Mystery at the American Saloon


The Saga of the Scoundrel Thomas McGehan
A true crime short story by Richard O Jones

On Christmas eve, 1870, three men attack a local politician with boulders and slungshots, and at least a dozen men scramble for the door while five shots pepper the faro room at the American Saloon in Hamilton, Ohio. One of bullets kills the politician, Thomas Myers, but in their haste, none of the gamblers see who fired the gun. The blame falls on the leader of the gang of thugs who attacked Myers, his political rival Thomas McGehan. At his trial the famed former Congressman, exiled Copperhead and gubernatorial candidate Clem Vallandigham, who literally gives his life to McGehan’s defense.

Music by Chuck Wiggins


Diagram of the faro room in the American Saloon from the Cincinnati Commercial:

commercial illo

Sources include reports from the Cincinnati Commercial, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Hamilton Telegraph and the Hamilton Democrat, and “The Trials of Tom McGehean” by Kathleen Neilan Stuckey, Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin 24 (April 1966): 188-197;  as well as “the McGehean book”:



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