Episode 52 - "H. H. Holmes"
Release Date: 02/05/2020
Episode 52 - H. H. Holmes
- Now, in honor of our celebration of an entire year, which is super exciting, I wanted to cover a Big Bad that several people have asked us to cover. Now, before we get into this... I’ll be honest… I’m a little nervous about this episode, because I think I’m actually going to piss some people off, but we’ll get into that a little later. I've done some debunking, and it may bum some people out, but despite all that, I think today is going to be an absolutely awesome episode, and i'm so excited to share today's story with you all! Today we will be covering the story of America's First Urban Serial Killer, H. H. Holmes. Holmes is known to have a confirmed body count of 9, but he confessed to 27, a much larger number for sure, but one that can not be substantiated due to a lack of evidence. This has been requested by David from Instagram, and also Helen, Lila's sister! So thank you everyone who sends us in requests, it's really great to hear about what you all want us to cover! I hope I do you all proud. So, without further ado, let us get into the early life of Mr. Holmes, or, by his birth name, Herman Webster Mudgett. Yeah, not an awesome name.
- Mudgett was born on May 16th, 1861, in New Hampshire. He was born to an affluent family, and was the youngest of three siblings. Unfortunately, we really don't know too much about his early life, but we do know that he was beaten often as a child, but, and this is going to sound kind of harsh, it was no more violent then the normal level of beatings of the time. This was a time when kids were sent to work at like, seven, so regular beatings at home was not a strange occurrence, so Holmes was no more abused then every other child of the mid to late 1800's. Holmes was close to his mother, despite the beatings, but would still fantasize about their deaths, which is totally normal. However, one thing we know, from Holmes' autobiography he would write in prison, is the moment he claimed that everything changed for him. Often, when we cover a serial killer, we can pinpoint one of the days in which things changed to form a killer identity, and in the case of Holmes, he claims that it was a day in which older neighborhood boys (knowing Holmes was terrified of the local doctor’s office.) shoved him in the doctor’s office. At this time period, were particularly horrifying places, this is the time of medical experimentation. We’re definitely in the renaissance of medical study, as this was a sort of in between the use of leeches to the use of like, antibiotics. Now often, in their offices at this time, doctors would have fresh corpses hanging out in a makeshift morgue area, that they would use for dissection, to learn more about what the human body looks like internally, and really, to try to figure out how this engine is run. And often, the bodies would be supplied by local graveyards, where bodies would be dug up and sold in the black market essentially, typically purchased directly from doctors. This is a time, as I said earlier, in which modern medicine was starting to emerge as we know it now. Before this was the time of basic butchery, really, and maybe one day we’ll really dive into an episode on medical treatments of the 17 and 1800's, because it was pretty rough. Due to the overpowering control of religion at the time, autopsies were considered to be a degradation of the human body, a sacrilegious act, so it was illegal to cut open and study the human body. But of course, even from the early renaissance, people were sneakily cutting open bodies to take a peek inside, and that definitely didn’t stop in the 1800's. In fact, it flourished. So, at this time, not long after the civil war, in which many doctors realized that they needed to learn more about the art of healing, that dissections of corpses began. And unfortunately, as it was illegal, doctors and students turned to the only thing they could think of doing… buying illegally stolen corpses. This would go on to be a major part of Holmes’s life, but at this point in his life, a young Holmes was terrified of the skeletons or bodies that were often on display at hospitals or doctors’ offices. Knowing this fear, the local boys dragged Holmes into the doctor’s office late at night, slamming the door shut on him, and leaving him in there alone in the dark. When he looked upon the human remains before him, he was no longer afraid, and instead, what was once a morbid fear was replaced with admiration, and a new found interest in medicine. Now, again, this is all from Holmes’ mouth, so it’s dubious as to whether this is true or not, but it makes for an interesting origin story. From here, at around 11 years old, Holmes would begin a long love affair with the medical sciences, and he began to dissect animals and study every piece of medical literature he could get his creepy little hands on. Now, Holmes was an incredibly intelligent child, and excelled in schooling, so moving forward with medical school was not an astronomical plan for the young Holmes. At this time period, Holmes’ interest in murdering animals was not a sign of a sociopath, like we know of today, but instead, that he had an interest in science, and a passion! I mean, in reality, when you have actual medical professionals cutting up bodies for fun, it’s not really that weird to a person of the times to see a little boy cutting up a mouse. 1800's kind of sucked.
