No. 452
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
December 14, 2019

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn.
September 18, 2017
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Renoir, "Luncheon of the Boating Party" This Friday the 13th Link Dump is hosted by some lucky black cats! The tragedies of Tumbling Run. How alcohol saved humanity. Superstitions about magnets. Turning song into art.  Literally. This week in Russian Weird looks at their Valley of Death. A look at Christmas 1819. If you're going to have a funeral for a doll, best to
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Strange Company - 12/13/2019

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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

Per the BBC’s report of a Saudi Interior Ministry statement, a woman named Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was beheaded for sorcery in the northern province of Jawf on this date in 2011. The London-based newspaper, al-Hayat, quoted a member of the religious police as saying that she was in her 60s and […]
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Executed Today - 12/12/2019
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
William J. Elder, aged 61, was addicted to drink and when under its influence was violent and uncontrollable. His wife tolerated his abuse as long as she could then packed up and moved out of their farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, leaving behind her two sons, Robert and Mathew. In 1887, 19-year-old Robert Elder moved out of his father’s house as well. 12-Year old Mathew Elder was still
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Murder By Gaslight - 12/7/2019

It’s the blue hour in “Rainy Day, New York,” a 1940 painting by Leon Dolice—a Vienna-born artist who came to Manhattan in the 1920s. The sun has sunk below the horizon, and sidewalks and buildings are cast in a blueish glow, illuminated by streetlamps, car headlights, and the reflection of rain-slicked streets. I’m not sure […]
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Ephemeral New York - 12/9/2019
[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
Anti-Everything. | The Enlargement of Woman's Sphere.

Her Trick Spirit Trick Exposed.

Spirit Trick Exposed

Mrs. Bested seized by two men while giving a séance at Hartford, Conn. [more]

The Spiritualists, of Hartford, Ct., are excited over the exposure of Mrs. Eugene Beste, the well-known illuminated materializing medium. She has bewildered the people of culture Boston, where she had crowded seances for two years, and she has also given successful exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. She went to Hartford at the invitation of leading Spiritualists, and a séance was given on Saturday, attended by a select few. An incredulous lady determined to test the genuineness of the visionary forms at the next exhibition and laid carful plans. She obtained the consent of Mrs. House, at whose home the medium was a guest, and two stout men were secreted in the kitchen, while the invited twenty, at $1 apiece, were forming three circles in the adjoining room. Mrs. Beste chatted with the spectators until 8:30, when the room was darkened. Two chairs had been placed against the kitchen door by the medium and a wire put in front of the inner circle. This the lady said, would have an electric effect. The medium the retired to the cabinet, formed by curtains inclosing a bay window.

A deathlike silence pervaded the room when a tall figure appeared and advanced a few steps and sang in deep bass. The next figure was Daisy, a child three feet tall, who talked in a sweet voice. Then came Apollonius, of Tiana, and illuminated Oriental figure who wore luminous robes and was expected to dissolve before the eyes of the spectators. The sight was beautiful. Stars sparked and a blue fire enveloped the figure. Suddenly the kitchen door flew open, and two men rushing in seized the supposed Apollonius, who uttered a piercing scream and called for help. Lights were procured, the scented gauze was torn off the figure and Mrs. Beste stood before the excited twenty. She displayed a fine form arrayed in corset, a short chemise and blue stockings. She was allowed to dress, after which she made a confession which was put into the shape of a sworn affidavit by a lawyer present and signed by Mrs. Beste.

She said her robes were soaked in a solution of phosphorus and spattered with illuminated paint, which produced the luminous effect. They were concealed under her dress when she entered the cabinet. Tall figures were made by raising the arms over the head and small figures by kneeling down. She said all the Boston mediums were frauds and that she had deceived thousands, though in constant fear of exposure. After refunding the $20, which was given to the two men who caught her, she was allowed to depart. She left the city on the Washington Express. In her affidavit, she swears never to give another exhibition. This is witnessed by W. O. Burr, of the Times, and other well-known gentlemen. The medium had great vocal powers, which she used to advantage. The leading Spiritualists say they are pleased at the discovery of fraud where it exists.


Reprinted from National Police Gazette, October 24, 1885.