Old Print Articles

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From the September 18, 1912 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Olga Martin,18 years old, the daughter of Charles Martin, a wealthy contractor of 469 Crescent Street, was operated on last night at the Lutheran Hospital for the removal of a breastpin which the young woman swallowed more than two years ago.

The operation was performed by the visiting staff of the hospital, including Drs. Harold L. Barnes, John Kepke, F.H. DeCoste and Raymond Westover. The patient was conscious during the entire proceedings an experienced no pain because of the use of cocaine.•

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From the March 17, 1899 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Toronto, Ont. — Four days ago David Custman, aged 21 years, began bleeding at the nose. Remedies were applied without effect, and Custman died this morning. Before death blood oozed from every pore in his body.•


From the January 18, 1907 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Pietro Mastrajani, a 4-year-old boy in the second cabin of the Hamburg-American Line steamship Moltke, which arrived today from Naples, died a horrible death on the steamer on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, and was found dead in his bunk Wednesday morning. As the cause of the lad’s death was not apparent, Dr. Horrmann, the Moltke‘s surgeon, assisted by Dr. Vassalla, and the Royal Italian Commissioner, Dr. Crespi, performed an autopsy and found thirty-seven huge worms in the child’s body. The worms had literally eaten the boy alive, and one of the worms, fourteen inches long, and as thick around as a man’s index finger, was found lodged in the child’s windpipe, where it had presumably crawled after coming up through the boy’s throat. Dr. Crespi said that all thirty-seven worms were between twelve to fourteen inches in length and of unusual thickness. The worms, with the exception of the one in the windpipe, were all still alive.•

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From the November 4, 1867 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A human right hand, lacking a finger, was found by John Davies on Saturday afternoon at the foot of North Sixth Street, among some rubbish. The lost member was taken to the Forty-fifth Precinct Station-house.•


From the October 4, 1938 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

San Antonio, Texas — Authorities were horrified today by a new development in the “murder farm” case which has been horrifying this community for a week. They had found a witness who said Joe Ball dissected the bodies of his victims and fed them to his pet alligators.•


So many Americans use drugs now, though a good portion of that activity is perfectly legal, prescriptions written and pills placed in orange bottles with white caps. The copay is reasonable. While drugs like Oxycodone are dangerous and open addictions, the legalization of marijuana, a far tamer drug whose prohibition has cost the country financially and in many other ways, still lags behind. A little more than 65 years ago, actors Robert Mitchum and Lila Leeds did jail time for pot possession. Her career was ruined by the scandal and she reportedly started using heroin on the inside, but he bounced back quite nicely. The following article about the case was filed in the September 27, 1949 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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From the September 7, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

St. Louis, Mo. — Eugene Dickson, a child, swallowed a fly Tuesday afternoon and died yesterday. He was playing in the kitchen and laughing heartily at some incident which had happened when he swallowed the fly. About an hour afterward he became so ill that it was necessary to call a physician. Notwithstanding the efforts of the medical attendant he grew worse very rapidly and died in terrible agony.•


Speaking of psychedelics enthusiasts, Aldous Huxley, who thought deeply about globalism, consumerism, virtual reality and technocracy before most others did, had a little book of his called A Brave New World reviewed in the February 7, 1932 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It was apparently a ripping good yarn.

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From the September 7, 1944 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Birmingham, Ala. — Arnold Earnest, 24, who lived for three years in a cave to avoid the draft, began serving a five-year Federal Prison sentence today.

The farm boy was minus his bushy mustache, long hair and carefree manner as he was led from the courtroom where he was sentenced. He said it was “powerful hard” to sleep in jail.

Earnest lived in the woods of Fayette County, Ala., during the years he was a fugitive, eating berries and trapped animals. His shelter was a cave. 

When arrested by Federal agents, he had not heard of Pearl Harbor.•


From the December 31, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Phoenix, Ariz. — V.L. Hopkins, one of the oldest residents of Yuma, is lost on the desert on Mesquite. There is no hope of finding him alive.•


I think it’s worth looking past the antiquated, racist language and attitudes to read this article originally published in November 21, 1915 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which profiles a physically disabled African-American man who built his own wireless plant in the Long Island woods and was suspected of communicating secrets to the Germans during WWI (though the political espionage aspect isn’t very likely). The young guy’s name was Robert J. Freeman, and imagine how different his opportunities would have been if his skin color was different. When you think of the talent lost to prejudice, it’s just a heartbreaker.