[Pictured: H. H. Holmes. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Now, this next bit is sort of mysterious, and there is a very good chance that around this point in Holmes’ life, he could have performed his first murder… Despite being intelligent, Holmes was not very well liked in school, and was often teased for his smarts, basically the typical nerd trope. But he did have one friend, a young boy named Thomas. However, one day, Thomas and Holmes were playing in an abandoned house, you know, just 1800's things, when Thomas stumbled and fell, dying almost instantly from the fall. It has been theorized that there was a good chance that Holmes had pushed his friend, interested in what would happen when the boy’s body crashed into the ground below. Now, there actually were people suspicious at the time that Holmes had something to do with the boy’s death, but there was never any proof that showed this was a homicide and not just a tragic accident, so Holmes was never in trouble for the death. We don’t know for sure either if he had pushed Thomas or not, but we know from the story of Peter Kürten that it’s not unusual for budding serial killers to take their first victims very young, and especially ones at this point in history, where it seemed that everyone was a budding serial killer.
- Now, dispute the trauma of watching a boyhood friend die, Holmes finished high school early, at the age of 16, and by 18, had already married his first wife, Clara. Now one thing that Holmes never had in shortage was wives, and we’ll cover all of them in a bit, but not long after his first marriage Holmes peaced out and left her to attend medical school. Leaving his wife behind, Holmes began attending school at University of Michigan, and his love of corpses continued. In fact, he used his love of corpses to develop his very first foray into crime, insurance fraud. Teaming up with a friend of his from the school, the pair decided to take out life insurance policies on one another, then use corpses from the college to act as their bodies, to collect on the life insurance policies. I can only imagine how easy it was to get money for a loved ones death at this point in history. Life insurance policies were given out like candy back then, and insurance fraud was often under investigated. Of course, it’s nothing like now, where you pay thousands of dollars a year for insurance but then you can’t even buy a band aid from the pharmacy without a 99% copay. Now, this scheme of Holmes’ would work because what they would do was bring in a badly burned corpse, as of course, at the time, there was no DNA to verify ID of a body. This was the first in what would go on to be a long, long line of fraud using corpses, and later on, Holmes would be the supplying the murdered bodies as well.
- Holmes finished medical school and moved to Philadelphia where he gained employment at a pharmacy, but soon moved to Chicago, where he would stay for much of the rest of his life, and where to brunt of his murderous rampage would occur. When he arrived to Chicago, he officially changed his name from Mudgett, to H. H. Holmes. Now, at this point, Chicago was a hub of progress, having rebuilt from the great Chicago fire of 1871, and thousands of people were arriving in Chicago by train every week. This of course had a lot to do with the fact that the transcontinental railroad had just been built, and it was now easy for Americans to travel from anywhere in the country with just some money and a whim. Also, we briefly mentioned the creation of the transcontinental railroad way back in episode 18, so if you want a refresher on that, I definitely recommend checking it out, because that history alone is fascinating. Regardless, the fact that people were constantly flowing into Chicago meant that this was the perfect playground for a budding serial killer. Not to mention Chicago at the time, even though it was developing steadily, was still a pretty rough place at the time. On average, at the time that Holmes arrived, two people a day were killed by trains, violence ran rampant due to a struggling police force, and disease was an issue due to a major lack of sanitation, the usual Victorian problems. But despite it all, the American World’s Fair was chosen to be built in Chicago. Now I’m not going to get too into the World’s Fair, but the fact that it was chosen to be held in Chicago was a huge opportunity for Holmes to begin his murderous rampage, as millions of Americans made their way to Chicago in the years leading up to the Fair.
