No. 643
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 29, 2024

A Jealous Husband’s Mistake.

How a Reading, PA., merchant, broke open his wife’s charmer and discovered a supposed lover to be a
February 19, 2018
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Via Newspapers.comPhantom stagecoaches are always fun (especially when they generate manic headlines.)  The “San Bernardino News,” December 7, 1914:Have you seen the phantom coach that dashes madly, silently, down the steep, rugged mountain trail near Pilot Rock? It is a weird story, this. It deals with the apparently supernatural. Possibly it isn't that at all, maybe it is simply some
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Strange Company - 2/28/2024
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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
There’s nothing wrong with the MTA’s usual subway signage: the directions are clear, the design is simple. But when a contemporary sign happens to be stuck underneath original signage made with decorative tile and an unusual typeface—as it is inside the Sixth Avenue F and M station at 14th Street—the old-school sign wins hands-down. Subway.org […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/26/2024
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
 Alice Hoyle last saw her sister, Lillie, the night of September 1, 1887, in the room they shared in Webster, Massachusetts. Lillie left to use the outhouse, and Alice fell asleep. Lillie never returned. The next morning, Alice went out, thinking Lillie had already left for work. That is the story Alice told the police— as the investigation progressed, she would change it several times.Read
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/24/2024
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
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
Foundering of the Titania. | St. Valentine's Day.

A Jealous Husband’s Mistake.

Jealous Husbands Mistake

How a Reading, PA., merchant, broke open his wife’s chamber and discovered a supposed lover to be a harmless female cousin. [more]

Mr. Jacob Snyder, a prosperous merchant of Reading, Pa., lately made a fool of himself. He has a young and pretty wife, of whom he is extremely jealous. He was about to depart for Philadelphia on a business trip, when eh accidently fond in his wife’s writing desk a note signed “Will,” which read as follows:

“Dear Kate – I have just received your not. I will come up and spend a couple of days with you and try to make you forget the absence of your hubby.”

“Trifles light as air, are to the jealous confirmation strong as proof of holy writ,” and this brief note was sufficient to set the suspicious man all aglow. He resolved to dissemble, and instead of leaving town laid low until evening. After he had watched the shadows of tow figures upon the blinds of his wife’s bedroom, he quietly entered the house , and stealing up stairs was prepared to burst in upon the gulty pair. He demanded admittance the the champer. There was a shriek. His persistent demands met with a vigorous protest form his wife. This incensed him still more, and seemed to confirm his suspicions. At last the wife unbolted the door to make an explanation. The infuriated man would to listen to nothing, but pushing his wife aside rushed into the room. Instead of the trembling lover he expected to find, a blushing female, in very scant clothing, was hiding behind the door, who his wife introduced as “my cousin, Miss Wilhelmina Wilson.” You bet that husband will have to buy a new fall bonnet.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, November 17, 1883.