First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life & Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
An Addendum to the ERB Library Project
Found by George McWhorter
"A few of the books I read from Aug 1943
|Charles J. Finger (1867–1941)|
Robert M. McBride, New York, NY: 1925 Illustrated by Paul Honore with eight color woodcuts - 216 pages
Tales of the Australian bush.
BIO Ref: Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Charles Joseph Frederick Finger was born on December 25, 1867, in Willesden, England. His father, Charles, was a German tailor recently come to England from Germany. His mother was Julia Connoly Finger, a young Irish woman. He attended several small private pre-collegiate institutions, ending with Mr. Harvey’s Grammar School. He briefly attended King’s College, London, but left without a degree. In the mid-1880s, he studied music in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1887, but Finger remained in England for some years and was associated with some of the movements to reform labor and social conditions in the country.
Between 1890 and 1895, he traveled around South America, herding sheep and cattle, panning for gold, harvesting and selling sealskins, and working among the gauchos on the Argentine plains. In 1893, he served as a guide for the Franco-Russian Ornithological Expedition to Tierra del Fuego. After returning to England, he went to New York in 1896 and later ventured through Galveston to San Angelo, Texas, where he found a job herding sheep. During this period, he wrote articles for the San Angelo Standard, the Houston Labor Journal, and the magazine Searchlight. From this time, he frequently contributed to Texas publications.
Finger became a United States citizen in 1896 and married Eleanor (Nellie) Ferguson, daughter of a sheep rancher, in 1902. From 1898 to 1904, he operated the San Angelo Music Conservatory and arranged concerts and tours. He also was a union organizer and leader, but he failed to make much money.
In his efforts to support their growing family (they eventually had five children), Finger moved to New Mexico in 1904 and found work as a boilermaker’s helper in a railroad shop in New Mexico. He soon became an auditor in the general manager’s office and, in 1905, was recruited by the Ohio River and Columbus Railway Company to serve as auditor in Ripley, Ohio. He became a director of the company and then served as the general manager of the Ohio Southeastern System, a syndicate that bought small unprofitable railroad lines and dismantled and disposed of them.
In 1916, Finger sent a manuscript of a novel, Investigations of the Doit Case, to William Marion Reedy, editor of The Mirror, a St. Louis literary magazine with a national circulation. Although Reedy rejected that and some subsequent fiction submissions, he encouraged Finger and offered him useful and specific criticism. Finally, in 1919, Reedy published three of Finger’s short stories and offered him a regular spot on his paper. During the first year, most of his work was in writing book reviews. After months of Reedy’s cajoling, Finger began to use the resources of his rich past in creating literature, in part so as to influence his own children’s education. Soon after, however, Reedy died, and the magazine ceased publication. In 1920, the Finger family settled in Fayetteville at a homestead they called Gayeta, where Finger pursued a career as a writer.
In an effort to hold together the readership of the Mirror, he started a magazine, All’s Well, or The Mirror Repolished. From 1920 through 1935, Finger wrote and published it almost single-handedly. It was a mixture of literary reminiscences and essays about northwest Arkansas.
Finger wrote thirty-six books after he settled in Fayetteville. In 1925, his book Tales from Silver Lands won the Newbery Prize. In 1929, Courageous Companions won the Longmans Juvenile Fiction Award of $2,000. Much of what he wrote reflected his own exploits in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia as well as in the American Southwest.
In addition to adventure tales, Finger wrote approximately thirty volumes in the Little Blue Books series. This series, edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius in Girard, Kansas, was the first mass-market paperback enterprise in the United States. Finger’s contributions to the series ranged from Historic Crimes and Criminals to Hints on Writing Short Stories and included biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Mahomet (Muhammad), Mark Twain, and P. T. Barnum. He published Seven Horizons, a biographical memoir, in 1930.
Finger was employed from 1936 through 1938 as an editor of the Arkansas volume of American Guide series of the Federal Writers' Project , a New Deal effort to employ writers in compiling and disseminating material of local interest and importance. Finger disagreed with Bernie Babcock, the FWP director in Arkansas, over the precise form that the book should take, but after numerous delays, Arkansas: A Guide to the State was published in 1941 by Hastings House.
From 1933 through 1940, Finger was also a managing editor for the Bellows-Reeve Company, which published the “Journeys Through Bookland” series of books, which was sold door to door. He wrote a series of pamphlets, called “Stopovers,” containing pointers for the sales people on the psychology of selling. He also edited Answers, a monthly journal devoted to answering readers’ queries about children's literature.
Finger entertained literary and artistic guests at his home and was a mentor to younger literary and intellectual aspirants from Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, which awarded him an honorary LL. D. in 1932.
