Happy Valentine’s Day from Newspapers.com!
In the late 1800s, the spectacle of competitive walking was all the rage. Sometimes it took place in arenas with other pedestrians in the form of hours- or days-long “races,” and sometimes it was performed solo as feats of distance and time.
Not everyone was a fan, particularly when pedestrianism spectacles took place on the Sabbath:
Not until the invention of the safety bicycle (the sort we’re familiar with today) did the thrilling sport of pedestrianism fade into history.
Find more on pedestrianism in the pages of Newspapers.com.
Her crimes and her style made her an iconic figure in 1920s New York. Stop anyone in the street to ask them their thoughts and some might say she was a figurehead of women’s liberation. Others might say she was a prime example of the corrupted “modern woman.” All would say she was called the Bobbed-Hair Bandit.
It seems Celia Cooney’s lawless career began rather simply. She and her husband, Ed Cooney, disenchanted with their meager circumstances, first began robbing stores with a misguided “get-rich-quick” kind of philosophy. Celia only ever wanted to be a proper housewife with her own home and furnishings and to take care of the child she was pregnant with at the time (who, sadly, passed away only days after birth). The Cooneys kept their crimes small and simple—no shots fired, no injured parties. Just hold ups and extra cash.
The Cooney’s final robbery, described in part above, ended up being witnessed by enough people that the “Bobbed-Hair Bandit” was discovered. Her true name was revealed, along with that of her “tall companion,” and their three-month adventure in crime came to an end with long sentences in separate prisons.
Ed Cooney tried to help Celia by confessing that he was the reason for it all, but Celia denied this, saying, “if it had not been for me Edward would have gone straight. I was the cause of all the trouble.”
Alienist (noun): former term for a psychiatrist.
In the years following WWII, many U.S. soldiers were stationed in Japan as the country came under Allied occupation. Despite differences in culture and resentment on both sides for atrocities committed during the war, thousands of romances blossomed between the G.I.s and Japanese women. To help numerous Japanese brides learn the customs of their husbands’ country before they moved to their new homes, organizations like the Red Cross created bride schools.
The schools focused primarily on teaching the “war brides,” as they were called, some fundamentals of American culture. Cooking, etiquette, homemaking, and fashion were the main focus, while history and politics—though present in the lessons—took up the rear due to prevailing gender roles of the time.
The mid-60s saw an perplexing streak of wig thievery:
Find more like this on Newspapers.com.
When you think of the original suffragettes, what comes to mind? Pinned up hair and modest dresses? Marches and lifted signs? Jiu-jitsu?
A woman named Edith Margaret Garrud, having previously learned the art of jiu-jitsu from instructors Edward William Barton-Wright (the first jiu-jitsu teacher in Europe) and Sadakazu Uyenishi, used her knowledge to teach classes of her own for the Women’s Social and Political Union in the UK. The object of “suffrajitsu,” as it was called by journalists, was to help suffragettes resist police interference in meetings and protect against arrests and rearrests.
The article above does not exaggerate. This particular group of suffragettes were themselves quite militant, breaking windows and setting fires. This led to some rough handling by the police trying to arrest them despite desperate resistance. Once jailed, many of the women engaged in hunger strikes and were force fed through tubes. Later, introduction of the Cat and Mouse Act allowed for suffragette leaders to be released from jail so they would eat again, only to be rearrested for the same crimes once they’d regained their health. These sorts of rearrests were just one of the things fought against by “the Bodyguard” or “the Amazons”—the women who learned jiu-jitsu and used it to defend Suffrage leaders.
World War I slowed the movement significantly, but Garrud’s jiu-jitsu and self-defense classes continued until her retirement in the mid-20s. She lived another 50 years and died at the age of 99. Speaks well for the practice of martial arts, don’t you think?
U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves is the subject of today’s blog post, and a worthy subject he is. He was one of the first black deputy marshals west of the Mississippi, and thus had the authority to arrest any and all who deserved it, regardless of race or gender. Tough, fearless, and practically invincible during his 32-year career, he was the absolute best at what he did.
Reeves was a clever and honorable man who was unfailing in his devotion to his duty. Once a warrant found its way into his hands, he was tireless in his efforts to see the criminal brought to justice. And Bass Reeves always got his man. Stealth and disguise were his companions in many of his arrests:
He claimed to have brought some 3,000 felons to justice during his work in Arkansas and the Oklahoma territory. Though he was responsible for the deaths of fourteen men, he was said to have only ever killed in defense of his own life (despite finding himself in many dangerous situations):
One instance that perhaps best demonstrates Reeves’ convictions was the arrest of his own son, Bennie Reeves, for murder:
Illness led to Reeves’ retirement in 1907. He died three years later from nephritis at the impressive age of 72, having never been wounded in the line of duty.
