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

Trying to Scare an Old Maid with a Wooden Dutchman.

A wooden Dutchman, rather than no man at all, was what a sensible spinster argued when some practica
July 11, 2016
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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
An Irishman and a Yankee Settle a Dispute. | She Stole Her Lover’s Clothes.

Trying to Scare an Old Maid with a Wooden Dutchman.

Wooden Dutchman

A wooden Dutchman, rather than no man at all,
Was what a sensible spinster argued when some practical jokers under took to scare her in Oakland, Cal. [more]


Probably the most pathetic incident since the war occurred in Oakland the other day, and it is still agitating the higher circles of that locality to their inner depths. It appears that on Jackson street resides an old maid—a very old maid—who puts in all the time she can spare from the supervision of other people’s affairs to searching for burglars. In fact, the latter occupation may be said to be her hobby.

For the last twenty-five years Miss Goobey has never retired without first  industriously “shooing” under each and every bed for the purpose of expelling any burglariosly inclined person who might be thus secreted.

The other day a bold, bad man, who happened to be temporarily staying at the Goobey residence, concocted a dreadful practical joke. By the assistance of some of his dissolute companions, he stole a life-sized wooden Dutchman form the front of a cigar store, and placed it under the chaste couch of the mature Diana in question.

The conspirators waited on the landing when Miss Goobey locked the door that night expecting a domestic earthquake to be started as soon as the bogus burglar was sighted.  They waited unsuccessfully for an hour. Was it possible Miss G. had neglected her invariable custom of looking under the bed? No, the idea was preposterous. They still lingered for the volcano to begin, throwing up screams, convulsions, melted lava and hair pins.

Silence.

Another hour passed by.

At last the well-known sound of Miss Goobey’s high soprano snore sounded faintly through the door, and impelled by ungovernable suspense and curiosity, the watchers climbed up and peeped though the transom.

There were two figures in the bed.The wooden man had been carefully lifted into the couch and covered up with its head on Miss G’s off pillow. While one thin arm over his manly red-wood chest, and with one saffron cheek pressed against the irresponsive shoulder, Miss Goobey slept in contented sleep of one who had reached bedrock at last.

She was making believe, poor thing!

 


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, December 17, 1881.