Finger died of influenza and a heart attack on January 7, 1941, at Gayeta and is buried on the grounds. In 1944, the Maritime Commission named freighter Charles J. Finger in his memory. On July 5, 1983, the city of Fayetteville established a park named in his honor not far from Gayeta.
|T. Morris Longstreth & Henry Vernon|
|Murder at Belly Butte and Other Stories from the Mounted
Toronto: Maclean Publishing Company, 1931 - 347 pp, four plates
The Catskills eText Edition
Sons of the Mounted Police ~ Century Company, NY 1928 257 pp. Illustrated with 10 black and white photographs and endpapers map of the Dominion of Canada.
|Adventures of an Outlaw; the Memoirs of Ralph Rashleigh, a Penal
Exile in Australia, 1825-1844.
London, Jonathan Cape. 1929. Four illus. from the origingal manuscript 349pp.
Exciting tales of convict settlements, bushrangers and outlaw gangs
of early Australia.
The book is a "classic" for a number of reasons: its literary merit; its depiction of the life of a convict; the circumstances of its composition; and the occasion of the discovery of the manuscript and subsequent publication. The novel relates the story of a well-educated Londoner who drifts into petty crimes, for one of which he is tried, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. He escapes from prison, only to be recaptured. However his sentence is commuted and he is transported to New South Wales. During his life in the colony he is flogged, placed in solitary confinement and forced to endure both heat and cold without the benefit of shoes.
|Robert Joyce Tasker (1898-1944) (A convict) "Tiresome"|
|Grimhaven ~ A.A. Knopf 1928
Grimhaven is based on the author’s experiences in San Quentin where he was incarcerated on a five-to-twenty-five year sentence for armed robbery.
|BIO ~ Ref: Woody Haut's
Birth: c. 1898/1903 ~ Death: December 7, 1944, Mexico City, Mexico. (barbiturate overdose)
Tasker was born in North Dakota in 1903 and raised in Canada and Portland, Oregon. Following Grimhaven’s publication and the author’s release from prison in 1929, Tasker moved to Hollywood where, for some fifteen years, he pursued a career as a moderately successful scriptwriter and sometime actor. With Grimhaven helping expose prison conditions during the 1920s, Tasker’s life should have been the stuff from which Hollywood legends are made. Yet his name and brief cinema presence has all but been erased from literary and Hollywood history.
Another book that deals with Tasker’s fascinating life is John Bright’s novel It’s Cleaner on the Inside. For better part of a decade, Bright and Tasker were not only friends, but a screenwriting team. Consequently, Bright was an appropriate person to write a novel based on Tasker’s life. Published by Neville Spearman in England in 1961- sadly, it was never to find an American publisher- it’s Cleaner on the Inside begins with Tasker’s ill-fated robbery and moves back in time, to the Tasker-like Peter Jameson’s childhood in the Pacific Northwest. While the similarities between Tasker and Jameson are plentiful, the reader should be warned against relying on Bright’s novel as purely biographical.
A third book relevant to Tasker’s life is Stealing Through Life by friend and fellow San Quentin inmate- though he could also be found at neighbouring Folsom Prison- Ernest Booth. Arguably the more literary of the three books, this account of Booth’s life of crime is of interest because Tasker writes at some length in Grimhaven about their friendship while in San Quentin. Finding themselves in similar circumstances, and with similar literary interests, they struck a bargain: Tasker promised to only write about life on the inside, while Booth would devote himself to writing about life outside their prison walls.
Dissimilar though they might be, these three books challenge the orthodoxy of American cultural and political life during the 1920s and 1930s. Moreover, they add to one’s understanding of Hollywood as a place of possibility, where renegades such as Tasker and Booth, or the politically subversive John Bright, could be co-opted and deemed important to the creation of Tinseltown’s extravagant dream machine.
One could add to these books the work of another jailbird writer, Jim Tully. Today Tully’s writing, like that of Tasker, Booth and Bright, has been largely forgotten, yet, in its day, it was widely read and influential. Such was his talent that, when it came to hardboiled prose, Charles Willeford always considered Tully the equal of Dashiell Hammett. Even though Tully did not do much writing for the screen, he certainly wrote a great deal about Hollywood. In fact, during the 1930s, his pen was considered something akin to a lethal weapon. Prior to that, Tully was known for autobiographical books about hoboes, circus life, and boxing. One of the few directors to adapt his work was William Wellman whose Beggars of Life, starring Wallace Beery with Louise Brooks playing a young girl who murders her sexually abusive guardian, was based on Tully’s 1924 book of the same time. Tully would receive a writing credit for the movie. His only other credits would be for Lew Landers’ Poe-inspired The Raven (1935) starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and for Edward L. Cahn Laughter in Hell (1933), starring Pat O’Brien, which was also based on a Tully novel of the same name.
