No. 429
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 26, 2019

A Substitute for a Wife.

October 27, 2014
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At three in the afternoon this date in 1999, Eduardo Agbayani was put to death by lethal injection in the Philippines. At that very same moment, President Joseph Estrada — an erratic populist who months ago had presided over the first execution since the Marcos dictatorship — was furiously, unsuccessfully, trying to dial the prison […]
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Executed Today - 6/25/2019

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Signing party with Q & A and refreshments, July 13th, Saturday 10 am -2 p.m. Jules Antiques and General Store, …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 6/19/2019

"Illustrated Police News," 1881, via Newspapers.com I dare say that being murdered is never pleasing, under any circumstances. Imagine how much more irritating it is for the victim when there are no indications that your death will ever be avenged, leaving your murderer to walk free. What is a ghost to do, except take the matter into its own hands and turn spectral detective? About the
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Strange Company - 6/24/2019
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
Christina Hassler, 50-years-old, grew quite wealthy from several oil wells operating on her farm in Butler County, Pennsylvania, but she was not so fortunate in her personal life. She married a man named Nordheim and had four children by him. They lived together until, for some unspecified reason, Nordheim made a murderous assault against her father. He was sent to the penitentiary and
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/22/2019

This is Park Row and Broadway in 1972. John Lindsay was the New York’s mayor; that year, he launched a short-lived quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Transit strikes, teacher strikes, and a sanitation workers’ walkout in the 1960s continued to cripple the 1970s city. By the end of the decade, almost a million people […]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/23/2019
[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
Bulldozing a Voter. | "It Costs Money to Fix Things."

A Substitute for a Wife.

Substitute Wife

A disconsolate widower secures a dummy, and dresses it up in his wife’s clothing, just to humor a “little fancy;” New York City. [more]

A Dummy Made to Fill a Wife’s Place.—The Force of Habit.

The breezy Captain Marryat relates in one of his novels an incident illustrative alike of the wonderful force of habit and the facility of substitution, so to speak, in human nature. Its awful to think that one’s place in the world may be filled by a scrubbing brush, and yet the captain demonstrates the possibility of such a thing. A worthy old salt, so goes the chronicle, has been in the habit of sleeping with his hand on his wife’s head. She wore her hare close cropped, it is narrated, yet to the weather-beaten hand the stubble cushion seemed of downy softness, such is the power of infatuation and perfect sympathy.

The worthy tar all too soon became a widower, and when he stretched out his hand in his bed and found only smooth pillow beside him he could not sleep. Long and deeply was he troubled and the physicians tried in vain. Finally, he one night took the scrubbing brush to bed with him, placed it upside down on the pillow next to him, reposed his hand upon it and nature’s sweet restorer came swift on downy pinions to light upon his tear-sullied lids. Now, another widower, who states that he lives in New York, has written a letter to this office to state that he has had the extreme felicity of burying his wife, and that he misses her well-dressed form in the house he intends, instead of getting an old maid for a companion, to purchase as dress-maker’s dummy and dress it up four or fives times a year in the newest flounces and millinery wrinkles and so replace his loss.

“So long as the bills from the dressmaker come in regularly,” he writes, “I can still feel like a married man.”

From some subsequent allusions in this purported widower’s letter the suspicion grows that he is not what he pretends to be, but is, in fact, a married man who has failed to subscribe for the new fall number now due, and his faithful wife has grown acrimonious.

 


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 23, 1880.