Origin of the Boad Nelly?
Sat Feb 2, 2019 10:21

In 2006, I first posted some personal thoughts about the origins of the “Boad Nelly,” ie. a potential connection between the name of the fictitious boat named by the kidnapper in the final ransom note, and Nellie Bly, the woman journalist and adventurer.

On November 14, 1889, news reporter Nellie Bly (born Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman) began her famous world-wide journey on the Hamburg-American Company liner Augusta Victoria from the Hoboken Pier in New Jersey. At the time, many woman newspaper writers adopted pen names. In this case Seaman’s editor chose "Nellie Bly", after the title character in the popular song "Nelly Bly,” written by Stephen Foster in 1850. Cochrane originally intended for her pseudonym to be spelled "Nelly Bly," as in the song, but her editor incorrectly wrote "Nellie" by mistake and this name stuck.

Over the course of seventy-two days, Nellie hopped from train to boat to rickshaw in order to make her necessary connections. Her ongoing travel experiences were published daily in the “New York World” and eagerly read by all. Seventy-two days after her departure, Nellie arrived home at the same Hoboken pier. She was greeted with fireworks, parades and brass bands and was catapulted into the world's spotlight, not unlike the celebrity status accorded to Charles Lindbergh, following his trans-Atlantic flight.

Richard Hauptmann landed at Hoboken Pier in November of 1923, and could well have come to associate the place he landed in America with the location of Nellie’s departure and arrival. Perhaps there was some plaque of recognition that briefly described Nellie Bly's adventure, there. I really don’t know, but it seems reasonable to me that Hauptmann would ultimately have heard about her exploits afterwards and connected that same Hoboken Pier in his mind, not to mention the significance of his own personal struggle to finally reach America after three very tortuous attempts.

Hauptmann was also known to enjoy playing German folk songs on his mandolin, and singing them with others in a group setting. As he adopted America as his new home, he broadened his repertoire to include many American folk tunes, and surely would have been aware of the popular compositions by Stephen Foster, of which "Nelly Bly" is a mainstay.

Nellie Bly died on January 27, 1922, and her passing was widely reported. About a year-and-a-half later, Richard Hauptmann arrived at that same Hoboken Pier as an illegal immigrant.

Elizabeth (Nellie Bly) Cochrane Seaman is buried in the Honeysuckle Plot, Range 19, Grave 212 at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, not far from where John Condon met Cemetery John for the first time, on March 12, 1932.

    • Re: Origin of the Boad Nelly?Sue for Joe, Mon Feb 4 12:46
      Joe, We all get our ideas from SOMEWHERE. There is a children's book called Nelly and her Boat by Josephine Franklin. I believe the publishing date is 1861. Also, there is a 2013 book called 80 Days: ... more
      • Re: Origin of the Boad Nelly?steve for sue, Thu Feb 7 09:41
        of course I wouldn't have got it if it wasn't 50 cents
        • Who was the Cuttyhunk seafaring man that Dorothy Wayman was referring to in Bite the Bullet? The man that Condon knew at City Island in Pelham Bay? What particular Boad Nelly info. did Dorothy... more
    • Re: Origin of the Boad Nelly?steve for joe, Mon Feb 4 11:20
      it seems logical, but theres no telling if he really used her name in that note
      • Re: Origin of the Boad Nelly?Joe for Steve, Mon Feb 4 11:50
        You're right Steve and I just throw it out there. Could have been the name of the boat Richard rode with Anna through the Coney Island Tunnel of Love when he proposed, the one they rented on their... more
        • NellyAnonymous, Thu Feb 7 17:00
          Not the traveler Nelly Bly. There was a (then) famous kidnapping involving "Nelly" BRH's wife wore her dresses.
          • Re: NellyJoe , Fri Feb 8 08:39
            You're referring to Nell Donnelly, who founded the Donnelly Garment Company with her husband Paul, and had been kidnapped in 1931. As far as I know, Nell was never known as Nelly, has no obvious... more
            • Re: NellyAnonymous, Fri Feb 8 11:17
              That kidnaping case (Nellydon) was widely covered in the newspapers at the time, and was certainly part of the "world affair" that the kidnaper was making reference to. We must avoid being too... more
              • Re: NellyJoe, Fri Feb 8 11:53
                Certainly we need to maintain an open mind and that applies not only to this scenario. I'd venture the jigsaw puzzle that makes up this case is 80% complete with BRH quite central, but not all of the ... more
                • Re: NellyAnonymous, Mon Feb 11 10:06
                  Was Nellie Bly kidnapped? ;-)
                  • Re: NellyJoe, Wed Feb 13 14:30
                    No, but I'd venture she has more of a potential personal association with Richard Hauptmann for the reasons I mentioned, than a dress designer in Kansas City, that seething hotbed of nautical... more
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