Love historic murder mysteries and ghostly tales… whether real or folklore?

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At Clairitage Press, my writer/attorney friend Karen Dustman publishes history books and a free blog filled with intriguing sites, legendary yarns, and spine-tingling ghost stories from the high Sierra region

Karen loves nothing better than digging out great local history tales. Clairitage debuted with Silver Mountain City: Ghost of the Sierra (the history of a now-empty ghost town — no actual ghosts!) Other books soon followed, including guides to several local cemeteries. Among the most fascinating cemetery tales: a diminutive Welshwoman who foretold her own death.

A recent addition is Markleeville Ghost Tales: thirteen true ghost stories told by locals around Markleeville, a California border town founded in the 1860s.

Karen’s latest newsletter about an 1885 murder http://mailchi.mp/f233cfd49602/the-sarman-murder?e=af46ceff47 caused our paths to cross again. Karen had followed my award-winning book with co-author, artist Elizabeth Williams, The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Cases, because of her abiding interest in crime cases like the 1986 slaying of Jennifer Levin by “Preppie Murderer” Robert Chambers. Our book came to mind again when Karen wrote about the case of Zack Field and Mary Gray.

Adam Uber’s saga (http://blog.clairitage.com/2017/12/01/genoas-hanging-tree/) was another ghost story Karen found riveting. Was it founded on truth? You be the judge. As Uber was hanged (hardly rare in those days), he loudly cursed the merciless lynch mob who strung him up from the hanging tree which stands to this day. And yes, you’ve guessed it: those locals began meeting unfortunate ends.

 

Another story sprang from a lonely tombstone at Gardnerville’s Garden Cemetery proclaiming Murdered It is an enduring mystery and the headstone suggests William Moore, 67, was murdered in 1800 when his tiny cabin was set ablaze. However, some question if he ever even really died. A poor man in poor health, he lived in isolation for 20 years save for his horses and few head of cattle, near the east fork of the Carson River above Horseshoe Bend.

Law enforcement’s initial search of the charred remains came up empty as did locals’ search. On December 26, 1800 Sheriff Brockliss and Judge Dake had another go finding a few small charred pieces of matter that might have been bone. Might.

Dr. Gerdes of Gardnerville, however, pronounced them shards of a human skull. On close examination he found “three small shot” embedded in the bone. The local newspaper promptly dubbed this as “almost positive evidence that William Moore was murdered, and his cabin burned over his body.” Dr. Gerdes opined that the position of the bone might explain why the fragment was charred but the shot hadn’t melted. Read more at http://blog.clairitage.com/2017/12/07/murder-or-was-it/ .

It’s awash with wild details like the rumors that Moore always had kept a human skull in his cabin, “the victim of his rifle in former years.” Soon, a hapless fellow named Indian Mike was placed under a citizen’s arrest for causing his death, yet the savvy jury delivered a not guilty verdict in a matter of hours. So many colorful stories and lives…

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“The Illustrated Courtroom” Named to Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Books of 2014”

best_of_2014_kirkus-image+textMarthaStewartHot on the heels of the excitement about being named as one of the Times Literary Supplements’ “Books of the Year 2014” comes this nod from Kirkus Reviews, known to all authors. My co-author, courtroom artist Elizabeth Williams, and I are very jazzed about both. “The Illustrated Courtroom: 50 Years of Court Art”, which spans trials from Jack Ruby’s and the New York Black Panthers’ to Bernard Madoff and Michael Jackson’s, is available at a special price of $30. Great gift idea, if we do say so ourselves! (Above, Elizabeth Williams’ portrait of Martha Stewart during her trial. Elizabeth spent hours – no, make that days – waiting for Martha to turn her head enough to grab this image, created at warp speed.)