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Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

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 […]

Early American Criminals: “The Wicked Flee When None Pursue”

The final chapter in the fall of John Ormsby began when he stabbed a man in the chest with a fork in Boston in 1734. In his Last SPEECH and Dying WORDS, Ormsby says that he was hanging around a friend’s shop when some of the boys who worked there persuaded him that a customer […]

Early American Criminals: Elizabeth Wilson’s Secret

Near the beginning of the year in 1785, a traveler paused while walking through the countryside near Chester, PA to watch as his dog began to sniff and scratch among some brush. The man’s curiosity soon turned to horror when his faithful companion emerged from its feverish digging with the separated head of an infant […]

Early American Criminals: Rachel Wall’s Fall From Grace

Rachel Wall knew exactly what to say and how to say it in her Life, Last Words and Dying CONFESSION, where she eloquently appealed to God and her “dear Savior and Redeemer JESUS CHRIST, who is able to save all those that, by faith, come unto him, not refusing even the chief of sinners.” After […]

Early American Criminals: Thomas Mount’s Flash Songs

Note: This post continues “Thomas Mount’s Crime Tips.” Long before Nicholas Pileggi wrote Wiseguy and revealed the inner-workings of present-day organized crime, Thomas Mount in 1791 disclosed the secrets of the Flash Company, a gang of burglars, thieves, and highwaymen. As a part of his revelations, Mount asked that the language and songs of […]

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: The Final Words and Thoughts of Francis Uss, Burglar

Francis Uss handed a manuscript to a visitor a “day or two before his suffering.” The manuscript was an account of his life and crimes, and it gives a remarkable picture of a man waiting to be hanged. Back and Forth Uss said that he was born in 1761 to “reputable parents,” who lived in […]

Early American Criminals: Joseph Cooper and Philadelphia’s Lime and Onion Burglar

In May 1744, Elizabeth Robinson was sentenced at the Old Bailey in London to transportation to the American colonies for her involvement in the theft of 104 China oranges from a warehouse. She was loaded onto the Justitia that same month and eventually landed in Virginia. She ended up in Maryland, where she reportedly continued […]

Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part III

Note: This post continues Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part II. Outside of murder, burglary and robbery were considered the most egregious crimes in England and colonial America. Since burglars and robbers threaten the well-being and lives of victims while taking their property, they are generally regarded as worse than thieves, who try to steal without […]

Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part II

Note: This post continues Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part I. In the earliest days of colonial America, burglary was not considered much of a problem. Most people in the community knew each other, and strangers could be quickly identified. But as more people settled in America and cities grew bigger, burglary became a much more […]