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Your Most Remarkable Experience In Ripper Research/Other Trawls

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  • Your Most Remarkable Experience In Ripper Research/Other Trawls

    What was the most unusual thing that has happened to you while researching the Case ? I'm sure some of us have had startling experiences to share.

    Let me kick start it off with a story from 3 or 4 years ago.

    I was looking for material on "Dr." John Buchanan, notorious for his bogus diploma mill in the 1870's , which would be relative to Tumblety.
    Recently, I located an article which made a connection between Tumblety and Buchanan in late 1888 or early 1889.

    At the very same moment I was doing that back in 2007 or 2008, Nina was on her computer working independently and tracking down more of my family members to put in her files. She was oblivious to what I was doing....just like I am most of the time.

    Anyway....at the very same time I found an article on Buchanan in the Philadelphia Inquirer which discussed his pending trial....Nina told me that she found an article on my great grandfather, the assistant D.A. of Philadelphia at that time. She started to read it to me and I realized that it was the same article I was reading on the other side of the room.

    Nothing in the article linked Tumblety to Buchanan ...but I thought it was remarkable that both of us came upon the same article at the same time without knowing what the other was doing.

    Okay, so its not Pulitzer material.

    Whats your story ?
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  • #2
    Had a quiet a few.

    One of them was whilst researching Harry Lawson at the East Riding Archives. The staff asked if he had any aliases so I informed them of Frederick Bailey Deeming. At that point all the staff stopped work, looked in my direction, and then started to pull their chairs closer to listen to what I could tell them. In return they brought me a scrap book of newspaper clippings from the time of his trial. It was this file that brought my attention to his possible involvement in the Preston Murder.

    The subsequent Preston Murder research and delivering my findings to the family of Mary Jane Langley is something that will remain with me.

    The other episodes involve Stephenson and his mothers side of the family, the Dawbers. It was a pleasure researching them for years, more so when I was able to donate my research to the Dawber family. The look of pride in the families eyes was something that will stay with me forever.

    Stumbling upon numerous ripper scares in the Hull Press and the Hull Letter discovery sent shivers down my spine.

    Some times you can go to the archives and sit for hours and hours and find nothing, then every now and then you can find something that makes it all worthwhile. The Frederick Deeming fraud trial magistrate papers were a major "eureka" moment for me. It made a lot of what was written about Deeming look ridiculous, and verified and debunked a lot of the ideas had about Deeming and his frauds.

    Filming with the BBC, Prospero Productions, and Hull Daily Mail, writing for Ripperologist and Casebook Examiner, appearing on the Rippercast and Ripper Radio, speaking at the Hull History Centre, Hull Heritage Centre, Hull's Central Library, several Hull Schools, and of course the Ghost Club and Ripper Conference, and wondering around the East End, make it all that more enjoyable and certainly make it worthwhile.

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    • #3
      Bump Up
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      • #4
        In June 2008, I went to visit Aaron Kozminski's hometown of Klodawa Poland. My home base was a dingy prison-cell-like hostel room in Poznan, which I shared with several extremely drunk Polish guys. They arrived at up around 5AM after a night of drinking and started yelling very loudly, and laughing. They seemed to have no thought at all for the fact that I was trying to sleep just about 2 feet away from them. The room was about 8 by 10 feet in dimension, with 2 bunkbeds.

        The previous day I had asked a British guy at the Poznan archives how to get to Klodawa. He told me to go by train. If I was lucky, he said, the train station would be near the center of the town. He also translated on a piece of paper how to ask for a round-trip ticket at the train station.

        I tried speaking Polish, but the woman at the ticket office couldn't understand me, so I handed her the piece of paper with the translation on it. She handed me a ticket. I got on the train. It was a nice ride, although the train was rickety and seemed like it was from the Soviet-era, and about 50 or 60 years old. We passed though Konin, Severin Klosowski's home town. Finally the train arrived at Klodawa. I got off the train and there were fields and barren roads stretching in all directions. I think a tumbleweed drifted by.

