An old picture in the files of the Hanover Historical Society first piqued the author’s interest in writing the book. The photograph showed a house on Broadway in South Hanover with an inscription across the face of it – “Three Irishmen shot here by Seth Perry in 1845.” What led Seth Perry to shoot the three Irishmen? Did the victims survive? Was there an arrest and trial? How did the community react? Curious to find answers to these questions, he visited libraries, archives, historical societies, and the internet and consulted authoritative texts. He uncovered a surprising amount of information about the event. During the course of his inquiry, he uncovered two other murders in Hanover’s past and explored each. Before long, he had the makings of an interesting, factual account and began tying the three stories together in a book.
About the crimes, Gallagher says, “Although these aberrant crimes in peaceful Hanover tarnished the town’s image during the eras in which they took place, it’s important to note that Hanover’s residents played a vital role, not only in helping with the capture of the three men who were responsible for the killings, but also in providing testimony during trial that led to the conviction of each man. Since Hanover’s beginnings, its residents have been committed to maintaining a vibrant, law-abiding place in which to live and this same spirit of community continues today.”
Even though the murders are the primary focus of the book, Gallagher pursued the town’s history and background and addressed some of the moral and social issues that were taking place in society at the time. Did these issues influence the murders and the events that ensued? What kind of biases existed at the time? “I wanted to look into the circumstances of townspeople’s lives. What was everyday life like back then?” Gallagher found evidence of racial and religious bigotry, opposition to intemperance, resistance toward immigration, and debate over capital punishment (all issues society struggles with today).
Gallagher’s second book, Arsenic in Assinippi: The Trial of Jennie May Eaton for the Murder of Her Husband, Rear Admiral Joseph Eaton, is a true story of the circumstances surrounding the death of Joseph Eaton, the ensuing investigation, and the arrest and trial of his wife for his murder.
His third book, A Monument to Her Grief: The Sturtevant Murders of Halifax, Massachusetts, delves into a tragic 1874 homicide – “one of the foulest in the annals of crime – a murder where not the innocent person was beaten to death in cold blood, but three, and with the evident and express purpose of robbery.”