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

What a New York Girl Did.

A vain girl makes a fireman wait until she fixes her hair preferring to risk her life rather than ap
May 22, 2017
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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
Disguising Nature. | Booze Through a Key-Hole.

What a New York Girl Did.

Vain Girl

A vain girl makes a fireman wait until she fixes her hair preferring to risk her life rather than appear in public not “made up’; New York. [more]

When a girl concludes to put up her hair and make herself look sweet, the best policy is to let her have her own way. She can’t be drawn away from a mirror by any of the ordinary things of this life. A fire will sometimes do it, but it has been shown that even a fire may fail to excide some girls. The other night a New York lodging house took fire, and at a most uncomfortable hour, when most girls probably have their back hair down. One of the young ladies heard that the place was burning down, but she didn’t feel like making her appearance before the crowd which had gathered in the street looking like a perfect fright. She shut the door leading into the hall to keep out the flames and went to her mirror to fix her hair. Anybody who has waited for a girl to fix her hair knows that it takes time, and a great deal of it. This girl wasn’t any quicker than the average, and she was very particular about having her hair done up exactly as it should be. The fires had cut off her chances or escape by the stairs, and her lover, after appealing to her for some time, finally lost his patience and got away without her. A fireman got up to the room on a ladder and she made him sit on the edge of the window and wait until she had arranged her hair-pins and ribbons for a right sort of public appearance; then she threw herself into his arms—it was so romantic—and lid down the ladder with him, looking just so sweat. The whole thing was a tremendous success, but when the carful young girl was safely landed on the pavement she found that she had forgotten her stockings!


Reprinted from the National Police Gazette, November 20, 1880.