In Grimhaven, Tasker mentions Tully’s visit to San Quentin where, besides Tasker, he interviewed Johnny the Flying Tramp, the boxer Kid McCoy, Paul Kelly, and the renown Tom Mooney. Of these latter names, we know that ex-middleweight boxing champion Kid McCoy was, at that point, serving time for murder, while Mooney was inside for allegedly throwing a bomb into a 1916 San Francisco parade in support of America’s entry into WW1. Mooney was a cause celebre amongst the Hollywood left, who launched a well-publicised campaign to free him. However, the most recognised name at the time was Paul Kelly, who, two years earlier, had been the subject of a major Hollywood scandal. An actor whose speciality was playing cops and criminals, Kelly had been convicted for killing fellow-actor Ray Raymond in a fight over actress Dorothy MacKaye. Though MacKaye had been married to Raymond, she later testified in Kelly’s favour, and even hired a doctor to claim her husband had died of natural causes. Charged with manslaughter, Kelly would spend only two years in San Quentin, subsequently appearing in such films as The File on Thelma Jordan, Springfield Rifle, and The High and the Mighty.
Tully used these interviews in his article, “A California Holiday.” However, interviewing these characters was not his main reason for travelling up the coast to San Quentin. For Tully was there to witness an execution, which would make this one of the most moving essays ever written regarding the barbarity of capital punishment. At one time Charlie Chaplin’s press agent, Tully, who, in his youth, had spent five years behind bars, describes Tasker, at the time, as “twenty-four, tall, good-looking, a sheik type for society girls and stenographers, with black hair carefully combed, doing five to twenty-five years for holding up a crowded dance hall.”
Tasker only began writing while incarcerated, contributing and editing the prison journal, the San Quentin Bulletin. It was during this time that he began corresponding with H.L. Mencken. In one of his first letters to Mencken, Tasker wrote, “I graduated from high school in Portland in 1921. One year later I'm in California, go through a bad patch, buy a gun -- there you have it. I'm now serving a five-to-life sentence in San Quentin for armed robbery… Don't hesitate to call me whatever you want: thief, hood, knockover artist. It's all the same to me. As to where I'm from, I can't really say -- except maybe from here." Mencken, in 1927, published Tasker’s “First Day,” and “A Man is Hanged” in his American Mercury. They would ultimately appear in Grimhaven, which Tasker, in that same year, and to avoid the prison authorities censoring his work, had to smuggle out of his cell. The final paragraph of this autobiographical novel gives a further clue regarding Tasker’s state of mind: “And here in the midst of it I am. I have no certain fault, and I have no certain virtue. My ignorance is neither little nor great. I am neither fortunate nor unfortunate. I would seem to be a bit of a mechanism, responding to certain mechanical impulses, reacting in a mechanical way. I have no certain knowledge at all, except that I am, and that I am here.” On Mencken’s recommendation, Knopf published the book in 1931.
As a thief, Tasker was not so much inept as hell-bent on self-destruction. He had been convicted of robbing patrons at Sauer’s Dance Parlor in Oakland, California, a crime committed less for the money than to embarrass his father, a conservative banker with a puritanical outlook on life. If one is to believe Bright’s fictional account, Tasker’s mother, a preacher’s daughter, killed herself while Robert was still a teenager. Though this might be fanciful on Bright’s part, it has a more accurate ring to it than his claim that his Tasker-like character worked as a bellboy in a San Francisco hotel, where he ran errands for the comedian Fatty Arbuckle up to, and including, the night he allegedly raped and killed Virginia Rappe.
However fanciful Bright’s portrayal, his description of Tasker’s crime is, by all accounts, accurate. On St. Valentine’s Day, 1924, a twenty-three year old Tasker walked into Sauer’s Dance Parlor and mounted the bandstand where Les Hite’s band was playing. Good-looking enough to be mistaken for the band’s master of ceremonies or recently acquired white crooner, he commandeered the microphone, reached into his jacket pocket and produced a revolver. He waved the gun from one side of the dance hall to the other, telling everyone to put whatever paper money they had into a tablecloth that he had provided for the occasion, after which he turned to the band and, in words that, according to Bright, “became astonished gossip in Pacific Coast Harlem for years,” said, “I’m skipping you folks. Coloured people get pushed around enough. Keep your money.” The police had little trouble catching Tasker, who was found sitting on the steps of the dance hall smoking a cigarette, the bulging tablecloth at his side. When a police officer grabbed the gun, he saw that Tasker hadn’t bothered to put bullets in it.
Because it was an era when an assortment of rich young men, like the notorious Leopold and Loeb, were committing “thrill” crimes of supposedly Nietzschian proportions to spite conservative father figures, Tasker was given the stiffest of sentences. The judge did not hide the fact that he was handing out a harsh sentence as a warning to other young men. While in prison, Tasker mellowed somewhat; he even asked Mencken to send the check for an article in American Mercury to his father. “I’m rather fond of the old chap,” said Tasker. Though one could interpret Tasker’s apparent generosity in various ways: perhaps it was to tell his father that literary success was just around the corner; maybe he was trying to pay back money he had stolen from him; or it could even be that he simply meant the gesture as an insult.
