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Rochester Democrat and Republican
3 December 1888

THE story of the career of Dr. Tumblety, suspected of having instigated, if not of having actually committed, the terrible Whitechapel atrocities, is published elsewhere. Whether or not the facts thus far revealed warrant the charge made against him may be somewhat dubious; but he is shown to be a charlatan and to entertain the most vindictive feeling toward fallen women; and the account of his adventures and pretensions certainly furnishes an interesting chapter in the annals of crime; and it is not the less interesting to this community from the fact that he here passed his boyhood days, and here, in later years, made something of a sensation by reason of his grotesque appearance and singular habits.



An American Quack Suspected of the Whitechapel Crimes.




A braggart and Charlatan -- Circumstances Against Him -- Details of His Adventurous career -- A Rochester Boy. -- His Life in This City.


Special to the New York World.

LONDON, Dec. 1.--The last seen of Dr. Tumblety was at Havre, and it is taken for granted that he has sailed for New York. It will be remembered that the doctor, who is known in this country for his eccentricities, was arrested some time ago in London on suspicion of being concerned in the perpetration of the Whitechapel murders. The police, being unable to procure the necessary evidence against him in connection therewith, decided to hold him for trial for another offense against a statute which was passed shortly after the publication in the Pall Mall Gazette


A London detective wishing to get information about the man now under arrest for complicity in some way with the Whitechapel crimes has only to go to any large city the world over, describe the curious garb and manners of Francis Tumblety, M.D., and he can gather facts and surmises to almost any extent. In London he calls himself Twomblety. In this city there are scores who know him, and not one has a kind word to say for the strange creature, but from those most intimate come rumors, reports and positive assertions of the practices of the man.

In this city he had a little experience with the law, and this enable the lawyers to worm out something of his his (sic) history. William P. Burr, of No. 320 Broadway, speaking of the man yesterday, said: "I met him in July, 1880. He brought a suit against a Mrs. Lyons, charging her with the larceny of $7,000 worth of bonds, and I was retained to defend her. It seems that several years before he met the son of Mrs. Lyons while walking on the Battery. The lad had just come from college and was a fine looking young man. He was out of employment. Tumblety greeted him and soon had him under complete control. He made him a sort of secretary in the management of his bonds, of which he had about $100,000 worth, mostly in governments, locked up in a downtown safe-deposit company. He employed the youth as an amanuensis, as he personally was most illiterate. On April 23, 1878, the 'Doctor,' as he was called, started for Europe by the Guion line steamer Montana. See, here is his name on the passenger-list, 'Dr. Tumblety.' He gave a power of attorney to the young man, and under that some South Carolina railroad bonds were disposed of, as it was claimed and shown, under an agreement that they were to be taken as compensation. When Tumblety got back the young man had disappeared and the mother was arrested, charged by the 'Doctor' with having taken the bonds. I remember the examination to which I subjected him at the Tombs Police Court.

"James D. McClelland was his lawyer, and I went into history of the doctor's life. I remember well how indignant he became when I asked him what institution had the honor of graduating so precious a pupil. He refused to answer, and was told the only reason which he could refuse was that the answer would tend to humilate (sic) or criminate him. He still refused to answer, and I thought he would spring at me to strike. There was quite a commotion in court. The case fell through and the old lady was not held. The son returned and brought a suit against the doctor, charging atrcious (sic) assault, and the evidence collected in this case was of the most disgusting sort. The lawyer who had the matter in hand is now dead, but I remember that there was a page of the Police Gazette as one exhibit, in which the portrait of the doctor appeared, with several columns of biography about him. This suit was not pushed, and then came another suit brought by this Tumblety against William P. O'Connor, a broker, for disposing of the bonds. Boardman & Boardman, defended and gathered up a great mass of evidence against the doctor, Charles Frost and Charles Chambers, detectives of Brooklyn, had evidence against him. At this time he kept an herb store, or something of that sort, at No. 77 East Tenth street. The suit did not come to anything, and I do not know of any other law matters in which this notorious man was concerned.


"I had seen him before that time hovering about the old postoffice building, where there were many clerks. He had a seeming mania for the company of young men and grown-up youths. In the course of our investigations about the man we gathered up many stray bits of history about him, but nothing to make a connected life story. He had a superabundance of cheek and nothing could make him abashed. He was a coward physically, though he looked like a giant, and he struck me as one who would be vindictive to the last degree. He was a tremendous traveller, and while away in Europe his letters to young Lyon showed that he was in every city of Europe. The English authorities, who are now telegraphing for samples of his writing from San Francisco, ought to get them in any city of Europe. I had a big batch of letters sent by him to the young man Lyon, and they were the most amusing farrago of illiterate nonsense. Here is one written from the West. He never failed to warn his correspondence against lewd women, and in doing it used the most shocking language. I do not know how he made his money. He had it before he became acquainted with the Lyon family, and was a very liberal splendor. My own idea of this case is that it would be just such a thing as Tumblety would be concerned in, but he might get one of his victims to do the work, for once he had a young man under his control he seemed to be able to do anything with the victim."


Colonel C. A. Dunham, a well-known lawyer who lives near Fairview, N.J., was intimately acquainted with Twomblety for many years, and, in his own mind, had long connected him with the Whitechapel horrors. "The man's real name," said the lawyer,"is Tumblety, with Francis for a Christian name. I have here a book published by him a number of years ago, describing some of his strange adventures and wonderful cures, all lies, of course, in which the name Francis Tumblety, M.D., appears. When, to my knowledge of the man's history, his idiosyncrasies, his revolting practices, his antipathy to women, and especially to fallen women, his anatomical museum, containing many specimens like those carved from the Whitechapel victims--when, to my knowledge on these subjects, there is added the fact of his arrest on suspicion of being the murderer, there appears to me nothing improbable in the suggestion that Tumblety is the culprit.

"He is not a doctor. A more arrant charlatan and quack never fastened on the hopes and fears of afflicted humanity. I first made the fellow's acquaintance a few days after the battle of Bull Run. Although a very young man at the time I held a colonel's commission in the army, and was at the capital on official business. The city was full of strangers, 90 per cent of them military men. All the first-class hotels resembled beehives. Among them were many fine-looking and many peculiar-looking men, but of the thousands there was not one that attracted half as much attention as Tumblety. A Titan in stature, with a very red face and long flowing mustache, he would have been a noticeable personage in any place and in any garb. But, decked in a richly embroidered coat or jacket, with a medal held by a gay ribbon on each breast, a semi-military cap with a high peak, cavalry trousers with the brightest of yellow stripes, riding boots and spurs fit for a show window, a dignified and rather stagy gait and manner, he was as unique a figure as could be found anywhere in real life. When followed, as he generally was, by a valet and two great dogs, he was no doubt the envy of many hearts. The fellow was everywhere. I never saw anything so nearly approaching ubiquity. Go where you would, to any of the hotels, to the war department or the navy yard, you were sure to find the 'doctor.' He had no business in either place, but he went there to impress the officers whom he would meet. He professed to have an extensive experience in European hospitals and armies, and claimed to have diplomas from the foremost medical colleges of the Old World and New. He had, he declared, after much persuasion accepted the commission of brigade surgeon at a great sacrifice pecuniarily; but, with great complacency, he always added that, fortunately for his private patients, his official duties would not, for a considerable time, take him away from the city.


"At length it was whispered about that he was an adventurer. One day my lieutenant-colonel and myself accepted the the (sic) 'doctor's' invitation to a late dinner--symposium, he called it--at his rooms. He had very cosy and tastefully arranged quarters in, I believe, H. street. There were three rooms on a floor, the rear one being his office, with a bedroom or two a story higher. On reaching the place we found covers laid for eight--that being the 'doctor's' lucky number, he said--several of the guests, all in the military service, were persons with whom we were already acquainted. It was soon apparent that whatever Tumblety's deficiencies as a surgeon, as an amphitryon he could not easily be excelled. His menu, with colored waiters and the et ceteras, was furnished by one of the best caterers in the city. After dinner there were brought out two tables for play--for poker or whist. In the course of the evening some of the party, warmed by the wine, proposed to play for heavy stakes, but Tumblety frowned down the proposition at once and in such a way as to show he was no gambler. Some one asked why he had not invited some women to his dinner. His face instantly became as black as a thunder cloud. He had a pack of cards in his hand, but he laid them down and said, almost savagely: 'No, Colonel, I don't know any such cattle, and if I did I would, as your friend, sooner give you a dose of quick poison than take you into such danger.' He then broke into a homily on the sin and folly of dissipation, fiercely denounced all woman and especially fallen women.

