#194 Charles Woodward

George Williams (Abt. 1836-19??), aka “The Diamond Swallower,” Charles Woodward, Charles Woodard, Charles B. Anderson, Robert Alfred Wright, Edward Morton, etc. — Jewel thief, Pennyweight (i.e. shoplifter working in tandem with a partner), hotel thief

From Chief Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-five years old in 1886. Jew, born in America. Married. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, about 150 pounds. Dark hair, turning gray ; dark eyes, dark complexion. Generally wears a black mustache.

RECORD. Woodward, alias Williams, is one of the most notorious sneak thieves and shoplifters there is in America. He is known all over the United States and Canada as the “Palmer House Robber.” This thief was arrested in New York some years ago for the larceny of a diamond from a jewelry store. When detected he had the stone in his mouth, and swallowed it.

He has served terms in State prison in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Canada, and is considered a very smart thief. He was arrested in Chicago, Ill., and sentenced to one year in Joliet prison on January 31, 1879, for the larceny of a trunk containing $15,000 worth of jewelry samples from a salesman in the Palmer House. The jewelry was recovered. Another well known sneak thief was also arrested in this case, and sentenced to five years in Joliet prison on February i, 1879. Since then, it is claimed, he has reformed, and I therefore omit his name.

Woodward, alias Williams, was arrested again in Philadelphia, on April 16, 1880, in company of William Hillburn, alias Marsh Market Jake (38), and Billy Morgan (72), for the larceny of $2,200 in bank bills from a man named Henry Ruddy. The trio were tried, convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in the Eastern Penitentiary on April 26, 1880. Woodward was arrested again at Rochester, N.Y., under the name of Charles B. Anderson, alias Charles B. Henderson, and sentenced on September 18, 1883, to two years in the Monroe County (N. Y.) Penitentiary, for grand larceny in the second degree; tried again the same day, convicted, and sentenced on another complaint of grand larceny in the second degree to two years more, making four years in all, by Judge Rouley, Judge of Monroe County, N.Y. His sentence will expire, allowing him full commutation, on September 18, 1886. His picture is a fair one, taken in April, 1880.

Chief Byrnes’s profile of this criminal names him as “Charles Woodward, alias Williams,” but elsewhere in his 1886 text he refers to him as Charles Williams or George Williams, alias Woodward. Detectives for the American Bankers Association believed his real name was George W. Williams. At the very least, this is the name other criminals knew him by.

“Woodward” was not even a true alias. When arrested in Chicago in 1878 for the Palmer House robbery, he offered the name “Charles Woodard.” It was under that name (without the second w) that he was registered at Joliet Prison in February, 1879. His partner in that episode, whom Byrnes was reluctant to name, was William “Billy” Henderson, aka “Snatchem,” a veteran sneak thief. Williams testified against Henderson, resulting in a one-year sentence–while Henderson was given five years. The Joliet register also indicates that Williams described himself as a Baptist, not a Jew.  If the mistake was Byrnes’s, it had an unfortunate result: Woodward was offered as an example of a degenerate race in the anti-Semitic screed The American Jew: An Exposé of His Career, 1888.

Although Byrnes first lists Williams’ 1878 arrest for the Palmer House robbery, he was already a well-known member of the New York thieving community. Elsewhere in Byrnes’s book (but not in the main profile), George Williams is cited for his involvement in an 1876 crime that predates the Palmer House robbery: in 1876, Williams teamed with Charles Everhardt (Marsh Market Jake) and Philip Pearson to rob a safe in Montreal. Williams was arrested, but jumped bail.

Byrnes never explains how Williams obtained his nickname, “The Diamond Swallower.” That dates back to an 1875 arrest:


But, as Byrnes notes, it was the 1878 Palmer House robbery that made Williams infamous. Upon his release from Joliet, Williams immediately fell in with another gang led by Everhardt, aka Marsh Market Jake. Everhardt, Billy Morgan, Little Al Wilson, and Williams were arrested in Philadelphia in April, 1880, for the robbery of a liquor store safe. They all received a sentence of eighteen months at Eastern State Penitentiary.

In September 1883, Williams was arrested after stealing two diamond rings in Syracuse, New York and other items from jewelry stores in Rochester, New York. Although it was suspected that others were involved, Williams (under the alias Charles B. Anderson) was the only one captured and punished. He spent the next three years in the Monroe County (NY) Penitentiary.

In October 1887, Williams was caught with an accomplice shoplifting expensive silk from a St. Louis store. He was convicted and imprisoned in the Jefferson City penitentiary until October, 1889.

By 1890, Williams was hitting jewelry stores in London, England, accompanied by two young women meant to serve as distractions to the clerks: Ella Roberts, aka Frances Irving, Birdie Renand; and Dollie Reynolds, aka Alice Coady. Roberts had a string of thieving boyfriends: Mickey Moriarty, Julius Heyman, and Billy Burke; while Dollie was the consort of “Dutch” Alonzo Henn. Williams spent the next four years in an English prison under the alias Robert Alfred Wright , returning to the United States in 1894.

