2000 Murder in Monmouth

MURDER IN MONMOUTH! was developed by the Monmouth County Archives with the cooperation of the Monmouth County Historical Association (MCHA). A version of the exhibit was on display in 2000-2001 the lower level of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan. A grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission provided partial support for the exhibit.

The original exhibit focused on seven court cases and displays:

original documents
artifacts
newspapers
photographs and other images
explanatory captions

Each case was interpreted with regard to its historical and social context, revealing insights about enduring issues such as gambling, alcoholism, racism, and infidelity. The participants involved represent a cross section of men and women, blacks and whites, immigrants and native-born Americans. The exhibit also included numerous reproductions of portrait photographs of unidentified nineteenth century Monmouth County residents; these portraits served as a symbolic jury or Greek chorus, watching the drama unfold.

For information about the seven cases, follow the links below:

JAMES P. DONNELLY

DEFENDANT James P. Donnelly
VICTIM Albert S. Moses
WHEN August 1, 1857
WHERE Sea View House, Highlands
WEAPON Knife
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Gambling/Prejudice against Irish Catholics
VERDICT Guilty
SENTENCE Executed, January 8, 1858

Donnelly, a surgery student at New York University, took a summer job as a bookkeeper at a Jersey shore hotel near Twin Lights. After a guest entrusted $100 to him, Donnelly lost half of it playing cards with a temporary bartender, 18-year-old Albert Moses. At dawn the next day, Moses, suffering from a stab in the neck, named Donnelly as his attacker before he died. Donnelly, who had reported the crime to the hotel operator, maintained his innocence, although he behaved rather curiously — running out of the hotel, dumping a wad of counterfeit bills, and running down to the river (presumably to dispose of the weapon). He then returned to the hotel, where he reluctantly was recruited in the unsuccessful effort to treat Moses. Donnelly had many supporters, with whose help he escaped after his conviction. But the getaway horse wasn’t waiting as planned and he was caught trying to walk to Keyport, where a fast boat awaited him. After Governor Newell, suspected of anti-Irish sentiments, resisted pleas for sentence reduction, Donnelly was hung in front of the courthouse, where a huge crowd heard him speak eloquently about his innocence for over two hours.

PETER SLOCUM

DEFENDANT Peter Slocum
VICTIM Abigail Chasey Slocum
WHEN July 14, 1863
WHERE Mechanicsville (W. Long Branch)
WEAPON Shotgun
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Infidelity
VERDICT Guilty
SENTENCE Executed November 27, 1863

Peter and Abigail Slocum had been married for twelve years and had four children when Abigail was shot in the eye with a shotgun while she slept in her bed. Her oldest child, eight-year-old Louis, who made the grisly discovery, told neighbors that his father had been at the house with two men during the night. Slocum had been staying at a large hotel in Long Branch, the Bath House, where he worked. Witnesses testified that Slocum had been arguing with his wife and had formed a romantic relationship with Abigail’s sister, Alcine Chasey, who had been living with the Slocums until two weeks before the murder. Without an adequate alibi, Slocum was convicted in an eight-day trial in which Attorney General Frederick Frelinghuysen served as Prosecutor. Slocum was executed in a public hanging before a huge crowd in front of the Court House. In his final remarks on the scaffold, he said, “You have all come here to see a guilty man hanged, but you were never so mistaken in your lives.” The other two men, Gerard Pierce and Johnny Vandyke, were never prosecuted.

THE MURDER OF GILBERT PERRINE

DEFENDANTS Murder: David Oliphant, Martin Carney, Charles Fleming, Thomas Mahar, and William Murdock
Riot: David Oliphant, Martin Carney, Charles Fleming, Thomas Mahar, William Murdock, and Thomas Scanlon
Assault and Battery: William Murdock
VICTIM Gilbert Perrine
WHEN November 4, 1865
WHERE Downtown Freehold
WEAPON Knife
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Street fight over politics, voting rights, and Civil War service
VERDICT Carney, Mahar, Murdock and Scanlon convicted of unlawful assembly
SENTENCE Carney and Murdock: three months
Mahar and Scanlon: two months

Gilbert Perrine, a young miller from Englishtown with a wife and several children, came to Freehold for a political meeting in connection with the forthcoming election and stopped in a number of bars for drinks. One was Frey’s Saloon near the Court House, where Thomas Scanlon, who was playing dominoes, shooting pool, and drinking beer, got into a fight with some other men about whether African Americans should have the right to vote, over service in the Civil War, and other controversial topics. Martin Carney punched Scanlon, who was thrown out of the bar and chased by men around the downtown streets. Later, Scanlon joined Perrine and John Brown. They were attacked by a large group of men, including Civil War veteran David Oliphant, who came from a prominent Monmouth family. Brown was knocked unconscious by a kick in the head, probably by William Murdock. Perrine was stabbed in the chest and died. Police found a bloody knife in Oliphant’s possession; he was found not guilty in a separate trial. The other defendants were acquitted of murder several months later.

