No. 522
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 17, 2021

Hospital Horrors.

March 20, 2012
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The following tale comes from that classic collection of mostly first-hand accounts of supernatural encounters, "Lord Halifax's Ghost Book."  It was related to Lord Halifax in 1920 by his nephew, Charles Dundas.  Dundas had recently heard the tale from a renowned Royal Air Force pilot named Edward Villiers.  (Later Sir Edward Villiers.)  It is one of the briefest stories in the "Ghost Book," but
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Strange Company - 5/17/2021

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LOOK OUT FOR "SOAPY" SMITHSt. Louis DispatchSeptember 23, 1897(Click image to enlarge) e reported himself in good health and money."   New information showing that Soapy Smith did go to St. Louis to check up on his ailing wife, Mary, after leaving Skagway.  Below is the transcription of the article from the St. Louis Dispatch, September 23, 1897. LOOK OUT FOR “SOAPY” SMITH ― The Smooth Man
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 5/11/2021

Born in 1870 and completed 13 years later (at a cost of $15 million and with more than 20 worker deaths), the Brooklyn Bridge is marking its 138th birthday this week. What better way to honor an icon than with a brilliant lithograph produced by a Pearl Street publisher depicting the fireworks, ship parade, and […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/17/2021
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 crack of gunfire startled the residents of 88 Merrimack Street, a boarding house in Lowell, Massachusetts, around 10:00, the night of  August 31, 1876. The boarders rushed to Lulu Martin’s room on the third floor, where the shot was fired. The door was locked; they heard a man inside shouting, “Go for the police! She has shot me! I will hold her! Break open the door!”A group of men broke in
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/15/2021

Along with Bertie Whitehead, Abby’s half-sister, May 13th was also the birthday of Helen Craig, famous stage actress best-remembered for Johnny Belinda. Helen Craig, who played Abby in The Legend of Lizzie Borden was born May 13, 1912, a month after Titanic sank. Helen Craig was not a great beauty by Hollywood standards, but a very fine actress. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0185871/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 Her portrayal of Abby Borden as a mean, greedy glutton, more than any other thing, has affected the way most people think of Abby Borden. Sadly it was not an accurate portrayal. Helen did some television in her later career, most notably The Waltons. She died in New York City in 1986. She was married to stage and film actor John Beal who played Dr. Bowen in Legend of Lizzie Borden. They are seen together in the publicity photo below.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/13/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Allan Pinkerton. | Being Initiated.

Hospital Horrors.

Rats eat toes

September 1880 - A helpless Woman while staying in a hospital, has her toes eaten off by rats; Alameda County, Cal.[more]

August Johnson, the husband of Margaret Johnson who died in Alameda County Hospital, has made the following damaging statement of the treatment of his wife while in that institution:

“After I received a telegram stating that my wife was dead, I went out there with some others to see about it, and took her two children with me. She was paralyzed in her legs and arms, and could not help herself. The nurses have been discharged out there, and there was no one to attend to her. One of the patients told a lady who was there to take off her stockings. I found all her tows eaten off. The patients said the rats ate them off before she died. The doctor was three. He asked if I wanted her buried. I said ‘Yes.’ He replied, ‘I will bury her now while you can see it.’ He then sent some men to bury her. The put her in an express wagon and we followed in our buggies. When we got to the burying ground there was no grave dug and this was between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon. They laid the coffin down on the ground and went back to the hospital after a pick and shovel. We could not wait for them to come back and dig the grave, as I had a tired team and it was so far, and I had to be back at a certain time.

“I do not know whether they buried her or not. I asked for her clothing, but cone not get it. No one seemed to know what had become of it."

Marshall Glynn makes a similar statement, saying that he went to County Hospital with Mr. Johnson, and saw the body of Mrs. Johnson, the toes were eaten off by rats. The blood had run down her foot into the heels of her stockings.

A patient named Annie, a paralyzed woman, and another patient named Mrs. Evens said that the rats ate at her feet before she died. She could not help herself. They heard her wild cries for help, but could not get to her, and those that could move paid no attention. She was lying in a hallway off from the rest. They saw rats jumping on and off her bed. I was out there before on Sunday, September 12. At that time there were no nurses, and she had no attention except what she could get from the other patients. The patients told me there were women around there who stole the clothes form the dead people.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 23, 1880