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Counterfeit Man

The True Story of the Boorn-Colvin Murder Case

Gerald McFarland


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When Russell Colvin disappeared in 1812, no one in Manchester thought much of it. He tended, after all, to wander. But by 1819 people began to suspect Stephen and Jesse Boorn of murdering their brother-in-law. To understand why so many neighbors believed the Boorns innocent for so long, and why seven years passed before town authorities launched an investigation of Colvin's disappearance, it is, of course, important to learn what facts were known, when, and by whom. However, it is equally important to ascertain how these facts were interpreted, and why they were interpreted as they were. What, in other words, was it about Russell Colvin, the Boorns, and the town of Manchester that shaped the public's response in such a way that an official inquiry into Colvin's disappearance was delayed so long? Or did it all have to do with ghostly sightings of Colvin?

University of Massachusetts Press, 9780870238376, 242pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 1993

About the Author

Gerald W. McFarland is professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and author of Mugwumps, Morals, and Politics, 1884-1920.