No. 526
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 21, 2021

Venus Caught by the “Cops.”

June 10, 2014
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"Louisville Courier-Journal," May 8, 1881, via Newspapers.comWhen I started this blog, I hoped to focus on the smaller, obscure stories from the past--the long-forgotten bits of random oddities that, when taken together, show just what a strange world we live in.  In short, the "uncommon" is really quite commonplace.One such story is the death of one otherwise completely unmemorable young man. 
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Strange Company - 6/21/2021

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An Ordnance to Cover the Defective Points.Denver Tribune-RepublicanMay 14, 1885(Click image to enlarge)   n order to cover such cases as "Soapy" Smith, the arrest of whom for violating the lottery ordinance"  Note how bad the Xerox copy at the top is. This was shared to my father, by his brother (my uncle) Joseph Jefferson Smith​ (1909-1977). Obviously, the copiers at the time did not do
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 6/13/2021

When railroad baron H.H. Cook decided to build himself a New York City mansion, he didn’t try to squeeze into a plot of land on Fifth Avenue in the 50s—an area that had been colonized by several Vanderbilt heirs and other Gilded Age moneymakers. Instead, he went to the then-hinterlands of Manhattan, purchasing the entire […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/20/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
Parental hostility drove Fanny Madison out of her home and into the arms of her cousin, Thomas Cluverius. It was not a wise decision.Read the full story here: Kissing Cousins.                                             Pictures from Illustrated Police News, May 2, 1885.
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/19/2021

Producer-director Ric Rebelo has today, in memory of LeeAnn Wilber, former co-owner of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, released this award-winning film for public view on Youtube. This was filmed in 2010, some of the participants in the production are no longer with us today. What was recorded in 2010 has not changed much today in 2021, only intensified in fascination.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/16/2021
[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.