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

The Green Goods Scam of the 19th Century

By Geri Walton | December 6, 2021

The green goods scam was a fraudulent scheme that involved persuading victims to turn over thousands of dollars in genuine bills that would then be returned to the victims double their value in counterfeit bills. The scam was run by a gang of sharpers, called “green goods men.” They make millions of dollars using denominations…

Tattooing: A Fad of the Late Nineteenth Century

By Geri Walton | November 29, 2021

There is evidence that some of the earliest practices of tattooing happened around 4,000BC. However, despite tattooing have had a long history, public awareness of it did not begin to spread until the 1870s. The reason for this had to do with a legal case that captivated Victorian England and was often known as the…

François-Adrien Boieldieu: The French Mozart

By Geri Walton | November 15, 2021

François-Adrien Boieldieu was born the same day as English novelist Jane Austen, on 16 December 1775. Boieldieu’s father was secretary to Archbishop Larochefoucauld and his mother kept a millinery shop. Unfortunately, unlike Austen’s parents, Boieldieu’s parents were unhappily married, and his father filed for a divorce and married a second time.

Death by Corset and Tight Lacings in the 1800s

By Geri Walton | November 8, 2021

Before many death by corset stories surfaced, critics against these garments voiced their negative opinions of them. For instance, in 1844 the Dublin Weekly Herald stated:

The Many Dogs of George Washington

By Geri Walton | November 1, 2021

The dogs of George Washington were of varying breeds and ranged from Greyhounds, Dalmatians, and Newfoundlands, to Briards and terriers. He even had spaniels, just like the French Queen Marie Antoinette and her friend and superintendent of her household, the princesse de Lamballe. Although Washington’s dogs varied, the dog that was most popular with him…

Return Ward: Ohio’s First Serial Killer

By Geri Walton | October 25, 2021

Return Ward was christened Return Jonathan Meigs Ward and was born in Erie County in Ohio on 8 June 1815. His mother died when he was two years old, and his father never remarried. It was hard for his father to raise him and his other children and so Ward was “put out to be…

James Hadfield: His Attempt on King George III’s Life

By Geri Walton | October 18, 2021

James Hadfield was charged with high treason after attempting to assassinate King George III at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on the evening of 15 May 1800. Hadfield was sitting in the second row from the orchestra towards the middle of the pit as King George III entered his box. As usual the King began…

Caroline Norton: Fighting Against Injustice

By Geri Walton | October 11, 2021

Caroline Norton was born in London on 22 March 1808 to actor, solider, and colonial administrator Thomas Sheridan and his novelist wife, Caroline Henriette Callander. In 1817, the same year that Madame Récamier’s good friend, Madame de Staël died, Thomas also died. His family was then left penniless. Luckily, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and…

Murder of Hiram Sawtelle: A Cain and Abel Story

By Geri Walton | October 4, 2021

Hiram Sawtelle and Isaac Sawtelle were the sons Hiram F. Sawtelle. The elder Hiram was born in 1812, a year or so after Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Marie Louise, gave birth to Napoleon II. The elder Hiram became a carpenter and because he whistled “Yankee Doodle” and carried a shoe over his shoulder his behavior attracted…

Washerwomen of Paris and the Mi-Carême Celebration

By Geri Walton | September 27, 2021

Washerwomen of Paris were known to celebrate a special holiday known as Mi-Carême or mid-Lent, celebrated in the so-called Lent period, which is a period of forty days of deprivation that precedes Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Just like Mardi Gras was the traditional fete of the butcher, Mi-Carême became the holiday of the…