No. 643
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 23, 2024

Pretty Mary Nelson’s Downfall.

Wine suppers, fine dresses and rolls of greenbacks cause a young and fascinating Cincinnati girl to
August 29, 2016
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 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnWelcome to this week's Link Dump!  As you can see, the Strange Company Art Department is busy with the illustrations for next week's posts.The working lads of Whitechapel, circa 1900.A human leg has been found on the New York subways, and I'm betting that's not the worst thing you'd find there.A brief history of condensed milk.The
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Strange Company - 2/23/2024
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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
Entering the Wall Street IRT subway station on Lower Broadway at Trinity Church can feel like going into a time warp. That’s because of the cast iron hoods that cover the stairwell as you descend underground. Decorated in a leaf pattern, the curved hoods date back to the station’s 1905 opening. The hoods mesh well […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/19/2024
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
A postmortem examination revealed that Katie Dugan was four months pregnant when her body was found beaten and slashed in an empty field in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1892. A two-year investigation led police to believe that Albert Stout, Katie’s former employer, was her killer and the father of her unborn child. But Stout was a prominent, well-connected businessman, and despite evidence that he
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/17/2024
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
September. | Athletics.

Pretty Mary Nelson’s Downfall.

Pretty Mary Nelson

Wine suppers, fine dresses and rolls of greenbacks cause a young and fascinating Cincinnati girl to cast aside the mantle of virtue. [more]

Until a short time ago one of the best known young women on Walnut Hills, Cincinnati, O., was Mary Nelson, the pretty daughter of the late wholesale confectioner of that name. Confectioner Nelson was one of the best known merchants in the city, and his chain of stores received a liberal share of the patronage in the various localities in which they were situated.

Shortly before his death he became heavily involved and was forced to make an assignment. Business reverses weighed heavily on the old man’s mind, and finally caused his death he following his wife to the grave, the latter dying a short time before the former. The death of Nelson left his daughter Mary an orphan in the world. She receive a liberal education, and was coached in the classics and language. Not only had her general education been looked after, but she was also sent to a conservatory of music on Fourth Street, where her musical training was attended to. Mary had also been taught book-keeping by a private tutor, and when her father died he accepted a position with a well-known local firm. Her salary, however was very modest, and she found it necessary to solicit the aid of wealthy relatives in Philadelphia. Her Quaker City connections did not turn a deaf ear upon her, but continued to her support until a short time ago.

When she no longer received aid form the East, Mary became despondent and lost her position. She became acquainted with a set of fast young men who introduced her to their female companions. Among the latter was a George Street Courtesan named Corinne, who is an inmate of Cora Mack’s resort. The latter became infatuated with Mary, and told her how she could become a queen of the demi-monde if she would cast aside the mantle of virtue. Corinne insisted on Mary taking a supper with her and during the repast she showed the latter her extensive wardrobe and a large roll of money. Nothing further was needed, and Mary’s downfall was accomplished. She saw visions of finery and wealth during her sleep, and finally reluctantly consented to become Corinne’s running mate at the above named resort where she is now ensconced in one of the apartments.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 7, 1893.