Curators At Home: True Crime

Time Period
1877 to 1924
Media Type
Video
Topics
Politics & Government
Presenter
Andrew Talkov

On May 29, 2020, VMHC Sr. Director of Curatorial Affairs Andrew Talkov presented "True Crime: Sex, Murder, and the Trial of Thomas Cluverius."  This program was part of our Curators At Home Series taped by curatorial staff members from their own homes as they worked remotely in response to COVID-19. 

In 1885 the lifeless body of 23-year-old Fanny Madison, an unwed teacher from Bath, Virginia, was found floating in Richmond’s Old Reservoir. Although authorities believed she committed suicide, evidence at the scene suggested Madison may have been murdered. Police arrested Madison’s cousin, attorney Thomas J. Cluverius, and the trial captured the nation’s attention. Was Madison guilty or innocent?

SELECTED SOURCES:

IMAGE CREDITS:

  • Map of the City of Richmond [detail] from F.W. Beers, Illustrated Atlas of the City of Richmond, Va. Richmond: F.W. Beers, 1877. Retrieved from the Library of Congress. 
  • Image of Richmond Reservoir from “The Reservoir Tragedy.” Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, VA), March 31, 1885. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
  • Engraving of “All that remained of the desperate and unfortunate Eustacia” by Arthur Hopkins. Printed in Belgravia, A Magazine of Fashion and Amusement, December 1878, p. 229. Scanned by Philip V. Allingham. 
  • Photograph of Richmond (Virginia) Almshouse, 1865. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
  • Photograph of Richmond City Hall, c. 1903, from “The Murder of Lillian Madison, 1885,” The Shockoe Examiner (blog), June 18, 2010.  
  • Photograph of Fanny Lillian Madison, c. 1885. Courtesy of The Library of Virginia.
  • Photograph of Thomas Judson Cluverius, c. 1885. Courtesy of The Library of Virginia.
  • View of the American Hotel (Richmond, VA), c. 1858. “Hotels of Richmond,” Urban Scale Richmond (blog), May 8, 2018.
  • Image of note submitted as evidence in Cluverius Trial from Commonwealth of Virginia versus Thomas J. Cluverius, 1885. Local government records collection, Richmond (City) Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.
  • Views of Richmond City Jail, c. 1887. from “The Murder of Lillian Madison, 1885,” The Shockoe Examiner (blog), June 18, 2010.
  • Photograph of Lillian Madison’s gravesite, c. 2010, from “The Murder of Lillian Madison, 1885,” The Shockoe Examiner (blog), June 18, 2010.
  • Photograph of site of Tunstall Family Cemetery, c. 2010, from “The Murder of Lillian Madison, 1885,” The Shockoe Examiner (blog), June 18, 2010.