FC 80 Jerks in Boston History with Paul Della Valle

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is Paul Della Valle, author of the book Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston History.

Please note:

A few parts of the interview contain mature topics about serial killers which may not be appropriate for children.

 

Bio – Paul Della Valle

Paul Della Valle, father of three and grandfather of two, lives on five acres of an old farm in Jerks in Boston History with Paul Della Valle on Fieldstone CommonSterling, Massachusetts with his wife Karen, their dog, Yaz, and Boots Vanzetti, their anarchist cat. In 2009, he wrote Massachusetts Troublemakers: Rebels, Reformers, and Radicals from the Bay State (Globe Pequot Press).

Della Valle won dozens of writing and reporting awards in a thirty-year career as a journalist that began even before he graduated from Metropolitan State College in Denver in 1979. In 1996 he founded the Lancaster Times and Clinton Courier, which he published for 9 years. During that time, the combined newspapers were twice runner-up for New England Press Association Newspaper of the Year. He has taught writing at Worcester’s Clark University and journalism at Boston’s Northeastern University.

Book Summary

Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston History features eighteen short profiles of notorious bad guys, perpetrators of mischief, visionary if misunderstood thinkers, and other colorful antiheroes from the history of Beantown. It reveals the dark side of some well-known and even revered characters from Boston’s past – both part-time Jerks and others who were Jerks through and through.

Book InfoJerks in Boston History with Paul Della Valle on Fieldstone Common

Title: Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston History

Publisher: Globe Pequot Press (2014)

Trade Paperback; 219 pages; with bibliography, index and some BxW photos & illustrations.

Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston History is available for purchase from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

The Interview

Who are the truly bad guys from Boston history? That might be debatable but Paul Della Valle makes a pretty good case in his book Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston History. In this interview Paul and I debate the reputation of Bronson Alcott and Cotton Mather. Paul gives us the low-down on some of the worst characters from Boston history such as Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo and serial killer Jane Toppan. We also take a look at Revolutionary War spy Dr. Benjamin Church. You will learn about a whole new group of decidedly bad folks.

Links mentioned during the interview:

Prize Winners

One copy of Speaking Ill of the Dead: Jerks in Boston Historywas given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of Globe Pequot Press.

The winner is:

  • Melanie Mueller of Texas

Congratulations to our winner and thanks to Globe Pequot Press for their generosity in donating the book!

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

The Direct Link to this post is
www.fieldstonecommon.com/jerks-in-boston-with-paul-della-valle/

News & Announcements

BIG NEWS for Android users! Fieldstone Common is now available in the Android app Stitcher. Stitcher is a program like iTunes but is available on the Android platform. Download Stitcher and search for Fieldstone Common or click here.

Question: What’s that’s new stuff in the Fieldstone Common title (FC 80)?

Answer: That makes it easier, especially for iTunes and other podcast listeners, to keep track of which episode they are listening to. FC stands for Fieldstone Common and 80 is the number of the episode.

**** The new Fieldstone Common Season 2 subscription is now available in iTunes. You will need to subscribe to this link to continue receiving episodes in ITunes. Click on the link to subscribe.

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Fieldstone Common is no longer broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to the show by clicking the play button above or subscribing in iTunes or other podcatchers.

 

FC 059 Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is D. Brenton Simons, author of the book Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775.

Bio

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone Common

D. Brenton Simons

D. Brenton Simons, is the President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

Currently piloting a groundbreaking $50 million capital campaign, Brenton Simons has led the Society to major growth in its national services and scope and to its pivotal role in the popular expansion of the genealogical field in America.

A staff member since 1993 and President and CEO since 2005, he has developed several of the organization’s most popular services, including its website, member magazine, and special publications imprint. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views and Witches, Rakes, and Rogues, winner of the 2006 Award of Merit from the Association for State and Local History.