- In 1888, when Holmes first arrived in Chicago, he found a pharmacy across from a vacant lot, and immediately sparked his interest. Holmes began work at the Pharmacy, soon earning the trust of the Pharmacy owner, who eventually agreed to sell the Pharmacy to Holmes. Now, it’s often stated that Holmes, seeing an opportunity, murdered the two before taking over the Pharmacy, but this is actually unsubstantiated, and in fact, it has been proven that the original owners of the Pharmacy went on to live long lives, unmarred by Holmes’ cruelty. Less than a year after he moved to Chicago, he married a woman named Myrta, from Minneapolis, who moved to Chicago specifically to be with Holmes. However, once she arrived, she realized that Holmes was a notorious ladies man, and a rift formed between the couple. Regardless, she soon became pregnant, but Holmes, not interested in the additional baggage of children, sent her to live with her parents, where she would stay the rest of her life, with Holmes’ child. She would never return to live with Holmes, and she would be one of the few women to survive Holmes’ romantic interest. However, Holmes would occasionally check up on her and his daughter Lucy over the next few years, but he was happy with his new life as a bachelor once more, and decided, with the success of the Pharmacy business he definitely didn’t steal from an old widow and her sick husband, decided to make a purchase of the abandoned lot across the street, with dreams of a massive mansion of his very own dancing in his creepy head. He purchased the land under an alias, and with that acquisition, step one of Operation Murder House was complete. See, Holmes always wanted to be the best, the biggest, the man. And he wanted to be the best at murder.
[Pictured: The Murder House. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Not long after purchasing the land, work began on Holmes’ castle. However, what he would do in order to get the place built, was to hire then fire countless workers, claiming that their work was sub-par, and then never pay them. He did this over and over and over, hiring one person to build a wall, then another to build another wall, collecting a long line of pissed off workers who he never paid. Unfortunately, there were thousands of men looking for work, a huge pool for him to pull from, so he never had to worry about paying for the work being done. But each time, somehow, people would fall for his charm and the work would get done. Now, here is a common question that people have about H. H. Holmes. How did everyone fall for his bullshit? Holmes was a master of conversations, and was considerable charming for the time. He was one of the most proficient con men in history, and it showed. He learned how to accurately manipulate other men into thinking they were friends, he could trick women into thinking he was a charming suitor, he was a professional at harming others. And he used his skills to screw over dozens, from women he tricked into marrying him, from workers he hired then fired to build his house, he was constantly scamming everyone, but they would continue to fall for it because he was just that commanding a personality. Holmes now a days would be a politician, or a car salesman. He was greasy, but coated in a thick layer of charm that disarmed everyone he met. And of course, that included the over 500 workers he hired over the course of the year it took to build his infamous murder castle.
- And, another person who was unfortunately tricked by Holmes’ charm, was his right hand man, a man named Benjamin Pitezell, who answered a call for a carpenter to Holmes’ new mansion. Holmes, noticing a perfect mark, included Pitezell into his fold almost immediately. Unfortunately, Pitezell had seven children on top of a rampant drinking problem, so he was desperate to do anything for Holmes to keep his family afloat. With his lackey on his side, Holmes officially opened the Mansion, complete with a new pharmacy, and stores on the base floor, and several bedrooms and apartments on the following few floors. Now the mansion itself was massive, obviously, and due to the way it was built, it was almost completely a maze, similar to the Winchester Mystery House, with doorways that opened to nothing, or stairwells which crisscrossed back and forth. Some rooms were incredibly small, and others were completely sound proofed… nothing weird about that. Many of the rooms only had locks from the outside, which is obviously super safe. Allegedly, Holmes would trap women in his hotel, locking them in their rooms, and then, using a system of pipes he had installed in the home, would slowly pump in gas, killing the women as they struggled to escape. Additionally, in his basement, were pools of lime, which he would use to melt down the women’s corpses, to cover up for his crimes. In fact, he created secret passageways with greased trash chutes, which dropped the bodies into the cellar, where he could then carry the battered corpses to the lime pits. Except… that probably never happened. Much of what we know about the murder mansion was recorded in newspapers of the time, or by Holmes’ mouth himself. And frankly, although it is much less exciting then the version that everyone knows, it seems pretty unlikely that Holmes ever killed random strangers who came to stay in his hotel. In fact, in more recent times, that massive number of 200 victims has been completely debunked, as it was determined that the number of 200 didn’t even come from Holmes himself, but instead, had come from a pulp crime novel from the 1940's, that had not been written by anyone even remotely connected to the case. It would be like taking something from the National Enquirer as a legitimate statistic. And on top of that, as we’ll get into in a bit here, they definitely found human remains here… but there was no physical evidence on legitimate record that showed that any random women were murdered. Of the nine confirmed victims of H H Holmes, he knew or was an acquaintance of all of them. There were no sweet naïve single women, trapped in rooms. This is a huge bummer for people, and I have a feeling that people aren’t going to like me very much, but the thing is, one thing we always do on this show is try to bring both sides, fact and fiction, to the table. We did it with Bathory, LaLaurie, Witch Trials, history is definitely crazy, but we know for sure that newspapers of the past were not legitimate sources, and should not be treated as such when we’re talking about real history. And this case is no different. And honestly, journalists of the late 1800's were the worst at, quote unquote, “fake news.” In fact, according to Harold Schechter, the author of one of today’s sources, quote, “It’s my belief that probably all those stories about all these visitors to the World’s Fair who were murdered in his quote-unquote ‘Castle’ were just complete sensationalistic fabrication by the yellow press. By the time I reached the end of my book, I kind of realized even a lot of the stuff that I had written was probably exaggerated.” There is a very real, and honestly, more than likely chance that the great murder castle of H. H. Holmes was nothing more than a shitty, rickety mansion full of crappy rooms and shoddy workmanship, and not a massive monolith to the act of murder. So yeah. Now that I’ve disappointed everyone listening, let’s cover the shit we know that actually happened, and trust me, Holmes still was a straight up monster. He just most likely didn’t have a master crafted mansion dedicated to killing.
- Now, one thing we know that Holmes did, using his advanced medical knowledge, was perform illegal abortions. Naturally, there were women who died during the process, and it is believed that those who died under Holmes’ knife were sold to doctors for study, tying back to the first time that Holmes found himself face to face with a body in the doctor’s office, all those years ago. And while endangering the lives of women all of Chicago, and running his pharmacy, and dodging debtors, Holmes still had a little time to fall in love. Well, as much as he could. A woman named Julia Smythe, the wife of one of Holmes’ employees, found herself charmed by Holmes, and eventually entered into an affair with him, cheating on her husband, Ned Conner. It would take Ned almost a year, but he soon found out that Julia was carrying an affair with Holmes. Frustrated and upset, Ned abandoned his wife and quit his job, leaving Julia with Holmes, along with their daughter, Pearl. Unfortunately for the two, Julia soon became pregnant with Holmes’ child, thus throwing a wrench in Holmes’ plans. See, it was pretty evident that Holmes knew what he wanted, and what he definitely didn’t want was a family to slow him down. So on Christmas Eve, 1891, Holmes convinced Julia to have an abortion, and in turn, he agreed to marry her. Julia agreed, and that night, Pearl and Julia disappeared forever. It’s unknown exactly what happened to them that night, but Holmes claims that he sold Julia’s articulated skeleton to a local doctor, where she was allegedly kept on display. It is unknown what happened to Pearl.
The next woman to fall prey to Holmes was Emeline Cigrande, a young woman who began working as Holmes’ personal secretary in May of 1892. By November, he proposed to her, after quickly convincing her to be his romantic partner, despite the fact that he technically already had two abandoned wives and a dead fiancé. As a wedding preparation, Holmes handed Emeline a stack of plain envelopes, and asked her to address them to family and friends, which he would place the invitations in. Of course, instead, Holmes decided to kill her, as he had grown bored, yet again. So, not long after agreeing to marry her, Holmes asked Emeline to go into his safe and collect some business documents for him. Once inside, he closed the door to the safe, locking her in. It took hours for Emeline to suffocate, but she eventually expired, screaming and alone. Her skeleton was sold to a local medical school. As for the envelopes, Holmes typed up wedding invitations but replaced his name with a different one randomly selected, and sent them off, making them believe that she had run off with another man. Things were different back then before Facebook.
