52 Documents in 52 Weeks #27 – David Curtain’s Social Visit

Person of Interest: David Curtin
Relationship: Absolutely none!

Source Citation: “A Pleasant Little Social Visit,” news, the Pittsburg Press (Pennsylvania), 27 August 1890, p. 7, col. 3; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/141342906/ : accessed 30 June 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.

Document Description: A digital clipping from a Pennsylvania newspaper found online at Newspapers.com.

Document Scan/Transcription: A Pleasant Little Social Visit.
Charles Munday and his wife were charged before Alderman Ayer with assaulting David Curtin. Curtin alleges that he went to pay the Mundays a social visit, when the whole family attacked him. Mrs. Munday got in several hard knocks on Curtin’s eye and then pulled his hair until he cried for mercy. She was arrested and in default of bail was sent to jail to await a trial. Her husband was released.

Analysis: It’s a holiday week and I’m also at the mid-way point of this 52 Documents in 52 Weeks (52D52W) project. So, this one is not family related and on a much lighter note. I was looking for a newspaper article about one Repsher (or relations) who visited another. What I was finding was a lot of little snippets, with no Repshers, which didn’t inspire a blog post, for example…[1]

or this…[2]

Interesting but not exactly what I had in mind. Then I came across the subject of this week’s post! It made me laugh out loud. There has to be a wonderful, untold story in this “pleasant little social visit” that turned out not so pleasant for one Mr. David Curtain and landed Mrs. Munday a trip to the pokey.

For me, so many questions pop out from reading this one paragraph:

  • How did David Curtain know the Mundays?
  • What was the motivation for David’s visit?
  • What time of day did this occur? What was the weather like?
  • How old were all the parties involved?
  • What are the nationalities of the parties involved?
  • What was everyone wearing?
  • What sort of house or apartment did the Mundays live in? Who were their neighbors?
  • What was said that caused made the WHOLE family attack him? Who did the whole family consist of?
    • Was there a daughter involved that perhaps David Curtain was seeing?
    • Perhaps David had a crush on Mrs. Munday and was professing his love?
    • Was there alcohol involved and a bit of liquid courage or belligerence going on?
  • What was the fight like?
    • What sort of punches was Mrs. Munday throwing? Jabs? Left hooks? All-out roundhouses?
      • Is pulling hair allowed in a fight?
      • What did David say when he was crying for mercy? “Uncle!” or “Mercy” or some other colorful phrase?
      • What was a good cuss phrase in 1890?
    • How loud was the ruckus?
      • Did any furniture get broken?
      • Did a physician attend to anyone’s wounds?
      • Who ultimately broke up the fight? Neighbors? The police?
  • Why did they not put up bail for Mrs. Munday to get out? Was the family in financial straits?
  • Why did they release Charles Munday? Was Mrs. Munday the only one doing the punching?

Giving this little snippet to a creative writing class as an assignment to write the background story would yield a bunch of wildly variant stories!

Genealogically, though, what is the value of this entertaining newspaper snippet? Well, it does serve a couple of purposes. It tells us that David Curtin knew a Mr. and Mrs. Charles Munday. Thorough research involves exploring all aspects of family unit, including friends, associates, and neighbors a.k.a the F.A.N. network. This vignette adds to the tapestry of the Munday’s story. Also, it tells us that there’s most likely court documents that we could pursue to dig up some information on the Mundays and possibly David Curtain. An exploration of their neighborhood in 1890 could provide some insight into the way they were living and/or stress they were under as they led their day-to-day lives.


Despite the headline, David Curtain’s visit to the Munday’s house could not have been pleasant for him. He ended up being attacked and, as a result, Mrs. Munday was thrown in jail to await trail on assault charges. The newspaper clipping provides a good jumping off point to dig up court documents and motivation to ferret out the “rest of the story!”

[1] “Society in Braddock,” news, the Pittsburg Press (Pennsylvania), 24 July 1898, p. 12, col. 5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/141935126/ : accessed 30 June 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.
[2] “Gloucester City,” news, the Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), 16 December 1894, p. 22, col. 5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/168073484/ : accessed 30 June 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.


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