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Pearl Bryan: The Full Story

GUEST,Paul Slade 23 Aug 11 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,999 23 Aug 11 - 12:12 PM
Desert Dancer 24 Aug 11 - 12:11 PM
Rapparee 24 Aug 11 - 12:37 PM
Nancy King 24 Aug 11 - 10:50 PM
Rapparee 24 Aug 11 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 Aug 11 - 04:41 AM
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Subject: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 11:00 AM

http://www.planetslade.com/pearl-bryan.html

You may not know the song covered in PlanetSlade's latest Murder Ballads essay, but I guarantee you'll never forget the story behind it.

On February 1, 1896, Pearl's decapitated body was found in a Kentucky orchard. She was pregnant, and she'd been struggling when the killer began cutting off her head. That head has never been found, but we do know that the murderer carried it round Cincinnati's bars with him. The police investigation which followed used a crucial clue from Pearl's shoes and America's first bugged cell.

There was a thriving souvenir trade surrounding the case and lynch mobs roamed the streets. Two men ? one of them Pearl's lover ? eventually hanged for the crime, which inspired a ballad still sung (and danced) today. Read all about it at the link above.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: GUEST,999
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 12:12 PM

Great. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 12:11 PM

Great research. Thanks for your work!

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 12:37 PM

She was killed in Ft. Mitchell, on the road to what was then an Army base and is now a VA facility. Her killer, a dental student, probably tossed her head in the Ohio River. I'll do more checking when I get back home.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: Nancy King
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 10:50 PM

Wow! I've been singing the song for about 50 years -- learned it from a friend in college -- but never knew the real story. She was pregnant, eh? The song mentiones Jackson and Walling, and the search for the head, but not all the rest. Fascinating! Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Aug 11 - 11:42 PM

The spot where she was murdered is now -- and for a long has been -- part of the town of Ft. Thomas. There are some older homes nearby, but I don't believe that anything has been built on the exact spot. If you visit that area locals can point out the spot for you...ask at the Ft. Thomas Branch Library.

Sorry, it's Ft. Thomas, not Ft. Mitchell. Ft. Mitchell is some miles away in another county.


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Subject: RE: Pearl Bryan: The Full Strory
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 Aug 11 - 04:41 AM

Thanks for the kind words, folks. If you think any of your friends might enjoy reading Pearl's story too, then please do help me spread the word. Researching and writing this tale for the (free) online book linked above has consumed about six months of my past year, and I'm confident it's the fullest and most reliable telling yet.

As Rapparee rightly says, you can indeed visit the spot where Pearl died in Fort Thomas, which I was shown by the couple who now own the old Lock farmhouse nearby. The murder spot is on what was once part of the Locks' farm, and the couple who've got the house now played a crucial role in getting the bag which once held Pearl's head an exhibit of its own in the local museum.

It's true also that the head itself may well have gone into the Ohio River. But my own personal view is that Cal Crim, the case's lead detective, was probably right when he concluded it ended up at .... another location which you'll have to read my book to discover.

[Incidentally, could one of the moderators please correct my bone-headed typo in this thread's title? Thanks.]


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