[Pictured: Holmes's Mugshot. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Now this brings us back to the time of the Chicago’s World’s Fair, in 1893, and with that, Holmes’ final two Chicago victims would emerge. Minnie Williams, an actress from Texas, came to Chicago for an adventure, a way to spend her millions that she was an heiress to. Holmes befriended Minnie, and began a long con on which he aimed to convince her to give him the deed to a plot of property she owned in Fort Worth, Texas. It was extremely lucrative, and Holmes, always the conman, had his eyes on the prize. However, Minnie, as she was young and particularly impulsive, was carefully watched by her sister Annie (also known as Nannie). Annie, concerned that her sister was going to make a mistake with her new beau, Harry Holmes, tried to convince her sister to avoid making any rash choices. Irritated by the bump in his plans, Holmes invited Annie to come to visit, and she agreed, and arrived in Chicago in July of 1893, to visit the Fair. Unfortunately, this was exactly what Holmes wanted, and once Minnie had signed over the deed to her property in Fort Worth, the two women were never heard from again. It is believed that they met the same fate as Emeline, suffocated to death in Holmes’ bank vault. It’s also believed that Pitezel brought a bounty of gifts to his wife after the death of the two women, a collection of fine clothing and accessories, which had been taken from the suitcases of the two women.
- Now, around this time, the heat from family and creditors began to pressure on Holmes in Chicago, and it was perfect timing that he had “inherited” the land in Fort Worth, as Holmes was beginning to feel that it had come time for him to leave Chicago. However, before his big move, Holmes collected yet another wife, Georgiana. Surprisingly, however, she would survive being his wife, and was added to his list of 3 living wives. Now, before leaving, it was time for one more scam, and this one, Holmes hoped, would add a good chunk to his coffers for his exodus from Chicago. Using his signature charm, Holmes convinced his lackey, Pitezel, to do a scam he had done many years ago, back in college, the old insurance switcharoo. First, Holmes would take out a policy on Pitezel, then let it sit for a few months, so it was less obvious. Then, according to his plan, Holmes would acquire a cadaver, which they would badly disfigure and burn, and then claim that was Pitezel. Holmes could collect the insurance money then, and he would split it with Pitezel. Now, to Pitezel, this opportunity was lucrative, and again, he was desperate. It’s easy to vilify Pitezel, for sure, but all records we have seem to show that he did love his family, and wanted the best for them. I mean, not enough to work on his alcoholism, but whatever. So, seeing a chance to bring some money into his family’s lives, Pitezel agreed. Holmes, Pitezel and co then made their way to Texas, to start their life there while waiting on the insurance scam to come to fruition. However, almost immediately after arriving to Texas, Holmes and Pitezel attempted to steal and sell horses, but they were quickly identified, so they had to leave town pretty much right away, instead moving to St. Louis. Clearly master criminals. Now, surprisingly, St. Louis would be the location in which Holmes was first arrested for fraud, when he tried to scam some creditors for items he sold at a pharmacy. Holmes was beginning to learn that not everywhere was as easy to get away with crime, as was Chicago. While in prison, Holmes met Marion Hedgepeth, a convicted Wild West outlaw, and, in an attempt to impress the outlaw, Holmes offered to pay Hedgepeth $500 for help in his insurance scheme. This would end up damning Holmes, but we’ll get to that. Holmes was quickly bailed from prison, and he then collected Pitezel to head to Philadelphia, where their long running insurance scheme would finally come to fruition. Unfortunately, Pitezel had to leave his wife and children behind, and it would be the last time they would see their father alive.
