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Robert E. Cahill

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Visit the Essex County Sheriff's Department (Massachusetts) website.

In June of 2005, Robert E. Cahill, a former Sheriff of Essex County (Massachusetts) died of a heart attack.  In addition to being the Sheriff of Essex County from 1975 to 1978, Robert Cahill wrote over 30 books; including The Wayward Sheriffs of Witch County: the Misadventures of Running America's Oldest Jail and Courthouse. 

 

According to the description of The Wayward Sheriffs of Witch County: the Misadventures of Running America's Oldest Jail and Courthouse, “With no correctional or law enforcement experience, Robert E. Cahill ran for and won the office of High Sheriff of Essex County, Massachusetts, becoming the first Democrat elected to the post in it’s over 300 year history. What Cahill discovered as he took office in 1974 was a county correctional system in such a state of neglect and abuse that it was in violation of almost every health and human-rights regulation on the books.

 

This is a first-person true story of thieves, murders, fugitives, rioters, reckless youths, the criminally insane and the wayward sheriffs that were charged with taking care of them. It is about the miraculous progress of these destitute inmates and bumbling sheriffs in the bastilles of "Witch County" as they struggled from the dark ages into the Twentieth Century. In the process, the High Sheriff was also transformed from a staunch conservative to a devious liberal, battling many foes, including the public and press, to win equal rights for his inmates- a battle that almost killed him. This book is an eye-opener for Americans, exposing how we neglect and mistreat our downtrodden and dysfunctional fellow citizens.”

 

Robert E. Cahill published over 30 non-fiction books about New England life, lore, and history. Prior to his work as an author, he served as a lieutenant in the Army Intelligence in East Africa, dove professionally as a scuba diver, served as a Massachusetts state representative.  His other titles include:  Lighthouse Mysteries of the North Atlantic; New England's Pirates and Lost Treasure; Olde New England's Seashore Cookbook; and, Ancient Mysteries.

According to the book description of Salem's Secret: Fiction Based on Fact, “First in the "Helen Highwaters" mystery series, this intriguing story delves into the tantalizing question of the fate of the "remains" of the victims of the Salem witch hysteria.”

According to the book description of Haunted Happenings: With New Photos of Old Ghosts, “Ghosts… are they merely lost souls trapped in some kind of time warp, probably not knowing how to proceed to the next world? Maybe they might feel that they have some important unfinished business here. Whichever it is, this book should entertain you and, hopefully, give you further insight into the realm of the unknown. It will also provide you with a unique history concerning our forever haunting and mysterious New England.”

According to the book description of New England's Visitors from Outer Space, “Much research and many interviews led to these fascinating, often frightening, and sometimes funny encounters New Englanders have had with UFO's.”

According to the book description of Curious Customs and Cures, “Our first New England settlers were plagued with almost every sickness and disease imaginable. The female homesteader was chief cook and bottle-washer, and usually the only doctor-nurse available. Her home remedies were based on Indian cure-alls or old world traditions, many of them steeped in superstition and ancient customs. It was a brutal land they lived in, where devastating plagues wiped out half of the Indians – for those remaining, sickness often racked their bodies and unfounded fears taunted their minds.”

According to the book description of New England's Little Known War Wonders, “Did you know that the real Uncle Sam was at the Battle of Lexington and Concord ? He was only 12years old at the time. How about the most cursed ship of the American Navy that, upon her defeat, indirectly won the War Of 1812 ? Did you ever hear of the river that changed the course of American history ? These and many other unique war stories are revealed in this book.”

According to the book description of Naughty Navy, “In the late 1600’s, New England boasted of having some 500 vessels occupied in slave trading. About the same time, the treacherous pirate Blackbeard chose Rhode Island as one of his final ports-of-call. Trafficking with the West Indies lead to the Navigation Acts on American merchants and seamen, and eventually lead to the "spirit of freedom." And a few merchant seamen in little cargo ships take on the British Navy, the greatest navy in the world, over a little tax on stamps and tea? You’ve got to be kidding!”

According to the book description of New England's Viking and Indian Wars, “Stories based on the history between the Vikings and the Indians. This book is dedicated to the now deceased Lorenzo Jeffers, Chief of the Wampanoags.”

According to the book description of Amazing Fish Stories, “Only the unique, bizarre, humorous and remarkable stories regarding these finny creatures is presented, and their constant conflict with the most brutal of enemies...Man!”

According to the book description of New England's Pirates and Lost Treasures, “Pay for the average seaman in the English Navy was poor, as was the food on naval ships. Sailors preferred shipping out on fishing boats, merchant ships, and privateers. Except for privateering a seaman had no opportunity to make himself a small fortune-whereas in pirating a mariner might retire in comfort after a couple of years at sea. This book is about the pirates of New England.”

