Post Number: 65
|Posted on Monday, June 09, 2003 - 10:48 pm: || |
Looking over Mike Conlon's interesting piece on
Carrie Brown in the latest Ripperologist, I noticed something for the first time. Perhaps
it has been noticed before - if so, please inform
A number of years ago, I wrote an article for
MEDICINE, SCIENCE, AND THE LAW, in which there
was a section about Carrie Brown's murder. All
these years, her nickname of "Old Shakespeare"
has been assumed due to her habit of reciting
portions of the Bard's works. However, I discovered that Carrie also had the nickname
"Jeff Davis" among her clients, and that the
7th Regiment (which currently uses the Armory on
Park Avenue in the East 70s in Manhattan, met during the middle of the 19th Century out of
THE OLD SHAKESPEARE TAVERN. It stood to reason
(at least to me) that Carrie carried out her trade with the soldiers of the regiment at the
Tavern, thus earning the nickname "Old Shakespeare" from that, and probably the other
nickname of "Jeff Davis" from these Union Army
Then today, I noticed that she died on April 23,
1891. I don't know if you know this...it can
always just be a crazy coincidence...but April
23 is the date assigned for William Shakespeare's
birth and death (both in 1564 and 1616). But if
the killer knew Carrie by her nickname, could he
have purposely chosen to kill her on that date
because it was suggested by her name?
Christopher T George
Post Number: 176
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 9:22 am: || |
I have long thought that Carrie Brown's date of death has a chilly significance given her supposed nickname of "Old Shakespeare" or just plain "Shakespeare" and the coincidence that April 23, 1891 was the anniversary of the Bard's birth and death.
It looks as if you have made a good observation that the 7th Regiment (which currently uses the Armory on Park Avenue in the East 70s in Manhattan), met during the middle of the 19th Century out of THE OLD SHAKESPEARE TAVERN. Your assumption that Carrie could have carried out her trade with the soldiers of the regiment at the
Tavern, thus earning the nickname "Old Shakespeare" seems reasonable, although it might not mesh with Wolf Vanderlinden's observation in the current issue of Ripper Notes that for some odd reason she was apparently far from the only person on the East Side to be known by the nickname of "Shakespeare" -- men and women included.
As mentioned in Wolf's article, part of her legend is that she was an actress, or at least, as recollected by Mary (or Mamie Harrington), that "she could speak pieces from Shakespeare like a real actress." (Ripper Notes, April/July issue, p. 34).
Jennifer D. Pegg
Post Number: 48
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 2:15 pm: || |
and that date is st georges day.
does anyone remember reading about a theory to do with saints days i cant place it but never mind
Post Number: 97
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 2:49 pm: || |
I don't remember reading about a Saints days theory, but when Michael Harrison put forward the theory that J.K. Stephens was Jack the Ripper he used some important anniversaries (mostly Royal).
Martha Tabram - Birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Mary Ann Nichols - Birthday of Princess Wilhelma of the Netherlands.
Mary Jane Kelly - Birthday of the Prince of Wales
Hope this helps
All the best
Post Number: 26
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 3:28 pm: || |
Jeff,Chris et all.
While one report in the newspapers of the day mentioned that "Among her dissolute companions she was known as ‘Jeff Davis,' because of her persistency in arguing for the ‘lost cause,' and as ‘Shakespeare.' This last name, however, was seldom given her," (New York Times, 26 April, 1891) this does not appear to be true.
This appears to be the only source that mentions the nickname "Jeff Davis" having been given to Carrie Brown. All of her "dissolute companions" called her "Shakespeare" so it is unknown if anyone ever actually called her "Jeff Davis" or not.
As Chris has mentioned not only was Carrie Brown not the only denizen of the Lower East Side nicknamed "Shakespeare," she wasn't even the most famous woman using that alias. This caused some problems when the police and press were trying to figure out who the victim was and what her origins were by asking people if they knew "Shakespeare."
The original more famous "Shakespeare" was said to have come from a good family and had at one time possibly been an actress who quoted long passages from "the bard" when drunk. She was described as theatrical and highly entertaining. These stories became confused with Carrie Brown's history so that some authors have written that Brown had been an actress or would quote long passages from Shakespeare in exchange for a bottle of Swan's Gin.
The name "Old Shakespeare" is a confusion that seems to have been caused by newspaper men reporting on the pardon of Ameer Ben Ali in 1902, as in "Convicted Slayer of ‘Old Shakespeare' to be Released."
The prefix "Old", although not exclusively American, (note the English use in such terms as "Old Chap," or "Old Bean"), seems to have been widely used in the U.S. at one time. I'm thinking of old "Blood and Guts," old "Ironsides," old "Hickory," and of course old "Glory." The news reports of 1891 are peppered with this word as a term of endearment and pathos. The victim, "Shakespeare," was thus sometimes described as "old ‘Shakespeare'" just as she was also described as "old Carrie Brown." reporters, boning up on the case in 1902, confused the nickname and so "old ‘Shakespeare'" from 1891 became "Old Shakespeare" eleven years later. Edward M. Borchard then popularized the nickname "Old Shakespeare" when he wrote his chapter on "Frenchy" – Ameer Ben Ali in his 1932 book Convicting the Innocent.
Jeff it should also be noted that although Carrie Brown was living in New York during the American Civil War, her husband Captain James Brown had accepted a commission in the Union Navy and was stationed there, she was not a down on her luck prostitute who consorted with soldiers. She certainly had a drinking problem at that time but she was still married and living with her husband although their children had been sent back to Salem supposedly because of her drinking. In the end it seems highly unlikely that Carrie Brown's nickname of "Shakespeare" derives from The Old Shakespeare Tavern especially since it seems clear that her nickname comes from another woman known as "Shakespear."