Whichever, it looked like Tasker might be on the road to a limited kind of literary notoriety. At the time, thanks to the likes of the crusading Mencken, jailbird writing had become a small growth industry. During Tasker’s tenure in San Quentin at least a dozen inmates were trying to publish their work in periodicals on the outside, while a prison writing competition, organised by Tasker, attracted over 400 entrants. Writing had become so popular amongst inmates that the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, in 1930, issued an edict forbidding Tasker and fellow-inmates from sending their work to magazines and newspapers outside the prison walls. “We are not literary agents,” said Judge C.E. McLaughlin, adding that prison officials did not have time to comb through each manuscript in search of objectionable material. Eight years after it was begun, the San Quentin Bulletin was terminated, said by prison authorities to be catering more to the outside world than to inmates
|Malcolm W. Davis (Collaborator) - Henry Williams|
|In the Clutch of Circumstance: My Own Story by a Burglar by Malcolm
W. Davis (Collaborator) - Henry Williams.
New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1922. 272 pages.
(by an ex-convict) The author was caught burglarizing Mark Twain's home & reformed.
A famous burglar tells of his career of crime, of the punishment he has undergone, and of the steps by which he has attained to usefulness and productivity in the world. His career as a law-breaker ended with his well-known burglarizing of Mark Twain's home.
The jacket design includes jail bars. Published anonymously by one of the two burglars who broke into Twain's last home, Stormfield, to steal the family's silverware in 1908. The household awoke, the burglars fled, the butler fired a couple of shots into the darkness, and the burglars were captured on a train the next day (one pulled a gun and tried to kill the arresting sheriff). In the meantime, Twain posed for pictures pointing the pistol fired by the butler, and posted a humorous "Notice to the Next Burglar" on the front door. Twain testified against them at their trial, and confronted them privately where he cursed them and let his full anger surface. Twain's dear sweet completely nutty daughter, Clara, later gave Williams money to help him rehabilitate. Williams even unsuccessfully tried to get a movie made about his burglary of Twain's home.
IN THE CLUTCH OF CIRCUMSTANCE, My Own Story by a Burglar; D. Appleton & Co., 1922
pp. 168-182 CHAPTER XIV
THE MARK TWAIN BURGLARY
The idea of settling down and having a home of my own had never appealed to me very strongly until now. A real new interest in life and its future, however, made a great difference. I felt that the time had come to go straight; but to make a home for the girl I wanted to marry called for money, and lots of it. One more big haul, I still thought, was needed to make things even so far as myself and society were concerned, and also to give me my start. Thrusting aside all other thoughts, I started to work out various plans for the next and last "job."
A day or two after our unsuccessful invasion of the oil magnate's house, I picked up a Sunday newspaper and read an account and saw some pictures of the fine villa which the late Mark Twain had built somewhere in the country. He was going to move "all his earthly possessions" up there and "make it his permanent residence." The great author and humorist called his place "Innocents at Home," which he later changed to "Stormfield." Nat rally, my interest and curiosity were aroused, not so much by the description of the beautiful home as by that of the portable "earthly possessions." They appealed to me very strongly.
It was September 16, I908, when I called on my partner and put the Mark Twain house proposition up to him. Like myself, he was "broke." We were in the same boat. The Mark Twain house possibilities lured him as powerfully as they did me. The following afternoon we boarded a train out of New York for Redding, Connecticut, where "Stormfield" stood.
It was quite dark when we arrived at the Redding Station. There was not a sound to be heard or a person to be seen on the roads. Only the sharp bark of a dog broke the stillness of the night as we passed by a farmhouse. Since we had never been in that part of the country before, we were not quite sure of our way. So, in order to make certain, I went back to the farmhouse and inquired about the road to Redding. This was the first mistake which I made that night. The farmer, seeing that we were strangers, came out and directed us on our way, lantern in hand.
After he left us, we kept on walking along the dusty country road until we came to a sharp turn, when the bright lights of a large house situated on the top of a hill arrested our attention. We concluded that this must be the Mark Twain residence, and accordingly walked in its direction. Arriving at "Stormfield," we found the house lights still burning brightly. The family had not yet retired. In order to give the occupants time to go to sleep, we picked out a secluded place behind some bushes and indulged in a quiet smoke during a period of watching and waiting.
It was getting well on toward midnight when one by one the lights were extinguished and the house was enshrouded in complete darkness except for one dim light upstairs. Experience told us that this was nothing unusual. My partner went on a tour of inspection around the house. He returned presently with the word that the coast was clear and that one of the kitchen windows had been left partly open. I helped my partner to climb in through it; and he then went and opened the big French double doors leading out from the dining room on the great veranda. I entered by the front door, like a gentleman.
By the rays of our flashlights, we first made a careful inspection of the dining room. The heavy, old-fashioned, oak sideboard near the door leading into the hall commanded our attention. We knew that it contained the family silver, which it was our object to secure first, as usual. We tried to open the drawers of the sideboard, but found them locked. To break them open would make a noise, of course, and disturb the family if done inside the house. We did not wish to be guilty of such carelessness, so we took hold of the sideboard and carried it out of the house and some five hundred feet down the road. There we broke the locks of the drawers and emptied their contents into a black bag which we had brought for the purpose. Then we went back into the house to see what else we could find.
