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Williamsport Sunday Grit
9 December 1888

And Arrives in New York, Shadowed by Inspector Byrnes - Some of the Eccentricities of the Strange Man

(Special to Grit)
New York, Dec. 8.
Dr. Francis Tumblety, the eccentric American, who was arrested in London some weeks ago on suspicion of being "Jack the Ripper", the Whitechapel murder fiend, and who escaped the vigilance of the London police, is in this city. According to the detectives, he arrived on the French steamship La Bretagne, from Havre, and although there were a dozen or more reporters on the pier when he landed, all failed to recognize him. Two of Inspector Byrnes' most trusted aides were on the pier, however, and as they had been put there especially to keep an eye on the Doctor, whom they suspected was a passenger on the steamer, they had no difficulty in dogging him.


After leaving the pier the fugitive from justice entered a hack and drove to a boarding house on West tenth street. The detectives followed him, and now have him under surveillance. The Doctor has not left the boarding house since he entered it. Inspector Byrnes said that although there was no charge on which the could arrest the Doctor, he would still keep an eye on his movements.

After his arrest in London he was released on the Whitechapel charge for lack of evidence but rearrested and held for trial for another offense. He was placed under $1,500 bail, and two gentlemen went on his bond. After his release he evaded the London police and fled to Havre.


Tumblety is known in this country. As far as can be ascertained, he was born in Rochester, and in his early life sold immoral literature on canal boats. In fact he grew up like a weed on the canal bank. A few years after reaching manhood he evinced a great dislike for women, and constantly spoke of the gentler sex as a curse to the land. He was always an easy liver, and at all times appeared to have plenty of money, although nobody could learn how or where he acquired it. His title of "doctor" is also in a cloud, and the testimonials he frequently exhibited are said to be bogus.

His odd ways always won attention on this city, in Brooklyn and in Washington. In the latter city he lived for some time in elegant style, travelling around in the costume of a military man, and having two pet dogs and a colored valet travelling behind. Subsequently he was arrested in St. Louis for wearing the uniform of an army surgeon. Tumblety registered for the steamer under and assumed name.


He used to hang around the old New York post office and acted strangely. He is a coward physically, though he looks like a giant. He has been a great traveller, having visited every city in Europe.


Col. C. S. Dunham, a well known lawyer who lives hear Fairview, N.J., was intimately connected with Twomblety for many years and, in his own mind, had long connected him with the Whitechapel horrors. "The man's real name, " said the lawyer, "is Tumblety, with Francis for a Christian name. I have here a book published by him a number of years ago, describing some of his strange adventures and wonderful cures, all lies, of course, in which the name of Francis Tumblety M.D., appears. When, to my knowledge of the man's history, his idiosyncrasies, his revolting , his antipathy to women, and especially to fallen women, his anatomical museum containing many specimens like those carved from the Whitechapel victims - when, to my knowledge on these subjects, there is added the fact of his arrest on suspicion of being the murderer, there appears to me nothing improbable in the suggestion that Tumblety is the culprit.

"He is not a doctor. A more arrant charlatan and quack never fattened on the hopes and fears of afflicted humanity. I first made the fellow's acquaintance a few days after the first battle of Bull Run. Although a very young man at the time I held a colonel's commission in the army, and was at the Capitol on official business. The city was full of strangers, ninety per cent of them military men. All the first class hotels resembled bee hives. Among them were many fine looking and many peculiar looking men, but of the thousands there was not one that attracted half as much attention as Tumblety. A Titan in stature, with a very red face and long flowing mustache, he would have been a noticeable personage in any place and in any garb. But, decked in a richly embroidered coat or jacket, with a medal held by a gay ribbon on each breast, a semi military cap with a high peak, cavalry trousers with the brightest of yellow stripes, riding boots and spurs fit for a show window, a dignified and rather stagy gait and manner, he was as unique a figure as could be found any where in real life. When followed, as he generally was, by a valet and two great dogs, he was no doubt the envy of many hearts. The fellow was everywhere. I never saw anything so nearly approaching ubiquity. Go where you would, to any of the hotels, to the war department or the Navy yard, you were sure to find the doctor. He had no business in either place but he went there to impress the officers whom he would meet. He professed to have had an extensive experience in European hospitals and armies, and claimed to have diplomas from the foremost medical colleges of the Old World and the New. He had, he declared, after much persuasion accepted the commission of Brigade Surgeon at a great sacrifice pecuniarily; but, with great complacency, he always added that, unfortunately for his private patients, his official duties would not for a considerable time take him away from the city.


