Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers February 16, 2017Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
This is a cute story from the States, picked up by an Irish newspaper in 1873.
Whether this story is true or false we do not know; but it is said here that recently in the parish of St. Martin, Iberia, or somewhere down that way, an old widow lady, whose children had all married off and left her had been persuaded to sell her little place and live with them. She sold her land, buildings, improvements one day for 2,000 dollars, and received the money in cash on the spot, in her own house, where the act of sale was passed before two witnesses, the number required by the law, and who witnessed also the payment of the money. In a short time she was to give possession, but she remained in the house the night following the sale all alone, with no masculine adult inmates, as was her custom.
Now to the miscreants. Who could they be?
That night two negro burglars broke into house, and demanded her money or her life. She gave it to them, but begged them to let her have 100 of dollars it, as she owed that amount, and wanted to pay the debt, when she would be satisfied. They finally agreed to let her have the 100 dollars. They then ordered her to make some coffee for them to drink. In doing so she bethought herself of some strychnine she had in the house, and quietly dropped it in the pot of steaming coffee, and placed it on the table with cup, spoons, and sugar, for them to pour out and sweeten to their tastes. This they did, and drank in a jolly mood, each one having 950 dollars in his pocket. But in a short time the tables were turned. One gave up the ghost where he sat at the table in his chair, and the other got up staggered off a few feet, and tumbled over into eternity. The good old lady recovered her money, and on examining the persons of the black burglarious robbers, they turned out to be the two witnesses to the act of sale, both white men, blackened for the occasion—both her neighbours, and one was her cousin.
As to the truth of the story, the idea that two men, familiar to the victim of the crime, could pull off a ‘black minstrels’ act and not be recognised is laughable. Still nice tale… Other versions? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
Belfast Telegraph (17 Sep 1873)