Category Archives: Garretdom

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 26, 2015

Today’s Slippery Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1992-1993, three men were not even climbing but simply “goofing-off” in the most ridiculous of locations at the Grand Canyon.  On November 28, 1992, Greg Austin Gingrich, age 38, jumped atop, then over, the rock wall along the Rim Trail near El Tovar. He missed his landing and fell 400 feet. On September 5, 1993, Andreas Zimmerman, age 24, jumped from one ledge to another on the edge at Cape Royal just for the hell of it. He slipped and fell to his death. Two months later, on November 16, 1993, James Hyland, age 21, decided to walk atop the frosty guard wall built to separate people form the abyss below El Tovar Hotel. He too slipped and fell.

The El Tovar Hotel.  It’s a long way down.
Culled from: Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon


Garretdom: Grim Reaper Edition

On this Boxing Day, let us all reflect on a dark time when literally everything could kill you. 

December 12, 1887

The Grim Reaper’s Relentless Work.

MOUNT CARMEL, Pa., Dec. 12.–Singular fatality has for the past few months followed the family of Daniel Wertman, residing at Derrs, Columbia county. A few months ago Mrs. Wertman died, and a short time afterward her husband succumbed to the shock. The daughter, Minnie, aged twenty, was taken ill while attending her father’s funeral and died four days later, and yesterday the physicians gave up all hope of the recovery of the son, Freeman, aged twenty-one, who had been prostrated by the sudden taking away of his father, mother and sister.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1887 Morbid Scrapbook

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 12, 2015

Today’s Severely Beaten Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Let’s have another jolly story of  Christian Martyrdom from the classic of the genre, Fox’s Book of Martyrs (1848).  This allegedly occurred during the fourth persecution, under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A. D. 162:

Epipodius, being compassionated by the governor of Lyons, and exhorted to join in their festive pagan worship, replied, “Your pretended tenderness is actually cruelty; and the agreeable life you describe is replete with everlasting death Christ suffered for us, that our pleasures should be immortal, and hath prepared for his followers an eternity of bliss. The frame of man being composed of two parts, body and soul, the first, as mean and perishable, should be rendered subservient to the interests of the last. Your idolatrous feasts may gratify the mortal, but they injure the immortal part; that cannot therefore be enjoying life which destroys the most valuable moiety of your frame. Your pleasures lead to eternal death, and our pains to perpetual happiness.” [Sheesh, what a party pooper! – DeSpair] Epipodius was severely beaten, and then put to the rack, upon which being stretched, his flesh was torn with iron hooks. Having borne his torments with incredible patience and unshaken fortitude, he was taken from the rack and beheaded.

Epipodius: No fun, my lord, no fun.

Culled from: Fox’s Book Of Martyrs
Generously suggested by: Louise


Garretdom: Rampaging Tramp Edition!

Garretdom is a regular feature whre I spotlight a morbid or strange 19th century newspaper article. Today we go back to 1887.

December 12, 1887


They Wreck a Saloon, Hack a Man With a Razor and Assault Others.

SHENANDOAH, Pa., Dec. 12.–A band of about thirty tramps, who have been making their headquarters just outside the borough limits during the past few weeks, came into Shenandoah last night, and after getting drunk raised a riot in a saloon and killed one man and fatally injured two others. Four of the tramps were ejected from the saloon for using abusive language, and shortly afterwards returned with eight more of their comrades and attacked the saloon-keeper and a party of miners, who were drinking in the house. James McKeone, a brother of the saloon-keeper, was horribly hacked with a razor in the hands of one of the tramps, and two of the miners were beaten with bottles and glasses into insensibility.

The tramps after clearing out the barroom, withdrew to the street and wrecked the front of the building. Nine of the number were subsequently arrested and four of them were committed to jail. McKeone will die, and the other two men are in a precarious condition.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1887 Morbid Scrapbook

Morbid Fact Du Jour for October 15, 2015

Today’s Monstrous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

One cold, foggy evening in the late 1860s Sir Frederick Treves, a surgeon at the Mile End Infirmary in east London, was walking home along the Whitechapel Road. Hansom cabs clattered by on the wet cobbles, and Sir Frederick had to walk cautiously to avoid cracks in the pavement. Perhaps this was why he noticed a strip of canvas flapping in the cold wind. By the dim gaslight he could just make out the words: “Elephant Man – admission twopence.”

