In the summer of 1936, fourteen-year-old Maxwell Breeze was playing in the waters of the Erie Canal in Brockport when a dog jumped into the canal and climbed his back, and the boy drowned. The owner of the dog was served notice to appear at a hearing, at which time a trial was set to determine if the dog should be put down. The unusual case captivated the nation as newspapers from coast to coast covered the story, Paramount Pictures dispatched “The Eyes and Ears of the World” to film the events and a media circus descended on the quiet village. During the trial, more than thirty witnesses were called, including a national expert brought in to evaluate the canine defendant, which journalists referred to as “the most talked-of dog on earth.” Authors Bill Hullfish and Laurie Fortune Verbridge reveal the bizarre incident, trial and spectacle that came to Brockport.
Bill Hullfish, professor emeritus, SUNY College at Brockport, toured under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Member of the Clarkson Historical Society, the American Canal Society and the Canal Society of New York, bill has written a number of books. His latest, The Erie Canal Sings, was published by The History Press. His articles have been published in American Canals, Bottoming Out, Divisions, American Recorder, The Instrumentalist, New Jersey Outdoors and Bicycling. Laurie Fortune Verbridge is retired from K.M. Davies Company, Williamson, New York. She has held positions as the secretary for the Office of Public Information, Cornell University; postmaster of Pultneyville, New York; and postal service positions including quality first facilitator, secretary human resources and rural letter carrier. She is a member of the Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society and Save Our Sodus Bay, a past president/trustee of the Williamson Central School Board of Education and past president and state secretary of the Wayne County and State of New York Rural Letter Carriers. Laurie has written letters to the editor of the Williamson Sun and Record and the Times of Wayne County and formatted and wrote articles for “What’s Happening” for Williamson Central School Board.
The Brockport Murder Dog Trial: Bizarre Tragedy and Spectacle on the Erie Canal