No. 461
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 18, 2020

Driven by Delusion

Henry Goodwin entered the office of his partner, Albert Swan, pulled out a revolver and shot him.
November 14, 2011
...
...

(Thanks to Henry-Clement Sanson for the guest post. The former executioner — the last of his illustrious dynasty comprising six generations of bourreaux — was the grandson of that dread figure of the Paris Terror, Charles Henri Sanson. Henry-Clement’s Memoirs of the Sansons: From Private Notes and Documents (1688-1847) describes some famous or infamous executions […]
More...
Executed Today - 2/17/2020

`
"Denver's Oldest Bar" matchbook cover outside cover - A (Click image to enlarge) new addition to my collection A matchbook cover from "Denver’s Oldest Bar" is a new acquisition to my private Soapy Smith collection. Though it is a "modern" item from the 1960s-70s, it has a direct link to Soapy Smith. "Denver’s Oldest Bar" was once controlled by Soapy, under the name, "Tivoli Club,
More...
Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 2/7/2020

"Boston Globe," August 19, 1905, via Newspapers.com The true-crime writer F. Tennyson Jesse suggested that not only are some people "born murderers," others are "born murderees." It is when these two types of people happen to find each other that you get A Situation. It is an interesting theory, but one that tends to fall apart once you study murder cases. For example, it is hard to find
More...
Strange Company - 2/17/2020
Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from …

Continue reading

More...
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 12/29/2019
Every day since Halloween 2007, the blog ExecutedToday.com has posted a story of an execution that took place on that date in history somewhere in the world. While this certainly says something about the human condition over time, it also says something about the determination and thoroughness of the blogger of ExecutedToday.com, who goes by the epithet Headsman. As someone who has scrambled to
More...
Murder By Gaslight - 2/15/2020

Wherever rich New Yorkers built their homes in the 19th century, they also built private stables for their expensive horses and carriages—with upstairs living quarters for a coachman or groom. So when Upper Fifth Avenue along Central Park became the city’s new Millionaire Mile during the Gilded Age, certain Upper East Side blocks to the […]
More...
Ephemeral New York - 2/17/2020
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
More...
Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
He Hit the Pipe | Whipped By Women

Driven by Delusion

Delusions

Lawrence, Mass., August 29, 1885 - Inventor Henry Goodwin visited the Lawrence, Massachusetts, office of his business partner, Albert Swan. The two men spoke quietly for about half an hour, then Goodwin pulled out a revolver and shot Swan in the head, killing him. A crowd of people rushed to the office to see what had happened and Goodwin calmly told them “I have shot him, I meant to do it.” 

With the same calm determination, Goodwin went to the Lawrence police station and turned himself in. When asked why he had killed Swan, Goodwin replied, “I told him a year ago that unless he came to some settlement with me about our matters, I would have his heart’s blood. He has robbed me of my papers and my patents, and when I have undertaken to sell them I could not give a good title. He has robbed me of $40,000. I did it, I meant to do it, and I am here to take the consequences.”

The patents in question were for telephone switches; Henry Goodwin was a gifted inventor in the nascent field of telephony. He had turned to his boyhood friend, and successful businessman, Albert Swan, for help in securing patents for his new inventions. They successfully patented one of his switches but the patent for his greatest invention, a switchboard that could route hundreds of calls through a central location, was lost to the Molecular Telephone Company of New York because Swan did not finish the paperwork on time. As it turned out, Albert Swan had a business interest in the Molecular Telephone Company.

On his attorney’s advice, Henry Goodwin pled temporary insanity. Even before the patent deal, Goodwin had a history of irrational fear that his ideas were being stolen. He left two lucrative contracts in South America because in each case, he believed his employers were stealing his proprietary work. The same thing happened in the Midwest of the United States and by the time he returned to Lawrence his reputation prevented him from working anywhere.

But the jury did not buy it. The bad blood between Goodwin and Swan was well known in Lawrence. Goodwin had admitted to the murder and had admitted to warning Swan a year earlier. That sounded like premeditation and Henry Goodwin was sentenced to life in prison.

Details on this case and about two dozen other historical Massachusetts murders can be found in Murder & Mayhem in Essex County.