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

What it Has Come To.

A scene from feal life in a sixth avenue smoking car—giddy girls who believe in taking a “whiff of t
June 22, 2015
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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
Oscar Wilde Gets a Reception. | A Bloody Ruction.

What it Has Come To.

Girls Smoking

A scene from feal life in a sixth avenue smoking car—giddy girls who believe in taking a “whiff of the weed” in public as well as in private. [more]

That smoking cigarettes has become quite a common custom among women in their homes, is well known. But like all habits of this kind, their devotees soon grow bold. A scene was witnessed on a Sixth avenue smoking car one day this week which shows that some of the fair sex, at least, do not propose to have their nicotinian enjoyment confined to their house, but boldly practice it in public, Two handsomely attired ladies stepped on to one of the Sixth avenue smoking cars, in which were seated two or three gentlemen, all smoking cigars. The fact that the ladies were deemed intruders, caused the smokers to puff away. In the most careless manner possible, and with the air of one who had smoked from childhood, both of the females opened their reticules, taking therefrom a package of cigarettes and a case of cigars. Requesting a light from one of the gentlemen, they joined in making the air blue with smoke. They paid no heed to the attention which their action caused. Both seemed to think that they were doing the “propahcapah.” Credulous readers may deem this a fancy story, but it is a fact which can be vouched for at any time. What made this action more noticeable is that it was performed in broad daylight, while the avenue was thronged with promenaders.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, November 6, 1880.