You’d think that back in April 1861, the newpapermen in Richmond, Virginia would be a little too busy getting ready for war than to have so much fun publishing news stories that make all but our cash register line rags seem tame by comparison.
They actually were writing a lot about secession, but here are some interesting articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch that I culled from just two days - April 1st and 3rd, 1861 just before Fort Sumter was fired on, essentially starting the war. Some are weird, some horrible, some just interesting or peculiar.
Of course, I have to have some fun, so I changed the headlines and made some comments to suit myself.
Now this guy can play cards
[R]ecently, a gentleman engaged in play at a faro table, and died in his seat. His death was not discovered until his money, by being left on the table all the while, had won a heavy sum. A law suit resulted between the banker and the dead player's heirs, which was decided in favor of the latter.
Well, Judge – she just wouldn’t die, is all
Ann Welsh, wife of Patrick Welsh, died at the hospital at St. Louis on the 18th inst., from the effects of a most inhuman assault made upon her by her husband three or four days previous. It appears that the unfortunate woman, who was with child. was one day sitting on a sofa, her head reclining on her mother's bed, when her husband, who had just awakened from one of his drunken slumbers, stepped into the room, and without any provocation knocked his wife to the floor and kicked her terribly on the sides, and jumping over her, struck her several times on the abdomen with his knees. He then seized a poker and struck her unmercifully over the upper and lower extremities, leaving many marks and bruises. His rage not yet satisfied, he ran the poker down her throat ! The mother of the unfortunate wife, a weak and decrepit old woman, tried to interfere and protect her daughter, but received a severe beating from the fiendish brute, and had to run away from the house. On her return she found her daughter prostrated by her injuries. The poor woman was taken to the hospital, where she became delirious, and was unable to swallow anything except some liquid, on account of the injuries to her throat. She died of inflammation of the abdomen, which a postmortem examination showed to have been intense. Welsh fled from the city on learning that his wife's life was in danger. The two had been married less than a year. Here’s the parts I like, the reporter still referred to her as “wife of . . .” even though the monster beat the stuffing out of her and her mother. There’s mean and then there’s really mean. He jumped on her stomach with his knees. I have had that done to me. It really hurts. I have no idea what it’s like to have a poker stuffed down my throat, but I've got to figure that hurts a bit too.
They couldn’t hang him, because they needed his balls
A man named Doyle, one of the workmen at the Navy-Yard, slipped over to Fort Pickens, a few nights ago, and come very near getting in before he was discovered. He had a bundle of rat-tail files in his pocket and says, if it had not been for a sergeant holding a lantern up to his face as he was going in the door, he would have had every gun spiked in twenty minutes. He was sent back by Slemmer, with the request that he be dealt with, as he did not wish to do anything that might bring about a collision, which was so much to be deprecated. Col. Clayton sent a note in reply, by the hands of private Bullock, (who, by-the-way, has since been promoted to a corporal,) stating that he would punish Doyle, but just at this time he had too much need of his services in casting cannon balls.
Why skirts have fallen out of favor
[O]n Monday forenoon Mrs. Elizabeth F. Haines was fatally burnt. She swung the back part of her dress against the glowing coal grate, and was immediately enveloped in flames. Her screams brought immediate aid. Floor rugs and pieces of carpet were used to extinguish the fire, but her spring skirt prevented the desired effect.
Is anyone else slightly confused by this one.
The Carthage (Texas) Banner, states that an affray occurred last week, in Shelby county, at Myrick's ferry on Sabine river, in which a young man, named Hewitt, was killed by his father-in-law, Myrick. Myrick was also killed by a brother of Hewitt's. The deceased Hewitt, and his wife had separated some time previously. Myrick's son was wounded in the fray.
Yeah, but it beats being married
A married woman disappeared from Huributville, Oneida county, N. Y., almost a year ago, and was supposed to have been murdered, until a few days since she was found in a hut in a lonely wood, by some men who were hunting. She had lived a hermit, save when visited by a paramour who has a wife living in Rome; and she is almost insane from loneliness.
Note to engineers - invent hard hats
Geo. W. Gilman . . . was accidentally killed on Tuesday. He was witnessing the operations of workmen engaged in removing a building, when the building suddenly settled and threw a long lever round upon him, breaking in his skull and killing him instantly.
After the first time, why did he keep the kid around?
Samuel Hoy, a lad aged ten years, has been committed to prison at Cornwall, Canada, for two attempts to kill his father. The first was by giving him strychnine, and the second by shooting him while sleeping.
Didn’t they have enough new crimes to deal with?
A man named Neill Kelly, said to be about seventy years of age, was tried at the recent term of the Circuit Court of Coosa county, Ala., for the crime of forgery committed nineteen years ago, and convicted. The prisoner is nearly 70 years old.
First gun control commercial.
On Thursday last, James, a bright little child of John A. Bailey, of Sussex county, Va., was so dangerously wounded by the accidental explosion of a gun that his leg had to be amputated. The little fellow was only six years old.
