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

Her Wheel Was Her Ruin.

A father of Indianapolis, Ind., catches his daughter drinking wine with a jovial crowd at a notoriou
April 2, 2018
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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
In Consequence of the New Liquor Law. | An Adventure with a Sea-Lion.

Her Wheel Was Her Ruin.

Her Wheel was her Ruin

A father of Indianapolis, Ind., catches his daughter drinking wine with a jovial crowd at a notorious local roadhouse. [more]

There is a girl living on the south side, Indianapolis, Ind. whose wheel was demolished recently by an irate parent, and the young lady is still allowing her friends go guess whether the demolition was the work of a madman or not. The girl had ordered the wheel only this season. She is the daughter of a well-known and somewhat prominent gentleman. She has never been denied anything that she ever asked for from a kind indulgent father. He, however, opposed the bicycle when she asked for it. He thought the family carriage was the better method of taking pleasure rides. He did not doubt his daughter’s honesty with her parents, but he preferred that a girl so young should be under the watchful eye of a mother. He had heard of some temptations which the bicycle leads to, and it was a long time before he would consent to his daughter getting a wheel.

She got it, however, after persistent entreaty and, with her chum, began taking long rides. From afternoon and early evening trips they gradually came to night runs, and occasionally the hour would be rather late when the girls would return. The parents did not offer any objections, thinking that an unusually long run might have been taken and expecting such as the natural sequence of the possession and constant use of the wheel. Everything went nicely until a few nights ago. The daughter and her chum went as usual for their ride, starting just after supper. A little later in the evening the family horse was hitched to the single buggy, and the father started to go in the country a few miles to make a business call. He made the call, and returning, chanced to pass by one of the suburban road houses. It was a very hot evening and he stopped to get a glass of beer. While standing at the bar he thought he heard a familiar giggle above the din by some merrymakers in the next room. He stepped to the door and looked in.

What he saw led to the subsequent destruction of his daughter’s bicycle. The girls were his daughter and her chum. The grieved father slipped quietly out of the place and drove home. He waited on the front porch until his daughter returned home from a “delightful run to Millersville.” He had an axe in his hand and with it broke that wheel into a thousand pieces.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 3, 1896.