MARY GANLEY

DEFENDANT Mary Ganley
VICTIM Michael Ganley
WHEN November 1-2, 1875
WHERE Marlboro
WEAPON Club
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Domestic Dispute/Drunken Brawl
VERDICT Guilty (second degree)
SENTENCE 15 Years in State Prison

Michael and Mary Ganley were Irish immigrants like many of their neighbors. Married for 22 years, they lived alone on an 18 acre farm on the border between Freehold and Marlboro townships, very near Vanderveer’s applejack distillery, where Michael worked to supplement the family’s income. By 1875, Michael was an alcoholic and Mary also drank heavily. On November 1, election eve, Michael spent the day out in the street cursing both the Democratic and Republican candidates. After he returned home with a bottle that night, neighbors heard him cry out, “You are going to kill me before morning.” Later, Mary went to neighbors and said that Michael had cut himself in the forehead while shaving to get ready to go vote and had fallen against the stove. When a neighbor came to the house, Michael said, “I am killed,” and died. There was blood all over the house and a large stick was found near the body with the victim’s hair and blood. Mary never admitted the crime, so its cause is unknown. In her defense, she testified that she tried to limit her husband to three drinks a day.

THE MURDER OF MINGO JACK

DEFENDANTS Joseph Anderson, Frank Dangler, Edward H. Johnson, William Kelly,
Tom Little, George Sickles, and William Snedeker
VICTIM Samuel Johnson (Mingo Jack)
WHEN March 5, 1886
WHERE Eatontown Jail
WEAPON Two clubs
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Lynching for alleged rape of Angelina Herbert
VERDICT not indicted; case dropped

While walking on an isolated path in the woods near Eatontown, Angelina Herbert, a twenty-four-year old white woman, was hit over the head from behind and raped by an African American male, whom Angelina thought was Mingo Jack. Mingo, whose real name was Samuel Johnson, lived a half a mile from the Herbert family. He was a sixty-six year old ex-jockey, nicknamed after a horse he had ridden at Monmouth Park, where he still worked. Mingo was soon arrested by Constable Herman Liebenthal and taken to the tiny lockup in Eatontown. Around midnight, after a considerable amount of drinking in local saloons, a large crowd of men broke into the jail. Mingo put up a terrific fight but he was severely beaten and hung by the neck in the doorway of the jail. A code of silence impeded the investigation of the lynching. Four suspects were released on bail; two others escaped before arrest. It later became clear that Mingo didn’t fit the description of Angelina’s attacker. The case is considered the only lynching in New Jersey after the American Revolution.

LOUIS HARRIOTT

DEFENDANT Louis Harriott
VICTIM Annie Leonard
WHEN November 27, 1891
WHERE Atlantic Highlands
WEAPON Rope
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Mental Illness
VERDICT Guilty
SENTENCE Executed April 15, 1892

Two weeks after going to work for Charles T. Leonard, a prosperous farmer near Atlantic Highlands, Louis Harriott, a young laborer from Alsace-Lorraine, went into the farmhouse. He threatened Mrs. Leonard, “Madam, I want my money or I kill you.” A struggle ensued, Annie Leonard screamed out the window, and Harriott hit her in the head with a heavy piece of iron to keep her quiet. He then tied a rope around her neck, dragged her into an unused room, got his clothes, and ran away. Annie Leonard died of strangulation before she was found by her family several hours later. Harriott, the obvious suspect, was soon captured on a steamboat before he could escape to New York. According to his mother and others, he had a long history of mad rages, insomnia, and hallucinations. Harriott pleaded insanity and gave a detailed account of the murder on the witness stand. The jury took only twenty minutes to find him guilty. Hung in a corridor of the jail before 38 witnesses, Harriott died by strangulation in seventeen minutes, a fate many at the time considered appropriate.

WILLIAM BULLOCK

DEFENDANT William Bullock
VICTIM James Walsh, Constable
WHEN November 13, 1899
WHERE Red Bank
WEAPON Revolver
MOTIVE/CONTEXT Resisting Arrest/Racial Tensions
VERDICT (3) Guilty, Hung Jury, Guilty
SENTENCE Death (died in Virginia, December 8, 1900, six months after escape)

An African American businessman with a young wife and child, Bullock came home to find James Walsh, a white constable, waiting to take him to jail “dead or alive” for a disputed $6 debt and for ripping the cushion on a buggy (a charge Bullock also denied). Walsh refused to accompany Bullock to a judge to get bail and Bullock outdrew and shot him when the officer reached for his gun. Arrested later that day in South Amboy, Bullock confessed after being threatened with lynching by a rope-equipped mob that came to his jail cell. Tried three times by all-white juries and sentenced to hang twice, he escaped before his fourth trial by digging a tunnel under his bed and making his way to Virginia, where he was shot by bounty hunters. He died from an untreated shotgun wound to the hip while Monmouth officers were in Richmond getting extradition papers. His death was probably a relief to county authorities because, whether Bullock was hung or not, the racially overtoned case had become a political liability.