America/United States

Rat Pits, Rat Baiting, and American Sportsman Kit Burns

Rat pits were an infamous form of entertainment that people like Christopher Keyburn promoted. Commonly known by his alias Kit Burns, he was a mid to late nineteenth century American sportsman, saloon keeper, and underworld figure in New York City. His business in the Bowery was located on Water Street in a nice-looking but plain…

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Henry Brown: A Slave Who Mailed Himself to Freedom

Henry Brown was a slave who at the age of 33 mailed himself to freedom. He placed himself in a baize-lined wooden crate that had been addressed to an abolitionist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because of his clever plan he acquired the nickname of “Box” at a Boston antislavery convention in May 1849 and thereafter called…

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Ghost Dance: A Native American Ceremony

The Ghost Dance was a nineteenth century religious movement and belief system embraced by numerous Native American tribes that happened at a time when the U.S. government threatened to erase their culture. Native Americans believed that the practice of the dance would end westward expansion and that the dead spirits of the Native American would…

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Independence Day: Fourth of July Bostonians Memories

In 1899 The Boston Globe recalled Independence Day or Fourth of July celebrations remembered by Bostonians from years earlier. These memories included banquets, patriotic speeches, parades, firecrackers, and fireworks. Bostonians also reminisced that the celebrations 50, 60, and even 70 years ago were as noisy as they were in the present day of 1899.

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Robert Burns 119th Birthday Celebration in 1878

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist who pioneered the Romantic movement and is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. He also became a cultural icon in Scotland and a great source of inspiration world-wide because he influenced people like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Steinbeck, and Alexander…

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Copper King Mansion and William A. Clark

William A. Clark built the 34-room Copper King Mansion in Butte, Montana between 1884 and 1889. It was situated in what was called Uptown and was reported to have nine fireplaces imported from France, ninety doors, and six-hundred and thirty-nine windowpanes. In addition, there was a grand staircase, known as the “Staircase of All Nations”…

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Memorial Day Observances in America in 1885

Memorial Day is an American holiday in which Americans honor the dead and remember those who died while in the armed services. The holiday originated in the aftermath of the American Civil War when a movement formed to honor dead soldiers on both sides of the conflict. This day of remembrance was initially called Decoration…

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Black Cats: An Enterprising Hoax in 1891

Everyone has probably heard about the many superstitions surrounding cats, particularly black cats. For instance, one of the oldest and most enduring superstitions about black cats is related to them crossing your path. In America it was predicted that if you such a thing happened you would suffer bad luck whereas in Britain, Ireland, Japan…

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Harry Morse: “Bloodhound of the Far West”

Harry Morse (Henry Nicholson Morse) was an Old West lawman elected in 1863 as the sheriff of Alameda County, California. He served in that capacity from 1864 to 1878. Because of his tracking skills he became a celebrated and legendary figure partly because he found and captured some of the most notorious and infamous outlaws…

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Strange and Terrible Deaths in the 1800s

There were many strange and terrible deaths in the 1800s and among them is a story from 1879 about a poor woman roasted alive in her carriage. It all began when Mrs. Honora Lacy left her home in Chester County. She was traveling to Wilmington, Delaware to buy a large quantity of cotton, straw, and…

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