No. 661
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
July 25, 2024

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn.
September 18, 2017
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Tag: California

Her Striped Stockings.

Bound to be in style - The expedient of a carriage painter's daughter at Vallejo, Cal., to obtain striped stockings.

11/30/2021

Vaccination from a Beauty.

Idiotic freak of some young men at Los Angeles.

3/9/2021

An Adventure with a Sea-Lion.

With open mouths and protruding tusks, they warn the intruder agents too near an approach.

3/26/2018

Thrown from a Balcony.

An Old Man in San Francisco Becomes Enraged at a Young Lady who Teased Him and Flings Her from a Fourth story Balcony.

1/23/2017

Trying to Scare an Old Maid with a Wooden Dutchman.

A wooden Dutchman, rather than no man at all, was what a sensible spinster argued when some practical jokers under took to scare her in Oakland, Cal.

7/11/2016

The Southern Pacific Railway Disaster.

2/11/2014

Hospital Horrors.

3/20/2012

Anxious For a Funeral

10/23/2011
Via Newspapers.com There are a number of stories of churches haunted by spectral organists.  This example appeared in the "Ottawa Citizen," October 24, 1956:TORQUAY, England--The vicar says that when Henry plays the organ in vine-covered St. John's Church the music is something, but you can't help noticing you can see right through him. The vicar, Rev. Anthony Rouse, reported the
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Strange Company - 7/24/2024
Included in yesterday’s trip to Fall River was a stop at Miss Lizzie’s Coffee shop and a visit to the cellar to see the scene of the tragic demise of the second Mrs. Lawdwick Borden and two of the three little children in 1848. I have been writing about this sad tale since 2010 and had made a previous trip to the cellar some years ago but was unable to get to the spot where the incident occured to get a clear photograph.  The tale of Eliza Borden is a very sad, but not uncommon story of post partum depression with a heartrending end. You feel this as you stand in the dark space behind the chimney where Eliza ended her life with a straight razor after dropping 6 month old Holder and his 3 year old sister Eliza Ann into the cellar cistern. Over the years I have found other similar cases, often involving wells and cisterns, and drownings of children followed by suicides of the mothers. These photos show the chimney, cistern pipe, back wall, dirt and brick floor, original floorboards forming the cellar ceiling and what appears to be an original door. To be in the place where this happened is a sobering experience. My thanks to Joe Pereira for allowing us to see and record the place where this sad occurrence unfolded in 1848. R.I.P. Holder, Eliza and Eliza Ann Borden. Visit our Articles section above for more on this story. The coffee shop has won its suit to retain its name and has plans to expand into the shop next door and extend its menu in the near future.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 2/12/2024
The low-rise, mostly commercial stretch of Brooklyn’s 18th Avenue running through Bensonhurst has a historic feel. That’s due in part to the circa-1829 New Utrecht Reformed Church and replica Liberty Pole facing the avenue. But a pocket park a few blocks away at 18th Avenue and 82nd Street contains an even more curious artifact from […]
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Ephemeral New York - 7/22/2024
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: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
 On Saturday, January 25, 1879, George Rowell returned home to Montville, Maine, from a trip to Bath, eighteen miles away. He lived in the house owned by John and Salina McFarland, a married couple in their seventies. Rowell, 40, married their son’s widowed wife, Abby, who had a 14-year-daughter, Cora McFarland. She also had an infant son with Rowell. All six lived together in the Montville
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Murder By Gaslight - 7/20/2024
CHIEF OF CONSThe Morning Times(Cripple Creek, Colorado)February 15, 1896Courtesy of Mitch Morrissey ig Ed Burns robs a dying man?      Mitch Morrissey, a Facebook friend and historian for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, found and published an interesting newspaper piece on "Big Ed" Burns, one of the most notorious characters in the West. Burns was a confidence man and
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/2/2024
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 … Continue reading
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Anti-Everything. | The Enlargement of Woman's Sphere.

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Spirit Trick Exposed

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn. [more]

The Spiritualists, of Hartford, Ct., are excited over the exposure of Mrs. Eugene Beste, the well-known illuminated materializing medium. She has bewildered the people of culture Boston, where she had crowded seances for two years, and she has also given successful exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. She went to Hartford at the invitation of leading Spiritualists, and a séance was given on Saturday, attended by a select few. An incredulous lady determined to test the genuineness of the visionary forms at the next exhibition and laid carful plans. She obtained the consent of Mrs. House, at whose home the medium was a guest, and two stout men were secreted in the kitchen, while the invited twenty, at $1 apiece, were forming three circles in the adjoining room. Mrs. Beste chatted with the spectators until 8:30, when the room was darkened. Two chairs had been placed against the kitchen door by the medium and a wire put in front of the inner circle. This the lady said, would have an electric effect. The medium the retired to the cabinet, formed by curtains inclosing a bay window.

A deathlike silence pervaded the room when a tall figure appeared and advanced a few steps and sang in deep bass. The next figure was Daisy, a child three feet tall, who talked in a sweet voice. Then came Apollonius, of Tiana, and illuminated Oriental figure who wore luminous robes and was expected to dissolve before the eyes of the spectators. The sight was beautiful. Stars sparked and a blue fire enveloped the figure. Suddenly the kitchen door flew open, and two men rushing in seized the supposed Apollonius, who uttered a piercing scream and called for help. Lights were procured, the scented gauze was torn off the figure and Mrs. Beste stood before the excited twenty. She displayed a fine form arrayed in corset, a short chemise and blue stockings. She was allowed to dress, after which she made a confession which was put into the shape of a sworn affidavit by a lawyer present and signed by Mrs. Beste.

She said her robes were soaked in a solution of phosphorus and spattered with illuminated paint, which produced the luminous effect. They were concealed under her dress when she entered the cabinet. Tall figures were made by raising the arms over the head and small figures by kneeling down. She said all the Boston mediums were frauds and that she had deceived thousands, though in constant fear of exposure. After refunding the $20, which was given to the two men who caught her, she was allowed to depart. She left the city on the Washington Express. In her affidavit, she swears never to give another exhibition. This is witnessed by W. O. Burr, of the Times, and other well-known gentlemen. The medium had great vocal powers, which she used to advantage. The leading Spiritualists say they are pleased at the discovery of fraud where it exists.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 24, 1885.