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Tag Archives: 1834 Jail

Remember Roxy?

So there I was, trying to think of something to make a blog post about that was not whining about how I couldn’t make a blog post today or sharing pictures of monster movies, when I saw that a friend on Facebook had shared a memory from 2015, and I said, “Ah, Roxy.”

I’m being threatened by the guy with the ax, but don’t worry: I turn the tables on him.

This is a rehearsal shot from the play Roxy by Jack Sherman, that was presented by the Herkimer County Historical Society at Ilion Little Theatre in September of 2015.  It concerns a famous local murderess, who was tried in the Herkimer County Courthouse and hanged behind the 1834 Jail. I played the title role.  It was a large cast, and everybody had a chance to shine.  It was quite the theatrical experience for all involved (I believe I wrote a few blog posts about it).  Having downloaded the above photo for inclusion in today’s post, I typed “Roxy Ilion Little Theatre” into the Facebook search box to see what else I could find.

I didn’t really look like this, although I tried.

This is the poster.  The Historical Society also had little magnets of it made up.  I have one on my refrigerator now.

Isn’t he handsome?

This is my wonderful husband, Steven, who played four different roles.  Here he portrays Dr. Suiter, who rather fancied himself as a forensic expert and had a lot to do with getting Roxy hanged.  Thanks a lot, Steve!

That reward isn’t really being offered, so don’t go calling “America’s Most Wanted.”

A friend put this frame on a picture of me.  As far as I remember, no reward was offered for Roxy’s capture, and she wasn’t that hard to take in anyways.  If you want to know the real story of Roxalana Druse, I recommend James M. Greiner’s book, Last Woman Hanged.  I said I was not going to be in any more plays for a while.  Still, if anybody decided to stage a revival of Roxy… well, let’s just say I would take it under consideration.

 

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Pedestrian Post with Pictures

Steven and I decided to take a little stroll after dinner, so I brought along my Tablet to take a few pictures.  It was a lovely afternoon for a stroll.  After stopping to chat with  neighbor, I saw some flowers I wanted to snap.

This is an apartment building that used to be a school.

Hmm… I guess that one did not come out very clearly, but I liked the purple flowers.

Maybe I’ll go back after dark and try to get a picture of these lit up.

Steven noticed some solar lights and wondered if ours still work.  We did not put them out this year.  It’s kind of a rebuilding year for our lawn; we have not done much with it except get the nice young man who lives across the street to mow it for us.

Steven thinks this would make a delightful movie/opera house.

Eventually we turned down Main Street, and I suggested I take a picture of this building, which we have long admired.  The “for sale” sign that I had noticed there previously was gone.  I wondered if somebody had bought it or if they were just doing the trick of taking the sign down for a while so when they put it back up folks will think it is a new listing.

I love the color; the picture does not fully do it justice.

Continuing down the street, we saw a building that had seen better days, but there was one lovely flower in front of it, so I took its picture.  Soon we were approaching the Historic Four Corners, which regular readers may recall is a favorite spot of mine.

I wrote a blog post about this cemetery once, a long time ago.

This is the Herkimer Reformed Church.   I love the old gravestones.  Next I wanted a shot of the Suiter House, home of the Herkimer County Historical Society.

It’s even more interesting inside.

The house was built by Dr. A. Walter Suiter, who played a pivotal role in the trials of Chester Gillette and Roxalana Druse, two famous historical murderers of the area.  Steven played Dr. Suiter in the play Roxy, presented by the Historical Society at Ilion Little Theatre in 2015 (I played Roxy.  Perhaps you read a few of my blog posts about it).

Across the street is the Herkimer County Courthouse, where Chester Gillette and Roxalana Druse were tried for their respective murders.

Still a magnificent-looking building.

Of course I had to take a picture of the 1834 Jail, which housed both Gillette and Druse.

Who put that tree in the way!

Steven suggested I take a picture of him on the steps.

“Try to look like Dr. Suiter,” I suggested.

“In my party shorts with my Mr. Incredible t-shirt,” he said, as if he thought that was a problem.  He just smiled handsomely instead.

“Romeo, Romeo, wherefore are thou…” Oh, wait. Wrong play.