A year later, in 1895, he was caught in Bruges, Belgium attempting a sneak-thief robbery of a bank, along with partners Harry Russell and Hughie Burns. In April, 1896, he was sentenced to five years in a Belgian prison. Released early, Williams then teamed up with John Harkins, a thief from Pittsburgh, and attempted to rob stones from a jeweler in Leipzig, Germany.

This appears to be his last imprisonment, though American detectives writing in 1910 described him as still being alive (presumably back in America), at which point he would have been nearly 75 years old. In 1913, reformed thief Sophie Lyons wrote of him as “Charles Woodward,” though in her criminal years she surely would have known him as George Williams.






#109 William E. Farrell

William E. Farrell (Abt. 1853-??), aka Alexander C. Stockwell, William H. Stohlmann, Horace Peters, Frank K. Alexander — Butcher-cart thief, store thief, purse snatcher

From Chief Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-one years old in 1886. Medium build. Born in New York City. Single. No trade. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, 167 pounds. Black hair, dark eyes, dark complexion. Has a scar over the left eye, another on right side of chin. Left arm has been broken at elbow.

RECORD. Farrell is a desperate and daring thief. He is a burglar, but of late years has done considerable butcher-cart work. He is the man that makes the assault, generally using about eighteen inches of lead water-pipe as a weapon. He has served two terms in Sing Sing prison, one in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, and one in Boston, Mass., for burglary and larceny. He was arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on January 15, 1884, by the New York detectives, assisted by Philadelphia officers, with one James Titterington, alias Titter (111), charged with assaulting with a piece of lead pipe and robbing Luther Church, the superintendent of John E. Dwight’s Harlem Soda Works, of $2,300, as he was descending the steps of the 111th Street station of the Second Avenue Elevated Railroad in New York City, on December 31, 1883. Farrell pleaded guilty to robbery in the first degree, and was sentenced to fifteen years in State prison on January 25, 1884, by Judge Cowing, in the Court of General Sessions, New York, Eddie Gearing, alias Goodie (110), the celebrated butcher-cart thief, was also arrested in connection with this robbery, and sentenced to twenty years in State prison. Titterington (111) turned State’s evidence and was used to convict Goodie. He was finally sentenced to seven years and six months in State prison on March 14, 1884. Farrell’s picture is a good one, taken in December, 1877.

Whenever William Farrell was arrested (which was often), he refused to divulge his residence, friends, or family members. His family origins remain untraceable, though he did admit to being born in Brooklyn around 1853. With Edward Garing and James Titterington, he was a leader of the Mackerelville Gang on New York’s East Side.

William Farrell. Illustration by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Farrell first fell into the clutches of the law in August 1871, when he was just eighteen or nineteen. He was sentenced to Sing Sing for three and a half years for petty larceny. After a brief stint of freedom, Farrel was placed back in Sing Sing under the name Alexander C. Stockwell in 1875. The crime was attempted grand larceny, but likely resulted in a light sentence of two years because the attempt failed, and Farrell was not recognized as a repeat offender.

In 1878, he robbed a pawnbroker’s shop and was held in the Essex Market station jail. While a guard was distracted, Farrell escaped the station, hopped over a fence, climbed up a fire escape, and raced across rooftops. His police pursuers lost his track, and Farrell headed straight to Boston.

Within two weeks, he ran afoul of Boston authorities while trying to pass counterfeit currency. He gave the name “William H. Stohlmann.” After receiving a slap on the wrist, Farrell was arrested a year later in Boston for the robbery of a hairdressing salon. This time he used the name Alexander C. Stockwell.

Following his release from jail in Massachusetts, Farrell returned to New York and his companions in Mackerelville. In January 1884, Farrell, Eddie Goodie [Garing], and James Titterington were arrested for the assault and robbery of Luther Church. Most observers believe that Farrell wielded the lead pipe that was used against Church. Though Farrell received a sentence of fifteen years, he was freed in 1894.


Shortly afterwards, he was arrested in Philadelphia for purse-snatching. After another light punishment, he was involved in the robbery of liquor stores in Jersey City, New Jersey. Police in New York picked him up in 1896 and returned him to New Jersey to face charges. From that point, trace of Farrell is lost. If he returned to New York City, he would have found that Mackerelville, the slum that his gang ruled, no longer existed.



#111 James Titterington

James R. Titterington (1855-1890), aka Titters — Burglar, Gang Leader, Butcher Cart Thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty years old in 1886. Born in New York. A driver. Single. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, 155 pounds. Black hair, gray eyes, sallow complexion. Has letters “J. T.” in India ink on right arm. Stutters when talking.

