No. 643
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 23, 2024

Duel of the Divas.

The question of who was more beautiful, Lillian Russel or Lola Montez was settled by two cowpokes in the Nevada desert in the 1890s.
May 30, 2011
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Tag: Alcohol

His Wife Danced the Coochee-Coochee.

She and her friends had been drinking wine, and they gave the sedate hubby an unexpected treat when he arrived at his home in St. Louis Mo.

2/14/2023

A Way Out of the Sunday Difficulty.

Baffled Policeman, - Bedad, I can't arrest a machine!

10/22/2018

Another Big Thing.

The Married Mens' Lodge-Night Hook-and-Ladder Cab Co. - No More Latch-Keys Needed.

10/1/2018

Run on Max Greger's Hungarian Wines.

No. 232 Fifth Avenue, corner Twenty-Seventh Street, New York.

7/16/2018

A Wine-Inspired Wager.

A Female Who Was Not Allowed to Exhibit Her Terpsichorean Abilities.

5/28/2018

In Consequence of the New Liquor Law.

In consequence of the new liquor law, this is the ingenious manner in which a worthy teuton friend of ours takes his family out for their Sunday rambles.

4/9/2018

Her Wheel Was Her Ruin.

A father of Indianapolis, Ind., catches his daughter drinking wine with a jovial crowd at a notorious local roadhouse.

4/2/2018

The Lady Flashes Dance.

Dizzy cigarette girls have a most hilarious time in the Lyceum Opera House, this city.

8/21/2017

Booze Through a Key-Hole.

5/15/2017

She Liked Her Lager Beer.

A Murray Hill belle, with a fondness for the Teutonic beverage, sets up a keg in her boudoir.

8/24/2015

They Are a Bad Lot.

The frightful picture of crime and debauchery which has given notoriety to Mary Jane Cawley’s backwoods dive at Cookstown, N. J.

7/27/2015

Cheating the Liquor Laws.

The ingenious patent which has been got up for use in prohibition states.

1/6/2015

Killed and Eaten by Hogs.

9/15/2014

The Drama of Life,

9/1/2014

They Got Hilariously Full.

Alleged cancan dance indulged in by young male and female swells at Jamestown, New York.

8/12/2014

Mixed Drinks for Six.

Harry Johnson's Style of Straining Mixed Drinks to a Party of Six.

3/4/2014

Illicit Distilleries.

North Carolina - An Illicit Whiskey Still in the Mountains Surprised by Revenue Officers.

2/25/2014

Puck's Family Temperance Primer.

10/15/2013

She Had a High Old Time.

8/13/2013

Stabbed for not Buying Drinks.

Fresh Young Fellow Gets Six Inches of Cold Steel at a Sporting Resort, Seattle, Wash.

3/28/2013

An Underground Stale-Beer Dive.

12/18/2012

John L. Sullivan Saved by a Neck.

11/6/2012

The Advent of Spiritualism.

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

9/4/2012

Steam Powered Reformation.

8/14/2012

Steam Powered Reformation.

8/14/2012

A New Gag.

2/7/2012

Another Voice for Cleveland.

12/13/2011

She Played Kissy Kissy

12/6/2011

He Hit the Pipe

A Minneapolis millionaire, visits an opium joint and is carried out feet first.

11/20/2011

Anxious For a Funeral

10/23/2011

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10/17/2011

Rum on Tap.

Kyana, Indiana, 1890 - The women of Kyana, Ind., go to the railroad depot and demolish a cargo of liquor.

8/29/2011

The Drunkard's Looking Glass

4/24/2011

Did the Naughty Midway Dance

Pretty Ida Lawrence gets arrested while entertaining some hackmen in Cincinnati, O.

