Hey, I’m a Screenwriter!

Posted By BrokenClaw on July 27, 2009

Today I watched The Blue Eyed Six documentary on DVD. The Blue Eyed Six were a group of six men, all of them coincidentally blue-eyed, who were arrested and indicted on first degree murder charges in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, in 1879. The motive for the murder was an insurance scheme which relied on life insurance policies which some of the men had taken out on the victim. All six were found guilty of first degree murder. Eventually, one of them was acquitted on appeal, but the other five men were hanged. The story, in fact and legend, is well-known in the local area and is still a favorite tale to be told around campfires.

I became more aware of the story several years ago while doing research for my North Annville Genealogy project. Several of the Blue Eyed Six had children, and many of their descendants still live in Lebanon County. While researching my North Annville neighbors, I traced several families back to that infamous group. My interest was piqued. I read Edna Carmean’s 1974 book of the same name and did some other reading at the Lebanon County Historical Society, where I am a member.

Around this time I was adding content to the Wikipedia, based on my other areas of research, so I decided to expand the article on the Blue Eyed Six. In Carmean’s book, she spent about six pages discussing the aftermath of the trial as it related to insurance reform. In my contribution to the Wikipedia, I summarized that concept with this sentence:

Apart from the actual murder trial, the whole proceeding turned out to be an indictment of the murky business of assessment life insurance, which led to major changes in insurance law, particularly with regard to the practice of insuring people in whom one had no legal interest.

For anyone familiar with how the Wikipedia works, you can see that I submitted that sentence, along with other additions and corrections, to the article in February, 2006.

Bruce and Brian Kreider produced their stage play of the same name in 1994. The play was immediately popular with local residents, and the brothers soon began work on creating a video documentary. It took some doing, but they finally released the film to sellout crowds in 2007. Since I don’t live in the area, I never had opportunity to see the play, nor had I seen the film. When I saw the DVD for sale at the Lebanon County Historical Society gift shop last week, I purchased a copy.

Near the end of the film, I heard the narrator say,”Apart from the actual murder trial, the whole proceeding turned out to be an indictment of the murky business of assessment life insurance, which led to major changes in insurance law, particularly with regard to the practice of insuring people in whom one had no legal interest.

I nearly jumped out of my seat. THAT’S MY SENTENCE! I WROTE THAT!

I stopped the DVD, backed it up and replayed it. I went online and pulled up the article. I played it again. I was right. They took that line, verbatim, from the Wikipedia.

I am fully aware that contributions to the Wikipedia are publicly licensed, and that I have no official stake in its usage. My satisfaction is just the knowledge that my creative writing was deemed worthy of inclusion in the documentary.

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