RECORD. “Titter,” the name he is best known by, was born in New York City. He branched out as a sneak thief, from that to a burglar, and then a highwayman. He has served time in Sing Sing prison, and in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, New York, for larceny and burglary. He was arrested in Philadelphia on January 15, 1884, and brought to New York City in connection with Willie Farrell (109) and Eddie Goodie (110), for robbing one Luther Church of $2,300, on December 31, 1883, as Mr. Church was descending the steps of the Elevated Railroad station at 111th Street and Second Avenue, New York. Titterington and Farrell were on the stairway, and as soon as he passed down by them they followed, and Farrell hit him with a piece of lead pipe about eighteen inches long and knocked him down. Titter snatched the bundle of money and both jumped into a butcher-cart and were driven away by Goodie. Titter made a confession after his arrest, and was made the principal witness against Goodie, who was convicted. Farrell pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Titterington also pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to seven years and six months in State prison on March 14, 1884. His picture is an excellent one, taken in December, 1876.

In addition to Byrnes’ profile, an excellent article on Titterington appeared years after his 1890 death, in the May 20, 1900 edition of the New York Sun. The writer places Titterington, William Farrell, and Edward Garing (aka Goodie) in the context of the dreadful East Side tenement neighborhood known as Mackerelville and the gang culture in which they became leaders:

Exploits of a Bold Gang: Mackerelville History Recalled By a Woman’s Death:
James Titterington, A Desperate Criminal, But Son of Worthy Parents–The Butcher Cart Robberies Committed by Him, Eddie Goodie, and Willie Farrell. Passing of a Notorious Gang Once Notorious in This City.

One doesn’t have to be a very old New Yorker to remember the exploits of the young ruffians known as the Mackerelville gang, who used to terrorize the East Side of the city in the vicinity of Thirteenth Street and Avenue B. The Mackerelville gang was one of the worst that ever infected the city. Its members were young toughs who held up and robbed people left and right, and only too often used their pistols when they were resisted. They were feared by citizens all over the city, for they did not always make their stamping-ground at the corner mentioned the scene of their operations. As the police records of this city will show, the young men of the Mackerelville gang operated wherever they saw a promising field, and so bold were they in their crimes that they came to be feared by the police as well as by ordinary citizens. There was nothing, from holding up a man at the muzzle of a pistol to actually garotting him, that the young Mackerelvilles, as they were called, would not do if they thought there was any profit in it.

The gang is now but a memory in this city, although to some people alive today, that memory is a vivid one. It has passed out of sight with all the other gangs which once infested New York, and even the old policemen on the force can recall but few of the exploits of its members or remember what became of them. The truth of the matter is that the Mackerelville gang passed away, as did all the other famous old gangs of the metropolis, because so many of its members were sent to prison for long terms or died on the gallows, that there wasn’t enough spirit left in those who escaped the clutches of the law to keep the crowd going. The passing away on the gallows of Danny Lyons for the murder of Beezy Garrity, and the fate of his notorious pal Danny Driscoll, left but a spiritless fragment of the old Whyo gang in this city. So with the Mackerville gang, the long terms in prison given to James Titterington, Eddie goodie and the others who were its leading lights, took the backbone from it, and it died a natural death.

New York had a reminder of the old Mackerelville gang last week when from a little hall bedroom on the top floor of a Second avenue tenement house, the body of an old woman was taken and removed to the Morgue, from where it was afterwards buried in the public cemetery. This old woman was Mrs. Isabella Titterington, the mother of James Titterington, the organizer and always the leader of the gang. There was another son, Joseph, and he was as big a scoundrel as his brother, but he never attained the same prominence because he was a drunkard and consequently not in the confidence of the leader of the gang, or conspicuous in any of the big crimes that made the gang famous. Mrs. Titterington was 70 years of age when she died of gradual starvation, for she is known to have been in want. Mrs. Titterington was herself a remarkable woman. She brought into the world one of the most accomplished and murderous scoundrels that ever lived, and another son who was addicted to every vice known, yet she herself was a Christian woman, and with her husband always refused to share in the fruits of her boys’ crimes. When the boys were rolling in wealth–and there was a time when James Titterington was doing that–she and her husband were actually in want, but not one bit of relief would they accept from their children.

Old man Titterington was a veteran of the Civil War and as proud and honest an old soldier as ever lived. He did all he could with the limited means at his command to give his children educations, but they were both naturally bad, and no influence in the world could have swerved them from the path in life that they chose. James Titterington’s first conviction broke his father’s heart, and although the old man lived for a while after that he finally died from nothing the the world but grief over the sines of his first born. Mrs. Titterington lived on, earning her own living and that of her other son, Joseph, who had developed into a drunkard and was unable to do anything in the shape of work. Despite her age, Mrs. Titterington went out to work every day. Last April her son Joseph went to Bellevue Hospital with delerium tremens. He developed pneumonia and died there. Mrs. Titterington sank rapidly after his death, and finally died as stated.

