Saturday, December 28, 2019

Caught in Bad Company.

Luke Dimick was a successful livery stable keeper in Rock Island, Illinois, and the son of a wealthy Chicago real estate man. To all appearance, Luke seemed like an ideal husband, but he had one fault that his wife could not abide— a fondness for ladies of the night.

The night of July 27, 1889, Mrs. Dimick took her revolver and followed Luke to a Rock Island bawdy house, where she caught him in flagrante delicto with one of the prostitutes. In the scuffle that followed, Mrs. Dimick fired the pistol, hitting her husband. Luke Dimick died two days later and his wife was charged with manslaughter. Luke’s father, O. J. Dimick, took his daughter-in-law’s side and paid a $5,000 bond for her release.

The case went to trial the following October. Mrs. Dimick claimed that she had not intended to kill her husband, she meant to shoot the woman he was with, and Luke interfered. The women of the bawdy house disagreed, saying Mrs. Dimick had deliberately shot her husband. The jury took Mrs. Dimick’s word and found her not guilty.

Originally posted March 5, 2016.

"Among Our Neighbors." Decatur Daily Despatch 14 Sep 1889.
"Court Cullings." Rock Island Daily Argus 28 Sep 1889.
"He Was Caught in Very Bad Company." The Decatur Herald 29 Jul 1889.
"Held for Murder." Decatur Daily Despatch 30 Jul 1889.
"In a Bawdy House." National Police Gazette 5 Oct 1889.
"Telegraphic Brevities." Daily Illinois State Journal 14 Oct 1889.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Christmas Poisoning.

Mrs. Mary Paye.
On Christmas Day, 1882, Captain David W. Paye lay dying with symptoms so severe and unusual that three physicians had been called to his home in Fishkill Landing, New York, to consult on the case. For the previous week, Paye had been violently ill, with a burning in his throat, pains in his stomach, and an unquenchable thirst. Doctors Tiel, Wilson and Jones concluded that Paye was stricken with arsenic poisoning. Late that night, in great agony, Capt. Paye died.

At the time, arsenic in small doses was believed to be a cure for impotence, but Capt. Paye swore, as God was his judge, he had never taken anything to cause this illness. Though he did not accuse his wife, Mary, of poisoning him, he believed that the poison had been in a pie that she had baked; he had eaten heartily of the pie, he said, while his wife had just a little. Mary Paye tearfully denied this, saying that she had eaten most of the pie herself.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Olive Peany.

Today we have a guest post from Undine, who describes herself as “Blogger of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Remarkably lifelike.” And who would argue? She hosts the blog Strange Company ( which consistently delivers on its promise of “A walk on the weird side of history.” Undine also hosts The World of Edgar Allan Poe ( providing everything you need to know concerning that esteemed gentleman. 

“Olive Peany,” simultaneously posted on Murder by Gaslight and Strange Company, recounts the tragic 1895 murder of an ambitious but hard to please Ohio girl. 

Olive Peany
by Undine

Hopkinsville Kentuckian, April 2, 1895
Olive Bernthisel was not only one of the prettiest girls in Wood County, Ohio, she was unusually smart and ambitious as well.  The family farm in the small hamlet of Tontogany was well-managed and reasonably prosperous, but Olive was not content with a rustic existence.  She persuaded her father to contribute a considerable sum of money that would allow her to get a better education than was available in the countryside.  Accordingly, she spent several years in a boarding school in a more metropolitan area of the state.

When she returned home she was even more attractive and popular than before...and just as ambitious.  At about that same time, Tontogany gained a new resident, a young German doctor named Adam (or Adolf) Eddmon.  Dr. Eddmon was a handsome man who radiated an Old World sophistication that left Miss Bernthisel utterly charmed.  Unfortunately, the doctor was a poor man, so despite his attractions, Olive reluctantly agreed with her father's assessment that Eddmon was no fit match for her.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Happy Bob.”

Robert "Happy Bob" Van Brunt
Robert Van Brunt was born in England in 1863. He barely knew his father, who was a member of the Queen’s Scots Guards. His mother died when he was ten was ten-years-old, and from then on he was raised by his grandmother. She took him to Canada in 1878, and they settled in Toronto where he began a career as a tailor.

When a religious revivalist named Hammond held a series of meetings in Toronto, Van Brunt attended and became so enthusiastically converted that he would join Hammond on stage and speak to the assembled crowds. Hammond left Toronto, Van Brunt lost his job and became so discouraged that he attempted suicide. When the Salvation Army arrived in town he joined their ranks and was given the ironic nickname of “Happy Bob.”

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Parricide's Tale.

William J. Elder, aged 61, was addicted to drink and when under its influence was violent and uncontrollable. His wife tolerated his abuse as long as she could then packed up and moved out of their farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, leaving behind her two sons, Robert and Mathew. In 1887, 19-year-old Robert Elder moved out of his father’s house as well.

12-Year old Mathew Elder was still living with his father and still the victim of his abuse and neglect. In the summer of 1888, Mrs. Elder had her husband arrested and brought before the justice of the peace for the ill-treatment of Mathew but could offer no proof. William was discharged.