"A woman came out from the East—Vermont, it was—and school-teaching was her line of business, only she hadn't been raised to it, and this was her first clatter at the game; but things had broke bad for her people, and ended in her pulling stakes and coming West all alone.
1913, William MacLeod Raine, Crooked trials and straight, page 134:
Half the bad men are only coltish cowpunchers gone wrong through rotten whiskey and luck breaking bad for them.
1917, Ring Lardner, “The Hold-out”, in Matthew Joseph Bruccoli, editor, Ring around the bases: the complete baseball stories of Ring Lardner, published 2003, page 413:
Hagedorn began to whine. "Mr. Edwards," he says, "you got me entirely wrong. I wouldn't lay down on nobody. I've give you my best every minute, and if I haven't it was because things broke bad for me." "What things?" I ast him.
Lawrence Pollard, the first man hanged there, wasn't evil, just greedy. It was 1702, wasn't it? But some of the others, probably psychopaths, are evil. Or maybe some just broke bad, like Fontaine Buruss broke bad.
2005, Will D. Campbell, The Glad River→ISBN, page 18:
But somehow he broke bad when he was just a yearling boy, started running around at night with a bad crowd, drinking beer and wine, and fighting and getting in all kinds of trouble and wouldn't go to school.