In forming the gang, James Titterington, then a very young man, had the able assistance of that notorious thief and bank robber, Eddie Goodie. This worthy had associated with thieves from the time he was a boy, and so great was the esteem in which he was held by crooks that at the time of the Northhampton bank robbery, he was entrusted with the delicate job of driving the wagon in which the thieves escaped with their plunder. This was in June 1876, and up to the time he joined Titterington, he had not lost any opportunities to improve himself in his chosen profession. It would take columns of the Sun to tell of the many crimes committed by the Mackerelville gang under the leadership of Titterington, who was known everywhere as “Titters,” Eddie Goodie and Willie Farrell. Many of the gang who worked under these men found their way to prison early in their career, but the three leaders operated for years successfully, and credited to them in the police records are some of the most remarkable crimes of the century. Among these, one of the most interesting was the robbery of Charles Messerschmidt, an assistant bookkeeper in the employ of Jacob Ruppert, the brewer. For boldness this crime has never been equaled in this city and the most remarkable thing about it was that all three of the men engaged made good their escape and it wasn’t for a long time afterward when other crimes had been fixed upon their shoulders that it was known that they had any part in the affair.

The three men who did the job were “Titters,” Goodie, and Farrell. It was about this time that the ever-active brain of Goodie had conceived the notion of using a wagon for escape after bold street robberies. The thing had been done many times successfully and the robbers who adopted this means of getting away were known as butcher cart thieves. The name came from the fact that in most cases of the kind, butcher carts were used. Goodie’s skill had driven the Northhampton bank thieves to safety, and no one knows how many other successes were due to his brain and his skill as a driver. It was he and “Titters” who planned the robbery of Messerschmidt and carried it out in broad daylight in one of the most frequented parts of the city.

Messerschmidt was a pale-faced young man, who wore glasses,and deservedly enjoyed the confidence of his employer, Mr. Ruppert. It was one of his duties to take the money turned in by the regular collectors to the bank, and one bright morning in July, 1881, he started out in his buggy from the brewery at Ninety-second street and Third avenue for the Germania Bank at the Bowery and Rivington street. With him in the buggy was a boy named Gustave Aengle, who went along as a sort of assistant when Messerschmidt had large sums of money to carry. Under the seat of the buggy was $9600 in bills, while in a bag under the lap robe was about $1000 in silver. Everything went along nicely until the buggy, which was going along slowly, drawn by a large grey horse, reached Forty-Eighth street. Then a wagon which had been kept about twenty yards away up to this time, but had been following along steadily just the same, began to draw closer. There was nothing strange about this wagon, and it wasn’t remarkable that it should be going along the street at that time of day. It was drawn by a big bay horse, driven by a large man who sat on a high seat. Behind him in the wagon, which was an ordinary peddler’s wagon with a regular license number, were two other men. One of these men wore a handkerchief over the lower part of his face, but he concealed this from the view of passers-by by keeping his hands up to his mouth as though suffering from a toothache. The other man was in the bottom of the wagon, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. This man was Farrell, a desperate little crook, who was always ready for any game. The man with the handkerchief was “Titters,” while the driver was Goodie. What they were after was the money which they knew Messerschmidt had under the seat of that buggy, and this is the way they went about getting it in the middle of the day with people passing to and fro, the street full of vehicles like their own and a policeman on duty a block away.

As the buggy approached Forty-seventh street the wagon drew up alongside, and the bay began to shove the grey over toward the gutter. It really looked as though Goodie had lost control of his horse, and that was what Messerschmidt thought. So he shouted advice to the driver, and at the same time tried to pull himself out of the tangle. It was useless effort, however. The bay continued to crowd the grey, until finally the wagon was right alongside the buggy. Then something that quite surprised the bookkeeper happened. Quick as a flash, the man with the handkerchief around his face jumped into the buggy. At the same time the driver of the wagon sprang out on his own horse’s back, and reaching over grabbed the grey by the bridle and threw him back on his haunches. Then he clambered back on his wagon and jumped to the buggy, where the man with the mask was playfully wiggling a big revolver under the nose of Messerschmidt and advising him to fork over in a hurry, as there was no time to spare. Messerschmidt was game, however. He not only declined to fork over, but he reached for his own gun and might have got it and done some damage, but for the fact that “Titters” hit him a blow with the butt end of the revolver and knocked him down. The boy Aengle had meanwhile been thrown out of the buggy and told to stay where he was unless he wanted to be shot dead. When “Titters” knocked his man down, Farrell sprang into the buggy, and throwing the blankets right and left succeeded in getting at the hidden money. Like a flash he gave a signal, and Goodie and “Titters” both sprang back into the wagon. “Titters” grabbed the bag of silver as he went, but it was so heavy that it fell out of his hand into the bottom of the buggy, and he didn’t stop to recover it. Goodie whipped up the big bay, and before Messerschmidt could get his wind again the wagon with the thieves was a half block away.