Before proceeding, it is necessary to mention a brass bowl which had stood as an ornament on top of the sideboard, and which played such an important and fatal part on that night. Since a brass bowl was of no value to us I took it and placed it noiselessly on the dining-room floor - without my partner's knowledge, however. This was my second mistake on that night. When we entered the dining room the second time, my partner, walking rather carelessly, stumbled and fell heavily over that brass bowl.
In the stillness of the night it seemed to me as if an earthquake had suddenly struck the house. Such a noise that rolling brass thing made! With every nerve tense, we silently watched and waited for the result.
Presently a woman, dressed in bathrobe and slippers, appeared at the head of the stairs. Then a soft clear voice called: "Hello!" It was Miss Lyons, Mark Twain's social secretary, as we afterwards learned, who, awakened by the noise, had courageously come to investigate. A moment we hesitated. Then we turned and silently and swiftly left the house.
Running down the road, we picked up our bag with the silver, and continued running till we arrived at the foot of the hill. There we slackened speed and started to walk back in the direction of Bethel, some seven miles from "Stormfield."
Naturally, the discovery of our presence created a sensation in the Mark Twain household. It is said that the butler, who had been aroused, fired several shots after us, "to hasten our departure," as Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine puts it in his biography of Mark Twain. For this, however, I cannot vouch, as we must have been considerably out of pistol shot by the time the gun went off. The shots, however, did awaken the aged author of "Huckleberry Finn" who, says Mr. Paine in his account, imagining that a champagne party was in progress below, rolled over and went to sleep again.
By the time we reached Bethel, the deputy sheriff had been notified and a posse of farmers, hastily organized, had started in pursuit of us. Had we continued our walk some two miles farther to Danbury, however, the probability is that we might never have been caught and that this story would never have been told. We decided to take a chance and to wait at Bethel for the early train to New York. This proved to be the third and the biggest mistake of that night.
We boarded the train at seven o'clock with out interference. After we were comfortably seated in the smoker, a man came up to us and inquired where we had got on the train. We told him Danbury. The interrogator happened to be a neighbor of Mark Twain, who suspected us as the culprits. He notified the sheriff in charge of the posse waiting for this train when it pulled into the Redding station. A dozen men, armed with pitchforks, shot guns, clubs, and other weapons, boarded the train just as it was pulling away from the plat form. After a survey of the other coaches, they entered the smoker by the rear door. My partner, seeing the armed men entering and that we were greatly outnumbered, jumped up from his seat and ran quickly to the front platform, where he succeeded in dropping off from the rapidly moving train. One of the posse fired several shots after him, but without hitting him.
My partner having successfully "flown the coop," the entire posse turned upon me. An automatic pistol was shoved in front of my face and I was commanded to surrender. In stead of obeying the command, I pulled out my own revolver and began to blaze away at the ceiling of the car to cause a panic if possible. I did not want to kill any one; and they did not want to shoot me. The sheriff, from behind me, seized me by the right wrist and tried to twist my gun out of my hand. The others now attacked me, and a free-for-all fight ensued. Showers of blows fell upon me from all sides. Then I was struck several times on the head with a blackjack and, partly conscious, sank to the floor still grappling with the sheriff. In the furious struggle for possession of the revolver, which I still gripped securely, it went off. I became unconscious.
When I came to myself, I was lying hand cuffed out on the tracks, with my captors standing over me. I felt a heavy stream of blood pouring down over my face from wounds in my head. A sickening sense of despair came over me. I was in for it again; and all my dreams of marriage and of happiness in a home of my own were blown to shreds.
When my gun was accidentally discharged in the fight with the sheriff, the bullet had entered the flesh just back of the sheriff's thigh. He was enraged; and now, after I had regained consciousness and attempted to rise, he seized me by the throat and struck me a severe blow savagely in the face. I staggered under the unexpected attack. Then several other members of the crowd jumped at me, raining further blows on my head and body as I stood defenseless. Then I was dragged back to the station, some distance away, where I found that my partner was also being held as a prisoner.
We were handcuffed together and marched to the farm near the station, where the night before I had made inquiries concerning the way to Redding Center. The old farmer came out of the house and, recognizing us as we drew near, greeted us with a sneer and snicker, saying: "Wall, boys, glad t'see yer ag'in!"
As I was weakened by the loss of much blood, they summoned a physician to dress my wounds and to bandage the sheriff's leg. We were then placed in a carriage and taken to the town hall in Redding Center for a preliminary hearing. After we had been seated in the dingy room which served as the court room, a carriage in which were Mark Twain, his daughter, Miss Clara Clemens, and Miss Lyons, his secretary, drew up before the building. The party entered; and passing close by, the humorist, dressed in his famous white clothes, turned upon me and delivered a scathing verbal castigation and lecture on morality, ending by denouncing me as "a disgrace to the human race." Apparently satisfied with the mental punishment which he had inflicted upon me, he took a seat alongside of the justice of the peace.
