Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Tales from a Dedham Graveyard

October 2, 2016

It’s October, and in honor of my favorite holiday I will be featuring stories and pictures from Dedham’s graveyards. Here is a picture of the tomb of Dr.Nathaniel Ames in the Village Avenue burying ground:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ames Family Tomb (now covered)

Ames was a prominenent Dedham citizen and renowned almanac publisher who died in 1764. In the fall of 1775, during the siege of Boston, a young Colonial Army lieutenant named Jabez Fitch visited the grave on one of his many excursions into graveyards and tombs in the Boston area. The following diary entry describing Fitch’s visit should help get you in the Halloween mood:

About 12 O’clock…went into the burying yard, where we found Doctor Ames’ tomb open … We several of us went down into the tomb, opened the old doctor’s coffin and see his corpse. The under jaw was all fallen in, the other part of the bone of the head retained their proper shape, the teeth were whole in the upper jaw, but the whole back and rest of the body, as far as we could see, was covered with a black film or skin, which I suppose to be the winding sheet in which the corpse was buried, being blended with the moisture of the body.

I also observed one of the arms to have fallen off from the body and the bones laying by the side of the coffin. While I was thus in a sort conversing with the dead and viewing those melancholy curiosities, I could not help reflecting that nothing of the philosophy and astronomy which once adorned the mind of that person and made him appear great among his contemporaries, was now to be seen in this state of humiliation and contempt… After sufficiently gratifying our curiosity, we moved on…

Advertisements

New book on Millen Brothers Case

April 4, 2015

 

tommy gun 2

The Millen Brothers/Abraham Faber case is the second most frequently used search term that leads people to this blog (the Sacco and Vanzetti case being #1).

The Millen brothers Murton and Irving, along with pal Abraham Faber robbed the Needham Trust Company in February, 1934 in dramatic fashion, complete with sub-machine gun fire and a daring getaway through town with hostage bank employees standing on the getaway car’s running boards and hanging on for dear life. The gang murdered two Needham policemen, Francis Haddock and Forbes McLeod and escaped with $14,000 in cash.

A new book on this sad chapter in Norfolk County history was released last week, and it is the definitive work on a topic that continues to fascinate locals some 80 years on. Tommy Gun Winter, written by Nathan Gorenstein and published by ForeEdge is a must read.

Gorenstein, who is related to the Millen brothers (he is the great-grandson of William Millen, brother of the Millens’ father Joseph), has written a carefully researched and extremely readable account of the events leading to the robbery, the crime itself, the trial, and the aftermath. The central character in this drama is Murton Millen, who masterminded the short but destructive crime spree of the “gang” and was the actual shooter. Gorenstein explores the psychological and family troubles of Murton which had a profound effect on his life. The other players in the tragedy are fully revealed as well; Murton’s wife Norma, brother Irving, and friend Abe Faber each had troubles of their own, and Gorenstein expertly shows how these troubles drew them to the charismatic personality and destructive power of Murton Millen.

For a quick summary of the crime,  read my previous two-part post, “75 years ago- an execution in Charlestown.” For the ultimate and only guide you’ll need to understand the events of 80 years ago in these parts, read Tommy Gun Winter.

ALSO: Author Nathan Gorenstein will be speaking at the Dedham Historical Society on April 19th, and the Framingham Barnes and Noble on April 20th!

http://www.nathangorenstein.com/