Most recently he produced, with Atlantic Media, a short film on the society, “A Farseeing Vision,” recipient of the 2011 Silver Telly Award. His genealogical articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and elsewhere. A graduate of Boston University, he is a member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Club of Odd Volumes, the Society of the Cincinnati, and is a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Book Summary

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone CommonBostonians of the colonial period may have been Puritans, but they were anything but pure. Witches, Rakes, and Rogues demonstrates that from the city’s founding until the Revolution, Boston’s narrow, twisting streets were crawling with witches, murderers, con men, swindlers, and blackguards.

By digging deep into the city’s records, Simons reveals a veritable rogues’ gallery, and even uncovering the truth – in “Murder by Arsenic: The Ill-fated Greenleaf Children” – about Boston’s first documented serial murder. Other true tales include “The Turbulent Passions of Ann Hibbins,” “The Diabolical Possession of Martha Robinson,” “The Extortion Plot Against Two Gentlemen of Substance,” and stories of bigamists, thieves, miscreants and black sheep.

Book Info

Title: Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775

Publisher: The New England Historic Genealogical Society (2006)

Hardcover; 260 pages with end notes, bibliography, index and some BxW photos and illustrations.

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues is available for purchase from Amazon.com, The New England Historic Genealogical Society and other booksellers.

The Interview

Toward the beginning of the interview Brenton Simons read a passage describing the attempted murder of Cotton Mather by a granade thrown through a window.

Later on he read a first hand description by Samuel Breck of people being punished at the whipping post and the pillory and the horrible things the public threw at the criminal.

In the middle of the interview Brenton made reference to a book. It was Legal Executions in New England: A Comprehensive Reference, 1623-1960 by Daniel Allen Hearn.

Prize Winners

Two copies of Witches, Rakes, and Rogues were given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of the the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The winners are:

  • Col. John Heavey Jr. of Kansas
  • Celia Lewis of British Columbia, Canada

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society for their generosity in donating the books!

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

News & Announcements

Question: What’s that’s new stuff in the Fieldstone Common title (FC 059)?

Answer: That makes it easier, especially for iTunes and other podcast listeners, to keep track of which episode they are listening to. FC stands for Fieldstone Common and 59 is the number of the episode.

**** The new Fieldstone Common Season 2 subscription is now available in iTunes. You will need to subscribe to this link to continue receiving episodes in ITunes. Click on the link to subscribe.

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Fieldstone Common is no longer broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to the show by clicking the link above or subscribing in iTunes or other podcatchers.

The Devil Made Me Do It with Juliet Haines Mofford

LIVE: THURSDAY, 17 January 2013 at 1:00pm EST

This Thursday on Fieldstone Common we will speak author Juliet Haines Mofford about her book The Devil Made Me Do It! Crime and Punishment in Early New England.

Whether it was Sabbath-breaking, blasphemy, or public drunkenness, colonial laws were strict and frequently broken, and those who broke them could expect swift punishment. Laws were designed to reflect Puritan ideas of ensuring God’s blessings upon the community, as well as to tightly maintain order in ways that would benefit the entire colony. Each neighbor had a role in preserving family values and keeping the community safe from “railing scolds,” vagabonds, malefactors, and malefic witches.

Some of the ways that seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century New England communities dealt with murder and mayhem seem brutal to modern sensibilities. Today, Joan Andrews would not be forced to wear a T for theft upon her bodice for placing stones in the firkin of butter she sold a client. And Lydea Abbot would certainly not be made to suffer in the stocks for “uttering ten profain curses.”

The Devil Made Me Do It with Juliet Haines Mofford on Fieldstone Common
Juliet Haines Mofford

Drawing from early court dockets, diaries, sermons, gaolers’ records, and other primary sources, the chapters in this book investigate crimes like these and illuminate the social and political causes behind legal cases from a time when accused felons often pleaded in their own defense: “The Devil made me do it!”

Juliet Haines Mofford is a historian and museum educator based in Maine. Two of her eleven books received national awards from the American Association for State and Local History. Her feature articles have appeared in the Boston Globe and many other publications. She served on the educational board of the American Association of Museums.

