MOUNT VERNON — Two of the grislier yet undeniably fascinating episodes in the history of crime in Knox County will be described in bone-chilling detail at the next Brown Bag Chat, Wednesday, at noon at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Library director John Chidester will entertain visitors with his documentary storytelling presentation, “Two Murders, One Hanging.”
Mount Vernon has had its share of sensational crime stories over the last two centuries. One of them, in 1877, involved a Civil War veteran who had survived both the Civil War and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (by missing it when Custer sent him to deliver a message to a nearby military outpost), only to become the first and only person to be hanged for murder in Knox County.
Another took place in 1905 when a maid, Marinda Bricker, was raped and strangled to death on the grounds of the Fairchild family household — a lavish estate on East Gambier Street known as Maplehurst — where she was employed. Ironically, the popular sheriff, James Shellenbarger, who investigated the case, would not live to see the end of that year, as he himself would fall victim to yet another murder after he was shot while intervening in a domestic violence incident.
Library director John Chidester will share the unsettling and grisly details of these two astonishing cases with the aid of contemporary newspaper reports, coroner’s reports, sketches, photographs and one hauntingly authentic artifact — an actual ticket to the hanging of Will Bergin, the Civil War vet who met his unique fate on the gallows in the courtyard of the Knox County Jail.
Brown Bag Chats are presented in the basement multipurpose room at the main branch of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, 201 N. Mulberry St., Mount Vernon, on Wednesdays at noon. The sessions are free and open to all. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch and light refreshments are also served.