"At length it was whispered about that he was an adventurer. One day my Lieutenant-Colonel and myself accepted the 'doctor's' invitation to a late dinner - symposium, he called it - at his rooms. He had very cosy and tastefully furnished quarters in, I believe, H street. There were three rooms on a floor, the rear one being his office with a bedroom or two a story higher. On reaching the place we found covers laid for eight - that being the doctor's lucky number, he said - several of the guests, all in the military service, were persons with whom we were already acquainted. It was soon apparent that whatever Tumblety's deficiencies as a surgeon, as an amphitryon he could not be easily excelled. His menu, with colored waiters, {illegible} et etceras, was furnished by one of the best caterers in the city. After dinner there were brought out two tables for play - for poker or whist. In the course of the evening some of the party, warmed by the wine, proposed to play for rather heavy stakes, but Tumblety frowned down the proposition at once and in such a way as to show he was no gambler. Some one asked why he had not invited some women to his dinner. His face instantly became as black as a thunder cloud. He had a pack of cards in his hands but he laid them down and said, almost savagely: 'No, Colonel, I don't know any such cattle, and if I did I would, as your friend, sooner give you a dose of quick poison then to take you into such danger." he then broke into a homily on the sin and folly of dissipation, fiercely denounced all women and especially fallen women.

"Then he invited us into his office where he illustrated his lecture, so to speak. One side of this room was entirely occupied with doors, outwardly resembling wardrobes. When the doors were opened quite a museum was revealed - tiers of shelves with glass jars and {illegible}, some round and others square, filled with all sorts of anatomical specimens. The 'doctor' placed on a table a dozen or more jars containing, he said, the matrices of every class of woman. Nearly a half of one of these cases was occupied exclusively with these specimens.


"Not long after this the 'doctor' was in my room when my Lieutenant-Colonel came in and commenced expatiating on the charms of a certain woman. In a moment, almost, the doctor was lecturing him and denouncing women. When he was asked why he hated women, he said that when quite a young man he fell desperately in love with a pretty girl, rather his senior, who promised to reciprocate his affection. After a brief courtship he married her. The honeymoon was not over when he noticed a disposition on the part of his wife to flirt with other men. He remonstrated, she kissed him, called him a dear, jealous fool - and he believed her. Happening to pass one day in a cab through the worst part of the town he saw his wife and a man enter a gloomy looking house. Then he learned that before her marriage his wife had been an inmate of that and many similar houses. Then he gave up on all womankind."


He would do almost anything under heaven for notoriety. He appeared at Canterbury Music Hall, Washington, in the '60s and then threatened to prosecute because somebody had personated him. He pretended to his acquaintances that he had been outrageously burlesqued and sued the manager for libel. One night when the play was on, and the alleged impersonator of the doctor appeared, a powerful man suddenly sprang from the auditorium to the stage, exclaiming: "See here, you infernal scoundrel, Dr. Tumblety is my friend and I won't see him insulted by such an effigy as you are. Come, off with that false mustache and duds," and quick as a flash he seized the doctor's hirsute appendage and pulled it for all it would stand, threw his cap among the audience and otherwise showed the fellow up. The "doctor", though a powerful man, made no struggle, except to get behind the scenes as soon as possible.


