No. 557
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 26, 2022

Too Fond of Kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It.
May 22, 2018
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Via Newspapers.comIt’s time for Mystery Lights!  The “Montreal Gazette,” November 29, 1938:Esterhazy, Sask., November 28. Tabor Cemetery's mysterious light which threatens to give Esterhazy folk the jitters, tonight still challenged efforts to find its source. An attempt to unravel the mystery Saturday night failed because the eerie beam did not maintain its usual midnight schedule. During the
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Strange Company - 5/25/2022
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'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,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/11/2022
What’s in the stars for the Borden clan? Join Kimbra and Shelley with special guest, astrologist Mat Gleason, at 7p.m. on June 12 as we examine the charts of Lizzie and the family.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/24/2022
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: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
National Police Gazette, June 5, 1886.A young woman attempted to flirt with Hugh Brooks (alias Walter Maxwell) at his 1886 murder trial in St. Louis, Missouri. She was barking up the wrong tree—Brooks was accused of murdering his male lover and stuffing his corpse in a trunk.Read the full story here: The St. Louis Trunk Tragedy.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/21/2022
These days, the traffic-packed intersection at Lexington Avenue and 60th Street is a modern tower mecca of street-level retail shops topped by floor after floor of office space and luxury residences. But steps away from this busy urban crossroads is a curious anachronism: a four-story brownstone. Number 134 East 60th Street has been stripped of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/23/2022
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 […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
A Wine-Inspired Wager. | Renewed Activity of "The Finest."

Too Fond of Kissing.

Too fond of kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It. [more]

A too jovial disposition has got John Barbour, the good-natured, good-humored, Falstaffian steward of the steamer Hecla, of the Cunard Line, into trouble. John has too great a propensity for kissing the girls, a predilection that sooner or later bound to lead a man into kissing the wrong girl and being brought up with a round turn in consequence.  Thus, it was that John, when his stately ship left Liverpool, just two weeks ago, began to make love to all the females in his steerage domain. It was one of his duties to distribute food to the passengers.

The artful fellow would generally manage to exact the penalty of a kills for such sight culinary favors as he granted. The women soon grew accustomed to his odd fancy and avoided him. But one of the “told” on him as soon as the vessel reached p[ort a few evenings ago. Her name is Mary Roberts, and into the astonished ear of Superintendent Jackson of Castle Garden, she poured the story of the gay Britisher’s conduct. And not only this, but other whisperings affecting the management of the steerage quarters and separation, or rather non-separation, of the sexes ‘board ship, passed between the informer and the informed.

The result was an investigation which was conducted before the Commissioners of Emigration. John was hauled up, overhauled and keel-hauled by the angry Commissioners, and made to confess his misdeeds. He stated that he had “sailed the ocean blue” for fourteen years, and during all that time he had been kissing steadily.

Commissioner Lynch inquired where he wasn’t tired of it by this time.

Commissioner Ulrich asked if he wasn’t ashamed of such Barbourous conduct.

Another commissioner said he should be compelled to label such behavior as monstrous.

John’s examinations further revealed the fact that he kissed Mary Roberts “once,” but as she didn’t scream, he assumed it was all right. The girls he found didn’t object every much to being kissed unless he had been drinking beer. Then they wouldn’t stand it.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 2, 1880.