A podcast version of a Blackcat Book Club installment where I review a book about the 1914 Jean Gianini murder case where one of the first schoolteacher murders in American history took place.
It was just a typical July night in 2005 when I first learned of one of the most famous murder cases in New York State history.
Over the years, many people claimed to have seen Grace’s ghost on Big Moose Lake which was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteriesin 1996. Some claim that she was sighted in South Otselic as well as some claims that she was sighted in Herkimer, most notably in the 1834 Jail near Chester’s cell. How is that possible? Grace never saw Herkimer while she was alive. The answer to this would be something that I have learned about ghosts and that is if there is a place or event that has anything to do with them, then there is a good chance that their presence would be felt. For all we know, Grace’s ghost could have even witnessed Chester’s trial. Something to think about.
And for my second post of the day, I am going to add some of my projects from my Digital Photography class from this past semester at Herkimer College so that you get to see my growing skills with Photoshop. So I hope you will enjoy them.
For starters, I originally uploaded this Q & A vlog to YouTube two weeks ago but I’ve been busy preparing for the new semester at HCCC that I forgot about it. So I have finally uploaded it to Blip today since I sort of found myself with only a half a day today since my teacher for two of my classes was absent today. Before I start asking the questions for this Q & A segment, I just want to let you know that so far the new semester at HCCC is going good. I have four classes this semester: Writing for Electronic Media, Applied Media Asthetics (formerly known as Video Production,) Voice and Diction, and another gym class where I get to use the Fitness Center again.
Now at least three of those classes should be easycakes for a guy who has spent the last few years involved with YouTube and the Internet but another concern has surfaced: How to get through the courses without pulling the YouTube card a little too much. I will admit that my YouTube and Internet skills got me through my first year pretty good. Well, good enough to make the Dean’s List twice. Now, the stakes are higher and it’s time to deliver yet again. I do have some high hopes for this semester and I might be able to score higher this time since I am learning stuff I already know.
So this Q & A vlog will be my last hurrah as far as the Q & A’s go. So without further ado, here we go.
Q: What is your morning routine?
A: Don’t really have a morning routine being I’m kinda nocturnal. Usually it’s just go to work. On weekends when I’m up during the day, I just do whatever.
Q: Funnyordie.com sent this one to me. Want to see why cats and Rihanna are the best?
A: I can agree with you on the cats’ part, but Rihanna? She’s hot but at least the cats didn’t appear in Battleship, lol.
Q: Do you doodle, paint or sculpt?
A: Not really. Not very good at it.
Q: Do you like motorcycles?
A: Yeah, I like motorcycles.
Q: And here’s another one from Funny or Die. Selena Gomez falls in love with a mysterious painter in a new video (that they posted on their site) What do you think about it?
A: As long as it’s a real man, it’s all good. 😉 And yes, folks. That was an obvious swipe at Justin Beiber.
Q: Are you usually early, late, or right on time?
A: It varies, but usually I’m on time.
Q: What websites do you visit daily?
A: Facebook, YouTube, Blip, Formspring, and my blog among other sites.
Q: This one’s not really a question but I’m gonna add it anyway. The doctors proved that while you are kissing, you’re actually losing calories. In a average kiss which lasts 3 minutes you lose 12 calories, that means that if you are about to eat a piece of chocolate cake you’ll have to kiss for one hour and 45 minutes.
A: Wow, I didn’t know that. Thanks for the information.
Q: Spider-Man, Batman or Superman?
A: Spider-Man all the way! Batman’s a very close second. Never really got into Superman outside of the movies or TV. I thought the comics were boring and he is pretty much the ultimate nice guy, which makes him more or less unrelatable .
Q: And yet here’s another one from Funny or Die. Check out 10 of the Greatest Yearbook Moments! Which is your favorite? And if you want to actually see the article, I’ll post the link right here for you: .
A: I like the random dog class photo in the yearbook as well as the Mrs. Rape kindergarten photo. I am not making this up. There really is a pic of a teacher with that name. Don’t believe me? Click the link above and see for yourself. Moving right along, I also like the attitude of the kid that said he would take a bullet for his best friend unless he had a hot girlfriend, which is also what I would do. The kid that used the Kim Jong Il quote however is sick.
Q: What’s up with all the ticklish feet questions on Formspring?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Do you prefer to listen to full albums or random songs?
A: Depends on the band and the album. If I just like the one song, I’d rather listen to that and download it than just buy the full album.
