Contest: “In Search for the Unusual and Bizarre”…

March 2, 2009 by  
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gold_nuggetsBack by popular demand…  A History’s Newsstand Blog contest…

“In Search for the Unusual and Bizarre”

Have you ever discovered an unusual or bizarre report while perusing a rare and early newspaper?  If so, our members would love to hear about it.  From March 2nd through March 9th we will be accepting your contributions/discoveries.  1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be offered for the most unusual/bizarre postings.  To enter the contest simply find your most bizarre report and enter it as a comment to this post.  Only one entry may be submitted per person. Please include the title and date of the issue along with the report (or a summary of the report if it is long).

prospectorHow will the winners be determined? Anyone may “vote” on their favorite choice starting March 10th – only one vote per person please.  To vote, submit your selection by e-mail to  Choices must be made by the end of the day on 3/13/2009.  Each Rare Newspapers’ staff member will also have one vote.  The winners will be announced through the blog and by personal e-mail sometime during the week of 3/16/2009.

What will the winner receive? Winners will have their stories recognized on the blog, will receive a Rare Newspapers gift certificate worth $100 (1st place), $50 (2nd place), and $25 (3rd place), and will have the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to the enhancement of the rare newspapers collectible community.

You may want to view some of our own unusual/bizarre discoveries to help get you started. These are not eligible for the contest.  They may be viewed at:

Please don’t hesitate.  Share your bizarre or unusual report with the world!

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13 Responses to “Contest: “In Search for the Unusual and Bizarre”…”

  1. Morris Brill on March 2nd, 2009 9:10 pm

    The Mermaid – Massachusetts Spy – November 20, 1809

    Although this newspaper does not fit within any category of my newspaper collection I purchased it , never the less, because the story was so well written and unique. It nearly made me believe.

    You can read this story at:

  2. Joe Rainone on March 3rd, 2009 10:26 am

    Hello Guy, fellow collectors et al!

    This was a hard one….last contest was fun, glad you decided to go again. Not happy about going first, but here goes>>>>of the many papers I have, I thought this might me of the most interesting to this blog because in concerns a highly collectible historic person of interest, General Custer who has a terrible reputation of killing the “Red Men.”

    This story evolves around a Buffalo Hunt for Alexis (whoever he is) at Willow Creek. After the hunt and successful kill Chief Spotted Tale throws a party. Custer is there along with other white men. Seems many of them are struck by the beauty of the chief’s daugher, Miss Spotted Tale. We are told she has seen 16 summers.

    Around campfires and special tents set up for the celebration the party goes on. Eventually, a few members of Custer’s group so taken by her beauty begin to offer her attention. None speak the language and she does not speak English. A number of them offer trinkets, a sign of affection, to her but they are limited as none were prepared.

    Finally, one potential suiter who evidently had something put away for a lady back home comes up with pearl earings and offers them to her. At this point Custer makes his move realizing he speaks a little of the language and knows sign. He offers to put the earings on her. All are watching of course. He slowly does this and when he begins placing on the second earing, he seems to caress and shift her postion tenderly. He sees no resitance on her part and no ill looks from her farther so he KISSES her passionately on the lips!!! Seems he has won the fair maiden! Nothing more is said except the writer says that he looks the part of a chief, dressed as he was in buckskin. He also says it is a good thing Spotted Tail did not take offense or he might have taken his scalp which he claims would be a real prize given Custer’s wonderful hair!

    This appeared in a very scarce Police Gazette type paper, highly illustrated, titled THE DAY’S DOINGS. Dated Feb. 10, 1872 and depicts the scene where Custer is just about to kiss Miss Spotted Tail. NOW HOW BIZARRE IS THAT!!!??? AND WE JUST THOUGHT HE KILLED “INDIANS!!!!”

    joe 😉

  3. Aaron Phipps on March 3rd, 2009 4:56 pm

    Found in the Grand Rapids Daily Times, Sunday, June 10, 1877, page 1.

    NARROW ESCAPE – It came about in this wise: The boys went to Reed’s Lake to fish. The boat lay rocking in the sun when a catfish walked in at the end of a line. Fred claimed it and Gan was equally positive that it belonged to him. In the game which ensued they both took a hand. The jug of milk spread itself out until the boat looked like a map of the seat of war in a Boston newspaper, the lines and things bounced overboard, and ruin reigned for a brief period. The boys braced up after the frail bark had taken in nearly enough water to sink it, and paddled ashore, resolved to engage in no more marine engagements.

  4. Erik Anderson on March 4th, 2009 12:24 pm

    A year or so ago I bought an issue of “The Gentleman’s Magazine” from March 1732. Near the back of the magazine is an outstanding article about “Vampyres.” Upon researching the story and article I found out this was the first use of the word “vampire” in the English language. The article is about the very famous vampire case of Arnold Paole.