Would you have watched?
Levi Q. C. McGinnis, was hung at Cumming, Ga., on Friday last. The execution was public, and the crowd amounted to some fifteen thousand persons.
For playing cards?
The following small cases were disposed of by the Mayor yesterday:--Henry Myers (stranger,) drunk and lying on the sidewalk, admonished and discharged. Dick, slave to James Martin, having butter supposed to be stolen, whipped. Ned Day, drunk and lying in the street, whipped. . . . Peter Doyle, insensibly drunk, for the ninth time, committed. A number of negroes, found playing cards in Metropolitan Hall lot on Sunday, were also punished for trying to elucidate the mysteries of ‘"high, low, Jack and the game. "’
A 19th century Clouseau escapes from jail
A man named Tyler, who was in confinement in the county jail on a peace warrant, being accidentally locked out by the jailor Sunday evening, undertook during the night to escape by scaling the walls surrounding the edifice, and had succeeded in making his way nearly to the top, when he fell backwards on the brick pavement below, and received such severe injuries that he remained insensible till yesterday morning, when he was discovered and cared for by the jailor. It is thought his skull was fractured by the fall. But what happened to the idiot who accidentally locked him outside?
This one is only interesting because it mentions John Wilkes Booth’s older, and some say, more talented brother
Richelieu will be performed at the Theatre to-night, as it has not been since the last visit of Mr. Couldock some years ago.--This really fine actor is especially happy in painting the wily cardinal. His ‘"make up"’, to use a stage phrase, is inimitable, and his acting is not surpassed by Forrest, or that rising star, Edwin Booth
Why slavery was actually good for the country
Nothing could be more preposterous, nothing more stupid, than the dogma that slavery is a curse to a country. On the contrary, the heaviest calamity that could befall any slave State on this continent, the greatest curse that an angry Providence could inflict upon the South, would be the destruction of its slave institution. The North ascribe its own rapid increase in population and wealth chiefly to the immigration of foreigners; and does so with reason. . . .It is from immigration that the North derives its chief want, its most exigent desideratum — labor, manual labor; dirt digging, soil tilling labor; the labor decreed against man by the curse of Eden; the labor that brings to his brow the dust and the sweat. . . . . Virginia contains half a million of life-time laborers, descendants of Ham. doubly decreed to service by the divine edicts pronounced against Adam and Canaan -- to service for life, service in perpetuity. Suppose that, by some fell decree every laboring immigrant in the North were suddenly swept from that stiff-necked land, who will estimate the thousand millions of loss that would be instantly inflicted upon all its busy interests? Labor, labor, is the jewel of great price in a nation's casket.-- Labor is the bread and breath of a State. Okay then. Now I’m all for it.
Good plan, O' wise confederates
The Commissioners of the Confederate States now here, feel no uneasiness in regard to the evacuation of Fort Sumter or the reinforcement of Fort Pickens, being fully satisfied in regard to both points, and are aiming to achieve a peaceful solution of the difficulties by a speedy withdrawal of troops from the Federal limits within the Confederacy.
Back when Republicans were all Democrats
I respectfully announce myself a candidate for the above office I am a southern-Rights man in every sense of the word, and against all Black Republican rule. I hope all Southern-Rights men will favor me with their votes on Wednesday next."
Nothing funny here, but these runaway slave notices are thought provoking
Ran away from our mill, in Henrico county, on the 4th instant, a Negro man named Ned. about 24 years old, of dark, gingerbread color, slender frame, about 5 feet 8 inches high, and downcast expression when spoken to. We will give the above reward of $20 if he is returned to us in this city. He is supposed to be in Charles City county. Now, what would he have to be downcast about?
. . .
Was committed to the jail of the corporation of the city of Norfolk, on the 2d day of January, 1861,, Negro Man Wm. Johnson. The said negro man is five feet three inches high, and weighs about 135 pounds; has one scar on right arm above his elbow; light complexion: about thirty years old. Had on when committed to jail. black cloth coal, black pants, glazed cap, and says he was born free, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Did we really need to know what he was wearing?)
. . .
Runaway from the subscriber, on Monday, 1st April., a Negro Woman, named Nancy, calls herself Nancy Werner. Said woman is about thirty-five years of age, rather above the medium size of women, light ginger-bread color, downcast look when spoken to, upper front teeth out, broad, full face, and finger next to the little finger on the left hand cut off at the second joint. She is supposed to be lurking about the city, as she has a sister living at the Clifton House, and some acquaintances living at Brackett's Tavern. She may have made her escape to Fredericksburg, as she came from that place, and has a mother living there. I will give the above reward, if she is returned to me in Richmond. How peculiar. Yet another downcast runaway slave. A little Prosac and we probably could have avoided the Civil War.
