No. 583
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 30, 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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Fifteen-year-old Jody Randall of Long Beach, California, was in most ways a typical suburban teenager.  The one thing that set her apart was a passion for antiques which was unusual for someone of her youth.  As a result of spending all her available free time (and her parents’ money) on her hobby, she eventually amassed some impressive pieces, including a doll collection noteworthy enough to
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Strange Company - 11/28/2022
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Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
Working as a domestic servant in 19th century New York City had plenty of challenges. Sure, servants received room and board in addition to their wages, and they usually had at least Sunday afternoon off. But living in another family’s home was isolating and lonely—particularly if you didn’t speak English or weren’t accustomed to urban […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/28/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Museum of the City of New YorkWilliam Howe and Abraham Hummel were the most successful criminal lawyers in Gilded Age New York. With a combination of skill, showmanship, and unethical practices, they defended most of the city’s significant criminals and many of its murderers. Whether they won or lost, Howe and Hummel made every trial sensational. Here are a few of the many accused murderers
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/26/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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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 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.