Continuing down Main Street, I took a picture of Christ Episcopal Church.

Another handsome, historical building.

We cut though the little park next to Basloe Library (another of my favorite places), and I got a picture of some nice flowers.

I did not read the NOTICE on the building. I hope it did not say not to take pictures of the flowers.

After that, I thought I had taken enough pictures, so we continued our walk back home.  Now I see I am over 550 words and I have successfully avoided having another Wrist to Forehead Sunday post.  I say, not a bad ending to the weekend.

 

Is It Worth 3,000 Words?

I think I may have run out of things to say about not having anything to say.

I am forcing myself not to backspace and erase that, as I did to at least three other possible leads.  I’m thinking at least one of those leads was better than what I went with, but of course now I can’t remember any of them.

Using a few random pictures seemed to work yesterday.  I wonder if I could get away with it two days in a row.

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He’s telling me what to say, and I’m thinking he’s full of beans.

 

This picture is from the Ilion Little Theatre production of Harvey in 2012.  Steven played Dr. Chumley.  I was Veda.  Perhaps longtime readers remember when this blog was All Harvey All The Time.

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My character is drinking wine, but it is not real wine in the glass, a source of much disappointment to me.

This is a more recent stage appearance: Splitting Issues last October.  I believe I also wrote a couple of blog posts about that.

 

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In jail, where some believe we belong (you know who you are).

 

I don’t have another theatre picture of Steven and me together, so I will show a picture of me in costume with Steven.  This was a Haunted Tour of Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners.  I reprised my role (wait a minute; my computer thinks “reprised” is not a word, but apparently “reprise” is. Oh, I can’t worry about that now) of Roxalana Druse, who was hanged behind the 1834 Jail.  I don’t think I did a blog post about that event (the haunted tour, not the hanging, although I never wrote about the hanging either).  How remiss of me.

So this is my Non-Sequitur Thursday post for the week.  I think I’ve jumped around enough to qualify.  If only I could think of a catchy headline, I could head to my Steel Magnolias rehearsal content.

 

More About the Jail

When we last left our heroine (you know that’s me, right?), she was about to begin her blog post in the third person point of view.  But I changed my mind.

Sorry about that little bit of nonsense. I was about to write more about our visit to Herkimer’s 1834 Jail on Monday.  Steven and I were in the second group to go up the stairs with our guide, Jim Greiner.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Jail is famous as the place where Chester Gillette stayed while on trial for the murder of Grace Brown in 1906.  There was to be a talk on a newly revised book about the case by author Craig Brandon at the Court House across the street at seven that night.

Our first stop was the cell Gillette stayed in during his trial.  It is actually kind of a suite, two cell off a third, larger cell.  Photocopies of old magazine photos adorn the walls, because Gillette had decorated the cell with magazine clippings.

From there, we saw the men’s side of regular cells, with a shower at one end, then the women’s cells, with a claw-foot tub.  One woman was offended by the sexism of this, because the shower clearly offered more privacy than the tub.

Somebody asked about where Roxalana Druse was housed.  Druse was hanged behind the jail in 1887.  I mentioned yesterday that Greiner wrote a book about her.  He told us she was housed on the third floor, where offenders who were considered less dangerous were kept.  The third floor was, sadly, not part of the tour.  He told the story of how a fire broke out while she was there.  Druse refused to evacuate but formed part of the bucket brigade putting out the fire.  When Friends of Herkimer Jail took over the building, one member bravely went up to the attic and found where some burnt timbers remained.

We greatly enjoyed our tour.  I love living in a village that has such a rich local history as well as people who work to preserve and share it.

 

Only Through the Door of the Jail

It is well known (by people who know me) that I am a big fan of Herkimer’s 1834 Jail.  When Steven noticed tours would be available this past Monday, I was delighted.  I was even more delighted when we realized that Steven would also be available to participate.  The tours were in conjunction with a talk by Craig Brandon taking place across the street in the Herkimer County Courthouse.

Brandon wrote Murder in the Adirondacks, about the murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette in Moose Lake.  Gillette was housed in the jail and tried in the courthouse.  Brandon recently revised the book, adding new photos and information. I’m hoping Steven buys me a copy for my birthday.

