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Tumblety in New Orleans

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  • Tumblety in New Orleans

    The Daily Picayune
    (New Orleans, LA)
    November 22, 1888


    A Queer Character, Well Known In New Orleans


    Yesterday detectives Gastor and Pecora learned that Dr. Blackburn alias Dr. W. H. Tumblety, well known in this city, had been arrested a few days ago in London on suspicion of being implicated in the numerous horrible murders committed in Whitechapel.

    The doctor was an extensive traveler and made his appearance in this city in the latter part of 1880, and secured a room at the old City Hotel.
    Tumblety is a tall and powerful looking man, with clear complection, black hair and heavy black beard. His clothes were of the costliest material and quaintest cut, and the large diamond ring and diamond scarf pin he wore aroused suspicion that he was a crook. The above officers made inquiries about him and were informed that he was a wealthy Englishman of eccentric methods.

    On leaving the hotel Tumblety secured a room at a private boarding house on Canal, near Dauphine street, and was residing there a short while when he was arrested by Private Detective O'Malley as a suspicious character. O'Malley said he found some burglar's tools in Tumblety's room and brought a chisel to court.

    The case excited considerable comment at the time and the British consol interceded in behalf of his countryman and the case was dismissed.

    Tumblety remained in the city for some time after this, when he left, and up to this time has never returned. After leaving the city he went to Chicago, and from there to London, where his peculiar actions aroused suspicion, and he was arrested as the Whitechapel murderer. He however, proved to be innocent of this, but was held for trial in the criminal court under a special English law.

    Tumblety was an Indian herb doctor.

  • #2
    Has anyone ever seen the following article on Tumbelty from New Orleans...March 25th,1881, The Daily Picayune, page 12 ??

    Daily Picayune ( New Orleans,La. )
    March 25,1881
    Page 12


    The Whilom Medical Quack in Jail for Pocket-Picking

    Last Tuesday Henry Govan, an employee of the U.S. District Attorney, was accosted on Canal Street by a tall, eccentric,yet withal gentlemanly looking man who asked him several questions appertaining to himself. The old man asked Govan to partake of some liquid refreshment, and for that purpose they entered Weager's(?) saloon,where they remained in pleasant commune with each other for an hour or more and then parted friends,making an appointment for the following morning.

    Govan,who resides at 339 Blenville* Street, concluded not to keep the engagement,and left his home taking another route for his office in the Customs House.

    At the corner of Decatur and Custom House Street,however,he encountered his tall friend of the previous night,and they had a cigar together.

    When Govan reached his office, he missed a pocket book, which he said contained between fifty and seventy dollars, and as he stated no one else came near him but the tall old man. He started down to find his friend, but he was gone.

    Govan applied to the police and was advised to call on the first policeman, point out the alleged pickpocket and cause his arrest.

    Govan, however, secured the services of D.C. O'Malley, a "private detective," who soon got on the trail of the stranger and yesterday arrested him.

    He was lodged in the Third Station, where he gave his name as Dr. Francis Tumblety. On his person, were found two extremely valuable solitaire diamond rings, two cluster diamond rings a large amount of money, stocks and bonds,and a magnificent gold chain and a small gold watch.

    Detective O'Malley states that the Doctor acknowledged to him having stolen the pocket-book, and told him where he could find a portion of the money.

    As O'Malley claims to have observed a quantity of burglars' tools in the Doctor's room, he obtained from Judge Miltenberger a search warrant and went back to the room. Arriving there he found $30 55 wrapped in a piece of newspaper lying on the bureau, but the burglarious implements were not there.

    As the matter appeared to be very suspicious, an investigation was ordered and Alds** Pecora and McDonough proceeded on their errand to Dr. Tumblety's room. His landlady avers that he is a perfect gentleman and highly educated and was very prompt in settling his indebtness to her and others. He came to New Orleans on the Friday previous to Mardi Gras,and remained here ever since. He recieved a great many visits principally from young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty years, with whom he appeared very intimate, some of them remaining with him all night.

    In the doctor's room was found a number of decorations- whether genuine or not, remains to be seen. He has a gold medal, alleged to have been presented by the citizens of Montreal,Canada, for services rendered and for skill and science, presented March 4, 1858, on the obverse side of which was the inscription, "To give light to those who sit in darkness;" what purported to be a cross of the Legion of Honor, the Iron Cross of Prussia, a cross from the Emporer of Austria, and one presented by his Royal Highness,The Prince of Wales. He had an extensive correspondence from different portions of the globe, and his room was lighted with epistles of all kinds.

