No. 656
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 18, 2024

Chang and Eng, The Siamese Twins.

A characteristic group, representing Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, with their wives and Children
February 29, 2016
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"Montana Record-Herald," September 24, 1900, via Newspapers.comThis somewhat unusual story about ghosts with a taste for spectral construction work originally appeared in the “Boston Herald” in 1900, but was reprinted in a number of different newspapers.  The author was F.R. Guernsey, an American living in Mexico who was a regular correspondent for the “Herald.”For scores of years the old
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Strange Company - 6/17/2024
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
Like many of Manhattan’s legendary department stores, Bloomingdale’s developed in stages. First came Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale’s “Ladies’ Notions Shop” on Chambers Street, where they sold the trendiest garment of the 1860s: the hoop skirt. In 1886, the Bloomingdale Brothers moved their store, renamed the “East Side Emporium,” to the hinterlands of Manhattan at Lexington […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/17/2024
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
Frank Gouldy was a wild and restless young man. Unable to hold a job, he lived in idleness and dissipation in his father’s house. He was sometimes pleasant to his brothers and sisters but more often morose and vengeful, with an uncontrollable temper.Frank came home at about ten o’clock on October 26, 1858, and his father reprimanded him about money he had taken. Frank responded with “a low
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/15/2024
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
Saratoga’s Naughty Girl. | Shocking Youthful Depravity.

Chang and Eng, The Siamese Twins.

Chang and Eng

A characteristic group, representing Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, with their wives and Children. [more]

On the page herewith, we give a large and finely executed picture of Chang and Eng, the famous united Siamese Twins, who were born in the city of Meklong, in Siam, in May, 1811. They were brought to this country by the captain of the hip Sachem, arriving in August, 1829. They were at once brought before the public for exhibition, and during the ensuing twelve years, were visited by millions of people, taking, in the course of their travels, the United States, Great Britain, France, Holland and Belgium. They are united to each other by a ligature, or band, about three and a half inches in length, and eight in circumference. Formed at the extremity of the breast bone of each, and extending downwards to the abdomen. The upper part of the band is a strong cartilaginous substance; the lower part is soft and fleshy, and contains a tube or cavity, presumed tube about an inch and a half in circumference. The flexibility of this cartilage is so great, that they can readily turn those shoulders outwards which are together when standing in a natural position. Having secured a competence by exhibiting themselves, they settled in Wilkes County, North Carolina, but afterwards removed to Mt. Airy, Surry County, where they now reside. Soon after taking up their abode in this reason, they simultaneously became smitten with the charms of two pretty sisters, named Yates, and each selecting his partner, the four were made two with all due ceremony. This double union has apparently proved highly satisfactory to all concerned. The ladies are represented as amiable and interesting, while it is certain that the twins are devoted to their wives. At the present time, Mr. Eng has six and Mr. Chang five children, all of whom are apt scholars and remarkably well behaved. They are also very prepossessing in appearance, and are great favorites in the community where they reside. The illustration will give a perfect idea of the appearance of the families, every likeness being copied from daguerreotypes, taken especially for the purpose. In closing these remarks of the twins and their families, we say that they seem to be remarkably happy, enjoy good health, have ample means to procure not only the comforts but the luxuries of life, and bid fair, as far as human judgement may go, to live many more years of domestic happiness and comfort. They are both naturalized citizens of our country.


Reprinted from Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, March 5, 1853.