#110 Edward Gearing

Edward Henry Garing (1848-1923), aka Edward Gearing, Eddie Goodie (Goodrich, Goode, Goody), Henry Miller — Butcher-cart thief

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-eight years old in 1886. Born in New York. Married. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 65 inches. Weight, 145 pounds. Brown hair, gray eyes, fair complexion. Has a goddess of liberty in India ink on left fore-arm, anchor and clasped hands on right fore-arm, and a heart on right hand. Bald in front of head. Generally wears a red mustache and whiskers, which he dyes black occasionally.

RECORD. Eddie Goodie, or Gearing, which is his right name, was the originator of butcher-cart work, in company of Steve Boyle and Big Frank McCoy (89), several years ago. He has been connected with nearly every robbery of that character which has taken place in New York City and vicinity for the last twenty years. He is one of the smartest thieves in America, a man of wonderful audacity and resources. He is so cunning and clever that he has always managed to slip out of the meshes of the law, while others not so crafty or culpable have slipped in. He was arrested in New York City on February 13, 1870, in company of a man who has since reformed, for stealing a case of silk valued at $17,000 from a Custom-house truck. The party arrested with Goodie was sent to prison for five years, he assuming all the blame and swearing that Goodie had nothing to do with the robbery.

In 1874 Goodie and Mike Hurley, alias Pugsie Hurley (88), robbed a butter merchant in Brooklyn, N.Y. They were let out on bail, which ended it. In 1875 Goodie, Billy Williams, Big John Tracy, and John McKewan robbed William B. Golden, a book-keeper, of $5,000, while he was on his way to pay off the hands of the Badger Iron Works Company, in New York City. The book-keeper left the Dry Dock Bank, then in East Tenth Street, New York, taking a horse-car. Two men entered after him, and seated themselves by his side. Another man, who was on horseback, followed the car. At Fourteenth Street and Avenue D the two men grabbed the money bag and threw it to the man on horseback, who was Goodie, and they all escaped. In 1876 the book-keeper of the Standard Oil Works left their main office, in Pearl Street, New York City, with $8,000 in money, to pay off the hands in Greenpoint. He was followed from New York by Goodie and two other men, who assaulted and robbed him. He was also implicated in robbing the cashier of the Planet Flour Mills, in Brooklyn, N.Y., of $3,500, in March, 1878. Goodie was the driver of the wagon used in the Northampton, Mass., bank robbery in January, 1876, and was an associate of Red Leary, George Bliss, Bob Dunlap, and several other expert bank robbers.

He was also connected with the Manhattan Bank robbery in New York City, in October, 1878. In the latter part of 1880, Goodie and Willie Farrell (109) robbed a man of $2,200 near the Bank of the Metropolis, New York. They escaped by driving away in a butcher-cart. It was Goodie who drove the butcher-cart when Ruppert’s collector was robbed of $9,600 in money, in East Forty-second Street, New York, in July, 1881. Goodie was the man that was described as wearing a big brown mustache, who jumped over the fence in Jersey City, N.J., on July 18, 1883, when Cashier Smith, of the National Bank of Orange, N.J., was assaulted and an attempt made to rob him of $10,000 in money. Pete Emmerson, alias Banjo Pete (90), Ned Farrell, and John Nugent, the other parties in this robbery, were arrested at the time, and are now in State prison. Goodie was arrested in New York City on February 7, 1884, charged, in connection with William Farrell (109) and James Titterington, with assaulting with a piece of lead pipe and robbing one Luther Church of $2,300, on December 31, 1883. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to twenty years in State prison on February 21, 1884, by Recorder Smyth, in the Court of General Sessions, New York City. Goodie’s picture is a good one, taken in February, 1884.

 

“Butcher-cart thieves” used one-horse wagons popular with butchers and other delivery services to accost bank messengers and other delivery men on the street and make quick getaways. Eddie Garing was among the best in this type of crime–Byrnes credits him with originating the technique–but Byrnes leaves out a critical piece of information. [Note that Byrnes and many newspapers used the spelling “Gearing”, but the family preferred “Garing.”]

Brynes lists Eddie Garing’s first crime as an 1870 robbery of a case of silk from a Custom-house truck, and mentions that he committed this crime “in the company of a man who has since reformed.” That man, whom Byrnes refused to name, was George Washington Garing, Edward Garing’s older brother. In fact, this brother, also known as “Wash Goodrich,” “Wash Goody,” “William Miller,” and “George Sloan” appears to have been the originator of the cart robbery technique; and he was arrested and convicted more times than his younger brother.

eddie-goodie
Edward Gearing. Illustration by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Byrnes profiled the younger brother only–which demonstrates Byrnes’ peculiar ethical sense. Byrnes, at least in this instance, appeared sensitive to the idea that reformed former convicts should not be outed in public. Moreover, Byrnes’ courtesy was–unfortunately–misplaced. In 1888 (two years after Byrnes published his book) Wash Garing was arrested for stealing a horse and wagon; and was suspected of robbing a feed-store safe along with Herman Palmer.

Meanwhile, Eddie Garing followed in his brother’s footsteps for 14 years (between 1870 and 1884) without being convicted. For many of those years he was a leader, along with James Titterington and Willie Farrell, of the Mackerelville gang, the terror of the East Side. The luck of Garing and Titterington ran out after they assaulted and nearly killed a man named Luther Church with a lead pipe during one robbery in 1884. For this crime, Eddie was sent to Sing Sing for a twenty year sentence. With time reduced he was released in 1896.

If Eddie then resumed his criminal career, he was equally lucky in escaping punishment in his late career as he was in his earlier career. He lived in Queens as a house-painter for the rest of his life, dying at age 75, with no further arrests or jail stays on his record.

