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

Old King Brady.

The greatest dime novel detective.
February 14, 2012
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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
Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner. | Duel of the Divas.

Old King Brady.

Hop Lee
Old King Brady was probably the most popular of the nineteenth-century dime novel detectives. The first of his adventures was published in 1885 (though the action takes place in 1881) when New
Sleuth-Hound
Old King Brady, 1885
York City detective James Brady was between fifty and sixty years old. He was called King because he was “…the most celebrated of all the famous detectives the United States has produced.” “Old” was probably added to his title as an attempt to ride the success of Old Sleuth, the first dime novel detective who was introduced in
Old-Sleuth
Old Sleuth
1872—though Old Sleuth was actually a young man who would disguise himself a wizened old man.

 

Old King Brady was tall and clean-shaven with short gray hair. He had gray eyes, an aquiline nose, and perfect white teeth. Brady always wore a long, blue, military cut coat and a broad-brimmed hat. He did not possess the keen intellect of Sherlock Holmes or Edgar Allen Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, nor was he afflicted with any of the eccentricities of these literary detectives. He was pure and moral, solving his cases with dogged determination, and thorough police work. And in the inevitable showdown with the bad guys, Old King Brady was a man of action who never failed.

 

104 Old King Brady stories were published between 1885 and 1894 written by Francis Worcester Doughty under the penname “A New York Detective.” After a five year hiatus, Old King Brady returned in 1899 forming the Brady Detective Bureau which reported directly to the United States Secret Service. Joining him was Harry Brady, known as Young King Brady—they had the same last name, but James and Harry were not related. Also with the Bureau was Alice Montgomery, a blond, attractive former operative for the Australian Secret Service.

Joss-House-Jim
The Bradys and Joss House Jim

Though they fought crimes throughout the United States and in exotic locations around the world, the Bradys spent much of their time on Mott Street in New York City, and in San Francisco’s Chinatown, fighting the “Yellow Peril.” Their enemies were most often Chinese highbinders, opium peddlers, and white slavers, with names like Hop Lee, Hi-Lo-Jak, and Joss House Jim.

After 726 more weekly adventures between 1899 and 1912 the Brady Detective Bureau closed up shop. “A New York Detective” had run out of plots and dime novels, in general, could not compete with moving pictures for the small change of American boys.














Sources:
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. Old King Brady, the sleuth-hound. New York: F. Tousey, 1885.
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. Hop Lee, the Chinese slave dealer, or, Old and Young King Brady and the opium fiends: a story of shrewd detective work in San Francisco. New York: Frank Tousey, 1899.
  • Doughty, Francis Worcester. The Bradys and “Joss House Jim,” or, Tracking a Chinese Crook. New York: Frank Tousey, 1909.
  • Hoppenstand, Gary. The Dime novel detective. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982.
  • Old Sleuth, the detective, or, The Bay Ridge mystery. New York: G. Munro, 1885.
  • Dime Novel Castle