According to the book description of New England's Christmas Memories, “Filled with holiday spirit this book, which covers the years from the Mayflower to present day, is informative and fun to read.”

According to the book description of New England's Cruel and Unusual Punishments, “Master and servant, Sheriff and criminal, crime and punishment. During the days of Pilgrims and Puritans in New England, there weren’t many jails, and the deterrent for crime in those days was mutilation of the body – whipping, branding, cropping of ears, slitting of noses and, of course, burning at the stake and hanging to name a few. People were hanged for minor offenses, such as shoplifting and stealing chickens. This book is about these people, their laws and their victims, their modes of punishments and the terrible tortures many had to endure in the name of justice.”

According to the book description of Haunted Ships of the North Atlantic, “They say the Atlantic Ocean is the most temperamental of the seven sisters. Unpredictable and full of fury, but in her wrath, she provides many bizarre, and often macabre sagas of man’s will to survive. This book contains tales of terror, which are filled with intrigue and suspense, and all true. Perhaps the vessels mentioned here are not haunted, but merely victims of unusual circumstance of coincidence. Possibly these are but illusions of superstitious seamen, but in each case, the Atlantic Ocean has prompted the events that are recorded on these pages, and only she can provide the answers to these mysteries.”

According to the book description of Finding New England's Shipwrecks and Treasures, “An old bottle or a piece of china off a sunken ship can bring in a as much as $1000, and a sunken canon can be worth $10,000. For those of you who wish to hunt for a specific wreck or treasure, or just like to read about these adventures and treasures uncovered, these stories are equally fascinating and stimulating.”

One reader of Finding New England's Shipwrecks and Treasures remarked, “This is an excellent short book on shipwrecks off the New England coast. Enchanting lore, interesting history and stories of modern day treasure hunters and pirates. Author has series of 20 plus books on New England history covering range of subjects. Great to read while on summer vacation or travelling through old New England.”

According to the book description of Things That Go Bump in the Night, “A collection of true stories of strange incidents and bizarre encounters in New England that will beckon you to explore the depths of the unknown and the supernatural. If you’re prone to witches, vampires, and werewolves, this book will let you know where they hang out.”

One reader of Things That Go Bump in the Night, “This book takes a somewhat sober and non-sensationalized look at ghost and ghoul stories and legends of New England mostly centered in the Salem, Mass. area. There are two types of stories: old historical legends, featuring a lot of background research included going as far back as the 1600's; and newer 20th century stories in which the actual participants are interviewed first hand. Gives actual names and places of the people involved in the stories. The older stories are not the average historical information you've read a thousand times over in other Salem witch and ghost stories. Not being an aficionado on New England haunts, it was refreshing and something different to read. New Englanders may know some of these stories, but they were new to me, and not to be found elsewhere in any other ghost books in my collection. Some of these stories might be a bit frightening for small kids, and they will probably frighten most adults who are alone on a 'dark stormy night'. Buy the book, it is worth it!”

According to the book description of New England's Riotous Revolution, “This book not only gives you an insight into the true character of the heroes and villains active in the early stages of the American Revolution, but also introduces you to some of the characters who got little if no publicity then or now, yet played a vital part in the rebellion. It also provides information on some of the hilarity and hardships experienced by the average Yankee as he struggled for freedom in enemy-controlled New England.”

According to the book description of Lighthouse Mysteries of the North Atlantic, “The lighthouse keeper lived a lonely, isolated life and sometimes it would become quite adventurous, if not frightening. It was the storm that kept the keepers on the edge of their seats, and all lighthouses were erected where the waters are most treacherous.”

One reader of Lighthouse Mysteries of the North Atlantic said, “I'm not from the East Coast, but I absolutely loved this book.  The book gathers together some of the most fascinating and unusual stories about the lighthouses of the North Atlantic, and then tells them in such an engaging way that I'm still thinking about many of the things I read in here, several years after reading them. From the viciousness of the early wreckers who would kill any survivors of shipwrecks and then take their belongings, to the insanely epic hurricane of 1938 that washed ships into trains, this book's every tale will hold your attention for certain.  Buy it, read it, and let it haunt you. If only all regional histories were this fascinating, or this well-written, surely Utopia wouldn't be far behind.”

According to the book description of New England's Witches and Wizards, “A collection of local stories, unusual occurrences, unexplained incidents and unsolved mysteries taken place in New England. Some are humorous, others are terrifying, and most boggle the mind. This is the first book in the series.”

According to the book description of Cape Cod's Secret, “When Helen Waters is invited to spend the weekend on Cape Cod by her friend, State Archeologist Joe Sennot, and see first-hand a search for lost pirate treasure, she cannot pass it up. Here, she thinks is a chance to be with Joe, relax, and perhaps do a little scuba diving, something she used to do occasionally as a police officer with the Salem Police Department.

