No. 444
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
October 21, 2019

Photographed as he Died.

June 24, 2014
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Via historic-uk.com It is, of course, common knowledge that one of the precipitating factors of World War I was the murder of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. However, it is largely forgotten that another cold-blooded assassination very nearly sparked an armed conflict between America and Great Britain. This week, let us remember the Great Dead Pig War of 1859. The main stage for our
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Strange Company - 10/21/2019

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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

George Grosz made a name for himself drawing and painting caricatures of life in his native Germany during the postwar Weimar era. But this Expressionist painter who helped lead the Dada movement left Germany in 1932 and relocated to New York City, turning his cynical eye on his adopted home city. “New York Harbor,” from […]
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Ephemeral New York - 10/20/2019
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
In October 1893, 64-year-old Patrick Finney of New Bedford, Pennsylvania, was visiting his old friend and drinking buddy James Campbell in Hazelton, Ohio.  Campbell had been a saloonkeeper in Pittsburgh before retiring and moving with his wife to Hazelton, a suburb of Youngstown.  As was their custom, Finney and the Campbells were drinking heavily the night of October 9. James Campbell had a
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Murder By Gaslight - 10/19/2019

Dictator Muammar Gaddafi (several alternate transliterations are familiar, such as Qaddafi and Gadhafi) was killed by his captors during the Libyan civil war on this date in 2011 — an act very much on the extrajudicial and summary side of the foggy borderlands defining an “execution”. Libya’s ruler since deposing the British-supported King Idris way […]
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Executed Today - 10/20/2019
[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
Independence Day in the Country. | Scenes from “In the Tenderloin.”

Photographed as he Died.

Suicide

A Well-known photographer of Albany, Vt., Successfully takes a picture of his own suicide.[more]

Miles Pierce, a prominent photographer of Albany, Vt., posed himself in the big plush chair in his gallery with the utmost nicety one day last week. He presented a three-quarters view to the lens of the camera, which was focused upon him at close range. A drop shutter was attached to the instrument and an instantaneous plate was in the holder.

When the photographer had adjusted himself to his liking he picked up a big revolver that lay on a table conveniently near, cocked it and held the muzzle against his temple.

In his left hand he gripped the bulb connecting with the camera.

As the forefinger pf the photographer’s right hand pressed the trigger his left contracted upon the rubber bulb. Simultaneously with the report of the weapon the eye of the camera winked, and that was all. The body of the man collapsed in the red plush chair. The pistol fell with a clatter to the floor, a cloud of white smoke eddied up toward the sklylight and slowly dispersed, and all was silent.

An hour or two later the body of the man was found.

There was the usual wild excitement in the village, the constables were called, and then the coroner. The camera was shoved out of the way. The verdict was suicide by reason of temporary insanity. The real reason is that nobody in Albany wanted to be photographed, and that Miles Pierce had no more money.

The man who had purchased the photographic outfit found the plate in the camera. He had the curiosity to develop it. When the image on the negative sprang into view he was so startled that he let it fall and smashed the glass. It was piece together and a few proofs printed form it. The owner has exhibited them only to a few persons, and will not part with nay. The drop did its work and the picture was recorded the instant when the bullet had pierce the photographers’s skull.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, January 16, 1897.