No. 643
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 29, 2024

A Bold Robbery.

A Faro Dealer Despoiled at a Pistol's Point—A Stranger Loses One Dollar and Goes Away With $200, Which He Wishes Treated as a Loan.
July 28, 2021
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Via Newspapers.comPhantom stagecoaches are always fun (especially when they generate manic headlines.)  The “San Bernardino News,” December 7, 1914:Have you seen the phantom coach that dashes madly, silently, down the steep, rugged mountain trail near Pilot Rock? It is a weird story, this. It deals with the apparently supernatural. Possibly it isn't that at all, maybe it is simply some
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Strange Company - 2/28/2024
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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
There’s nothing wrong with the MTA’s usual subway signage: the directions are clear, the design is simple. But when a contemporary sign happens to be stuck underneath original signage made with decorative tile and an unusual typeface—as it is inside the Sixth Avenue F and M station at 14th Street—the old-school sign wins hands-down. Subway.org […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/26/2024
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
 Alice Hoyle last saw her sister, Lillie, the night of September 1, 1887, in the room they shared in Webster, Massachusetts. Lillie left to use the outhouse, and Alice fell asleep. Lillie never returned. The next morning, Alice went out, thinking Lillie had already left for work. That is the story Alice told the police— as the investigation progressed, she would change it several times.Read
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/24/2024
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
Mixed Drinks for Six. | Pugilistic Females.

A Bold Robbery.

Beating-the-Bank

A Faro Dealer Despoiled at a Pistol's Point—A Stranger Loses One Dollar and Goes Away With $200, Which He Wishes Treated as a Loan.

A robbery, accompanied by a murderous assault which rivals in cool daring and reckless desperation the deeds of the James boys, took place, Jan. 27, in the Bijou faro rooms, at Seattle, Wash. A stranger, aged 22, tall, dark-complexioned and of a sinsister, desperate aspect, entered the room, bet and lost $1, and then remained watching the game. One by one the others departed leaving no one in the room but Dealer Burns and the stranger.

Suddenly the latter jumped to his feet, pulled a revolver, cocked it, pointed it at Burns, and sternly said: "Mr. Dealer, I'm in pretty hard circumstances. I must have money: Pass over $200 and be quick about it."

The gambler thought the robber was fooling, and looked inquiringly at him. He saw that his face was set like adamant. The robber said, sternly, "I mean what I say. Fork over the money, or I'll kill you where you sit."

The dazed dealer passed over $200 in twenties. The robber said: "Don't say anything about this and I'll bring you back $500 in a short while. Consider it a loan."

The robber walked toward the door. turned back and demanded $300 more. At this juncture two players entered the room, and the stranger thought it was becoming topical and began to beat a retreat.

Just then Dick Rickards, the door-keeper, came in from a back room and attempted to oppose the passage of the robber. The latter had a pistol in his hand and fired two shots in rapid succession. They entered Rickards' neck and ranged out-wan The second struck his right forearm, passing through the fractured bone. The robber passed down stairs through the saloon flourishing his pistol. Twenty men were in the saloon, but no one opposed him. Then he ran through an alley two blocks and disappeared among the tents.

The police searched all day, but were unable to find him, but he was located in the White House, a pleasure resort four miles south of Seattle, by Deputy Sheriffs McDonald and Brooks. They entered the house and a pistol fight occurred. Over ten shots were fired, but no one was hurt. The man escaped from the rear of the house and fled to the woods.

Rickards will probably die.


Reprinted from Illustrated Police News, February 15, 1890.