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Tag Archives: Connecticut

Early American Criminals: Francis Burdett Personel and the Liberty Pole

Constable Mr. Van Gelder was just about to abandon his search. He had recently been sent to New Haven, CT to find Francis Personel by New York City mayor Whitehead Hicks, who had learned that Personel was possibly hiding out in that city. But what Van Gelder did not know was that at the same […]

Prisons and Punishments: The Failure of the Treadmill in America

In 1822, when the American press began to circulate articles praising the use of a new invention in England that would instill fear in convicted felons and turn them into productive citizens, politicians, prison officials, and the press in America took notice. The invention was a treadmill, a large, long cylinder equipped with steps that […]

Crime Poems: The Memory of Infanticide Committed by Elizabeth Shaw

On June 29, 1745, Elizabeth Shaw, a “weak, simple girl, deficient in mental capacity,” gave birth to a boy in Windham, CT. She was not happy. Her son was a bastard child, which could not only bring punishment and public humiliation upon her, but also incur the wrath of her “stern and rigid” father. She […]

Crime Poems: Competing Accounts of Moses Paul and the First Native American Publication

When Mrs. Clark refused to let Moses Paul, a Native American, “have a dram” at Clark’s Tavern in Bethany, CT on a Saturday night, he was incensed. He became so disorderly, in fact, that he was forcibly removed from the tavern, but not before he vowed to exact revenge. Not long after the disturbance, Moses […]

Early American Criminals: Owen Syllavan’s Bunker

After one week, hunger finally drove Owen Syllavan out of his hiding place in the Connecticut woods and forced him to seek refuge with an acquaintance. Syllavan cut open a plank in the floor of his friend’s house, dug a large cavity that went under the hearth of the fireplace, and rigged a vent so […]

Early American Criminals: The Curse on Joseph Lightly

Joseph Lightly relates in his Last Words and Dying Speech that when his mother learned he had enlisted in the British army, “she told me she hoped she should hear of my being hanged, for my Cruelty of going to leave her against her Will.” Lightly’s mother may simply have been reacting to the moment, […]

Early American Criminals: Thomas Mount and the Flash Company

In April 1791, Thomas Mount and James Williams were thrown in the Newport, RI jail to be held until their execution for burglary. Williams was reticent to discuss his life or the crime that the two committed, but Mount not only willingly talked at length about these topics, he divulged the inner-workings of the […]

Early American Criminals: John Dixon, the Recalcitrant Burglar

On August 21, 1784, a man entered the house of Capt. James Dagget of Reheboth, MA in the middle of the night and took several valuable items. He was soon caught and committed to the Taunton Gaol, where he gave his name as Abiel Brigs. The authorities knew better. They easily recognized him as John […]

Early American Criminals: Isaac Frasier’s Strike Out

Isaac Frasier was colonial America’s most prolific burglar. In his Brief Account of the Life, and Abominable Thefts, of the Notorious Isaac Frasier, he recorded over 50 acts of burglary and theft and stated that he committed many more that he could not specifically remember. He toured all over New England and into New York, […]

Early American Criminals: The Fate of Joseph Atwood, Levi Ames’s Accomplice

Note: This post continues “Advice from a Condemned Burglar.” Joseph Atwood and Levi Ames both participated in the burglary of Martin Bicker’s house in 1773, although the extent to which each one was involved was a matter of debate. Both said that the other was the mastermind of the burglary, and Atwood claimed that he […]