Posts by Geri Walton

William Marwood: British Hangman from 1874 to 1883

William Marwood was born in 1818 in the village of Goulceby. He was the fifth of ten children born to William and Elizabeth Marwood and became a cobbler like his father. However, he harbored a deep desire to be an executioner and eventually did becoming the chief executioner for London and Middlesex from 1874 until…

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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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Onion Pie Murder in 1852 by Sarah Ann French

In 1852, the Onion Pie Murder occurred. The case involved Sarah Ann Piper who married William French on 14 September 1844 in Hellingly, Sussex, England. She was heavily pregnant at the time and later delivered a strong healthy boy who they named James. As far as anyone knew Sarah and William had a happy marriage,…

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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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Mary Pearcey and the Hampstead Murders

Mary Pearcey was born Mary “Nellie” Eleanor Wheeler in 1866 and was convicted of what became known as the Hampstead Murders.* These killings happened on 24 October 1890 and involved the murder of 31-year-old Phoebe Hogg and her 18-month-old daughter, nicknamed “Tiggy.”

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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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Joseph Vacher: Serial Killer Known as “The French Ripper”

Joseph Vacher was a nineteenth century French serial killer. His place in French social history was much like that of England’s “Jack the Ripper” and so he became known as “The French Ripper” in Paris. Although he was tried and convicted of murdering just two victims, he was thought to have killed somewhere between eleven…

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