No. 461
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 18, 2020

The Last Dip of the Season.

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.
September 3, 2013
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(Thanks to Henry-Clement Sanson for the guest post. The former executioner — the last of his illustrious dynasty comprising six generations of bourreaux — was the grandson of that dread figure of the Paris Terror, Charles Henri Sanson. Henry-Clement’s Memoirs of the Sansons: From Private Notes and Documents (1688-1847) describes some famous or infamous executions […]
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Executed Today - 2/17/2020

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"Denver's Oldest Bar" matchbook cover outside cover - A (Click image to enlarge) new addition to my collection A matchbook cover from "Denver’s Oldest Bar" is a new acquisition to my private Soapy Smith collection. Though it is a "modern" item from the 1960s-70s, it has a direct link to Soapy Smith. "Denver’s Oldest Bar" was once controlled by Soapy, under the name, "Tivoli Club,
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 2/7/2020

"Boston Globe," August 19, 1905, via Newspapers.com The true-crime writer F. Tennyson Jesse suggested that not only are some people "born murderers," others are "born murderees." It is when these two types of people happen to find each other that you get A Situation. It is an interesting theory, but one that tends to fall apart once you study murder cases. For example, it is hard to find
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Strange Company - 2/17/2020
Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 12/29/2019
Every day since Halloween 2007, the blog ExecutedToday.com has posted a story of an execution that took place on that date in history somewhere in the world. While this certainly says something about the human condition over time, it also says something about the determination and thoroughness of the blogger of ExecutedToday.com, who goes by the epithet Headsman. As someone who has scrambled to
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Murder By Gaslight - 2/15/2020

Wherever rich New Yorkers built their homes in the 19th century, they also built private stables for their expensive horses and carriages—with upstairs living quarters for a coachman or groom. So when Upper Fifth Avenue along Central Park became the city’s new Millionaire Mile during the Gilded Age, certain Upper East Side blocks to the […]
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Ephemeral New York - 2/17/2020
[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
Over-the-Rhine. | A Bride’s Toggery.

The Last Dip of the Season.

Last Dip of the Season

Water witches who frolic with Neptune, no matter how cold his embrace.

Westchester Water Witches

They Won’t Have a Man Around, and Still Enjoy Themselves—Diving as a Fine Art, With a Special View to the Exhibition of Pink Flesh and Pretty Hosiery.

The fair dwellers in some of the charming country sites on the shores of Long Island Sound have invented a means of enjoying themselves, whose novelty will probably recommend it whenever it becomes known before the season is over. In the course of a yachting cruise down the sound last week a Police Gazette artist enjoyed an admirable opportunity to obtain the sketch presented with this number.

The pictures explains itself. A long and elastic spring-board is flown from the gallery of a boathouse, itself built over deep water, so far out as to afford ample profundity for safe diving. The plank itself is some fifteen feet above the surface of the water and straight in advance of its end a light cork buoy is enclosed. The door of the boat house in the rear is open, giving the diver a run of some twenty feet for a start.

The result, seen for the first time, is, to say the least, startling.

An elegant figure clad in a tight-fitting bathing suit of the most improved French model, bounds out of the dark doorway, makes three or four leaps on the swaying plank and is then shot high in the air, a mere flash of striped hosiery and pink flesh, descending a parabola and landing, if she knows how to preserve her balance, with her pointed hands, into the water, clearing the surface like an arrow and vanishing at last in a little circle of boiling foam. The object of the divers is to leap beyond the anchored buoy as far as possible, and a regular record is kept of the distance of the leaps. After rising to the surface the fair swimmers paddle back through the piles on which the boat house is sustained and ascend a comfortable ladder to the club-room, for it is, again.

The boat house is the meeting place of the “Westchester Divers," as they call themselves, who consist of numerous wealthy ladies of the vicinity, with a sprinkling of well-known actresses and professionals in operatic walks.

It is a veritable female paradise, no men being admitted to the hospitalities of the establishment. “We can’t keep you away in your boat, of course,” observed the smiling president to the artist. “But we won’t permit you to land, and you are always glad to get over to the Point where they have excellent lager beer on tap. Are you not thirsty?” The artist considered the hint an excellent one, and took it. He is sorry to say, however that the charming president of the “Westchester Divers” is either no judge or she has never read Sapphire.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 9, 1880.