"Then he invited us into his office where he illustrated his lecture, so to speak. One side of this room was entirely occupied with cases, outwardly resembling wardrobes. When the doors were opened quite a museum was revealed--tiers of shelves with glass jars and cases, some round and others square, filled with all sorts of antomical (sic) specimens. The 'doctor' placed on a table a dozen or more jars containing, as he said, the matrices of every class of women. Nearly a half of one of these cases was occupied exclusively with these specimens.


"Not long after this the 'doctor' was in my room when my lieutenant-colonel came in and commenced expatiating on the charms of a certain woman. In a moment, almost, the doctor was lecturing him and denouncing women. When he was asked why he hated women, he said that when quite a young man he fell desperately in love with a pretty girl, rather his senior, who promised to reciprocate his affection. After a brief courtship he married her. The honeymoon was not over when he noticed a disposition on the part of his wife to flirt with other men. He remonstrated, she kissed him, called him a deer, jealous fool--and he believed her. Happening one day to pass in a cab through the worst part of the town he saw his wife and a man enter a gloomy-looking house. Then he learned that before her marriage his wife had been an inmate of that and many similar houses. Then he gave up all womankind.

Shortly after telling this story the "doctor's" real character became known and he slipped away to St. Louis, where he was arrested for wearing the uniform of an army surgeon.

Colonel Dunham was asked whether there was any truth in the statement of a city paper that Harrold, who was hanged as one of Booth's confederates in the assassination of Lincoln, was at one time the "doctor's" valet. The reply was that it was not true. The gentleman added that he could speak positively on the subject, as he knew the valet well.

Colonel Dunham also said that Tumblety had not been arrested on suspicion of having guilty knowledge of the assassination conspiracy. "He was arrested in St. Louis," said the Colonel, "on suspicion of being Luke P. Blackburn, lately governor of Kentucky, who had been falsely charged with trying to introduce yellow fever into the northern cities by means of infected rags. It is perfectly clear that Tumblety purposely brought about his own arrest by sending anonymous letters to the federal authorities to the effect that Blackburn and himself were identical. His object, of course, was notoriety. He knew he was too well known in Washington, whither he felt certain he would be sent, to be kept long in custody.


"Tumblety would do almost anything under heaven for notoriety, and although his notoriety in Washington was of a kind to turn people from him, it brought some to him. Let me tell you of one of his schemes. At that time there was a free--or it may have been 10-cent--concert saloon known as the Cantebury Music hall. The performance embraced music, dances, farces, etc.. One day Tumblety told me, apparently in great distress, that the management of the Cantebury Hall had been burlesquing him on the stage. An actor, he said, was made up in minute imitation of himself, and strutted about the stage with two dogs something like his own, while another performer sang a topical song introducing his name in a rediculous (sic) way. That night, or the next, I went with some friends to this concert hall, and, sure enough about 10 o'clock out came a performer the very image of Tumblety. In a minute a dog, that did not resemble the "doctor's," sprang from the auditorium upon the stage and followed the strutting figure. The longer I examined the figure the greater became my surprise at the perfection of the make-up. Before I reached my hotel I began, in common with my companions, to suspect that the figure was no other than Tumblety himself. The next day the lieutenant-colonel told the 'doctor' our suspicions. The fellow appeared greatly hurt. He at once instituted an action against the proprietor of the hall for libel. The action was another sham, and three or four nights afterwards the 'doctor' was completely unmasked. When the song was under way a powerful man suddenly sprang from the auditorium to the stage, exclaiming at the figure: 'See here, you infernal scoundrel, Dr. Tumblety is my friend, and I won't see him insulted by such an effigy as you are. Come, off with that false mustache and duds,' and quick as a flash he seized the doctor's hirsute appendage and pulled it for all it would stand, threw his cap among the audience and otherwise showed the fellow up. The 'doctor,' though a powerful man, made no struggle except to get behind the scenes as soon as possible.

"Tumblety's book contains, as subscribers to testimonials to his righ (sic) social standing and medical skill in Canada, the names of some of the best-known people in the Dominion and elsewhere. Evidently the testimonials are bogus. The book was doubtless intended for distribution among persons who would never suspect or discover the fraud, and there was little or no danger of its reaching any of the parties whose names accompanied the lying commendations. Tumblety, I am sure, would rather have lost $1,000 than that a copy have fallen into my hands. I obtained it in this way: Meeting him one day in Brooklyn, near his office, he urged me to go in for a chat. As I was standing by his desk, about to leave, I voluntarily picked up the book and, while I was yet talking, mechanically turned over the leaves. The name of a friend having suddenly caught my eye and aroused my curiosity, I asked the 'doctor' to let me take the book. This he good-naturedly objected to, making various excuses for refusing. I, however, insisted, and when he found me in dead earnest he reluctantly yielded."


