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

Robbing a Corpse.

Mrs. Day is accused of stealing a ring from the finger of dead Sophie Ahrens as she lay in her coffi
February 27, 2017
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 "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
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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
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
The Craze of the Day. | He Was Coffined Alive.

Robbing a Corpse.

Robbing a Corpse

Mrs. Day is accused of stealing a ring from the finger of dead Sophie Ahrens as she lay in her coffin. [more]

Capt. Copeland, who was Acting Inspector at Police Headquarters, New York the other day, told reporters this story: Miss Sophie Ahrens, a young, pretty girl, died a fortnight ago, at her home, and a host of friends visited the house to condole with the family. Among those who gazed at the coffin the day before the funeral was a woman name Mrs. Day whose husband is well known in the Ninth Ward. After she had kissed the face of the corpse she wiped tears from her eyes, and then leaned over the body again.

After Mrs. Day had left the room weeping, Miss Ahrens’ friends who clustered about the coffin found that a garnet ring which the girl wore on one of the fingers of her left hand had been removed. The ring was a present from a dear friend, and she had asked that it should be buried with her. Detective Valieant , of the Charles street station, was told of the robbery after the funeral. He suspected Mrs. Day and went to her house. “I’m the undertaker,” he said, “and I believe you have the ring. I am responsible for it and I want you to give me the ring.”

Mrs. Day denied the charge, but when he insisted that she had the ring, and told her he could prove it, she broke own and told him she had sold the ring in McAleer’s pawnshop on Eighth Street. She gave the detective the ticket and he recovered the ring, and it was placed on the girl’s finger before the coffin lid was closed the next day. No arrest was made.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 8, 1887.