The Historic, the Fun and the Popular (Part 1)

As you know, I just returned from 10 days on the road and a visit to way too many sites to talk about in a single post, so I’ve decided to split the travel tales up into three categories: the historic, the fun and the popular. Today, a look at history:lindbergh-estate1

Stop 1: Nearly 77 years ago, the “crime of the century” took place in Hopewell, N.J., when the 20-month-old son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his nursery and found murdered two months later. The wooded land surrounding the Lindbergh home has shrunk from 600 acres to 350, but the original home still stands. Lindbergh gave the estate to the State of New Jersey to be used to help boys; it now houses the Albert Elias Residential Group Center.

Stop 2: The New Jersey State Police oversaw the investigation into the kidnapping and has the largest collection of archives of the crime. It’s museum in West Trenton houses a wonderful exhibit that includes the wooden lindbergh-baby3ladder used to reach the outside nursery window, ransom notes, ransom money, the baby’s clothes, other trial evidence, and trial footage.

Stop 3: If the kidnapping was the crime of the century, the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, the man accused of the kidnapping, was the trial of the century. It was held at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, N.J. Hauptman was found guilty and died in the electric chair (which is usually at the state police museum, but is currently on loan to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.). The trial is reenacted at the courthouse every October. The conviction of Hauptmann remains controversial to this day. My aunt was 10 at the time and recalls the family huddled around the radio the day he was executed. She said she remembers no one in the room saying anything until after it was over. Then my grandfather uttered, “Some day they’ll find out that man didn’t do it.”

Stop 4: More than a century before the Lindbergh kidnapping, two American political rivals met in Weehawken, N.J., along the Hudson River to engage in a famous duel. Alexander Hamilton would die in the duel with Aaron Burr. A bust of Hamilton and the rock where he supposedly collapsed is near the original dueling site.

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5 Responses

  1. The idea of the nation surrounding around the fate of a child seems to be unique to the time. I mean this in the least crass way. This post made me think about the topic of national heroes; people the entire populace looks to, people we regard as members of our own families whom we’ve never even met. The accomplishments of Charles Lindbergh were international. His kind of stature, and the public adoration and support he received in such troubling times may never be matched in our time where we are supersaturated with the negative and lack people and causes to embrace.

  2. Fun post though, took me on a trip through wikipedia for at least a half an hour! I nearly forgot to come back and comment.

  3. I agree. I made these stops on my way to West Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with my father, who was 20 at the time of the kidnapping. I asked him if it was really the way history has painted it — that a whole country was consumed with it. He confirmed that’s exactly how it was and even told me a story of a friend of his who decided to jump in his car and travel to New Jersey to see the trial. Your comments have made me think of several periods in history where we rose someone to the level of hero, which I’ll expand on in a future post. Thanks!

  4. Wow! This may be someone of the very helpful blogs We’ve ever arrive across in that subject. Basically Great. I will be also a professional through this topic so I possibly could understand your effort.

  5. Thanks for stopping by — glad you found the information helpful.

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