Murder on the Mountain: Crime, Passion, and Punishment in Gilded Age New Jersey (Hardcover)

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Margaret Klem and John Meierhofer were Bavarian immigrants who arrived in New Jersey in the 1850s, got married, and started a small farm in West Orange. When John returned from the Civil War, he was a changed man, neglecting his work and beating his wife. Margaret was left to manage the farm and endure the suspicion of neighbors, who gossiped about her alleged affairs. Then one day in 1879, John turned up dead with a bullet in the back of his head. Margaret and her farmhand, Dutch immigrant Frank Lammens, were accused of the crime, and both went to the gallows, making Margaret the last woman to be executed by the state of New Jersey. 
Was Margaret the calculating murderess and adulteress portrayed by the press? Or was she a battered wife pushed to the edge? Or was she, as she claimed to the end, innocent? Murder on the Mountain considers all sides of this fascinating and mysterious true crime story. In turn, it examines why this murder trial became front-page news, as it resonated with public discussions about capital punishment, mental health, anti-immigrant sentiment, domestic violence, and women’s independence. This is a gripping and thought-provoking study of a murder that shocked the nation.

About the Author

PETER J. WOSH directed the graduate education program in archives and public history at New York University from 1994 until his retirement in 2016.  He previously served as archivist at both Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey and the American Bible Society in New York. His many books include Covenant House: Journey of a Faith-Based Charity
PATRICIA L. SCHALL (1945-2020) was a professor at Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown, New Jersey from 1992 to 2016, where she held many leadership positions, including head of the education department. Author of Protecting the Right to Teach and Learn, she was also a former president of the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English.

Praise For…

"Drawing on fascinating and impressive archival research, Wosh and Schall demonstrate how a local tragedy,  involving three marginal characters, can shine a light on larger historical trends in the United States. Written in an engaging and accessible style, with a depth and breadth of research that will appeal to many readers." 

— Cara Robertson

"Murder on the Mountain brings to life the closing of jail cells doors, the drama of the courtroom, and the changing landscape of late nineteenth century New Jersey. This insightful analysis of an all-but-forgotten killing will change the way you think about Newark, West Orange, and the Garden State in the Gilded Age."
— Robert W. Snyder

"Book on 1879 National News West Orange Crime is Published" by Jackie Schatell
— Suburban Essex Magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9781978829145
ISBN-10: 1978829140
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: April 15th, 2022
Pages: 232
Language: English