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

A Train of Cars Rushing Through Fire.

Traveling through fire—Fearful peril of a railway train, at Cedar Swamp, on the Eastern Railroad, Ma
October 23, 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
A Duel on Horseback. | Kidnapped in Broad Daylight.

A Train of Cars Rushing Through Fire.

Train Through Fire

Traveling through fire—Fearful peril of a railway train, at Cedar Swamp, on the Eastern Railroad, Maine, Sunday, Sept. 17 [more]

One of the most thrilling scenes we have ever been called on to portray occurred in the woods at Cedar Swamp, Maine, on the track of the Eastern railroad, Sunday, Sept. 17.

The train was on its way to Augusta, conveying the 14th Maine regiment, when suddenly, without knowing it, they dashed at full speed into a piece of burning woods. Once in, there was no retreat, and on the train flew through the flames that reared themselves forty feet above the locomotive and cars. The oil of the wheels took fire, and for a few minutes it looked seriously as though the whole convoy was gone. The soldiers were smothering from the smoke and roasting from the flames, and the engineer only kept his post by almost superhuman command. The roar of the flames completely drowned the shrieks and cries of the human cargo, and for a few minutes it was a perfect pandemonium. Fortunately, none of the brave fellows threw themselves from the hurrying train, and the gallant locomotive, Cape Ann, sped them at lightning pace through the fiery ordeal, and dashed them in to fresh air and life, sound, save and except a little scorching which time will remove


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, October 14, 1869.