Sophie Lyons on Criminal Broads

Recently I spoke to Tori Telfer, the host of the podcast Criminal Broads, about my biography of Sophie Lyons. I shared some stories with Tori about Sophie's crazy life and her long career in crime. Here's the link to the podcast, or listen wherever you get your podcasts. Women have often been seen as victims … Continue reading Sophie Lyons on Criminal Broads

The Lost Chicken

According to the journalist Herbert Asbury, San Francisco's Barbary Coast in the mid-19th century was a place where women were celebrated: There was such a dearth of females in the San Francisco of gold-rush days that a woman was almost as rare a sight as an elephant, while a child was an even more unusual … Continue reading The Lost Chicken

The Lady Swindler

Gazing up, in her little veiled hat topped with its ridiculous feather, Marion L. Dow looks tiny, cute and entirely harmless. But a con artist should look harmless—isn’t that the point? She was born Marion Gratz in New Brunswick, Canada in 1846. The 19th century was an era when crime was the domain of men. … Continue reading The Lady Swindler

The Counterfeiting Couple

Counterfeiting is a serious crime in America, but it’s nowhere near the problem it was in the nineteenth century. According to the National Archives, in the years after the Civil War, between one-third and one-half of all currency that changed hands in the United States was counterfeit. That’s an astonishing statistic! Imagine how you’d feel … Continue reading The Counterfeiting Couple

Growing Up among the Rogues

He’s one of the most down-and-out looking individuals in the St. Louis Rogues’ Gallery. His jacket is far too large for him, his shirt collar looks grimy, and his hair is disheveled. His misshapen hat sits on a nearby table, and the expression on his face is one of deep sadness. The arresting officer’s notes … Continue reading Growing Up among the Rogues

Murder in Sacramento

He came up to the room. He had the clothes on his arm. He said that he beat a woman on L street out of them, and finally said he got them off Mrs. Gibson. He said he got her drunk and that he "croaked" her. I do not understand what croaked means. He never … Continue reading Murder in Sacramento

Stealing Butter

James Gaffney was arrested yesterday for the larceny of a tub of butter valued at $10, the property of Mr. George Plummer. — Boston Post, June 4, 1875 The alleged butter heist was part of a list of “Criminal Matters” reported by the Boston newspaper. The crimes, all thefts of various kinds, ranged from Frenchman … Continue reading Stealing Butter