However, when a beachcomber’s death is ruled accidental, Helen, who along with Joe had seen the man just before his death, suspects otherwise. Likewise, when a diver from a claim bordering Barry Clifford’s dies and his death is also ruled accidental, Helen’s suspicions deepen.

Soon she is embroiled in events that very nearly cost her and Joe their lives. She also finds herself attracted to one of Barry Clifford’s divers, a giant man with an intriguing past who seems to offer more than just a future of tranquility and security. As Helen struggles with what the two mysterious deaths signify, she also struggles with the feelings in her heart and her loyalty to Joe. Cape Cod’s secret is an exciting sequel to Salem’s Secret and casts Helen Waters into events that challenger her intellectually and physically and which come close to overwhelming her.”

According to the book description of New England's Mad and Mysterious Men, “The Wild Men of Borneo, Johnny Appleseed and the Provincetown Phantom to name a few...All men who made themselves a name in history by being odd, rude and "possibly insane." We'll let you be the judge.”

According to the book description of New England's Mountain Madness, “While visiting his cabin in the New Hampshire mountains, Robert Cahill learned of local legends and mind-boggling mysteries in the lands that surround him.”

According to the book description of The Horrors of Salem's Witch Dungeon, “A stone dungeon located in the cellar of the "Witch Jail" was rediscovered in 1957 when the land there was being excavated to build an office building. During Robert Cahill's position as Master and Keeper of the Salem Jail when he was the High Sheriff of Essex County, he discovered many brutal and often bizarre incidents concerning the crimes and punishments of our New England ancestors.”

One reader of “I gleaned a lot of new information from this small but powerful book telling some of the tales from our colonial past. Mr. Cahill certainly has gathered up some very interesting anecdotes from a dark aspect of our history. The only problem I have with this book is he does not include a bibliography in the back. In his other books in the series he does. Since I am involved in research regarding the Hartford Witch trials, I am disappointed he did not have his facts straight regarding the circumstances of this sordid story. It just made me skeptical of his other "retellings" of history. Other than this, it is a very entertaining and interesting read!”

One reader of Ancient Mysteries said, “For many years people ignored Viking Sagas claiming visits to North America. That was a mistake as would be ignoring the many finds reviewed in this short yet fascinating book.  Ancient coins, a Celtic sword, Iberic inscriptions and the famous Dighton Rock, artifacts like the "Roman Head," a sculptured head found in Essex. Cahill's surveys the region's vast collection of stone chambers, temples and dolmens. He notes that Native American accounts verify the existence of some stone formations, but don't seem to claim to be their designers.  Mystery Hill in North Salem New Hampshire which is a collection of stone structures that has fascinated people for centuries. Evidence that indicates that the site is pre-Columbus is compelling. Perhaps it's time for archaeologists to reexamine this site. It's bizarre for such a site to be ignored when it could decide once and for all the prehistory of North America.”

According to the book description of New England's Strange Sea Sagas, “Stories about New England Seamen-the brave and the cowardly, the indolent and industrious-and the ships in which they sailed. True sagas about the improbable, unusual and sometimes seemingly impossible.”

According to the book description of New England Marvelous Monsters, “A collection of unusual and factual stories of sea monsters that are well documented.25 years of research have uncovered startling discoveries...I leave these puzzling incidents for you to wrestle with in your own mind.”

According to one reader of New England's Ghostly Haunts, “I found a copy of Robert Cahill's "Haunted Happenings" and liked it so much I searched for another of his books. I found this one and devoured it in one sitting. This book predates the above-mentioned work by nine years and the difference is amazing. This book is indeed fun and enjoyable but it is nowhere near as good as "Haunted Happenings". The stories are not as in-depth or as well researched. This book is also not nearly as well written.

Cahill by the way is a former sheriff in the line of Salem sheriffs that have fallen victim to the curse of Giles Corey and seems to have fallen into writing books after being forced to retire early. Like all the sheriffs before him he had heart and blood problems. I guess if anyone should know about ghosts it would be him.

This book covers ghosts in Marblehead, Machiasport, Maine, Dudleytown, Connecticut, and also some maritime events like the Mary Celeste mystery. Oddly enough the Celeste was first named the Amazon. Of course there are also several of Salem's ghosts which make it into the text. Overall very enjoyable but also very short and without enough detail. Still, the beginnings of a very good writing style show through and this is a good book to pick up before touring New England. Probably about three and a half stars but I rounded up.”