He called himself the "Great American Herb Doctor" and said he could cure everything. His career here was in many respects a remarkable one. He came, he saw, he conquered, was in turn conquered and had to flee to escape the consequences of trouble from two of his female patients. While here he did a wonderful business, and a made a great deal of money. He spent it most lavishly, too, and was known to open wine and give away cigars by the box.


A gentleman who knew him in Rochester says: "The only training Tumblety had for the medical profession was in a little drug store that carried on a disreputable business. A few years later I saw him in Washington and he was putting on great style. He wore a military fatigue costume and told me he was on Gen. McClellan's staff. Lieut. Larry Sullivan, who belonged to a Rochester regiment, came up to him one day. He tried to palm the same tale off upon Sullivan, but the latter being perfectly familiar with McClellan's staff, told the impostor plainly just how great a liar he was. During the war and for some time after Tumblety remained in Washington and played the 'doctor' as he had done in Detroit. He got up some sort of a patent medicine, and at one time the walls were covered with large posters advertising the virtues of the Tumblety Pimple Destroyer. He must have made money, for he was able to spend plenty and live in the most extravagant elegance. Knowing him as I do, I should not be the least surprised of he turned out to be Jack the Ripper."

Related pages:
  Francis Tumblety
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       Official Documents: The Littlechild Letter 
       Press Reports: Arkansas Gazette - 16 April 1891 
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       Press Reports: Atchison Daily Globe - 15 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 
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       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 10 May 1864 
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       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 19 June 1865 
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       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 4 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 6 May 1864 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 8 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Bucks County Gazette - 13 December 1888 
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       Press Reports: Burlington Weekly Hawkeye - 6 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Chicago Tribune - 22 November 1888 
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       Press Reports: Chicago Tribune - 6 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Courier du Canada - 4 November 1857 
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       Press Reports: Daily Alta California - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Examiner - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Examiner - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Sun - 22 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Herald - 26 June 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Review - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 11 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 17 April 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 2 June 1865 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 21 April 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 27 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 3 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 30 June 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 4 December 1861 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 18 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 5 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 7 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Hamilton Evening Times - 29 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Hamilton Evening Times - 8 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Hornesville Weekly Tribune - 21 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Canadian - 12 October 1875 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 29 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 14 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 16 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 23 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 24 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 25 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 26 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 28 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 30 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 10 July 1860 
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       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 13 September 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 14 August 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 16 October 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 27 September 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 39 September 1860 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 26 June 1903 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 10 June 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 26 June 1903 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 5 May 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 7 May 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Tribune - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 2 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 5 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 6 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 30 May 1903 
       Press Reports: Oakland Daily Evening Tribune - 8 December 1890 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 3 January 1889 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 7 February 1889 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 8 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Perth Courier - 26 November 1858 
       Press Reports: Pittsburgh Daily Chronicle and Telegraph - 27 November 18... 
       Press Reports: Reno Evening Gazette - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser - 4 April 1881 
       Press Reports: Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser - 5 April 1881 
       Press Reports: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - 23 June 1905 
       Press Reports: Rochester Democrat and Republican - 3 December 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 18 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Morning Call - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Report - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Report - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Examiner - 25 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Examiner - 27 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch - 20 March 1862 
       Press Reports: St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch - 28 March 1861 
       Press Reports: Syracuse Herald - 30 November 1888 
       Press Reports: The Headquarters - 12 February 1862 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 1 December 1873 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 July 1886 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 6 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Vallejo Chronicle - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Vanity Fair - 3 August 1861 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 18 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 19 November 1890 
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       Ripper Media: A Few Passages in the Life of Dr. Francis Tumblety 
       Ripper Media: Dr. Francis Tumblety: A Sketch of the Life of the Gifted,... 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Francis Tumblety 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: First American Serial Killer 
       Ripper Media: Narrative of Dr. Tumbletyy 
       Ripper Media: The Writings of Francis Tumblety 
       Suspects: Francis Tumblety 
       Suspects: Francis Tumblety's Grave 
       Victorian London: Batty Street