It didn’t take so long for all this to happen as it takes to tell it. The thieves had their work all planned and they did it so systematically that few people on the street were aware that a crime was being committed. Messerschmidt set up a great outcry as the thieves rode away, and then began to laugh as it dawned on him how utterly impossible it was for the thieves to get away in their heavy wagon so long as he had a light buggy and a good horse to pursue them with. He didn’t know what kind of men he was dealing with, though. As he grabbed up the reins, he hit his horse with the whip and the animal darted forward. The driver tried to pull him in and almost fell backward out of the buggy. The thieves, anticipating pursuit, had cut the reins and the horse was now running away. Messerschmidt was still game, however, and jumping from the buggy ran after the fast-disappearing wagon. As he approached it, three shots were fired in rapid succession by one of the thieves. It was impossible to tell which man fired the shots, as Farrell and “Titters” were lying in the bottom of the wagon. It was one of these men, however, who fired these shots. Messerschmidt dropped to the sidewalk to avoid any more shots, and as he did so, Goodie drove the wagon around a corner and disappeared. That was the last seen of the thieves by the bookkeeper. When re renewed the chase, the wagon was lost in a crowd of vehicles and, as he was near-sighted and had lost his glasses in the scuffle, he was unable to pick it out.

The bold robbery created a tremendous sensation in the city and for weeks the police made every effort to find the men who had done the job. Messerschmidt remembered the license number on the wagon, but when the wagon entitled to this number was found, it was not the vehicle that had been used by the thieves. And so the three men escaped with their plunder, although for weeks police and amateur detectives, spurred on by the promises of rewards, ransacked every corner of the city in an effort to get some clue to the men who had done this bold job.

Another big piece of work done by these three leaders of the Mackerelville gang was the assault and robbery of Luther Church on Dec. 31, 1883. This was an almost equally bold crime, and in many ways resembled the robbery of Messerschmidt. Mr. Church was the superintendent for George Dwight and Company, soda water manufacturers, at First avenue and 112th street. He had been downtown on the day mentioned to get money to pay off the hands at the soda water works and at about noon got off an elevated train at Second avenue and 111th street. He had in his pocket $2,300 dollars in cash. As he went down the stairs he passed a man in a jumper who was sweeping the stairs. He thought it was the porter and spoke pleasantly to him as he passed and the man grumbled something back at him. As soon as Mr. Luther’s back was turned the man in the jumper dropped his broom, and hauling a piece of lead pipe out of his pocket, crept up behind Mr. Luther and struck him a heavy blow on the back of the head with it. At the same time another man at the foot of the stairs ran up, and he and the man in the jumper worked over the unconscious Luther until they found where he had his money. As soon as they got the cash they ran down the street and jumped into the butcher’s cart that was standing near the curb about ten yards away. The driver of this cart whipped up his horse, and before anybody who witnessed the affair thought to stop them the thieves were out of sight. The driver was Goodie, the man who used the lead pipe on Mr. Church was “Titters,” and the other man was Farrell.

Unfortunately for the time thieves they had played their game once too often. They had been under suspicion for several similar crimes, and two women, who witnessed the assault of Mr. Luther, gave such accurate descriptions of the thieves that there was no doubt in the minds of the police as to who the guilty men were. Orders were issued at once to arrest them on sight. The three got the tip in time and fled from the city. In less than three weeks, however, all three were in the toils. Goodie ventured back to the city thinking that the affair had blown over, and was arrested by a Central office detective; and on Jan. 15, 1884 “Titters” and Farrell were arrested in Philadelphia. “Titters” lost his nerve when he was arraigned for trial, and agreed to turn State’s evidence. His offer was accepted and on his testimony Goodie was sent to Sing Sing for twenty years. Farrell was sent to the same institution for fifteen years, and he himself got seven years and six months, This practically broke up the Mackerelville gang. For about a year the other members continued to hold up citizens who ventured in their neighborhood, but there was an end to the big bold robberies after the three leaders were sent away. What has become of Goodie and Farrell is not generally known, but “Titters” died shortly after being released from prison.

Several points in both the Byrnes and the Sun article require correction. Titterington’s father, Richard, never lived to be disappointed in any of his children–he was killed at Gettysburg serving in Company G of New York’s 82nd Infantry. James had been born on the 24th of February, 1855 in Burlington, New Jersey. He had a younger brother, Joseph, and a younger sister, Anna. Another son, the oldest, Richard, born in 1852, died as a child; there are also references to a son, John–but this might have been the same person as Richard. Both James and his brother Joseph had heavy stutters.

