Introduction by the Editor
By Orrin F.X. Brush IV
Detective Superintendent, Spontoon Islands Constabulary
I think many readers of the materials
presented here will recall the dramatic events of October 9, 1988 in
New Haven City, when thousands of university students, bearing only
candles, stared down the massed security forces of that nation's
totalitarian regime under the eyes of the massed television cameras of
the world. This silent, peaceful defiance triggered a mutiny,
which in turn brought down that government, after nearly 57 years of
harsh, unrelenting rule.
In the aftermath of the "Candlelight
Revolution," there was renewed interest in the fate of the victims who
suffered and perished during those six decades at the paws of old
Revolution. New Haven's new regime held a long series of public
hearings, starting in 1990, in which the files of the old regime were
used to lay out the true horrors and tragedies inflicted on that nation.
For the first time in many years, original
footage from the 1930s was shown of the various show trials the old
regime had held in order to "liquidate" (a favourite term) those that
it considered ideologically unclean. One cannot fail to sense the
tragedy and defeat written on the faces of many of these individuals,
who clearly bore the agonies of physical and mental torture.
One of the figures in these trials stands out,
however. Franklin J. Stagg had, at the time of the original 1931
revolution, been Chief of New Haven's State Police, as well as a rather
lesser known involvement in New Haven's intelligence services.
These posts came after a long period as a highly successful detective
in that force, as well as a posting as an intelligence officer with the
New Haven Flying Corps in Europe, during the "Great War." Stagg
was, typically, charged in his show trial with a long series of alleged
"crimes," for which death was the only "logical" outcome. Stagg,
in spite of his obvious tortures, defended himself with vigour and
spirit. In vain, of course, but even shorn of his horns and
dressed in prison clothes, and under a hail of catcalls and abuse from
the trial's audience and judges, he still managed to bear himself with
dignity and honour.
The circumstances surrounding his escape from
New Haven, while under sentence of death, are still unknown. He
sought, and was refused, asylum in the United States. To its
shame, in my opinion; a decision based on expedient diplomacy and not
The government of the Spontoon Islands, at
this time, was undergoing a profound reorganization of both its
law-enforcement and intelligence services. It was realized by the
Althing that the growth of the nation, as well as the growing forces
that could menace Spontoon's independence, required a degree of
professionalism in its approaches. To this end, the Spontoon
Island Constabulary appointed Franklin Stagg its first Detective
Inspector in 1934. His sole subordinate, appointed as Detective
Sergeant, was my great-grandfather, Orrin F.X. Brush I.
My great-grandfather was of two worlds: he had
one foot in the "uplands," the mountainous areas of the Main Island
where he grew up, but another foot squarely in Meeting Island, where he
had been educated. He thus was exposed to both the native
culture, and the "Euro" culture of those days, and spoke both their
languages, though his English, to his dying day, bore an extremely
heavy Uplander accent, and a somewhat cheerfully haphazard approach to
An uncle gave my great-grandfather a
Dictaphone, acquired from heaven knows where, as well as thousands of
wax cylinder blanks. These, along with other cylinders he
acquired later, were used to record on a daily basis my
great-grandfather's thoughts, usually at the end of his workday.
(And, occasionally, the thoughts of younger Brushes; there is one
cylinder that exists, dating from the mid-1940s, of my father cheerily
reciting his ABCs.) My great-grandfather was a keen believer in
self-improvement, and wanted to learn the art of detection as
thoroughly as he could, and treated Inspector Stagg as his teacher.
My great-grandfather had enormous respect for
Inspector Stagg, and long after the latter's death in 1944, a picture
of him could be found, in a small silver frame, on his desk. It
pained him considerably that the memory of Franklin Stagg slowly began
to fade, until it could no longer be found, except in the memories of
long-serving constables and newspaper reporters (and, curiously, in
native legends). He lived, barely, to see me commissioned into
the Constabulary in 1986. Almost the last thing he said to me was
a plea, which can only be expressed in his fashion: "That poor guy
didn't get no justice from nobody, an' it ain't right. You're th'
one who's gotta get 'im some, see?"
In 2000, the Eight Network in New Haven
contacted our family, as part of the research they were conducting for
a documentary on the 1932 Show Trials. My great-grandfather's
Dictaphone cylinders were produced. Thanks to a grant from the
University of the North Pacific, these cylinders were both preserved
and transcribed. In addition, steps were taken in 2001 to finally
declassify many intelligence documents relating to Franklin Stagg's
contributions, particularly in the area of signals intelligence, to the
efforts to defend the Spontoon Islands and its allies during the runup
to conflicts of the 1940s and beyond, leading to the ultimate success
he did not live to see.
The materials in this and other volumes have been
arranged to show, on a case-by-case basis, Stagg's involvement in law
enforcement in the Spontoon Islands. They form an interesting
companion to the other materials regarding his prior career in law
enforcement in New Haven, and his long-standing work in signals
intelligence for both New Haven and the Spontoons, which are the
subject of works by other editors. Furthermore, interest spurred
by the Eight Network's broadcast in the Spontoons of the final
documentary has in turn spurred examination of other materials by other
authors that refer this long-forgotten figure. In a sense, the
presentation of these cases to you, the reader, is one-half of the
justice my great-grandfather sought for Franklin Stagg.
The other half was delivered in September of
2004, when the remains of Franklin J. Stagg, having been removed from
the church on Meeting Island where he had been buried, were finally
returned to his native land, to be laid to rest with full military
honours and Requiem Mass in the newly rebuilt and reconsecrated
National Cathedral in New Haven City. It was an honour for me to
accompany the casket to its final resting place on behalf of the
Althing, and I'm sure my great-grandfather would have been pleased to
see his fondest wish fulfilled.
Police Headquarters, Meeting Island
28 September 2004
to the cases
"Telephone Inspector Stagg!"