Chester Gillette (1883-1908) was the prototype of the character Clyde Griffiths in Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy.
Grace Brown (1886-1906), Chester Gillette’s murder victim, was the prototype for the character Roberta Alden in the novel.
The murder occurred on July 11, 1906 on Big Moose Lake in Herkimer County in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York.
The trial of Chester Gillette took place in Herkimer, NY from November 12, 1906 through December 4, 1906.
Gillette was convicted of first degree murder and was executed at Auburn (NY) State Prison on March 31, 1908
Photographs from the trial were rare.
Posted here (below) are illustrations (mostly sketches done by courtroom artists) from newspaper accounts of the trial.
Dreiser followed the events of the trial very closely – almost exactly – in An American Tragedy.
— Roger W. Smith
The World (New York), July 18, 1906
The World (New York), July 22, 1906
Chester Gillette under arrest – The World (NY) 7-18-1906
Chester Gillette – The World (NY) 7-22-1906
Grace Brown -The World (NY) 7-22-1906
map of crime locale – The World (NY) 7-22-1906
Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks – The World (NY) 7-24-1906
Chester Gillette – The World-(NY) 11-13-1906
Grace Brown -The World (NY) 11-13-1906
defense attorney Charles D. Thomas – The World (NY) 11-13-1906
Chester Gillette – The World (NY) 11-14-1906
Grace Brown’s family – The World (NY) 11-16-1906
Chester Gillette (far-right) on an outing in the Adirondacks on July 13, 1906, two days after the murder – The World (NY) 11-17-1906
Grace Brown – The World (NY) 11-18-1906
Chester Gillette; his attorney Albert M. Mills – The World (NY) 11-18-1906
Chester Gillette – Albany Evening Journal 11-21-1906
Chester Gillette listening to the reading of Grace Brown’s letters -American (NY) 11-21-1906
Grace Brown – American (NY) 11-21-1906
District Attorney George Ward reads Grace Brown’s letters in court as Gillette and his attorney Albert M. Mills look on – The World (NY) 11-21-1906
Chester Gillette with defense attorney Charles D. Thomas – The World (NY) 11-22-1906
DA Ward questions a witness as Gillette looks on – The World (NY) 11-15-1906
a photograph of Grace Brown taken shortly before she was murdered – American (NY) 11-26-1906
the tennis racket and trial witnesses – The World (NY) 11-26-1906
Gillette on witness stand – The World (NY) 11-29-1906
Gillette in a characteristic pose at trial – The World (NY) 11-30-1906
an exasperated District Attorney Ward grills Gillette – The World (NY) 12-2-1906
Chester Gillette on July 4th outing, presumably with Harriet Benedict and friends – The World (NY) 12-3-1906
Chester Gillette in the dock, weeping – The World (NY) 12-5-1906
Chester Gillette’s family ca. 1898 – The World (NY) 12-6-1906
Chester Gillette shortly before his execution – Los Angeles Times 2-19-1908
Chester Gillette; his mother, Louisa Gillette – Syracuse Herald-American 3-30-1958