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Pittsburgh Daily Chronicle and Telegraph
Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
November 27, 1888



A Familiar Figure in This Country and
Europe-What New Yorkers
Know About Him.

NEW YORK, November 27.-Among the scores of men arrested by the London police, suspected of having something to do with the Whitechapel horror, only one is still regarded with suspicion.

He is said to be an American and his name has come over the cables as Kumberty, Twomberty and Tumberty; but the description which accompanies the various names was the same all the time, and it told of a man who, once seen, was not likely to be forgotten.

He is known from one end of the country to the other, but, strange to say, while scores of people can give the most minute particulars as to his dress, carriage and personal appearance, from the color of his scarf to the size of his boot, no one appears to have the least idea of his home life, his business, his associates or his friends.

Men who have known him by sight for thirty years never saw him greet any one as a friend, never saw him in company with any one, and never knew just what his business was. It seems impossible that a man whose appearance is so striking as to attract universal attention on a crowded street should be able to throw about his movements an air of such impenetrable mystery. He has been seen in almost every city of the country from San Francisco to Bangor, Me., yet no one knows where he was born, where he was raised, whether he is married or single, childless or with a family, or a hundred other little details which ordinary man are so fond of talking about. Dr. "Twomblety," for that is the name by which he is known in New York, is a man who evidently has some strong reason for keeping his life buried in profound obscurity. "I have known 'Dr.' Twomblety by sight for thirty years," said William H. Carr, the veteran clerk of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, last night, "and I can tell you absolutely nothing about the man's habits, except what clothes he wore and how he looked. It was along in the fifties when I first saw him. I was then living in Boston, and I believe he lived somewhere in the North End. There was a vague rumor that he had an office somewhere and sold patent medicine, but I never saw anyone who knew where the shop was or what he sold. Every one noticed him in those days, as is the case now, on account of his peculiar dressing. He would appear on the street in the most outlandish garments, fancy colored vests, gorgeous jewelry, and flashy coats and trousers.

"When I came to New York early in the sixties I saw the 'doctor' perambulating Broadway with an enormous greyhound following after him. In those days he used to wear a velvet coat, a blood-red necktie, a flowered vest, white trousers and flashy gloves, and he always carried a riding whip in his hand. He came into the Fifth Avenue Hotel often and would walk through the lobby in pompous style, with his chest thrown out and his shoulders well squared; but I never in my life saw him speak to any one, I never saw him accompanied by a friend, and I never knew him to inquire for any one. I have often speculated about his means of living. I never saw any one who could tell anything about him, though hundreds of people knew his name and had seen him in cities all over the country. I have not seen him for several years, and the last time he came into the Hotel I noticed that he was aging rapidly. He is a singular character."

"Did you ever hear that he had an aversion to women?" Mr. Carr was asked.

"I heard several stories about that," he replied, "and the general impression among those who knew about his habits was that he avoided women. I never heard of his offering them any violence, and, indeed, he was the very last man I would think likely to be guilty of such crimes as those in Whitechapel."

Colonel James L. Sothern, of Chicago, the well known lawyer, was talking to a group of friends in the Hoffman House when some one mentioned Twombelty's cause. "I have met that fellow all over America and Europe," said Colonel Sothern. "The first time I saw him was in London. It was along about 1870, I believe, and he was dressed up in the most startling fashion. I never saw anything quite equal to it. He had an enormous Russian shako on his head, an overcoat, the front of which was covered with decorations; earrings in his ears and by his side a very black negro, fantastically gotten up in a parti-colored dress that appeared to be a blending of the flags of all the nations. A great crowd followed him, but he didn't appear to notice them. I saw him afterwards in San Francisco, and I have seen him a hundred times in Chicago. Once I met him in Cincinnati parading through the Burnet House, and I asked the clerk who he was. He told me the fellow's name was Twomblety, but said he knew nothing about him, except that he didn't live there, and appeared to know no one. He said that he was a kind of patent medicine man, he believed, who sold some off-color medicine."

James Pryor, the detective of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, appeared to know more of the mysterious Twomblety than any one else. "It must have been twenty years ago since I first saw him," said Pryor, "and I can see him now just like he was then. He had an army officer's cap, a big cape, and light colored trousers. He was a dandy then, I tell you. You couldn't find a finer made man in this town. He had a big black mustache, one of the blacking-brush kind, black eyes, a good complexion and a walk like he had just been elected Alderman. He had a kind of a fake medicine shop down on Grand street, where he sold his patent medicine. They chased him away from there and he opened up his place in Jersey City. I don't know how he made his money but he always appeared to have plenty of it.

