his defence was somnambulism

Recently I read Wisconsin Death Trip, a collection of late 19th century photographs by Jackson County photographer Charles Van Schaick, mostly in the city of Black River Falls, and local news reports from the same period. This is an extract of some of the text that accompanied the incredible photographs

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“Harry Davis, coloured, was convicted of burglary at Oshkosh. His defence was somnambulism.

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Christ Wold, a farmer near Poskin Lake, committed suicide by deliberately blowing off his head with dynamite. He put a quantity of explosive in a hole in the ground, laid his head over it and touched off the fuse.

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Henry Ehlers, a Milwaukee butcher, died from nosebleed. His nose had been bleeding for 9 days. He was 37 years old and had been a great meat eater.

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Mrs Johanna Soll of Fond du Lac, who had been an invalid for some years, recently expelled a big frog from her stomach. Her young son was with her at the time and his story is corroborated by the family physician.

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John Pabelowski, a 16 year old boy of Stevens Point, was made idiotic by the use of tobacco.

At Marquette, Mrs Nesbitt, a well known church worker, and Miss Kaufman, both having horsewhips, attacked a welder named Edward Patten, while he was at work in the Stevens factory. They claim that Patten had been slandering them.

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Mr G Drinkwine, father of Miss Lillian Drinkwine, who committed suicide a few days ago, attempted suicide at Sparta. He swallowed a large quantity of cigar stubs.

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Jack the Hugger, or James Moore who for more than 10 years has followed the occupation of waylaying lone women after sundown and hugging them then disappearing before assistance could reach them was caught and taken to the office of Mayor Hoskins. There after a rigid examination he admitted he had committed the offences of which he was charged. On the advice of the Chief of Police, he drew his final pay check and left for the north.