Old Print Articles

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From the March 10, 1876 New York Times:

Louisville, March 9--The Bath County (Ky.) News of this date says: ‘On last Friday a shower of meat fell near the house of Allen Crouch, who lives some two or three miles from the Olympian Springs in the southern portion of the county, covering a strip of ground about one hundred yards in length and fifty wide. Mrs. Crouch was out in the yard at the time, engaged in making soap, when meat which looked like beef began to fall around her. The sky was perfectly clear at the time, and she said it fell like large snow flakes, the pieces as a general thing not being much larger. One piece fell near her which was three or four inches square. Mr. Harrison Gill, whose veracity is unquestionable, and from whom we obtained the above facts, hearing of the occurrence visited the locality the next day, and says he saw particles of meat sticking to the fences and scattered over the ground. The meat when it first fell appeared to be perfectly fresh.

The correspondent of the Louisville Commercial, writing from Mount Sterling, corroborates the above, and says the pieces of flesh were of various sizes and shapes, some of them being two inches square. Two gentlemen, who tasted the meat, express the opinion that it was either mutton or venison.•

From the March 17, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

People in Brooklyn in the late-nineteenth century apparently stunk to the high heavens, and everyone was close to fainting from the funk. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle offered a solution for the cleansing of filthy citizens in the most demeaning, insulting terms in an August 13, 1897 article: Build some public baths, so the miserable scumbags could be less stanky.

From the December 15, 1907 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


Camels are mostly associated with other parts of the world, but they originated in what we today call the United States of America. In the 1850s, Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, thought the desert animals might be useful for military purposes, scouting expeditions and as beasts of burden transporting goods and water across the Southwest, so he ordered a couple shiploads of camels to be purchased abroad and delivered to Texas. An article in the October 17, 1920 recalled the effort, which ultimately failed for several reasons, including that little thing called the Civil War.

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From the November 30, 1902 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Despite choosing the dangerous profession of mountain climber, Annie Smith Peck somehow made it to the end of her life in one piece, even surviving accidents involving street cars and mules. The apex of her adventurous career was probably her 1903 ascent of Illampu in Bolivia, which she made with geologist Dr. W.G. Tight and two guides, a treacherous scaling reported on in the September 2, 1903 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.


From the February 17, 1934 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:




No one has ever come up with a bigger lie than F. Scott’s Fitzgerald with this whopper: “There are no second acts in American lives.” There have always been second acts and many more after that. I mean, not if you drink yourself to death, but for anyone who waits out the bad times with good humor. 

Bat Masterson was many things in his sixty-seven years–buffalo hunter, Army scout, sheriff, gambler, boxing manager, etc.–until he was one final thing in his dotage: a New York City newspaper sportswriter. He died an ink-stained wretch at an editor’s desk, not a gunslinger in a saloon. The report of his death from the October 26, 1921 New York Times:

William Barclay Masterson, better known as Bat Masterson, sporting writer, friend of Theodore Roosevelt and former sheriff of Dodge City, Kan., died suddenly yesterday while writing an article at his desk in the office of the The Morning Telegraph. He had been connected with the paper for more than ten years, and for the last few years had been one of its editors.

At one time Masterson was said to have been the best known man between the Mississippi and the Pacific Coast, and his exploits and his ability as a gun fighter have become part of the tradition of the Middle West of many years ago. He was the last of the old time gun fighters.

He was born in Iriquios County, Ill., in 1854, the son of a farmer who came originally from St. Lawrence County, N.Y. Little more than a boy, Bat, his rifle across his knees, left the farm and rode into the then Fort Dodge and joined a party of buffalo hunters. Then his actual career began, and probably more weird and bloodthirsty tales have been written about him than of nearly any other man. His fights, however, were in the cause of justice, and he was one of a group of gunfighters who made that part of the country unhealthy for the bad men of the period.

While in the frontier town Bat heard one day that his brother had been killed across the street. Bat headed over. What happened he thus told later on the witness stand:

‘The cowboys had been on the range for some time and were drinking. My brother was the Town Marshall. They were carrying six-shooters and he attempted to disarm one of them who was particularly mean. They shot and killed him and they attempted to kill me. I shot and killed them–one at any rate–and shot the other one.’

His second killing was a cowboy named Jim Kennedy, who had come to town seeking the life of the Mayor. Kennedy shot several times through the door of a Mayor’s house and killed a woman. Then Masterson started out to get him. And he did.

One of Masterson’s most famous exploits was the battle of Dobe Walls, when with nine companions he stood off 200 Indians in a siege of 29 days. The attacking force was composed of Arapahoes and Cheyennes. A fortunate accident–the fall of part of the dirt roof of a saloon in which the buffalo hunters were sleeping–prevented the party from being surprised by the Indians and murdered in their sleep, for the attack was not anticipated. In the gray light of a June morning, when the hunters were engaged in restoring the roof, the Indians descended upon them. The hunters abandoned the roof and took to their guns. Time after time the Indian attack was stopped and the enemy driven back to the shelter of a fringe of cottonwoods along the Canadian River.

