No. 423
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
April 23, 2019

Venus Caught by the “Cops.”

June 10, 2014
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Hanged April 23, 1845 for poisoning her brother Charles Dimond — and commonly suspected to have offed several other family members by means of arsenic — the “Shapwick Murderess” Sarah Freeman insisted her innocence to her very last breath. “I am as innocent as a lamb,” she said to the hangman William Calcraft as he […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 4/23/2019

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The Savoy bookstore in Westerly, R.I. was cram-packed with Borden case enthusiasts this evening as author Cara Robertson held forth …

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Lizzie Borden : Warps & Wefts - 3/26/2019
"Roses are red, Violets are blue, And my cat is, too." Cats and weird little stories from the past.  What could be more Strange Company than that?  For this reason, I'm delighted to temporarily pass the blog's steering wheel over to Peggy Gavan, whose upcoming book, "The Cat Men of Gotham: Tales of Feline Friendships in Old New York" (Rutgers University Press, May 3, 2019,) is now available
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Strange Company - 4/22/2019

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
Rosa Buckstahlen and Ida Bjornstad, servants in the Chicago mansion of Amos J. Snell, were awakened at 2:00 the morning of February 8, 1888, by the sound of a gunshot from the floor below. They heard someone shout “Get out! Get out of here!” followed by more gunshots, then silence. Thinking that all was well—or more likely, too frightened to do anything else—the girls went back to sleep.
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Murder by Gaslight - 4/20/2019
I count six transportation options Brooklynites had in 1915, according to this rich and detailed postcard of Flatbush Avenue. There’s the elevated train, of course, as well as a streetcar, automobile, bicycle, horse and wagon, and of course, getting around on foot, as most of the crowd seems to be doing—when they’re not mugging for […]
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Ephemeral New York - 4/21/2019
[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
Scenes from “In the Tenderloin.” | Progress of Naval Architecture.

Venus Caught by the “Cops.”

Venus Caught

A Theatre Raid.
The play of “Bashful Venus” in a New York variety theatre, interrupted by the police who arrest the artistes. [more]

 A Flash Theatre in New York Raided and the Performers Locked Up.

For several weeks the American Theatre, originally a Third avenue variety den, has been running a season of what its manager called a sensational drama. The bill was made up of a few variety acts and a dramatic piece de resistance entitled “The Bashful Venus.” Venus was a quaint brazen relic in tights and her satellites were modern in costume and decidedly dramatic in morals. The comedian of this play was a burnt cork artist and of one the objectionable funny situations of his part was his payment of twenty-five cents for a view of the leg of a female artiste or the cast, she raising her skirt half way to the garter and measuring off what she considered twenty-five cents worth of limb.

This was more than even the peelers could stand, so they gave it away to their superiors, feeling justified in their complaint by the fact the limbs exposed were rather scrawny. A bench warrant was issued on the 3d inst. By the District Attorney for the arrest of the proprietor and performers and police captain Ryan made a descent on the establishment when the piquant show was at its height. It was ten o’clock when the police struck the place. The flashy afterpiece was on and the house was packed with a wonder eyed audience of adolescent youths and young boys. The officers came in at the front and rear entrances simultaneously, creating the wildest sort of a panic. A rush was prevented however by Captain Ryan mounting the stage and making a speech, suring the audience that no one of them would be arrested. The officers then took in custody Rich parker, the proprietor of the theatre, Henry Montague, the author of the play and stage manager, and the following artistes who were on the scene at the time of the raid: Carrie Duncan, Author Daly, Harry Lloyd, George Melinott, Susie Layman, Daisy Golden, Gracie Golden, Violet W. Ballard, Nellie Stein, Sophie Donlin, E. S. Goodwin, John Finnerty, R. W. Lucas, G. L Scott, and Daniel Collier.

After the prisoners had been secured the audience was dismissed. The prisoner were marched through the streets in their costumes, followed by a hooting mob, and locked up in the station house over night. The women wept and pleaded to be spared the disgrace of the public parade, but without avail.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, 21 Oct 1882.