After being placed under heavy bail, we were remanded to the Fairfield County jail at Bridgeport for safe-keeping. When Mark Twain returned to "Stormfield," he caused the following notice to be placed over his dining-room door:
The three months during which we lay in the county jail awaiting trial seemed a very long time. We were locked in separate corridors and not allowed to talk or even to see each other. Neither were any outside visitors, with the exception of our lawyer, permitted to see us. Twice each week our cells were care fully searched for contraband articles, and while the rest of the prisoners were allowed free exercise in the corridor we had to stay in our cells. Not even the weekly bath was I permitted to take with the rest of the prisoners. I was taken into the bathroom separately and always under a guard of two armed keepers. Since I did not make any attempt to escape, this treatment received at the hands of the county sheriff struck me then as very unjust. However, there was no one to listen to complaint; and I can see now that they regarded me as dangerous.
At last the day arrived for our trial. Securely chained to a number of other offenders, we were taken to Danbury. It was the first time in fifty years that the Supreme Court had sat in that particular Connecticut town. After spending a restless night in the ancient and dingy Danbury jail, we were led, heavily guarded by a large force of deputy sheriffs, across the street and up into the court room. The small room was crowded with spectators and with witnesses for the state. The most noticeable and distinguished person in the room, naturally, was neither the judge nor the sheriff, but the humorist, Mark Twain, wearing a dark suit instead of his customary light-colored clothes for this serious occasion.
After the usual formalities in starting the trial, the witnesses for the state were called to testify against us. The most serious charge against me was not that of burglary, but a far more important, and an unjust charge, conviction for which would have meant a sentence of thirty years in state prison - the charge of assault with intent to murder. I am inclined to think that my story and the realization of the hard years of suffering which I had undergone impressed Mark Twain and that he was responsible or influential in having the charged changed to a less serious one, thus probably saving me from twenty years of imprisonment which I should still be undergoing. As it was, upon conviction under the charge finally brought against me, I was sentenced to serve a term of ten years in the Connecticut State Prison at Wethersfield.
Perhaps it may not be amiss to mention that our visit to his house furnished a new subject to Mark Twain, to which he not infrequently referred in later lectures. Thus, while dedicating the little new library which he had founded for the residents of the town of Redding, Mark Twain took occasion to make characteristic fun of the affair as follows:
"I am going to help build this library with contributions
- from my visitors. Every male guest who comes to my house will have to
con tribute a dollar or go away without his baggage. If those burglars
who broke into my house recently had done that, they would have been happier
now; or if they had broken into this library, they might have read a few
good books and led a better life. Now they are in jail, and if they keep
on they will go to Congress. When a person starts down hill, you can never
tell where he is going to stop. I am sorry for those burglars. They got
nothing that they wanted, and scared away most of my servants. Now we are
putting in a burglar alarm instead of a dog. Some advised the dog, but
it costs even more to entertain a dog than a burglar. I am having the ground
electrified, so that for a mile around any one who puts foot across the
line will set off an alarm that will be heard in Europe."
It was in the latter part of March, 19I7, that I received a reply to a letter which I had addressed to Mr. Thomas Mott Osborne, inviting me to come to New York. I had heard a great deal about "Tom Brown," as the great prison reformer is affectionately known by every man who has done a "bit," or is still doing one, in prison. In my letter, I had told him a few things about conditions as I had found them in Wethersfield; and the case of one naval prisoner interested him especially, as he was at that time taking a deep interest in these convicts. He wanted to get more information concerning conditions at Wethersfield, especially concerning the treatment of the naval prisoners confined there and working under the contract system. Before leaving Wethersfield, I had promised the "boys" there that I would do all that I could to bring about better conditions and more consideration for the inmates of the prison. To me, that promise was sacred; and ever since my release I have continued to endeavor to interest people of influence and public spirit in the lot of the men and women shut in behind the walls of the Connecticut State Prison.
Thus it happened that I left Hartford on the first of April for New York, to meet Mr. Osborne and to look for new work. I had always wanted to get back to the metropolis to live. When I arrived at the big hotel where he was staying, I found the prison reformer in his room. He held out his hand and greeted me with a friendly smile, calling me by my first name and asking me how I was getting along. His frank and democratic manner impressed me very much; I felt that he was sincere, and that prison reform was not simply a "rich man's fad" with "Tom Brown." He had just been "released" from the United States Naval Prison at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he had been undergoing a trial imprisonment to see what it was like for the man really under sentence and compulsory confinement. His hair was still short-clipped, showing that he had gone through regular prison treatment.