"Wherever he went he was followed by a thick-set young man, who kept about twenty paces behind him. They never spoke to each other, and when the 'doctor' would come into the hotel his shadow would lounge in after him. They got to telling tough stories about the 'doctor,' and the guests complained about him-the gentlemen, I mean-and said they didn't care to have him so near them, so I determined to bounce him. I remember that day very well, because I fired another fellow just before I did the 'doctor,' and what happened afterwards made me remember that other fellow. The other chap was a wild-faced little fellow, who used to be 'strung up' by the Republican National Committee in the daytime. They would get him to make speeches for them and tell him they were going to give him a consultship. I said to them, 'You had better let that fellow alone. He will hurt somebody some day.' One morning I went into the reading-room, and there he was writing a speech in his bare feet. He had taken his shoes off and thrown them aside. I had a tough time getting him out, because he didn't want to go. The little fellow's name was Guiteau, and three months afterwards he killed President Garfield.

"But I never had that trouble with the 'doctor.' He was very quiet, and as soon as he humbled to the fact that I knew him he went right out. I saw him a year afterwards passing the hotel. He never came in, though. I have spent the best part of twenty years on Broadway and I have seen a great many curious characters, but Twomblety is one of the oddest fish I ever saw. He always had plenty of money, he appeared to dress regardless of expense and paid his bills, but I never could find out where the money came from or where the fellow lived."

"Do you think he is the Whitechapel murderer?"

"I certainly do not," the detective replied emphatically. "If I were to search New York for a man less likely to be guilty than the 'doctor' I wouldn't find him. Why, he hasn't the nerve of a chicken. He just had enough nerve to put some molasses and water together and label it as medicine-the biggest words being in the latin-and sell it."

Related pages:
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       Official Documents: The Littlechild Letter 
       Press Reports: Arkansas Gazette - 16 April 1891 
       Press Reports: Arkansas Gazette - 19 April 1891 
       Press Reports: Atchison Daily Globe - 15 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Atlanta Constitution - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 
       Press Reports: Brandon Mail - 22 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 10 May 1864 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 10 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 18 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 19 June 1865 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 2 February 1889 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 27 April 1890 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 28 January 1889 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 4 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 6 May 1864 
       Press Reports: Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 8 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Bucks County Gazette - 13 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Bucks County Gazette - 20 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Burlington Weekly Hawkeye - 6 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Chicago Tribune - 22 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Chicago Tribune - 22 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Chicago Tribune - 6 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Courier du Canada - 4 November 1857 
       Press Reports: Courier du Canada - 6 November 1857 
       Press Reports: Daily Alta California - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Examiner - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Examiner - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Daily Sun - 22 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Herald - 26 June 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Review - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 11 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 17 April 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 2 June 1865 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 21 April 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 27 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 3 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 30 June 1862 
       Press Reports: Evening Star - 4 December 1861 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 18 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Frederick News - 5 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 7 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Hamilton Evening Times - 29 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Hamilton Evening Times - 8 May 1865 
       Press Reports: Hornesville Weekly Tribune - 21 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Canadian - 12 October 1875 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 29 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Manitoba Daily Free Press - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 14 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 16 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 23 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 24 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 25 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 26 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 28 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Montreal Pilot - 30 September 1857 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 10 July 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 11 August 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 13 September 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 14 August 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 16 October 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 27 September 1860 
       Press Reports: Morning Freeman - 39 September 1860 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 26 June 1903 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 10 June 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 26 June 1903 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 5 May 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 7 May 1865 
       Press Reports: New York Tribune - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 19 November 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 2 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 5 December 1888 
       Press Reports: New York World - 6 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 30 May 1903 
       Press Reports: Oakland Daily Evening Tribune - 8 December 1890 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 3 January 1889 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 7 February 1889 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 8 August 1889 
       Press Reports: Perth Courier - 26 November 1858 
       Press Reports: Reno Evening Gazette - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser - 4 April 1881 
       Press Reports: Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser - 5 April 1881 
       Press Reports: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - 23 June 1905 
       Press Reports: Rochester Democrat and Republican - 3 December 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 18 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Chronicle - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Morning Call - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Report - 21 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Daily Report - 23 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Examiner - 25 November 1888 
       Press Reports: San Francisco Examiner - 27 November 1888 
       Press Reports: St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch - 20 March 1862 
       Press Reports: St. Thomas Weekly Dispatch - 28 March 1861 
       Press Reports: Syracuse Herald - 30 November 1888 
       Press Reports: The Headquarters - 12 February 1862 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 1 December 1873 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 17 July 1886 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 4 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 6 December 1888 
       Press Reports: Vallejo Chronicle - 20 November 1888 
       Press Reports: Vanity Fair - 3 August 1861 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 18 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 19 November 1890 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 21 March 1905 
       Press Reports: Washington Post - 22 April 1891 
       Press Reports: Williamsport Sunday Grit - 9 December 1888 
       Ripper Media: A Few Passages in the Life of Dr. Francis Tumblety 
       Ripper Media: Dr. Francis Tumblety: A Sketch of the Life of the Gifted,... 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Francis Tumblety 
       Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: First American Serial Killer 
       Ripper Media: Narrative of Dr. Tumbletyy 
       Ripper Media: The Writings of Francis Tumblety 
       Suspects: Francis Tumblety 
       Suspects: Francis Tumblety's Grave 
       Victorian London: Batty Street