April 26, 2023
Chester County Library hosts May 8 talk
by author Bruce E. Mowday
on three Chester County true crime books
The notorious Johnston gang is the topic
EXTON _ The notorious Johnston gang saga, subject of a movie, television shows and books, will be examined during a talk at the Chester County Library by author Bruce E. Mowday on May 8.
As a newspaper reporter for the Daily Local News, Mowday covered the murder cases of the three Johnston brothers. The brothers were convicted of multiple counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The talk begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Struble Room of the Chester County Library, 450 Exton Square Parkway, Exton. Reservations are requested. For reservations, go to https://ccls.libcal.com/event/10423803.
Mowday wrote three books on the Johnston gang detailing the assassination of Kennett Square policemen William Davis and Richard Posey; the murders committed by gang members and the theft of 15 paintings from the estate of artist Andrew Wyeth. The books are Small-Town Cops in the Crosshairs, Jailing the Johnston Gang: Bringing Serial Murderers to Justice and Stealing Wyeth.
Mowday has appeared in television shows on Discovery ID and Reel Z television networks on the Johnstons. He has also been interviewed on radio shows and for podcasts on the subject. A movie, At Close Range with Sean Penn and Christopher Walken, was made from the Johnston story.
“Besides telling the story of the Johnston gang, I’ll give background on the cases and information on the writing of the books,” Mowday said. “Those attending will have an opportunity to ask questions about the case. Even though the murders took place decades ago, the crimes committed by the Johnston gang continue to leave scars on the county’s community.”
While relating the crimes, Mowday’s books focus on the law enforcement officers involved in the prosecutions. “As I once told former FBI agent Dave Richter and Pennsylvania policeman Tom Cloud, their stories are more important and fascinating than those of the criminals.”
Signed copies of Mowday’s books will be offered for sale at his talk. Mowday, an award-winning journalist, has authored more than 20 books on history, true crime, business and sports. He was previously named a “Literacy Hero” by the West Chester library. For more information on Mowday and his books, see www.mowday.com.
The May 8 talk is the first of three talks by Mowday at the Chester County library this year.
“I’m so pleased that the county library is providing a venue for my talks on Chester County history,” Mowday said. “I feel especially honored each time I walk into the Exton library and see my name listed on the wall with so many legendary authors from our rich literary heritage. I’m so glad Pam Marquette, the library Adult Program Coordinator, worked with me to schedule these talks.”
The second talk, Three Views of Gettysburg, by Mowday will take place on Thursday, July 20 at 6:00 p.m. The talk will highlight some of the Chester County connections to the pivotal battle of the Civil War. To register, go to https://ccls.libcal.com/event/10468569.
“I never thought I would write a book on Gettysburg, one of the most written about events in our nation’s history. Now I have three books on Gettysburg,” Mowday said. “An ancestor was wounded during the second day of the battle, July 2, 1863. I visited Gettysburg many times over the years. One day I was at the angle, where Union troops, defended the famous Pickett’s Charge. I realized all of the books about Pickett’s Charge were written from the Southern viewpoint. My publisher agreed that a book on the Northern troops was needed. The result was my Pickett’s Charge: The Untold Story.”
As Mowday was completing the manuscript for Barricade Publishing of New York, he talked with a Coatesville High School classmate, Greg DePedro, owner of the Coatesville Flower Shop. DePedro mentioned that a relative was the curator of the J. Howard Wert Gettysburg collection, the largest private collection of Gettysburg artifacts. The curator, Craig Caba, allowed some of the artifacts from the collection to be used as illustrations in the book.
Caba then approached Mowday about doing a book on the whole collection and the Wertz family. Mowday agreed and Schiffer Publishing published J. Howard Wert’s Gettysburg. The book contains many of the thousands of items from the collection, including a letter from noted Kennett Square author Bayard Taylor and Taylor’s brother’s pipe. Charles Frederick Taylor was killed at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.
Emotional Gettysburg is the third book by Mowday, published by Regent Publishing of California. Mowday wrote essays to go with original paintings by noted Chadds Ford artist, Karl J. Kuerner. Kuerner is the only artist to be personally taught by Andrew Wyeth and his sister. “Emotional Gettysburg is a wonderful book that goes beyond the Civil War battle,” Mowday said. “Readers have commented they never will look at Gettysburg the same way after reading the book.”
The third Mowday talk will be on the battle of Brandywine and Lafayette on Wednesday, September 13, at 6:00 p.m. To register, go to: https://ccls.libcal.com/event/9877053.
“For too many, the battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, and the importance of Lafayette at Brandywine has been lost,” Mowday said. “Brandywine was the largest land battle of the American Revolution and the main defense of Philadelphia against the British. The most significant fact was the participation of a 20-year-old Frenchman, Lafayette.”
Mowday, a former President of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates, wrote the first book on the battle, September 11: 1777: Washington’s Defeat at Brandywine Dooms Philadelphia. He also authored Lafayette at Brandywine: The Making of an American Hero. Lafayette did so much to help America to win its freedom.
“I’m so glad the date September 13 was open at the library. The anniversary of the battle is September 11 and Lafayette’s birthday is September 6,” Mowday remarked. “Lafayette came to America as a volunteer to be in George Washington’s army when he was just 19 years old and turned 20 just five days before the epic battle of Brandywine.”
Downingtown artist Adrian Martinez allowed his wonderful painting of Lafayette at Brandywine to be used on the cover of Mowday’s book.
Mowday has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, including Counter Culture, a PBS Emmy-winning show, the Discovery ID channel, ReelZ network, C-SPAN, the Pennsylvania Cable Network, Hollywood and Beyond, Our American Heritage, Whatcha Got, Journey into the Civil War, Chronicles of the American Civil War and local television and radio stations.
He was a guest on the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Revolution 250. He was featured in the Authors of the American Revolution Congress hosted by Nathan’s Papers. Bruce is a frequent speaker at various civic and historical groups. The Congress of Civil War Round Tables has named Bruce a “5-Star” speaker. Mowday has hosted his own radio shows, has been editor of magazines and was chairman of the Chester County Historical Society and president of the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates. He is a former board member of the Valley Forge Park Alliance and the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau.
A member of the American Friends of Lafayette, Bruce is the Chester County Coordinator for the Lafayette Bicentennial Celebration in 2024 and 2025. He is also a member of the county’s 250th committee planning for a celebration of our nation’s founding.