No. 561
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 25, 2022

Customs Inspections on the Canadian Frontier.

"Madam, is there anything dutiable in this bag?"
September 13, 2021

Tag: Spiritualism

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

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


The Advent of Spiritualism.

A simple schoolgirl prank spawned a new belief with millions of followers.

 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnWelcome to the first Link Dump of Summer 2022!Some accounts of encounters with fairies.Urban legends about being rescued by ghost dogs.Accepting that we really don't know jack about the paranormal.The missing bodies of the Waterloo dead.The UK's National Gallery is hitting the road.The law code of Alfonso X.For some reason, there are a lot of John
Strange Company - 6/24/2022
'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
You won’t notice anything unusual at first as you walk along quiet, unassuming 92nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. But in the middle of the block, amid the quaint brownstones and apartment houses on the south side, stand two startling architectural anachronisms: side by side wood-frame houses with clapboard shutters, low iron fences, and […]
Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2022
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
 Who murdered John Meierhoffer of Orange, New Jersey? Was it his estranged wife Margaret, or her lover, Frank Lammens?Read the full story here: Who Shot Meierhoffer?
Murder By Gaslight - 6/18/2022
Great news! The sale of Maplecroft is under agreement with inspections concluded and closing pending. A lovely family with children and experience with Victorian properties will make it a family home once more. A happy ending for this historic home. Congratulations to all. “Maplecroft, the historic former home of Lizzie Borden, is being purchased by artist and professor Brooke Mullins Doherty, who will be moving her home and studio from New Bedford. She and her husband Michael, a polymath, along with their three children look forward to respecting the house’s unique history while they restore Maplecroft to a single family residence.”
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/27/2022
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 Duel on Horseback. | A Charming Female Vaccinator.

Customs Inspections on the Canadian Frontier.


"Madam, is there anything dutiable in this bag?"

Custom Inspections on the Canadian Frontier.

To be rudely awakened from one’s slumber at anytime, and under any circumstances, is harrowing, but to be shaken into a doubtful wakefulness by a grim official in order that your baggage may be examined for the purpose of ascertaining if you are concealing contraband or dutiable articles in you impediments, is the worst form of awaking: a clear exemplification of adding insult to injury. On the border line which divides Canada from the United States the unhappy traveler is subjected to the “uncanny” hands of the vigilant and lynx-eyed Custom House officer, a creature in whose leathern bosom no spark of human sympathy remains. Remorselessly and with wooden visage he informs you, in a dull sing-song, that you most expose the contents of your baggage to his gimlet gaze. What matters it to him that you protest—that you solemnly assert that you have nothing to declare? He has a certain duty to perform, and this duty he means to get through, not caring a whit for the outraged feelings of the rudely awakened sleeper. Elderly ladies of excitable and fretful temperament are his daintiest morsels. To their protests, examinations and treats of vengeance, he turns the deafest of ears. Funny old gentlemen ,he calmly sits upon. Irate youths he harries. Tearful maidens he treats with disdain. He is a fiend of the most exasperating type—unendurably exasperating, he never affords the satisfaction of “talking back.”

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 10, 1883.