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

Another Steamboat Disaster.

New York City, -- The Steamboat Riverdale blown up, August 28th – Rescuing the passengers.
October 3, 2016
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Spanish general Jose Aranguren was shot on this date in 1939 by Franco’s Spain. A brigadier general of the Civil Guard — an internal-to-Spain paramilitary/law enforcement force that remained predominantly loyal to the Republic during the Spanish Civil War — Aranguren (the very cursory English Wikipedia entry | the more detailed Spanish) at the outset […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 4/22/2019

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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
Watched her Lovers Fight. | A Man under Her Bed.

Another Steamboat Disaster.

Steamboat Explodes

New York City, -- The Steamboat Riverdale blown up, August 28th – Rescuing the passengers. [more]

A sad disaster occurred on the North River, off New York City, on the afternoon of August 28th, when the steamer Riverdale burst her boiler and sunk in mid-stream. The Riverdale made daily trips between this city and Haverstraw, Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown, Yonkers, and other places up the river, and carried both freight and passengers. She had started from the Harrison Street pier, where about fifty people had boarded her, and was to take on most of her passengers at the foot of West Twenty-Second Street. As she approached that point, the pier was seen to be occupied by another vessel and the Riverdale reduced her speed. The steamer was nearly opposite the foot of Twentieth Street, and was about 150 rods from the shore, when a dull, heavy sound, like the fall of a ponderous hammer, was heard, followed by the uprising of a dense cloud of smoke, steam and flying splinters. The pilot-house and smoke-stack were thrown high in the air, and the vessel soon began to sink, disappearing from view within ten minutes. About one-half of the persons on board had distributed themselves upon the upper decks, fore and aft, while several women and children were in the after cabin. Many of them were blown into the air or thrown into the river by the shock, two being killed outright by the explosion, and a third drowned while two others died within a few hours from their injuries. Fifteen more persons were injured and the loss of life would have been much greater if a large fleet of tug-boats and row-boats which were near by had not gone immediately to the rescue. The Riverdale was an old boat, built about thirty-five years ago, and had twice changed her name. She met with an accident a year ago which would have been terribly fatal had she been laden with passengers. The drumhead of her steamchest blow off as she lay ate her dock waiting for a load of Coney Island passengers, and the steam poured forth in volumes, sweeping away the upper deck. Experienced river men say that she has been unsafe for many years, and the disaster has provoked a loud demand for a more effective inspections and government of the steamers which ply our rivers.


Reprinted from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 8, 1883.