The Calumet Christmas Catastrophe


A reading from America’s historical newspapers in the golden age of yellow journalism

Panic at the Italian Hall

This episode comes from the request of a listener in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who wanted to know more about the panic disaster that took place at the Calumet Italian Hall in 1913.

I actually went through Calumet a couple of years ago on vacation when we wanted to see what the upper peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan was like.

We found a lot of good microbreweries and wandered about some of the old copper mines, but we missed the monument dedicated to the victims of this horrible tragedy.

Now that I know about it, the next time I’m in Calumet, I will definitely pay my respects. It’s a sad story, folks, but I think it’s an important one to remember because it’s all about what happens when we lose our civility.

Theme music by Dave Sams

Some incidental music via Creative Commons license


1913 1208 The_Calumet_News_Mon__Dec_8__1913_ 1913 1210 The_Calumet_News_Wed__Dec_10__1913_ 1913 1211 The_Calumet_News_Thu__Dec_11__1913_ 1913 1224 The_Calumet_News_Wed__Dec_24__1913_ 1913 1226 The_Calumet_News_Fri__Dec_26__1913_ 1913 1226 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Fri__Dec_26__1913_ 1913 1227 The_Evening_Herald_Sat__Dec_27__1913_ 1913 1227 1914 0307 The_Calumet_News_Sat__Mar_7__1914_ door Panic Disasters The_Calumet_News_Sat__Dec_27__1913_

The Pig Woman’s Tale


A reading from the pioneers of true crime.

Murder Under the Crab Apple Tree
By Damon Runyon

When a friend of mine started pitching Hall-Mills murder to me as a potential episode, I was immediately enthralled by the tale of an Episcopalian rector and his tragic affair with the choir singer, but when he told me the case hinged on the eyewitness testimony of “the pig woman,” I knew this was a story for True Crime Historian.

display_300x250_pizza_inner-chefBut it gets even better.

I started looking into it and discovered that the famed sportswriter Damon Runyon covered the trial with the same breezy prose he used in the short stories he wrote that inspired the musical “Guys and Dolls,” with daily dispatches drawing vivid word pictures of the trial and its participants.

I felt it worthy of in depth exploration, so we’ll be doing a six episode series released on consecutive Sundays to hear all about the case and its cast of characters as told by one of America’s premier storytellers, who turns out to also be a pioneer of True Crime.

Musical direction by Dave Sams

CLICK HERE for published transcript of Mrs. Gibson’s testimony

Part 1 Clips:

1926 1105 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Fri__Nov_5__1926_ 1926 1106 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Sat__Nov_6__1926_ 1926 1106 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Sat__Nov_6__1926_headline 1926 1110 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Wed__Nov_10__1926_

Part II Clips:

Part III Clips

1926 1119 The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Fri__Nov_19__1926_

Mount_Carmel_Item_Sat__Nov_20__1926_ Santa_Cruz_Evening_News_Sat__Nov_20__1926_ St__Louis_Post_Dispatch_Fri__Nov_3__1922_ St__Louis_Post_Dispatch_Sat__Oct_28__1922_ St__Louis_Post_Dispatch_Sun__Oct_29__1922_