[Pictured: Benjamin Pitezel. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- When Holmes and Pitezel arrived in Pennsylvania, it was only a matter of weeks until Pitezel’s burned body was found in his rented room. Holmes had never planned on getting a cadaver body, when he had a perfectly good patsy in Pitezel. So, once the pair arrived in Pennsylvania, Holmes killed his longtime assistant with an overdose of chloroform, then posed the body to appeared to have died in an accident due to an accidental explosion. The face was heavily burned, but when police investigated the scene, they found it odd that only the face had been effected by the fire, yet the rest of the body remained completely unscathed. Several days after the death, Holmes arrived back at the Pitezel home in St. Louis, looking to meet up with Pitezel's wife and children. See, Pitezel's wife, Carrie, had been in on the whole scheme that had been set up, and was under the impression that her husband was still alive, having faked his own death. She, of course, had no idea that the body that had been found in Pennsylvania was actually that of her husbands. Carrie had fought her husband on this, but unfortunately, he pushed back, promising her that this would be the last con. So, when Holmes arrived back in St. Louis to collect Carrie and the Pitezel children, Carrie had expected his arrival. However, when the family read of the death in the paper, Holmes convinced Carrie to let the children believe that their father was actually dead, so they would be more convincing to the insurance agents. In fact, Holmes had the bright idea of using one of Pitezel's children to identify his horribly burned and decomposed body, as a family member had to be the one to identify the remains. So Holmes borrowed Carrie's daughter, Alice, who was 15 at the time, and believed that her father was truly dead, so she would ensure that her reaction to the body would be legitimate, as she would not be pretending, as Carrie would. Now, from here, things get pretty muddled, but we know that Holmes convinced Carrie, who really seems like mother of the year in this whole story, but he convinced her that, as fraud investigators were on their tale, he would need to take two more of her children. When asked why Holmes needed 3 of her children, he logically responded that, if the fraud investigators came looking for her, why, she only had two children, instead of the five that she was supposed to have. Obviously, in that case then, the investigators would simply leave her alone. And of course, not to worry, as Holmes would take good care of her darling children.
[Pictured: News Clipping on Holmes. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Holmes, from here, began traveling all over the country, with her three children in tow; Howard, Nellie, and Alice. He would often claim them as his own, using them as props in his schemes, as a man with children often came off as less threatening. However, it would not take long until, like with everyone who came into contact with Holmes, he too grew weary of the children. Telling Alice and Nellie that he planned to send Howard to live with a family member, Holmes brought Howard to a house he had been renting in the middle of nowhere, and killed the boy, then burned the remains. It would be not much longer that the two other children would meet the same fate, but their murders were more cruel. Alice and Nellie were put into a large trunk, where Holmes fastened a tube. Through the tube, he pumped gas into the trunks, slowly killing the two girls. The two girls would eventually be dug up months later, heavily decomposed, nude, curled in the trunk.
[Pictured: News Clipping on Holmes. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- Finally, though, Holmes' reign of terror was about to come to an end. Now, do you remember Holmes' brief stay in prison, where he made his outlaw friend, Marion? Well, Holmes had forgotten him, and more specifically, Holmes had forgotten that he had promised to pay Marion $500, a chunk of change that Marion had definitely not forgotten about. And, unfortunately for Holmes, Marion was put in a position where he had the chance to exchange this info for a chance to receive a pardon on his crimes. A deal was made, and from that point on, Holmes was a wanted man, as there was now proof that he had boasted to someone about his impending crime. Word spread to all the local police that Holmes was wanted for fraud, and he was finally arrested in Boston in 1894 by Pinkertons, a roving band of mercenary like detectives. When he was first in custody, he admitted to the insurance scams, but steadfastly denied all murders, and it wasn't until investigators had uncovered the bodies of Alice and Nellie that they finally took a look into Holmes' long history. He was sent to trial and found guilty of the murder of only four of his victims, but it was enough to see him hang, and on May 7th, 1896, just a few days before his 35th birthday. His neck did not snap, so he was slowly strangled, a death fitting a monster made real. Before his death, he had requested that his body be surrounded in cement, so that no one could steal his body, as he had done all those years ago. And as for the alleged murder castle, it was investigated, but no legitimate proof remains to show that it had been a den of torture, but it was eventually torn down after an arson attempt left it mostly gutted. It is now the home of a post office.
