No. 451
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
December 06, 2019

A Substitute for a Wife.

October 27, 2014
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Renoir, "Luncheon of the Boating Party" This week's Link Dump is hosted by Baby, award-winning seeing-eye cat! Life Magazine, 1947. Photographer: Loran F. Smith Lethbridge Herald, February 1, 1947, via Newspapers.com Who the hell was the Princess of Persia mummy? What the hell is the Eltanin Antenna? A newly-discovered manuscript
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Strange Company - 12/6/2019

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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

On this date in 1805, Cusco‘s Plaza Mayor hosted the hangings of two colonial Peruvian creoles who had aspired to revive the Incan resistance to Spain. The devastating Tupac Amaru rebellion lay just 25 years in the background here, but these men were not themselves indigenes. They were, however, New World-born, and thus heirs to […]
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Executed Today - 12/5/2019
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
Joseph Snyder murdering Jacob Geogle and wife - Judge Lynch metes out death to the scoundrel in a summary manner Portraits: 1. Joseph Snyder - 2. Alice Geogle, whom Snyder attempted to rape. In 1880, Jacob and Annie Geogle lived with their three children in the town of Santee’s Mills near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jacob worked in an iron ore mine and to supplement his meager income, the
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/30/2019

Phantom buildings abound in New York, especially in the contemporary city, with so many structures that were once neighborhood fixtures getting the heave ho in an era of rampant renovation and reconstruction. This ghost walkup on East 52nd Street and Third Avenue was probably a 19th century tenement home to several families—perhaps all sharing one […]
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Ephemeral New York - 12/2/2019
[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.