James Thomas Mann is well known around Ypsilanti as a writer, journalist, speaker, tour guide and historian. For years he has written a cornucopia of stories, featuring all manner of subjects, usually about Ypsilanti and the surrounding area.
His latest adventure, Wicked Washtenaw County – Strange Tales of the Grisly and Unexplained, takes the reader into the darker side of the county. He gives humorless tales of murder, mayhem and mystery that will make you, the reader, check that your windows are locked and your doors bolted.
Through narrative and local news accounts, he gives us a glimpse into devilish deeds done by common folks and some better known figures of the time. In one of the stories, Shooting of Attorney Mahon, we find indeed that murder is “no joke.”
The chapter on legends and tales of “Body Snatching and the University of Michigan” is certainly an eyebrow raiser. The Medical School at the University of Michigan did not have enough bodies for the anatomy classes being taught. Many a newly inhabited grave was opened, the body removed, and later the body was traced to the cold storage vaults of the Medical School. Graves in Michigan and Ohio, of the poor, sick, rich or disabled were producers of monies for those persons (monsters) who engaged and procured bodies and then sold them for profit.
The pages of Wicked Washtenaw County drip with blood, darkness, murder and suicide. There is a cry for the ever elusive lady justice who sometimes just turns or moves out of town and is forgotten like both the victims and criminals within these pages. As a recent reader told me, “The book is disturbing and I loved it!”
Now it’s your turn. Copies are available in the YHS Archives located in the basement of the YHS Museum. Come on down and get your autographed copy.
Here’s hoping that you, too, don’t end up in Wicked Washtenaw – Part II.
(George Ridenour is a volunteer in the YHS Archives and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)
Photo 1: The pages of James Mann’s new book, Wicked Washtenaw County, drip with blood, darkness, murder and suicide.
Photo 2: James Mann spends many hours in the YHS Archives doing research for his many books, articles, speeches and tours.