Byrnes realized that it was possible for repeat offenders to reform; but in the case of Wash Garing, he miscalculated the man’s resolve. There is no formula to predict how many arrests or years in prison will move a criminal to reform–or whether that experience just encourages a return to crime. Both Garing brothers lived out their last years in freedom, so on their own terms they each decided to live a straight life.

 

Edward Henry Garing (#110)

Edward Henry Garing (1848-1923), aka Edward Gearing, Eddie Goodie (Goodrich, Goode, Goody), Henry Miller — Butcher-cart thief

“Butcher-cart thieves” used one-horse wagons popular with butchers and other delivery services to accost bank messengers and other delivery men on the street and make quick getaways. Eddie Garing was among the best in this type of crime–Byrnes credits him with originating the technique–but Byrnes leaves out a critical piece of information. [Note that Byrnes and many newspapers used the spelling “Gearing”, but the family preferred “Garing.”]

Brynes lists Eddie Garing’s first crime as an 1870 robbery of a case of silk from a Custom-house truck, and mentions that he committed this crime “in the company of a man who has since reformed.” That man, whom Byrnes refused to name, was George Washington Garing, Edward Garing’s older brother. In fact, this brother, also known as “Wash Goodrich,” “Wash Goody,” “William Miller,” and “George Sloan” appears to have been the originator of the cart robbery technique; and he was arrested and convicted more times than his younger brother.

eddie-goodie

Byrnes profiled the younger brother only–which demonstrates Byrnes’ peculiar ethical sense. Byrnes, at least in this instance, appeared sensitive to the idea that reformed former convicts should not be outed in public. Moreover, Byrnes’ courtesy was–unfortunately–misplaced. In 1888 (two years after Byrnes published his book) Wash Garing was arrested for stealing a horse and wagon; and was suspected of robbing a feed-store safe along with Herman Palmer.

Meanwhile, Eddie Garing followed in his brother’s footsteps for 14 years (between 1870 and 1884) without being convicted. For many of those years he was a leader, along with James Titterington and Willie Farrell, of the Mackerelville gang, the terror of the East Side. The luck of Garing and Titterington ran out after they assaulted and nearly killed a man (named “Luther Church”) with a lead pipe during one robbery in 1884. For this crime, Eddie was sent to Sing Sing for a twenty year sentence. With time reduced he was released in 1896.

If Eddie then resumed his criminal career, he was equally lucky in escaping punishment in his late career as he was in his earlier career. He lived in Queens as a house-painter for the rest of his life, dying at age 75, with no further arrests or jail stays on his record.

Byrnes realized that it was possible for repeat offenders to reform; but in the case of Wash Garing, he miscalculated the man’s resolve. There is no formula to predict how many arrests or years in prison will move a criminal to reform–or whether that experience just encourages a return to crime. Both Garing brothers lived out their last years in freedom, so on their own terms they each decided to live a straight life.

 

#77 Gustave Kindt

Gustave François Kindt (1835-1910), aka Isidore Marechal, French Gus, Frenchy — Thief, Toolmaker, Inventor

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty years old in 1886. Stout build. Born in Belgium, Widower. Height, 5 feet 6 inches. Weight, 180 pounds. Brown hair, keen gray eyes, fresh rosy face, dark complexion. High forehead. Generally wears a gray silky mustache and imperial. He is a square, muscular man. Speaks English fluently. Dresses like a well-to-do mechanic. Has a scar on his left jaw.

RECORD. Kindt, or “Frenchy,” is a celebrated criminal. He came to this country when very young. He is a skillful mechanic, and is credited with being able to fit a key as well, if not better, than any man in America. He also manufactures tools and hires them out to professional burglars on a percentage. In January, 1869, he was sent to Sing Sing prison for ten years for robbing the watch-case manufactory of Wheeler & Parsons, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was employed. On February 5, 1871, he escaped from Sing Sing by cutting through the bars of his cell with saws, which friends had managed to convey to him. On October 17, 1872, he was arrested for robbing a jewelry store in Hackensack, N.J., and sent back to Sing Sing prison. He devoted his time to the invention of a lever lock, by which a single key could unlock all or part of the cell doors at once, and offered the lock, which he completed in 1874, to the prison authorities on condition that he should receive his freedom. The proposition was laid before Governor Tilden, who rejected it. “Frenchy” escaped again in 1875, and went to Canada, where he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for robbing a pawnbroker in Montreal. Thirty- seven diamonds, which he had shipped to his daughter in New York, were recovered. After serving out his time in Montreal, where he introduced his lock, he went to St. Albans, Vt., where he was arrested as an escaped convict on February 3, 1880. While on his way back to Sing Sing prison, in custody of an officer of Sing Sing prison, when near Troy, N.Y., on February 4, he made a dash for liberty. He leaped out of the car and ran across the fields. The officer followed and fired one shot. French Gus staggered, put his left hand to his cheek, but kept on. He fired again, and the burglar, flinging his arms in the air, fell headlong to the earth. He had been hit in the cheek and the back of the head. He was carried back to the train, and reached Sing Sing in a dying condition. He recovered, however, and on February 21, 1884, he was discharged, having finally expiated the crime of 1869. Immediately upon his discharge he was arrested and taken to Hackensack, N.J., to be tried for robbing a jewelry store there in 1872, an indictment having been found during his confinement in Sing Sing. There was not evidence enough to convict him, and he was released, after two months’ confinement. Kindt was next arrested in New York City, on May 23, 1885, charged with burglarizing the safe of Smith & Co., No. 45 Park Place, on April 27, 1885, where he obtained one $5,000 and one $1,750 bond, two watches, and $80 in money. He was also charged with robbing the store of G. B. Horton & Co., No. 59 Frankfort Street, of $234 in money and some postage stamps. The detectives searched the rooms of his daughter. Rose Kindt, in East Eleventh Street, New York City, and there found a complete and beautifully made set of burglars’ tools. In a sofa which they tore apart were sectional jimmies of the most improved pattern ; under the carpet were saws and small tools of every variety ; concealed elsewhere in the rooms were drags, drills, wrenches, crucibles for melting gold and silver, fuses, skeleton keys, wax, impressions of keys, etc. They also found what had been stolen from Smith & Co., and Horton & Co., with the exception of the money. When Kindt was confronted with his daughter, who had been arrested but was subsequently released, he confessed to all, and also charged Frank McCoy, alias “Big Frank” (89), with trying to obtain his services to rob the Butchers and Drovers’ Bank of New York City. Kindt pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary, and was sentenced to six years in State prison on June 4, 1885, by Judge Barrett, in the Court of Oyer and Terminer, New York City. Kindt’s picture is an excellent one, taken in May, 1885.