        I walked up to a house next to the train station where a man was in the front yard, watering his plants. He looked at me like I was an alien. I took out my Polish phrase book and looked up "How do I get to the city center." I attempted it, but he didnt understand, so I pointed at the phrase "city center" in the book. He nodded, and held up 5 fingers, and said what sounded like "kilometers". He pointed off in a direction along the road. I started walking.

        After walking for about 25 or 30 minutes, passing endless fields, and a few cows, I came across a couple of teenage girls. I asked them, in English, is this the way to Klodawa. They said, "yes" then started laughing at me. I continued onward. Finally, I saw a sign that said "Klodawa" on it. I felt somewhat happy in the knowledge that I was undoubtedly the first (and probably the last) Ripperologist to visit this backwater town on some vague Ripper related quest.

        Eventually I made it to the downtown area after having walked about an hour. I was aware that there was a train back to Poznan that afternoon at 4:45PM. Unfortunately I didnt have a watch, but I was able to keep track of the time (roughly) by looking at the timestamp on the photos I was taking. The visit itself was not very exceptional. I didn't notice any old buildings, and had no idea how to orient myself. In retrospect, I should have planned better. I walked around the town for a few hours, snapping photos. Finally (by my rough estimate) I figured it was getting close to about 3:30PM or so, and I figured I should commence the long walk back.

        I was hungry, so I went up to a hamburger stand, where there was rather heavy-set teenage girl working. I ordered a hamburger and a coke. When it arrived (after about 15 minutes), it looked like a large dripping meatloaf in a bun... it was about 8 inches in diameter, and roughly spherical in shape. Some sort of white sauce was spilling out the side. Then somehow, I managed to spill a large portion of my Coke on myself, all over my shirt and pants. The girl was giggling at all this.

        Assuming that it must be by now approximately 3:40 or so, I decided to make sure, and ask the girl what time it was. Having pretty much given up on attempting to speak Polish by that point, I decided to try my luck again in English. "Do you speak English?" I asked. "Yes, speaking little." She responded. "Can you tell me what time it is?" I asked. She looked at me dumbly. "The time" I repeated pointing at my wrist, "the time." "Oh yes," she replied. "Wait." She went in the back room. She came back half a minute later. "Is four twenty five," she replied.

        My face must have dropped. I really did not want to stay overnight there, and I had to make that train. I had just twenty minutes to run the 5 kilometers or so, that had taken me an hour to walk in the other direction. I thought of hitching, but it seemed hopeless. I took one bite of the meatloaf, and started sprinting down the dusty road. It was sunny and extremely hot. I was wearing jeans and a shirt. I had also brought along my denim jacket thinking it might get chilly. It was about 95 degrees. I also had my backpack.

        I ran as fast as I could... totally out of shape, I was exhausted after about 5 minutes, but I somehow kept going. The people I passed were looking at me like I was a crazy person. I must have looked like I was fleeing the scene of a crime. I kept expecting to see the train go past in the distance.

        As I finally got close to the station, I started to think I might just make it. It had been at least 20 minutes since the girl told me it was "four twenty five" but I assumed she might have just given me a round number. There was no train in sight, and I hadn't seen one pass. But I figure maybe I was delirious with heat stroke and had just missed it.

        Finally, I made it to the station. "Did I miss it?" I wondered. There was no one in sight, it was like a ghost town. I walked through the graffiti-marked and unlit underpass and emerged at the train platform. There was a big clock in front of me. It was 3:50PM. Not only did I have an hour to kill—and there were no "amenities" in sight—but I had nearly killed myself running. I cursed that hamburger girl in my mind, but was glad I would not miss the train. I lay down on my back on the concrete and looked off in the distance.