He pushed aside a greasy canvas flap and found himself in a narrow space between two buildings. In Victorian times these were known as “holes in the wall”: space was so valuable in the overcrowded slums that the gaps between houses were covered with a canvas roof and let out at low rents. There was a single dim light, and the surgeon could see a huddled figure, covered in tarpaulin, and sitting on a packing case. The surgeon gently pulled back the tarpaulin, and the man looked up at him. What Sir Frederick saw made him gasp. The “elephant man’s” face was hardly human; the nose was a swollen, trunk-like mass of flesh, and everything else about him was distorted.

The surgeon drew up a packing case, and sat talking to this human creature who looked like a beast from a fairy tale. The elephant man proved to be a man of mystery. His body was as distorted as his face, so it was not even clear to which sex “he” belonged. He knew that his name was John Merrick and that he was about 20. But he could only speak in an incomprehensible mumble, and could apparently remember nothing of his origins, or where he had grown up. When his “keepers” came back from the pub, where they had been drinking to keep out the cold, they told Treves that they had simply found the elephant man wandering in the street, and had decided that he might bring them in a few pence as a freak show. But he was so horrible that women fainted at the sight of him and children had fits.

When the surgeon offered them five pounds for the monster, they could scarcely believe their luck. The next day Treves took the elephant man to the hospital, and gave him a private suite of rooms, cut off from the rest of the building. Few nurses could bear to see him, and before a nurse was asked to bring him food or help him to dress she was given a preliminary look at him to see if she could bear it without fainting.

Yet the elephant man proved to be gentle and charming. His gratitude touched everybody. Obviously, his life had been hard and miserable; no one had ever been kind to him. Now, at last, he had warmth and comfort, and he found it almost impossible to believe that fate had finally relented towards him.

One of his favorite occupations was cutting pictures out of illustrated magazines. One of these – his most treasured – was of Princess Alexandra, who would be Queen of England when her husband, later Edward VII, came to the throne. The princess was the patroness of the hospital, and she was deeply interested in the elephant man.  One day she told Treves that she wanted to see him. Treves tried hard to dissuade her, but she was determined. She was shown into the elephant man’s presence. She did not flinch as the twisted, monstrous creature dragged himself towards her, or as he took her hand in his own distorted claw and bent over to kiss it. Then she was shown out. As the door closed behind her, she fainted.

Culled from: Crimes and Punishment, the Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 27

Garretdom: Brains Beaten Out Edition!

Here’s another vintage newspaper article. The last sentence of this one sums up why I love old newspapers so much. Can you imagine a boring modern news source using a term like “beat his brains out”?

December, 1887


Dead in a Car of Wheat.

PERRY, Iowa., Dec. 13.—At Aspinwall, seventy-five miles west of here, a man was found dead in a car of wheat yesterday. The body was still warm. Later in the day a young man named Ted Stevens was arrested at this place. When taken to Aspinwall he confessed to killing the man with a car pin, and that he relieved the man of $69. The murdered man’s name is Carson, and he is supposed to have friends near Tama City. Stevens is about eighteen years of age. His father lives east of this city and is a highly respected man. Young Stevens ran away from home about a year ago, and was beating his way from the west when he fell in company with his victim, whom he finally murdered by beating his brains out.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
More old articles can be perused at Garretdom.

Halloween Cometh!

More vintage Halloween fun!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for September 16, 2015

Today’s Stiff Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Rigor mortis, a Latin word meaning “the stiffness of death,” begins to take effect as the internal chemistry of the body changes from its normal acid state to an alkaline one, usually about two hours after life has become extinct. This causes muscles that were relaxed at the time of death to begin to tense and stiffen. The process begins with the eyelids and progresses to the muscles of the face and jaw, then to the arms, the trunk, and finally the legs.

Rigor mortis is a progressive condition and is usually fully established about twelve hours after death, by which time the body is as stiff and unbending as a block of wood. The body can remain in this condition for anything between twelve and forty-eight hours, until further chemical changes return the body to an acid state, at which point the muscles begin to relax again. This reverse process affects the muscles in the same order in which rigor mortis originally stiffened them: the eyelids first, then the facial muscles… and finally the legs.

Culled from: Hidden Evidence: Forty True Crimes and How Forensic Science Helped Solve Them


Halloween Cometh!

We’re about six weeks away from the greatest of all holidays, so I thought I’d start sharing some vintage Halloween pics with the newsletter. (Culled from Halloween: Vintage Holiday Graphics.) Enjoy!



Garretdom: Olde News For Morbid Minds!

December, 1887

Josephine Curry Causes the Death of Her Newly-Born Infant.