From the May 22, 1894 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Highly sensational stories stating that H.K. Williamson, a business man of Mineola, was horsewhipped in the railroad station by his wife yesterday afternoon and that a young woman with whom he was going away shared in the punishment are without any foundation whatsoever.•

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The Dustbowl was central to his life and work, but Woody Guthrie had some dalliances with the un-Oklahoma of New York City beginning in 1940, which resulted in the two articles below published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The first looks at Guthrie’s involvement in It’s All Yours, an anti-Fascist, anti-Hitler musical drama performed in 1942 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was co-directed by singer-songwriter Earl Robinson as the piece says, but what goes unmentioned is that the other director was Nicholas Ray, who would begin his big-time Hollywood career a half-dozen years later. In the second article, Guthrie brings his dirty boots to the home of etiquette expert (and erstwhile Staten Island Advance reporter) Amy Vanderbilt.


From October 5, 1942:


From April 5, 1943:

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From the July 9, 1897 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A meeting of the employees of Dennett’s Fourteenth Street lunch room, where William C. Keeble, the latest bridge jumper was formerly employed, was held last night to consider means of obtaining possession of the body. Word had been received that W.E. Holmes, the Bowery dime museum proprietor and manager, to whom Keeble had willed his body and all his personal effects before he made the fatal dive into the East River, was contemplating the exhibition of the corpse as a star attraction of his museum. According to the rumor that was unhesitatingly accredited by the employees of Dennett’s. Keeble’s body was to be put in a glass case and placed on exhibition for the usual admittance fee of 10 cents.”•

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From the April 18, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A leg of lamb which exploded when placed on the table before several boarders, resulted in the arraignment of David Kahn, the butcher, who sold it to the boarding house keeper, before Magistrate Hylan, in the New Jersey Avenue police court, this morning. The boarding house keeper, Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, of 1467 Broadway, and her star boarder were the principal witnesses.

Mr. Kahn was held on $500 bail by the magistrate, who will hear both sides next Wednesday.

Mrs. Jones claimed that she cooked the leg of lamb and placed it on the table, much to delight of her anticipatory boarders. She cut off a couple of slices and was just preparing to cut another when the leg exploded right before her eyes. She then discovered the meat was bad.•

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I was reading the “Hey Bill” Q&A section of Bill James’ site, and this question was posed:

Hey Bill, I thought it was interesting in 1939 the National Professional Indoor Baseball League was launched with Tris Speaker and franchises managed by guys like Bill Wambsganss, Moose McCormick, and Harry Davis. It went one and done though, disbanded after that season. Do you know how the actual play was set up?

Answered: 1/21/2015

Don’t know that I’ve ever heard of it.•

Indoor baseball, while clearly nowhere near as popular as its outdoor counterpart, was a dogged part of the American sporting scene from the 1890s till the late ’30s. Before the game essentially became softball, it was played on a pro level during the winter months at armories in front of crowds of up to 1,500 fans. Decidedly different than the summer game were the rules (e.g., 35-foot basepaths) and equipment (ball was larger and softer). The most famous iteration of the game was the short-lived 1939 National Professional Indoor Baseball League, which was presided over by the former MLB great Tris Speaker. Below are several pieces from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about various versions of the game.


From May 5, 1912:


From November 20, 1939:







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From the February 23, 1919 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

One little girl in Burford Bridge, England, has made a record of having killed 1,415 butterflies in a butterfly killing contest held in the schools of that district. We wonder what there may be about so beautiful and harmless an insect as a butterfly to warrant engaging school children in such a murderous employment, and we hope there were more than a few children who made a very poor showing in the competition, believing that for the most of them the contest offered little inspiration.•

I’m sure the advent of commercial aviation was met with prejudices about the new-fangled machines, but it took quite a while to perfect automated co-pilots and the navigation of wind shears, so horrifying death was probably also a deterrent. In the article below from the September 22, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (which is sadly chopped off a bit in the beginning), the unnamed author looks at a selected history of technophobia. 


