Posts by Geri Walton

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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Bertha Heyman: “Big Bertha” or the “Confidence Queen”

Born in 1851 in Kobly, near Posen, in Prussia, Bertha Schlesinger, later known as Bertha Heyman, was a 19th century swindler dubbed “Big Bertha” or the “Confidence Queen.” That was because she managed to swindle people out of thousands of dollars. In fact, she sometimes even did so while incarcerated.

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Duchess of Kendal the Longtime Mistress of George I

The Duchess of Kendal was the longtime mistress of King George I. Described as a thin woman, she was said to be “lean and haggard” and was known as “the Scarecrow” in Germany, as “the Maypole” in England, and called “the Goose” by Jacobites, who most famously taunted her in the Scottish ballad Cam Ye…

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SS Princess Alice Sinking Tragedy of 1878

The SS Princess Alice was a passenger paddle steamer formerly known as the PS Bute. It sank in 1878 after it collided with the big heavy iron collier Bywell Castle on the River Thames. The accident was a devastating tragedy and the greatest loss of life of any British inland waterway accident.

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Smithsonian Institute Fire: An 1865 Tragedy

The Smithsonian Institute was founded on 10 August 1846, the same year that the Countess of Blessington introduce Harriet Howard to Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Smithson Institute’s founding donor was a well-to-do British scientist named James Smithson. He left most of his wealth to his nephew Henry James Hungerford, who died…

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William Brodie: Double Life of an 18th Century Man

Deacon Brodie was born William Brodie and appeared to be a respectable Scotsman. He was a cabinet-maker, Edinburgh city councilor, and deacon of the trades guild. However, it was revealed in 1788 that he had been maintaining a secret life as a housebreaker and thief and that he was doing so because he found it…

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Samuel Willey Family Tragedy and Mount Willey

The Samuel Willey family tragedy that resulted in the deaths of the Willey family and the naming of Mount Willey began after Willey moved his family into the area known as Crawford Notch. It was a major pass through the White Mountains of New Hampshire in Grafton County with the high point of the Notch…

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Lydia Sherman: The Derby Poisoner and Serial Killer

Lydia Sherman was born under the surname Danbury on 24 December 1824 in Burlington, New Jersey. Within a year of her birth her mother died. When her father remarried, Sherman chose to live with her uncle, John Claygay, a New Brunswick, New Jersey farmer, because she did not like her stepmother.

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Louis Philippe I: King of the French From 1830 to 1848

Born on 6 October 1773, Louis Philippe became King of the French from 1830 to 1848. He was the son of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans and Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon (sister-in-law to the Princesse de Lamballe). The younger Louis Philippe inherited the title of the Duke de Chartres and was known for…

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