Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Most Gruesome Sight in Tombstone, Arizona?


The Tombstone Merman

In 1880 the remains of a “Merman” were brought to Tombstone, Arizona.  Mermen, the male counterparts of mermaids had a long tradition in Western mythology, dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks.  The creatures are said to be human from the waist up and fish-like from the waist down.

Chinese businessman Quong Kee had this particular specimen on display at his “Can Can Cafe”, where it both intrigued and horrified his customers.

Although during the 19th century artifacts such as this were still thought by some to be real, the hoax can be traced back to 16th century China, where such mermen were manufactured by joining the upper part of a monkey’s body with the lower part of a fish.  These oddities were imported into Europe by the Dutch East India Company, where they were taken to be the remains of actual creatures.

In 1845, sideshow impresario P.T. Barnum began displaying a mummified mermaid supposedly caught in the waters off Fiji.  Once again this was a feat of taxidermy which melded a monkey and a fish.  Barnum made a fortune showing the weird creature, and there were soon many copycat creations appearing in sideshows.

Although there are many mummified mermaids, mermen like the one in Tombstone, now on display at the Bird Cage Theater, are rare.  There is another one of these rare artifacts on display at the Indian Trading Post in Banff, Canada.

Virginia Legends and Lore



Thursday, November 04, 2021

Tombstone Arizona’s Grisliest Murder


In the early 1880s, Tombstone, Arizona was a violent, chaotic, roaring, mining town.  Sudden death was commonplace, and the population of the Boot Hill graveyard soared. 

Tombstone’s grisliest murder occurred at the Bird Cage Theatre (which also served as a saloon and brothel) and involved two “Painted Ladies”, Margarita, the belle of the Bird Cage, and Little Gertie called “the Gold Dollar” who worked at a rival brothel.

Tombstone Arizona

The women fell out over a man, one Billy Milgreen, a two bit gambler.  In 1882, Gold Dollar had had enough of Margarita’s poaching customers.  Little Gertie, a petite thing, grabbed a handful of Margarita’s hair and stabbed her in the chest with a double edged stiletto.  Gold Dollar did a thorough job, hacking at the other woman’s heart with her blade until her rival was well and truly dead.

Billy Milgreen

Little Gertie, the Gold Dollar

Gold Dollar fled the scene but was soon arrested by the town Marshal.  No charges stuck.  The murder weapon had disappeared, so the peace keepers reasoned there was no evidence, despite the presence of eyewitnesses.  Gold Dollar continued a favorite in the town.

The Grave of Margarita