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

They Were "Soaked" in Every Sense.

A New York high roller "on a bat" with a high grade dazzler—they win up in the bath tub of his hotel apartment.
February 4, 2022
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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
Tar and Feathers. | Western Train Robbers' Ways in New York State.

They Were "Soaked" in Every Sense.

They-were-soaked Life in the Tenderloin district in New York is regarded with considerable awe by those that have heard of its naughty and glittering peculiarities, and the befuddled "sports" that take part in it probably assure themselves that it is vicious enough to be imposing. You will find that the citizens of every community take especial pride in the extent and variety of their immorality and the people of New York have always pointed to the Tenderloin as a magnificent feature of metropolitan life. You can get as stirring exhibitions of dissipation and wickedness in New York as are to be found anywhere. The wild dazzling vice of the frontier may be noisier, but for lively episodes among "racketers" and golden youth who are "blowing their stuff," New York is not to be surpassed. You watch the panorama of vice there and you will find that it is never dull.

Two fine figures which illuminated the shifting scene last week with a brilliant escapade to stir the pulses were fished out of a bath tub in the -------- Hotel on Fifth avenue. They had wound up a routine of wild debauchery by proposing to cool their heads under "the shower" of the bath tub in their hotel suite. The plug was in the bath tub, the tub filled with water, and the chambermaid found the occupant of the apartment and his girl companion asleep side by side in the water-filled tub, with "the shower" turned on. This was bathing relieved by poetic charm and individuality. A comical feature of the damp situation was that the male roysterer had an umbrella raised over himself. His girl companion is a well-known brilliantly wicked demi-virgin of Gotham, very handsome and representing very high grade and high cost immorality. One of her peculiarities is a permanent thirst for wine, but men who are of her set look upon her as very delightful and desirable. She has had before some dazzling orgies. and her past life has been followed by beautiful success in money getting. She is not an oyster-house woman; she is a high flyer. The best Gotham affords is none too good for her. She "bathes every day," she says, laughingly, "but not every day with a $300 dress and $200 worth of lace underwear on."

Illustrated Police News, May 4, 1895.