Posts by Geri Walton

Nellie Bly: Pioneer of Investigative Journalism

Nellie Bly was christened Elizabeth Jane Cochran on 5 May 1864, but when her father died six years later, her life drastically changed. Her father, Michael Cochran, started out as a laborer and mill worker but later became a merchant, postmaster, and associate justice at Pennsylvania’s Cochran’s Mills (which was named for him). He also…

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Princess Charlotte of Wales: A Most Unusual Princess

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte’s parents were cousins and her father married her mother to help resolve his enormous debts, but the marriage was disastrous. They were unsuited, each disliked the other, and George was in…

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Cremorne Gardens: Its History Between 1845 and 1877

Cremorne Gardens were popular pleasure gardens by the side of the River Thames in Chelsea, London, located between Chelsea Harbor and the end of the King’s Road that flourished between 1845 and 1877. The gardens began after the property was sold in 1845 to Thomas Bartlett Simpson. He owned the North & South American Coffee…

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Paris Catacombs and Associated Interesting Tales

  The Paris Catacombs (Catacombes de Paris in French) are underground ossuaries that were created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries in the late eighteenth century. The same year that Marie Antoinette’s husband ascended the throne as Louis XVI was the same year that preparation for the Catacombs began after…

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Revolt at Levant Penitentiary with 14 Boys Roasted Alive

On 3 October 1866 14 boys were roasted alive because of a revolt at Levant Penitentiary, a juvenile facility, located on the Île du Levant, sometimes referred to as Le Levant. It is a French island in the Mediterranean off the coast of the Riviera, near Toulon and is the largest of the four islands…

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Philadelphia Austen Hancock: Eliza de Feuillide’s Mother

Philadelphia Austen Hancock was born on 15 May 1730 to a not so successful surgeon in Tonbridge named William Austen and his wife Rebecca Walter née Hampson, who had been married before and had a son, William Hampson Walter. In addition, three other children were born to William and Rebecca: Hampson in 1728 (who died…

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Napoleon Bonaparte Portraits: Important Historical Moments

There are many Napoleon Bonaparte portraits that provide important historical moments in his life. Yet, it is somewhat surprising that any portraits of Napoleon exist as he almost never willingly sat for any painter. In fact, he was notorious for disliking to sit and even believed that portraits should demonstrate his character rather than capture…

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Parliament Fire of 1834: The Night it Burned Down

The same year that Madame Tussaud established her Chamber of Horrors, was the same year that the parliament fire of 16 October 1834 began. Apparently, the Exchequer needed to dispose of an obsolete accounting system that had not been used since 1826. The system relied on elongated tally sticks described as follows: “[A tally is…

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Joachim Murat: The Flamboyant “Dandy King”

Joachim Murat was a handsome successful man who became King of Naples despite beginning his life in a humble way. He was born in Guyenne, France, on 25 March 1767 and was the eleventh child of Pierre Murat-Jordy (an affluent innkeeper and postmaster) and Jeanne Loubières. His parents wanted him to serve in a church…

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