Find more on this fascinating character of Old West history with a search on Newspapers.com. He was also a primary character in the most recent episode of Timeless, “The Murder of Jesse James”. Though the show claims the Lone Ranger was based off of Reeves, there is no evidence to solidify this link. Still, it can confidently be said that Bass Reeves was about as close to a real-life Lone Ranger as a person can get.
Herman Mudgett is the worst man you have probably never heard of, unless you happen to be familiar with his alias, H. H. Holmes.
Holmes made an appearance on Timeless this week as the show gave us a peek into the history of the World’s Fair Hotel—or as it would later be known, the Murder Castle. No spoilers about the show here, but you can probably guess from the morbidly straightforward nickname that this story isn’t going to be pretty.
The Murder Castle was originally just your usual impressive, 3-story hotel. It was built by Holmes in Chicago as lodging for visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair, scheduled to take place a handful of years after construction. But—and this is where things get weird—Holmes filled his hotel with stairs that went nowhere, soundproof and airtight bedrooms, and doors that opened onto walls, among other oddities. He was constantly firing the construction workers and hiring new ones so that no one would know the full scope of his bizarre plans. Once the hotel was built he did the same with his employees, making sure they were in constant rotation to prevent anyone learning about the alarms that tracked guests’ movements, the gas lines in the bedrooms, the sealed up brick room that was only accessible through a trapdoor in the ceiling, or what he called the “secret hanging chamber,” which needs no further explanation.
As you might expect, Holmes used his nightmarish fun house to murder people through hanging, asphyxiation, or sometimes starvation or thirst. Unbelievably, the basement of the hotel was his own personal post-murder medical chamber complete with large furnaces, lime pits and acid baths. He sold his victim’s organs to medical professionals and disposed of the remains, and somehow managed to not get caught doing any of this, for years. The World’s Fair came and went, and still he was not discovered.
He was finally arrested in Boston for another murder that was unrelated to the hotel, and authorities followed his trail back to Chicago. They discovered the Murder Castle, with its horrific rooms and secret chutes, and found human and animal bones and bloody women’s clothes inside.
Holmes was connected to nine murders and confessed to several others. He was hanged for these crimes in May 1896, but it’s possible that during his time as a con man and murderer he may have killed up to 200 people in total. We will never know for sure. Holmes was one of the first documented serial killers, before the term serial killer even existed. And he was entirely unapologetic about it, even until the end.
If you’re interested in this bit of history, give it a closer look. The details only get more and more unbelievable. Search for Holmes or his murder hotel on Newspapers.com for contemporary or modern accounts.
Happy Friday the 13th, everybody!
Today is perhaps the most unlucky of days, the bane of the superstitious. The number 13 is avidly avoided by many in the world, and when combined with a Friday? No thank you.
So go forth and make today whatever you’d like it to be. And good luck!
Find more on Friday the 13th history, opinions and more on Newspapers.com.
It’s that time of year again when many people sit back and reflect on goals to accomplish and habits to change. The New Year’s Eve countdown has ended, the confetti and poppers have been cleaned up, and nothing remains but to make the traditional New Year’s resolutions.
This practice of resolving to improve oneself has been around for decades, and thanks to the existence of newspapers we have the thoughts on resolutions from people across time to look back on. Today’s blog takes a gander at discussions on the tradition from the last century.
To start things off, a look at the first ten years of the 1900s.
The 1910s saw a surge in appeals to the dignity and honor of humankind (though the jokers were still around, of course):
The 1920s came around with a bit more cynicism for the custom::
On to the 1930s:
By now a common thread is shown—each decade had its fair share of people who thought New Year’s resolutions were basically useless. The 1940s were no exception:
Not much changed in the 50s. Other than a few articles here and there on the silly nature of women and wives, the arguments remained the same: either resolutions were good and noble of intent, or they were unnecessary and didn’t work.
Let’s move on to the 60s, where indifference and optimism do battle once again.
The resolution to not make resolutions makes another big comeback in the 70s.
And what did people think in the 80s?
Thoughts on resolutions were much the same in the 1990s, with one noticeable difference: helpful articles on keeping resolutions became a lot more frequent:
And lastly, some resolutions and thoughts on the practice from the 2000s:
As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Seems New Year’s resolutions—and their naysayers—are likely to stick around for decades to come.