Brown Bag Lecture Series Begins Wednesday

A gripping tale of mayhem and murder is how this year’s Brown Bag Lecture series will start at the Fenton History Center.

Retired Jamestown Police Department Lieutenant Steve Johnson, who also is a Fenton History Center trustee, will present the story of Jamestown’s 1871 Marlow murder case. Charles Marlow, a local brewery owner, was in deep debt and saw an opportunity to acquire some cash from Ohio businessman William Bachmann. From there it all went downhill with a number of twists along the way. Hear the rest of the story at the Brown Bag Lecture from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Joni Blackman, Fenton History Center director, said this will be the third year the center has hosted the lecture series where people are encouraged to bring their own lunch. She said bottled water and coffee will also be available for those attending.

”We want them to come from work so we start as close to noon as possible and finish close to 1 p.m.,” she said. ”We do it April to October. People can learn a lot of local history. The people that do it are good researchers and have a passion for certain topics. This is a way to share their interest.”

Blackman said attendance usually ranges from 20 to 40 people depending on the weather. She said this year’s series will be held in a larger room than in the past because archives have been transferred from the Fenton Mansion to the Hall House Research Center.

”You don’t have to know local history to enjoy it. You learn it while watching,” she said. ”There is a lot of ‘I didn’t know that’ type of comments during it. It is a great way to learn about local history without feeling out of place.”

The talk will take place on the first floor of the Fenton History Center, 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge on Route 60. The program is free, but donations are welcome. Blackman said topics for each lecture vary, but the first one each year usually involves murder.

”The first one is going to be a good one. Steve Johnson is a trustee and retired police lieutenant who has a great sense of humor, and has done a lot of research on the murder. There are a lot of twist and turns,” she said.

Blackman said the lecture series was needed for local historians to share the history they find interesting with others.

”Most historic societies have monthly meetings, and then talk after about history they’re interested in. This is that without the business meeting,” she said. ”We have regulars who come each month. They even come during months we don’t have one just to talk. People really enjoy it.”

The next Brown Bag talk is May 14 at noon. Representatives from the newly opened Lawson Boating Heritage Center will present the history, current plans and future endeavors of the center. Blackman also said there will be a Brown Bag Lecture later this summer on the archaeological dig project. During the summer of 2012, the Fenton History Center, in conjunction with SUNY Buffalo, conducted an archaeological survey searching for the lost landscape of Fenton’s estate. Evidence of several outbuildings was discovered and more than 700 artifacts, some Fenton related, were collected. During the summer of 2013 the excavation continued under the direction of Dr. Thomas Greer, Fenton trustee, with participation of Jamestown Community College and oversight by SUNY Buffalo. Thousands of artifacts were collected, some household and some farm related. The dig will continue this summer.

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