No. 576
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
October 6, 2022


By a Fast Young Puppy.
October 4, 2022

Via Newspapers.comThe following case is an example of what--for blogging purposes--I call “mini-mysteries”: crimes that are particularly unusual or baffling, but where there simply isn’t enough information for a regular blog post.  I remember reading about this chilling murder when it happened, and it put me off rest stops for life.  The “Herald-Palladium,” May 16, 1989:ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) -
Strange Company - 10/5/2022
'SOAPY' SMITH AND TWO COLLEAGUESObject ID 2017.6.350Courtesy of Salvation Army Museum of the West(Click image to enlarge) New photograph of "Soapy" Smith?NOT EVEN CLOSE.      A B & W photograph, said to be of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, and two colleagues. Soapy is in the middle, marked with an "X." The photo was taken in Alaska,
Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/11/2022
When you pass the three-story red-brick beauty at 251 West 13th Street—with its elegant arched windows and Dutch-style gabled roofline—you just know it was built for something special. That special purpose was a noble one in Gilded Age New York. The building, near Eighth Avenue and at the end of Greenwich Avenue, served as a […]
Ephemeral New York - 10/3/2022
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
John Walton was walking home from work with his cousin Richard Pascall down 18th Street in New York City at 11:30 the night of June 30, 1860. Walton owned a distillery on 18th Street and a store on 25th Street. At the time, Walton and Pascal shared a room over the store. At 3rd Avenue, they noticed a man leaning against a tree in the shadows but paid little attention as they walked past him. A
Murder By Gaslight - 10/1/2022
The Borden Curse #9 The Fish Family There is plenty of documentation that Lizzie and Emma ignored Abby’s half-sister Bertie Whitehead and her family when they came to call on Abby at Second St. But Abby had a full sister, Priscilla S. Gray who married George B. Fish in 1840 and spent her life after in various Connecticut towns. One can only wonder what Priscilla had heard and seen in the Borden home when she visited her sister or what Abby may have written to her in letters about those Borden sisters!. George and Priscilla were at the August 6, 1892 funeral. The couple read about the trial and it would be interesting to know what they both thought about the acquittal. January would prove a disastrous month for the Fish family. About six months after Lizzie was acquitted, George, who worked for the railroad as a tallyman on the Trunk Line, died on January 3, 1894. Priscilla, Abby’s sister followed her husband 3 weeks later and died on January 25th. Their one grandson, Frederick (Freddie) H. Fish who also worked for the railroad died on January 7, 1915 at the age of 43, leaving 5 young children. His brother Harry died at age 2. The family is buried at Spring Grove in Hartford. They were a close family. Their home at 20 Canton Street was demolished many years ago.
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 9/15/2022
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
Executed Today - 11/13/2020
| A Newspaper Man’s Plight



I.— The Low Dog.

His name is Towzer, alias Pincher, alias Boxer, alias Dash, alias Now-then, alias Here-you, alias Get-out, alias Come-out-of-that. He has also been called S-s-s-it. He is of a mongrel breed—as you may see—and aristocratic dogs looked down upon him in his most prosperous days. He was born in a neighborhood know by the euphonious name of “Back-slums,” and his mother and father made their living in ways not recognized by, and scarce to be mentioned by, the ears polite of reputable dogs. The one found her means of subsistence among the offal and garbage of the street; while the other—rather vicious dog in his way—was an adroit thief, always upon the alert to pry into neglected market-baskets, and known and feared of the corner butchers, from whose stall he had made a stolen meal.

II.—The Fast Dog.

The fast dog is something of a braggart, and tells his own story:

"I am sick of life—sick as a dog. I have exhausted every pleasure in it, and am prepared to say that the world is a bore. Nothing excites me; nothing amuses me. If you were to get up, for my especial gratification, a conceit of sixteen cats and fiddles; if you were to train a whole herd of cows to jump over the moon in my presence; if you were to take me to a coursing match, where the swiftest of gravy-spoons should be hunted by a pack of thorough-bred dishes—none of these exciting sports would make this dog laugh.”

Harper's Weekly, January 16, 1858.