An Old Game Revived

On the 18th of September, 1875, a fellow was arrested in West

Virginia who sent the victims whom he proposed to bleed letters

whereof the following is a copy:--

"A lady who boarded with me died on last Saturday of apoplexy. She

left a trunk containing the following property: One very fine

ladies' gold watch and chain, one ladies' gold necklace, six

ladies' finger rings, earrings, and a gre
t deal of ladies'

clothing. Among other things was a letter addressed to you. I

suppose you to be a relative of the deceased, and want to send you

the trunk. When Miss Thompson died she left a board bill unpaid

amounting to $20.50. You will please send this amount by return

mail, and the trunk will be forwarded to you immediately."

Instead of remitting the money as modestly requested, the recipient

of one of these choice douceurs, a lady residing in the interior of

Pennsylvania, sent the letter to the mayor of the town where it was

dated and postmarked, who in turn handed it over to special agent

T. P. Shallcross; and he in the course of a day or two succeeded in

capturing the miscreant.

This particular form of the confidence game is very old; yet in the

year of our Lord eighteen hundred and seventy-five a swindler by

means of it succeeds not only in maintaining himself in dashing

style, but also in sporting a flashy traveling companion of the

female persuasion!

Where the letters are addressed to men, the articles reported to be

found in the imaginary trunk are changed to correspond to masculine

habits and wants. The operators receive many singular and some

entertaining replies. The following, dated long ago from a small

town at the South, may serve as a sample, the orthography of the

original being preserved:--


"Dear Sir,--Yours received, and you say John is dead. Poor fellow!

I always expected it. Death runs in the family. Dyed suddenly of

appleplexy--eat too many apples. Well, I always thought John would

hurt himself eating apples. I s'pose you had him buried. You said

nothing about funeral expenses. He had a trunk--gold watch in it,

&c. Well, well, what an unexpected legacy! but strange things

happen sometimes. Never thought I should get a gold watch so. And

he had the watch in his trunk, did he? Poor fellow! was always so

particular 'bout his watch and fixings. Had two revolvers. What

is them? I never heard John say anything about them. Well, you

have been so kind as to write to me; just keep all the balance of

the things, you can have them; but the gold watch, send that to me

by express. Send immediately if not sooner."

"Very truly,


"P. S. My mother in law says, if you come this way, call. She

likes to know all such good, kind folks."

It is safe to conclude that "Col. Snowden" never accepted the

invitation to call from the hospitable mother-in-law.