Josephine Curry, thirty years old, who has been making her home for a short time at 1414 Cadwalader street, killed her newly-born babe at an early hour yesterday morning by throwing it down a cesspool. The police were notified at once and the body recovered in a short time, but the child was dead. A post-mortem examination was made by the Coroner’s physician, and the result will be made known at the inquest.

Detective Geyer was deteialed to investigate the case and interview the woman. He found her in bed suffering intensely and scarcely able to talk. She said her home was in Williamsport, and that she had been led estray by a commercial drummer whom she met in McKeesport. She last saw him in March, when he promised to care for her, but she had been unable to find him.

She came to this city hoping she could find him, but failing and being penniless and homeleess, she had resorted to the desperate effort to hide her crime. She said she was unable to say whether the child was born dead or alive, but from previous remarks it is believed that she was fully aware that it was living, and being alone in the house at the time, disposed of it before the lady with whom she was staying and who had gone to a neighbor’s for assistance had time to return.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

Read more sad stories of olde tyme homicide at Garretdom!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for July 27, 2015

Today’s Pathetic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Arthur Frederick Goode III
Executed: 4/5/84 in Florida by electrocution
Crime: Raped and murdered two young boys
Last Meal: Steak, broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob, Breyers butter pecan ice cream, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and milk.

Not only was Arthur Goode disliked by the families of his victims and community as a whole, but he couldn’t even scrounge up an ounce of respect from his fellow inmates while in prison. His was the first Florida execution that wasn’t protested by the other men on death row, and it’s even been rumored that Ted Bundy once stole his cookies!

Goode was a life-long pedophile who would endlessly rant about having sex with young boys to anyone who would listen. He sent maniacal letters from prison to the parents of his victims, which included graphic retellings of the crimes, and he smugly announced to reporters that he would carry a picture of child actor Ricky Schroeder with him to the electric chair.

On the day of the execution, Goode finally began to lose his composure. His obsession for kiddie sex was replaced with incoherent worries such as whether or not he should eat his ice cream or his peanut butter cups first, and who would scratch his nose for him if it started to itch once he was strapped down in the electric chair. Eyewitness reports claim that Goode finally broke down minutes prior to the execution and claimed remorse for his crimes, then died while sobbing pathetically – without  the aforementioned Ricky Schroeder picture.

Culled from: Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals From Death Row



It’s time for another dose on 19th Century grimness – in this case, it’s an ugly reminder of the genocide that America was built on.


Chico Courant (Chico, California)
Saturday, November 18, 1865


INDIANS. – It will be seen by extracts from a letter written by Mr. Nance, of this place, that the Indians are still committing their depredations about Humboldt. Nothing but extermination will prevent them from committing their depredations. It is a false notion of humanity to save the lives of these red devils. There should be no prisoners taken, but a general sacrifice made of the whole race. The are of no benefit to themselves or mankind, but like the rattlesnake live only to slay. Like the wild beast of prey shey [sic] are necessarily exterminated by the march of civilization. The tribes of Indians upon this Coast can no more be civilized than the jaugar [sic]. If necessary let there be a crusade, and every man that can carry and shoot a gun turn out and hunt the red devils to their holes and there bury them, leaving not a root or branch of them remaining, then we shall record no more massacres.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

More sad tales of racism from America’s tattered past can be viewed at Garretdom.  

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 26, 2014

Today’s Rumored Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

William de Soulis lived in Scotland from about 1280 to about 1320. From 1318 to 1320 he was Lord of Hermitage in and he was a man so deeply unpopular that there are two quite separate tales told of his demise.

Whichever way you look at it, William de Soulis seems to have been an unpleasant man, even by the standards of his many unpleasant contemporaries. You can take your pick between the stories of how he met his end. One is rather ordinary and, probably, historically accurate. The other combines deeply evil deeds, supernatural horror, and an especially gruesome but fitting end for the villain. The second version is based largely on a ballad popular in the Borders in the 1700s, which may have been based on earlier folk stories.

As background, the de Soulis family had been connected with forbidding Hermitage Castle in Liddesdale, close to the English border, since 1249, when Nicholas de Soulis built a wooden castle here. In 1318, his descendant, William de Soulis, became Lord of Hermitage. It is unlikely that the original wooden castle had yet been replaced in stone, but today’s Hermitage Castle is an oppressive and chilling place that gives credence to even the most fanciful of the stories concerning William de Soulis.