Gustave F. Kindt was an expert machinist and a master of prison escapes, perhaps the most intelligent criminal in Chief Byrnes’s rogue’s gallery. Kindt’s first confirmed presence was in Brooklyn, in 1867. He placed an ad in the New York Herald, looking for any information on his brothers Joseph and Charles–apparently they emigrated separately. Kindt described his original country as Belgium (but, when posing as Frenchman Isidore Marechal, claimed to be from Lille, France.) He was said to have been trained as a watchmaker.

 

In 1867, he joined a jewelry-making company in Brooklyn, working in their metal shop. Years later, the Cincinnati Enquirer recounted how Kindt robbed his workplace:

The_Cincinnati_Enquirercropped_

Kindt tried to implicate a co-worker–Jeannot–in the crime; this despite the fact that the Jeannot family had housed Kindt and his wife, and had helped him try to find his brothers.

For this crime, Kindt was sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing. In Sing Sing, he was able to craft a tiny saw, parts of which he secreted in one of his own molars that he had pulled out and hollowed. In February 1871, he sawed through three door locks and escaped from the prison and headed to New Jersey. Within six days, he found a new job at a Hackensack NJ jewelry manufacturer. He was hired, given a raise, and reconnected with his wife. While still working his job, he and his wife opened a lager hall across from his workplace. However, temptation beckoned, and Kindt open the safe of his employer and took $8000. The owner called in local police, who were stumped; they called in New York detectives, one of whom had worked on the similar Brooklyn case. Kindt was collared and reinstalled in Sing Sing to serve out his earlier sentence.

In November 1875, Kindt escaped from Sing Sing a second time–the only man ever to do so. This time, he was aided by a corrupt guard, who allowed Kindt to hide in a prison workshop instead of being returned to his cell. From the workshop, Kindt was able to get off the prison grounds, and made his way north to Canada. There, he used his French language skills to assume the alias of Isidore Marechal. About a year later, in November 1876, Kindt picked the lock of a pawnshop, opened the safe with a duplicate key he had made, and took about $20,000 in jewelry, watches, silverware, and bank notes. He melted down the metals into bricks, and sent an accomplice to New York to sell the precious stones. However, a suspicious cleaning lady tipped off authorities, and evidence was found in Kindt’s rooms. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the Provincial Prison for three years.

Upon his release in 1879, he robbed a Montreal store of $4000 worth of silks. After fencing the goods, he headed back across the border into Vermont, shedding the “Isidore Marechal” alias and becoming “Gus Kent.” The silks were traced back to Kindt through a woman he had been intimate with in Montreal; she told Montreal detectives that he could be found in St. Albans, Vermont. They contacted the sheriff of St. Albans, who found that Kindt had been working in a machine shop there for six weeks. He was arrested; in his rooms they found a new set of safe-cracking tools that indicated he was about to commit another robbery. A message was sent to Sing Sing that an officer should come to retrieve Kindt and take him back to that prison.

An officer arrived to take possession of Kindt, and they boarded a train heading south to Troy, New York, where they needed to switch trains. They were delayed in Troy for several hours, and as they waited in the station, Kindt attacked the officer and tried to make a dash for freedom. They wrestled for several minutes, and finally the officer was able to pull out his revolver and shoot Kindt. The bullet glanced his head, causing a serious wound. He was bandaged and placed on the train the next day, but when he arrived at Sing Sing, there were doubts he would survive.

Imprisoned in Sing Sing once more, Kindt used his time productively. During his earlier stay at Sing Sing, he had observed that the workshop and exercise periods wasted much time with the unlocking and locking of individual cell doors. He had drawn a diagram for a mechanism that would allow one guard to lock or unlock a whole row of cells at one time. He offered his invention to the warden in exchange for a commuted sentence. The request had gone up to Governor Tilden in 1875 and had been turned down. Now, once again confined to Sing Sing, Kindt obtained a US patent for his invention. Kindt was later able to sell the rights to prisons in Great Britain.

Capture2

Kindt was in and out of prison two more times (in 1885 and 1892), and was arrested again in 1900, but escaped conviction. His final years were spent in Philadelphia, where the city directories listed him as “inventor” or “mechanic.” He was known to be a manufacturer of burglar and safe-cracker tools. He obtained a second patent for an improvement to his cell-block locking mechanism  in 1898. He died in Philadelphia in 1910, age 75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gustave F. Kindt (#77)

Gustave François Kindt (1835-1910), aka Isidore Marechal, French Gus, Frenchy — Thief, Toolmaker, Inventor

Gustave F. Kindt was an expert machinist and a master of prison escapes, perhaps the most intelligent criminal in Chief Byrnes’ “rogue’s gallery.” Kindt’s first confirmed presence was in Brooklyn, in 1867. He placed an ad in the New York Herald, looking for any information on his brothers Joseph and Charles–apparently they emigrated separately. Kindt described his original country as Belgium (but, when posing as Frenchman Isidore Marechal, claimed to be from Lille, France.) He was said to have been trained as a watchmaker.

