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Jack The Ripper In America. Did Jack The Ripper Visit The United States?

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Author Topic: Jack The Ripper In America. Did Jack The Ripper Visit The United States?  (Read 2149 times)
Keira Kensington
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Posts: 4704

« Reply #60 on: April 06, 2015, 05:57:28 pm »

Francis Tumblety

Francis Tumblety (1833-1903)
a.k.a. J.H. Blackburn, Frank Townsend

Very little information has been ascertained about Tumblety’s beginnings, his birthplace being the first of many mysteries surrounding this new suspect. According to Evans and Gainey’s 1995 edition of Jack the Ripper: First American Serial Killer (pg. 188) he was born in Canada, while the most recent edition (1996) of The Jack the Ripper A-Z (pg. 453) lists his birthplace as Ireland. Even the exact year of his birth is still in question. In any event, he was born to James and Margaret Tumblety sometime around 1833, the youngest of eleven children: Patrick, Lawrence, Jane and Bridget (twins), Alice, Margaret, Ann, Julia, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Sometime within the next decade (this date, too, is undetermined), the Tumblety clan moved to Rochester, New York. The city directories first enumerate the Tumblety name (which has various spellings: Tumblety, Tumuelty, Tumility, Twomblety, et alia) in 1844 with Lawrence Tumuelty, listed as a gardener, living at the corner of Sophia and Clarissa streets. The other brother, Patrick, first is seen in the directory of 1849, listed as a fireman at Rapids in Rochester, and living at 6 Andrews. It was recently discovered that Francis’s father (named James, not Frank, as was noted in earlier editions of Evans and Gainey) died on May 7th, 1851.

Our first impressions of the young Francis begin around 1848, when neighbors and acquaintances thought him 'a dirty, awkward, ignorant, uncared-for, good-for-nothing boy... utterly devoid of education.' He was also known to peddle pornographic literature on the canal boats of Rochester. Sometime in adolescence he also began working at a small drug store run by a Dr. Lispenard, said to have 'carried on a medical business of a disreputable kind (Rochester Democrat and Republican, Dec.3, 1888).'

Around 1850 (just before the death of his father), Francis left Rochester, perhaps for Detroit. Here he started his own practice as an Indian herb doctor, which must have prospered since from 1854 onward he always appeared as if of considerable wealth.

He next turns up in Montreal in the fall of 1857, where he again made himself known as a prominent physician. Controversy brewed, however, when he was asked to run in the provincial elections of 1857-8. He declined the offer in what would become typical Tumblety fashion; with a grandiose and overbearing explanation in the local newspaper. But there was more: Tumblety was arrested on September 23, 1857 for attempting to abort the pregnancy of a local prostitute named Philomene Dumas. It was alleged that he sold her a bottle of pills and liquid for the purpose, but after some legal haggling Tumblety was released on October 1. A verdict of ‘no true bill’ was reached on the 24th and no trial was ever undertaken.

In either early 1858 (A-Z, 453) or July 1860 (Evans and Gainey, 258), Tumblety left Montreal for Saint John. In September of 1860, he again found trouble when a patient of his named James Portmore died while taking medicine prescribed by Tumblety. In his typical brazen fashion, Tumblety showed up at the coroner’s inquest and questioned Portmore’s widow himself as to the cause of death. The ruse didn’t work, however, and Tumblety made a last-ditch attempt at freedom by fleeing the town for Calais Maine.

From there he travelled to Boston, where he began what would be a long-running trademark: he would wear a military outfit and ride a white steed, sometimes leading two greyhounds before him. He didn’t remain long in Boston, however, and would soon travel and work in New York, Jersey City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and a variety of other cities. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Tumblety moved to the capital and put on the airs of a Union army surgeon, claiming to be friends with President Lincoln, General Grant, and a host of other well-known political figures. It was at this time that Tumblety’s alleged hatred for women became most pronounced, as seen in the testimony of a Colonel Dunham, who was one night invited to dinner by Tumblety:
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