[F]or Hire, and Sale. Elizabeth is about 35 years of age; gingerbread color; has dark splotches on her face; bushy hair; catches in speaking: medium size, and is often drunk. She left on the 23d March,, with a small milk-can — had on dark calico dress and bonnet, much worn — suppose she is harbored on Shockoe Hill. A liberal reward will be paid for her delivery to me. Thank goodness they put the bit in about the milk carton
Now this reporter knew how to describe an accident
Mr. Anderson hurried out with his spectacles in one hand and a roll of bank bills in the other, and attempted to get aboard the first car. He caught hold of the railing of the rear platform of the first car with his right hand, and attempted to seize the iron railing of the other car with his left hand; but his left hand either slipped off or missed its grasp entirely, which caused his body to swing down between the two cars. The fall wrenched his right hand from its hold, and he fell across the inside rail. James Cole, the brakesman, was standing upon the rear platform of the first car when Mr. Anderson attempted to get on, and seeing him fall, made an effort to seize him, but before he could reach him Mr. A. had lost his hold and fallen beneath the ponderous wheels. Cole instantly sprang to the brake, which he put down with all his power, but with all the effort put forth by him and the engineer, the train moved some fifteen or twenty feet before its motion could be arrested.-- Mr. Cole describes it as the most terrible scene he ever witnessed, for he could see, as he tugged at the brake, the body of Mr. Anderson shoved along on the iron rail by the beam of the brake, which would not allow his thighs to pass under the wheel. As Mr. Anderson fell under the car Cole heard him cry out twice, in a loud, distinct, yet frightened tone, ‘"Hold on! hold on!"’ and then he was silent. He fell with his head and body lying between the two tracks, and his legs crossing the inside rail diagonally. His body was thus moved slowly along beneath, the crushing weight of the car a distance of fifteen feet, when it came to a crossing which caught it and fairly ground it under, and the two forward wheels of the hind car passed over his legs, and his head and body were crushed between the brake and the crossing.
Why we don’t eat things we find in a deserted house, you idiot
On Saturday afternoon a family named Stevenson, residing in a building on the Germantown road, Philadelphia, moved out of the house. Mrs. McGee, who occupied the lower portion of the premises, went up stairs with woman's curiosity to examine the vacated rooms, and was gratified at finding a package containing what she supposed to be saleratus. Being delighted with her prize, she immediately set to work to make up some bread, using the powder as freely as though it was what she supposed it to be. After the bread was baked Mr. McGee came home, and he and the wife, together with their son-in-law and daughter, named McVey, eat freely of the bread, and in a short time were taken violently ill. A physician was called in, who found the patients suffering very much, showing every symptom of having taken arsenic. The usual antidotes were administered, but they proved of no avail, as Mr. McGee died the next morning, and the wife died in the afternoon. The son-in-law and daughter are likely to recover. “Honey, I can't remember if we packed the arsenic when we left”.
I just loved the last line on this one
A child was recently born in Hempfield, Pa., having but one eye, and that situated in the centre of the forehead.--There was no nose, nor any appearance of nasal bones. The mouth was well formed, and where it should be. The ears were imperfectly formed, and situated on the cheek bones. The rest of the body was well formed.
When I was your age, I walked . . . .
Edward P. Weston, who lately walked from Boston to Washington in ten days, is considered to have performed a remarkable feat, but he was outdone in London in the year 1792, by one Powell, 58 years of age, who walked from the latter city to Shoreditch church, a distance of 344 miles, in 5 days 14½ hours, averaging about 72 miles a day. Weston averaged 47 miles.
Do not, I repeat, do not, try this at home
As the passenger train of the Fredericksburg cars was coming at full speed to this city yesterday, a negro, whose ticket had slipped from his hands, attempted to recover it by jumping out at Pols-Cat Station. He lit on some vulnerable part of his body, and was rendered insensible, in which condition he was brought to this city. He was not expected to live.
Who said only Indians like fire water?
During the month of March, the police arrested and caged in the 1st Station-House 62 white persons, 27 free negroes, and 66 slaves, and during the same period, at the 2d Station-House, 34 white persons, 20 free negroes, and 29 slaves. The primary cause which brought the parties in contact with the law, was whiskey.
Teenage Virgin Suicides (the prequel)
In Baltimore, Monday, Miss Margaret A. Moore committed suicide by taking poison. Antoinette Schwillingham, a German girl, aged fourteen, ended her life in the same city by drowning herself. I never understood how one drowns oneself on purpose.
Second Amendment,scheckond amendment; this gun they have to outlaw
Yesterday morning three guns left this city for Savannah. They were brought on the cars from Richmond, Va. The largest weighed sixteen thousand pounds.
He did, however, lose the race
The Marquis of Westminster, the richest Peer of England, having an income of $3,000,000 a year, recently, while riding in one of the parks, missed a button from his coat. He instantly dismounted, retraced his course for some distance, and searched until be found the missing article, expressing much satisfaction at its discovery.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .