No. 562
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 30, 2022

Snares for the Unwary.

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

Via Newspapers.comThis peculiar--and very sad--story appeared in the “Washington Post,” November 10, 1909:Somerville, N.J. Nov 9. While Arthur Everton, self-styled professor and traveling hypnotist sobbed in his cell, three calm medical men witnessed a weird performance in the morgue of the Somerset Hospital late this afternoon.  There William E. Davenport, secretary to the mayor of Newark and a
Strange Company - 6/29/2022
'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,
Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/11/2022
The photo, by Berenice Abbott, invites mystery. “Hacker Book Store, Bleecker Street, New York” is the title, dated 1945. Who is the pensive man at the door—and where on Bleecker Street is this? The answer to the latter question is 381 Bleecker Street, near Perry Street in the West Village. As for the pensive man, […]
Ephemeral New York - 6/27/2022
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
Mrs. Cordelia BotkinOn Tuesday, August 9, 1898, Mrs. Ida Deane held a dinner party for friends and family in Dover, Delaware. After dinner, they all retired to the front porch and passed around a box of chocolates provided by Ida’s sister, Mrs. Mary Dunning. Shortly after retiring, Mrs. Deane complained of feeling sick to the stomach. After the usual household remedies proved ineffective, the
Murder By Gaslight - 6/25/2022
Mark your calendar for the 130th Anniversary of the Borden Murders. Hub 17’s Tea & Murder podcast will feature a special “Zooming with Lizzie” evening on Sunday, July 31, at 7 p.m. when our faithful viewers will be able to sign on and chat in real time about the case which continues to fascinate us, STILL! Leading up to the live ZOOM, Kimbra and I will be posting a weekly poll for our readers to take, featuring pressing questions which haunt students of the famous case. We will be going over the results of the polls and opening the forum to All Things Lizzie with our viewers! The ZOOM link will be posted on the Lizbeth Group and Warps & Wefts Facebook pages before the 31st as well as on this site. Join us for a great evening! To take the weekly polls, visit
Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/25/2022
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 […]
Executed Today - 11/13/2020
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.