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

Another Voice for Cleveland.

December 13, 2011
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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
An Irishman and a Yankee Settle a Dispute. | An Adventure with a Sea-Lion.

Another Voice for Cleveland.

I want my pa

July 1884-Another Voice for Cleveland. In the presidential election of 1884, Maria Halpin accused candidate Grover Cleveland of being the father of her love-child—a charge the candidate did not deny. [more]

In 1873, Grover Cleveland was an up and coming lawyer in Buffalo, New York with a reputation as a hard drinking brawler and womanizer. He was introduced by a mutual friend to Maria Halpin, a young widow who worked in a department store and on the evening of December 15, 1873 Cleveland met Maria on the street and persuaded her to join him for dinner. After dinner he walked her back to her apartment and there, in a situation that could only be described as rape, he had sex with her.

Six weeks later Maria Halpin realized she was pregnant. In hysterics she went to see Cleveland and insisted that he marry her. He told Maria he would do “everything that was honorable and righteous” and, according to Maria, he agreed to marry her. He put her in the care of Dr. James E. King who delivered the baby boy on September 14, 1874. At Cleveland’s insistence the boy was named Oscar Folsom Cleveland, after his best friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom. But Grover Cleveland did not marry Maria Halpin.

Dr. King took the baby and for the first year of his life he was raised by a foster family who called him Jack. Maria took him back and raised him as Oscar Folsom Cleveland, but 1n 1876, Grover Cleveland arranged to have Maria declared an unfit mother due to alcoholism. She was sent to a lunatic asylum and the boy was sent to an orphanage. In 1877, Maria Halpin was given $500 to give up the child and Dr. King took him from the orphanage and raised him as James E. King, Jr.

1884-campaign-cartoon-2
Anti-Blaine Cartoon

Despite persistent rumors, Grover Cleveland was able to keep the matter quiet through successful campaigns for Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York. In 1884 Cleveland was chosen as the Democratic candidate for president. With a reputation as a reformer and a man of integrity, Cleveland was seen as the perfect opponent for James Blaine, the scandal ridden Republican candidate, who was accused, as Speaker of the House, of pushing legislation to benefit various railroad companies in exchange for financial kickbacks. Cleveland’s candidacy was so appealing that may prominent, life-long Republicans bolted from their party to support him.

But in Buffalo, some of those who were familiar with the story of Cleveland’s illegitimate child and his treatment of Maria Halpin, did not feel they could stand by and watch such a man become President of the United States. In July 1884, during the Democratic Convention, Reverend George H. Ball, pastor of the Free Baptist Church in Buffalo, sent a letter to the Chicago Advance telling the whole story. The letter bounced around to several newspapers before the story was finally published by the Buffalo Evening Telegraph.

The press was exceedingly partisan in 1884—Republican papers picked up the story and ran with it while Democratic papers ignored it. But the voting public could not ignore the Halpin Scandal and many who had once ardently supported the reform candidate now had doubts. Cleveland was dogged at rallies by opposition groups chanting “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”

Cleveland himself decided to stay above the fray and issued no public statement, hoping the scandal would blow over before Election Day. He told his campaign staff, “No matter what, tell the truth.” –which they almost did. They admitted that in an act of youthful indiscretion Cleveland had taken up with Maria Halpin, as had two of his friends, including Oscar Folsom. When she became pregnant, Cleveland, being the only bachelor of the three, took the responsibility to save his friends from shame. In fact, they said, no one knew who the father was.

This statement infuriated Maria Halpin, who had never known a hint of scandal until she met Grover Cleveland.  She issued a sworn affidavit saying, “There is not and never was a doubt as to the paternity of our child, and the attempt of Grover Cleveland or his friends to couple the name of Oscar Folsom or any on else with that of the boy, for that purpose, is simply infamous and false.” In a second affidavit she described in detail how she had been ravished by Grover Cleveland, saying, “While in my rooms he accomplished my ruin by the use of force and violence and without my consent."

The presidential election now came down to which candidate’s scandalous behavior was less repellent to the public, Blaine’s railroad kickbacks or Cleveland’s abuse of Maria Halpin. Cleveland won an extremely close election; he won the popular vote by just 25,000 and a switch of 600 voters in New York would have given Blaine the election.

The Halpin Scandal soon died down and eventually was all but forgotten. In fact a 768 page biography of Grover Cleveland, published in 1923, does not even mention Maria Halpin. On June 2, 1886, Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom, 21-year-old daughter of his late law partner Oscar Folsom. Grover Cleveland was the last bachelor to be elected president.


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