Mrs. Shaw and the Fatal Cooking Mistake

A woman named Mrs. Shaw made the news in the Lancaster Gazette, 1830, when she accidentally poisoned everyone at her dinner party, including herself.

Mrs. Shaw's fatal cooking mistakeMrs. Shaw’s fatal cooking mistake Sat, Sep 4, 1830 – 3 · The Lancaster Gazette (Lancaster, Lancashire, England) · Newspapers.com

Best not to mix that arsenic and bold taste.

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Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapses – This Week in History

On November 7, 1940, just four months after its completion, the world’s third-longest suspension bridge snaps in a 42 mph wind and collapses into the waters below. This was the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a slender, 2-lane creation whose tendency to visibly sway and wobble earned it the name “Galloping Gertie.”

World's Third Largest Suspension Bridge CollapsesWorld’s Third Largest Suspension Bridge Collapses Fri, Nov 8, 1940 – Page 1 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Blair, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

A single car was on the bridge at the time of the incident, occupied by a newspaper copy editor named Leonard Coatsworth and his cocker spaniel. When the bridge began to violently tip one way and then the other, he abandoned the car—and, after a quick, failed coercion effort, the dog—and crawled his way across the bridge to shore before the bridge snapped. (You can read a full account of his experience in his own words here.)

The dog, still inside the car when it slid off the broken bridge, was the single casualty of the disaster.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, 1940Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, 1940 Thu, Nov 28, 1940 – 3 · The Springville Herald (Springville, Utah, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Though a firm consensus hasn’t been reached as to the exact reasons for the collapse, the Tacoma Bridge incident led to better aerodynamics in bridge design and, eventually, the implementation of mandatory wind-tunnel testing. In 1950, a new and improved Tacoma Narrows Bridge (nicknamed “Sturdy Gertie”) was constructed with wider lanes and better resistance to wind.

Old Tacoma Bridge vs New Tacoma BridgeOld Tacoma Bridge vs New Tacoma Bridge Sun, Nov 12, 1950 – Page 46 · Daily Press (Newport News, Newport News, Virginia, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

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The Ghosts of Papers Past

Happy Halloween! Today is a day of scares and haunts, and what better captures the spirit of all things mysterious than a ghost? Ghost stories have existed for hundreds of years. Maybe you even have some of your own?

The people interviewed for this 1889 article did, and they shared it all.

Community Ghost StoriesCommunity Ghost Stories Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The article is a full page of stories, suspicions, and skepticism. But here are some of the best and most entertaining of the bunch. From passenger-packed trains to murdered bunnies, a wide range of spirits and specters can be found in these clippings.

Ghostly Objects

First up, a carriage apparition startles a couple of interested gentlemen:

Ghost of an Old-Fashioned CarriageGhost of an Old-Fashioned Carriage Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Here, a Mr. Ed Pemberton remembers a time when the train tracks beneath his feet shook from the passage of a beautiful phantom train.

Phantom TrainPhantom Train Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Ghostly Animals

Ever heard of a phantom cow? If not, this clipping will do the trick:

Giant Ghost CowGiant Ghost Cow Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

A certain aforementioned bunny makes his appearance in this roller-coaster ride of a story:

Created a Ghost by Mistaking it for a GhostCreated a Ghost by Mistaking it for a Ghost Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Headless humans make frequent appearances in ghost stories, but how about a headless dog?:

Headless Dog GhostHeadless Dog Ghost Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Ghostly Humans

Human ghosts often present themselves in two ways: either to haunt a place where they resided or died, or to serve as an omen for the living. The following two clippings give accounts of the former.

This clipping shares a slightly longer story, but is perhaps the most quintessential ghost story in this collection. It involves an old man, the home where he died, a fiddle, and a gruesome cat.