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis

Show Notes – Murdered by His Wife with Deborah Navas

Murdered by his Wife with Deborah Navas on Fileldstone CommonFollowing are some items that were mentioned during the 25 October 2012 Fieldstone Common interview with Deborah Navas, author of Murdered by His Wife: An absorbing tale of crime and punishment in eighteenth-century Massachusetts.

The podcast of the interview is now available.

You can learn more about Deborah Navas and Murdered by His Wife from her author website.

Murdered by His Wife was published by the University of Massachusetts Press and copies are available for sale through Amazon.com and other booksellers.

I first learned about the Bathsheba Spooner story from a feature “Brookfield Woman Put to Death” on the Mass Moments website which provides a moment in Massachusetts history each day. You can sign up to receive the Mass Moments via email every day.  They also have a Facebook page.

You can read a summary of Bathsheba Spooner’s life and trial on Wikipedia.

During the interview, Deborah Navas mentioned wall drawings of the trial that were created at the time of the trial. You can read more about them at the West Boylston, Massachusetts historical society website.

The American Antiquarian Society published an article in 1889 by Samuel Swett Green entitled “The Case of Bathsheba Spooner.”  The article is available online via the Open Collections Program at Harvard University.  You can access this same article via Archives.org.

Revolutionary War historian J.L. Bell wrote a blog post about Bathsheba Spooner which contains links to more details about many of the players (such as Bathsheba’s father, Timothy Ruggles and prosecutor Robert Treat Paine).

Deborah Navas is working on a fictional account of the story in the form of a novel likely to be titled Bathsheba Spooner which should be released in 2013.

The University of Massachusetts Press, the publisher of Murdered by His Wife, donated one copy of the book that was given as a door prize during the live show. A big thank you to the the University of Massachusetts Press for  their generosity!

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis

Victim or Villain – Can We Sympathize with Bathsheba Spooner?

Murdered by His Wife by Deborah Navas
Murdered by His Wife
by Deborah Navas

Today on Fieldstone Common we will be talking about a true tale of 18th century mayhem and murder. But it’s not a simple, clear cut tale. The story is complex and the backdrop of the American Revolution adds extenuating circumstances.


I want to hear from 
Fieldstone Common listeners!

Should Bathsheba Spooner have been spared?

Was she a cold and calculating murderer?

Did her husband deserve to die?

Should we feel sympathy for the men she convinced to commit the murder?

Is this a tale of the role of women in society or about one woman’s privilege and economic status?

Did the passionate ties to loyalist or patriotic sentiment seal the fate of Bathsheba?

Listen live at 1pm EST or to the replay in the archive afterward and let us know what you think!

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis

Murdered by His Wife with Deborah Navas

LIVE: THURSDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2012 at 1:00pm EST

Listen in to Fieldstone Common this week as host Marian Pierre-Louis talks to Deborah Navas, author of Murdered by His Wife.

In March 1778, Joshua Spooner, a wealthy gentleman farmer in Brookfield, Massachusetts, was beaten to death and his body stuffed down a well. Four people were hanged for the crime: two British soldiers, a young Continental soldier, and Spooner’s wife, Bathsheba, who was charged with instigating the murder. She was thirty-two years old and five months pregnant when executed. Newspapers described the case as “the most extraordinary crime ever perpetrated in New England.”

Murdered by His Wife provides a vivid reconstruction of this dramatic but little-known episode. Beautiful, intelligent, high-spirited, and witty, Bathsheba was the mother of three young children and in her own words felt “an utter aversion” for her husband, who was known to be an abusive drunk.

The plots, the crime, the trial, and the aftermath are presented against a backdrop of revolutionary turmoil in Massachusetts. As the daughter of the state’s most prominent and despised Loyalist, Bathsheba bore the brunt of the political, cultural, and gender prejudices of her day. When she sought a stay of execution to deliver her baby, the Massachusetts Council rejected her petition and she was promptly hanged before a crowd of 5,000 spectators.

An independent scholar, Deborah Navas worked as a magazine editor for twenty years. She is author of a short story collection, Things We Lost, Gave Away, Bought High and Sold Low, and won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and the New Hampshire Writers Project Emerging Writer Award.

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis