No. 582
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 26, 2022

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn.
September 18, 2017
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 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnThings are a bit hectic around here.  The Strange Company HQ staffers are busy dealing with Thanksgiving leftovers.Wikipedia strikes again!Gustave, serial-killer crocodile.A living room becomes a family history art project.Pro tip: If you want it to look like suicide, don't shoot your victim six times.How you can communicate with your cats.  Not that
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Strange Company - 11/25/2022
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Thanksgiving in early 20th century New York City wasn’t just celebrated in private homes and expensive hotel restaurants. Institutions of all kinds across Gotham also honored the holiday with their own commemorative dinners. Hospitals, facilities for the poor, sick, and aged, and even city prisons served up a special Thanksgiving meal—usually along with speeches by […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/21/2022
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
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
Mary Barrows, of Kittery Maine, told the coroner that her husband, Thomas, had committed suicide. The coroner was faced with two immediate mysteries; if Thomas Barrows had committed suicide, why did he wound himself five times before firing the shot to the head that killed him? And how had he shot himself six times with the five-barrel revolver found near the body? Mary Barrows and her son-in-law
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/19/2022
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
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
Anti-Everything. | The Enlargement of Woman's Sphere.

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Spirit Trick Exposed

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn. [more]

The Spiritualists, of Hartford, Ct., are excited over the exposure of Mrs. Eugene Beste, the well-known illuminated materializing medium. She has bewildered the people of culture Boston, where she had crowded seances for two years, and she has also given successful exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. She went to Hartford at the invitation of leading Spiritualists, and a séance was given on Saturday, attended by a select few. An incredulous lady determined to test the genuineness of the visionary forms at the next exhibition and laid carful plans. She obtained the consent of Mrs. House, at whose home the medium was a guest, and two stout men were secreted in the kitchen, while the invited twenty, at $1 apiece, were forming three circles in the adjoining room. Mrs. Beste chatted with the spectators until 8:30, when the room was darkened. Two chairs had been placed against the kitchen door by the medium and a wire put in front of the inner circle. This the lady said, would have an electric effect. The medium the retired to the cabinet, formed by curtains inclosing a bay window.

A deathlike silence pervaded the room when a tall figure appeared and advanced a few steps and sang in deep bass. The next figure was Daisy, a child three feet tall, who talked in a sweet voice. Then came Apollonius, of Tiana, and illuminated Oriental figure who wore luminous robes and was expected to dissolve before the eyes of the spectators. The sight was beautiful. Stars sparked and a blue fire enveloped the figure. Suddenly the kitchen door flew open, and two men rushing in seized the supposed Apollonius, who uttered a piercing scream and called for help. Lights were procured, the scented gauze was torn off the figure and Mrs. Beste stood before the excited twenty. She displayed a fine form arrayed in corset, a short chemise and blue stockings. She was allowed to dress, after which she made a confession which was put into the shape of a sworn affidavit by a lawyer present and signed by Mrs. Beste.

She said her robes were soaked in a solution of phosphorus and spattered with illuminated paint, which produced the luminous effect. They were concealed under her dress when she entered the cabinet. Tall figures were made by raising the arms over the head and small figures by kneeling down. She said all the Boston mediums were frauds and that she had deceived thousands, though in constant fear of exposure. After refunding the $20, which was given to the two men who caught her, she was allowed to depart. She left the city on the Washington Express. In her affidavit, she swears never to give another exhibition. This is witnessed by W. O. Burr, of the Times, and other well-known gentlemen. The medium had great vocal powers, which she used to advantage. The leading Spiritualists say they are pleased at the discovery of fraud where it exists.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 24, 1885.