But first, the boring, historical bit. Border lords at the time were always having to look closely at whether their interests were best served by siding with the English or the Scots, and it seems that in 1320 William de Soulis took part in an English-inspired plot to kill the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce. It failed, and the participants were rounded up, with de Soulis being imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle, where he subsequently died.

The second version takes a little longer to tell. William de Soulis was a huge and physically powerful man, and when he became Lord of Hermitage in 1318 he rapidly demonstrated a deep vein of cruelty that quickly had him loathed by all who came into contact with him. Stories began to circulate that he practiced the Black Arts, kidnapping local children and using their blood in dark rituals at Hermitage Castle. During these rituals, de Soulis would summon up his familiar, Robin Redcap. A redcap, also known as a powrie or dunter, is a type of evil goblin, typically found in British folklore in ruined castles along the border between England and Scotland. Once summoned they roam the area, killing travelers and residents in order to keep fresh the bloodstains on the redcap’s hat: because if these stains dry, the redcap dies. Redcaps are very quick, despite their metal-bound boots and the heavy pike they carry, and the only way to escape one is to quote a passage from the Bible at it, whereupon it loses a tooth. Robin Redcap was especially feared, and after being summoned by de Soulis committed many evil deeds in the lands around Hermitage.

But William de Soulis himself was equally capable of terrorising his neighbours. One day in 1320 he kidnapped a young Armstrong woman and tried to return with her to Hermitage Castle. When her father tried to stop him, de Soulis killed him on the spot. However, by now a crowd had gathered, and de Soulis was on the verge of being lynched when Alexander Armstrong, the Laird of Mangerton, intervened, calming the crowd and advising de Soulis to return to Hermitage without his captive. De Soulis was far from grateful, instead developing a hatred for someone who, as his social inferior, had demonstrated the power to influence the crowd and save de Soulis’s life. De Soulis therefore invited Alexander Armstrong to a banquet at Hermitage, and when he arrived, stabbed him in the back.

Complaints about de Soulis’s activities were frequently reaching the ears of King Robert the Bruce himself, and when he was told of this latest outrage, Bruce, in exasperation, cried “Soulis! Soulis! Go boil him in brew!” Needing no further invitation, the locals overpowered de Soulis, using a specially forged chain to bind him, as ordinary ropes could not contain his supernatural powers, and took him to the summit of Nine Stane Rig. It was believed that de Soulis could not be killed by ordinary means, so instead he was boiled in molten lead in a cauldron suspended above a large fire. When news reached the king that his words were being taken literally, he sent soldiers to Hermitage: but it was too late, and they were only able to report back what had happened.

Take your pick which story you prefer, but both end in de Soulis’s death; both end with the confiscation by the Crown of Hermitage Castle; and both end without evoking much sympathy for William de Soulis!

Culled from: Undiscovered Scotland

I need to add Hermitage Castle to the old bucket list.  Isn’t it delightfully ominous looking?



Morbid Trinkets Du Jour!

Q: What did the decrepit old Comtesse get for Christmas?
A: Tuberculosis and toxic mold!

I know you’re jealous, but you can get your own debilitating illness at GiantMicrobes.Com!


Garretdom: Olde News for Morbid Minds!

December 19, 1887


A Fiend Kills One of His Daughters and
Fatally Wounds Another.

diedformother018ERIE, Pa., Dec. 19.—No crime of violence committed in this city during the last half century has created such a sensation as the shooting of Minnie and Annie Schau by their father, Christian Schau, at noon yesterday.  The murderer is a tailor, perhaps fifty years old, and long ago earned the reputation of being a brutal husband and a dangerous member of the community.  The two daughters, aged twenty-one and twenty-two, have lived at home, assisting Schau in his work, and despite their lack of advantages, have grown to be pretty, intelligent and virtuous women, holding the warm friendship of many and the esteem of all.

Yesterday morning Schau, who has been drinking for a fortnight past, abused one of the daughters shamefully for reading a newspaper which had been given her.  At the dinner table he renewed his abusive treatment, when his wife drove him wild by interceding for the unoffending girl.  He seized Mrs. Schau by the throat and threatened to shoot her.  The poor woman, desperate at his long continued brutality, bade him do his worst, saying she had nothing to fear, as death would be preferable to the life she had lived so long.  Minnie, the eldest daughter, interfered, begging for mercy for the mother.

“Spare her, father!  Oh, spare her!” she cried, but the drunken brute felled his wife senseless with a blow, drew a pistol and sent a 32-calibre bullet through Minnie’s heart, killing her instantly.  Spurning the dead body with his foot, he sprang to the door of an adjoining room, where the younger daughter, Annie, had taken refuge, and snarling an imprecation, discharged the pistol point blank at her breast.  The bullet struck an inch and a half below the heart, shattered a rib, deflected and missed the vital organ, lodging near the spine.  She fell, and he snapped the self-acting pistol at her again as she lay apparently dead.  Then he fled from the house towards the high bluffs on the lake front.

A telephone message brought an officer to the scene of the shooting, and he began the pursuit of Schau and brought him to bay at the top of a bluff.  The murderer drew a pistol and ordered the officer to stand back, but the plucky patrolman advanced.  Schau fired on him at a distance of six paces and missed.  The next instant the men were engaged in a fierce struggle, the officer holding Schau’s pistol hand, and then, plying his club, knocked him senseless.  Schau was handcuffed and taken to the station-house.

Annie Schau is still living, but has no chance for recovery.  Her ante-mortem statement was taken detailing the circumstances of the shooting substantially as given above.  Schau was arraigned last evening and committed for a hearing next Wednesday.  He pleads not guilty, and says the girls took the pistol from him and accidentally shot themselves.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

(The 1887 Morbid Scrapbook)

More dreadful olde homicides can be studied at Garretdom.

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 25, 2014

Today’s Pathogenic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Many of the worst human diseases were created by proximity to animals. Cattle provided the pathogen pool with tuberculosis and viral poxes like smallpox. Pigs and ducks gave humans their influenzas, while horses brought rhinoviruses and hence the common cold. Measles, which still kills a million children a year, is the result of rinderpest (canine distemper) jumping between dogs or cattle and humans. Moreover, cats, dogs, ducks, hens, mice, rats, and reptiles carry bacteria like Salmonella, leading to often fatal human infections; water polluted with animal faeces also spreads polio, cholera, typhoid, viral hepatitis, whooping cough and diptheria.

Culled from: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity

Oh, so it’s the HORSE that gives us the common cold?  I never did trust horses – not since they kicked me in the chin and bit my back when I was a child.  Seems like I had very good reason. Hmmph.



Here’s another shocking article from the Chico (California) Courant newspaper, originally published on December 9, 1865, showing the institutionalized genocide of our forebears.

Chico Courant (Chico, California)
Saturday, December 9, 1865


CAUGHT THE DEVILS. – The Humboldt Register gives an account of the routing of the gang, and killing of over fifty of the red devils who murdered Ballew on the Humboldt road.  According to the Register’s account, Lieut. Osmer is entitled to promotion, and his men to a medal each for their bravery and tact in ferreting out the Indians and wiping them out when found.  The Indians were found 100 miles north-west of Dun Glen, and did not discover the approach of the soldiers until within two miles of their camp.  Lieut. Osmer’s command, was, “Come on, boys!” and they pitched in without any “red tape,” and with an energy irresistible.  The Indians were well armed.  One soldier, named David O’Connell was killed, and two painfully wounded.  A portion of the plunder taken from Ballew’s wagon was recovered.  Lieut. Osmer and his command may redeem the character of the regular army for Indian hunters.  Pitch in and wipe out the last vestige of the red rascals.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

More of our Racist past can be seen at Garretdom.


Fetus Du Jour!

And now, the moment many of you have been waiting for: the final installment of Fetus Du Jour. Here’s the last of the 1930s fetuses that I photographed at the Museum of Science and Industry. And he’s the most miserable looking of the lot.  Which only goes to support my theory: the closer you get to being born, the more miserable you become! Non-existence Is Bliss!  I think I need to make a shirt with that on it…

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 24, 2014

Today’s Un-resurrected Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A woman left her husband’s body rotting in a bedroom of their home because she thought he would rise from the dead, a Hamilton, Canada court heard Monday December 1, 2014.  ​Kaling Wald pleaded guilty to Coroner’s Act charges of failing to notify police or the coroner that Peter Wald had died from an illness that wasn’t being treated. She received a suspended sentence and an order to get counselling as well as 18 months probation.

The macabre case first came to light back in January 2014, when the woman was arrested and charged with neglect of duty regarding a dead body and indignity to a body. The two charges were withdrawn and replaced with the single charge under the Coroner’s Act. The sheriff found the 51-year-old’s body while trying to evict Wald and his family from their St. Matthews Avenue home in the city’s north end last year.  Regional coroner Dr. Jack Stanborough told CBC News in a previous interview that Wald’s body was found in an “advanced state of decomposition” when it was discovered in an upstairs bedroom. “Evidence suggests he’d been dead for weeks, if not months,” Stanborough said.

Wald died around March 20, 2013, according to summary of the case’s facts provided by Crown counsel Janet Booy. He had diabetes and was suffering from a foot infection. Neighbours in the area told CBC News that Wald had been seen hobbling for some time before he stopped being seen in public. When neighbours asked his wife about him, all she would say was he “was in God’s hands now.” Wald refused to go to hospital. “He believed God would cure him,” Booy wrote.

Neighbours described Wald as a deeply religious but kind man. He could be seen driving through Hamilton in a blue Astro van adorned with religious symbols and sayings. He could also be seen wearing clothing with religious-themed writing on it. Both lawyers in the case agreed that Kaling Wald had no ill intent. “We were trusting God … we thought, ‘OK Lord, you know better,'” Wald told the Spectator. Wald thought her husband went into a coma “sometime in March and eventually died, probably around March 20, 2013,” Booy wrote.

Wald slept in the bed with her husband for one night, just before he died. Then she noticed his stomach was bloating and rigor mortis was setting in on his forehead. After he died, his wife sealed off the room so the smell of the body wouldn’t permeate through the rest of the house, where she was still living with her six children. “Kaling and her five children who resided in the house are devout Christians and thought Peter would be resurrected and therefore kept the door locked and waited for him to come to life,” Booy wrote. “There were also friends who resided at the house. They all prayed on a daily basis for Peter to come back to life.”

Wald’s body sat in the room until September, when the sheriff came to evict them from the home after they defaulted on the mortgage. Health officials and police were called in, but the body had decomposed to the point that it was impossible to confirm a cause of death. Stanborough said the body was in an “advanced state of decomposition.” Wald was found covered with two blankets and a toque on his head. His feet were sticking out from underneath the blankets, and there was gauze wrapped around his left foot.

“There was nothing in the examination that would suggest criminal activity or public health concerns,” Stanborough said in a previous interview. The Children’s Aid Society was previously called in, but found no concerns for the children’s well-being and the case was closed, the Spectator reported.

Culled from: Yahoo News
Generously submitted by: Wallace

“No concerns for the children’s well-being”?  None at all?  Dead father rotting upstairs, crazy mother telling the kids he’s gonna be resurrected?  That doesn’t cause any concern?  Hmmmm.  Interesting.



Oh, our shameful past.  This is an article from the Chico (California) Weekly Courant originally published on Saturday, November 18, 1865:

INDIANS. – It will be seen by extracts from a letter written by Mr. Nance, of this place, that the Indians are still committing their depredations about Humboldt.  Nothing but extermination will prevent them from committing their depredations.  It is a false notion of humanity to save the lives of these red devils.  There should be no prisoners taken, but a general sacrifice made of the whole race.  They are of no benefit to themselves or mankind, but like the rattlesnake live only to slay.  Like the wild beast of prey they are necessarily exterminated by the march of civilization.  The tribes of Indians upon this Coast can no more be civilized than the jaugar [sic].  If necessary let there be a crusade, and every man that can carry and shoot a gun turn out and hunt the red devils to their holes and there bury them, leaving not a root or branch of them remaining, then we shall record no more massacres.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

More of our Racist past can be seen at Garretdom.


Fetus Du Jour!

Here’s another 1930’s fetus that I photographed at the Museum of Science and Industry. This guy looks like he’s playing air guitar, rocking out to The Wombtown Rats.  Or The Fetals.  (Your turn…)

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 16, 2014

Today’s Infectious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

During the Influenza epidemic of 1918, more than 25% of the U.S. population became ill; 40% of the Navy got the flu and 36% of the Army; and estimates range from 20 million to more than 100 million dead worldwide.  The exact count is unknown because many places that were bludgeoned by the flu did not keep mortality statistics, and even in countries such as the United States, efforts at tabulating flu deaths were complicated by the fact that there was no definitive test in those days to show that a person actually had the flu. But still, the low end of the mortality estimates is stunning. In comparison, AIDS had killed 11.7 million people through 1997. World War I was responsible for 9.2 million combat deaths and around 15 million total deaths. World War II for 15.9 million combat deaths. Historian Alfred W. Crosby remarks that whatever the exact number felled by the 1918 flu, one thing is indisputable: the virus “killed more humans than any other disease in a period of similar duration in the history of the world.”

Culled from: Flu


A 1918 flu poster.  I’d love a framed version…



Here’s another old newspaper excerpt.  Oh, such DRAMA!

Chico Courant (Chico, California)
Saturday, November 25, 1865


DIED. – Far away from home, relatives and friends among strangers, with no one to shed a parting tear, with strangers to smooth his dying pillow, another unfortunate Californian passed on to the silent land, the land of forgetfulness, the land of the departed.  Joseph Coburn, a private in Company II, Ninth U.S. Regular Infantry, on the march to Summit Lake, was taken sick, was left at the Chico Hotel in this place, being unable to proceed farther; received all the care and attention that could be bestowed; lingered until Friday night, the 18th inst., when he died.  He was about 22 year old, enlisted in San Francisco about one year ago; not being in his right mind the most of the time, his native place could not be learned, but from expressions made use of in his wandering moods, it is supposed he was a native of New York, residing in the vicinity of Niagara Falls.  An anxious waiting mother, there may be, who for years will listen for the returning footsteps of the absent boy, little dreaming that he sleeps the long sleep of death in the Valley of the Sacramento.  There may be sisters and brothers who will gather around the old hearthstone at home, and when the storm beats without, and the tempest howls around the old homestead, wonder where the absent one is, and why he does not return.  the storms may beat around his dwelling and he heeds them not; heat and cold, summer and winter are all the same to him now.  When one dies thus alone in a strange land and among strangers, we think of the many notices which appear almost daily of “INFORMATION WANTED,” some friend inquiring for the lost one.  How many have laid down to die on hill and plain, mountain and valley, gulch and ravine, all over the Pacific Coast with nothing to mark the spot where they sleep, and not a word concerning their fate ever transmitted to relatives or friends.  What waifs we are, floating on the ocean of time, engulfed to-day and forgotten to-morrow.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

More Pestilent Death can be perused at Garretdom!



Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

Planning a party?  Then why not cover your table with a bloody mess of a table cloth?  If I had any friends for which I could throw a party, I would!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 15, 2014

Today’s Photogenic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Harvey Murray Glatman (December 10, 1927 – September 18, 1959) was an American serial killer active during the late 1950s. He was known in the media as “The Lonely Hearts Killer.”

Born in the Bronx to a Jewish family and raised in Colorado, Glatman exhibited antisocial behavior and sadomasochistic sexual tendencies from an early age. At the age of 12, his parents noticed he had a red, swollen neck, and he described being in the bathtub, placing a rope around his neck, running it through the tub drain, and pulling it tight against his neck, “achieving some kind of sexual pleasure from this act.” His mother took him to the family physician and was told he “would grow out of it.” As a teenager, he would break into women’s apartments, where he tied them up, raped them and took pictures as souvenirs. He was caught in one such act in 1945 and charged with attempted burglary. Less than a month later, while still out on bail awaiting trial, he kidnapped another woman in Boulder, Colorado and raped her before letting her go. She went to the police, and Glatman went to prison for eight months.

Once out of prison, Glatman moved to Albany, New York, where he was eventually arrested in 1946 for a series of muggings. He served time at the New York State Reception Center at Elmira and then in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility, where prison psychiatrists diagnosed him as a psychopath. He was nevertheless a model prisoner and was paroled in 1951. He returned to Denver in 1951 and lived there until 1957. He worked as a TV repairman and hired young women to pose for him in bondage situations. He claimed that his photos would be published on the covers of detective magazines, but none were.

Glatman moved to Los Angeles, California in 1957 and started trolling around modeling agencies looking for potential victims. He would contact them with offers of work for pulp fiction magazines, take them back to his apartment, tie them up and sexually assault them, taking pictures all the while. He would then strangle them and dump the bodies in the desert. His two known model victims were Judith Dull and Ruth Mercado. A third victim, Shirley Ann Bridgeford, was met through a Lonely Hearts ad in the newspaper.

Glatman is also a suspect in the slaying of “Boulder Jane Doe”, a victim whose corpse was discovered by hikers near Boulder, Colorado in 1954. Her identity remained a mystery for 55 years. In October 2009, the Sheriff’s Office was notified by Dr. Terry Melton, of Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pennsylvania, that her lab had made a match between “Jane Doe’s” DNA profile and that of a woman who thought the unidentified murder victim might be her long-lost sister. The positive identification of “Boulder Jane Doe” was an 18-year-old woman from Phoenix, Arizona, named Dorothy Gay Howard.

Glatman was in Colorado at the time and was driving a 1951 Dodge Coronet. The damage done to the body was consistent with being hit by the same car.

