Category: Weirdness!

A Baby in the Boat

Posted by – March 9, 2016

December, 1886



How a Wretch Abandoned a Helpless Infant Yesterday Afternoon.


“Say, there’s somebody left a basket in the cabin here.”

It was Billy Hughes, the handsome deckhand of the ferryboat Wenonah, on the Camden and Philadelphia Ferry, to whom these words were addressed by a woman who was leaving the boat early yesterday afternoon. Billy dropped the rope with which he had just pulled the gang-plank down from the Camden slip, and dove for the cabin. 

“Look here. There’s a basket some one has left on one of the seats.”

It was a man who spoke to Hughes this time, and he paused in his plunge for the cabin just long enough to wonder how it happened that there were two honest folks on one ferryboat. Then he stepped into the cabin and picked up a little split basket over which a towel was carefully spread and without examining its contents took it to the ticket collector’s office and left it, in the full expectations that somebody would come tearing down through the slush and mud in about two minutes and ask for it. But nobody came.

David Moore, the genial collector, hadn’t time to spare from hauling in little bronze shekels for the company to examine the package, even if he had been disposed to do so.

“Kee-wah, kee-wah.”

Mr. Moore’s face assumed a more surprised look than usual.

“Look into that basket and see what’s there,” he said in as off-hand a manner as possible. “I believe it’s a poll parrot.”

Nobody wanted to look, but in a minute someone plucked up the courage to turn the towel down, and there was the face of a new-born baby. It was already growing purple with cold. Examination showed that the little thing was carefully wrapped up in very plain garments.

“I’m absolutely unable to perform the duties of a wet-nurse!” shouted the collector, as he began to make frantic passes at imaginary pennies in order that it might be seen that he had no time to nurse the baby.

“Anybody that would do such a thing ought to be tarred and feathered,” growled Johnnie Middleton, as he tugged ferociously at his strawberry blonde moustache. Then the telephone was put in operation and arrangements were made to send the little thing to the Almshouse.

“I’ll bet that man and woman had something to do with that,” remarked Hughes as the boat pulled out from the slip, and a passenger sat in the cabin and told blood-wodling [sic] tales all the way over of how he had seen seventeen babies’ bodies taken from the Fairmount reservoir when it was cleaned, and how he had seen blood on the sumps there, where the little bodies had been sucked in and crushed to fragments.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook

Borne From a Flaming Bier

Posted by – December 16, 2013


Latin Reader – 1895



Exciting Scenes Precede the
Funeral of Mrs. Henry Vollmer.

The funeral of Mrs. Henry Vollmer who resided at No. 1732 Passyunk avenue, and came very near being burned up in her coffin, took place yesterday morning. Late Tuesday night, while Undertaker Ebert and Mrs. Annie O’Donnell, of No. 1717 Jackson street were preparing the remains in the casket for the funeral, a candle from an altar near the bier toppled over and fell upon a floral pillow of artificial flowers. These blazed up like tinder, and Mrs. O’Donnell was severely burned carrying the burning pillow out of doors. The artificial flowers’ fire had, moreover, communicated to the curtains. The latter were burning furiously when the bereaved husband, with his two elder sons, entered the room and together they carried the casket and remains out of the reach of the flames. Anne Vollmer, the youngest child in the family, was so shocked that she fainted.

The fire caused damage amounting to about $200, and destroyed most of the floral tributes. A few sparks also fell into the casket, and damaged some of the lace.

After the excitement had subsided the body was removed to the house of Mrs. Mary Jackson, No. 1728 Passyunk avenue, where the funeral took place yesterday.


Pickpocketed from Alf


Utilization Of Dog Power

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Chico Weekly Record, Chico, California – Saturday, December 11, 1897



The State Department of the United States has decided that the dog should be set to work. Accordingly it will give to the people a report upon that subject, showing how much work the dog can do, the kind of service in which he may be profitably employed, and to what extent he is now industriously engaged in various countries of the world, says the Record-Union.

The truth is that the dog is far more a worker than most people give him credit for being, and it is also true that we employ him less than any other peoples, except only those of the Orient. He should be made to do some of the load drawing and burden carry – as in northern lands, in Switzerland and Alpine sections. He should be made use of as a motive power in small mills, as in England, Scotland and some German States. He can be made to carry messages, to stand guard, to draw vehicles as in Belgium and he can do much labor now put upon the horse as can be witnessed in Antwerp and Brussels.

Certainly we in America have not utilized dog power as we might have done and now should do. It is cheap power, faithful power; it calls for less care and attention than most other animal power: it calls for less output of original capital. These are the ideas entertained by the State Department probably, since it has detrmined to quicken public attention on the subject of using the dog as a draft animal. The occasion for this new interest is, of course, the demand for stout curs of all orders for use in Alaska, and the new mining sections of British North America.


That’s right – make those mangy mutts EARN those kibbles ‘n’ bits!!

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair.

Tramps Have A Prize Fight

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – July 19, 1885

Tramps Have a Prize Fight.

