No. 427
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 16, 2019

Hospital Horrors.

March 20, 2012
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(Thanks to the late University of Illinois history professor Clarence Walworth Alvord for the guest post, which originally appeared in an essay he wrote for the centennial of the Land of Lincoln‘s 1818 statehood. For context to this 1779 execution, the area comprising the future U.S. state of Illinois had been attached by the British […]
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Executed Today - 6/15/2019

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Dressing Miss Lizzie, which is a paper doll book featuring Lizzie’s garments described in newspapers of 1892 -1893 is now …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/30/2019

This handsome cat displays an expression not uncommon among those who visit this blog for the first time. Watch out for those haunted elevators! Watch out for those haunted cars! Watch out for those Swedish ghost pigs! The Chevalier and his Clowder. Why gin explains a lot about the 18th century. Some bridesmaid superstitions. The murder of a roadhouse keeper. The barber and
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Strange Company - 6/14/2019
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
Two children playing near their house in Greenwich, New York, the morning of Saturday, October 20, 1889, found a woman’s hat and jacket lying on a log and reported them to a group of men who were working on a road nearby. Reuben Stewart, Superintendent of Streets who was also President of the Village, thought the circumstances were suspicious and went down to take a look for himself. It was a
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/15/2019

Countless artists have painted the Brooklyn Bridge. But not Edward Hopper. Instead of focusing on the city’s most beloved and beatified bridge, Hopper in 1928 used the nearby but less-loved Manhattan Bridge to depict the isolation and solitude of modern urban life. “In his powerful and evocative painting, Manhattan Bridge Loop, Edward Hopper has frozen […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/9/2019
[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
Allan Pinkerton. | Being Initiated.

Hospital Horrors.

Rats eat toes

September 1880 - A helpless Woman while staying in a hospital, has her toes eaten off by rats; Alameda County, Cal.[more]

August Johnson, the husband of Margaret Johnson who died in Alameda County Hospital, has made the following damaging statement of the treatment of his wife while in that institution:

“After I received a telegram stating that my wife was dead, I went out there with some others to see about it, and took her two children with me. She was paralyzed in her legs and arms, and could not help herself. The nurses have been discharged out there, and there was no one to attend to her. One of the patients told a lady who was there to take off her stockings. I found all her tows eaten off. The patients said the rats ate them off before she died. The doctor was three. He asked if I wanted her buried. I said ‘Yes.’ He replied, ‘I will bury her now while you can see it.’ He then sent some men to bury her. The put her in an express wagon and we followed in our buggies. When we got to the burying ground there was no grave dug and this was between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon. They laid the coffin down on the ground and went back to the hospital after a pick and shovel. We could not wait for them to come back and dig the grave, as I had a tired team and it was so far, and I had to be back at a certain time.

“I do not know whether they buried her or not. I asked for her clothing, but cone not get it. No one seemed to know what had become of it."

Marshall Glynn makes a similar statement, saying that he went to County Hospital with Mr. Johnson, and saw the body of Mrs. Johnson, the toes were eaten off by rats. The blood had run down her foot into the heels of her stockings.

A patient named Annie, a paralyzed woman, and another patient named Mrs. Evens said that the rats ate at her feet before she died. She could not help herself. They heard her wild cries for help, but could not get to her, and those that could move paid no attention. She was lying in a hallway off from the rest. They saw rats jumping on and off her bed. I was out there before on Sunday, September 12. At that time there were no nurses, and she had no attention except what she could get from the other patients. The patients told me there were women around there who stole the clothes form the dead people.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 23, 1880