No. 653
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 27, 2024

The Last Dip of the Season.

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.
September 3, 2013
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Tag: cross-dressing

Willie Craig Was a Girl.

But what a lovely sensation she created among the Henderson, Tenn. sweet girls and susceptible boys before her sex was discovered.

5/11/2015

It Was a "She."

7/9/2013

It Was Another Kind of Cat.

2/21/2012

The Female Marine

12/27/2011
The archives of the Humble Oil & Refining Company are about the last place where you’d expect to run across a first-rate poltergeist account, but it just goes to show that we live in a funny old world.  In 1948, a folklorist and historian was browsing through the company’s papers when he came across a letter that had absolutely nothing to do with oil.  It read:Jan [illegible] '
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Strange Company - 5/27/2024
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
When these photos from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York were taken at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery at the end of May in 1899, Memorial Day didn’t exist. “Decoration Day,” however, was an established holiday celebrated every May 30. The idea was to visit the final resting places of thousands of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/27/2024
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
John Wesley Elkins.11-year-old John Wesley Elkins was slight of stature—four feet eight inches tall, weighing 73 pounds. He was intelligent and well-spoken, and he had never caused trouble until the day he murdered his parents. At 2:00 am, on July 24, 1889, while his parents were sleeping in their Iowa farmhouse, he shot his father in the head and then beat his mother to death with a club.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/25/2024
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
The Advent of Spiritualism. | The Beecher-Tilton Scandal

The Last Dip of the Season.

Last Dip of the Season

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.

Westchester Water Witches

They Won’t Have a Man Around, and Still Enjoy Themselves—Diving as a Fine Art, With a Special View to the Exhibition of Pink Flesh and Pretty Hosiery.

The fair dwellers in some of the charming country sites on the shores of Long Island Sound have invented a means of enjoying themselves, whose novelty will probably recommend it whenever it becomes known before the season is over. In the course of a yachting cruise down the sound last week a Police Gazette artist enjoyed an admirable opportunity to obtain the sketch presented with this number.

The pictures explains itself. A long and elastic spring-board is flown from the gallery of a boathouse, itself built over deep water, so far out as to afford ample profundity for safe diving. The plank itself is some fifteen feet above the surface of the water and straight in advance of its end a light cork buoy is enclosed. The door of the boat house in the rear is open, giving the diver a run of some twenty feet for a start.

The result, seen for the first time, is, to say the least, startling.

An elegant figure clad in a tight-fitting bathing suit of the most improved French model, bounds out of the dark doorway, makes three or four leaps on the swaying plank and is then shot high in the air, a mere flash of striped hosiery and pink flesh, descending a parabola and landing, if she knows how to preserve her balance, with her pointed hands, into the water, clearing the surface like an arrow and vanishing at last in a little circle of boiling foam. The object of the divers is to leap beyond the anchored buoy as far as possible, and a regular record is kept of the distance of the leaps. After rising to the surface the fair swimmers paddle back through the piles on which the boat house is sustained and ascend a comfortable ladder to the club-room, for it is, again.

The boat house is the meeting place of the “Westchester Divers," as they call themselves, who consist of numerous wealthy ladies of the vicinity, with a sprinkling of well-known actresses and professionals in operatic walks.

It is a veritable female paradise, no men being admitted to the hospitalities of the establishment. “We can’t keep you away in your boat, of course,” observed the smiling president to the artist. “But we won’t permit you to land, and you are always glad to get over to the Point where they have excellent lager beer on tap. Are you not thirsty?” The artist considered the hint an excellent one, and took it. He is sorry to say, however that the charming president of the “Westchester Divers” is either no judge or she has never read Sapphire.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 9, 1880.