My New Book on Jane Austen's Cousin Eliza is Now Available!

Cane Contrivances: Unique Inventions for Users

By Geri Walton | March 8, 2021

In the 1700 and 1800s cane contrivances were created that showed “considerable ingenuity.” For instance, Parisians were known to have carried a sword cane for many years and leaden canes were trendy everywhere because they be used as a bludgeon. There were also the popular hollow affairs relied on by smugglers to sneak in expensive…

Dolly Varden Fashions: A Late Nineteenth-Century Fad

By Geri Walton | March 1, 2021

The Dolly Varden fashions were a version of popular fashions worn originally in the 1770s and 1780s embraced by women such as Marie Antoinette, the Duchess Polignac, or the Princesse de Lamballe. Dolly Varden fashions later became popular in Great Britain and the United States between about 1869 and the 1880s with the fad peaking…

People’s Grocery Lynching of 1892 in Memphis, Tennessee

By Geri Walton | February 22, 2021

The story of the People’s Grocery lynching begins with increasing racial tensions in the Tennessee area in 1892 around the same time that Mark Twain was finishing his “Tom Sawyer Abroad.” The lynching was connected to the People’s Grocery, a grocery store that first opened in 1889 as a cooperative venture formed by 11 prominent…

Leadville Ice Palace: Colorado’s Creation of 1895 and 1896

By Geri Walton | February 15, 2021

A year after Mark Twain filed for bankruptcy, a mammoth Leadville ice palace was planned in Leadville, Colorado. It came about when Leadville citizens decided to outshine nearby Denver and reinvigorate their long, cold winters. In addition, desperate townspeople wanted to create jobs as the once mining boom had fizzled. Similar ice structures had been…

Dr James Graham: Sexologist and His Temple of Health

By Geri Walton | February 8, 2021

Dr James Graham trained in medicine and although he never graduated, he became a self-styled doctor who promoted unusual cures, pioneered sex therapy, and opened a Temple of Health. He began his medical career by setting up an apothecary in Doncaster, Yorkshire. Then in 1770, he left for America where he traveled around the middle…

Charlotte L Brown: First Legal Racial Segregation Challenge

By Geri Walton | February 1, 2021

On Friday 17 April 1863 at 8pm a Black woman named Charlotte L Brown took a seat on a horse-drawn streetcar in San Francisco, California. She was one block away from her house on Filbert Street and was heading to see Dr. Geay whose office was at Howard Street. The streetcar was owned by the…

Eighteenth and Nineteenth-century Bonesetters’ Tales

By Geri Walton | January 25, 2021

Eighteenth and nineteenth-century bonesetters were like today’s chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists rolled into one. They practiced joint manipulation and fixed musculoskeletal injuries using manual force. Because eighteenth and nineteenth-century bonesetters were cheaper than regular physicians and because they could be easily found within local communities there are a lot of stories, both good and…

Grant's inauguration

Grant’s Inauguration of 4 March 1869

By Geri Walton | January 18, 2021

Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration was slated for 4 March 1869 at the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. He had been elected the presidential candidate in 1868 after being unanimously nominated as the Republican Party’s pick. In the end Grant won the popular vote for president by 300,000 votes out of…

Harriet Howard: Mistress to Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III)

By Geri Walton | January 11, 2021

Harriet Howard was born in 1823 as Elizabeth Ann Haryett. She was the daughter of a boot maker who made fashionable footwear for the British aristocracy and in addition her grandfather owned the Castle Hotel in Brighton. It was a coastal resort situated on the southern coast of England where people like Jane Austen and…

Decorative Hair Combs of the 19th Century

By Geri Walton | January 4, 2021

Decorative hair combs date to the earliest of times and were created from all sorts of materials. For instance, ancient combs were made from wood, bones, ivory, feathers, and other natural type materials. Sometimes they were “studded” with gems or painted with designs. These early decorative hair combs were also often flat in construction but…