    Here is the article:

    From Madreyga in Hungary, That certain dead Bodies called Vampyres, had kill’d several Persons by sucking out all their Blood. The Commander in Chief, and Magistrates of the Place were severally examin’d and unanimously declared, that about 5 Years ago, a certain Heyduke named Arnold Paul, in his Life Time was heard to say, he had been tormented by a Vampyre, and that for a Remedy he had eaten some of the Earth of the Vampyre’s Graves, and rubbed himself with their Blood. That 20 or 30 Days after the Death of the said Arnold Paul, several Persons complained they were tormented; and that he had taken away the Lives of 4 Persons. To put a Stop to such a Calamity, the Inhabitants having consulted their Hardnagi took up his Body, 40 Days after he had been dead, and found it fresh and free from Corruption; that he bled at the Nose, Mouth and Ears, pure and florid Blood; that his Shroud and Winding Sheet were all over Bloody; and that his Finger and Toe Nails were fallen off, and new ones grown in their room. By these Circumstances they were perswaded he was a Vampyre, and, according to Custom, drove a Stake thro’ his Heart; at which he gave a horrid Groan. They burnt his Body to Ashes, and threw them into his Grave. ‘Twas added, that those who have been tormented or killed by the Vampyres become Vampyres when they are dead. Upon which Account they served several other dead Bodies as they had done Arnold Paul’s, for tormenting the Living.

    This is a wonderful account of vampires from an early period and I am so delighted to own the magazine and it’s news report!!

    Erik Anderson

  5. Tom Sanders on March 4th, 2009 7:08 pm

    Found in Gentleman’s Magazine, February 1815
    Napoleon’s interview with a good or evil spirit, or The Red Man: “The Red Man said, this is my third appearance before you. The first time was in Egypt, at the battle of pyramids. The second, after the battle of Wagram. I then granted you four years more, to terminate the conquest of Europe, or to make a general peace; threatening you , that if you did not perform one of these two things, I would withdraw my protection from you. Now I am come, for the third and last time, to warn you, that you have now but three months to complete the execution of your designs, to to comply with the proposals of peace offered you by the allies; if you do not achieve the one, or acceed to the other, I will be over with you; – so remember it well.” Napoleon then expostulated with him, to obtain more time, on the plea, that it was impossible, in so short a space, to reconquer what he had lost, or to make peace on honorable terms. “Do as you please, said the Red Man, but my resolution is not to be shaken by entreaties, nor otherwise; and I go.”

  6. Michael McNary on March 5th, 2009 8:16 pm

    I have an article from “The London Chronicle” August 2,1777-page2-it goes like this-Friday,August 1.Ireland.Dublin,July 25…..On Wednesday John Duff,convicted of robbing the mail, was executed at Stephen’s-green,and having hung the usual time was cut down and put in a coffin,and carried away by his friends; they afterwards by bleedling,chafing and other methods recovered him,and now he is living.End of the aricle- I wil assume he was not a repeate affender.

  7. David Cunningham on March 6th, 2009 10:27 am

    I read this in the commonwealth dated August 26, 1876. I hope he was actually guilty because this is cruel way to die. A juvenile Execution. A 13 year old was hung at dayton Ohio for the murder of Wm Dawson. The drop fell but the rope snapped. A new rope was obtained and a second fall six minutes later dislocated his neck and he died in nineteen minutes.