Corroborated Ghost StoryCorroborated Ghost Story Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Here we have a spirit whose presence at the place where he was killed seems to curse the very ground:

Murdered Man Haunts the Spot Where He DiedMurdered Man Haunts the Spot Where He Died Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The next two clippings are stories of ghosts acting as omens. In this first clipping, a super-human phantom hops into an fresh grave to warn the observer of impending death:

Grave Ghost an Omen for Things to ComeGrave Ghost an Omen for Things to Come Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

And in this clipping, the ghost of a Confederate soldier disappears when fired upon by the storyteller, who came to believe it had been a friendly warning:

A Soldier GhostA Soldier Ghost Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Ghostly Surprises

Finally, we have a couple of ghost stories with surprise endings. This clipping describes a haunting shadow that no one could explain…until they could:

Ghost Solution Leads to LaughsGhost Solution Leads to Laughs Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

And perhaps most surprising at all was this clipping, in which a man describes a very real ghost who had a very peculiar favor to ask:

Ghost Appeared to Ask For Spirit Ball ProgrammesGhost Appeared to Ask For Spirit Ball Programmes Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

So what do you think? Are ghosts real, or simply the imaginations of minds that are often over-tired or overworked? Perhaps the truth of it all should be left alone, just as this clipping suggests:

Poetic View of GhostsPoetic View of Ghosts Sun, Jun 2, 1889 – Page 26 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find these ghost stories and more from this article here, and more on Newspapers.com with a search through the collection.

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The Monster Vampire of Summit Street

It’s almost Halloween, so what better to read today than a clipping about a “Monster Vampire?”

A A “Monster Vampire” Thu, Mar 4, 1880 – 1 · The Morning Journal-Courier (New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Notice how it’s never called a bat? Interesting how that crucial addition is always included these days.

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The Wisconsin Town that Tried to Secede

In the summer of 1967, the state of Wisconsin had a little oopsie with their newly released official road map. The town of Winneconne, with a population of around 1,300 at the time, had been forgotten on the map—and they did not let it go without a (lighthearted) fight.

Secession

Winneconne to Secede from StateWinneconne to Secede from State Fri, Jul 14, 1967 – 2 · The Daily Telegram (Eau Claire, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

In their plans for secession, Winneconne thought of it all. There were discussions of taxing fishermen–and idle fishermen watchers—and of creating a toll for the Winneconne bridge. Officials were elected for their sovereign state, and they even created a new flag.

Flag of the Sovereign State of WinneconneFlag of the Sovereign State of Winneconne Wed, Jul 16, 1969 – Page 22 · The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Winnebago, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The slogan “We Like It Where?” (a play on the similar slogan “We Like it Here”) became the catchphrase of the new Sovereign State of Winneconne.

“We Like it — Where?” Mon, May 1, 1967 – 1 · News-Record (Neenah, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The New Sovereign State of WinneconneThe New Sovereign State of Winneconne Fri, Jul 14, 1967 – Page 4 · The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Winnebago, Wisconsin, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

As playful as the whole secession plan was, however, there was genuine reasoning behind it. The town of Winneconne sought the attention of state officials to get their name back on the map. After all, how can a small town grow and thrive if no one knows where to find it?

Back in the Family

In the end, an arrangement was reached with Wisconsin’s governor, Warren Knowles, to put Winneconne back on the map and give it proper signage on the highway. Secession was avoided, and Winneconne remains a part of Wisconsin (and its road maps) to this day. There’s even an annual celebration of the whole event!

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OK Corral Shootout – This Week in History

This week in 1881, a brief but deadly shootout between the Earp brothers and the “cowboys” at OK Corral results in three dead and three wounded. It has since become one of the most famous gunfights of the American Wild West.

Bloody Battle in the Streets of TombstoneBloody Battle in the Streets of Tombstone Sun, Oct 30, 1881 – Page 1 · Arizona Weekly Citizen (Tucson, Pima, Arizona, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Among the dead, as stated in the clipping above, were cowboys Tom (erroneously called Jim) McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton. Famous lawman Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, along with friend Doc Holliday, survived with wounds.

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Arthur Conan Doyle and the Cottingley Fairies

One day in 1922, two young cousins named Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright took some remarkable pictures.The subsequent spread of the story was something neither girl anticipated. But what else could be expected for the first captured images of fairies?

