No. 600
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
March 29, 2023

John L. Sullivan Saved by a Neck.

November 6, 2012
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Tag: children

Shocking Youthful Depravity.

The discovery that public school children frequent immoral places creates a startling sensation in Columbus, O.

2/22/2016

A Terrible Punishment.

8/28/2012

A Terrible Punishment.

A father revenges an outrage on his daughter by pulling the wretch asunder; near Junction City, Kansas.

8/28/2012
The Scottish-born James Oliphant worked as a surgeon in Newcastle.  In 1755, he married one Margaret Erskine, and the pair went on to have two children.  From all appearances, the family was one of solid 18th century middle-class respectability.This seemingly ordinary household took a very dark turn in May of 1764.  One of Oliphant’s two maidservants unexpectedly became so ill she had to quit her
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Strange Company - 3/27/2023
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When Patrick  H. Doherty joined the Fall River Police Department in 1885, he might have been astounded to learn that he would be involved one day in two notorious murder cases- both involving hatchets and axes.  Patrick Doherty was born in Peoria, Illinois on August 10, 1859 to John and Mary Walsh Doherty.  Later the family moved east to Fall River, and we find Patrick Doherty living at 104 Columbia St. (off South Main) and working as a laborer for a time employed by Fall River Iron Works and the Fall River Line steamboat company.  He married Honora (Nora) E. Coughlin on April 25, 1887 at the age of 28, when he was employed at the Fall River Police Department as a patrolman.  The couple would have seven children:  Charles T., Frank., Grace, Robert, Helene, Margaret (called Marguerite), and John. Doherty, (as were several other patrolmen), was promoted to the rank of captain after their work in the case of the century, the Borden Murders of 1892.  Doherty had arrived at #92 after George Allen on the morning of the murders, and was very quickly in the thick of the action, questioning Lizzie upstairs, looking at the bodies with Dr. Dolan, running down to Smith’s pharmacy with Officer Harrington  to question Eli Bence, prowling the cellar for weapons with Medley, Fleet and Dr. Bowen, and making note of Lizzie’s dress.  Doherty stayed on the job on watch at the Borden house until he was relieved at 9 p.m.  When it came time for the inquest, it was Doherty who slipped down to 95 Division St. to collect Bridget, who had been staying with her cousin, Patrick Harrington after the murders.  He would testify at the Preliminary and the 1893 trial in New Bedford. In the midst of the excitement in New Bedford as Lizzie’s trial was about to get underway, yet another hatchet killing took over the front page, the murder of Bertha Manchester on May 30th.  It was a brutal attack to rival the Borden’s with the weapon being most likely a short-handled axe or possibly a hatchet. Doherty went out to the Manchester place with Marshal Hilliard, Captains Desmond, and Connors and Inspector Perron  on June 6th with the  suspect, Jose Correa de Mello, who revealed his hiding place for the stolen  watch taken from the victim and her purse at that time.  De Mello served time and then was sent back to the Azores, banned from stepping upon U.S. soil again. The Dohertys moved to 1007 Rock St. in 1897 and Patrick was pleased to walk his daughter Margaret (Marguerite) down the aisle in 1913. Patrick Doherty retired from the force in 1915 and succumbed to interstitial nephritis on June 28, 1915.. He, and some of his children are buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Fall River. Resources: Ancestry.com, Parallel Lives,: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and her Fall River, Find-a-Grave.com. and Yesterday in Old Fall River: A Lizzie Borden Companion Fall River Globe June 28, 1915
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 3/3/2023
Bernard Gussow was born in Russia in 1881. But by 1900 he’d made it to the Lower East Side, where he was described as an “East Side artist” in a New York Times article about paintings he displayed at an art show at the Educational Alliance settlement house on East Broadway. [“Subway Steps”] Gussow would […]
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Ephemeral New York - 3/27/2023
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
 17-year-old James E. Nowlin murdered George Codman in a Massachusetts stable in January 1887. Then he took an axe and chopped Codman’s body into pieces. As he traveled home in a sleigh, he threw the pieces into the snow along the road.Read the full story here: Massachusetts Butchery.
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Murder By Gaslight - 3/25/2023
Roped-inOmaha Daily BeeJune 25, 1884(Click image to enlarge)  OSSIBLE VICTIM OF THE JEFFERSON R. SMITH GANG.  Omaha Daily Bee June 25, 1884 COLORADO. Col. Fletcher, a tourist from Boston, was roped-in by the bunko men of Denver and relieved of $1,000. NOTES: $1,000.00 in 1884 is the equivalent of $33,472.95 in 2023. According to the Rocky Mountain News there were at least two,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/12/2023
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 […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Rogues & Brawlers. | Naughty Anthony.

