BUS TOUR: Monday, April 9, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. $50 per person.
RipperCon 2018 will feature a bus tour of Baltimore that will include Fort McHenry, birthplace of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the grave of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, Edgar Allan Poe’s grave and house, and the Maryland Medical Examiner’s office home to the famous “Nutshell Studies” crime scene dioramas created in the 1930’s by Frances Glessner Lee. 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, Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember on the Titanic disaster, and man who patented the Ouija Board.
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
“Nutshell Studies” diorama created by Frances Glessner Lee
Tour will leave the Lord Baltimore Hotel at 12 West Baltimore Street at 9:00 am promptly on Monday, April 9 and return to the same location at 5:00 pm. Space is limited for the bus tour. The price is $50 per person, DUE NOW, payable via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that space is limited to 50 people so book early! !
WALKING TOUR: Friday, April 9, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. FREE.
RipperCon organizer Christopher T. George has determined that due to recent changes in traffic patterns in downtown Baltimore it will not be possible to visit Jack the Ripper suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety’s former lodging house on North Liberty Street by means of the tour bus. Instead, given that the location is within five minutes walk of RipperCon 2018 convention headquarters at the Lord Baltimore Hotel at 12 West Baltimore Street, Chris will lead a free walking tour of downtown Baltimore locations on Friday, April 6, starting from the hotel at 2:00 pm.
Leading Jack the Ripper suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety is listed as living in a lodging house at 218-220 N. Liberty Street at the time of the 1900 U.S. Census. The building is on the corner of Clay Street, a notorious “red light” district of the day as well as the scene of a disastrous 1873 fire. Even more significant, perhaps, Tumblety was living within a mile of the residence of 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 in 1908, five years after the suspect’s passing in St. Louis on May 28, 1903 at the age of 73. The “Home for Fallen Women” on North Exeter Street in Baltimore to whom the Dr. T left $1,000 under the disallowed Baltimore document received no bequest under the St. Louis will upheld by the high court. As might be expected, some authors on the Whitechapel murders, e.g., Stewart P. Evans and Paul Gainey in Jack the Ripper: First American Suspect aka The Lodger (1995), have found it significant that the suspect would leave money to a home for prostitutes, as if he was suffering from a fit of remorse for his bloody acts in the East End of London in the autumn of 1888.
Folk on the walking tour will also see a statue of James Cardinal Gibbons as well as the residence where the prelate lived on North Charles Street, next to the 1806 Basilica of the Assumption (the first Catholic cathedral in the United States), along with the house where Edgar Allan Poe received his first major literary recognition, and the Poe Room of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, among other sites of interest in downtown Baltimore. If you are interested in the free walking tour, sign up by emailing Chris George at email@example.com.
Chris George speaking to tour group at major Jack the Ripper suspect Dr Francis Tumblety’s former lodging house, 218-220 N. Liberty Street, Baltimore