No. 462
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
February 20, 2020

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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On this date in 1803, robber Mathias Weber was guillotined. “Fetzer” made a scintillating career in brigandage in 1790s Rhineland — whose west bank Prussia had been forced to cede to revolutionary France. (The legendary bandit Schinderhannes plied his trade in the same unsettled environs; the two men shared a ride to Mainz as prisoners.) […]
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Executed Today - 2/19/2020

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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

Via Newspapers.com Tales of stone-throwing poltergeists are surprisingly common, but this one is a bit more unusual than most. The “Indianapolis News,” June 26, 1909: Lafayette, Ind.. June 24. For miles around the little hamlet ot Pettit, seven miles east of Lafayette, the residents are in a state of great excitement over the strange happenings at the home of Rosanna Ritenour. A haunted
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Strange Company - 2/19/2020
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
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.