America/United States

William Morgan: The Disappearance of an Anti-Mason

William Morgan was a resident of Batavia, New York. He was also a bricklayer and stonemason and was married with a wife and two children. In addition, Morgan was friends with David C. Miller, a local newspaper publisher, who was attempting to keep his paper afloat. Because Morgan was indigent, he hit on a plan…

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Left-Handers of the 1700s and 1800s: The Famous and Infamous

There are many famous and infamous left-handers of the 1700s and 1800s. However, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries being left-handed was often viewed as a defect. For example, in The Maternal Physician published in 1818 by American Mary Palmer Tyler, a thirty-five-year-old matron who published one of the first childcare manuals, talked about the…

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Laudanum: An 18th and 19th Century Wonder Drug

Laudanum is a tincture of opium and was considered a wonder drug in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. Reddish-brown and extremely bitter, it contained almost all opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine and was therefore used to treat many conditions. However, it was primarily used as a pain medication and cough suppressant.

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Harry T Hayward: Socialite, Arsonist, and Murderer

Harry T Hayward may have been a socialite, but he was also an arsonist and murderer. From a phrenologist’s point of view he was deemed at the time to be a “man of low type, the lower face being especially heavy, while the rear top head presents the gable conformation characteristics of the criminal class.”[1]…

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Draughts or Checkers in the 1700 and 1800s

Draughts or checkers was a strategy board game played for fun and for its relaxing benefits in the 1700 and 1800s. The game had been around for a long time and involved two players moving diagonally with their game pieces and capturing opponent pieces by jumping them. Because it was easy to learn and play,…

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Consuelo Vanderbilt: Marriage to the Duke of Marlborough

Consuelo Vanderbilt was a member of the prominent American Vanderbilt family, a family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age because of her great grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had great success with shipping and railroads and built an empire. Consuelo was named in honor of her godmother, Consuelo Yzanaga, a half Cuban,…

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Cholera Ship Virginia in 1866: Liverpool to New York

What became known as the cholera ship Virginia set sail from Liverpool on 4 April 1866. At the time there were no cases of cholera reported in Liverpool and none of the passengers – “630 Irish, 220 Germans, Dutch, Danes and Swedes, and 179 English and Scotch”[1] – came from any known districts suffering from…

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Cardiff Giant Hoax of 1869 in Cardiff, New York

Although the Berners Street hoax of 1810 may be one of the great hoaxes in England, the Cardiff Giant, a “petrified man” uncovered in Cardiff, New York, was one of the greatest hoaxes in American history. The giant was found behind William C. “Stub” Newell’s barn on 16 October 1869 as workers were digging a…

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Esther Howland and Valentine’s Day Cards

Esther Howland was an artist and businesswoman who popularized Valentine’s Day greeting cards in America in the 1800s.* She was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1828 to Southworth Allen Howland, who operated the largest book and stationery store in Worcester. Her mother was Esther Allen Howland, author of The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family…

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Jeanne Bonnet: Cross-dressing Frog Catcher

The same year French socialite Juliette Récamier died was the same year that Jeanne Bonnet was born in Paris. At the time Bonnet’s father belonged to a French theatrical troupe. The troupe decided around 1852 to relocate to San Francisco, and Bonnet’s father decided to move with the troupe and took his family with him…

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