3/28/2011
 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnWelcome to this week's Link Dump!  As you can see, the Strange Company Art Department is busy with the illustrations for next week's posts.The working lads of Whitechapel, circa 1900.A human leg has been found on the New York subways, and I'm betting that's not the worst thing you'd find there.A brief history of condensed milk.The
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Strange Company - 2/23/2024
`
HE DUEL IN ELLEN'S HONOR. Soapy Smith’s grandmotherOn Wednesday, August 9, 1820, an argument between 17-year-old, James Bowe Boisseau (1802-1820) and Robert C. Adams (unknown-1820) vying for the attention of 18-year-old Ellen Stimpson Peniston (1802-1860), took a terrible turn. The happy party in her honor took a tragic turn when the competition for Ellen’s affections ended in a deadly duel,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 1/10/2024
Entering the Wall Street IRT subway station on Lower Broadway at Trinity Church can feel like going into a time warp. That’s because of the cast iron hoods that cover the stairwell as you descend underground. Decorated in a leaf pattern, the curved hoods date back to the station’s 1905 opening. The hoods mesh well […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/19/2024
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
A postmortem examination revealed that Katie Dugan was four months pregnant when her body was found beaten and slashed in an empty field in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1892. A two-year investigation led police to believe that Albert Stout, Katie’s former employer, was her killer and the father of her unborn child. But Stout was a prominent, well-connected businessman, and despite evidence that he
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/17/2024
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
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
Old King Brady. | Hallow Eve Sports.

Duel of the Divas.

Nevada, 1890s -In an age when the closest thing to mass media was a cigar box label both Lillian Russell and Lola Montez were international superstars. Both were stage actresses and performers and both were known for their beauty. The question of which was more beautiful was settled by two cowpokes in the Nevada desert in the 1890s.

300px-Lillian_Russell-young

Lillian Russell

Born Helen Louise Leonard in Clinton Iowa, in 1861, Lillian Russell traveled to New York in 1878 hoping for a career in the opera. She found herself, instead in the chorus of H.M.S. Pinafore. By 1880 she was starring on Broadway and traveling between New York and London for singing engagements. In 1891 she was the star of the Lillian Russell Opera Company.

Though she preferred oysters and champagne at Delmonico’s in New York with her long-time companion Diamond Jim Brady - he stuck with her when four husbands did not - Lillian Russell did perform in the old west and it is known that she sang in the opera house in Virginia City, Nevada.

lola_montez

Lola Montez

Lola Montez, like all great pop stars, invented herself. She was born Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert in Limerick, Ireland in 1820 and traveled as a child to Calcutta, India. Fearing she was growing up wild in India, her mother and stepfather send her to live with relatives in Scotland where she became known as the “The queer, wayward Indian girl.”

After a failed marriage and a torrid affair with an English soldier, Eliza Gilbert went to Spain to learn flamenco dancing. When she returned to England Eliza was now Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez - better known as Lola. She was not a great dancer, but her signature move, the “spider dance” shocked audiences around the world. After three marriages and some scandalous affairs with European royalty, she came to California. Like Lillian Russell, Lola Montez performed for prospectors in the old west, but she did it a generation earlier.

While it is possible that cowboys Dave Colfax and Jose Madero had actually seen their idols, Lillian Russell and Lola Montez perform on stage, it is more likely they knew them only from cigar box portraits. Dave carried a picture of Lillian Russell in his bedroll and often displayed it in saloons. He would turn ugly when anyone disagreed that Miss Russell was the most beautiful woman in the world. Madero, who believed Lola Montez was Spanish, declared that she deserved that title. He went to his saddlebag and returned with a tattered picture of his beloved Lola.

The argument became heated and Madero drew his revolver and shot a hole through Lillian Russell’s nose. An enraged Dave Colfax pulled out his own revolver and shot Jose Madero dead. Dave Colfax was tried for murder. The jury was shown the pictures and after seeing the damage done to Lillian Russell they returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.

Resolved in a court of law: Lillian Russell was the most beautiful woman in the world.


Sources:

  • Burke, John. Duet in diamonds; the flamboyant saga of Lillian Russell and Diamond Jim Brady in America's gilded age,. New York: Putnam, 1972.
  • Mahon, Elizabeth Kerri. Scandalous women: the lives and loves of history's most notorious women. New York: Penguin Group, 2011.

Lillian Russell Papers

Lola Montez