    Dr. Tumblety is a man apparently sixty five years of age, with grey hair and moustache,which he dyes black. He stands 6 feet 2 inches in his stockings and usually dresses in an undress naval uniform with a white or blue naval cap. There is no doubt but what he is possessed of means, as the amount of money found on his person plainly indicated. All persons with whom he was thrown in contact unite in pronouncing him a highly educated man one who has seen a great deal of the world.

    O'Malley made an affadavit against Dr. Tumblety, from information recieved,with picking Govan's pocket. He will be arraigned before Judge Miltenberger today.

    *- Possibly Bienville, but Nina made me write down what the word which was there,not what it probably was intended to mean.

    **- Alds in this case means "aldermen".
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    • #3
      In the first article that Nina supplied, these two comments extracted are curious:

      1.The case excited considerable comment at the time and the British consol interceded in behalf of his countryman and the case was dismissed.

      2. Tumblety remained in the city for some time after this, when he left, and up to this time has never returned. After leaving the city he went to Chicago, and from there to London, where his peculiar actions aroused suspicion, and he was arrested as the Whitechapel murderer. He however, proved to be innocent of this, but was held for trial in the criminal court under a special English law.

      Does anyone...come in,Tumbletonians, have anything to remark about these two statements?????????

      Look at the date which this newspaper article came out on: 13 days after Kelly's murder.
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      • #4
        I’ll take a shot at it. . .

        The case was dismissed because there was no evidence. Govan and O’Malley were trying to blackmail Tumblety. O’Malley is a very interesting character. He was connected to the local mafia, went to jail for carrying a concealed weapon, jury tampering and a number of other offenses. One story about O’Malley reports that he was in a shoot out when a bullet ripped off the thumb of his shooting hand. He transferred the gun to the other hand and continued fighting.

        As the article said, O’Malley was in Tumblety’s room and reported to the judge a number of incriminating things about Tumblety. When it came to trial, he did not testify to any of it. The judge asked him why he did not mention it but he remained silent. Govan, in the end, testified that he was not sure that he had the pocket book with him when he met Tumblety. As a result, Tumblety was cleared and O’Malley served his first sentence for carrying a concealed weapon.

        As to the intercession of the British consol, there is nothing in any contemporary source that I have seen about it. The second point is simply part of the large hubbub that followed the initial cable on November 17th. It echoes the NY Times report of November 19 that said he was found innocent.




        • #5
          Well, the right person appeared on the scene here,it seems. Thanks a lot Tim.

          I have seen one report where O'Malley claimed to have found a chisel, ostensibly used for burglaring, in Tumbelty's room. O'Malley comes off like an American Charles LeGrand a little,doesn't he?

          On the "local Mafia" connection to O'Malley, I believe you are referring to the "Black Hand" that so,sor?

          Thanks also for the clarification on the November 17th article and the undoubted replication of the material in the Picayune.
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          • #6
            D.C.O'Malley shot in 1897 ( August 14th)
            By this time, it appears he was the owner or in management at the afternoon newpaper, The New Orleans Item.

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            • #7
              De G. de Fonblanque was the name of the British Consul involved. See post 23:


              O'Malley's statement sounded phony when he claimed that Tumblety "admitted" to pickpocketing the money. That alleged confession would have contradicted everything we know about the nature of this Ripper suspect. Tumblety always professed his innocence no matter what the charge was.


              • #8
                Returning to Howard's two questions. Tim is right and there seems to be no contemporary source which corroborates the intercession of the British Consol "on behalf of his countryman." Of course, since Tumblety had been born in Ireland he could be considered a British subject. In fact when he sued the American Government in his attempt at retreiving money taken from him when he was arrested in connection with the Lincoln assassination he did so as a British subject and with the aid of the British Government.



                • #9
                  Thank you for the clarification(s), Wolf !

                  Let me ask all you Tumbelty researchers this:

                  The following article comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer ( November 23,1888) and mentions the approximate date that Tumbelty appeared in Boston.