The interview with Mr. Osborne was interrupted by the entrance of a middle-sized man of about thirty-five years, like myself, who Mr. Osborne told me had also served fifteen years in state prison. He was then an active worker in the outside Mutual Welfare League. He had been out for a little more than a year; and in that time had secured employment for many other ex-prisoners. Mr. Osborne placed me in his charge; and I left with the feeling that "Tom Brown" was a friend upon whose cooperation an ex-convict could rely.
Through the assistance of this secretary, I obtained employment in New York.
It was when I had been in New York for about three months that, through the kind offices of Mr. Osborne, I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, the daughter of Mark Twain. An interview was arranged, in which Mrs. Gabrilowitsch convinced herself that I was in earnest, and genuinely taking an honest course. The daughter of the great humorist, whose home I had robbed before my last capture and imprisonment, instead of holding any resentment against me as I expected her to do, offered to defray the expenses of a course of mechanical instruction for me. This course I later took at the West Side Y. M. C. A. Automobile School. Thus it was through the help of this kind-hearted woman, whose father's house I had invaded as a burglar, that I became a first class automobile mechanic. To her generosity I owe the opportunity of acquiring the ability to earn a good living at a well-paid trade. This, indeed, was a shining example of the true spirit of forgiveness and friendliness, which could redeem the world.
To the knowledge of the trade of an automobile mechanic
I later added that of oxyacetylene welding. Mechanical work has always
appealed to me. After six months of practical experience as a helper, I
secured a position as a mechanic with one of the largest automobile manufacturing
concerns in the country. The manager of the plant, after a time, placed
me at the head of their new ambulance department. There I had charge of
the chassis construction work, acting as foreman with a number of men under
supervision. By the time the armistice was signed, the department in my
charge had turned out some two hundred new ambulances for the American
Red Cross and the National League for Women's Service. I tell this to prove
that the practical help extended to me by practical people was not only
not wasted, but that it also turned a man whom prison routine had made
of little use into a worker whose service was of some value during the
The New York Times, September 19, 1908
BURGLARS INVADE MARK TWAIN VILLA
Captured After a Pistol Fight on a Train in Which Prisoner and Officer Are Shot.
ALARMED BY A WOMAN
Notice Posted by Mark Twain Notifying the Next Burglar Where to Find the Plated Ware.
Special to The New York Times.
DANBURY, Conn., Sept. 18. - Mark Twain's home at Redding, "Innocents at Home," was visited by two professional burglars last night. The wakefulness of Miss Lyons, the humorist's private secretary, was the undoing of the bold crooks, who were captured after a fight on a New Haven train.
Mr. Clemens today posted this notice on the door of his
There is nothing but plated ware in this house, now and henceforth. You will find it in that brass thing in the dining room, over the corner by the basket of kittens. If you want the basket put the kittens in the brass thing. Do not make a noise - it disturbs the family. You will find rubbers in the front hall by that thing which has the umbrellas in it - chiffonier I think they call it, or pergola, or something like that. Please close the door. Yours truly,
S. L. CLEMENS.
Miss Lyon the humorist's secretary, was aroused about midnight by the sound of breaking glass in the lower part of the house. She went softly down the stairs to find a flood of light in the dining room and that the sideboard, with its solid silver, was missing from its customary place in the room. Cautiously slipping along in the shadows to a point where she could have a view of the garden, to which her attention had been called by an open window in the dining room, Miss Lyon saw two men forcing the doors and drawers of the sideboard, which they had carried out, apparently in the hope that they would not be interrupted in their work. Without giving the burglars any cause for alarm Miss Lyon summoned Mr. Clemens and the butler and then telephoned for Deputy Sheriff Banks, Harry Lounsbury, and several neighbors.
Before any of them reached the scene the burglars had fled with their booty. Following the awakening of Miss Lyon and her discovery that burglars had been at work, search of Mark Twain's place was made by Mr. Lounsbury, the Deputy Sheriff, and neighbors, and on the lawn some distance away was found the empty drawer. Mr. Lounsbury and Deputy Sheriff Banks found peculiar footprints, which they followed to Bethel.
Mr. Lounsbury discovered the men on the train in the smoking car. He attempted to engage them in conversation and asked them if they lived in Danbury. The men replied vaguely. Mr. Lounsbury said he noticed that both men's shoes had rubber heels, which it was said would correspond with the tracks in the roadway. When the train arrived at Redding Mr. Lounsbury got off and notified Banks that he believed the men they were after were the two to whom he had been talking. Banks boarded the train, and when an attempt was made to arrest the burglars one ran out of the car door and jumped off and the other showed fight and drew a revolver. He fired four shots, one of which struck the Sheriff in the leg, and one, the last in the struggle, hit the burglar himself in the head.
A passenger jumped into the fight and subdued the burglar with a club, cutting his head open. The burglar who jumped was found under a bridge in Brookside Park. A physician was called and the wounds of the Sheriff and of the injured robber were attended to. Later in the morning the men were taken before Justice Hickerson for a hearing. Mr. Clemens, his daughter, Miss Clara, and Mr. Wark appeared at the hearing. The men had taken only the solid silverware and this was all recovered. The plated ware they had evidently discarded. The hearing was held in a small room of an old-fashioned house. Justice Nickerson sitting at a little table. The witnesses and the prisoners occupied the same settee. Mr. Clemens had on his white suit.