        I took a few photos of myself to kill the time. Finally, the train arrived. I got on. Then the ticket lady came around, and asked me for my ticket-- (I assume that's what she asked for anyway)-- in Polish of course. I handed the ticket to to her. All of a sudden she started yelling at me. I didn't understand a word. "I dont speak Polish," I said (in Polish). This was apparently the only thing I could say in that language and be understood. In English she replied, "this is single-way ticket." I tried to explain something, but she was screaming at me, causing a real scene. She started screeching, saying one word (at least) that I could understand... "polijca." I started to imagine myself locked up in some gray prison in the middle of nowhere in Poland. "Fitting end for a Ripperologist," I mused.

        Luckily, some of the other passengers took my part... they started to explain to the woman that I was just a dumb tourist. "He doesn't speak English, he doesn't understand," they said. "Give him a break."

        "Tell her I will gladly pay," I pleaded. Finally, the old dragon relented and allowed me to buy a ticket, but only after she gave me a very stern warning and yelled at me some more. After she left, one of the nicer ladies who helped me said, "Don't worry about it. She was being a bitch."

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        • #5
          Thanks so much Rob !

          That's one heck of a story !!!
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          • #6
            Rob - I love that story! I was right there (erm... not literally)! Photos, please!

            PHILIP
            Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd

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            • #7
              Hi Rob

              Thanks for sharing with us your time in Poland. It sounds as if you had an unnerving time.

              Chris
              Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
              https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
              Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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              • #8
                Yes indeed a fantastic story Rob, and everyone else for that matter! At least one couldn't say the trip was dull.

                I don't have any stories to the level that others have shared here but one of my more interesting ones came whilst I was researching Lionel Druitt. I spent some time down in Swansea, here in Tasmania, where he had practiced as a doctor in the 1890's, and got to know the local historical society members quite well (and have since expanded their file on Druitt from about 2 pages to 200). Just that on its own was interesting enough, to be walking the same streets that he would have done, as i'm sure Rob and anybody else who's done similar would understand.

                One of the local celebrities of years gone by in the very small coastal community of Swansea is Edward Duncombe, known more by his nickname "Deafy", given due to the predictable fact that he was stone deaf. He was also famous for keeping a daily diary which would make Facebook updates look important - I have much of it on disc, and I kid you not, the details he goes into are unbelievable.

                "Deafy" was murdered in a bizarre triple event in 1922. The alleged culprit was caught but there is endless speculation about the truth of the matter and it is still one of the communities major claims for fame (or notoriety).

                So imagine my surprise when i'm rummaging through a ton of press clippings relating to Druitt from the local Tasmanian papers and I stumble across one from early 1893 which detailed the fact that Deafy had fallen a tree across himself in the bush (not hearing it falling for obvious reasons), and had to have one of his legs amputated.

                And who was it that had done the amputation? Yup, Dr. Druitt himself - on the desk of the local police officer, to be precise, being that there was no 'hospital' worthy of the name for many miles.

                This was complete news to the local historians who to that point in time had not even been aware that Deafy had a leg amputated. It was also news to an author who I had come to know who had written and published an account of the Duncombe "triple event".

                Just one of those remarkable moments where local legend and international mystery collide - and, of all places, in a coastal village in Tasmania.

                Cheers,
                Adam.

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                • #9
                  The most bizarre occurrence I've encountered through my (so far very limited) Ripperological research is, I walk out of the Paris Archives Nationales after some intense research on anarchist Schwartz and other things and walk inside a bakery which sells (ridiculously overpriced) homemade quiches. I'm asking the shop people what are the ingredients in the quiches and the baker says “Today's dish is quiche with kidneys, highly recommended“. (!!) Needless to say, I didn't buy. (Nor was I working on Mitre Square or on the WVC that day.)

                  With apologies if this story appears disrespectful to Eddowes.

                  PS.: I've had some hilarious misadventures in Poland myself, but when researching the Meyerbeer autographs scores for a month in Crakow (in musicology), so technically they're not meant for here.
                  Best regards,
                  Maria

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