No. 521
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 10, 2021

Willie Craig Was a Girl.

But what a lovely sensation she created among the Henderson, Tenn. sweet girls and susceptible b
May 11, 2015
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Margery WrenUnder normal circumstances, one would expect that anyone who knew they were about to die as the result of a brutal attack would spend every bit of their remaining strength towards bring their murderer to justice.  However, the following case proved to be very far from normal.  An old woman’s murder, which, at first, seemed fairly simple and straightforward, soon took a puzzling turn
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Strange Company - 5/10/2021

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"Your Aunt Emmie Lu died"Artifact #84-LetterJeff Smith Collection     mma Lu "Emmie" Smith(Abt. 1867 - May 3, 1915)   My great-grandaunt, Emma Lu Smith, the oldest sister of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, was born in Coweta County, Georgia around 1867. She was ten years old when her mother passed away in Round Rock, Texas in 1877.(l to r) Emma Lu, Maurice Gregory Moriarty, Eva
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 5/4/2021

A few weeks ago, Ephemeral New York put together a post about the former Czech neighborhood once centered around 72nd Street between First and Second Avenues on the Upper East Side. The post generated many comments, with readers either reminiscing about a vanished enclave they remember well or wishing Manhattan still had pockets of ethnic […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/9/2021
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
8-year-old Alice Sterling disappeared from the steps in front of her father’s Boston barbershop the afternoon of April 10, 1895. The three-day search for Alice ended at a shallow grave in the floor of a nearby barn. Angus Gilbert, a friend of the Sterling family especially fond of little Alice, lived in a room above the barn. Gilbert was charged with her
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/8/2021

With the advent of AI imaging now found on My Heritage and elsewhere, and free programs which will colorize old photographs, clearer details are being revealed every day. In this famous crime scene photograph of Abby Borden, the bed was removed so that Mr. Walsh, the hired photographer, could get a full body view of Abby Borden. With new techniques in cleaning up old photos, colorizing them and sharpening the details, now the sewing machine in the northwest corner of the room comes into sharper view as well as the tapestry folding camp chair. The two perfume bottles on the dresser, a vase and a framed photo can be readily seen as well as Mr. Walsh’s camera in the mirror as it stands in the doorway. The colorizing method also tinted the carpet maroon, which indeed was the color of the carpet in the guest room. But most astonishing is the dark pool of bloodstain around the head of Abby Borden which, with amplifying the contrast, shows very plainly. The bureau wood tone and burled wood panels appear clearly as well as the drawer pulls. The pattern on the carpet is somewhat distorted and elongated but the pattern is very plain to see. You can even see where the carpet has been patched in against the right wall. The sewing machine still has its cover in place which would hint at Abby never living long enough to run up those pillowcases and you can see her sewing basket on the bureau opened up. The folding camp chair has been moved from above her head, leaning against the wall to its position in this photo. Abby Borden herself was moved at least once before this photo was taken, Dr. Bowen having turned her over after the body was found around 11:35 a.m. This is a sample of a 1890 Singer machine with the cover which closely matches the one we see in this photo.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/6/2021
[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
Chorus Girls Fight. | Mdlle. Carlotta de Berg.

Willie Craig Was a Girl.

Willie Craig was a girl

But what a lovely sensation she created among the Henderson, Tenn. sweet girls and susceptible boys before her sex was discovered. [more]

When Willie Craig first made his appearance in the small town of Henderson, Tenn., all the girls in town fell dead in love with him. He had an Apollo-like shape and a complexion that ould have made Madame Recamier blush. Willie’s feet were small. So were his hands. He played piano, sang, and altogether the girls agreed that he was the sweetest fellow in the world. Of course the young men were jealous. Willie made very few friends among them. But he seemed to be perfectly satisfied with his feminine companions.

In view of these facts the sensation which was aroused in Henderson the other day when Willie was found to be a girl can better be imagined then described. Immediately the whole attitude of everybody changed, and the girls how had loved hated, while the boys who had hated loved. For four months this young woman had worn men’s clothes about the town and, despite her delicate appearance as a youth, was not detected until recently.

Back of her actions is a story. She tells it herself that several years ago she had two lovers, one named Sam Beasley, of Union City, Tenn., and the other Lee Steed of Martin. She was coquettish. She led them on. Jealousy burned in flaming fires within their breasts. It came to a misunderstanding, then a blow and then a duel. In that duel Lee Steed shot and killed young Beasley. About the same time that this occurred the young girl’s father died. Then her mother broke up housekeeping. Grieved by the death of her lover, for she had loved Beasley best, she resolved never to receive the attentions of another young man. To most effectively prevent men making love to her she became to all appearance on of their sex. And thus for three years she lived in one town then another until she went to Henderson about three months ago to be discovered as stated.

Her real name is Willie Rankins. She has two half brothers. One of them is living at Hickman Ky. His name is Poland Montgomery. It was by accident that the girl’s sex was discovered, and she now decided to be a sure enough girl again in dress as well as person.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 14, 1893.