No. 479
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
July 14, 2020

Getting Above his Business.

How a too presumptuous shoe dealer’s attention to a female customer was resented by her male escort.
August 31, 2015
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Patrick Eugene Joseph Prendergast, a madman who assassinated the mayor of Chicago, was hanged on this date in 1894. Prendergast seems to have been a mentally unbalanced character from his early childhood; one might speculatively attribute it to a youthful head injury, or the very early death of his father, or the strains of an […]
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Executed Today - 7/13/2020

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Soapy Smith in July 4th paradeSkagway, Alaska 1898Broadway and Fourth Ave.Note Soapy is on the left of center, behind Joe Brooks.Behind him is Brooks' Pack TrainWhere is the Skaguay Military Company?Where is the Fitzhugh Lee wagon?Courtesy ofKlondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Click image to enlarge) ow Soapy Smith conned his way to be Grand Marshal of the 4th of July With
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 7/10/2020

Rhynwick Williams In March 1788, a London woman named Maria Smythe was standing on a friend's doorstep when a stranger suddenly accosted her, muttered some unrecorded but evidently horribly vile comments, stabbed her with a knife, and fled, leaving her slightly wounded. Although she had no way of knowing it at the time, she was the first victim of a bizarre crime spree that would not be
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Strange Company - 7/13/2020
It was a perfect weekend to journey out to Tyngsborough to get a glimpse of what was left of the …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/13/2020
On the morning of March 19, 1875, Charles K. Landis entered the office of the Vineland Independent and demanded to see the paper’s editor and publisher, Uri Carruth. When Carruth entered the room, Landis approached him, waving a newspaper clipping. “Mr. Carruth, did you write that?” Landis shouted. “I did, and I will do it again,” said Carruth. “Will you promise not to attack my wife
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Murder By Gaslight - 7/11/2020

In 1976, the 92 acres of landfill that would one day become Battery Park City was in place and ready. Unfortunately New York City—which hoped this new development would help revitalize the lower West Side of Manhattan—was too broke to get construction started until 1980, according to bpcparks.org. So until the early 1980s, an actual […]
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Ephemeral New York - 7/13/2020
[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
Life on a Mississippi Steamboat. | She Liked Her Lager Beer.

Getting Above his Business.

Above His Business

How a too presumptuous shoe dealer’s attention to a female customer was resented by her male escort. [more]

What Happened to a Clerk who Tried a Pair of Shoes on a Girl.

A young man and a very pretty girl entered a shoe store in Chicago one afternoon last week. She was lately from a New England seacoast town, noted for its institutions of learning and intolerance of anything like impropriety. Her cheeks had still the color peculiar to Eastern girls. The clerk advanced briskly, and with his sweetest smile inquired her wants. She wanted a pair of high-button boots, and, having selected a pair to her liking, seated herself in a little place partitioned off for the purpose, to try them on. Her escort stood at a little distance, looking through the window into the street. The clerk was all attention. He sat down beside the girl, and proceeded to put on one of the boots. She looked a little astonished when he sat down beside her, and a moment later she uttered an exclamation of such unmistakable indignation that her escort sprang forward, and, seizing the clerk by the collar, kicked him clear across het room into a case of rubber shoes, which stood half empty.

“Take that you scoundrel,” cried the exasperated student from Yale, tossing a box of shoes on top of the clerk, “and see if you can’t wait on a lady without insulting her.”

The clerk, too much scared to move, lay doubled up in the box, when the proprietor came quickly forward.

“Call the patrol and have that man arrested,” cried the clerk feebly, as he saw his employer approaching. “He assaulted me; he’s a dangerous man.”

“Yes,” retorted the student, as he piled two more shoe boxes on the whimpering clerk, “call the patrol and have this bundle of garbage dumped into some vacant lot.”

The proprietor apologized to the young couple and assisting the humiliated clerk out of the shoebox, told him to put on his hat and leave the store.


Reprinted from the National Police Gazette, December 29, 1883.