No. 424
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 22, 2019

Old King Brady

February 14, 2012
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English Franciscan John Forest was burned at Smithfield on this date in 1538 … the undercard to the simultaneous “execution” of a downthrown idol of Saint Derfel Gadarn. The latter had been ripped from its shrine at Llandderfel in Gwynedd, Wales: the place gets its name from Derfel himself and its devotion to its Celtic […]
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Executed Today - 5/22/2019

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Coming in May! Warps and Wefts is excited to announce the publication of “Dressing Miss Lizzie”, a collection of paper …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 4/23/2019

via Newspapers.com Phantom cats and a mysterious death. Who can ask for more in an old newspaper story? The "Brooklyn Daily Eagle," March 13, 1886: Ghost stories from the credulous and nervous gentlemen who draw salaries as guardians of the peace in the precinct covered from the Graham avenue station are becoming frequent. Last week they saw the ghost of an Italian. On Thursday night a
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Strange Company - 5/22/2019
Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
In July 1890, a man came into the 126th Street Police Station in Harlem, New York City, to report a conversation he had overheard in an elevated train. A young man and woman sitting near him were talking about the mysterious disappearance of Miss Goodwin from the Storm King flats on East 126th Street. They believed that she had been foully dealt with by “professional malpractioners.” The woman
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/18/2019

I’m not the first old sign enthusiast who came across this beauty of a beer sign on the tenement at 317 East Fifth Street. Grieve wrote it up back in January, and I’m sure other fans walking along this quiet East Village block noticed the ancient signage, too. “S. Cort Wines & Lager Beer” the […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/19/2019
[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
It Was Another Kind of Cat. | A New Gag.

Old King Brady

Hop Lee
[more]
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 “Old King Brady” 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