September 29, 2013

Local author featured on national broadcast

By JEFF MEYERS Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSGURGH — Larry Gooley has always had a penchant for exploring and explaining the region’s history in a way that people can clearly see and understand.

As owner of Bloated Toe Publishing with his wife and business partner, Jill Jones, Gooley has both written books on topics of regional history and has published other writers’ renditions of the way things are and used to be across northern New York.

“I enjoy finding unknown stories and solving them,” Gooley said recently from his home and business in Schuyler Falls of this desire to uncover the region’s many mysteries.

Gooley’s wisdom will soon be transformed onto the screen when he is featured as a guest commentator on an upcoming NBC Peacock Production airing on the Investigation Discovery channel.

The producers of the program, which is scheduled to air around Halloween, were looking for murderers named Mary as their focus. In his collection, “25 Diabolical Adirondack Murders,” Gooley had written about a “particularly gruesome murder” near Watertown carried out by a Mary Farmer.

The story, “Evil Personified: Neighbor in a Trunk,” described the events leading up to and following the April 23, 1908, murder of Sarah Brennan, Farmer’s neighbor, friend and landlady.

“This woman and her husband were trying to steal land from Sarah Brennan,” Jones said as she and Gooley described the events that led up to Farmer’s killing and the dismemberment of Brennan by ax.

The Farmer tale is one of 25 stories Gooley included in his anthology covering the Adirondacks and neighboring communities.

“I thought I was going to collect 50 murder stories, but that would have become a ‘door-stop’ book,” he said of the extensive work put into researching past atrocities across the region.

“Out of 130 stories I collected, I picked 50 that were really good and then had to trim down to the 25 best. Hers was one of them.”

Gooley researches the newspaper archives of the time period when a particular event took place. In uncovering murder cases, he uses a lot of the trial coverage to portray what it was like to be involved in the case at the time.

He was contacted by producers from Peacock Productions earlier this summer, and the wheels were set in motion for him and Jones to travel to New York City, where Gooley would be filmed as an expert on Mary Farmer for one segment in the “Bloody Marys” production.

They traveled to the Big Apple, and Gooley took part in a two-hour filming session at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

“She asked me leading questions for me to tell the entire story from the beginning,” he said of the interview, adding that the production will use reenactments to depict the events of 1908 while Gooley intercedes with his personal descriptions.

With a picture of the blood-stained legs of a person holding an ax and straddling a human skull, “25 Diabolical Adirondack Murders” chronicles the crimes of its characters, stretching from centuries ago to the most recent case in 1946.

One of the tales elicited an email from a woman whose father was described in the story as a 4-year-old boy who witnessed his mother’s murder in 1920. The daughter had never known of her father’s horrific experience until reading about the event.

Gooley has also been approached by a producer in California about his book, “Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow,” which follows the horrendous actions of Garrow during the summer of 1973 when he brutally killed several Adirondack campers.

The producer had once lived in northeastern New York and had worked at the lodge where Garrow had stolen an automobile, said Gooley, who explained that the efforts to bring his book to the screen are in the early stages, and he did not feel comfortable revealing the producer’s name at this time.

Bloated Toe has also recently released a second edition of “Out of the Darkness: In Memory of Lyon Mountain’s Iron Men.”

The book reviews the lives of more than 175 men who died in the iron mines of Lyon Mountain, and the revised edition includes expanded information, several new illustrations and the recognition of several more miners who lost their lives.

Gooley’s most recent effort, “Killing in the Kuyahoora Valley,” was just made available in August. The chronicle features the true story of the 1914 murder of schoolteacher Lydia Beecher by Jean Gianini in Poland, N.Y., just north of Utica.

Gooley and Jones have also begun a new endeavor at Bloated Toe by reissuing several volumes of historic books in the “Preserving History” collection.

Volumes include “The Life of Commodore Thomas Macdonough,” by Rodney Macdonough, the grandson of the commanding Naval officer during the Battle of Plattsburgh, and “Peter Sailly, Plattsburgh and Champlain Valley Pioneer,” by George S. Bixby.

Email Jeff

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