No. 600
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
March 29, 2023

Breaking Up a Bagnio.

November 18, 2012
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The Scottish-born James Oliphant worked as a surgeon in Newcastle.  In 1755, he married one Margaret Erskine, and the pair went on to have two children.  From all appearances, the family was one of solid 18th century middle-class respectability.This seemingly ordinary household took a very dark turn in May of 1764.  One of Oliphant’s two maidservants unexpectedly became so ill she had to quit her
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Strange Company - 3/27/2023
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When Patrick  H. Doherty joined the Fall River Police Department in 1885, he might have been astounded to learn that he would be involved one day in two notorious murder cases- both involving hatchets and axes.  Patrick Doherty was born in Peoria, Illinois on August 10, 1859 to John and Mary Walsh Doherty.  Later the family moved east to Fall River, and we find Patrick Doherty living at 104 Columbia St. (off South Main) and working as a laborer for a time employed by Fall River Iron Works and the Fall River Line steamboat company.  He married Honora (Nora) E. Coughlin on April 25, 1887 at the age of 28, when he was employed at the Fall River Police Department as a patrolman.  The couple would have seven children:  Charles T., Frank., Grace, Robert, Helene, Margaret (called Marguerite), and John. Doherty, (as were several other patrolmen), was promoted to the rank of captain after their work in the case of the century, the Borden Murders of 1892.  Doherty had arrived at #92 after George Allen on the morning of the murders, and was very quickly in the thick of the action, questioning Lizzie upstairs, looking at the bodies with Dr. Dolan, running down to Smith’s pharmacy with Officer Harrington  to question Eli Bence, prowling the cellar for weapons with Medley, Fleet and Dr. Bowen, and making note of Lizzie’s dress.  Doherty stayed on the job on watch at the Borden house until he was relieved at 9 p.m.  When it came time for the inquest, it was Doherty who slipped down to 95 Division St. to collect Bridget, who had been staying with her cousin, Patrick Harrington after the murders.  He would testify at the Preliminary and the 1893 trial in New Bedford. In the midst of the excitement in New Bedford as Lizzie’s trial was about to get underway, yet another hatchet killing took over the front page, the murder of Bertha Manchester on May 30th.  It was a brutal attack to rival the Borden’s with the weapon being most likely a short-handled axe or possibly a hatchet. Doherty went out to the Manchester place with Marshal Hilliard, Captains Desmond, and Connors and Inspector Perron  on June 6th with the  suspect, Jose Correa de Mello, who revealed his hiding place for the stolen  watch taken from the victim and her purse at that time.  De Mello served time and then was sent back to the Azores, banned from stepping upon U.S. soil again. The Dohertys moved to 1007 Rock St. in 1897 and Patrick was pleased to walk his daughter Margaret (Marguerite) down the aisle in 1913. Patrick Doherty retired from the force in 1915 and succumbed to interstitial nephritis on June 28, 1915.. He, and some of his children are buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Fall River. Resources: Ancestry.com, Parallel Lives,: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and her Fall River, Find-a-Grave.com. and Yesterday in Old Fall River: A Lizzie Borden Companion Fall River Globe June 28, 1915
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 3/3/2023
Bernard Gussow was born in Russia in 1881. But by 1900 he’d made it to the Lower East Side, where he was described as an “East Side artist” in a New York Times article about paintings he displayed at an art show at the Educational Alliance settlement house on East Broadway. [“Subway Steps”] Gussow would […]
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Ephemeral New York - 3/27/2023
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
 17-year-old James E. Nowlin murdered George Codman in a Massachusetts stable in January 1887. Then he took an axe and chopped Codman’s body into pieces. As he traveled home in a sleigh, he threw the pieces into the snow along the road.Read the full story here: Massachusetts Butchery.
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Murder By Gaslight - 3/25/2023
Roped-inOmaha Daily BeeJune 25, 1884(Click image to enlarge)  OSSIBLE VICTIM OF THE JEFFERSON R. SMITH GANG.  Omaha Daily Bee June 25, 1884 COLORADO. Col. Fletcher, a tourist from Boston, was roped-in by the bunko men of Denver and relieved of $1,000. NOTES: $1,000.00 in 1884 is the equivalent of $33,472.95 in 2023. According to the Rocky Mountain News there were at least two,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/12/2023
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 engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
The Grand Saloon. | Rogues & Brawlers.

Breaking Up a Bagnio.

Bagnio

The White Hat of Lafayette, Ind., is burst up by a mob of women. [more]

A little before dark on the evening of Sept. 9, a crowd of indignant women, numbering about forty; reduced the bagnio of the notorious “White Hat,” on Sixteenth street, Lafayette, Ind., to a complete if not picturesque ruin. It was a quiet but determined vigilante committee, and they did their work well. White Hat’s dive has long gloried in the reputation of the hardest place in Lafayette. It was a free for all. Race, color or previous condition of servitude was no bar. It was a cross between an old woman’s home and a pest house, and a stench to the nostrils of the neighborhood. The place has long been under police surveillance, and on the night mentioned above it was raided. The male guests scaled the back fence and fled, but four women, including White Hat, were run in. Next morning they were given thirty days apiece in jail. This episode left the establishment, for the time being, tenantless.

At a little after 4 o’clock the women of the neighborhood began to congregate on an adjacent corner. The news that the ranch was to be demolished spread like wildfire, and the crowd soon numbered two score. When it reached these dimensions the onslaught was made. A few determined women led the van and the rest streamed after, over the front yard. The house is a double brick, and the dive proper was in the south side. Here attentions were directed.

One of the women had an axe. She was about forty-five years old, tall, strong, and when she brought the blade against the panels they went in with a crash. A few more blows sent the door of its hinges. Almost a dozen of the boldest rushed in and began to demolish the interior, while the timorous contented themselves in throwing stones on the outside.

For a few moments it sounded like a fusillade of artillery, and in that length of time there wasn’t a piece of glass the size of a half dollar in any window in the establishment. Meanwhile several other axes had been brought into play and all the window frames and door cases splintered. Even the floor did not escape and was badly backed, while big chunks of plastering were knocked bodily out of the ceiling.

In the course of the afternoon most of the effects of the White Hat outfit had been removed on a dray, so there were but few household goods for the crowd to wreak their vengeance on. A cooking stove was the most conspicuous object, and this was speedily reduced to junk iron. Their work of ruin occupied in all about half an hour and the crowd then quietly departed. They did not stop to talk the matter over, but went straight home, and the demoralized house was the sole evidence of what had occurred. The work was viewed by a large crowd of men but none offed to interfere. They knew better.

The end of the trouble was not, however, in the event described above. At 9:10 in the evening an alarm of fire came in and called the department to the vicinity. Flames were seen braking through the roof of the dismantled edifice and rapidly spreading along the woodwork. The fire was obviously the work in an incendiary, as there had been no fire about the premises during the day. A little brisk work soon extinguished the blaze with a big hole burst through the shingles and considerable damage to the interior. It will take quite an outlay of money to put the property in anything like a condition to rent again. The fire is generally accepted as a final notification to the outfit that their presence will be no longer tolerated in Linnwood. It was said on the ground that the parties who fired the house are well known and will use dynamite the next trip if it is occupied again by the same kind of cattle.

 

 

Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, September 26, 1885.