No. 650
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
April 18, 2024

A Man under Her Bed.

Had Miss Baker looked under the bed before making her toilet she would have postponed it.
September 26, 2016
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Via Newspapers.comAs I believe I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular fondness for obscure, unimportant, but intriguing little mysteries.  One such example appeared in the “London Morning Chronicle,” April 21, 1809:Nevis, Feb. 7, 1809.“Dear Sir,"I beg leave to mention the following circumstances, and leave to your better judgment the propriety of making the same public.-- "About a
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Strange Company - 4/17/2024
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
How many ways are there to style a subway entrance sign? In New York City, dozens of designs and typefaces are used across the subway system—often with no rhyme or reason. Take this gold and white sign on William Street. It’s for a side entrance/exit for the Fulton Street station, affixed to a 20th century […]
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Ephemeral New York - 4/15/2024
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
 Samuel Smith and his wife Emma appeared to the world as a happy and affectionate young couple. She was pretty and vivacious with a dazzling wardrobe, and he was energetic with a winning personality. But beneath the surface was a hidden turmoil that did not come to light until Emma was found dead in their apartment, her head blown apart by a shotgun blast, and Samuel nowhere to be found.Read
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Murder By Gaslight - 4/13/2024
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
Another Steamboat Disaster. | A Triangular Fight.

A Man under Her Bed.

A Man Under Her Bed

Had Miss Baker looked under the bed before making her toilet she would have postponed it. 

About two weeks ago a smooth-faced young man, who said he was Harold McLaughlin of Philadelphia applied to a Nathanial Horner, this city, for a room. McLaughlin had only been in the house a short time when the other borders began to complain that articles of value were missing from their rooms. Mr. Horner also discovered that $50 had been extracted from a roll of bills which he kept in his trunk. The other afternoon Miss Baker, who is also a border at 151, had a little experience.

“I went up to my room about 4 o’clock,” Miss Baker said, “and was surprised to find my door, which is furnished with a Yale lock, fastened, as I generally leave it open when I go out. I did not notice anything out of order in the room and proceeded to take a sponge bath and make my toilet, which took me nearly an hour. Then I lay down on the lounge to get a few minutes rest before dinner. The lounge is in such a position that I could see under my bed and something there attracted my attention. I wasted just long enough to see that there was a pair of feet clad in black stockings. I also caught a glimpse of a white shirt sleeve. These things had never been under my bed before, and they frightened me. I rushed into the hall and called for Mr. Horner. As I left my room some one ran past me and up stairs. I grew very faint and—well, that’s all I can tell about it.

Mr. Horner said: “McLaughlin, whose father is a conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, came to me about two weeks ago and wanted a room. He said he was going to work for Lippincott & Co. He seemed to be a nice young man, and for a while, I didn’t suspect anything wrong of him. Then things in the house began to be missed. One gentleman lost a diamond pin, and another a pair of field glasses, and some one stole $50 from my trunk. I noticed that my new boarder spent most of the day about the house, but we had no proof against him. The other night, though, we got him when Miss Baker ran into the hall and called out that there was a man under her bed, and then he fled. I went up to McLaughlin’s room and found him in his shirt sleeves and stocking feet, lying on the bed. I found a pin belonging to Miss Baker under his mattress. The detective found the other articles in a pawnshop, but I lost my $50. McLaughlin confessed that he had taken the things. I have written to his father. I guess the young man will be locked up for a long time. I hope so, anyway.”

McLaughlin, who is 17 years old, was arraigned at Jefferson Market Police Court, and Justice Ryan held him for examination.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, November 5, 1892.