POTTSVILLE, July 19.—A gang of forty tramps camped on the mountain side near this place for some time past and preying upon the town, have separated into hostile gangs, and about midnight last night their differences were adjusted by a single combat, “Dutch John” and “Indiana” having a prize fight on the highway by the light of a great bonfire and with their fellow-vagrants looking on. The police plainly saw the contest but regarded it as out of their bailiwick and did not interfere.

The two men fought savagely for eleven rounds, “Dutch John,” the heavier of the two, constantly weakening in the presence of his younger and lighter antagonist. In the eleventh round “Indiana” dealt him a terrific blow and John fell senseless. He had to be carried a quarter of a mile down the rugged mountain side and bathed in the canal before he regained consciousness.


Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf

The Rose Had Thorns

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Chico Weekly Record, Chico, California – Saturday, December 25, 1897


I have no idea whether this is supposed to be a news item or a joke. It’s included on the front page amid obviously news-oriented headlines, but it certainly sounds like a fictional soap opera. I’m suspecting that it’s a joke that I’m just not in on… If anyone as anymore information on who in the Hell Russian Rose and Count von Van der Blinkenhofen-Striffenkrause were, please write!



From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair.


Is There A Meaner Man Alive?

Posted by – November 17, 2013

The 1892 Morbid Scrapbook – February 4, 1892



FAIRHAVEN, Vt., Feb. 4. —This town now claims the meanest man in the United States. Two of his family were taken ill recently, and a week or so ago one of them died, while the death of the other, who had remembered the old man to the extent of $20,000, was expected. The old man went to the undertaker and drove a sharp bargain for two coffins at a reduction under the retail price. One was used, but the other remains in the best room covered up with a sheet, while the relative is still living and gives promise of recovering, in which case the old man will keep his coffin and doubtless lose the $20,000.


From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

The House Is Haunted

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – May 23, 1885



Crockery Broken and Articles of Furniture Thrown Around by Invisible Powers.

Special Despatch to THE PRESS

ALBANY, May 23.—Mrs. Sylvia Husted, an aged woman lying near Greenville, Greene County, has caused a great deal of excitement in that village by her stories of uncanny happenings about her house. These stories are corraborated by her son and his two children, who live with her, and by some of her neighbors.

In the yard is a large pile of broken crockery, which Mrs. Husted says was thrown from the shelves when no one was near, and nearly every pane of glass has been broken, so she claims, by articles of furniture flying about and by invisible missiles. A reporter from this city, who visited the place, saw a number of reputable witnesses who claimed to have seen a tea kettle rise from the stove and upset upon the floor, lamps thrown from shelves, several pans of milk leap from their shelves in the pantry and spill their contents on the floor, and tables and chairs move about the house. All of these manifestations occur at night.

Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf


He Still Lives

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – September 30, 1885


He Still Lives.

TOLEDO, Ohio, Sept. 20.—The Commercial Telegraph of yesterday morning published a singular story, which in substance is that thirteen years ago Thomas Hubbell, a farmer residing in Monclava township, in the country, was supposed to have died and was buried. A few years ago his friends received a letter signed in the dead man’s name, saying he is alive and would soon visit them. Recently a second letter of the same character was received. This caused an examination of the grave and the casket was found to be empty. An explanation of the mystery is said to be that the grave was robbed and the body sent to a medical college in Michigan. It was then discovered that the man was not dead, but his mind being affected by disease he could give no information concerning his friends and was placed in an asylum, where he subsequently recovered. A brother of the resurrected man has gone to Michigan to investigate the matter. The widow of Hubbell married again several years ago.


Sneakily Snatched From Alf

A Graveyard Outrage

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – August 20, 1885

A Graveyard Outrage.

BRISTOL, Tenn., August 20.—Ira Mullins, a moonshiner, was recently murdered, together with his whole family, and the bodies were buried. Yesterday a dynamite cartridge was exploded in a hole near the graves and the bodies blown in all directions.


Cruelly Snatched Away From Alf


A Ghastly Wedding

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – June 14, 1885


To Drive Away the Spirit World a Nebraska Man Is Married Over His Former
Wife’s Grave.

Special Despatch to THE PRESS.

HOMER, Neb., June 14.—James Henderson, a stock raiser and ranche [sic] owner near here, has just contracted one of the ghastliest marriages on record. He was a widower, his first wife having been dead not more than six months. Within three weeks after her death he was paying court to pretty Sallie Means, a poor seamstress of this city. The courtship progressed favorably, ending in the marriage spoken of.

Henderson is a Spiritualist and believes in communications, spirit rappings, etc. Ten days before the arrngements [sic] for the second union had been fully completed, he received a spirit message. It told him that the spirit of his first wife was in a perturbed state. His approaching union being the cause. Another communication told him that he was liable to be haunted.

To propitiate the wounded spirit and lay the “haunt,” Henderson and Miss Means were married at midnight in the graveyard in which his first wife was buried, clasping hands across her grave. This Henderson claims is a sure check upon developing ghosts with a tendency to walk at hours when honest folks of flesh and blood are asleep.

Exposure and fright at the strange ordeal she was obliged to undergo have combined to keep the strangely-made bride in bed since the ceremony.


You notice how these poor Victorian damsels tend to be bedridden from fright quite a lot?
Poor little things… <gag!>

Snatched At Midnight From The Tomb Of Alf