So it looks like Steven Victor Wertz has escaped execution on what some may regard as a technicality, a procedural error. Here’s a video of the ruling from the Arkansas Court.

The Arkansas Times of 9 June 2016 reports:

In this case, the jury was given a single set of the forms to cover the two individual guilty verdicts in the couple’s deaths and it found aggravating factors sufficient to warrant a death sentence.

The court said it found merit in Wertz’s argument that the combined forms denied him “the individualized sentencing and protection from invalid aggravating circumstances required under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The headline is

Sharp County death penalty reversed by Arkansas Supreme Court

Another report (which forbids any copying of ‘their’ text – which of course they themselves had no problem copying from elsewhere) headlines it as

Court overturns death sentence of former police officer

A somewhat topical matter as regards punishments meted out to those who protect and serve – even if they weren’t actually protect-and-serving at the time in question.

The aforementioned video is not of a straightforward rubber-stamping exercise and lasts over 40 minutes.

Death out the family

If you’ve been following my Steven Wertz posts – which I’ve not been following myself for a while – there was an update last May. His appeal – essentially of incompetence by Bryant, his original defense (US spelling) attorney – was denied and he’s sentenced to death. The Arkansas Supreme Court statement is here (30 page PDF) and it’s interesting reading. Here’s the summary

After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of two counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. After the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief pursuant to Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.5, asserting twenty-three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s petition, as Appellant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel in either the guilt phase or sentencing phase of his trial.

As for why I’m at all interested it all started when I was searching for possible Bone cousins. There’s a new character in the plot, picked out from the above mentioned report. A Judy Bone, the mother of the murdered wife Kathy Watts (née Bone).

Death By Goods Train

One hundred years ago, in the 29th September 1912 issue of The Engineer, is this unusual obituary. That of an actual engineer, a shipbuilder, smashed to death, aged 56 in his motor car by a goods train. Nasty.


IT is with very great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. Clement Mackrow, who was for so many years been connected with the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Limited. It appears that on Monday evening last Mr. Mackrow was leaving the company’s works in his motor car alone. While passing over a level crossing of the Great Eastern Railway at Canning Town his car was crashed into by a goods train which was being shunted, and the unfortunate gentleman was killed instantaneously, his body being terribly mutilated — a lamentably sad ending to a busy and useful life. The whole of Mr. Mackrow’s business career was spent with the Thames Ironworks Company. Following in the footsteps of a distinguished father — the late Mr. G. C. Mackrow — Mr. Clement Mackrow devoted the whole of his energies to the science of shipbuilding, and he achieved marked success. At an early age he entered the drawing-office of the company, working in that position under the immediate supervision of his father. He passed on to the mould loft and the various other departments of the works, and, though we believe there was never an actual apprenticeship, it can be said that he served his time at the works. For years father and son laboured side by side with one aim in view, the building of first-class ships and the keeping of their company in the foremost ranks of shipbuilding undertakings. As a sidelight on the character of Mackrow, the younger, we would instance the production of his “Naval Architect’s, Shipbuilder’s, and Marine Engineer’s Pocket-book,” which is now in its tenth edition and is a standard work of its kind. At the early age of eighteen he had found, as had many others before him, the want of a pocket-book which contained within two covers all the ordinary formulæ, rules, and tables that the shipbuilder requires in following his vocation. The data were in existence, but were scattered through a large number of books, and even some of the most commonly used formulæ necessitated tiresome searches and occasioned great waste of time. So the boy – he was but little more – set himself the task of collecting all the available information and of arranging it in a readily accessible form as a small pocket-book. In the preface to the first edition he modestly disclaims originality for any of the material he had brought together, yet, as a fact, he had presented much of it in such new and more readily understood form that he might well have claimed more credit than he did. The compilation of the book occupied the leisure time of four years, so that at the age of twenty-two he was the author of a book which had an immediate sale.

The book is still available from Amazon, sort of, but they aren’t terribly enthusiastic about its freedom from typographical errors and the like. It’s in its twelfth edition and is in any case out of copyright and freely available from the Internet Archive (but has not been adequately re-edited into any kind of modern shape).

He was born in Poplar in 1855, the son of Naval Architect George Colby Mackrow and Mary Maria Gosling. He had two elder brothers, George Frank and Henry James, also in the Naval Architect line – all whilst still in their teens. He had two younger sisters, Marian and Florence. In 1878, before he published his book, he’d married Mary Houghton Whiteley. But in the 32 years of marriages as noted in the 1911 census, there’d been no children. At that time, Marion, his also as yet unmarried sister, was living with them (along with a couple of servants, Edith and Emily) at Oaklands Grove Hill Woodford, in Walthamstow.


In 1898, Queen Victoria has her photograph taken by Robert Milne at Balmoral. Aged 79 (the photo was taken in June) she sits with three princesses to her right and three princes – and another princess – to her left. Looking all the world like a crime family portrait.