  8. Phil Howland on March 7th, 2009 12:54 pm

    Old newspapers are a source of great stories from America’s past. This article was found printed in the St. Louis Missouri Republican, June 22, 1826.
    The Missouri River did flood in late April or early May of that year washing away Francis Chouteau’s “Randolph Bluffs” river fur depot just below future Kansas City. The 1826 Missouri River flood also ended the short career of the frontier town of old Franklin, Missouri, which had been the starting point for the Santa Fe Trail since 1821. The story, if true, would have taken place up river near the Mandan Indian villages then located in North Dakota.
    Mountain men of the early 1800’s had to endure amazing things to survive. This story may have been true or might have been just a tall tale to be told around the campfires. A better title for the article could be, “French Shinbone Soup,” from an 1826 recipe.
    Mr. Charless: In a late number of your paper, I saw an account of the ravage and devastation which the unusual rise of the Missouri occasioned at the Arickarra and Mandan Villages. The picture you have drawn of the Indians clinging to the branches of trees, till, benumbed with cold, their hands unclenched, and they dropped into the roaring torrent, is far from being overwrought, and would do honor to “THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.” It is very probable, however, that many who reside near the Missouri in this part of the country, may not readily believe that it rose to the height of fourteen feet in two hours, as that stream is proverbially slow and regular in its rise. Whether all the snows of the Rocky Mountains melted in one day, or from what other cause I know not, but of this I am certain, that the river near the Mandan Villages attained the elevation you mentioned. I speak with confidence, for I myself was an eye witness of the inundation, & bore a conspicuous part in one of its scenes.
    The night previous, six trappers, including myself, had encamped on a high knob a short distance above the principle Mandan Village. On descending, in the morning, to visit our traps, what was our astonishment to behold on every side of the hill a dreary waste of water too broad for the eye to span. The deer and buffaloe were borne down the torrent, reckless of the bow still grasped by the wild hunter that floated in peace by their side.
    A single glance convinced us of the utter impossibility of leaving our island, and despair took possession of all our faculties. Several of the party motioned to throw themselves into the water, and avoid a lingering death by famine, but were prevented by the suggestion that possibly the waters might subside before all means of sustaining life were exhausted. We returned to camp, and doled out to each, with the utmost exactness, an equal share of what remained of our night’s repast. By the fourth day we had eaten ourselves barefoot and almost naked, for every article of our apparel that consisted of leather or skins, had been boiled and converted to food.
    Still the waters, though subsiding, were too high for our escape, and hunger was gnawing upon our very vitals. All the stories we had heard of famishing sailors devouring each other, recurred to our minds. I was just on the point of making the melancholy proposition of casting lots, when one of the party, a Yankee, whose native shrewdness had not forsaken him, proposed that each, as our wants might require, should be divested of his left leg, to be divided in portions barely sufficient to support nature. A ray of joy shot from the haggard eyes of the whole party, and a Dutchman, the diameter of whose leg was almost equal to that of his body, was selected for immediate operations. He submitted without a groan, or scarce a “dunder and blixum.” In two days we had eaten the Dutchman’s leg, and were thinking of another amputation, when a Frenchman of our party, casting his eye upon the bare shinbone, exclaimed, “begar! He make one very good soup!” and immediately set about preparing his favorite dish. Some wild garlic, which had just started above ground, afforded him the very seasoning he wanted.
    We were all refreshed, but the Frenchman was so much revived that he capered about as if our situation had been the most enviable. The three strings of his fiddle, which had been silent ever since our disaster, now vibrated to one of his merriest tunes.
    To be short, the sixth trapper had submitted to the amputation of his left leg, and the waters were still high: we sat, one morning, gloomily eating the last of our shin soup, when a boat belonging to a Fur company attracted by the smoke of our fire approached the hill, and hailed us. They carried us down the river to the settlements of the whites. We have all reached our friends; but such was the flavor of the Frenchman’s soup, that two of the trappers, though surrounded with every luxury, have unjointed their remaining legs to gratify their unnatural appetite, and a third is only waiting the arrival of the fourth of July, to perform the same operation, when he intends regaling his friends with a dish fit to set before an alderman.

  9. Lawrence Garrett on March 8th, 2009 4:39 pm

    From The Gentleman’s Magazine for March 1738

    A death report perhaps leading to a jail sentence? A black widow
    in action wasting as little time as possible perhaps, or just plain bad
    March 20
    Mr. Johnson of Chelsea, marry’d that morning to Mrs.Matthews; as soon as his wedding dinner was over, going to salute his wife &c. fell down and dy’d immediately. About 6 weeks before the said Gentelwoman was marry’d to Mr . Matthew’s, who dy’d in his bed
    the first night of marrige.

  10. Todd Andrlik on March 9th, 2009 7:53 pm

    A demonstration of early journalistic confidence from the Beardstown Chronicle for November 22, 1834:

    “Next week we will present the ‘Chronicle’ to its patrons, on a full grown sheet, and its publication will in future be regular and we hope interesting…”

    Sounds like past issues were irregular and boring.

  11. Contest Winners… “In Search for the Unusual and Bizarre” : History’s Newsstand Blog on March 18th, 2009 1:20 pm

    […] “In Search for the Unusual and Bizarre” […]

  12. carlcripps on June 13th, 2009 3:54 am

    while reading an 1861 toronto globe newspaper, i came across a small article relating how the town blacksmith thomas patterson had died as a result of excessive drinking. this was in the village of York Ont. canada on the grand river. this village is about a 20 minute drive from where i live so i decided to check out the old cemetery in the church yard. sure enough, there he lay. what a bizzare feeling to stand over a grave sight almost a 150 years old and know how this stranger died. i noted there was another tombstone relating how a doctor 27 yrs old had drowned in the grand river. to be sure nothing was noted about how thomas patterson had died. thank you. carl.

  13. GuyHeilenman on June 15th, 2009 10:57 am

    Carl – Thanks for the story. Newspapers… History in your hands. 🙂

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