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

New Jersey’s Great Wash Day.

Farmers with their wives and buxom daughters enjoy their annual bath in old ocean, at Spring Lake Be
August 18, 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
She Liked Her Lager Beer. | Hard Knocks and Horsewhips.

New Jersey’s Great Wash Day.

Jersey Wash DayFarmers with their wives and buxom daughters enjoy their annual bath in old ocean, at Spring Lake Beach, N. J. [more]

Once a year the New Jersey farmers and their families have an annual wash in old ocean. They enjoyed this luxury at Spring Lake Beach, N. J. last week. They drove to the beach in wagons from all over the surrounding country. Fully 5,000 bathed. Farmers’ wives forgot the flight of time, forgot their dinners and their offspring and just sat around in groups in the moist Atlantic and gossiped.

But the prettiest sight of all, the most original bit in this whole study of farmer life, was the girl who came to the shore, like Sheridan, from twenty miles away, in her bathing suit and wore that same suit all day. She was wet all the time, but her head was dry and clear, and on that head she wore the best creation of her rural milliner’s art.

There were five thousand farmer folk and more than that number of visitors at the washing place. The beach was black with wagons of every imaginable variety. There were hundreds of buggies in which person about to be married had driven over to the cleaning ground. There were mule wagons and wagons that spend the best part of their narrow history carting hay; there were ox teams and dog teams and goat teams and push carts. Every one of these was loaded down with farmers and their chubby offspring. As soon as the beach was reached the horses or mules as the case might be, were unharnessed and their heads turned to the wagon body. Harness was piled on the ground and all minor considerations gave way to the grand work of the occasion.

Those who didn’t come in bathing suits proceeded in this fashion to prepare for the great event. A sheet was stretched about the rear end of the wagon and within this enclosure an entire family disrobed and donned their bathing suits.
All good things, however, must end somewhere and “Salt Water Day” ended for the farmers “after the ball,” that is, after their youngsters had danced themselves tired on the extemporized waltzing platform. Then oat-filled steeds were reharnessed to the wagons full of sleepy children and the journey to distant homes begun.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, September 2, 1883.