[Pictured: Artistic Recreation of the Execution of Holmes. Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org]
- So, one of the more recent theories which have popped up was due to the claims of Holmes’ great-great grandson, a man named Jeff Mudgett. Mudgett claimed, in his book called “Bloodstains,” released in 2011, that Holmes had actually bribed his guard to let him free, and that they hung another man in his stead on that day in 1896. However, in 2017, the body of Holmes was dug up and a DNA test was done to compare him with DNA from other family descendants of Holmes, and it confirmed that, in fact, the body in the ground was indeed Herman Mudgett, aka, H. H. Holmes. In his book, Mudgett also claimed that Jack the Ripper was actually Holmes himself, claiming that he had traveled to London and killed the five sex workers related to the Ripper crimes. Mudgett believed that this information was legitimate due to the journals left to him, which were written, allegedly, by Holmes himself. Within the journals pages, Mudgett claims that his ancestor wrote of enacting violence against sex workers in London, but this, of course, is completely bunk. It's pretty well regarded as being a complete fabrication, as there is little tangible proof that Holmes spent time in London during the Ripper's reign. And with that, I will conclude my story on Holmes by saying that, even if you still believe that Holmes was a monstrous killer with a death toll in the hundreds, or that he ran his murder hotel with a violent glee, regardless, H. H. Holmes was still one of the darkest predators that hunted the city streets of a growing America, and he was a symptom of the violence which would come in the United States, the first hot fever in the growing infection which became serial murder.
Sources for the Story Portion:
- “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson
- “Depraved” by Harold Schechter
- “H H Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil” by Adam Selzer
Research Topic - The 1893 Chicago World's Fair
The fair was held in Chicago but it was not the only city to apply to host the fair. St. Louis, New York and DC all applied to be the host city. Just think about how this whole story could have changed if another city hosted the fair. Eventually it was narrowed down to NYC and Chicago. For the New York side Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Waldorf Astor, and J.P. Morgan pledged $15 million to cover the event. But Chicago had the meatpacking industry so Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and Gustavus Swift also were able to raise a considerable amount of money. Eventually it was Lyman Gage, a president of a large bank, who was able to sway congress to select Chicago.
On top of the killings that Kim just told us about, on October 28, the mayor of Chicago Carter Harrison Sr. was shot and killed by office seeker Patrick Eugene Prendergast. After the murder the city decided to cancel the closing ceremony so that they could have a memorial for the recently deceased mayor.
Some of the fun things that came out of the fair were; Cream of Wheat, Juicy Fruit Gum, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Some of the early prototypes that were displayed were personal dishwashers for the home and fluorescent light bulbs. The country also created the first commemorative postcards and stamps along with a half dollar featuring Christopher Columbus (Who the fair was named after) and a quarter that featured Queen Isabella of Spain who funded his voyages. It was the first US coin to honor a woman.
Because people are terrible, even with all of the people investing, there was a huge budget deficit. The people organizing the fair fought among themselves causing the deficit. Another issue was that the fair refused William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his group of sharp shooters, cowboys, and Native Americans the opportunity to perform. They then set up their event directly next to the fair so that they could steal fairgoers. To counteract this, the fair featured an invention that was meant to surpass the engineering marvel of the 1889 fair, the Eiffel Tower. George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. created the Ferris Wheel. It was 264 feet tall and could hold 2,160 at a time. The price to ride the wheel was fifty cents while the cost to enter the fair was only 25.
Something really interesting is that it was the first exposition to have national pavilions. Some notable exhibits included a replica of George Washington’s estate on Mt. Vernon, a century old palm tree from Cali (how did it get there and did they kill it?), a full service creole restaurant, and three versions of the liberty bell. The first was the original, the second was made entirely of rolled oats, and the third was made of oranges. Norway sent a full scale viking ship and Germany spent more than what would be $25 million now to show a massing artillery display. Many of those weapons would later be used in WWI.
Article for Bitch Banter:
- After Years of Helping Crow Family, Man was left 'Mind-Blown' Over Their Homemade Gifts in Return. https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/crows-give-homemade-art-to-man-who-helped-them/