No. 424
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 21, 2019

Driven by Delusion

November 14, 2011
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Chapter 2
This broadside comes from the National Library of Scotland’s vast collection of print ephemera, “The Word on the Street”. Account of the Execution of Elizabeth Nicklson, or Shafto, or Jeffrey, when was Executed in front of the Jail, this morning, for a Double Murder, 1st, with administering, on the 4th October last, to Ann Newal […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 5/21/2019


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Coming in May! Warps and Wefts is excited to announce the publication of “Dressing Miss Lizzie”, a collection of paper …

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Lizzie Borden : Warps & Wefts - 4/23/2019
Montreal Gazette, October 13, 1857, via Newspapers.com William Townsend was, on the whole, a very ordinary sort of villain. His numerous grim deeds were brutishly uncomplicated, wholly lacking any of the originality, enterprise, or even flashes of humor that go to make some crimes permanently capture the public imagination. Townsend, in his private life, had a talent for mimicry that in
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Strange Company - 5/20/2019

Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
In July 1890, a man came into the 126th Street Police Station in Harlem, New York City, to report a conversation he had overheard in an elevated train. A young man and woman sitting near him were talking about the mysterious disappearance of Miss Goodwin from the Storm King flats on East 126th Street. They believed that she had been foully dealt with by “professional malpractioners.” The woman
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Murder by Gaslight - 5/18/2019
I’m not the first old sign enthusiast who came across this beauty of a beer sign on the tenement at 317 East Fifth Street. Grieve wrote it up back in January, and I’m sure other fans walking along this quiet East Village block noticed the ancient signage, too. “S. Cort Wines & Lager Beer” the […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/19/2019
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
He Hit the Pipe | Whipped By Women

Driven by Delusion

Delusions

Lawrence, Mass., August 29, 1885 - Inventor Henry Goodwin visited the Lawrence, Massachusetts, office of his business partner, Albert Swan today. The two men spoke quietly for about half an hour, then Goodwin pulled out a revolver and shot Swan in the head, killing him. A crowd of people rushed to the office to see what had happened and Goodwin calmly told them “I have shot him, I meant to do it.” [more]

With the same calm determination Goodwin went to the Lawrence police station and turned himself in. When asked why he had killed Swan, Goodwin replied, “I told him a year ago that unless he came to some settlement with me about our matters, I would have his heart’s blood. He has robbed me of my papers and my patents, and when I have undertaken to sell them I could not give a good title. He has robbed me of $40,000. I did it, I meant to do it, and I am here to take the consequences.”

The patents in question were for telephone switches; Henry Goodwin was a gifted inventor in the nascent field of telephony. He had turned to his boyhood friend, and successful businessman, Albert Swan, for help in securing patents for his new inventions. They successfully patented one of his switches but the patent for his greatest invention, a switchboard that could route hundreds of calls through a central location, was lost to the Molecular Telephone Company of New York, because Swan did not finish the paperwork on time. As it turned out, Albert Swan had a business interest in the Molecular Telephone Company.

On his attorney’s advice, Henry Goodwin pled temporary insanity. Even before the patent deal, Goodwin had a history of irrational fear that his ideas were being stolen. He left two lucrative contracts in South America because in each case, he believed his employers were stealing his proprietary work. The same thing happened in the Midwest of the United States and by the time he returned to Lawrence his reputation prevented him from working anywhere.

But the jury did not buy it. The bad blood between Goodwin and Swan was well known in Lawrence. Goodwin had admitted to the murder and had admitted to warning Swan a year earlier. That sounded like premeditation and Henry Goodwin was sentenced to life in prison.

For the details on this case and about two dozen other historical Massachusetts murders, buy my new book, Murder & Mayhem in Essex County.