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Hanging Ebenezer Ball

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Ebenezer Ball of Robbinston was the first man hanged for murder in Eastern Maine. A native of Massachusetts proper, he had drifted “downeast,” and become part of a lawless culture endemic to Maine’s borderlands in the early nineteenth century. Suspected of counterfeiting and confronted by authority ,he retreated to the woods, and a lawman died at his hands. Although he might have fled, he stayed, and was tried, convicted, and executed for murder in 1811. Ball’s case is seminal, since it gives us insight into the workings of the criminal justice system in Maine in the years prior to statehood. It also shows us what kind of justice a common man might receive in Maine during the same period. Dr.Welch received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Maine in 1975. He has published in the New England Quarterly, the American Neptune, the Historical Journal of Massachusetts, and the Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. He teaches history at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts.