No. 643
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 23, 2024

New York Society Classified.

November 27, 2011
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 "The Witches' Cove," Follower of Jan MandijnWelcome to this week's Link Dump!  As you can see, the Strange Company Art Department is busy with the illustrations for next week's posts.The working lads of Whitechapel, circa 1900.A human leg has been found on the New York subways, and I'm betting that's not the worst thing you'd find there.A brief history of condensed milk.The
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Strange Company - 2/23/2024
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HE DUEL IN ELLEN'S HONOR. Soapy Smith’s grandmotherOn Wednesday, August 9, 1820, an argument between 17-year-old, James Bowe Boisseau (1802-1820) and Robert C. Adams (unknown-1820) vying for the attention of 18-year-old Ellen Stimpson Peniston (1802-1860), took a terrible turn. The happy party in her honor took a tragic turn when the competition for Ellen’s affections ended in a deadly duel,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 1/10/2024
Entering the Wall Street IRT subway station on Lower Broadway at Trinity Church can feel like going into a time warp. That’s because of the cast iron hoods that cover the stairwell as you descend underground. Decorated in a leaf pattern, the curved hoods date back to the station’s 1905 opening. The hoods mesh well […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/19/2024
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
A postmortem examination revealed that Katie Dugan was four months pregnant when her body was found beaten and slashed in an empty field in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1892. A two-year investigation led police to believe that Albert Stout, Katie’s former employer, was her killer and the father of her unborn child. But Stout was a prominent, well-connected businessman, and despite evidence that he
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/17/2024
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
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
She Played Kissy Kissy | He Hit the Pipe

New York Society Classified.

New York Society
New York, New York, 1873 - In New York City there are many degrees or castes of society; probably in no other city in the world will we find so many phases of human life. Some of these, the most palpable, we would consider, and to that end refer them to those three great thoroughfares of trade and travel, the Bowery, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.[more]
 
The Bowery

 The Bowery Boy is the personification of the New York “b’hoy” with a careless swagger and insolent leer. He cares “nothing for nobody,” but is bent on having a “general good time anyhow.” He is found hanging around porterhouses or corner groggeries in company with others of like proclivities. He is well known to the police, and well instructed in all ingenious dodges for the evasion of legal process. He is an object of aversion to the law-and-order-abiding citizen, of horror to the timid.

We see the Bowery girl with her gay turban and flowing head dress, yclept “waterfall,” aping, so far as her limited resources will permit, the style of her more fortunate sisters. She steps mincingly and stealthily along, casting from side to side covert glances through her semi-masque veil. She is cat-like in motion and demeanor. She works hard on the hoop-skirt or the sewing machine, and as day after day glides by without any special improvement in her social and pecuniary circumstances, she looks to marriage as the only relief from poverty, and often, trusting too implicitly the representations of a “friend,” she becomes the victim, and then sinks rapidly into a sad state of moral degradation.

Broadway

The Broadway swell is clean and fastidiously dressed, with hairs frizzed and mustache waxed and curled, a la militaire. He attends to some little matter which he dignifies by the name of business, but the greater portion of the day finds him lounging about a hotel or promenading the street cane in hand and staring at the lady pedestrians. He has much to do with sham-jewelry concerns, mock-auctions, and faro tables; is generally on the lookout for a green’un whose pocket he will adroitly lighten of his wallet. He believes in the “high life,” and he lives “fast.”

The Broadway belle is an object of much consideration. She saunters carelessly along, indifferent to everything but the admiration of others. She is far from indifferent to fashion, but consults contrast and conspicuity in her mode of dress. Does fashion prescribe a large bow to her bonnet strings, she is very likely to increase the size of said bow and permit long ends to flow gracefully down either side. She is a strange compound of simplicity and affectation, of naiveté and shrewdness, of intelligence and ignorance; at one time charming by her vivacity, at another repelling by her dullness or airy affectedness. She to a great extent controls her own fortune, and is not all the painted toy which many account her. She is the dashing, sprightly spaniel.

Fifth Avenue

The Fifth Avenue blood claims to be of all others, the very

“glass of fashion and the mold of form.”
He dresses exquisitely; his tailors and barbers are artistes, so that his fine (?) shape is displayed to the best advantage. With mustache and side whiskers of the Dundreary style, and eye-glass straining the orbicular muscles, he rides in his shining “dog cart,” or struts daintily along ogling the passers-by. He believes in aristocratic privileges and glories in castes; he is one of the “upper crust.” He is accounted a great catch by eligible young ladies and maneuvering mamas. He is a fair representation, on the principles of comparative physiognomy, of the furry-faced monkey, while the Broadway dandy is a good goat, and the rowdy an irascible bull-dog.

The Fifth Avenue flirt is a craft of a very different rig. She believes in “Full sail,” in crowding on “all the canvas.” Fashion is one of her chief gods, and they who can not come up to its requisitions re dropped out of her “set.” She sweeps grandly along with an air of assumption and importance that is as ludicrous as it is supercilious. She claims for herself aristocratic privileges, and she is not to be judged according to the “low, mean” standard of common people. Her portrait, as we give it, well portrays the purse-proud, stuck –up sentiments which reign within her mind. She may be likened to the indulged, capricious, and fickle poodle.

 


From: The Phrenological miscellany, or, The annuals of phrenology and physiognomy from 1865 to 1873. Rev. and combined in one volume. ed. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1882.