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

Too Fond of Kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It.
May 22, 2018
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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
A Wine-Inspired Wager. | Renewed Activity of "The Finest."

Too Fond of Kissing.

Too fond of kissing.

A Steamship Steward Who Has Been Kissing Fourteen Years and Hasn’t Got Sick of It. [more]

A too jovial disposition has got John Barbour, the good-natured, good-humored, Falstaffian steward of the steamer Hecla, of the Cunard Line, into trouble. John has too great a propensity for kissing the girls, a predilection that sooner or later bound to lead a man into kissing the wrong girl and being brought up with a round turn in consequence.  Thus, it was that John, when his stately ship left Liverpool, just two weeks ago, began to make love to all the females in his steerage domain. It was one of his duties to distribute food to the passengers.

The artful fellow would generally manage to exact the penalty of a kills for such sight culinary favors as he granted. The women soon grew accustomed to his odd fancy and avoided him. But one of the “told” on him as soon as the vessel reached p[ort a few evenings ago. Her name is Mary Roberts, and into the astonished ear of Superintendent Jackson of Castle Garden, she poured the story of the gay Britisher’s conduct. And not only this, but other whisperings affecting the management of the steerage quarters and separation, or rather non-separation, of the sexes ‘board ship, passed between the informer and the informed.

The result was an investigation which was conducted before the Commissioners of Emigration. John was hauled up, overhauled and keel-hauled by the angry Commissioners, and made to confess his misdeeds. He stated that he had “sailed the ocean blue” for fourteen years, and during all that time he had been kissing steadily.

Commissioner Lynch inquired where he wasn’t tired of it by this time.

Commissioner Ulrich asked if he wasn’t ashamed of such Barbourous conduct.

Another commissioner said he should be compelled to label such behavior as monstrous.

John’s examinations further revealed the fact that he kissed Mary Roberts “once,” but as she didn’t scream, he assumed it was all right. The girls he found didn’t object every much to being kissed unless he had been drinking beer. Then they wouldn’t stand it.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 2, 1880.