Retrospect - Purple Mountain Press


by John Conway

From Chapter VI--"Drucker Trial Opened a Can of Worms":

What is indisputable is that Sullivan County is forever linked with the most notorious and prolific of Murder Incorporated's professional killers. . . . As unlikely as it might seem, whenever mob henchmen socialized in Sullivan County-despite the fact that they seemed to be constantly leaving bodies in their wake-they behaved as perfect gentlemen. That's exactly what made the new syndicate, formed in 1931, so dangerous: Its members were as much businessmen as they were killers. To be sure, there are those who still remember when many of these dreaded gangsters cavorted around the country as if they had not a care in the world. Few people here in the mountains-or elsewhere, for that matter-knew at the time just how despicable these people were.

So perhaps it is not surprising that, for the most part, the professional murderers who stayed in Sullivan County are remembered as gentlemen, classy free-spenders little different from many of the other guests who frequented the area's resorts. Except that they happened to kill people for a living and thrived on it. . . . The days [when brazen murderers freely roamed the region] will forever remain a part of the county's history."

Three railroads, a canal, dozens of industries, and hundreds of hotels have come and gone since Sullivan County was formed in 1809. Famous stars of sport and screen have worked and played here; infamous and despicable gangsters have lived and died here. Sullivan's history is rich and colorful, and Retrospect is a look back at that history, with reflection, with scrutiny, and, occasionally, with longing.

John Conway has been the Sullivan County (New York) Historian since 1993. He is an adjunct professor at SUNY Sullivan, and is a contributing editor for the Encyclopedia of New York State. He regularly provides historical context for Sullivan County news events for the New York Times, Associated Press, and Fox News, among others. He began writing "Retrospect," a weekly column on Sullivan County history, for the Times Herald-Record newspaper in 1987. The same column has run in the Sullivan County Democrat since 2004. His columns also appear online at

Purple Mountain Press has published his Dutch Schultz and His Lost Catskills' Treasure and LOOMIS: The Man, The Sanitarium, and The Search for the Cure.

148 pages, illustrated, 6 x 9
$15.00 paperback--A Purple Moutain Press original

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