No. 582
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 26, 2022

Snares for the Unwary.

The "Sawed-Door Game" on a Gudgeon.
May 17, 2022

 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnThings are a bit hectic around here.  The Strange Company HQ staffers are busy dealing with Thanksgiving leftovers.Wikipedia strikes again!Gustave, serial-killer crocodile.A living room becomes a family history art project.Pro tip: If you want it to look like suicide, don't shoot your victim six times.How you can communicate with your cats.  Not that
Strange Company - 11/25/2022
Thanksgiving in early 20th century New York City wasn’t just celebrated in private homes and expensive hotel restaurants. Institutions of all kinds across Gotham also honored the holiday with their own commemorative dinners. Hospitals, facilities for the poor, sick, and aged, and even city prisons served up a special Thanksgiving meal—usually along with speeches by […]
Ephemeral New York - 11/21/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
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 […]
Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Mary Barrows, of Kittery Maine, told the coroner that her husband, Thomas, had committed suicide. The coroner was faced with two immediate mysteries; if Thomas Barrows had committed suicide, why did he wound himself five times before firing the shot to the head that killed him? And how had he shot himself six times with the five-barrel revolver found near the body? Mary Barrows and her son-in-law
Murder By Gaslight - 11/19/2022
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
Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
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: […]
Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
They Ran a Snide Game. | Wanted to Sit by the Widow.

Snares for the Unwary.


A more scared looking lot of prisoners than those gathered in from ten alleged disorderly cafes in the Eleventh Precinct in New York the other night has seldom been seen in Essex Market Police Court.

The policeman had been just three days obtaining the necessary evidence. The places raided were ten in number, and fifty-nine inmates were captured. Capt. Cortright instigated the raids.

"These cafes," said a New York detective, "do much more harm than any full-fledged disorderly house could do, for this reason: Men are on their guard not to be trapped in full-fledged houses of ill-fame, and in the old days, the best houses run by the leading madames were safer for a man's money and for chance of blackmail than any hotel in New York. The cheap cafes and coffee houses are now simply sitting places for 'skin' Mollies and fishing grounds for adventuresses and women who ply their persons to trap men for the purposes of robbery.

The panel house is an old form of crooked joint. The 'sawed door' joint is quite common now as the resort of the coffee house dames when they have trapped a countryman or a gudgeon. A heeler who has one of these sawed door joints will have half a dozen different women running their prey to his joint. He does the 'unexpected return' act and, carrying a revolver in his hand, he and the women shake down the victim and shanghai him into the street. There are very few kicks.''

If the badger workers concerned in these jobs are caught it is seldom that the money is ever recovered. And it there is no money to be regained, the victim says to himself: "What sense is there in exposing my own folly and sending good money after bad?"

Illustrated Police News, May 4, 1895.