No. 656
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 18, 2024

Another Steamboat Disaster.

The Steamboat "Riverdale" Blown Up in the Hudson.
November 14, 2023
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"Montana Record-Herald," September 24, 1900, via Newspapers.comThis somewhat unusual story about ghosts with a taste for spectral construction work originally appeared in the “Boston Herald” in 1900, but was reprinted in a number of different newspapers.  The author was F.R. Guernsey, an American living in Mexico who was a regular correspondent for the “Herald.”For scores of years the old
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Strange Company - 6/17/2024
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
Like many of Manhattan’s legendary department stores, Bloomingdale’s developed in stages. First came Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale’s “Ladies’ Notions Shop” on Chambers Street, where they sold the trendiest garment of the 1860s: the hoop skirt. In 1886, the Bloomingdale Brothers moved their store, renamed the “East Side Emporium,” to the hinterlands of Manhattan at Lexington […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/17/2024
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
Frank Gouldy was a wild and restless young man. Unable to hold a job, he lived in idleness and dissipation in his father’s house. He was sometimes pleasant to his brothers and sisters but more often morose and vengeful, with an uncontrollable temper.Frank came home at about ten o’clock on October 26, 1858, and his father reprimanded him about money he had taken. Frank responded with “a low
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/15/2024
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
Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner. | A Great Game of Football.

Another Steamboat Disaster.

Steamboat-Explodes

A sad disaster occurred on the North River, off New York city, on the afternoon of August 28th, when the steamer Riverdale, burst her boiler and sunk in mid-stream. The steamer was nearly Opposite the foot of Twelfth Street, and was about 150 rods from the shore, when a dull, heavy sound, like the fall of a ponderous hammer, was heard, followed by the uprising of a dense cloud of smoke, steam, and flying splinters. The pilot-house and smokestack were thrown high In the air, and the vessel soon began to sink, disappearing from view within ten minutes. About one-half of the persons on board had distributed themselves upon the upper decks, fore and aft, while several women and children were in the after cabin. Many of them were blown into the air or thrown into the river by the shock, two being killed outright by the explosion, and a third drowned. while two others died within a few hours from their Injuries. Fiffteen more persons were injured. and the loss of life would have been much greater If a large fleet of tug-boats and row-boats which was near by hand not gone immediately to the rescue.


Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 8, 1883.