No. 452
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
December 11, 2019

Hospital Horrors.

March 20, 2012
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(Thanks to Robert Elder of Last Words of the Executed — the blog, and the book — for the guest post. This post originally appeared on the Last Words blog. Fans of this here site are highly likely to enjoy following Elder’s own pithy, almanac-style collection of last words on the scaffold. -ed.) “You see […]
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Executed Today - 12/9/2019

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Lizzie’s Old School Chum, Augusta Poole (Mrs. Cyrus Tripp) Shelley M. Dziedzic, October 2019 (all rights reserved) During the hot …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 10/19/2019

The following is the tale of how one seemingly completely ordinary young Englishman earned an unenviable place in the legal books--and, more importantly to our modern generation--his own Wikipedia entry. Christopher Slaughterford was born in Westbury, Surrey, sometime in 1684. His father was a miller. He spent his early life apprenticing at a farm in Goldaming, after which he served other
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Strange Company - 12/9/2019
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
William J. Elder, aged 61, was addicted to drink and when under its influence was violent and uncontrollable. His wife tolerated his abuse as long as she could then packed up and moved out of their farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, leaving behind her two sons, Robert and Mathew. In 1887, 19-year-old Robert Elder moved out of his father’s house as well. 12-Year old Mathew Elder was still
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Murder By Gaslight - 12/7/2019

It’s the blue hour in “Rainy Day, New York,” a 1940 painting by Leon Dolice—a Vienna-born artist who came to Manhattan in the 1920s. The sun has sunk below the horizon, and sidewalks and buildings are cast in a blueish glow, illuminated by streetlamps, car headlights, and the reflection of rain-slicked streets. I’m not sure […]
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Ephemeral New York - 12/9/2019
[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