Q: Where did you get the shoes you’re wearing?
A: Uh, I bought them at Walmart on clearance… almost a year ago. lol. And no, I’m not gonna take a pic of them.
Q: What is the most important political issue of this election?
A: Right now it looks like a toss-up between the economy and gay marriage.
Q: Who is one of your favorite authors?
A: Stephen King.
Q: Do you like looking in the mirror?
A: Well I’m not vain if that’s what you’re asking.
Q: If you could be any video game character, which character would you be?
A: Max Payne so I use the cool Matrix effects to dodge obstacles.
Q: What’s your favorite romance movie?
A: Romance movies are not really my thing, me being a guy and all but I would have to go with Titanic.
Q: Do you have good vision?
Q: Do you prefer Batman Begins or The Dark Knight?
A: The Dark Knight. But then again I’d take both over Batman and Robin. Then again, I actually liked The Dark Knight Rises over The Dark Knight.
Q: Would you rather go to a pub/bar or a nightclub?
A: Either one as long as they got hot chicks.
Q: Who was the first celebrity you had a crush on?
A: I’d probably have to go with Madonna on this one.
Q: The Simpsons or Futurama?
A: The Simpsons.
Q: The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love. Is it true?
A: Depends on your point of view. But in my opinion independence is more important.
Q: Have you ever seen a ghost?
A: No I have not seen a ghost despite the fact that I have been in haunted places before, like the 1834 Herkimer County Jail here in H-.town. One ghost I was actually hoping to look for was the ghost of Grace Brown up at Big Moose Lake. Her murder up at the lake inspired the classic novel “An American Tragedy” and the film “A Place in the Sun.”
Q: Do you have a dreamcatcher?
Q: Would you rather watch a movie or watch TV?
A: Watch a movie.
Q: Do you need glasses?
Q: Which instrument do you wish you could play?
A: Electric guitar.
Q: Going to a wedding soon?
A: Haven’t been to a wedding and I’m not really planning on going to any in the near future.
Q: Do you wear watches? Why or why not?
A: Not really. My phone’s sort of taken the place of my watch.
Q: Have you been to your country’s capital?
A: Yes. I went to Washington, DC for my 8th grade class trip and that was waaaay back in 1993. We were there for three days.
Q: Are you good at keeping secrets?
A: Depends on what the secret is.
Q: How do you flirt?
A: On the Interwebs.
Q: Is it possible to fly on a violin?
A: Not that I’m aware of.
Q: Do you ever write notes on your hands?
Q: How many pillows do you sleep with?
Q: How many boyfriends/girlfriends have you had?
A: Let’s just say I can count the number of girlfriends on one hand and leave at that, okay?
Q: Describe the worst fart ever.
A: It would probably be like a nuclear explosion, especially if you light a match.
Q: How do you handle a boring class/day of work?
A: One day at a time. Actually, I just work on material for videos.
Q: What game are you the best at pwning face at?
A: Super Mario Bros. 1-3.
Q: Who’s your favorite athlete?
A: Michael Jordan.
Q: Are you looking forward to the Olympics?
A: Well the Olympics have come and gone and the only reason I have to watch the Olympics is to look at all the hot female athletes so you could say that I was pretty excited to see the Olympics.
Q: Who do you consider to be the greatest action star of all time? If it’s too hard, choose 3.
A: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford
Q: What do you use for your alarm to awaken you?
A: An alarm clock although at times it can be unreliable. Other times, I use my phone.
Q: Do you say soda or pop?
Q: Do you like Quentin Tarantino’s work?
A: Yeah, I like Quentin Tarantino. Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not sure yet if I want to see Django Unchained (mainly because it’s about slavery) even though I heard that Leo is supposed to be good in that as the evil slave owner. But other than that and the fact that I haven’t seen either Jackie Brown or Reservoir Dogs, I think Tarantino’s one of the awesomest directors ever.
And now let’s move on to the Meetme questions, even though there’s only two of them.
Q: How old do you think you’ll be when you get married?
A: Not getting married even if I do find someone.
Q: Are you single and would you date anybody you meet online?
A: Yeah, I’m single and maybe I’ll date someone I meet online.
And there you go, that is it for the Q & A’s for now while I am at college. That will at least buy me some time to get some more material in case I do more Q & A’s after the semester’s over. In the meantime, TAOB will continue and the movie reviews will continue. So here’s to the new semester.