The prisoners described themselves as Charles Hoffman,
aged 30, of South Norwalk, and Henry Williams, aged 40, no address. Both
men were held for the Superior Court. Other counts of assault, resisting
an officer, and carrying concealed weapons were lodged against Williams.
He was the wounded man. They were taken to the Bridgeport Jail this afternoon.
Later they were taken before Judge William Case of the Superior Court.
Williams was charged with burglary, and held under $5,000 bail. Besides
the burglary charge, a second charge of assault, with intent to kill, was
entered against Hoffman, and his bail fixed at $7,500.
The New York Times, November 12, 1908
TWAIN BURGLARS SENTENCED.
Men Who Broke Into Samuel L. Clemens's Home Get Prison Terms.
DANBURY, Conn., Nov. 11 - When the trial of Henry Williams and Charles Hoffman, accused of breaking into the Italian villa of Samuel L. Clemens, (Mark Twain,) at Redding, several weeks ago, was resumed in the Superior Court this afternoon, both men changed their pleas of not guilty to guilty. The court sentenced Hoffman to not less than three nor more than five years in State prison. On the charge of burglary Williams received not less than five nor more than six years in State prison, and on the charge of assault with intent to kill, to which he also pleaded guilty, not more than four years in State prison
|Patrick H. Weeks MD b.1887 (Prison physician)|
|Big House of Mystery: A Physician-Psychiatrist Looks at Ten Thousand
Crimes and Criminals
Philadelphia: Dorrance & Co. 1938. 259 pp. + 5 half-tones.
Weeks had for 18 years been physician and psychiatrist at Indiana State
|August Vollmer and Alfred E. Parker|
|Crime, Crooks, and Cops
Funk & Wagnall's Co., New York: 1937.
This book details various crimes and murders, and the outcomes along with the reasons why the crimes were committed
Finest of the Finest TIME article
|Luke S. May|
The Macmillan Company, New York City, 1936 237 pp.
|Masterstrokes of Crime Detection
Garden City, NY: NY Doubleday Doran published for the Crime Club, 1929.
The pick of some thousands of cases recorded in the last hundred years, in England, France, Germany, India, Australia, Canada, and the United States
|Philip S. Van Cise (October 25, 1884–December 8, 1969)|
|Fighting the Underworld
Boston: Houghton Mifflin 1936. 369 p.  p. of plates: ill.
Philip S. Van Cise was a U.S. Army colonel, crimebusting district attorney, and private practice lawyer in Denver, Colorado. He is best known for arresting and prosecuting the notorious "Million-Dollar Bunco Ring" headed by Lou Blonger, a story he recounted in Fighting the Underworld.
|Horace Bell (1830-1918)|
|Reminiscences of a Ranger: Or, Early Times in Southern California
~ Foreword by Arthur M. Ellis.
Illustrations by James S. Bodrer and Major Horace Bell ~ Yarnell, Caystile & Mathes 1881
OR Wallace Hebberd, Santa Barbara: 1927
Horace Bell left Indiana to seek gold in California. In 1852, he moved to Los Angeles and later became involved in American filibustering in Latin America and saw service in the Union Army before returning to Los Angeles after the Civil War to become a lawyer and newspaper publisher. Reminiscences of a Ranger (1881) includes anecdotes of Bell's experiences as a Los Angeles Ranger pursuing Joaquin Murietta in 1853, a soldier of fortune in Latin America, a Union officer in the Civil War, and a Los Angeles newspaper editor. He provides lively ancedotes of Los Angeles and its residents under Mexican and American rule, emphasizing cowboys and criminals and native Americans. Throughout, Bell gives special attention to the fate of Hispanic Californians and Native Americans under the United States regime. For another collection of Bell's reminiscences, see On the Old West Coast (1930).
|Bernstorff, Johann Heinrich, Graf von, trans. by Eric Sutton|
|Memoirs of Count Von Bernstorff ~ Random House c1936 ~
383 pp. illus
My Three Years in America by Count Bernstorff ~ C. Scribner's
sons, NY - 1920
York Times Archive:
|H. I. Brock|
|Meddlers: Uplifting Moral Uplifters
Kessinger Pub Co OR Ives Washburn 1930 ~ 307 pp.
|Ladislas Farago (1906-1980) and Committee for National Morale|
|The Axis Grand Strategy: Blueprints for the Total War. [From Original
Material Prepared By Staff Officers of the German Army, Navy, and Air Force]
~ 614pp New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1942
In five parts: The Pattern of Modern War; The Art of War; The War Machine; The Sinews of Total War; and Hitler's Grand Strategy
("Read 162 pgs only. Repetitious")
|Henry Desmond Farren|
The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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