Adventures in Databasing: NYT Historical, Dec. 31, 1879

The following quotes are taken from a single page of the New York Times–page 5–on a single day in history. They were not “history” then, of course; they were simply “news.”


As a general rule, the performances of young violinists are of the most unsatisfactory character…Miss Chandler, a prepossessing young girl, who has not yet reached the age for long dresses, played a solo by Ernst with remarkably good effect.

Miss Chandler?

Any parent who has ever had to sit through a dirge-like rendition of “Hot Cross Buns” in a Middle School auditorium can attest to the quiet truth of that first sentence. As for Miss Chandler: What was she wearing? What was the “age for long dresses”? Sixteen? She may have looked like one of the “57 Amazing Portrait Photos of Teenage Girls From the Victorian Era,” at Vintage News Daily. We don’t know what became of the “prepossessing” Miss Chandler; there might be a good story there.

Under “GENERAL MENTION” of various plays:

“Divorce” will be played for the last time this afternoon at Daly’s Theatre. [Not likely.]

Signora Majeroni has taken the place of Miss Emily Rigi in “The Galley Slave,” at Haverly’s Theatre. [“The Galley Slave” should get a revival.]

“She Stoops to Conquer” will be followed at Wallack’s Theatre by “A Scrap of Paper,” “London Assurance,” “Home,” “My Awful Dad,” and “The Liar.” [I wonder if “Hamilton” will be remembered 150 years from now…]



The palatial residence of ex-Senator Stewart, of Nevada, took fire this evening from a defective flue, and was completely gutted by the flames…Mr. Stewart is not in the city, and Mrs. Stewart was attending a reception when the fire broke out. Her little child, 6 years of age, was sleeping in the upper chamber, and was rescued by two of the servants.

The names of the servants are not provided, as they were most likely Irish, and not worth the trouble.


An instance of the pluck and energy which made Mr. Leavitt a successful merchant was shown before he was 25 years old, when the Colombian Government, being engaged in a local war, authorized its agents in this country to build a vessel, which was also to be provided with its armament and equipment in this country…Young Leavitt heard of the matter, and undertook the enterprise. He built the vessel and induced the United States Government to assist him in its armament, and then assumed command of the ship. He sailed for the destined port, and arriving safely, received $100,000 in the currency of the Colombian Government and a draft on the City of London for $100,000 more, a clear profit of $100,000 as his recompense.

And thus offering an early example of American capitalism involving itself in South American affairs, which lead, ultimately and inexorably, to migrant caravans.

Finally, an item from “CRIME AND ITS RESULTS”:

The Indian cannibal, Swift Runner, was hanged at Fort Saskatchewan on Dec. 20. This was the first legal hanging in the North-west Territory. The Indian was convicted, on his own confession, of having killed and eaten his mother, his wife, and seven children during last Winter.

Either it was a really bad winter, or he had a terrible translator.

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.43.27 AM




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s