America/United States

Canada Bill: William Jones Confidence Artist

Chances are you even if you’ve heard of Wild Bill Hickok or Buffalo Bill, you haven’t heard of Canada Bill. He wasn’t famous like either of those Bills rather he was infamous because he was considered king of the confidence artists in the 1800s. Canada Bill operated in Canada and the U.S. and was described…

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The Largest Slave Auction in U.S. History

The story of America’s largest slave auction involves Pierce Mease who was born to Sarah Butler. Her father was Pierce Butler, an Irish-American, South Carolina rice planter, slaveholder, politician, an officer in the American Revolutionary War. He also served as a state legislator, member of Congress of the confederation, 1787 Constitutional delegate, and member of…

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Tarring and Feathering Attacks in America

Although the phrase tarring and feathering appears to have originated just prior to the American Revolution, the practice was much older having first happened in Europe. One of the earliest reports of it occurring was in 1189 during the time of the English King Richard the Lion-Hearted. Laws and regulations had been drawn up in…

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The Green Goods Scam of the 19th Century

The green goods scam was a fraudulent scheme that involved persuading victims to turn over thousands of dollars in genuine bills that would then be returned to the victims double their value in counterfeit bills. The scam was run by a gang of sharpers, called “green goods men.” They make millions of dollars using denominations…

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Tattooing: A Fad of the Late Nineteenth Century

There is evidence that some of the earliest practices of tattooing happened around 4,000BC. However, despite tattooing have had a long history, public awareness of it did not begin to spread until the 1870s. The reason for this had to do with a legal case that captivated Victorian England and was often known as the…

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The Many Dogs of George Washington

The dogs of George Washington were of varying breeds and ranged from Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and Newfoundlands, to Briards and terriers. He even had spaniels, just like the French Queen Marie Antoinette and her friend and superintendent of her household, the princesse de Lamballe. Although Washington’s dogs varied, the dog that was most popular with him…

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Return Ward: Ohio’s First Serial Killer

Return Ward was christened Return Jonathan Meigs Ward and was born in Erie County in Ohio on 8 June 1815. His mother died when he was two years old, and his father never remarried. It was hard for his father to raise him and his other children and so Ward was “put out to be…

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Murder of Hiram Sawtelle: A Cain and Abel Story

Hiram Sawtelle and Isaac Sawtelle were the sons Hiram F. Sawtelle. The elder Hiram was born in 1812, a year or so after Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Marie Louise, gave birth to Napoleon II. The elder Hiram became a carpenter and because he whistled “Yankee Doodle” and carried a shoe over his shoulder his behavior attracted…

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Emma Hardinge Britten: Spiritualist Medium of the 1800s

Emma Hardinge Britten was an English advocate for the early Modern Spiritualist Movement and is remembered as a writer, orator, and practitioner of the movement. She was born in London, England, in 1823. Her father Ebenezer was a schoolteacher who died in 1834 when Britten was eleven years old.

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