Mackerelville was a tenement section of the East Side of old New York which matched the infamous Five Points in crowding, poverty, crime, and lack of sanitation.

James R. Titterington was first sent to Sing Sing in 1875 at age twenty for attempted burglary. After he came out, he discovered his little sister, Annie, at age 16 had left home to go live in a boarding house. Annie complained that her mother was abusive, but the mother–Isabelle–and son James were convinced that she was hanging out with bad characters in saloons. James broke down the door of her boarding room and told her she had to go home, but Annie refused. James drew a knife on her and threatened her, but other residents called the police. He was arrested and sent to the City prison, and Annie was sent to the Magdalene Asylum, a workhouse for “fallen women.” All records of her from that point vanish.

“Titters” was back in Sing Sing in 1879 for attempted burglary. He enjoyed a couple of years of freedom from 1881-1884, during which time he committed the Messerschmidt robbery and then the assault on Luther Church. Accounts differ on whether Willie Farrell or Titterington used the lead pipe on Church’s head.

Titterington, after testifying against his partners, was released from Sing Sing in 1889. He went to Philadelphia, where he was arrested for stealing an overcoat. He was sent to the county jail, where he died in April, 1890. Ten years later, his alcoholic brother died, followed shortly by mother Isabelle Titterington, a woman who had endured an enormous amount of pain in her life.



#67 Joseph Real

“Piggy Real” (1859-19??), aka Robert Williams, John Williams, James Wallace, Jim Wallace, Joseph Henry, William H. Kalton, Joseph Stein, etc. — Burglar

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Twenty-six years old in 1886. Born in New York City. Bricklayer by trade. Single. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, 143 pounds. Black hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion. Left-handed.

RECORD. Hoggie Real is a very smart and nervy house-thief. He generally works with Joe Otterburg (69), both of whom are well known in New York and Philadelphia. Real was arrested in New York City, and sentenced to four years in Sing Sing prison by Judge Gildersleeve, on April 24, 1883, on conviction of burglary in the third degree, but escaped from there on June 22, 1883. He was returned to Sing Sing prison, under the name of John Williams, on another charge from New York City, on January 22, 1884, for four years, which, together with his runaway time, makes his sentence nearly eight years. Watch this man when you arrest him, as he carries a pistol in his outside coat-pocket, left hand side, and will use it. His picture is an excellent one, taken in 1883.

“Piggy Real,” as most newspapers named him, was a dedicated, dangerous burglar who succeeded often; and, on the occasions when he was caught, often escaped with light sentences. Doubtless, this was due to his ability to disguise his identity using a flurry of aliases. His true name Chief Byrnes thought to be Joseph Real. In various Sing Sing registries, they thought his true name to be Real–but one prison register asserted it was John Williams.

As Byrnes notes, he was frequently a partner of Joseph Ottenburg.

Piggy’s career started years before Byrnes first notation. In 1875, he hid himself in a grocery store with the intent to rob it after hours, but was discovered. Piggy drew a knife and stabbed the owner, his son, and a clerk. He plead guilty to the stabbing, and was sentenced to five years in prison.


He stayed out of notice until 1883, when he was caught burgling and arrested as Joseph Stein. A year into his four-year sentence at Sing Sing, he escaped during a work detail outside the gates. He was captured shortly afterward committing another burglary, and arrested as John Williams. These two sentences kept him in Sing Sing until 1890. Later in 1890, he was caught again, and returned to Sing Sing as Robert Williams.

Out again in 1894, he spent a brief sojourn at the City Penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island for assaulting a woman said to be his wife.

In 1896, he was arrested as James Wallace on suspicion of committing a burglary, but was released for lack of evidence. In 1898, he was part of a gang led by Timothy J. Hogan went on a spree robbing post offices in Ohio and Illinois.


Piggy was arrested once more in New York, in 1901 while attempting to burglarize an apartment. He was captured and sent to Sing Sing once more as Joseph Henry. From there, his trail goes cold.

But who was Piggy Real? Trying to identify him as “Joseph Real” offers no proof. However, when sent to Sing Sing in 1890, he offered the name of a sister: Louisa Borst of Manhattan.

Louisa Borst’s maiden name was Louise Stiehl. Louise had three older brothers, one of whom, Wilhelm (William), was born in 1859 and seems to have disappeared from all records after 1870. The other two brothers were much older. Though far from being conclusive, it may be that Piggy Real was Wilhelm Stiehl.


#122 Bertha Heyman

Bertha Schlesinger (Abt. 1853-1901), aka Bertha Heyman, Bertha Kerkow, Bertha Stanley, Big Bertha, etc. — Swindler

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-five years old in 1886. Born in Germany. Married. Very stout woman. Height, 5 feet 4 inches. Weight, 245 pounds. Hair brown, eyes brown, fair complexion. German face. An excellent talker. Has four moles on her right cheek.