Captain W.C. Streeter, an old resident of Rochester, N.Y., is quite sure that Tumblety is a native of that city. Captain Streeter is now the owner of a fine canal-boat that plies between this city and Buffalo, but in his youth lived in Rochester. A World reporter boarded his boat at pier 5, East River, yesterday, and found the Captain in his snug cabin surrounded by his wife, daughter, and son.

"The first recollection I have of him," said the Captain, "is along about 1848. I should judge he was then something like 15 years old and his name was Frank Tumblety. I don't know when he changed it to Twomblety. He was selling books and papers on the packets and was in the habit of boarding my boat a short distance from the town. The books he sold were largely of the kind Anthony Comstock surpresses (sic) now. His father was an Irishman an lived on the common south of the city on what was then known as Sophia street, but is now Plymouth Avenue and is about a mile from the center of the city. There were but few houses there then and the Tumblety's had no near neighbors. I don't remember what the father did. There were two boys older than Frank and one of them worked as a steward for Dr. Fitzhugh, then a prominent physician.

"Frank continued to sell papers until 1850, I think, and then disappeared, and I did not see him again for ten years, when he returned to Rochester as a great physician and soon became the wonder of the city. He wore a light fur overcoat that reached to his feet and had a dark collar and cuffs, and he was always followed by a big greyhound. When a boy he had no associates, and when he returned he was more exclusive and solitary than ever. I don't remember ever having seen him in company with another person in his walks. When I met him on his return, having known him quite well as a boy, I said, "Hello, Frank, how d'ye do?" and he merely replied, 'Hello Streeter,' and passed on. He had become very aristocratic during his absence. The papers had a great deal to say about him, and he created quite a sensation by giving barrels of flour and other provisions to poor people. Afterwards he went to Buffalo and did likewise, and I understand he visited other cities. I think Frank was born in Rochester. He had no foreign accent when I first met him, and I understood at the time that he was a Rochester boy. I remember after he became famous his two brothers quarrelled because each imagined the other was thought more of by the 'doctor.' I have not heard anything about him for fifteen years, as I moved away from Rochester. He was about five feet ten inches high, of rather slight build, and fine-looking, but evidently avoided society. I thought then that his mind had been affected by those books he sold, and am not at all surprised to hear his name mentioned in connection with the Whitechapel murders."


WASHINGTON, Dec. 1.--Mr. Edward Haywood, of the Bureau of Accounts in the State Department, has known Tumblety since boyhood, and when it was first mentioned in the newspapers that there were suspicions connecting Tumblety with the Whitechapel murders Mr. Haywood immediately said that the theory was quite tenable.

"I am in my fifty-second year," said Mr. Haywood to a World correspondent today, "and I fancy Frank Tumblety must be two or three years older. I remember him very well when he used to run about the canal in Rochester, N.Y., a dirty, awkward, ignorant, uncared-for, good-for-nothing boy. He was utterly devoid of education. He lived with his brother, who was my uncle's gardener. About 1855 I went West. Tumblety turned up in Detroit as a 'doctor.' The only training he ever had for the medical profession was in a little drug store at the back of the Arcade, which was kept by a 'Doctor' Lispenard, who carried on a medical business of a disreputable kind.

"A few years later I saw him here in Washington and he was putting on great style. He wore a military fatigue costume and told me he was on General McClellan's staff. Lieutenant Larry Sullivan, who belonged to a Rochester regiment, came up to him one day. He tried to palm the same tale off upon Sullivan, but the latter being perfectly familiar with McClellan's staff, told the imposter plainly just how great a liar he was. During the war and for some time after Tumblety remained in Washington and played the 'doctor' as he had done in Detroit. He got up some sort of a patent medicine, and at one time the walls were covered with large posters advertising the virtues of the Tumblety Pimple Destroyer. He must have made money, for he was able to spend plenty and live in the most extravagant elegance.

"Knowing him as I do I should not be the least surprised if he turned out to be Jack the Ripper."

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