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

Too Fond of Kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It.
May 22, 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
A Wine-Inspired Wager. | Renewed Activity of "The Finest."

Too Fond of Kissing.

Too fond of kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It. [more]

A too jovial disposition has got John Barbour, the good-natured, good-humored, Falstaffian steward of the steamer Hecla, of the Cunard Line, into trouble. John has too great a propensity for kissing the girls, a predilection that sooner or later bound to lead a man into kissing the wrong girl and being brought up with a round turn in consequence.  Thus, it was that John, when his stately ship left Liverpool, just two weeks ago, began to make love to all the females in his steerage domain. It was one of his duties to distribute food to the passengers.

The artful fellow would generally manage to exact the penalty of a kills for such sight culinary favors as he granted. The women soon grew accustomed to his odd fancy and avoided him. But one of the “told” on him as soon as the vessel reached p[ort a few evenings ago. Her name is Mary Roberts, and into the astonished ear of Superintendent Jackson of Castle Garden, she poured the story of the gay Britisher’s conduct. And not only this, but other whisperings affecting the management of the steerage quarters and separation, or rather non-separation, of the sexes ‘board ship, passed between the informer and the informed.

The result was an investigation which was conducted before the Commissioners of Emigration. John was hauled up, overhauled and keel-hauled by the angry Commissioners, and made to confess his misdeeds. He stated that he had “sailed the ocean blue” for fourteen years, and during all that time he had been kissing steadily.

Commissioner Lynch inquired where he wasn’t tired of it by this time.

Commissioner Ulrich asked if he wasn’t ashamed of such Barbourous conduct.

Another commissioner said he should be compelled to label such behavior as monstrous.

John’s examinations further revealed the fact that he kissed Mary Roberts “once,” but as she didn’t scream, he assumed it was all right. The girls he found didn’t object every much to being kissed unless he had been drinking beer. Then they wouldn’t stand it.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 2, 1880.