In Christopher Jon Luke Dowgin’s latest book Murder on the Common, we follow everyone’s favorite immortal, Henry Sinclair, as he tries to solve the murder of Joseph White. This murder influenced the game Clue. In the video, Chris explains the true story of the most infamous murder of the nineteenth century. Consequently, a murder that reached the highest ranks within our national politics. One that involved a Supreme Court Justice, the most powerful Senator at the time, and the man who controlled our national bank. Likewise, it inspired many creative endeavors.
The Murder that Influenced The Tell Tale-Heart
The story of a man driven mad by a dead eye was influenced by the ship captain Joseph White’s murder, Salem’s first privateer. Edgar Allan Poe was familiar, along with the rest of the nation, of this murder in Salem. It created the fodder for one of his most famous works. It inspired others as well. For instance, the Parker Brothers would be inspired to change the game Cluedo. They modeled Clue after this murder. Why? You just have to watch the video to find out.
The Locations behind the Murder that Influenced the Game Clue
Follow Chris as he tours Salem and brings you to the locations involved in the murder and the game Clue. Just hit play and enjoy!
Baltimore was a popular travel location while I was a kid. My family stayed in the Inner Harbor several times throughout the years. We would go to the malls and get to our favorite Jelly Beans (root beer, green apple, and cinnamon) from the wall dispensers before Jelly Belly took over the market, fresh roasted cashews, and fudge. There were great shows at the Maryland Science Center to see and I got to see my first person standing on the soapbox claiming the world was going to end in front of the World Trade Center. We even got to stay in the same hotel as the band Krokus…
So I went back. Instead of staying in the Inner Harbor area I got a room in the Cloudbunk hostel in the Charles Neighborhood for a mere $24 a night. The room I shared with 5 others. One of which just showed up once a day just to step in the room and step back out. One was traveling, one was looking for an apartment, and one was here for work. The last just woke us all up in the middle of the night confused about the process. It was in a row house with three floors with their own bathrooms. On the main floor was a large TV and couch, a communal table, and an eat-in kitchen in which we shared foods donated by local companies. The front door locked after 8pm, but there was a back door with a code open 24hrs. Most of the people who gather in these hostels are out looking to meet new people and experiences. Few of us traveled to one of the many art museums in the city together.
The thing I found interesting was behind the building was an alley that ran parallel to the street. It was the service corridor where the garbage was put out and the garages were kept for each building. I grew up with a similar alley in behind my house, but it was cut out in the 20s and left to become overgrown by the time they started building houses in the neighborhood in the 70s with only deer traveling through it. Joseph Parisi, a mobster who controlled the garbage for NYC, had plans to develop a new city within the NJ Pines at the intersection of three railroad lines. Similar to Baltimore, but he only sold a few houses after cutting out all of the roads. One was to a nudist colony.
So when you return to a strange town, you search out the familiar. So I started out with in the Inner Harbor. Across the harbor, I had seen the old Federal Hill fort that reminded me of Fort Pickering in Salem MA. A fort built on Smith Hill during the Civil War. From where I was standing looking at the fort was the USS Constellation. She was commissioned during the war to help the British attack slave ships leaving Africa to the Confederate states. Up to the point that Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation the British were hemming and hawing which side to support. Prior Laird’s shipyard was producing screw-sloops for the South, one of which, the CSS Alabama, escaped before George Peabody bribed the English Prime Minister to stop the delivery of the other two to the South. Which is strange since he was profiting from the sales of southern cotton from Baltimore to acquire armaments for the South. The Constellation and Alabama both sailed the waters around Africa.
Then believe it or not, behind me was this sea monster. Next to it was Bubba Shrimp which pumped out out brine and the smell of fresh fish at all hours of the night. I was looking for Forrest to run by…In the same building up to three years ago was the Fudgery. As a kid I got to see it’s opening year watching these singing and dancing fudge chefs bring joy to large crowds singing ‘time to make the fudge’ and handing out free samples all day. The dancing security guard Terry told me of their demise over a dropped bologna sandwich. I got to meet him and his friend, Manuel, after I got done playing some flute in front of the Constellation. The band Dru Hill started at the Fudgery and I missed out hearing them and all the other staff at the Fudgery.