Some people, when they have seen an historic site or other attraction, are done. I, on the other hand, am not that way, especially when it is something you can’t go to just any old time.  The 1834 Jail is in that category.  The Jail is an easy walk from our house, on Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners where Main Street meets Church Street.  We thought we had left in plenty of time, but people were already gathering in front of the jail when we arrived.  The door was open, so we went in.  We could hear voices upstairs.

Other people soon followed us in.  One lady noticed a place to sign in, but there was no pen.

“You can borrow my pen,” I said.  It was actually one of Steven’s pens.  He buys these cheap ballpoint pens to take to work, in case he hands one to a customer and doesn’t get it back.  That was a good thing, since I didn’t get it back.  Almost everybody wanted to sign in.

“Oh, look, there are the gallows they strung me up on,”  I said, pointing into the next room.  It was the replica of the Galloping Gallows, which were used to hang Roxalana Druse, who killed her husband in Warren County.  Herkimer B.O.C.E.S. built the replica for Herkimer County Historical Society when they presented the play Roxy at Ilion Little Theatre last September.  I played Roxy.  (In case anybody did not see the play and was concerned, they did not show me being strung up.  The audience was shown the gallows, but the actual execution took place offstage.)

Soon the group who had enjoyed the first tour came downstairs with their tour guide, Jim Greiner, who wrote Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse.  Jim is a dynamic speaker and very knowledgeable about the jail and Herkimer County history.  Steven and I attended a talk he gave about his book, and I have taken a tour of the jail with him.  He greeted us new arrivals  as “Chester Gillette fans.”

“And Roxalana Druse fans,” I said, although truth be known I am a Gillette/Brown aficionado as well.

I must end my blog post here, at the beginning of our tour.  I have a rehearsal tonight for Much Ado About Nothing, and I’m not quite ready for it.  I hope to see you all on Lame Post Friday.

 

Sunshine Sunday

Spring has returned to the Mohawk Valley.  It’s been here already once or twice in 2016.  Then cold weather and snow returned.  Then we had some gloomy, rainy days, which, truth be known, I kind of like.  However, yesterday and today the sun returned in full force, and I am loving it.

Yesterday I enjoyed a walk and some running around (it was Scattered Saturday, you may recall), but Steven was sick with a cold and could not join in my enjoyment.  Today he is feeling a little bit better.  We just took a lovely walk, so in lieu of my usual Wrist to Forehead Sunday or even All Leading Ladies All The Time, I offer a humble Pedestrian Post.

I wore my crazy old lady hat and sunglasses but no jacket.  I found a white cotton long-sleeved shirt to put over my t-shirt, because I didn’t quite want bare arms.  Steven, since he is still convalescent, wore a hooded sweatshirt (our generation does not call them “hoodies.” I’m not even sure if a hoodie is the exact same thing or if there is some extra quality attached). Fashion choices settled, we set out.

We headed towards downtown Herkimer, past my beloved Historic Four Corners.  I pointed to the 1834 Jail and said, “That’s where I got hung.”  That, of course, was a reference to the play Roxy, in which I played the title role.  I’m sure it is one of those parts I will carry around with me forever, and that’s not really a bad thing.

As we walked down Main Street, we were sorry to see all the empty businesses.  I wish the area was more thriving.  At least there are a few bright spots.  Valley Exchange is open Sundays now; that’s always a fun place to look around.  Roma’s Pizza now occupies the space that was formerly Brian’s Roast Beef Deli.  I’m fond of Linda’s Consignment Shop, and The End Zone is a nice place to stop in for a beer unless Pete’s Tavern is more your speed.  Collis TruValue Hardware still seems to be going strong.

Turning down Albany Street, we saw that Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner was, as usual, doing a booming business.  Hummel’s Office Plus had some clearance items out on the sidewalk.  We did not stop into any of these businesses.  In fact, I’m sure I missed mentioning a few.  Sorry.  What do you want from me, I’m an amateur blogger not a downtown-boosting advertising agency.

