which the statue of Minerva seems to be waving to the Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn, New York
1 October 1887
page 1, column 2

Green-Wood Cemetery by David Shankbone, cr 2007, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

Minerva in Green-wood Cemetery waving to Lady Liberty by Russell Bittner, cr 2009, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working for a Living: US Army c.WW2

Your job in the army
United States. Adjutant-General's Office
Adjutant General's Office; U.S. Government Printing Office 
Date 1943

Historic Government Publications from World War II
Library Government Information Resources
Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University
Digital Publication Date Available in digital format: 2001-2002 
Digitization Process Scanned as 300 dpi .jpg; converted to Adobe .pdf 
Rights: These files may be freely used. A high-quality version of these files may be obtained for a fee by contacting

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: States Allowing Girls to Marry Before Eighteen, 1895

The black list of states.
Newspapers: Kentucky, Louisville, 1890-1900
Published: 1895 March 27
Repository: Library of Congress Newspaper and Periodicals Reading Room, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday: Memories of Sally Hamilton's Murder

The blue stars indicate the locations that Lent's testimony placed he and Sickler in their flight south.
August, 1813, in the town of Athens, on the west shore of the Hudson River, Greene County, Sally Hamilton disappeared.
Sally, the popular twenty year old daughter of Samuel Hamilton, Esq., had walked approximately one half mile to visit either her sister or a neighbor for the afternoon (accounts vary).  Sally left around 8 o'clock to return home.  She walked with some friends until only 20 rods from her house (about 330 feet), but never reached safety.  After she was missed, the whole town searched for her with great anxiety until two or three days later, when her body was found under a bridge in a creek. In his memoir, Remininscences of Catskill, Local Sketches, James D. Pinckney wrote that the creek has been known as "Murders Creek" ever since.
In an 1854 newspaper item from the Times and Journal, Oswego, NY, Sally's body was described as mutilated with a broken skull, "but a medical examination proved that the murder was but a sequel to outrage."  The implication of a sexual component to the crime, if not the very motive, cannot be dismissed.
In both Pinckney's account and the newspaper item, several citizens near the Hamiltons' house and near the creek, approximately one quarter mile away, reported hearing screaming that night, but the sounds weren't taken seriously and therefore no action was taken.
Mr. Pinckney remembers that several arrests were made, but a man called Kavanaugh was tried.  He was acquitted and "drummed out of town, probably as a punishment for his ill-looks, for he had the most villainous countenance I have ever seen."  The newspaper item differs on this point: two years later, Patrick Cavanagh confessed to Sally's murder.  However, during his trial, he proved himself to be "insane" with no knowledge of the crime.
Several years later, a U. S. soldier named Sickler was indicted for the murder based on the testimony of his comrade-in-arms, a Mr. Lent.  Lent described a chain of events in detail.
* Lent, Sickler, and two other soldiers deserted from Greenbush barracks, not far from Albany on the east shore of the Hudson River.  (Neither account mentions what became of the purported un-named companions.)
* The men stole a small boat and thereby reached the western shore of the Hudson.
* According to Lent, he and Sickler traveled on foot where, at one point, they passed a village where general military exercises were in progress.
* It was after this that the pair reached Athens.  Lent testified that Sickler was the one who seized Sally Hamilton and abused her. Apparently, when she screamed for help, she was killed and her body dragged to a bridge. They pried up a board and threw her body into the water.
* After the murder, the men arrived at Catskill, NY where they spent two nights in a barn before boarding a sloop bound for New York City.
Pinckney wrote in his memoir that the prosecution corroborated Lent's testimony in every detail.  
* Testimony from the owners stated that a small boat was stolen from the eastern shore of the Hudson on the night of the desertion.
* A Militia exercise had taken place in Coxsackie, NY on the day Lent claimed.
* Employees of William Brandow of Catskill testified that they saw the two men creeping from the barn before daybreak.
* Curtiss Graham of Catskill, standing in a doorway in town, saw two men resembling the prisoner and the witness hurrying down Main Street.
* Capt. Van Loan testified to two "rough-looking characters" boarding his boat in Catskill as described by Lent.
The result of all this testimony, however, was negated by that of U. S. Military Officers from Greenbush barracks.  According to the testimony of the Officers, both Lent and Sickler were present at 9 o'clock PM the night Sally was murdered and present again in the morning at reveille.  Due to this testimony, Sickler was acquitted of the murder and released.  Lent, though, was convicted of perjury and sentenced for two years at New York State Prison.
Pinckney recalled that both the judge in the case, Wm. W. Van Ness, and the defending attorney, Elisha Williams, believed Lent and Sickler to be guilty of the crime, though he doesn't say how he knew this.
There are problems with both the memoir and the newspaper accounts of this story.  Even though he had the help of friends and relatives, Mr. Pinckney was recalling the events after a distance of about fifty years.  The same is true with the newspaper item from the Times and Journal; after a local woman disappeared, the events of Sally Hamilton's abduction and death forty years before were recalled.
However, it seems that the case may have been solved after all.  Pinckney's friend, and Sally's brother-in-law, Judge Nichols, stated that some years before the memoir was written, Sickler made a full death-bed confession of his role in the murder.  How the Judge came to know of this confession isn't mentioned.
Even more telling, however, is the wrtiting of W. A. Coffey. An ex-convict, Coffey, in his 1823 book, Inside out, or an interior view of the New York State Prison, by one who knows, wrote about his experiences while incarcerated.
After a conviction for forgery, Coffey was sent to prison and thrown, horrified and frightened, into a cell with eleven other convicts.  One of his cell-mates was Lent, who continued to claim his innocence for perjury.  Coffey wrote, "...I beheld myself the secluded companion...and the bed-fellow of a murderer, who had testified to his own guilt;...priding himself on his innocence, although that very innocence, if proved, made him deserving of a gibbet."

Inside Out; Or, An Interior View of the New-York State Prison: Together with Biographical Sketches of the Lives of Several of the Convicts
W. A. Coffey
Harvard University
J. Costigan, 1823
Reminiscences of Catskill. Local sketches
James D. Pinckney
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Library
Catskill, N.Y: J.B. Hall, 1868
Times and Journal
Oswego, NY
27 Dec 1854
[page number illegible], col 1

Tuesday, July 7, 2009