No. 499
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 26, 2020

Another Steamboat Disaster.

New York City, -- The Steamboat Riverdale blown up, August 28th – Rescuing the passengers.
October 3, 2016
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"York Dispatch," November 28, 1905.  (All clippings via Newspapers.com) When normal people think of Thanksgiving, they picture large family dinners, a relaxing day watching football in front of the TV, a general atmosphere of comfort and contentment.Me, I picture turkeys being used as lethal weapons and guided missiles.  The "Passaic Herald-News," November 23, 1956:This inventive lady celebrated
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Strange Company - 11/25/2020

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A CHAMPIONSan Francisco ChronicleOctober 12, 1898(Click image to enlarge)     ASCOMB IS A CHAMPION    Guess Bascomb Smith wasn't all bad. The texts of the newspaper appear below.  Miss Hall finds a champion. Brother of  “ Soapy” Smith claims her as his wife.There is another side to the pathetic story told to the police by Minnie Hall, the Vaudeville actress to jump into the bay from Howard
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 9/25/2020

It’s been a good century or so since New Yorkers celebrated Evacuation Day. But in the late 18th and 19th centuries, this holiday—on November 25—was a major deal, marked by festive dinners, parades, and a deep appreciation of the role the city played in the Revolutionary War. Evacuation Day honors the day in 1783 when […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/23/2020
Colorization can sometimes add another whole dimension to vintage black and white photos. We’ve done this one of the crime …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 8/31/2020
 Old Cap. Collier, the fictional dime novel detective, tries his hand at solving the murder of Dr. Cronin.The real murder of Dr. Patrick Henry Cronin was stranger than fiction, with the good doctor found naked and dead in a Chicago sewer after confronting the corrupt leaders of an Irish secret society. As Edmund Pearson said, “It was one of those murders over which men nod their heads and look
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/21/2020

Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
[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
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.