During Christmas in the 1870s, when he wasn’t sending horse-led sleighs piled high with food and toys to his less fortunate neighbours, the inimitable Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) could usually be found at the family home with his wife and young children, often pretending to be Santa Claus. On Christmas morning of 1875, Twain’s 3-year-old daughter, Susie, awoke to find the following charming letter on her bed.
My dear Susie Clemens:
I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands—for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples’ alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters—I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself—and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw.
To read the rest of the letter, click here.
Real Vintage Vampire Killing Kit
A complete and authentic vampire killing kit — made around 1800 and complete with stakes, mirrors, a gun with silver bullets, crosses, a Bible, holy water, candles and even garlic. It was sold at an estate auction for $14,850 in 2008.
How the Other Half Lives - The Tenements of New York, 1890
In 1890, New York Tribune reporter Jacob A. Riis did something no one else at his time had done, he brought to the public’s attention to the horrible living conditions in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. The photographs were shocking and awoke many to how the poor of New York’s East Side slum district lived. It was not Riis’ intention to politically motivate the city to do something about the situation. But the publication of his book, How the Other Half Lives, set fire to the city’s social reform movement.
The result quickly became a landmark in the annals of social reform. Riis’ photography documents the filth, disease, exploitation, and overcrowding that characterized the experience of more than one million immigrants. Riis’ book helped push tenement reform to the front of New York’s political agenda, and prompted Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt to call him “the most useful citizen of New York.” You can see the rest of Riis’ heartbreaking photos here.
Kromlauer Park is a gothic style, 200-acre country park in the municipality of Kromlau in the Görlitz Gablenzgasse district in Germany. An incredible attraction of the park is the Rakotzbrücke, more popularly known as Devil’s Bridge.
The impressive arch bridge was built around 1860. During its construction, other peculiar rock formations were built on the lake and in the park. Devil’s Bridge is no longer open to the public to ensure its preservation. A unique feature of the bridge is that its reflection on the water’s surface creates a flawless circle, regardless of which side is being viewed.
The Ghost in the Courthouse Window
In November 1876, the Pickens County Courthouse in South Carolina burned to the ground. Suspecting arson, residents wanted to punish the person responsible. After more than a year a former slave, Henry Wells, was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries and taken to the newly rebuilt courthouse. Thinking Wells was also responsible for the arson, a mob gathered outside, ready to hang him.
From a garret room upstairs, Wells was reportedly peering down at the angry crowd when a bolt of lightning struck near the courthouse and somehow etched the anguished expression on Wells’ face onto the glass of the window. The ghostly face is said to appear often. As for the legend’s truth, an urban adventure to the courthouse might provide the answers.