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

Her Wheel Was Her Ruin.

A father of Indianapolis, Ind., catches his daughter drinking wine with a jovial crowd at a notoriou
April 2, 2018
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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
In Consequence of the New Liquor Law. | An Adventure with a Sea-Lion.

Her Wheel Was Her Ruin.

Her Wheel was her Ruin

A father of Indianapolis, Ind., catches his daughter drinking wine with a jovial crowd at a notorious local roadhouse. [more]

There is a girl living on the south side, Indianapolis, Ind. whose wheel was demolished recently by an irate parent, and the young lady is still allowing her friends go guess whether the demolition was the work of a madman or not. The girl had ordered the wheel only this season. She is the daughter of a well-known and somewhat prominent gentleman. She has never been denied anything that she ever asked for from a kind indulgent father. He, however, opposed the bicycle when she asked for it. He thought the family carriage was the better method of taking pleasure rides. He did not doubt his daughter’s honesty with her parents, but he preferred that a girl so young should be under the watchful eye of a mother. He had heard of some temptations which the bicycle leads to, and it was a long time before he would consent to his daughter getting a wheel.

She got it, however, after persistent entreaty and, with her chum, began taking long rides. From afternoon and early evening trips they gradually came to night runs, and occasionally the hour would be rather late when the girls would return. The parents did not offer any objections, thinking that an unusually long run might have been taken and expecting such as the natural sequence of the possession and constant use of the wheel. Everything went nicely until a few nights ago. The daughter and her chum went as usual for their ride, starting just after supper. A little later in the evening the family horse was hitched to the single buggy, and the father started to go in the country a few miles to make a business call. He made the call, and returning, chanced to pass by one of the suburban road houses. It was a very hot evening and he stopped to get a glass of beer. While standing at the bar he thought he heard a familiar giggle above the din by some merrymakers in the next room. He stepped to the door and looked in.

What he saw led to the subsequent destruction of his daughter’s bicycle. The girls were his daughter and her chum. The grieved father slipped quietly out of the place and drove home. He waited on the front porch until his daughter returned home from a “delightful run to Millersville.” He had an axe in his hand and with it broke that wheel into a thousand pieces.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 3, 1896.