Originally posted 2016-07-06 22:07:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Monday, Sept. 29, 1884, was an ordinary day in Pittsburgh. It followed an ordinary wild weekend.
True, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show happened to be in town, but a glance at the newspaper shows the performers were hard-pressed to be any wilder than the people already living here.
It’s all too evident in that Monday edition of the Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette.
Looking for information on the Wild West show, I was obliged to scan all the news. In the process, I found numerous briefs that, taken together, paint a clearer picture of Pittsburgh’s past than I have yet seen.
I offer them to you now.
By the way, if the professional demeanor of 19th Century reporters seems overly jaded and flippant, it may only be that we are accustomed to the overly serious, shocked tone of modern journalists.
Let’s begin with the most common stories: drunkenness. It’ll be easy for you to see what led to the temperance movement and Prohibition.
HUNTING A MAN
A Commotion Raised by a Woman’s Leap from a Carriage
Quite a commotion was raised on Sixth street Saturday night by the dash a woman made for liberty. A carriage came along Sixth street with a policeman on the box and a man with a well-dressed woman inside. Midway between Penn and Liberty avenues the door of the carriage opened and the woman sprang out. She struck on her head and rolled over and over through the mud until stopped by the curb stone.
The street was crowded and there was a rush of people for the prostrate woman. The carriage kept on up the street until the officer on the box had his attention attracted by the rush down the street. He glanced down, saw the open door and was off the box without waiting to stop the horses. When he got back the woman had disappeared in a store, but she was recaptured and taken to the Central Station. There she registered as Mollie Brown. The charge against her was drunkenness, and she was allowed to put up $15 and go.
Miss Brown, as she chose to call herself, is well known in the city. She was hunting a man and making herself conspicuous on Penn avenue and this led to her arrest. She was only slightly bruised by her jump from the carriage.
Think she got off easy? $15 was the equivalent of $400 or $500 today. Presumably she was a prostitute drinking on the job. Her name reflected the large number of Irish living in the city. Immigration from eastern Europe was only beginning. The man with her? Client? Pimp? We’ll never know.
He Will Probably Die
Mr. McKee, of Liberty street, was arrested on Saturday night for drunkenness. He had fallen on the pavement and received a severe cut. He was taken home yesterday and erysipelas has set in and his death will probably result.
Erysipelas is a bacterial infection that can result from alcoholism, but would not kill him before something else did.
Two Houses Raided
The police made a raid on Dave Holmes’ place, corner of Fourth avenue and Liberty street, last night, and captured five women and three men. An information has been made.
A fight started in Dickenbach’s saloon, on Diamond street, last night. Chief Braun sent the proprietor word to shut up, and he refused. The place was raided and four men captured.
The first raid, of course, would have been at a house of prostitution on what is now Liberty Avenue. Diamond street, where the second occurred, is now Forbes Avenue. When the chief told Dickenbach to shut up, he was telling him to shut down — not to be quiet.