One final note. Although Carrie Brown and her murderer entered the East River Hotel at about a quarter to eleven on the night of the 23rd of April she was probably not murdered until the early hours of the 24th. We have no existing medical evidence as to time of death but her Death Certificate clearly states that she died on the 24th day of April, 1891.
Post Number: 10
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 6:05 pm: || |
The theory of Sts. Days is Richard Pattersons. He uses them as poses Francis Thompson as the ripper. You can read more about this in the "Suspects" section here at Casebook.
Post Number: 66
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 9:45 pm: || |
Hi Chris, Wolf, Jennifer, and Rob,
Regarding the problem of "Jeff Davis", the Confederate President lived until 1889, so that
his fame (or infamy) as the chief rebel in the
Civil War would have lasted longer than Confederate military defeat in 1865, or his two
year imprisonment at Fortress Monroe (1865-67). I imagine that Northern or Federal soldiers would
also use his name in a disparaging way. Davis was
captured wearing a shawl that belonged to his wife. A rumor (carefully spread by the U.S. War
Department) said that he was wearing a dress, trying to escape as a woman. There were cartoons
showing Davis in a dress trying to flee (one I've
seen was by Currier and Ives). The fact is that
if Carrie was given the name it was as a gag - either she was one of the "enemy" (for pro-southern political views) or she was a little
troublemaker, easily dismissed as a weakling (like the popular then-current view of Davis, fleeing in a dress).
I first came across the reference to Carrie as
"Jeff Davis" in an essay by Alexander Woolcott.
The "Algonquin" wit was a true-crime buff, and
occasionally would write or talk about famous
cases. [If you recall the play based on Woolcott's
personality, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, Kaufman and Hart (both of whom knew him very well) throw
this into the conclusion of the play when he
recognizes a character as "Elizabeth Sedley" who
"took an axe, and gave her mother forty wacks".]
Woolcott wrote five essays about famous crimes
in his book WHILE ROME BURNS (1935). My copy is in the now out-of-print Viking Portable Woolcott
(1946). The essay "Murder for Publicity" deals
with Jack the Ripper and Neill Cream, and at the tail-end of the essay he mentions the Carrie Brown
tragedy. The last paragraph goes as follows:
"And above all there was the victim herself, a
raffish sexagenarian prostitute whose poor old body was claimed by a respectable daughter in Salem, Massachusetts, and taken there for burial.
On the waterfront she had been variously known by
two soubriquets. For reasons on which it is idle
but pleasant to speculate she was sometimes called
Jeff Davis. But the commoner nickname, by which
this dilapidated and jocular hag entered into
legend, was Old Shakespeare."
Woolcott started out as a newspaper reporter, and
presumably heard of the case from older reporters
who had worked on it. There is a chance, since
he was a friend of the Criminal Historian, Edmund
Pearson, that Pearson talked to him about the case too - Pearson wrote an essay about Borchard's
book, and discussed Carrie Brown's murder in it
(it is entitled "Do We Execute Innocent People?",
and appears in the expanded STUDIES IN MURDER
published by MODERN LIBRARY (Random House) in
1938). There Pearson talks of the crime from the
point of view of the guilt or innocence of "Frenchy", the Algerian who was convicted. Pearson mentions conversations he had with the
prosecuting attorney in the case, Francis Wellman, who alway believed in Frenchy's guilt.
It looks like Woolcott had a great source for
information from Pearson. But I am inclined to think the reporters gave him some minor details,
like that business about the nickname "Jeff Davis".
Post Number: 28
|Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2003 - 11:12 am: || |
As I have said there is no real evidence that Carrie Brown was ever called "Jeff Davis" beyond one reference given by the police to the newspapers on the 26th of April, 1891. None of her friends used this nickname when discussing her, no police official talking about the case after the 26th nor any newspaperman writing about the Brown murder mentions it. As there was some confusion about the identity of the victim very early on in the case it is difficult to state with any assuredness why she might have been given a nickname that in all probability is incorrect.
Given the lack of documentation regarding this nickname and the overuse of the name "Shakespeare" it seems highly unlikely that Woolcott was given first hand knowledge of "Jeff Davis" as it is just too obscure. The logical theory is that Woolcott simply re read the original newspaper reports in order to write about the Brown murder and there found the one mention of the name.
Christopher T George
Post Number: 180
|Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 5:23 pm: || |
From the Library of Congress website on "The American Memory"--
On May 10, 1865, Union troops captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis near Irwinville, Georgia. Davis and his Cabinet had retreated from Richmond after General Lee's defeat at Petersburg on April 2, 1865. For several weeks the Confederate government had been in flight from the Union Army. Davis's plan was to escape by sea from the east coast of Florida and to sail to Texas where he hoped to establish a new Confederacy.
Above is a period cartoon showing Jefferson Davis in woman's dress when he was captured by Union cavalry. The title at the top of the cartoon reads, "The only true Picture of the Capture of Jeff. Davis, from the account furnished by Col. Prichard of the 4th Mich. Cavalry." In the full cartoon, Davis says, "I think the United States Government could find something better to do than be hunting down Women and children."
Post Number: 68
|Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 11:04 pm: || |
Thanks for finding a typical anti-Davis cartoon.
Back in the late 1980s, I had a boss at work named
Bob Peregoff, who was from Baltimore. He said that it was just impossible today to take Davis
seriously, after the rumors about his being caught
wearing a dress became public misinformation. For
Bob (a serious state rightist) to say that in 1986, shows how strong a legend can become and
Use of these
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