Harrowing History will showcase true crime in Bordentown

As true crime shows like “American Horror Story” and “MindHunter” rise in popularity, the Bordentown Historical Society unveils its new performance event, Harrowing History.

The series, created by society Art Director Kristi Kantorski, will debut with six stories of murder, mayhem and tragedy pulled from the back pages of Bordentown’s rich history.

Playing on Bordentown’s moniker of the “Little City with a Lot of Charm,” Harrowing History aims to tell the truth behind that charm.

Harrowing History will debut Sept. 19, at Divine Word Missionaries, Joseph Bonaparte’s former Point Breeze property, located at 101 Park St., Bordentown. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased online at Harrowinghistory.bpt.me.


The society has existed for more than 90 years with the mission to preserve, teach and inspire curiosity about Bordentown’s rich history. While the stories of Francis Hopkinson, Clara Barton and Thomas Paine are some of the most well-known from this town, this latest initiative dives into dark passageways to expose Bordentown’s disreputable natives.


“Harrowing History is about people’s curiosity,” Kantorski says. “You’ve seen the quaint buildings, the stores and the shops — it’s charming and cool, but how about what you don’t see? What happened behind the walls? What didn’t we see in broad daylight?”


Harrowing History isn’t your average ghost story. In fact, every story is absolutely true: Kantorski painstakingly researched the historical facts from local and national newspapers, trial records, census data and obituaries to write the stories. This 90-minute storytelling showcase features the performance talents of Bordentown locals Anne Hay, Chris Campbell, James Parker and Stacy La Mell, along with Leann Testerman, Elyse Kiedaisch and Melissa L. E. Baker.


Each performer brings their own talents to embody the persona of their 19th-century avatar. “There’s something about a dark epic that captures the imagination,” says Baker, who co-founded her own professional theater troupe, Chaste Treasure. “When there’s real depth, people follow the story all the way.”


The tragic tales of Harrowing History bring a new flavor to BHS that will appeal to a whole new audience. The Bordentown Historical Society’s flagship events — the Spring Garden Tour, Peach Social and Fall House Tour, which annually welcome visitors to town — were disrupted by COVID-19 this year, so Harrowing History arrives at a perfect time when visitors can enjoy this outdoor performance. The event will be hosted with all prescribed precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m thrilled we’ve got something brand new to interest more people in history,” said society trustee Suzanne Wheelock. “It’s great for the community and the Bordentown Historical Society.”


This set of six stories is just the first series assembled by Kantorski, who already has plans for the future.


Tickets are $20 and on sale starting today. In support of local Bordentown businesses, attendees can save $5 off their ticket purchase if they show a recent receipt at the performance from a DBA member business in town. Visit Harrowinghistory.bpt.me for tickets and more information. Direct questions to BordentownHistoricalSociety@gmail.com.


Article appeared in NJ.com: https://www.nj.com/burlington/2020/08/harrowing-history-will-showcase-true-crime-in-bordentown.html