RECORD. Bertha Heyman’s maiden name was Bertha Schlesinger. She is a native of Koblyn, near Posen, Prussia. Her father served five years in prison there for forging a check. She was married twice, first to one Fritz Karko, when she first came to this country in 1878. After living in New York a short time they went to Milwaukee, where she was afterwards married to a Mr. Heyman, although her first husband was still living. She has been concerned in a number of swindling transactions, and has the reputation of being one of the smartest confidence women in America. In September, 1880, she was sued in the Superior Court of New York City for obtaining by false pretenses $1,035 from E. T. Perrin, a conductor on a palace car, whom she met in traveling from Chicago. She was arrested in London, Ontario, on February 8, 1881, in company of one Dr. J. E. Cooms, charged with defrauding a Montreal commercial man out of several hundred dollars by the confidence game.


Bertha, in her last years, preferred to be known by her nickname, Big Bertha, and used it to publicize her stage appearances and the honky-tonks that she managed in Spokane, Butte, and other cities. One reason for that decision is that it eliminated the necessity of having to explain the many married names she had accumulated. She was born in Kobylin, Prussia (now Poland), not far from Breslau. On one marriage record she listed her parents as David Schlesinger and Ernestine Frankel. She once gave an interview that offered a version of her early career, much of which can be verified:


“Fred” was Friedrich Kerkow, a partner in a very small bank in New York that served German-speakers. Fred’s story is that he first saw Bertha working as a cleaning woman, and was entranced by the pretty young girl. They married in November, 1870, when Bertha was still a teen. The marriage lasted many years; they moved together to Milwaukee in 1875 to open a millinery store–likely an ambition of Bertha’s more than Fred’s. Did Fred abandon her in Milwaukee? He never offered his version of events. In 1877, Bertha remarried to a traveling suspender salesman, John Heyman. They maintained the millinery store in Milwaukee for a short while, but Bertha and Heyman moved to a more expensive residence, where Bertha soon gained a reputation for entertaining young German actresses and the men wishing to meet them. Unpleasant rumors caused Bertha and Heyman to decamp to New York City in the spring of 1880.

On the way to New York from Chicago, Bertha struck up conversation with a Pullman palace train car conductor, and convinced him that she had many wealthy assets in need of management, and enticed him to quit his job and take over as her estate manager–but first she needed $1000 in cash to settle some matters. The conductor, Mr. Perrin, thought it was a good opportunity, and lent her the money. Upon arrival in New York, Bertha encamped in a series of luxury hotels and ran up bills, retaining a respected lawyer to advise her. Soon both the conductor, Mr. Perrin, and the lawyer, Mr. Botty, were forced to take legal action to recover the money and services they had invested in the pretend-millionairess. Mr. Botty was the person that Bertha later claimed had informed her that she was an heiress; while Mr. Botty claimed that she was the one that first contacted him.

It was at the onset of this imposture and legal woes that husband number two, John Heyman, left Bertha. As Chief Byrnes mentions, there always seemed to be a shadowy male con man feeding Bertha’s ambitions by providing forged checks and phony bonds offered in security for cash; in New York, this figure had the name of “J. E. Cooms” (aka Coombs, Combs). When the pleas of Mr. Perrin and Mr. Botty were joined by a Mrs. Schlaarbaum of Staten Island, who claimed that Bertha had stolen jewelry from her boarding house, Bertha and Cooms fled to Canada. They were arrested there for perpetrating a fraud and retreated back to New York.

Once again in New York, Bertha took rooms in a boarding house on Staten Island, where she was arrested for stealing a watch from her landlady. She was tried and convicted in October, 1881 for the watch theft, a term she served in the New York Penitentiary. She was freed in June of 1883. Bertha was then put on trial for her earlier swindles in New York, and was returned to prison on August 30, 1883. Finally, the time she owed New York authorities expired in April, 1887.

Within a year, Bertha reappeared in San Francisco as “Bertha Stanley,” accompanied by a young man she introduced as a son, William H. Stanley (who may have been the same person as Dr. J. E. Cooms). In San Francisco, she approached a leader among the Jewish community, Rabbi A. J. Messing, whom she had known as a child in Prussia. She explained to the Rabbi that she had married a gentile, a Mr. Stanley of LaSalle, Illinois, now deceased. Mr. Stanley had left her a fortune, but she now desired to marry within her faith and asked the Rabbi’s help in finding a suitable husband. Messing introduced her to members of the Beth Israel synagogue, including his unmarried brother-in-law, Abraham Gruhn. Gruhn was entranced by Bertha, despite her now-ordinary looks and heavy girth.