We continued down Albany Street to Caroline, enjoying the sunshine.  I think sunshine is nature’s cosmetic, because almost any scene looks better in the sun.  As we walked we discussed our plans for the afternoon.   I want to sit out on our deck or front porch, perhaps with a beverage.  Steven wants to study his lines from Leading Ladies (I guess I have to mention the play at least once).

One last sunshine-related note:  I washed our sheets and hung them out on our clothesline.  I am SO looking forward to the sweet smell when I go to bed tonight.  I feel certain it will make Monday a little more pleasant.  Hope to see you then.

 

Another Visit to the Historical Society

Last Saturday I got to introduce some friends to a couple of my favorite places, the Herkimer County Historical Society and the 1834 Jail in Herkimer, NY.  I know I have mentioned  both places before, but I think they rate numerous shout-outs.

My sister Cheryl and some friends had long been interested in visiting the jail, which is not open for tours on a regular basis. I suggested we watch for when the Historical Society holds its Open House in June, because the jail has been open that day at least for the last couple of years, when I have made it to the Open House.

We arrived at the Jail, on Herkimer’s Historic Four Corners on Main and Church streets,shortly after eleven, only to find out that the tours did not start as early as we had thought.  I suggested we check out the Historical Society, which is right across the way.

Of course I had to show off my knowledge and explain that the house had belonged to Dr. A Walter Suiter, although he had only used it for his office. Dr. Suiter provided medical testimony for two of Herkimer County’s most famous murder trials, of Chester Gilette and Roxalana Druse.

As we walked into the Queen Anne style brick mansion, we saw a display about the Gilette  case. We talked about the case and about how Hollywood did not get it right in A Place in the Sun (although that is a highly entertaining movie). I said that Chester Gilette was a player. I’ve read several books about the case.

As we walked around downstairs I pointed out the ornate Remington typewriter. I have a less fancy Remington typewriter myself.. We all admired the doctor’s study with its built-in bookcases and large fireplace. The woodwork throughout the house is beautiful.

Upstairs we noted the old bicycle with the huge front and tiny rear wheels. We marveled over the fact that a man rode it right across the country.

“And that was in the days before highways and Motel 6,” I said.

We also enjoyed looking at the dollhouses and the portraits of local people of note. I pointed out Margaret Tugor, because Cheryl had noticed a picture of the South Side School in a display about immigrants downstairs. Miss Tugor had been principal of that school, which was later named after her.

The third floor, which is not open on a regular basis, holds many artifacts and archives. We especially noted many typewriters, some chairs in need of repair, and a rather delightful baby carriage.

I suggested we go down the back staircase from the second back to the first floor, and that was another experience. The stairs are steep, narrow and curved. I think it is good to know what the servants put up with back in the day.

In the gift shop, I chatted up Caryl Hopson about the play Roxy, which the society is presenting at Ilion Little Theatre (I’ll be writing a lot about that as time goes on). I also ate a couple of cookies, which were from the Heidelberg Bakery. Who could resist?

Caryl suggested we walk a couple of doors down, where another archaeological dig was going on. I had pointed out in the society’s yard where a dig had been going on last year. A glass case in the gift shop displayed many of the artifacts that had been found. Included are a surprising number of intact glass pharmaceutical bottles.

At this year’s dig, a guy was down a well on a safety harness, sending up buckets of dirt and stones. Four people were sifting through them. They explained that they were hoping to find the exact location of Fort Dayton. The house they were digging behind belongs to a member of the Historical Society. She invited them to dig in her back yard, because she knew it was a likely spot.

Making our way back to Main Street, we saw people in front of the jail. We discovered that they were waiting for Jim Greiner to come give the tours. I was pleased to hear that. Greiner wrote the book Last Woman Hanged: Roxalana Druse. He is very knowledgeable about the jail and local history. I’ve taken the jail tour with him and enjoyed it very much.

While we waited we were allowed into the basement and on the first floor. I shared a few of the things I remembered. The lady who let us in told us more, particularly about a house-shaped clock made by a prisoner out of cigar boxes.

I left when Jim arrived, because I did not have time to take the tour. After the jail, my sister and friends were off to Utica to tour the Rutgers Mansions. That’s something I’d love to do next time.