Masterson was only 18 years old when he joined Lieutenant Baldwin’s civilian scouts under Colonel Nelson A. Miles. He participated in the battle of Red River, where the Indians were commanded by Geronimo, and in other Indian engagements. Masterson lived fifteen years in Denver. There he became interested in pugilism. He went broke backing Charlie Mitchell in his fight with James J. Corbett. He was an official in the fight between Fitzsimmons and Corbett.•


Masterson officiating Fitzsimmons-Corbett in 1897:

From the August 25, 1926 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Our visual understanding of prehistoric megafauna and other creatures is aided greatly by the work of Charles R. Knight, the painter who gained nationwide attention beginning in the 1920s for his interpretations of dinosaurs and birds long extinct. He certainly couldn’t work from life or memory or photographs, so he became a hunter of facts, an interviewer of scholars, a measurer of skeletons. For an article in the July 31, 1927 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reporter Frank J. Costello visited the paleoartist in his Upper West Side Manhattan studio and studied his process. The piece’s opening below.

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From the June 17, 1888 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


During the nascent days of aviation, scads of hobbyists tried their hand at building flying machines, hoping to become the first to solve flight. It was inexpensive enough that the lone inventor could dream. In fact, a pair of bicycle manufacturers named Wilbur and Orville Wright managed the feat. Later, tens of thousands of small businesspeople attempted to create the first successful commercial-airplane company. 

When flight began to point to the stratosphere, however, the costs were too dear for the individual, and the race would have to be run among governments. That’s really only changed this century, as technologists with the wealth of small nations have used money gained in other industries to enter the Space Race. Perhaps 3-D manufacturing will eventually make it possible for smaller-scale operations to compete.

In 1930, one hopeful was unbowed by a lack of funds, scientific facts, and, it would seem, basic common sense. Robert J. McLaughlin of New York craved “wealth, health, and glorious adventure,” so he planned to fly to the moon and live there. A report of his ambitions follows from the May 26, 1930 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.


From the April 15, 1935 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

The Dust Bowl of the 1930s was situated in the American prairies, but the ramifications of the poor farming methods were wide, and the storms soon swept east and obscured the sun over the entire Atlantic seaboard. I thought of what was known as the “Black Blizzards” because I just read Michael Tennesen’s The Next Species, a very interesting book about the potential end of us. The author draws an analogy between the Depression Era dust storms and what may occur in Las Vegas if the crust of the nearby desert floor dissipates, something that’s possible because of the havoc we’re playing with the environment. The difference between boom town and ghost town can be decided by the tiniest particles. A year after the first wave of the storms in 1934, mayhem was still the order of the day, as this article from the April 15, 1935 Brooklyn Daily Eagle can attest.


From the April 1, 1906 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


From the March 16, 1930 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

The phonograph was initially a disappointing technology commercially, even if Thomas Edison was something of a smash when he demonstrated his “talking machine” in London in 1888. One nineteenth-century Brooklyn undertaker, however, found a novel use for the new contraption during the funeral of young freak-show performer. An article in the August 18, 1895 Brooklyn Daily Eagle described the unconventional ceremony.

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From the March 18, 1895 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

From the March 4, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:



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From the August 13, 1907 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


Go mummy-hunting in the Aleutian Islands, you say? But I’m not finished tweeting yet!

Harold McCracken, arctic explorer and big-game hunter and magazine editor and inaugural director of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, was forever risking his hide on rugged fact-finding missions, hoping to recover one shard or another of the past. On the occasion of a spelunking expedition he was to make to search for preserved prehistoric corpses, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran an article about the dangerous sojourn in its April 22, 1928 edition. The opening of the piece follows.

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From the March 25, 1934 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


Sir Hubert Wilkins, polar explorer, was familiar with investigating uncharted swatches of the globe by air, but in 1931 his aim was lower, as he commanded the Nautilus expedition whose goal was be the first to explore the North Pole by submarine. The voyage, which began in New York Harbor, was a grueling, troubled one, and after casualty and numerous engine failures, his benefactor, William Randolph Hearst, begged the adventurer, via wireless, to end the mission. Eventually Wilkins acquiesced, but not before proving a submarine could operate underneath the polar ice cap. Prior to the journey, Wilkins was thought to be batty for even trying, being seriously doubted in an article in the May 2, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Below the piece is Wilkins’ 1958 What’s My Line? appearance.


“It was thought to be fantasy”:


From the April 11, 1928 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

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