Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 4-3-13

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 2 of 27

north providence edition | valley breeze | APRIL 3-9, 2013 NORTH PROVIDENCE 3 Local historian inks final chapter of the John Gordon saga By ETHAN SHOREY Breeze Staff Writer WHERE CUSTOMER SERVICE REALLY MATTERS. NORTH PROVIDENCE – Almost 170 years after the grizzly slaying of a wealthy and politically powerful Cranston industrialist, the murder still remains unresolved. Yet, one day after Amasa Sprague's body was found lying near the footbridge over the Pocasset River separating Cranston from Johnston, two Irish Catholic immigrants were arrested for their part in committing the deed. Within three days, nearly the entire Gordon family, including the family dog, for his footprints, was arrested. Three brothers were formally charged with the murder and, in a trial remembered for the actions of a corrupt judge and a bigoted society, one was found guilty. Sentenced to death, 29-yearold Irishman John Gordon was hanged on Feb. 14, 1845, in the prison yard. The Providence Place Mall was eventually built on the site of the former prison complex where Gordon was hanged. Gordon, a folk hero to the Irish across Rhode Island, is today buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Pawtucket. "In 1843, Gordon was a victim of societal hatred, bigotry and injustice," states a news release on the new book, "The Hanging and Redemption of John Gordon: The True Story of Rhode Island's Last Execution," by North Providence resident and author Paul F. Caranci. "Today he is thought of as an innocent man, an Irish Catholic martyr who, more than any other single person or event is responsible for the end of the death penalty in Rhode Island." Tues.-Fri. 10am-5:30pm Thurs. 10am-8pm Sat. 10am-5pm The cover of the newest book from North Providence author Paul Caranci. JOHN CARANCI Caranci, a Rhode Island historian who serves as deputy secretary of state, has written the final chapter of the Gordon saga, bringing the case to life in "dramatic fashion." His latest book, scheduled for release by The History Press on April 23, chronicles the hopes and dreams of one Irish Catholic immigrant family and explains the socio-political mood that created the circumstances that led to the demise of nearly an entire family. Caranci is the former North Providence Town Council member who served as the F.B.I. informant in the corruption case against three former council members. He told The Breeze that the inspiration for this latest book, following up on his book on the history of North Providence, was born during a viewing last year of Ken Dooley's "The Murder Trial of John Gordon" at the Park Theatre in Cranston. Caranci said he took a very different approach to writing his book than the one taken in "Brotherly Love," a book he said "kind of lost credibility" when it tried at the end to build a case against Sprague's brother William. "I wrote it without an eye to trying to solve the murder, but focusing on the sociopolitical impact of the bigotry and hatred, what it has done to society starting with the Gordon family," he said. "They were utterly destroyed." Nicholas Gordon was the first of his family to come to America to escape the famine and economic depression of Ireland. Promising to work hard so that one day he could have his family join him in the land of opportunity, he earned his citizenship and voting rights after opening a small store on land he was able to purchase. He also learned enough about politics to convince the town council to grant him a license to sell alcohol in his store by the drink, something that provided the income he needed to keep his promise. Gordon was able to pay the passage of his entire family to America after just seven years. Not long after what surely was a happy reunion, "all their hopes and dreams were dashed just a few months later when they fell victim to a bigoted society that falsely accused them of the murder of Amasa Sprague," said Caranci in a release. The book takes the reader on an hour-by-hour journey of the See JOHN GORDON, Page 5 EMT Training Classes EMT Basic, Cardiac, Paramedic Classes Begin: VETERANS – CALL IN Reference to the GI Bill for Classes For more information or to register for classes call 401-273-6900 EMT Basic – 3/25/2013 (at Warren Fire Dept.) EMT Basic – 5/21/2013 EMT Paramedic – 9/9/2013 EMT Cardiac – 4/29/2013 CNA Programs Other available classes CPR, ACLS, PALS, 12 Lead EKG, Albert Peterson, EMT-C, EMS-I/C American Safety Program & Training, Inc. Register online at 1117 Douglas Ave., North Providence, RI 02904 Mrs. Love's School House Studio Open House & Summer Sewing Camp Registration Saturday, April 13, 2013 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sewing Lessons for all skill levels 558-560 Mineral Spring Avenue, Pawtucket E-mail: Student Work and Class Samples will be on display!

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Valley Breeze - The North Providence Breeze 4-3-13