No. 583
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 30, 2022

The “Prisoners’ March.”

Pennsylvania - Scene in the Schuylkill County Prison at Pottsville - The "Prisoners' March" for exercise in the corridor.
September 17, 2013
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Fifteen-year-old Jody Randall of Long Beach, California, was in most ways a typical suburban teenager.  The one thing that set her apart was a passion for antiques which was unusual for someone of her youth.  As a result of spending all her available free time (and her parents’ money) on her hobby, she eventually amassed some impressive pieces, including a doll collection noteworthy enough to
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Strange Company - 11/28/2022
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Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
Working as a domestic servant in 19th century New York City had plenty of challenges. Sure, servants received room and board in addition to their wages, and they usually had at least Sunday afternoon off. But living in another family’s home was isolating and lonely—particularly if you didn’t speak English or weren’t accustomed to urban […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/28/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Museum of the City of New YorkWilliam Howe and Abraham Hummel were the most successful criminal lawyers in Gilded Age New York. With a combination of skill, showmanship, and unethical practices, they defended most of the city’s significant criminals and many of its murderers. Whether they won or lost, Howe and Hummel made every trial sensational. Here are a few of the many accused murderers
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/26/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
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
Her Last Ascent. | The Last Dip of the Season.

The “Prisoners’ March.”

Prisoners March Pennsylvania—Scene in the Schuylkill County Prison at Pottsville—The “Prisoners’ March” for exercise in the corridor.

The Schuylkill County Prison at Pottsville is one of the largest and most important in the State of Pennsylvania. Special interest has attached to it of late years from the fact that many of the notorious Mollie Maquire murderers have been either executed within its walls, or are now serving out sentences there. The building is 285 feet wide by 296 feet deep, the prison proper being in the shape of an L. The front wing is 165 feet long, and the side wing 213 feet, making the total length of 378 feet by a width of 52 feet. A corridor extends through the middle on each side of which is a two-story row of cells, 114 in number. The corridor is fifteen feet wide and is covered by a brick arch, in which there are ten large skylights. On each side of the prison is a space of ground, surrounded by a wall thirty high, and here the prisoners are exercised daily, except in the Winter, when, on account of the severity of the weather, the corridor is used. The prisoners are all kept regularly at work, and the goods which they manufacture reduced the net cost of the institution to the county last year from $22,619 to $7,860. The warden is Joseph Dolan, who is assisted by two keepers, and they have an average number of 65 persons under their charge, although the total sometimes runs up as high as 125. The scene presented in the corridor, when the prisoners are gathered for their daily round of exercise, is a very interesting one, as our illustration shows. A couple of jolly Africans, whose misdeeds have debarred them from airing their musical accomplishments in the outside world, head the procession and sound the keynote with their banjos, while some of the older and more trusted prisoners see that order is preserved. Discipline is well enforced, while the harmless recreation thus afforded proves an excellent thing for the convicts.


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper 10 Mar 1883.