Frances, Elsie, and their fairy friendsFrances, Elsie, and their fairy friends Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Headline after headline from the early 1920s show the fervor of the debate. Were the photographs real or faked? Surely fairies could not be real, but the photographs showed no evidence of tampering. Besides, these were just two little girls—how deceitful could they be?

English Girls Snapshot Fairies at their GamesEnglish Girls Snapshot Fairies at their Games Sun, Jan 23, 1921 – Page 24 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Perhaps the most famous name amongst the believers was that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes. His belief in the photos and fairies was so strong that he even wrote his own book to prove it.

Arthur Conan Doyle believes in fairiesArthur Conan Doyle believes in fairies Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Poor Sherlock Holmes - Hopelessly Crazy?Poor Sherlock Holmes – Hopelessly Crazy? Sun, Nov 19, 1922 – 106 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Equally involved was a man named Edward Gardner, prominent leader of the Theosophical Society. He took it upon himself to investigate the photos, solicit expert opinions on their legitimacy, give lectures on the topic, and even visit the girls and the place where the fairies had been seen.

Fairies in YorkshireFairies in Yorkshire Mon, Feb 7, 1921 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Of course, even Sir Doyle had to admit that this whole thing could be one of history’s greatest hoaxes.

The most elaborate hoax, or an event in human historyThe most elaborate hoax, or an event in human history Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Sadly for fairy enthusiasts, the truth of the matter was revealed in 1983. Frances Griffiths came forward to admit that the whole thing had just been a trick of hatpins and cardboard cutouts. The Cottingley Fairies became, as Doyle had once grudgingly said, “the most elaborate and ingenious hoax ever played upon the public.” And that was the end of that.

Fairy confessionFairy confession Sat, Mar 19, 1983 – Page 6 · Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Just for fun, here’s a word search puzzle from decades after the Cottingley Fairy hoax.

Cottingley Fairies Word SearchCottingley Fairies Word Search Wed, Jan 2, 1991 – Page 31 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.com

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Marie Antoinette Executed – This Week in History

On October 16, 1793, erstwhile French queen Marie Antoinette is executed by beheading on charges of treason.
Execution of the Queen of FranceExecution of the Queen of France Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

The execution came in the midst of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Her famed extravagance, along with the fact that she was a symbolic target on which to pin France’s problems, made her unpopular among those who would come to seal her fate. Contemporary papers describe in detail, though with some clear bias, the scene leading up to her execution and their feelings on the whole affair.

Last Moments of the QueenLast Moments of the Queen Mon, Nov 11, 1793 – 3 · The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland) · Newspapers.com

Marie Antoinette supporters lament her fateMarie Antoinette supporters lament her fate Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

With her beheading, Marie Antoinette followed her husband, King Louis XVI, to the grave. He was executed nine months prior on similar charges.

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Anna Atkins, Plant Photographer of the 1800s

In 1842, multi-talented astronomer Sir John Herschel introduced the world to his beautiful new photography process, cyanotype. He also taught this new process to a clever and avid botanist named Anna Atkins, whose father’s connections to the scientific community (and convenient neighboring location to Herschel’s own home) gave her the opportunity to become the first known female photographer.

Sir John Herschel's Sir John Herschel’s “beautiful blue pictures” (cyanotype) Fri, Oct 14, 1842 – 4 · The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser (Truro, Cornwall, England) · Newspapers.com

Anna Atkins signed work Anna Atkins signed work “A.A.” Wed, Nov 3, 1976 – 15 · The Monitor (McAllen, Hidalgo, Texas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Anna had been making accurate botanical drawings for years before learning the cyanotype process. It was the simplicity of the process that drew her to it, and because she learned from the master himself, her images were produced with a clarity and success that few were able to replicate.

Anna Atkins, Botanist Photography 1843-1853Anna Atkins, Botanist Photography 1843-1853 Sun, Jun 23, 1996 – 97 · The Observer (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Her work was published in a book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, which she signed “A.A.” For decades her identity remained anonymous and her contributions to photography and history unrecognized, until a scholar acknowledged her as the book’s author during a lecture in 1889. By then, new processes had long made cyanotype more or less obsolete. But Anna’s place in history and multiple unique copies of her remarkable book of blue prints still survive.

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