Capture

In 1867, he joined a jewelry-making company in Brooklyn, working in their metal shop. Years later, the Cincinnati Enquirer recounted how Kindt robbed his workplace:

The_Cincinnati_Enquirercropped_

Kindt tried to implicate a co-worker–Jeannot–in the crime; this despite the fact that the Jeannot family had housed Kindt and his wife, and had helped him try to find his brothers.

For this crime, Kindt was sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing. In Sing Sing, he was able to craft a tiny saw, parts of which he secreted in one of his own molars that he had pulled out and hollowed. In February 1871, he sawed through three door locks and escaped from the prison and headed to New Jersey. Within six days, he found a new job at a Hackensack NJ jewelry manufacturer. He was hired, given a raise, and reconnected with his wife. While still working his job, he and his wife opened a lager hall across from his workplace. However, temptation beckoned, and Kindt open the safe of his employer and took $8000. The owner called in local police, who were stumped; they called in New York detectives, one of whom had worked on the similar Brooklyn case. Kindt was collared and reinstalled in Sing Sing to serve out his earlier sentence.

In November 1875, Kindt escaped from Sing Sing a second time–the only man ever to do so. This time, he was aided by a corrupt guard, who allowed Kindt to hide in a prison workshop instead of being returned to his cell. From the workshop, Kindt was able to get off the prison grounds, and made his way north to Canada. There, he used his French language skills to assume the alias of Isidore Marechal. About a year later, in November 1876, Kindt picked the lock of a pawnshop, opened the safe with a duplicate key he had made, and took about $20,000 in jewelry, watches, silverware, and bank notes. He melted down the metals into bricks, and sent an accomplice to New York to sell the precious stones. However, a suspicious cleaning lady tipped off authorities, and evidence was found in Kindt’s rooms. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the Provincial Prison for three years.

Upon his release in 1879, he robbed a Montreal store of $4000 worth of silks. After fencing the goods, he headed back across the border into Vermont, shedding the “Isidore Marechal” alias and becoming “Gus Kent.” The silks were traced back to Kindt through a woman he had been intimate with in Montreal; she told Montreal detectives that he could be found in St. Albans, Vermont. They contacted the sheriff of St. Albans, who found that Kindt had been working in a machine shop there for six weeks. He was arrested; in his rooms they found a new set of safe-cracking tools that indicated he was about to commit another robbery. A message was sent to Sing Sing that an officer should come to retrieve Kindt and take him back to that prison.

An officer arrived to take possession of Kindt, and they boarded a train heading south to Troy, New York, where they needed to switch trains. They were delayed in Troy for several hours, and as they waited in the station, Kindt attacked the officer and tried to make a dash for freedom. They wrestled for several minutes, and finally the officer was able to pull out his revolver and shoot Kindt. The bullet glanced his head, causing a serious wound. He was bandaged and placed on the train the next day, but when he arrived at Sing Sing, there were doubts he would survive.

Imprisoned in Sing Sing once more, Kindt used his time productively. He observed that the workshop and exercise periods wasted much time with the unlocking and locking of individual cell doors. He drew a diagram for a mechanism that would allow one guard to lock or unlock a whole row of cells at one time. He obtained a US patent for his invention, and tried to give it to the warden in exchange for a commuted sentence. The request went up to Governor Tilden, who turned down the offer. However, Kindt was later able to sell the rights to prisons in Great Britain.

Capture2

Kindt was in and out of prison two more times (in 1885 and 1892), and was arrested again in 1900, but escaped conviction. His final years were spend in Philadelphia, where the city directories listed him as “inventor” or “mechanic.” He was known to be a manufacturer of burglar and safe-cracker tools. He obtained a second patent for an improvement to his cell-block locking mechanism  in 1898. He died in Philadelphia in 1910, age 75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#54 Albert Cropsey

Albert J. Cropsey (1852-1934) aka Alfred Cropsey, William Crosby — Hotel and boarding-house thief

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-three years old in 1886. Medium build. Born in United States. Light complexion. Not married. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, 135 pounds. Light hair and mustache when worn. Has letters “A. C.” in India ink on right fore-arm ; also letters “A. C.” and “A.,” bracelet, anchor and dots on left hand.

RECORD. Cropsey is a very clever hotel and boarding-house thief, and is a man well worth knowing. He was arrested in New York City on May l0, 1878, for robbing a safe in Stanwix Hall, a hotel in Albany, N. Y., and delivered to the Albany police authorities. He was convicted there and sentenced to five years in the Albany, N.Y., Penitentiary on June 29, 1878, by Judge Van Alstyne. He was arrested again in New York City on November 4, 1883, and sent to Passaic, N.J., where he was charged with stealing $300 worth of silverware from a Mr. Lara Smith. In this case he was tried, but the jury failed to convict him and he was discharged. He is known in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and several other cities in the United States. Cropsey’s picture was taken in 1878.

Albert J. Cropsey’s criminal career followed a depressingly familiar trajectory: between ages twenty to forty-four, he was sent to prison four times for burglarizing boarding houses, hotels, and stores–his sentences totaled fourteen years. Moreover, those represent just the jailings that are known; there may have been more under unidentified aliases.

Albert was born to Jasper and Caroline Cropsey, living in Manhattan’s Ninth Ward. Despite the proximity of place and time, Albert’s father Jasper was not the famous landscape painter of the same name.

Albert was first jailed in 1872 under the name William Crosby for Grand Larceny, and sentenced to Sing Sing for a period of two years and six months. He was sent back to Sing Sing in 1875 for burglary, for the same length of time. In 1878, he and an accomplice stole money from the safe of the Stanwix Hall hotel in Albany, earning him a sentence of five years in the Albany jail.