John L. Sullivan Saved by a Neck.

Sulllivan saved.

Tommy Shea has a run-in in a Boston barber shop which will no doubt prove his last one. [more]

Ever since the Kerrigan-Wallace fight, last Thursday night, John L. Sullivan has been on a racket, and had a good-sized jag on Saturday night. All day Saturday the big fellow and Tommy Kelly, a fighter of less renown; Tom Keefe, alias Shea, who has just finished a term of three years for highway robbery, and John Ryan, a Cambridge sport had been painting the town, visiting barroom after barroom and drinking at every place.

Rumor has it that Shea was angered by Sullivan’s actions at the Thursday night fight, and as soon as he got drunk he laid the big fellow with a gun. He was not so drunk, though, that he didn’t have a wholesome respect for the law, and if it was his intention to harm Sullivan he played his cards well.

But Sullivan wouldn’t get mad. Shea insulted him to a most outrageous unprovoked manner and kept at it so persistently as to give some color to the story of a plot to kill Sullivan. He wanted Sullivan to make the first assault, knowing that public opinion would secure his acquittal on the grounds of self-defense. Sullivan’s phenomenal streak of good temper perhaps saved his life He listened good-naturedly to Shea’s talk, and seeing the horrified look on the faces of all those present he played the magnanimous dodge to perfection.

The quartet made a round of the saloons, and at 6 o’clock brought up at Billy Haggerty’s barber shop. Haggerty is a candidate in the lower branch of the Legislature, and Sullivan is his right bower. It was not a very clean-looking set of men who filed into the barber shop in Sullivan’s wake, but all anticipated a general overhauling by hands that had become adept in the art of reducing swelled heads. There were two vacant chars, Sullivan made a bee line for one and stretched out for a nap, while the barber dashed on the lather and scraped the iron jaw of the big fighter. Ryan surrendered himself for similar treatment. Kelly was next and Shea was fourth on the list Shea didn’t seem to mind the delay; in fact, he seemed glad of the chance to use his  tongue more freely, and he walked up to the champion and “roasted” him even more savagely than before. Sullivan became impatient under the tongue lashing, and rising in his chair with his face covered with lather, he turned on the ex-convict and said:

“Oh, go to ____, you ____ __ ___ _____, I don’t want anything to do with you. Go talk to Kelly; he’s doing nothing. Go away from here, anyhow. I won’t have you around. You just shut up.”

Shea thought discretion was the better part of valor and turned his attention to the ex-pugilist. Kelly cleverly disguises his fifty-odd years by dying his mustache and plays the role of a young sport.

He had a reputation in his day of being the gamest light-weight in the ring, but he also has the reputation of being a bad man to tackle when his dander is up, owing to his weakness for the knife. Saturday night he reached the ugly stage of his drunk and was in no frame of mind to stand chaffing of any sort.

He was sitting in a chair, tilted back against the wall, waiting for the welcome call “Next.” Shea called to the bootblack, and sat down for a polish, but his tongue kept on wagging, and in a few minutes he had Kelly furious. He was too drunk to know his danger. Kelly didn’t say anything, but he jumped to one of the barbers, snatched the razor from his hand and made a lunge at Shea, and slashed him under the left side of the jaw, making a gash three inches long. It was deep, too, but escaped the big vein and artery. Sullivan was asleep and didn’t know what was going on until he heard a fight in progress behind him. Ryan saw Kelly swing the razor, and jumped from his chair to save Shea, but he was too late. He saw the blood fly, and then opening the door, kicked Kelly into the street. Kelly disappeared in the darkness. Shea was seen to be seriously wounded and Dr. McDonald was called to stop the flow of blood. Sullivan inquired as to the cause of the row, and then he too, walked out of the barber shop.

Kelly went to a lawyer and asked him whether he would “skip or surrender.” He was advised to go to the police station and upon being confronted by the dying man a sickening sight ensued.

Kelly is locked up.

 

Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, November 9, 1889.