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Category Archives: Dismemberment

The New Haven Register, April 24, 1891. I’d never heard of this murder case before, but it seems to loom pretty large in the wacky but tedious world of amateur Ripperology. The subsequent criminal investigation got oceans of ink in papers across the nation, which just goes to show the power of branding. Because it’s not like prostitute killings were rare at the time. (They never are.)

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Biloxi Herald, October 10, 1891. At last, some hard scientific data on this here blue gum phenomena. Which has to be real, because Yankee newspapers refer to it and most Southerners believe in it.
The persistent association of the BGN with hydrophobia (rabies) is interesting. It’s as if the BNG is a vector for rabies but doesn’t get the disease himself (and BGNs do seem to be exclusively male so far.)
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Dallas Morning News, March 25, 1891. Such are the perils of miscegenation between the red-gummed and the blue.

San Francisco Bulletin, March 19, 1890. Woah: murder charges for a septicemia death? (I assume that’s what’s going on here). This blue gum thing was huge from the 90s through the ‘Teens. Earliest reference I’ve found to it was in an 1888 medical journal. White people either write it off as a black superstition or, if they believe, invoke the authority of black folk knowledge. Awful lot of medical men are among the believers too.

The Daily Boomerang (Laramie, Wyoming), March 19, 1890. Judging from the sources I’m looking at, the deadly bite of the blue gum negro was a leading cause of death in the rural South at the turn of the century. You’d be better off eating mince in the shade of a upas tree than tangling with a BGN.

Ths Brattleboro, Vermont, Reporter, June 14, 1806. Hoo boy, heref a meffed-up ftory about a terrfically unhappy family. Bafically a confpiracy of children to kill their drunken, violent old man before he killed again. Gotta feel forry for the kidf, though my guess is the teenage murdereff probabaly fwung for thif. Read More »

manufacturedMedical News, March 30, 1895. First, that is one kick-ass opening sentence. Read it over a couple of times, roll it around in your mouth, and try to work it into an office-cooler conversation later in the afternoon. Second, given the dismal nutrition of ordinary poor kids at the time, just imagine the deprivation involved in the creation of these “Lilliputians.” Must have been a real balancing act keeping them alive while stunting them sufficiently to impress. Read More »

cow vampireSpringfield Republican , November 17, 1895. Said to labor under the hallucination that he is a vampire?! The first time I read that, I thought, ‘Who the hell has the nerve to question this guy’s monster credentials?’ But it’s true that he lacks the suavity of your classic, card-carrying 19th-century vampire type. Diet and behavior-wise, he could almost be a chupacabra foraging outside of its regular habitat, but those are reputed to be ugly suckers that wouldn’t long pass for human even in South Dakota.
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mageeThe [Boston] Liberator, August 13, 1858. Here’s the Magee case that inspired this previous item. Read More »

10 24 65New York Times, October 24, 1865. I’m thinking Patrolman Coughlin just might have taken a peek into said box before complying with said rule. Anyway, medical students once again furnish the cops with a handy alibi for a tough and ugly case. Not that anybody lost much sleep over the murder of neonates at this time. As we’ve seen, there was an entire industry built around the quiet disposal of unwanted babies.