Albert was out by 1883, when he was arrested for stealing silverware from a boarding house in Passaic, New Jersey. His method was to check in to boarding-houses as a resident, observe where the valuables were kept and the habits of the staff, and then make off with whatever he could fence. In this case, he was discharged for lack of evidence.

However, he was caught again in New York in April, 1890, and recognized by Chief Byrnes. This time, he had cajoled two young English immigrants to do the stealing of silk bolts, which he received in order to sell. For this crime he was sent to Sing Sing for four years.

 

…and then Albert J. Cropsey changed his life.

When the Spanish-American war fervor reached its peak, Albert J. Cropsey enlisted as a 46-year-old private. after the war, he was hired at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a painter. In 1903 he married Jane (Jennie) Winn, and in 1907 they had a daughter, named Caroline after Albert’s mother.

Albert J. Cropsey and his family lived peacefully in Brooklyn for the next three decades, until his death in 1934 at age 82.

 

Albert J. Cropsey (#54)

Albert J. Cropsey (1852-1934) aka Alfred Cropsey, William Crosby — Hotel and boarding-house thief

Albert J. Cropsey’s criminal career followed a depressingly familiar trajectory: between ages twenty to forty-four, he was sent to prison four times for burglarizing boarding houses, hotels, and stores–his sentences totaled fourteen years. Moreover, those represent just the jailings that are known; there may have been more under unidentified aliases.

Albert was born to Jasper and Caroline Cropsey, living in Manhattan’s Ninth Ward. Despite the proximity of place and time, Albert’s father Jasper was not the famous landscape painter of the same name.

Albert was first jailed in 1872 under the name William Crosby for Grand Larceny, and sentenced to Sing Sing for a period of two years and six months. He was sent back to Sing Sing in 1875 for burglary, for the same length of time. In 1878, he and an accomplice stole money from the safe of the Stanwix Hall hotel in Albany, earning him a sentence of five years in the Albany jail.

Albert was out by 1883, when he was arrested for stealing silverware from a boarding house in Passaic, New Jersey. His method was to check in to boarding-houses as a resident, observe where the valuables were kept and the habits of the staff, and then make off with whatever he could fence. In this case, he was discharged for lack of evidence.

However, he was caught again in New York in April, 1890, and recognized by Chief Byrnes. This time, he had cajoled two young English immigrants to do the stealing of silk bolts, which he received in order to sell. For this crime he was sent to Sing Sing for four years.

Capture

…and then Albert J. Cropsey changed his life.

When the Spanish-American war fervor reached its peak, Albert J. Cropsey enlisted as a 46-year-old private. after the war, he was hired at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a painter. In 1903 he married Jane (Jennie) Winn, and in 1907 they had a daughter, named Caroline after Albert’s mother.

Albert J. Cropsey and his family lived peacefully in Brooklyn for the next three decades, until his death in 1934 at age 82.

 

#5 Phillip Phearson

Philip Pearson (1832-Aft. 1907), aka “Philly” Phearson, Dr. White, Charles Bushnell–Bank sneak thief, Abortionist

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-four years old in 1886. Height, 5 feet 5 1/2 inches. Weight, 135 pounds. Hair mixed gray. Eyes, blue. Complexion, sallow. Ink marks: Eagle wreath, American flag, square and compass, an Odd Fellow’s link, also “J. Peck,” with face of woman underneath the name, all the above on left fore-arm; star and bracelet on left wrist; star between thumb and forefinger of left hand; figure of woman on right fore-arm; above the elbow is a heart, with “J. P.” in it; shield and bracelet with letters “W. D.” on same arm.

RECORD. Phearson, or Peck (which is his right name), is one of the oldest and smartest sneak thieves in this country. He has obtained a good deal of money in his time, for which he has done considerable service in State prisons. He comes from a respectable Quaker family of Philadelphia.

Phearson, Chas. Everhardt, alias Marsh Market Jake (38), and George Williams, alias Woodward (194,) were arrested in Montreal, Canada, in 1876, for sneaking a package containing $800 in money from a safe in that city. Williams gave bail and jumped it, and Phearson and Everhardt stood trial, and were sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

On June 16, 1879, shortly after his release in Canada, he was arrested in New York City for the larceny of a $1,000 4-per-cent bond from a clerk of Kountze Brothers, bankers, in the general Post-office building. To this offense he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to three years and six months in State prison, on June 26, 1879, under the name of George W. Clark.

Phearson was again arrested in New York City in October, 1885, for the larceny of $85, on the till-tapping game. He claimed to be a health officer, and while he had the proprietor of the store in the yard, his accomplice carried away the drawer. For this offense he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in State prison by Judge Cowing on November 5, 1885, under the name of Daniel Kennedy. Phearson’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1885.

PHILLY
Phillip Phearson. Illus. by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Thomas Byrnes lists several facts about the bank sneak thief known as Philly Phearson, many of which seem to be untrue (or at least suspicious). Byrnes cites his birth year as 1832, which matches an exact date of March 12, 1832 that appeared in one of his arrest records. However, Byrnes also says that Phearson came from a good Quaker family, and that his real name was Peck. Phearson (who was usually named in newspapers and prison records as Pearson/Pierson/Peerson, without the “h”) had many tattoos on his body, one of which was a heart with the the letters “J. Peck” and a figure of a woman with the initials J.P. He had other tattoos that bore symbols of the Odd Fellows fraternal organization. Tattoos and Odd Fellows membership do not jive with a Quaker background; and having a woman named “J. Peck” in his past does not mean that was his given name–but perhaps Byrnes had other sources for his assertions.

