No. 653
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 27, 2024

Hard Knocks and Horsewhips.

Miss Mamie Gannon, of Jersey City, attacks reporter Lenhart with a horsewhip for traducing her chara
August 10, 2015
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The archives of the Humble Oil & Refining Company are about the last place where you’d expect to run across a first-rate poltergeist account, but it just goes to show that we live in a funny old world.  In 1948, a folklorist and historian was browsing through the company’s papers when he came across a letter that had absolutely nothing to do with oil.  It read:Jan [illegible] '
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Strange Company - 5/27/2024
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
When these photos from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York were taken at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery at the end of May in 1899, Memorial Day didn’t exist. “Decoration Day,” however, was an established holiday celebrated every May 30. The idea was to visit the final resting places of thousands of […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/27/2024
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
John Wesley Elkins.11-year-old John Wesley Elkins was slight of stature—four feet eight inches tall, weighing 73 pounds. He was intelligent and well-spoken, and he had never caused trouble until the day he murdered his parents. At 2:00 am, on July 24, 1889, while his parents were sleeping in their Iowa farmhouse, he shot his father in the head and then beat his mother to death with a club.
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/25/2024
CHIEF OF CONSThe Morning Times(Cripple Creek, Colorado)February 15, 1896Courtesy of Mitch Morrissey ig Ed Burns robs a dying man?      Mitch Morrissey, a Facebook friend and historian for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, found and published an interesting newspaper piece on "Big Ed" Burns, one of the most notorious characters in the West. Burns was a confidence man and
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 4/2/2024
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
New Jersey’s Great Wash Day. | Yachting.

Hard Knocks and Horsewhips.

She Vindicated Herself

She Vindicated Herself.

Miss Mamie Gannon, of Jersey City, attacks reporter Lenhart with a horsewhip for traducing her character in his newspaper. [more]

The session of the Jersey City Board of Public Works had just opened the other night when a tall, fashionably attired young woman advance to the railing. Her pretty face wore a scowl and her dark eyes fairly snapped. She stepped close to the desk occupied by George Lenhart, a local reporter. Her voice trembled with excitement and rage as she addressed him, He had scarcely time to reply when from the recesses of a light wrap she drew a cattle whip and struck him twice. Several men crowded forward and restrained her. An instant later she darted forward and exclaimed, “Explain yourself. How dare you publish anything about me?” He was silent, and again her whip fell in his head. Janitor Conway seized her and led her down stairs. Lenhart demanded protection, and informed the President of the Board that he would hold him responsible for any injury he (Lenhart) received. The young lady was only partially pacified. When she reached the foot of the stairs she wept with anger as she cried, “Through the scurrilous article my friends have cut me, and I’ll cut him.” With this she turned before she could be intercepted and returned to the meeting room, where she plied her whip again. This time Lenhart caught hold of the whip, and in the struggle for its possession he dragged his assailant violently against the rail. Her cry of pain incensed a number of men in the lobby, and they, with expressions that boded ill for the reporter, crushed against the rail dislodging it. Lenhart retreated to the rear of the chair occupied by Commissioner Carr, who protected him from further violence. Lenhart made an effort to draw a revolver, which exasperated some of the men.

The young woman is Miss Mamie Gannon, just out of her teens. She is the daughter of a well to-do coppersmith. Several months ago Miss Mamie and her sister were arranging a party on an elaborate scale. Their father was in the habit of giving them their allowance of packet money in checks. It was on the eve of the party, and the checks were only for the usual amount. They corrected his oversight by altering the amounts of the checks to a larger sum. The story was heard a few days ago for the first time by Lenhart, and he publish a sensational story in the extent of a column, suppressing the names, but so minutely describing the young women that their identity was clear to everyone acquainted with them. Last Saturday night week Lenhart was decoyed into a saloon and he as pummeled by a champion of the young ladies, Raymond Gilchrist, son of ex-Attorney General Gilchrist and Hickey, the saloon keeper, for conspiracy. The accused furnished bail. Lenhart was recently assaulted by Thomas Jacobs, clerk of the Board of Works, for sever criticisms.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 16, 1886.