Then I walked to my right a little toward the Maryland Science Center. A top-notch science museum where I saw a movie prop show years ago with an animated full-size King Kong head and a Ripley model in a cargo lifting exoskeleton fighting the Alien. That night it was closed so I only got to see this monster in the window. So I ventured on and seen the coolest Barnes and Noble, the World Trade Center (without the doomsday preacher), the Domino Sugar plant lit up, and a beached lighthouse. Probably the coolest thing I found was my own dragon ship fleet. What good is a Viking without his own dragon ship fleet?
The next day I walked around Fellspoint historic district with its railroad tracks and sets. Cobblestones are round and sets are square… In this neighborhood, I had seen many signs of possible smuggling tunnels. Many service entrances and basement dwellings could of been converted sections of the tunnels in the city. George Peabody from Salem frequented this area and he utilized the tunnels in every city in which he lived in. He was a friend of Alexander Bown of Brown’s Wharf in which I passed. The Horse You Rode In On, the oldest tavern in the country seemed to have signs of tunnels out front. Its location has been a tavern since 1775 and was the last bar Edgar Allan Poe drank in on the night he died. For something a little more spicy, but safer I headed to the Saffron Grill for a mix of Yemeni and Pakistani food. They had the best lamb shawarma Sandwich with a nan wrap which was head and shoulders above any other traditional wrap I ever had. Plus I found Sound Garden celebrating 25 years filled with some really cool choices of music with new and used vinyl. Many musicians played here including Motorhead!
Then as I walked further along the waterfront I found a statue of Frederick Douglass and realized I had walked through his old neighborhood. Douglass left Baltimore for Lynn MA where he ventured to Salem from and met the Remonds who taught him how to speak on the abolitionist circuit. Sarah, the sister, probably gave him his signature haircut. The brother Charles, she coifed his style as well. I also found some homes with exterior chimneys. Exterior chimneys allow easier access for tunnels to enter the basements without any flashing problems and creates a draw system to bring fresh air into the tunnels. Plus I found some very nice views.
As I headed back to the Inner Harbor I passed the National Aquarium and its dolphins. Continuing on I had seen the harbor’s several attempts to create mini wetlands and other ways to clean the water. One was this snail that picked out the garbage of the river as the tide went out.
Then I headed back to the Cloudbunks for a good night’s sleep and took a picture of the garage behind the shelter. Then I left that morning for Frederick, MD, but I need to come back and enjoy the live music scene, the art museums, Poe’s House, and much more. So I might just be continuing my tradition of visiting this city for years to come.
Now here is the video of me playing the flute in front of the USS Constellation:
Welcome to the Salem Tunnel Report. Every Monday we will post new and old tunnel finds along with those who built them. In our posts you will learn how Salem has shaped American history from the profits of the smuggling that happened in these tunnels; sometimes for the good, but more often not.
Gardner Pingree House 128 Essex Street
Built in 1804-1805 for John Gardner Jr. by Samuel McIntire. Jeremiah Page provided bricks, David Robbins was the mason, Joseph Fogg the lumber, Epes Cogswell was housewright, and William Luscoomb III painter. Gardner had owned 6 ships. All but 2 had different captains and co-owners. He never captained any of his ships. The only economic venture he went on twice with anyone was with his relative Simon Gardner who had owned two ships with him and captained both.
Next door was the site of the Captain Joseph Gardner home where the Plummer Hall now stands that houses the Essex Institute. The Captain was killed by Narragansets in 1675 at the Great Swamp Fight. At the Captain’s death his wife Anne inherited her father’s Emmanuel Downing’s house which was west of Plummer Hall and married Gov. Simon Bradstreet and lived there. This house was torn down in 1750 and Francis Peabody built his mansion. This book was written across the street from where the first American poet wrote her books, Anne Bradstreet.
In 1811 John Gardner Jr. ran into financial problems and sold the house to Nathaniel West. Could he have received a bribe from Russell Sturgis as well? Nathaniel West was a captain who owned many ships with Nehemiah Andrews, Crowninshields, Derbys, Benjamin Pickman, and Francis Boardman. Nathaniel West bought the John Turner mansion, next to the Peter Palfrey House to the right, opposite Central Street in 1833 and opened it as a tavern called “The Mansion house” in time for President Andrew Jackson’s visit. Later it would be called the “West Block”. Nathaniel West sold the Gardner-Pingree House three years later to Captain Joseph White. He was murdered in this house.
“It’s raining, it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed bumped his head,
and he couldn’t get up in the morning.”