The major crimes that Pearson was known to have been involved in include:

  • In early 1873, with associates Horace Hovan and Johnny Price, Pearson hit banks in Berks County and Dauphin County, Pennsylvania using their bank sneak techniques.
  • According to Byrnes, Pearson was with Charles Everhardt (aka Marsh Market Jake) and George Williams in 1876 when a safe containing $800 was robbed in Montreal, Quebec. Byrnes states that Pearson was sentenced to a term of three years and six months, but he obviously was released early, since he definitely resurfaced in New York in 1878.
  • In June, 1878, Pearson was caught stealing in New York. He did not give up the names of his partners, but did inform police where their next planned robberies were to occur. For this cooperation, his sentence was commuted by the New York State Senate to one year, and further reduced by good behavior and a promise to stay out of New York.
  • A year later, in June 1879, Pearson was caught robbing a $1000 bond from Kountze Bankers. He was sent back to Sing Sing under the name Geo. W. Clarke to serve 3 years and six months.

Nothing more is heard of him until 1884, when there are conflicting reports: Byrnes states that he was in a gang with Old Bill Vosburgh and Kid Carroll, touring the western states to do bank sneak thieving. However, another source says that he was in prison in Toronto.

An even more stark example of conflicting reports occurs in late 1885. Byrnes says that Pearson was arrested in October, 1885 and sent to Sing Sing for five years under the name Daniel Kennedy. However, a Philadelphia paper says that he was arrested in that city in December, 1885, in the company of Marsh Market Jake.

In his 1895 revision, Byrnes states that Pearson was arrested again in February 1888 for stalling a shop owner while the cash till was robbed. However, the newspaper accounts and prison records say that the man arrested was 73-year-old William Pearson, a long-time felon known as “Funeral” Pearson. Philly Pearson, in contrast, was 56 in 1888–he appeared old, but not 73. So Byrnes, it seems, had the wrong information.

Byrnes, writing in 1895, concluded, “He is a pretty old man now, and has outlived his usefulness as a thief.” In these words, Byrnes was correct–Pearson stopped thieving…and became something much worse.

Using his scholarly appearance and assuring banter, Pearson set himself up in Philadelphia as an abortionist–deemed a “malpractitioner” in the parlance of the times. There is no evidence that he had any medical training. In 1904, one woman he operated on (as “Dr. Clarke”) was later hospitalized near death, and another–Ada Greenover–died from peritonitis after Pearson worked on her. He should have been prosecuted for murder, but was instead lightly slapped with the charge of practicing without a license.

The legal cases against him were no deterrent. A few months later, his butchery caused the death of a black child and the near-death of the mother. The Philadelphia Coroner believed that Pearson was running an abortion syndicate responsible for the disappearance and presumed death of three other women.

With attention on him, Pearson curtailed surgical operations and instead began selling abortion nostrums through the mail. Whether the mixtures he sold were harmless placebos or toxic poisons is not known, but his use of the mails under the name “Charles Bushnell” finally provided the leverage to shut him down.

19080922philadelphiainquirer

The “sympathies of the jury” might have been better spent on the women he maimed and killed.

Philip Pearson (#5)

Philip Pearson (1832-Aft. 1907), aka “Philly” Phearson, Dr. White, Charles Bushnell–Bank sneak thief, “malpractitioner”

PHILLY
Phillip Phearson. Illustration by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Thomas Byrnes lists several facts about the bank sneak thief known as Philly Phearson, many of which seem to be untrue (or at least suspicious). Byrnes cites his birth year as 1832, which matches an exact date of March 12, 1832 that appeared in one of his arrest records. However, Byrnes also says that Phearson came from a good Quaker family, and that his real name was Peck. Phearson (who was usually named in newspapers and prison records as Pearson/Pierson/Peerson, without the “h”) had many tattoos on his body, one of which was a heart with the the letters “J. Peck” and a figure of a woman with the initials J.P. He had other tattoos that bore symbols of the Odd Fellows fraternal organization. Tattoos and Odd Fellows membership do not jive with a Quaker background; and having a woman named “J. Peck” in his past does not mean that was his given name–but perhaps Byrnes had other sources for his assertions.

The major crimes that Pearson was known to have been involved in include:

  • In early 1873, with associates Horace Hovan and Johnny Price, Pearson hit banks in Berks County and Dauphin County, Pennsylvania using their bank sneak techniques.
  • According to Byrnes, Pearson was with Charles Everhardt (aka Marsh Market Jake) and George Williams in 1876 when a safe containing $800 was robbed in Montreal, Quebec. Byrnes states that Pearson was sentenced to a term of three years and six months, but he obviously was released early, since he definitely resurfaced in New York in 1878.
  • In June, 1878, Pearson was caught stealing in New York. He did not give up the names of his partners, but did inform police where their next planned robberies were to occur. For this cooperation, his sentence was commuted by the New York State Senate to one year, and further reduced by good behavior and a promise to stay out of New York.
  • A year later, in June 1879, Pearson was caught robbing a $1000 bond from Kountze Bankers. He was sent back to Sing Sing under the name Geo. W. Clarke to serve 3 years and six months.

Nothing more is heard of him until 1884, when there are conflicting reports: Byrnes states that he was in a gang with Old Bill Vosburgh and Kid Carroll, touring the western states to do bank sneak thieving. However, another source says that he was in prison in Toronto.

An even more stark example of conflicting reports occurs in late 1885. Byrnes says that Pearson was arrested in October, 1885 and sent to Sing Sing for five years under the name Daniel Kennedy. However, a Philadelphia paper says that he was arrested in that city in December, 1885, in the company of Marsh Market Jake.

In his 1895 revision, Byrnes states that Pearson was arrested again in February 1888 for stalling a shop owner while the cash till was robbed. However, the newspaper accounts and prison records say that the man arrested was 73-year-old William Pearson, a long-time felon known as “Funeral” Pearson. Philly Pearson, in contrast, was 56 in 1888–he appeared old, but not 73. So Byrnes, it seems, had the wrong information.

