No. 557
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 26, 2022

He Liked Little Boys.

How a Georgia alligator attempted to make a meal of Captain Johnson’s son.
March 20, 2017
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Via Newspapers.comIt’s time for Mystery Lights!  The “Montreal Gazette,” November 29, 1938:Esterhazy, Sask., November 28. Tabor Cemetery's mysterious light which threatens to give Esterhazy folk the jitters, tonight still challenged efforts to find its source. An attempt to unravel the mystery Saturday night failed because the eerie beam did not maintain its usual midnight schedule. During the
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Strange Company - 5/25/2022
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'SOAPY' SMITH AND TWO COLLEAGUESObject ID 2017.6.350Courtesy of Salvation Army Museum of the West(Click image to enlarge) New photograph of "Soapy" Smith?NOT EVEN CLOSE.      A B & W photograph, said to be of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, and two colleagues. Soapy is in the middle, marked with an "X." The photo was taken in Alaska,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/11/2022
What’s in the stars for the Borden clan? Join Kimbra and Shelley with special guest, astrologist Mat Gleason, at 7p.m. on June 12 as we examine the charts of Lizzie and the family.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/24/2022
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
National Police Gazette, June 5, 1886.A young woman attempted to flirt with Hugh Brooks (alias Walter Maxwell) at his 1886 murder trial in St. Louis, Missouri. She was barking up the wrong tree—Brooks was accused of murdering his male lover and stuffing his corpse in a trunk.Read the full story here: The St. Louis Trunk Tragedy.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/21/2022
These days, the traffic-packed intersection at Lexington Avenue and 60th Street is a modern tower mecca of street-level retail shops topped by floor after floor of office space and luxury residences. But steps away from this busy urban crossroads is a curious anachronism: a four-story brownstone. Number 134 East 60th Street has been stripped of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/23/2022
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 engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
A Needed Addition to the Park Police of Every City. | Courtship from a Tree.

He Liked Little Boys.

He liked little boys

How a Georgia alligator attempted to make a meal of Captain Johnson’s son. [more]

While Capt. R. B. Johnson, of Clinch county, Georgia. was helping a party of 23 or 30 men haul for trout in a millpond, the other day. his little son, Joseph. had a most thrilling experience, Master Joseph carried a bag, or corn sack, in which to deposit the fish when caught. When loaded with as many as he could carry he would take them out and make a deposit and return for more. In making one of these trips, while wading through water about three feet deep some distance from the fishermen, a monster alligator, said to be of unusual size, rose suddenly right at the boy and seized him by the thigh. A desperate struggle ensued—the boy battled for his life and the alligator for his prey. It so happened that the bag, which hung by the boy's aide, was caught In the alligator's mouth with the thigh, and It proved a sort of shield—lessening greatly the incisions made by the brute's teeth, and thus, perhaps, preventing a shock to his nervous system which might have made him succumb without the struggle which saved him his life. By an effort the boy tore his bleeding flesh from the alligator's Jaws. The monster grimly held to the sack a moment with the delusion, perhaps, that he still had his prey, affording the boy an opportunity to escape.

He had hardly extricated himself from the jaws of death before the fishermen, alarmed by the struggle, were at hand, and another battle ensued. Thirty men, armed with gigs, poles, pocket knives and such other instruments of war as were at hand, charged upon the monster. Being In three feet of water, the 'gator bad considerable advantage, but those men had their blood up and were not to be outdone. They poled and punched and harpooned him until the brute was almost outdone, when one of the party made bold to seize him by the tail. This was a signal for a general assault. In less time than it would take to tell it, a number of the more daring had him by the tail and legs. There were too many of them for the 'gator to slap around with his tall, a peculiar mode of n 'gator warfare, and he had to give up the fight. A harpoon was plunged into his mouth and then it was safe to approach him with pocket knives. Soon his head was severed from his body, and the victorious party marched out of the pond with the monster's head on a pole.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, December 15, 1883.