The Kitchen Table Historian

I am an author and historian who writes about long-forgotten and out of the way events and places. I love the bizarre, the unusual, and the downright weird. I write a regular blog at my website, www.johnbrassardjrcom.wordpress.com, and also manage a facebook page about things of historical interest called The Kitchen Table Historian.

Deadly Lessons: The Logan, Iowa Hammer Murders of 1933

William Kelly was a large man, 6’2″, with hard muscles built from a lifetime of farm work. But still, he sat humbly and quietly. Across from him sat his mother, Myrtle Kelly, who was fervently asking why he had committed the deed that had put him here, in the Harrison County, Iowa jail. He explained …

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John Shook’s Toes: Surgery on the Iowa Frontier

   Hard as it is to believe now, Scott County, Iowa, bordering the Mississippi River on the state’s eastern edge, was once America’s frontier. Before 1833, when the United States Congress opened what was then known as the Blackhawk Purchase to free settlement, nearly that entire region was as wild and untamed as anything the …

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Once Upon an Iowa Blizzard – The Journey of H.V. Morrill

   Perhaps the most dangerous weather in the Midwest is the blizzard.    Temperatures plummet, and the wind not only drives that cold through a person, but blows the snow so hard that they can hardly see. Many lives have been claimed by Iowa’s winter storms over the years, and H.V. Morrill was almost among …

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The Day Horace Angle Chased His Wife Through a Window

All marriages have their ups and downs. It’s not always an easy thing living with another human being. More than sharing space and material goods, living with someone else is also the sharing of moods and attitudes toward life in general. Like so many other things in life, these things aren’t always positive. No one …

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The Devil You Know: The John R. Hoskins Family Murders of 1919

Breakfast was slightly awkward in the Hoskins household that cold January morning. John Hoskins and his wife, Hulda, had been arguing. While that wasn’t necessarily unusual, it didn’t make things exactly comfortable. All four of the children – Roy, 12, Merlin, Irene, 15, and Gladys, 18 –seated at the table could tell that John was …

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Fire in the Snow: The Sudden End of Singleton Gardiner

Winter driving can always be sketchy in the Midwest. Snow, ice, and plummeting temperatures can create dangerous road conditions. Almost one-hundred years ago this month, a Davenport man named Singleton Gardiner tragically found that out. Insurance Agent    Singleton Gardiner was the superintendent of the Davenport division of the Prudential Insurance Company. He had originally …

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How One Man Improved Farmer’s Lives, Revolutionized the Railroad Industry, and Re-Invented the Wheel

William Bettendorf showed a passion and talent for invention from an early age. Raised by German immigrants first in Illinois and then later near Leavenworth, Kansas, William was able to see first hand the daily struggles of the American farmer. At the age of thirteen, he set out on his own, working in several plow …

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