The Body in the Reservoir
Murder and Sensationalism in the South
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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I have received scholarly, technical, financial, professional, and even emotional assistance at every turn in the road of this project. As much as it is my work, this book is also the product of the ferment I found among my colleagues in Chapel Hill and my colleagues in the Chapterhouse Beer and History writing group in Ithaca. ...
Introduction — Discovering the Body
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From his nearby office, the keeper of the old reservoir walked briskly to its southeastern stairs, mounting the twenty-foot embankment that stood like a fort at the western edge of Richmond, Virginia. As on every other morning, Lysander Rose made a circuit of the reservoir from the top of the levee surrounding this artificial lake. ...
1. The Origins of Virginia Crime Sensationalism
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On 18 July 1766, “Dikephilos” (lover of justice) wrote a “candid narration” to the Virginia Gazette, which he hoped would “open the eyes of some well meaning men” to the murder of Robert Routlidge by John Chiswell in a Prince Edward County tavern the month before. The letter described how the two erstwhile friends exchanged insults while their acquaintances tried to separate them. ...
2. Sensational Crime Comes of Age: The Cluverius Case of 1885
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Awakening this “feverish, abnormal feeling” in Richmond in the spring of 1885 was the discovery of Lillian Madison’s body in the reservoir. Days later, Thomas Cluverius sat in jail, facing a capital charge for her murder. But the case against Cluverius rested upon circumstantial evidence, and many questioned whether he would be convicted. ...
3. The Disenchantment of Sensational Murder
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It was a very hot evening on 18 July 1911, when Henry Clay Beattie Jr., his wife Louise, and their infant son visited Louise’s aunt and uncle just to the south of Richmond. After dinner, the couple left their five-week-old baby in the care of their relatives and went for a cooling drive west on Midlothian Turnpike into the country. ...
4. African American Sensations: Jim Crow Justice and the Richmond Planet
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On 14 June 1895, an aging white farmer, Edward Pollard, returned from his fields to find the body of his wife, Lucy, outside their home in Lunenburg County, Virginia, southwest of Richmond. She had been hewn repeatedly with an ax, and more than eight hundred dollars was missing from the Pollard home. ...
5. Images of Murder: The Visual Revolution of the Halftone
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The murder of Lillian Madison in 1885 spawned dozens of engravings in the regional press and drew crowds to the courtrooms, jail, and police station. Everyone was interested in discovering what a criminal like Thomas Cluverius looked like. This included police officers: ...
6. The Public Suspense Is Over
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Well before the 1886 Christmas holidays, the Richmond Dispatch and other papers again carried daily front-page articles about Thomas Cluverius. In June of 1885, the local hustings court had convicted the prisoner of Lillian Madison’s murder, and in recent months, the Virginia Supreme Court rendered a four-to-one decision against his appeal. ...
Epilogue — Mass Culture’s Search for Disorder
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After the discovery of Lillian Madison’s body in the Richmond reservoir in March of 1885, thousands came to look at the yet-unidentified corpse as it lay in the nearby almshouse. A few days later, she was laid to rest in Oakwood cemetery, her unmarked grave strewn with flowers and an occasional poem, which local newspapers obligingly reprinted. ...
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Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 16 illus.
Publication Year: 2008