The Latest Portrait of the Queen: A Royal Group from Balmoral

The caption runs from left to right under the picture (from The Graphic). It names neither Queen – almost indistinguishable from Alfred Hitchcock – nor toddler, and reads

  • Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein
  • The Princess Leiningen
  • Princess Victoria of Wales
  • Princess Henry of Prussia
  • Prince Waldemar of Prussia
  • Prince Maurice of Battenberg

That uncredited (presumably no speaking part) two year old child in white is Prince Sigismund of Prussia, behind his brother Waldemar in the sailor outfit, both to our right of their mother Irene (aka Princess Henry) whose sister Alexandra would be the last Tsarina. Little Sigismund will last the longest and will die in 1978.

The other sitting elder, Marie Amelie of Baden (aka Princess Ernst of Leiningen), would be dead within a year.

The pair of standing Victoriae are both granddaughters of the principal sitter. Victoria Alexandra Olga Mary (of Wales) is the fourth child of Victoria’s son Edward (VII, to be, in another three years). And Helena Victoria – the one on the left of the picture – is the daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, and looks rather too ‘related’ to Irene if you ask me. They both have that Habsburg chin deal going on.

The kid on the extreme right, the quasi-Scot Maurice, is the son of Prince Henry of Battenberg and old Vic’s grandson.

They all kind of owned a hefty chunk of planet, back then.

Hel, Vic & Reen

Another Day Closer to Death

Another failed appeal brings us more news about the Steven Victor Wertz story stumbled upon some years ago. Mr Wertz is still in jail, aged 62, due to be executed for the murder, in 1986, of a couple who I found whilst searching for any old Bones ancestors and their descendants (aka cousins). Whereupon I found a dead Kathy Bone mysteriously (until it turned into this murder story) dying on the exact same day as her husband Terry Watts.

There’s a sequence of forum posts about this, and it seems to be keeping up to date (most recent posting May 23rd, 2012).

I still don’t know that Kathryn Marcele Bone (1964-1986) was a cousin of mine though. Other than that we’re all cousins of course.

Pinned and Bewheeled

Finally received my invite to the pinwheel social networking site tonight. First heard about it on the Triangulation Show, and was intrigued. Signed up that night and a few days later got the email invitation to join up. Basically you have a map of the world at your disposal, down to street level (your detail may vary, as usual with google maps, and openstreetmap) and you can leave notes and images at those locations. The notes will, it seems, allow hyperlinks so you could include a link to a URL of your choice. Images can be uploaded from your machine (or from anywhere – just use your machine’s file browser as presented and paste in a URL – it doesn’t mind) and are then associated with that locaton.

You can also tag your notes with, um, tags. They become ‘hot’ so you can click on them and connect to other folk who have used the same tag. By tagging with genealogy I’ve found somebody who had various 17th century ancestors beheaded, stabbed in the back etc – it’s all good.

Notes may be public, private, personal – with corresponding visibilities on the world map. Early days yet, not huge numbers of people, but by the time I arrived my home town had already been pinned (but only half a dozen times at the time of writing).

I wonder if it will take off?

Asked and Answered

Although you don’t discover this unexpected haulage industry until you ask your first question, you pretty much think twice before you do it again.

It’s a bit of a todo now, asking questions of councils. You can’t ask them anything any more without them firing up the heavy machinery of the Freedom of Information Act. This means that instead of responding to a quickie with an equally quick response, they get to delay (by which I mean carefully consider) any action for up to ten days, and they may decide to charge you for their time. That’s what happens if you write (by email, using their website). I don’t know what happens if you ring up somebody on the council and just ask a question while they’re on the phone (because you think they might just happen to know). Maybe they’ll just answer on the spot. No biggie if they don’t.

So when I make what I imagine to be a fairly ordinary query about gravestones (as you do) in Preston Cemetery, all this equipment starts to cough, creak, and rumble into heavy-duty tree-chewing action. It’s not like I was given any choice in this. It had not even occurred to me that what I might have regarded as a preliminary to some possible later further research would itself trigger the slow and exceeding-small. You cannot escape the feeling that they make such a big deal out of it in order to discourage questions.

But anyway, I did kick it off, and so everybody will (eventually, not quite yet though) get to see what I asked and their response. The actual formal document will not appear on their website (round about here) for a couple of months (it’s RFI 4416 by the way) yet, but at least I have my copy. I’m permitted to post it for news and/or non-commercial reasons, so that’s OK. By now you – in the privileged position of reading this – absolutely have to care what I asked, due to all the kerfuffle alone, don’t you? And you get it in advance of (the) hoi polloi. So here it’s.

There are quite a few gravestones along the wall of Tynemouth Crematorium. I believe they were brought here from the old Cemetery, now long gone. Do you know of any documentation of them, notably of their original provenance? Furthermore, since many of them are in a state of disrepair, does the council have any scheme in place for people to sponsor these old gravestones? It’s quite common (though I shan’t say prevalent) for councils to try to maintain these ancient stones that way. Naturally it would also apply to the more conventionally located and remembered gravestones – not those imports to which I refer.

And their answer, such as it is

Many years ago, a number of memorials were removed from Christ Church Churchyard and repositioned near the north walls of Preston Cemetery. On the south wall, memorials from a former Quaker Burial Ground can also be found. There are no records on site of the dates they were transferred to this cemetery or of the number of memorials involved. The North Tyneside Council is not responsible for maintaining any family memorials and does not currently operate a scheme sponsoring ancient stones.