No. 653
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 27, 2024

A Woman Gambler in Nevada.

She Bucks the Tiger and Quits $200 Ahead.
March 29, 2022
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The archives of the Humble Oil & Refining Company are about the last place where you’d expect to run across a first-rate poltergeist account, but it just goes to show that we live in a funny old world.  In 1948, a folklorist and historian was browsing through the company’s papers when he came across a letter that had absolutely nothing to do with oil.  It read:Jan [illegible] '
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Strange Company - 5/27/2024
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
When these photos from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York were taken at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery at the end of May in 1899, Memorial Day didn’t exist. “Decoration Day,” however, was an established holiday celebrated every May 30. The idea was to visit the final resting places of thousands of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/27/2024
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
John Wesley Elkins.11-year-old John Wesley Elkins was slight of stature—four feet eight inches tall, weighing 73 pounds. He was intelligent and well-spoken, and he had never caused trouble until the day he murdered his parents. At 2:00 am, on July 24, 1889, while his parents were sleeping in their Iowa farmhouse, he shot his father in the head and then beat his mother to death with a club.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/25/2024
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
Dropping Their Disguise. | A Way Out of the Sunday Difficulty.

A Woman Gambler in Nevada.

veiled-woman

At Eureka, Nevada, about three weeks ago, the monotony of life in one of the faro-banks of the town was relieved about midnight by the advent of a woman, closely veiled, accompanied by an escort. Her presence of course excited considerable curiosity, and the game—faro—was temporarily interrupted, the players and dealers taking more than ordinary interest in the newcomer. They recovered their composure, however, on failing to penetrate her veil, and continued their game, keeping a good watch, though, lest she might draw some instrument from under the ample folds of her dress and castigate or scatter the crowd from their wrestle with the tiger.

A number thought she was an outraged wife in search of her husband, whose absence she had mourned and whom she wanted to catch at the green table. All conjectures were, however, soon dispelled. The case-keeper had risen from his seat and turned in his checks, when the fair incognito deliberately planted herself in his chair, opened the case-keeper, piled up several twenty-dollar rolls of silver alongside of it, and appeared ready for business. All eyes were turned upon her, and Purdy's nimble fingers trembled perceptibly. A slight paleness was noticeable in the dealer's face, but like the hoy who stood upon the burning deck, he was bound to stand it, win or lose. Luck favored the fair stranger, and from white cheeks she turned to red, and the red resolved themselves into blue ($25 each). She kept the cases carefully and played with all the pluck of an old hand at the business. She won and lost, but kept gathering in the blue checks. Finally, when she was a couple of hundred ahead, she handed them to the dealer and received her eagles in exchange, and, with her escort, left the room and disappeared from view. The eyes of the boys stuck out like bung-holes on a molasses barrel, aid they looked at each other in perfect bewilderment. They were mystified by the fair stranger beyond conception, and it was some time before the game was resumed. Who she was no one knew, but they would give something to find out.

Illustrated Police News, December 15,1887.