                  Up to now, and assuming that the article is correct in its reporting, I did not know Tumbelty arrived in Boston at roughly the age of 22 and set up a thriving business.

                  Is it correct?

                  Has anyone ever had his surname spelled so many different ways? It might be to our collective advantage that it is,isn't it?

                  Philadelphia Inquirer
                  Dr. Tomblety the Suspect Career of a Man Arrested for the White Chapel Murders

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                  • #10
                    Last night I thought I put some of the following down in the previous post, but I typically forgot to.

                    1. According to information I, as probably many others have been as well, had thought was accurate...and may well be...I thought Tumbelty was in Detroit in 1855.

                    The reason I asked the question about whether the Philadelphia article was correct is that the comment found in the provided excerpt stating Tumbelty had been in Boston is one of those nagging little bits of information.

                    Why state Tumbelty was in Boston " 33 years before"? Why use a number which seems to specify rather than generalize? Why not say "around 30" or "close to 35" ? It seems...on the surface...that the information from whence the newspaper collated this info was a verifiable source for making the claim "33 years before". Does anyone see what I mean here?

                    Of course, its not very important in the scheme of things....but it bugged me that the timeline of Tumblety has him living in Detroit in 1855...but now "thriving in business" in Beantown in the same year. Capece?

                    2. When Scotland Yard inquired to San Francisco authorities for a sample of his handwriting...could that not have been to examine it and compare it to a bad check Tumbelty wrote, rather than to something relative to any other crime of a non-financial origin?

                    3. The number one reason I have had doubts about Tumbelty being the Ripper for several years ( and it doesn't matter what I think,only what I can demonstrate ) is that nowhere do I see any examples of him cuddling up with the proletarian class and even less so with anyone of the strata that any of the victims associated with. I think he felt he was better than they were in a social & educational sense. Not to mention that they probably were less likely to purchase Pimple Destroyers from the theoretical Woman Destroyer.

                    Any comments?
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                    • #11
                      Hi How,

                      You are correct. Tumblety left Rochester in 1855 for Detroit and western Ontario. The evidence for this is the testimonial from prominent citizens of Rochester. There is no evidence of him in Boston at that earlier date. He was in Boston from September 1859 through June 1860. He advertised there from September 1859 to January 1860 but contemporary references place him there as late as June 1860. The 1888 article is incorrect.




                      • #12
                        Thanks very much,Tim...your information is much appreciated.

                        Before I forget ( again !) to mention something:

                        A. Nina just posited the idea that Tumbelty was engrossed with the pimple eliminator cream to attract young men...possibly. I think thats a pretty good observation,myself.

                        B. I, on the other hand,notice that Tumbelty is invariably mentioned being courted by females ( in the business sense) throughout the newspaper articles and is somewhat of an Ichabod Crane figure in that the women seem attracted to him and the menfolk ( legitimate doctors and the law) are down on him.

                        What are your feelings or observations on these two "points"?
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                        • #13
                          You are correct. Tumblety left Rochester in 1855 for Detroit and western Ontario. The evidence for this is the testimonial from prominent citizens of Rochester.
                          If Tim means that 1855 was the year Tumblety first left Rochester and made his way in the world there is a testimonial advertisement from London, Canada West, dated 1853 which appeared in the Hamilton Daily Spectator Journal of Commerce in May of 1856. This obviously would suggest that he left Rochester earlier than 1855.

                          As for point #2. Scotland Yard did not inquire to San Francisco authorities for a sample of his handwriting. San Francisco contacted Scotland Yard and asked if they were interested in any Tumblety writing they might find. Scotland Yard said yes.



                          • #14
                            Thanks Wolf ....

                            Let me ask you ( and anyone else ) if you wouldn't mind...

                            What (or why) do you think the Frisco authorities contacted The Yard for in the first place relative to his handwriting? What caused Frisco to initiate this incident?
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                            • #15
                              A good question, Howard.

                              I could understand SF Police Chief Crowley offering a specimen of Tumblety's handwriting to Scotland Yard after reading of his arrest on suspicion of being Jack the Ripper. Perhaps he thought it might help identify the GSG author. Who knows?

                              But the puzzling thing [to me, at least] is that, according to the New York Times, 23rd November 1888, Chief Crowley made his offer on 29th October 1888, a week or so before Tumblety's arrest and any subsequent mention of him in the US press.