RipperCon Bus Tour

Day to be determined – either Friday or Monday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. 

RipperCon 2018 will feature a bus tour of Baltimore that will include Fort McHenry, birthplace of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and the grave of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. Overall tour leader will be Christopher T. George, UK-born Ripperologist and War of 1812 historian, who though he claims Liverpool, England as his birthplace has in truth lived considerably longer in Baltimore than he ever lived in the city of his birth!

Our tour of Green Mount Cemetery will be led by Bill Emmerich. Among other graves, we will visit the obelisk tomb of the Booth family and the burial places of Baltimore-born notables such as Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, who married Napoleon’s younger brother Jerome, and Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember on the Titanic disaster.

On the way to Fort McHenry, we will swing by Liberty Street where Jack the Ripper suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety was living in a lodging house at the time of the 1900 U.S. Census. Curiously, the building is on the corner of Clay Street, a notorious “red light” district of the day and scene of a disastrous 1873 fire. Even more significant perhaps Tumblety was living within a mile of the residence fellow Irish American James Cardinal Gibbons, to whom Dr. T left $1,000 under an alleged Baltimore will, and $10,000 under a St. Louis will ultimately held to be valid by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The “Home for Fallen Women” on N. Exeter Street in the city to whom the suspect supposedly left $1,000 under Baltimore document got nothing under the will upheld by the high court.

Our tour at Fort McHenry will be led by veteran retired National Park Service Ranger Scott S. Sheads. Sheads is an expert on fort history including its roles both during the War of 1812 and the Civil War.

During the war between the states the fort was used by the Union Army as a prison for many of the top leaders in the city, including Mayor George W. Brown and police commander Marshal George P. Kane. These men and other Baltimoreans were viewed as southern sympathizers following a riot on Pratt Street (near today’s National Aquarium) when on April 19, 1861 a pro-Confederate mob attacked Union troops on their way to defend Washington, D.C. The riot led to Baltimore being clamped under martial law with artillery on Federal Hill famously trained on downtown Baltimore.

A detailed blow-by-blow account of the trouble Baltimore was in at the outset of the Civil War may be found in a pdf available from the Library of Congress here. As an aside, the Pinkerton Detective Agency kept a downtown office and the Pinkertons claimed to have foiled a “Baltimore Plot” to assassinate Lincoln when the president elect was on his way to his inauguration. A grim possibility postponed in spring 1861 made bloodily real just four years later at the hands of actor John Wilkes Booth. Sic temper tyrannis!

Following the tour of Fort McHenry, we will retire for an hour to an Inner Harbor restaurant for an on-your-own lunch.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The circumstances of his mysterious death in Baltimore in October 1849 have never been sufficiently explained.

After lunch, we plan to go to Westminster Cemetery to see the grave of Edgar Allan Poe, his house on Amity Street, and Frances Glessner Lee’s dollhouse-scale recreations of crime scenes, “Nutshell Studies,” in the Maryland Coroners’ Office where our tour guide is expected to be, as in 2016, Bruce Goldfarb from the medical examiner’s staff. 

Frances Glessner Lee

Frances Glessner Lee

Still from Nutshell Studies

“Nutshell Studies” diorama created by Frances Glessner Lee

Space is limited for the bus tour. Price to be announced.

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