On the morning of February 28, 1887, a crowd gathered in front of the Herkimer County Jail in Herkimer, New York to witness what would be Herkimer County’s first and only execution. The person scheduled to die by hanging that morning was Roxalana Druse, a forty-four year old woman charged with the first-degree murder of her husband, William Druse of the Town of Warren. The witnesses watched as Roxalana, escorted by her spiritual adviser, the Reverend Dr. George Powell, Sheriff Delavan Cook, and Undersheriff A.M. Rice walked to the gallows that were set up behind the jail.
Roxalana, or Roxy as she is known to local residents, originally hailed from Sangerfield who met her future husband, William Druse on a hop-picking trip. William, a farmer who was eighteen years her senior, married Roxy in 1864. They had two kids, a daughter named Mary and a son named George. Roxy later commented that the only time that her husband was considered a “decent man” was on their wedding day, for what followed after that was twenty years of abuse, pain, anguish and ultimately murder.
The Druse farm was located in the town of Warren near the town of Richfield Springs on the Herkimer/Otsego county line. This area had what was described as poor farmland. The family was in debt and not very highly thought of. William was reported to be an ill-tempered, abusive, eccentric and lazy individual whose ideas of “quality family time” included beating Roxy with a horsewhip; choking her; threatening to kill her; and chasing her with whatever object he could find as long as it could be used to kill someone.
On the morning of December 18, 1884, William Druse was reported to be yelling at Roxy for something and reportedly threatened her with an axe. She told the kids to get out quickly. Then a gunshot rang out. The kids next heard their mother call out to Frank Gates, who worked on the farm to shoot someone. He complied and finally the kids witnessed Roxy severing their father’s head with the same axe that he threatened her with.
What happened to the body next was and still is debated to this day. It was reported that Roxy attempted to burn the body in the parlor stove which emitted black smoke from the chimney which could be seen by neighbors in the surrounding areas. There was also an age-old myth that Roxy tried to feed her husband’s remains to the pigs outside but it was only a myth, for no testimony in her trial later on stated that there was any evidence that animals got a hold of the body.
For nearly three weeks as the holidays came and went, no one really noticed that anything was amiss at the Druse home. Roxy told curious neighbors that her husband was in New York City, until finally one of them found an axe in a mill pond just north of Richfield Springs. By the end of January 1885, the entire Druse family was in the county jail charged with first-degree murder.
Roxy’s trial began on September 24, 1885 and lasted only two weeks. Her defense attorney used the defense that Roxy killed her husband in self-defense, citing Roxy’s history of abuse at the hands of her husband. However, the prosecution’s case proved to be too strong and probably the evidence that condemned Roxy was the forensic evidence that included her husband’s bone fragments and a blood-stained floor board that was extracted from the house.
At midnight on October 3, Roxy Druse was convicted of first-degree murder and three days later was sentenced to hang. The original date of execution was set for November 25, but the appeals process put the execution on hold. Her daughter Mary pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison (only to be pardoned ten years later) and her son George was released into the custody of a legal guardian.
In addition to the appeals process, outcries from women’s rights groups and religious organizations across America helped to keep the execution on hold. The state legislature even debated about whether or not to pass a law that exempted women from facing the death penalty in capital murder cases. But in the end, the governor decided not to intervene and set Roxy’s execution date for February 28, 1887.
Finally on the proposed date, a mournful Roxy mounted the gallows that were imported to Herkimer from a nearby town as opposed to another myth that Roxy was in fact hung from a hook located in the back of the jail.
“Oh, dear!,” Roxy exclaimed sadly as the deputies put the black hood over her head.
After that, the trap door was sprung and Roxy fell through it. It took her fifteen minutes to strangle to death in what many would have called a “botched execution.” Towards the turn of the century, lawmakers debated about whether or not hanging was actually cruel and unusual punishment and looked for a more “humane” method of capital punishment. In many cases, Roxy’s execution more or less paved the way for the invention of the electric chair three years later.
While Roxy’s case may have been a landmark case mainly because it dealt with such issues as domestic violence, women’s rights and what constitutes as self-defense, the case was soon eclipsed in local and national popularity nearly twenty years later by Chester Gillette’s murder case in 1906. While Chester’s case went on to inspire the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser as well as the 1951 film A Place in the Sun and an opera, Roxy’s case faded into local legend.