Glatman was arrested in 1958, caught in the act of kidnapping what would have been his fourth known murder victim, Lorraine Vigil. A patrolman saw him struggling with a woman at the side of the road, and arrested him. He willingly confessed to the other three murders and eventually led the police to a toolbox containing pictures of the victims which he had taken. He was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death. He was executed in the gas chamber of San Quentin State Prison on September 18, 1959.

Culled from: Wikipedia

This is a chilling photo that Glatman took of Judy Dull shortly before her murder:

And here’s the prick himself.  Too bad I don’t have a picture of him being executed to share.


Facing the Madness: Religious Melancholy

In the Library Eclectica, I have a book entitled The Faces of Madness: Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography (edited by Sander L. Gilman), 1977.  It contains a wonderful collection of photographs of asylum inmates taken in the 1850’s by pioneering medical photographer and psychiatrist Dr. Hugh W. Diamond, along with engravings that were made of them and used in teaching.  There are also several case studies by Dr. John Conolly (the leading British psychiatrist of the mid-nineteenth century) for some of the patients.  The portraits are beautiful and sad and the text reveals the psychiatric thought processes of the mid-19th century.  Great stuff – so, of course, I must share!  Here’s the first case study – and it’s a beautiful one indeed.

“In this form of melancholy there is no mere worldly despondency, nor thought of common calamities or vulgar ruin; but a deeper horror: a fixed belief, against which all arguments are powerless, and all consolation vain; a belief of having displeased the Great Creator, and of being hopelessly shut out from mercy and from heaven…

“The subject of this photograph had left the Protestant faith, and become what is commonly called a Roman Catholic. Her education had not been such as to enable her to reason well on either side, and she became merely wavering and unsettled in her belief. Attention to ordinary matters was neglected; she sat in the attitude shown in the engraving for a long time together; she was negligent of her dress, and occasionally destructive of it. Often she cried out that she was a brute, and had no soul to be saved. Now and then she had a desire to see some minister of religion, either Catholic or Protestant; and soon afterward would refuse to see either, declaring that neither could be useful to her. All this seems to be expressed in the photograph. The medal she wears was given to her by a gentleman connected with the Catholic establishment.

“It is unnecessary to say that her case was managed in the asylum with the most prudent caution. She was encouraged to more bodily exertion; and her mental perplexities, not being aggravated by reasonings unadapted to her, gradually died away. She soon began to occupy herself, and became useful in the laundry of the establishment. She was strengthened by quinine. The inactivity of the digestive canal, so common, or so constant in cases of melancholia, was counteracted by combining the decoctum aloes compositum with a tonic; and shower-baths, of half a minute’s duration, contributed to restore general bodily energy. Such attacks never yield at once. They come on gradually, and depart slowly. After a residence of ten months in the asylum, this patient became well. It is gratifying to know that she remains well, having now left the institution seven months since.”

It’s good to know that asylum inmates occasionally were released, isn’t it?



Another sad case of “insanity” occurred when unfortunate Miss Lydia Pickel was attacked on a stagecoach circa 1886.

December 23, 1886


The Closing Chapter of the Sad Story of Miss Pickel’s Life.

VINCENNES, Ind., Dec. 17 –A message was received from the Indiannapolis [sic] Insane Asylum at the home of Miss Lydia Pickel a day or two ago which reveals the last chapter of a sad story. The message was as follows: “Lydia Pickel is lying at the point of death. Come if you wish to see her alive.” The dying girl lived in Harrodsburg, Lawrence county. She was on [sic] of a numerous family. She accumulated a snug sum of money, which she was ambitious to invest to the best advantage. She learned that under the Homestead law she could secure a considerable tract of land with her little store of money, and with this thought in view she set out for the west. 

On the way to her destination she had to travel a long way by stage coach. One night the coach was entered by several drunken cowboys. Seeing a defenceless [sic] woman was the only occupant of the coach save themselves, they attacked her. It will never perhaps be known what really took place in the stage coach on the lonely prairie that night. It is only known that the poor girl escaped from her persecutors by jumping from the coach.

Three or four days later a woman with most of her clothes torn from her person was found wandering aimlessly about on the open prairie. When captured she was found to be hopelessly insane. Fortunately a man from Lawrence county, Indiana, was present and he at once identified her as Miss Lydia Pickel, whom he had known from childhood. A guard was provided and the poor girl was sent home, and from there to the State Asylum for the Insane. Her case was beyond the power of human skill, her mental ailment being long since pronounced incurable. Her physical health had given out.

Culled from the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair: the 1886 Morbid Scrapbook.
More sad old stories can be read at Garretdom.