The Stoneham Historical Society & Museum is pleased to announce the return of celebrity guest speaker and historical author Doug “VB” Goudie to the SHSM.
VB will be discussing his latest book, “A Frost in Hell: The True Story of the Petersham Butcher of 1875.” The story takes us back 143 years, to the quiet rural farming community of Petersham, MA located 73 miles from Stoneham, in Central Massachusetts. Beginning on July 4, 1875, while most folks were planning celebrations, one man had another idea–murder. And this was no ordinary murder! What Samuel J. Frost did on July 4th was outrageous, and it was only the beginning. He would become a national sensation, but not so much because of his crime. Instead, it was what he did AFTER the murder that stunned the country. His became the “trial of the year” in Massachusetts, and it would not disappoint. It contained a first-of-its-kind appeal, and it resulted in a last-of-its-kind punishment. And in between, his wife would face a decision that would have been easy to make in 2018, but not in 1875. She would be harshly criticized for her decision. While the murder was outrageous and the trial was fascinating, it was the punishment that was the most shocking. It would lead to a multitude of Massachusetts residents to question “what are we doing?” The book tells the story of a nondescript farmer from a “never-heard-of -town” who captivated Massachusetts for all of the wrong reasons. The story is as juicy today as it was in 1875, as told by the author who grew up in this obscure New England town.
VB has spent much of his career in talk radio in Boston, first as a sidekick on the Howie Carr Show (Carr laughed when VB told him that he was writing a book about a murder in Central Mass, “who cares about Central Mass?” he scowled, then as host of VB’s Pleasure Pit, and now as a morning host of WRKO. His first book, “ACK in Ashes” told the story of Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846 was well received. VB’s second book was prompted by a vague tale about a farmer from his hometown of Petersham, who had been given the death penalty back in the 1870’s, but little was known about the specifics of the case. Thus, “A Frost in Hell” was cultivated. VB began to research the story while his very patient wife was pregnant with their fourth child. One year and one beautiful and healthy boy later, the book was completed. Just in time for diaper duty!
Doug “VB” Goudie is a very entertaining speaker and will be answering audience questions and signing copies of his books which will be available for purchase for Massachusetts history enthusiasts and fans at the conclusion of the presentation.
The Stoneham Historical Society conducts a brief meeting at 7:15 p.m. followed by our guest speaker. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. to explore the Museum. As always, the presentation is free and open to the public. However, as a 501c nonprofit organization, the Stoneham Historical Society & Museum depends on membership income and donations to defray the operational costs of the Museum. We are located at 38 William Street and ample parking is located directly across the street from the Museum.