DATELINE: New Book on Historical Murder
Murder at Mill Circle is a shocking tale of a haunted neighborhood.
Crime, passion, murder, and literary celebrities like Henry David Thoreau, provide a backdrop to the deaths and cursed lives of residents in a small New England neighborhood during early 19th century and the mineral spring at the epicenter of trouble.
This is a book that could not be written twenty years ago, nor even ten years ago. The proliferation of family histories online from sites like Ancestry.com and Find-a-Grave have allowed researchers the luxury of looking at sources across the country instantly.
Instead of traveling to murky library dungeons, all the work can be painstakingly completed in the comfort of one’s home office.
Granted, there is difficulty in solving a 200-year old murder when the name of the victim is unknown, the date of the killing is not established, and the witnesses are all dead. Fortunately, the murder occurred across the street from our charming home. Our former, dead neighbors left their names on census forms and deeds. We found them easily enough.
If there is anything shocking in old records, it is discovering who died when. The juxtaposition of names is often revealing. So, too, is learning who hightailed it out of town around the time of the murder in the 1820s.
You may find it interesting to learn that Mill Circle was kind of a Peyton Place, not far from New Hampshire’s border—and had a bit of Harper Valley thrown in.
Peddlers were the 19th century social media. When one of them gave you a bad review, the gossip could do in your hotel, tavern, or mineral spring instantly. The peddlers were not unionized, but they did socialize at every wayside inn they found along New England roads.
We admit we were surprised at what we found as we moved toward offering a theory on who-done-it. We have put together the history of Mill Circle’s residents, houses, mineral spring, and social network. It provided us with a likely theory of who was murdered, why, and by whom.
Now available on amazon.com in paperback and in e-book format for smart readers.
Biography and history.
Another in a series of books about Mill Circle at Winchendon Springs by Dr. William Russo, resident.