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The Smuttynose End is Near

Murder_ax from Smuttynose Island 1873 / Presents
Historic Portsmouth #426

It is “Mystery and Mayhem Week” at the Isles of Shoals. Novelist Anita Shreve was on hand at Star Island to discuss her highly fictionalized version of the Smuttynose Island murders that inspired her bestselling novel Weight of Water. The novel was also adapted into a film starring Sean Penn. So how could we not remind you that the actual (yes, the actual) murder weapon used in the 1873 double homicide is on display for just two more days at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middles Street. (Continued below)


Exhibit closes August 31, 2012, but our book UNDER THE ISLES OF SHOALS
is available as "collectible" on

(And yes, no matter what you heard, the murderer was fisherman Louis Wagner, who was hanged in 1875 in Maine.)  In the spirit of PT Barnum, who would use every trick in the book to get visitors into his exhibits, we included the infamous ax as a sidebar to our display of Smuttynose archaeology artifacts in the exhibit “Under the Isles of Shoals.” In two days the ax, I mean, the curtain falls on this popular presentation. Josh Silveira, a social studies teacher in Plaistow, wrote to say about the show, “I learned so much and can't wait to share it with my students!!!”   Philip Smith posted a note on Facebook saying “I saw the exhibit last week. It was very, very interesting.” So whether you go for the education or for the ax, don’t delay. The end, my friends, is near. The ax is part of the permanent collection of the Portsmouth Athenaeum. (Photo courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)

smuttynose_ax / Copyright Portsmouth Athenaeum editor J. Dennis Robinson
with Smuttynose ax on The Travel Channel show
"Mysteries at the Museum"

Making_Travel_Channel_TV_Show on Smuttynose Murders / J. Dennis Robinson

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018 
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