Byrnes, writing in 1895, concluded, “He is a pretty old man now, and has outlived his usefulness as a thief.”

In these words, Byrnes was correct–Pearson stopped thieving…and became something much worse.

Using his scholarly appearance and assuring banter, Pearson set himself up in Philadelphia as an abortionist–deemed a “malpractitioner” in the parlance of the times. There is no evidence that he had any medical training. In 1904, one woman he operated on (as “Dr. Clarke”) was later hospitalized near death, and another–Ada Greenover–died from peritonitis after Pearson worked on her. He should have been prosecuted for murder, but was instead lightly slapped with the charge of practicing without a license.

The legal cases against him were no deterrent. A few months later, his butchery caused the death of a black child and the near-death of the mother. The Philadelphia Coroner believed that Pearson was running an abortion syndicate responsible for the disappearance and presumed death of three other women.

With attention on him, Pearson curtailed surgical operations and instead began selling abortion nostrums through the mail. Whether the mixtures he sold were harmless placebos or toxic poisons is not known, but his use of the mails under the name “Charles Bushnell” finally provided the leverage to shut him down.

19080922philadelphiainquirer

The “sympathies of the jury” might have been better spent on the women he maimed and killed.

 

 

#152 Abraham Greenthal / #153 Harris Greenthal

Abraham Greenthal (1822-1889), aka General Greenthal, Abraham Leslauer, Abraham Meyers; and Hirsch Harris (1824-1886), aka Herman Brown, Harris Greenthal, Herman Harris, Harris Meyer — Pickpockets

From Byrnes’s text on Abraham Greenthal:

DESCRIPTION. Sixty years old in 1886. Jew, born in Poland. Calls himself a German. Widower. No trade. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, about 185 pounds. Dark hair, turning quite gray. Prominent nose-lines ; mole near one of them. Beard, when grown, is a sandy gray. Generally has a smooth face.

RECORD. “General” Greenthal is known all over the United States as the leader of the “Sheeny mob.” He is acknowledged to be one of the most expert pickpockets in America. His home is in the Tenth Ward in New York City, and he has been a thief and receiver of stolen goods for the last thirty years. He has served time in several prisons and penitentiaries, but has generally obtained his release before his sentence expired. He is a clever thief, and will fight when forced to. The “General” was arrested in Rochester, N.Y., on March 1, 1877, in company of his brother, Harris, and Samuel Casper, his son-in-law, for robbing a man (see record of No. 153), and sentenced on April 19, 1877, to twenty years in Auburn, N.Y., State prison. He was pardoned in the spring of 1884 by Governor Cleveland.

He was arrested again in Brooklyn, N.Y., on December 30, 1885, in company of Bendick Gaetz, alias “The Cockroach,” for robbing Robert B. Dibble, of Williamsburg, N.Y., of a pocket-book containing $795 in money, on a cross-town horse-car in that city. The “General” pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, on March 23, 1886, and was sentenced to five years in Crow Hill prison by Judge Moore, in the Brooklyn Court of Sessions. The “General” is an old friend of Mrs. Mandelbaum, who is now in Canada. Greenthal’s picture is a splendid one, taken in March, 1877.

From Byrnes’ text on Harris Greenthal:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-eight years old in 1886. Jew, born in Poland. Married. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 5 inches. Weight, about 150 pounds. Brown curly hair, turning quite gray ; brown and gray whiskers, high forehead.

RECORD. Harris Greenthal, a brother of the “General” (152), is also an old New York thief and member of the “Sheeny gang” of pickpockets, who have been traveling through the country robbing people for a number of years. He resides in New York City, and is well known in all the principal cities in the United States and Canada. Harris Greenthal, alias Brown, the “General,” alias Meyers, and Samuel Casper, the “General’s” son-in-law, were arrested in Rochester, N.Y., on March 1, 1877, charged with robbing William Jinkson of $1,190 in money, at the Central Railroad depot. Jinkson was a farmer who sold his farm in Massachusetts, and with the proceeds had started West. The “Sheeny gang” had seen him showing his money in Albany, N.Y., and had followed him from that city. At the Central depot in Rochester they told him he would have to change cars. One of the trio took his valise, and the entire party entered another car. In jostling through the crowd the “General” relieved Jinkson of his pocket-book containing the money, which was in bills. They escaped, but were arrested about an hour afterwards. They were indicted, tried, and convicted. The “General,” alias Meyers, was sentenced on April 19, 1877, to twenty years at hard labor in Auburn, N.Y., State prison. Harris Greenthal, alias Brown, received a sentence of eighteen years, and Casper fifteen years. Harris and Casper were pardoned by Governor Cleveland in December, 1884, the “General” having been pardoned some months before. (See record of No. 84.) Harris’s picture is an excellent one, taken in March, 1877.

Several of the personages profiled in Byrnes’ Professional Criminals of America have been written about extensively, either through autobiographies, biographies, or essays: Sophie Lyons, Langdon Moore, Jim Brady, George W. Wilkes, etc. The blog entries composing this project are too abbreviated to match the historical details that exist in those studies. This inadequacy was never more evident than in the case of Abraham “General” Greenthal, the leader of the so-called “Sheeny Mob” (“sheeny” being a derogatory term for Jews, especially emigrant German Jews.)