The Wayward Sheriffs of Witch County: True Misadventures of Operating America's Oldest Jail and Courthouse
Robert Ellis Cahill  More Info

Haunted Happenings: With New Photos of Old Ghosts (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Mountain Madness (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Ghostly Haunts (Collectible Classics Series, No. 2) (Collectible Classics Series, Number 2)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Cape Cod's Secret (Helen Highwaters)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Little Known War Wonders (Collectible Classics, No. 7)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Finding New England's Shipwrecks and Treasures (Collectible Classics, No. 6)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Cruel and Unusual Punishments (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Christmas Memories (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

The Horrors of Salem's Witch Dungeon (Collectible Classics, No. 9) (Collectible Classics Series : No 9)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England Marvelous Monsters (Collectible Classics, No. 3) (Collectible Classics Series)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Witches and Wizards (Collectible Classics, No. 1) (Collectible Classics, No 1)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Haunted Happenings: With New Photos of Old Ghosts (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

Olde New England's Strange Superstitions
Robert Ellis Cahill  More Info

Haunted Ships of the North Atlantic (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Riotous Revolution (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Curious Customs and Cures (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

Old Irish of New England (Collectible Classics, No. 10) (Collectible Classics, No 10)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Naughty Navy (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

Salem's Secret: Fiction Based on Fact (Helen Highwaters)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Viking and Indian Wars (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

Things That Go Bump in the Night (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Olde New England's Sugar & Spice And Everything
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Pirates and Lost Treasures (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

Ancient Mysteries (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Strange Sea Sagas (Collectible Classics, No. 5) (Collectible Classics Series)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

New England's Visitors from Outer Space (Collectible Classics, No. 8)
Robert Cahill  More Info

New England's Mad and Mysterious Men (Collectible Classics, No. 4) (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert Cahill  More Info

Olde New England's Strange Superstitions (New England's Collectible Classics)
Robert E. Cahill  More Info

According to the book description of Old Irish of New England, “Over the years, Robert Cahill has written a few articles on the Irish of New England for the North Shore Sunday Newspaper. This book is about the stories and successes of the Great Irish Famine, and the stories of the Irish who came to New England before the 19th century.”

According to the book description of Olde New England's Strange Superstitions, “Each generation that comes along seems to consider itself less superstitious than the one that preceded it. In Puritan and Pilgrim days their belief in the devil and his disciple, the witch, was so intense that it turned their world upside down. It seems that well into the 19th century, our ancestors were as superstitious lot. This book tells you about those superstitions.”

One reader of New England Marvelous Monsters said, “This short book on the Sea Monsters of New England captures local lore on the unknown creatures that inhabit the NE Atlantic coast. Author relays old tales and new adventures with great color and enthusiasm. You may not believe everything you read, but it is interesting reading for visitors to New England or locals interested in local lore and culture.”

About the Essex County Sheriff’s Department

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department (Massachusetts) have been serving the public safety needs of the residents of the 34 cities and towns that comprise the region around Salem for over 300 years.  The tradition began under the colonial-era leadership of George Corwin, William Gedney, Thomas Wainwright, Daniel Denison and Michael Farley, and continues today under the watchful eyes of Robert E. Cahill, Thomas C. Goff and Sheriff Frank G. Cousins, Jr.

Initially, offenders from the county were housed at two separate facilities in Salem and Lawrence.  The first Salem Jail was constructed to serve citizens north of Boston and was operational in 1638.  Many historians say it was the first detention facility of its kind built in the country.  Located at the corner of Federal and St. Peter streets, the edifice was made of wood, with additions built over the years to accommodate an expanding client base.  Some scholars believe victims of Salem’s infamous Witch Trials were incarcerated at the jail.

 

Today, the 10-building Middleton complex sits on 20 acres that overlooks the communities of Danvers and Middleton.  It is adjacent to Essex Agricultural Institute and a parcel of land owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

The facility opened with five hundred offenders.  Today, it houses about 990.  The central inmate housing area is enclosed by a pair of chain-link fences and is topped with coiled wire, motion detectors, and a specially-constructed lower segment that makes climbing over the fences next to impossible.  The administration building, warehouse, and garage are located outside the fence.

 

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department houses sentenced county inmates, pre-trial county inmates and sentenced state inmates.  It also houses a handful of federal inmates. The average sentence for a county inmate is nine months. The average sentence for a state inmate is six years.

 

The department processes over 8,000 new inmates per year.  The average age of an inmate is 33.  Thirty percent of the inmates do not have high school diplomas.

The Essex County Sheriff's Department provides a myriad of services to outside law enforcement agencies and community outreach service providers. The goal of these services is to enhance the safety and security of the residents of Essex County.

 

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department performs these law enforcement related functions: Anti-Graffiti Truck; Civil Process; Information Sharing Network; K-9 Division; TRIAD; and Youth Academy.

 

Source:

Mass.gov

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