The stories of Will Peckham and John Gordon show some interesting similarities, including the hanging of an innocent man and a subsequent seance by college students, that suggest they may have mingled in the >legend conduit. Amasa Sprague, a businessman and manufacturer from a politically powerful family, left his stately Cranston home one day in December, 1843, to travel to Johnston. The following morning, his bludgeoned body (he had also been shot in the wrist and bitten by a dog) was found beside the road, almost within sight of his mansion. Gordon, an Irish immigrant and employee at the mansion, had been seen arguing with Sprague the day he was killed. Gordon was tried, found guilty of murder on the basis of circumstantial evidence, and hanged in 1845. Evidence later came to light that cast serious doubt on his guilt. Public indignation following John Gordon's execution led to legislation abolishing capital punishment in Rhode Island. The actual killer was never found.
Text © Dr. Michael Bell