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

Trying to Scare an Old Maid with a Wooden Dutchman.

A wooden Dutchman, rather than no man at all, was what a sensible spinster argued when some practica
July 11, 2016
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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
An Irishman and a Yankee Settle a Dispute. | She Stole Her Lover’s Clothes.

Trying to Scare an Old Maid with a Wooden Dutchman.

Wooden Dutchman

A wooden Dutchman, rather than no man at all,
Was what a sensible spinster argued when some practical jokers under took to scare her in Oakland, Cal. [more]


Probably the most pathetic incident since the war occurred in Oakland the other day, and it is still agitating the higher circles of that locality to their inner depths. It appears that on Jackson street resides an old maid—a very old maid—who puts in all the time she can spare from the supervision of other people’s affairs to searching for burglars. In fact, the latter occupation may be said to be her hobby.

For the last twenty-five years Miss Goobey has never retired without first  industriously “shooing” under each and every bed for the purpose of expelling any burglariosly inclined person who might be thus secreted.

The other day a bold, bad man, who happened to be temporarily staying at the Goobey residence, concocted a dreadful practical joke. By the assistance of some of his dissolute companions, he stole a life-sized wooden Dutchman form the front of a cigar store, and placed it under the chaste couch of the mature Diana in question.

The conspirators waited on the landing when Miss Goobey locked the door that night expecting a domestic earthquake to be started as soon as the bogus burglar was sighted.  They waited unsuccessfully for an hour. Was it possible Miss G. had neglected her invariable custom of looking under the bed? No, the idea was preposterous. They still lingered for the volcano to begin, throwing up screams, convulsions, melted lava and hair pins.

Silence.

Another hour passed by.

At last the well-known sound of Miss Goobey’s high soprano snore sounded faintly through the door, and impelled by ungovernable suspense and curiosity, the watchers climbed up and peeped though the transom.

There were two figures in the bed.The wooden man had been carefully lifted into the couch and covered up with its head on Miss G’s off pillow. While one thin arm over his manly red-wood chest, and with one saffron cheek pressed against the irresponsive shoulder, Miss Goobey slept in contented sleep of one who had reached bedrock at last.

She was making believe, poor thing!

 


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, December 17, 1881.