Captain Joseph White who bought the Come Along Patty from Elias Haskett Derby with the Cabot brothers and renamed it the Revenge became the first privateer from Salem. He was in the slave trade. He was heavily invested in The Second National Bank of the United States. He had questionable feelings towards a young niece who lived with him. He hated the man whom she would marry and made a fortune of $3 million dollars before 1830, which he was not going to give her any. In the winter of 1829-1830 Captain Joseph White was feeling ill and had his lawyer Joseph Waters draft him a new will. In 1830 someone snuck through the tunnel and murdered him.
This murder would inspire Edgar Allen Poe’s to write the Tell Tale Heart. It is reminiscent of Agatha Christies’s Murder on the Oriental Express. The intrigue of the murder and the sudden death of Judge Parker might of led Parker Brothers to buy the U.S. rights to the 1949 Cluedo/Clue game because it reminded them of the strange tale that happened in this Salem house! I wonder if it was a literature fan who moved the Crowninshield-Bentley House to the right from its old home in the Hawthorne Hotel’s parking lot. That house was in H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Thing on the Doorstep. Also Rev. Bentley wrote his memoirs of Salem in the Crowninshield-Bentley House.
Captain Joseph White was not kind to his relations that had worked for him in his house. He only showed a special form of kindness to his young attractive niece. The announcement of her engagement to a captain that was just released from Joseph Jr. & Stephen White Co.’s employment just sent him into a furor.
At 82 he has been abandoned by his niece for 3 years and is ill during a hard winter. His favorite nephew has been dead for some years but his brother is still at the old captain’s side. Was Stephen jealous of the attention his uncle gave to his female cousin or the attention she deprived him? Did Stephen foster some hatred towards his uncle for favoring his dead brother over him? Did the old Captain plan a mercy killing that would blame the Knapps and Crowninshields of murder to remedy the capture of a ship he once owned and a public insult? Remember Joseph J. Knapp Jr. was born the same year his father had lost the captain’s baby the ship Revenge.
We will not know, but we do know who ever snuck into to kill the old man knew of the tunnels. The tunnels connect the White/Story compound to the old man’s mansion. The old man bankrolled Joseph Jr. & Stephen White Co. and the construction of his nephews houses with the tunnels attached to them. I have been in the White brothers homes and seen the sealed up entrances to the tunnels and I have friends who have played in the tunnels attached to Judge Story’s House.
Many secrets in Salem!
For more read info Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and its sequel Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press. Available at Barnes & Noble, Remember Salem, The Witch House, Jolie Tea, and Amazon.com.
Slam Dancing, Sword Fighting, Keystone Cops, and Painting…
For twenty years I have been dancing and painting behind live bands. What I have found out is throughout the performance the audience are creating in their minds several images before I finish. They end up doing far more work than I do. Before I am done they have created 20 separate paintings in their mind for every time they look back and pay attention to what I am making they create in their mind another image of what the finished piece will look like. Even after I am done, their different experiences and attitudes still interprets my finished piece different than my intention. Which is Awesome. The painting takes a life of its own after I give birth of to it. Paintings take their own life like children do and then you let them go.
I have done this in nightclubs on small easels, large chalkboards, and large canvases. Other times the venue could be in public parks and at music festivals. I have inspired someone in New Orleans to make a living painting large murals as he runs on scaffolding in a jazz club. Sometimes I get the next generation of artist to come up and paint these canvases with me. The youngest being 3 years old.
Dance Painting is great. I get to dance back and forth to the music and apply the paint as I go. Is it more dancing or painting, who is to say but it is definitely gestural… At times I have straight men or women paint with me. Once I had a model in a bikini pose for me. For two hours I would not let her move or almost breathe. What the audience had seen which she couldn’t was I was drawing stick figures which had nothing to do with her. Than at the end of the performance I painted her head to toe. Her boyfriend thank me the net day and I have heard she still treasures the shorts I painted her in to this day 20 years later. I also had another person I painted with who I shared the canvas with. We slammed dance and wrestled to get space on the canvas, painted each other, slapped one another with brushes, dropped kick a corned beef and cabbage at each other, and painted over each others’ work.
It has been a fun time. Keeping look in different venues and parks this summer, you might just see me there. Plus I am still hoping for someone to catch me painting and dancing at the same time in these picture. But for now, I can only hope…