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

Had a High Old Time.

September 12, 2016
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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
A Triangular Fight. | September.

Had a High Old Time.

High Old Time

Dr. Wellington of Chicago, leaves her handsome home in charge of Frank Beaupre who proceeds to turn it into a disreputable resort. 

Frank Beaupre of St. Paul inhabits a detective’s room at the Central Station, Chicago. Beaupre is the son of a one time millionaire grocer of St. Paul He is only twenty-six years old, but the life he has led for the past five years has made him look much older than he really is. His father was the senior member or the wholesale firm of Beaupre, Keogh & Davis, which recently failed for a large amount. The Beaupres have always moved in the best social circles of St. Paul, and Frank, the only son, was a welcome guest at fashionable receptions and dancing parties. A few months ago he was cast adrift by his father. He went to Chicago, and the little money he had was soon spent.

One afternoon in May, when he rang the door bell at 726 Washington Boulevard, he was emaciated from want of proper nourishment. His clothes were the worse for wear, and no one would have recognized him as Frank Beaupre, who use to lead the German at the swell parties in St. Paul. At 726 Washington Boulevard lives Dr. Gertrude G. Wellington, the wife of Attorney Wellington, of the Great Northern road. The Wellingtons used to live in St. Paul, and were neighbors of the Beaupres. When young Beaupre was on the verge of starvation he supplied to Dr. Wellington for assistance. He was clothed and fed and supplied with pocket money for weeks. He has shown his gratitude by stealing articles from the house and pawning them. This is why he is being detained at the Central Station.

On Aug 3. Mrs. Wellington and her two daughters went to Spokane Falls, leaving the Washington Boulevard establishment in charge of Beaupre. He promised faithfully that he would take good care of the premises and would have no companions. Before Mrs. Wellington was twenty miles from Chicago Beaupre and two of his friends were making things exceedingly lively in the Washington Boulevard mansion. When the Wellingtons arrived home last Friday morning they found the house in a state of disorder. It looked more like a beer bottling establishment than anything else. Empty bottles labeled “Export” and “Select” were scattered all over the house from the garret to the basement. There was a stack of bottles in the kitchen that bore silent testimony to the high old time Beaupre and his friends had enjoined during the absence of Dr. Wellington. Every room in the house had its quota of empty bottles and in all there were nearly 1,000.

When Mrs. Wellington left Chicago she discharged her colored cook, as Beaupre said he could get his own meals. The day after her departure Beaupre hunted up the cook, and told her that Dr. Wellington had given him permission to re-engage her. During the five weeks that Dr. Wellington was absent the cook use to come to the home every day and get the meals for Beaupre and his friends. There would be women to dinner, and orgies would continue until the dawn of the next day. Soon the neighbors got to talking and Beaupres was plainly told that unless the going and coming of that class of woman ceased he would be reported to the police. But the scandal grew. A neighbor investigated and found fourteen girls in the house at one time. They sat in a circle in the double parlor, wore short dresses, and smoked cigarettes. They had complete possession of the large mansion occupied every one of the twenty odd rooms in it, danced on the piano and fine furniture, trampled the rich portieres and rugs, and ruined almost everything.

Beaupre has written to his father for money to pay his obligations to Mrs. Wellington, and he hears from St. Paul he will be kept at the Central Station.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, September 30, 1893.