                           Hirsch Harris

Greenthal’s entire criminal career, genealogy, and Prussian-Jewish origins have been documented by Edward David Luft in an essay of astounding scholarship, “Stop Thief! : The true story of Abraham Greenthal, king of the pickpockets in 19th century New York City, as revealed from contemporary sources.”  Luft’s essay is all the more impressive given the elusive clues available: Greenthal was an adopted alias, and was often misspelled in newspaper accounts: Grenthal, Gruenthal, Green, etc.; and it was sometimes dropped by Abraham and his family in favor of “Meyers/Myers” or variant spellings of an earlier established family name: Leslauer (found as “Leslan” “Leslau” “Leslie,” etc. in some newspaper records)

                 Abraham Greenthal

Greenthal and his gang of associates were pickpockets, sneak thieves, and fences. How extensive their network was is unknown, but the core of it consisted of Abraham, his wife, their daughters, and their husbands; and his brother Hirsch’s family. A leading figure of the gang, in addition to Abraham, was Hirsch’s daughter Augusta Harris, who acted as the main fence, or receiver, during the 1870s.

Little more can be added to Luft’s study of “General” Greenthal, but Luft mentions his brother, Hirsch Harris, very briefly. A few records exist for this man: his prison intake and discharge papers; the 1870 census, and the 1880 census. Unfortunately, after 1884, traces of his family disappear.

He was called “Hirsch Harris” by newspapers more frequently than any other name; but he was sent to Auburn prison in 1877 under the name Herman Brown. In the 1870 census, his name was transcribed (in an obvious error) as “Hanna Harris.” In 1880, he was listed as “Hermon Harris” (although he was actually still in Auburn at that point.) The family consisted of four girls: Augusta, Amalia, Hattie, and Lille; and a boy, Moses. Moses and Amalia were not listed with the family in 1880. Amalia was old enough to be out on her own, but perhaps Moses met an early death.

Augusta was described in several articles as the leader of the Greenthal mob’s fence operation, mentioned in the same breath with Marm Mandelbaum (whom one article suggests pushed Augusta out of business using her political connections). Augusta was married in the early 1870s to Charles “French Charley” Perle, a pickpocket and thief. However, the two had a falling out, and a newspapers suggested they were divorced (“out of the courts”) in 1876.

Newspapers also referred to a daughter Mary/Mollie, who may have been the same person listed in the 1870 census as Amalia. Mary/Mollie was said to have been the fiance of burglar Johnny McAlpine. Their romance would have been interrupted by McAlpine’s being sentenced to 20 years in Sing Sing in 1873.

Chief Byrnes, in his 1995 revised edition, suggests that Hirsch Harris died “within a few months” as his brother, in 1889; however, an earlier article on the conviction of Abraham in 1886 states that Hirsch (under the name Harris Meyer) died on March 31, 1886.

Abraham Greenthal (#152) and Hirsch Harris (#153)

Several of the personages profiled in Byrnes’ Professional Criminals of America have been written about extensively, either through autobiographies, biographies, or essays: Sophie Lyons, Langdon Moore, Jim Brady, George W. Wilkes, etc. The blog entries composing this project are too abbreviated to match the historical details that exist in those studies. This inadequacy was never more evident than in the case of Abraham “General” Greenthal, the leader of the so-called “Sheeny Mob” (“sheeny” being a derogatory term for Jews, especially emigrant German Jews.)

Greenthal’s entire criminal career, genealogy, and Prussian-Jewish origins have been documented by Edward David Luft in an essay of astounding scholarship, “Stop Thief! : The true story of Abraham Greenthal, king of the pickpockets in 19th century New York City, as revealed from contemporary sources.”  Luft’s essay is all the more impressive given the elusive clues available: Greenthal was an adopted alias, and was often misspelled in newspaper accounts: Grenthal, Gruenthal, Green, etc.; and it was sometimes dropped by Abraham and his family in favor of “Meyers/Myers” or variant spellings of an earlier established family name: Leslauer (found as “Leslan” “Leslau” “Leslie,” etc. in some newspaper records)

Greenthal and his gang of associates were pickpockets, sneak thieves, and fences. How extensive their network was is unknown, but the core of it consisted of Abraham, his wife, their daughters, and their husbands; and his brother Hirsch’s family. A leading figure of the gang, in addition to Abraham, was Hirsch’s daughter Augusta Harris, who acted as the main fence, or receiver, during the 1870s.

 

Little more can be added to Luft’s study of “General” Greenthal, but Luft mentions his brother, Hirsch Harris, very briefly. A few records exist for this man: his prison intake and discharge papers; the 1870 census, and the 1880 census. Unfortunately, after 1884, traces of his family disappear.

He was called “Hirsch Harris” by newspapers more frequently than any other name; but he was sent to Auburn prison in 1877 under the name Herman Brown. In the 1870 census, his name was transcribed (in an obvious error) as “Hanna Harris.” In 1880, he was listed as “Hermon Harris” (although he was actually still in Auburn at that point.) The family consisted of four girls: Augusta, Amalia, Hattie, and Lille; and a boy, Moses. Moses and Amalia were not listed with the family in 1880. Amalia was old enough to be out on her own, but perhaps Moses met an early death.

Augusta was described in several articles as the leader of the Greenthal mob’s fence operation, mentioned in the same breath with Marm Mandelbaum (whom one article suggests pushed Augusta out of business using her political connections). Augusta was married in the early 1870s to Charles “French Charley” Perle, a pickpocket and thief. However, the two had a falling out, and a newspapers suggested they were divorced (“out of the courts”) in 1876.

Newspapers also referred to a daughter Mary/Mollie, who may have been the same person listed in the 1870 census as Amalia. Mary/Mollie was said to have been the fiance of burglar Johnny McAlpine. Their romance would have been interrupted by McAlpine’s being sentenced to 20 years in Sing Sing in 1873.

Chief Byrnes, in his 1995 revised edition, suggests that Hirsch Harris died “within a few months” as his brother, in 1889; however, an earlier article on the conviction of Abraham in 1886 states that Hirsch (under the name Harris Meyer) died on March 31, 1886.