What I Can’t Resist

12:18:1872 World
In the course of my research about Blackwell’s Island I come across snippets like this in the thousands. The is from a December 18, 1872 article in the New York World (a newspaper that stopped publishing in 1931). I forget what I was searching on, but this is one of the pieces that came back.

Now I’m haunted by it. What kind of business was Mrs. Smith running? I’m guessing a disorderly house (what they called houses of prostitution). But then they would have arrested her as well, unless she was paying off all her local policemen. Maybe it was just a bar.

She clearly loved that little girl in any case. Did she ever get her back? I’m not sure which court to go to for the records. Did they have a family court back then? I’m guessing not. And of course her name has to be Smith. I’m not sure if I’m going to purse this one though, since there is no indication that anyone here ended up on Blackwell’s Island. It’s just a sad story, and I’d like to find out if she ever got her little girl back.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

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