From the June 20, 1942 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Nottingham, England — A strange man called on Mrs. Mabel Foulkes yesterday, said he had come at the request of a friend of hers to examine her teeth, then pushed her into a chair, extracted one of her teeth and ran out of the house, exclaiming, “What beauty!”

Police said the man produced a forceps from his pocket and shoved it into her mouth before she could protest. Mrs. Foulkes fainted.•


From the January 12, 1858 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

A most atrocious murder was committed at Poolville, four miles from Hamilton, N.Y., last Sunday. Jared Comstock and his wife, aged over seventy years, were the victims. Their son was the murderer; he has been for some time insane. At about eight o’clock on Sunday evening he killed his father by knocking him down with an axe; and his mother was killed with a skillet. He then cut their hearts out, and cut one of the bodies in pieces, and roasted the other on the stove, eating a portion of it. He intended to have killed his sister, but fortunately she escaped. The murderer is in custody and has confessed to the act.•

From the October 11, 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Los Angeles — The veil of mystery cloaking the disappearance of seven members of the “Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven” was partially lifted today by the announcement of authorities that two of the seven had died and had been buried in Southern California towns. One died after being baked in a brick oven.

Investigators said they had located in Ventura, Cal., the grave of Mrs. Harlene Satoris, 30, of Portland, Ore., and obtained information that the body of Mr. Frances May Turner had been buried in San Gabriel, a Los Angeles suburb, although the death certificate had been filed in Ventura.

Mrs. Jennie Blackburn, mother of the high priestess of the cult, admitted to police yesterday that Mrs. Turner had been subjected to baking in an effort to cure her of paralysis.•

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According to Felix McDonald, a Brit expat who was raised in a circus and worked as a lion tamer for three decades, the most expensive animals desired by exhibitors and collectors in fin de siècle New York were the giraffe and the gorilla. He would have been privy to such information as he managed a wild-animal farm in New Jersey which stocked circuses and private zoos and such. Of course, as he pointed out in an article in the February 11, 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, domesticated animals capable of producing revenue regularly sold for more than the rarest of species.


From the February 7, 1926 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Berlin — Thousands of rats and mice, living unmolested in palatial splendor for a score of years, have ruined the interior of a 155-year-old castle of Schwerinsburg, near Ducherrow, Mecklenburg. The rodents had gnawed into woodwork, costly antique furniture, paintings and tapestries and played havoc even with the beautiful glass chandeliers. The purchaser, unable to spend $250,000 for repairs, again locked the doors and left the rats in undisputed possession.

Ruth Snyder was a persistent if imprecise killer.

A Queens housewife who fell hard for married corset salesman Henry Judd Gray, Snyder failed the first seven times she attempted to murder her husband, Albert, finally garrotting her betrothed in 1927 with the aid of her lover, who, of course, had experience tightening fabric around flesh. The slaying was messy and the story she concocted for police about a home invasion even more so, so instead of collecting insurance money, Snyder was soon collecting dust in a prison cell. But not for long: A year later, she and her paramour were no more, silenced at Sing Sing by the hum of an electric chair.

Snyder was the first woman to die in the chair, and despite her vicious crime, her gender made her punishment shocking to many, even the executioner, and the picture of her being put to death, taken stealthily with a hidden ankle camera by New York Daily News photographer Tom Howard, is one of the most famous images in the history of journalism.

A postscript: Even after her death, Snyder had no luck with heat.

The following is the March 22, 1927 Brooklyn Daily Eagle account of her recanting her confession and entering a not-guilty plea.


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From the April 4, 1905 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Mattituck, L.I. — L.C. Dayton, of this place, a well-known young farmer, has a freak pig with an elephant head and an elephant’s trunk. The little fellow was born two or three days ago, and lived but about two or three hours. It is now carefully preserved in alcohol, and is creating great interest among farmers, many of them driving several miles to see the curiosity.”



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