No. 526
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 21, 2021

Eloped on a Spotted Steer.

How a loving West Virginia couple escaped from an obdurate father and were married.
January 30, 2017
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"Louisville Courier-Journal," May 8, 1881, via Newspapers.comWhen I started this blog, I hoped to focus on the smaller, obscure stories from the past--the long-forgotten bits of random oddities that, when taken together, show just what a strange world we live in.  In short, the "uncommon" is really quite commonplace.One such story is the death of one otherwise completely unmemorable young man. 
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Strange Company - 6/21/2021

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An Ordnance to Cover the Defective Points.Denver Tribune-RepublicanMay 14, 1885(Click image to enlarge)   n order to cover such cases as "Soapy" Smith, the arrest of whom for violating the lottery ordinance"  Note how bad the Xerox copy at the top is. This was shared to my father, by his brother (my uncle) Joseph Jefferson Smith​ (1909-1977). Obviously, the copiers at the time did not do
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/13/2021

When railroad baron H.H. Cook decided to build himself a New York City mansion, he didn’t try to squeeze into a plot of land on Fifth Avenue in the 50s—an area that had been colonized by several Vanderbilt heirs and other Gilded Age moneymakers. Instead, he went to the then-hinterlands of Manhattan, purchasing the entire […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2021
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
Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                             Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/19/2021

Producer-director Ric Rebelo has today, in memory of LeeAnn Wilber, former co-owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, released this award-winning film for public view on Youtube. This was filmed in 2010, some of the participants in the production are no longer with us today. What was recorded in 2010 has not changed much today in 2021, only intensified in fascination.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/16/2021
[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
Freaks of Fashion. | Thrown from a Balcony.

Eloped on a Spotted Steer.

Eloped on a spotted steer

How a loving West Virginia couple escaped from an obdurate father and were married. [more]

On last Thursday morning a young couple appeared in Welch, McDowell County, W. Va. They were Miss Carrie Coats, a pretty, peachy-cheeked country damsel of 17, and Sandy Johnson, a tall, stalwart, good-looking mountaineer, of 22 years. They had travelled all night from the bride’s home on Ground Hog Cree, in order to elude the obdurate father of the girl. The girl was riding on the back of a dignified spotted steer, and sandy was walking by her side. The unusual sight soon drew a crowd of people, and as everybody loves a lover, half a dozen hurried off after a magistrate or a preacher. Unluckily for the lovers, no official could be found who would marry them on account of the girl’s age. When the couple learned of this they broke down and cried, the girl sobbing as if nearly heartbroken.

The tears of the pretty young girl brought about a determination on the part of the spectators to see them through in some way, and one suggested that thy take the train, then nearly due, for Bristol, Tenn. Where they would find no difficulty in getting married. The proposition changed the tears of the bride into smiles of joy and Sandy’s less apparent grief into open-mouthed delight for a moment, until he thought about a license. Someone in the crowed, however, anticipated the young man, and proposed that the crowd pay all expenses, and in less time than ti takes to write it pocketbooks were out and enough money was contributed to carry the couple through, with a souvenir left over for the bride.

The spotted steer was stalled in front of a pile of oats and corn to ruminate in peace and plenty until the return of the couple and the procession headed for the platform. Neither of the couple had ever seen a train before, and when it pulled in they got on the platform between the engine and the baggage care. Their sponsors soon remedied this mistake and had them conducted into a ladies’ car, where the conductor was expressly charged to see them safely through. The last seen of Carrie and Sandy as the train was wheeling out of sight, they were folded in each other’s arms laughing and straining their eyes as they looked out of the window.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 14, 1893