Idaho Avalanche, June 20, 1885. Does news get more general than this? I think it does not. Concerning that last item: Harassing the Salvation Army was once something of a national pastime, as the outfit was well-known in its early years to be an obnoxious and fanatical cult. Local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them. In fact, the Sally Anns also got into trouble with the law a lot, owing to their obnoxious and fanatical insistence that they didn’t need a municipal license or permit to preach and demonstrate in public. The case law that grew out of their legal troubles significantly helped broaden and strengthen the 1st Amendment. Also, their street bands were a significant influence on Tom Waits.
Placer mining is a hydraulic technique for separating gold from silt and soil—works sort of like mechanized panning. Often it was what you did with a claim once the big chunks had been removed with pick and shovel, and the yield was typically much lower. The Chinese specialized in these placer-mining clean-up operations, taking over claims that had been exhausted from the perspective of white miners. But then if a given claim turned out to be not so exhausted after all, they were prone to being displaced—it even happened in kinder, gentler Canada! They were well known to be an inferior and heathen race, so local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them.
The item about Senator Ransom signifies that he’s a bon vivant or a dandified sleazebag depending on the values you bring to the story.
Beats me what the English are doing with those $25 squirrels. In pairs.
Columbus Inquirer, July 28, 1908. We confront one of two probabilities here: Either Leppo was an early method man and very dedicated to staying in character, or else this carnival was exploiting a bona fide crazy person as its geek. more
Los Angeles Herald, November 19, 1905. As we’ve seen, Americans in the 19th and early 20th century were nuts about “wild men.” That’s is why circus geeks were a popular attraction: It was like a chance to see Bigfoot in captivity.
Your typical showbiz wild man was probably just a hobo in a fright wig with just enough teeth left to bite the head off a live chicken. But as this story shows, some enterprising carnies were willing to go that extra mile to impress the marks. more
Wheeling Register, July 3, 1883. The phrase “poisoning the well” still gets bandied about a lot, but only as a metaphor in discussions about rhetorical rules of engagement. But back before the days of socialized tap water, literal well-poisoning was a common crime. But the crime was nowhere near as common as charges of well-poisoning, because everybody who drank from a well was very conscious of its vulnerability to interference. That’s an unbeatable recipe for hysteria and moral panic, and in medieval Europe, Jews, witches, lepers and Muslims were all regarded as incorrigible well-poisoners–which helped keep life interesting for them. Read more.
The Daily Picayune, September 25, 1883. Oh maaaan, that is beyond Gothic. Inferably the animal must have pulled and torqued and worried the man’s neck until his head broke clean off. Then there would have been a season of intense insect and scavenger activity until the bone was stripped. But exactly what kind of evidence underwrote the supposition that said skull was that of a negro? Was this the opinion of some armchair physical anthropologist, or did the hard-luck scenario that produced this trophy just strike our hunting party as a black thing? Read More »
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 26, 1904. Let no one accuse John W. “Black Spot” Williams of an underdeveloped work ethic.
Fort Worth Telegraph, April 12, 1921. Y’all remember Dr. Andre Tridon, the pioneering grand fromage of American Freudianism, who warned white Americans back in the day that they were committing slow race suicide via their “unspeakable diet” of corned beef and mince pie? Well, doggerelist James J. Montague refuted him thus. I pretty much agree here with the poet: Where corned beef and cabbage is concerned, quality of life considerations trump niceties like personal longevity and the struggle for racial dominance. Then mince pie!
Pomeroy‘s Democrat, 1869-1870. This is kind of a Frankenclipping of tweets I gleaned from 3 or 4 editions of Pomeroy’s Democrat, which is a fascinating paper. Editor and eponym Mark “Brick” Pomeroy was a lippy freethinker, a vicious negrophobe (I mean even by the standards of his day), a hack political partisan, a fizzing misogynist, a staunch Mason and a terminal smart aleck. I adore his writing. Olive Logan was a contemporary actress and author and boy, did Pomeroy ever have it in for her. He’s always taking these random shots at her about her immense feet, how they eclipse the footlights when she’s on stage, etc. Palpitators, I am delighted to learn, is an archaic name for falsies. “Grecian bend” = “among women, an affected carriage of the body, the upper part being inclined forward,” says a 1913 Wesbter’s.
Chicago Defender, February 10, 1917. Read more.
New Hampshire Sentinel, January 27, 1827. Gee, I wonder what their problem was?