No. 489
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
September 18, 2020

An Undertaker’s Assistant’s Mistake.

August 26, 2014
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Chapter 2
Via Newspapers.comOn one occasion, “Pennies From Heaven” became more than just an old song, if the following story is to be believed.  The “Washington Post,” October 1, 1905:Genoa, Sept 22.--Genoa has its ghost, with this peculiarity--that people run after it instead of fleeing for their lives. No one has seen the ghost, but its presence is indicated by a rain of money! Every evening, between 6
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Strange Company - 9/16/2020


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If you’re used to thinking of Duane Street as an affluent downtown street stretching from Foley Square to Tribeca, then this 1877 depiction of a dingy, down and out Duane Street will come as a surprise. The painter is Louis Comfort Tiffany. Before he made his name by creating stained glass pieces, he studied painting. […]
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Ephemeral New York - 9/14/2020
The last hanging in Puerto Rico history took place on this date in 1927. Like most such instances, it was more remarkable as a milestone than as a crime. Pascual Ramos, piqued that he’d been fired from a night watchman job upon his boss’s accusation of theft, revenged himself upon that man: According to eye […]
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ExecutedToday.com - 9/15/2020

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 & Wefts - 8/31/2020
Mrs. Sarah Shancks owned a high-end millenary concern—“a fancy thread and needle store”—at 22 East 12th Street.  At around 10:00 AM, the morning of December 7, 1860, Susan Ferguson, who worked as a seamstress for Mrs. Shanks, entered the store but could not find her employer. She went to the back room where Mrs. Shanks resided and found her lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Her throat had
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Murder by Gaslight - 9/12/2020
Capt. Jeff. R. SmithArtifact #67 Envelope - front Jeff Smith Collection (Click image to enlarge) apt Jeff. R. Smith Skaguay, Alaska Artifact #67 is an envelope sans the content letter, addressed to "Capt. Jeff. R. Smith, Skaguay, Alaska." The stamp and the front postmark are present, reading, "San Francisco Cala, Jul 14 - 6 a.m.," meaning that it left San Francisco at that
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 9/15/2020
[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
The Drama of Life, | The Girls Have a New Game.

An Undertaker’s Assistant’s Mistake.

She wasn't the corpse.

She Wasn’t the Corpse.

The Queer blunder made by the assistant of an undertaker in a house of mourning, Bridgeport, Conn. [more]

In a town near Bridgewater, Conn., death entered an estimable household at midnight, and an undertaker from the city was summoned by telegraph. On arriving at the house the undertaker sent his assistant to an upper chamber to prepare the corpse. Taking her box of bandages, sponges, &c., the assistant went, as she thought, to the room indicated, but instead she entered the room of a young lady, a member of the bereaved family, who had fallen sound asleep from exhaustion caused by her constant attention at the sick bed. The attendant had an old-fashioned tallow dip, which she set on the stand, and depositing her box on the bed by the side of the sleeping beauty she began operations. Takin a soft sponged she carefully washed the face observing, what was not unusual, that the flesh was still warm. The young lady slept on, but when a fine-toothed comb was drawn through some tangled crimps of her hair she awoke with a suddenness that upset bot the attendant and the box of implements. Both ladies gave a shriek that could have been heard blocks away, and as soon as a match could be struck, for the candle had been overturned and extinguished, explanations followed. The attendant believed the corpse had come to life, and the awakened damsel thought she had been disturbed by a burglar. The household below was aroused, and they followed the undertaker in quick succession to the scene of the disturbance. Although the death had cast a gloom over the household there was a quiet laugh when the situation was explained.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, October 9, 1886.