Within days, Gruhn and Bertha were heading a lavish engagement party, at which Bertha’s fake son “Willie” asked Gruhn for $500 to overcome his objections to his mother remarrying. Bertha wore a great quantity of diamonds, which were paste; but their display gave “Willie” the opportunity to suggest to several women that he could take their jewelry and reset the stones in the latest fashion, such as those Bertha wore. Gruhn also presented his betrothed with more jewelry. Within days, Bertha and Willie had pawned all the jewelry they had received, along with Gruhn’s cash, and headed south toward Los Angeles. Gruhn and Messing, after a day or two, slowly realized they might have been swindled. They approached the San Francisco police, who showed them Bertha’s picture in Byrnes’ book.

Detectives traced Bertha and Willie to San Antonio, Texas, where the pair was arrested. They were brought back to San Francisco to stand trial for larceny. Gruhn, who still had a soft spot for Bertha, tempered his testimony against her, forcing the prosecution to focus their efforts on Willie Stanley. The court proceedings attracted overflow crowds–a fact not unnoticed by Bertha. In the end, after prevailing in both a civil and criminal suit, she was acquitted; while Stanley was found guilty of obtaining goods under false pretenses, and was sentenced to just six months.

Bertha considered opening another millinery shop, but instead accepted an offer to appear on the stage of a low-brow opera house.  Her act consisted of posing in scenes recreating her scandals in San Francisco; followed by her posing in classical scenes in flesh-colored tights. She attracted larger-than-usual crowds eager to see “Big Bertha.” Over the next year, she took her act on the road throughout the West Coast, sometimes adding an appearance as a collar-and-elbow wrestler, willing to take on any comer. As she traveled, she attracted new admirers who presented her with gifts and offers of marriage.

During this period, reporters tracked down her first husband, Fritz Kerkow, who was now operating a popular cafe in Los Angeles. Bertha went to the cafe to meet him, and later only said that Kerkow had broken down in tears.

By 1893, Big Bertha was not only appearing on stage, but also managed honky-tonk theaters in Spokane, Washington; Bakersfield, California; and Butte, Montana. These dives presented entertainments that are hard to imagine today:


Bertha died in Chicago in May, 1901, while managing a similar type of dive in that city.

#100 Edward Lillie

Edward Lilly (Abt. 1822-1894), aka Big Ned Lilly, Ed Lillie, Joseph Morgan, Edward Walsh, etc. — Sneak Thief, Confidence Man

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Sixty-five years old in 1886. Born in United States. Sailmaker. Married. Slim build. Height, 6 feet i inch. Weight, 166 pounds. Black hair, turning quite gray; gray eyes. Wears a gray chin whisker. Has a sloop and owl in India ink on right arm ; spots of ink on left arm.

RECORD. Ed. Lillie is one of the most notorious confidence operators in America. He does not confine himself to that particular branch of the business, as he has done service for forgery and robbing boarding-houses. He is known in a number of the large cities of the United States and Canada, and is considered a very clever man.

He was arrested in New York City on November 25, 1876, under the name of James H. Potter, charged with purchasing from George C. Flint, of West Fourteenth Street, New York City, $600 worth of furniture, and giving him in payment therefor a worthless check for $750 on the National Bank of Newburg, N.Y. The bank’s certification on the check was forged, and he received $150 in change. In this case Lillie pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison, on February 2, 1877, by Judge Gildersleeve.

He was arrested again in New York City on July 28, 1879, in company of one John Hill, alias Dave Mooney (173), charged by Mrs. Lydell, who kept a boarding-houSe at No. 46 South Washington Square, with entering the room of one of her boarders and stealing $575 in money, three watches, two chains, and a locket, altogether valued at $1,000. In this case he was discharged for lack of evidence. Lillie was arrested again on board of a Galveston steamer, lying at the dock in New York City, on January 9, 1881, charged with obtaining $50 from Miguel S. Thimon, a Texan, by the confidence game. In this case Lillie was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison, on January 12, 1881, by Judge Cowing.

He was again arrested plying his vocation along the river front in New York, in June, 1884, and sentenced to six months in the penitentiary, charged with vagrancy. He obtained a writ, and was discharged by Judge Lawrence, of the Supreme Court, on June 13. 1884. He fell into the hands of the police again in New York City, on February 27, 1885, charged by Benjamin Freer, of Gardiner, Ulster County, N. Y., with swindling him out of $250 in money. One David Johnson, of Catasauqua, Pa., also charged him with swindling him out of 102 English sovereigns on January 2, 1885, on board of an Anchor Line steamer, while lying at the dock in New York City. Johnson was on his way to Europe. Lillie was tried for swindling Johnson, and sentenced to five years in State prison on March 9, 1885, by Recorder Smyth, in the Court of General Sessions. Lillie’s picture is an excellent one, taken in November, 1876.

As per usual, Byrnes recites a criminal record starting in the late 1870s; but Ed Lilly was one of the oldest criminals in Byrnes’s book, and had already had a long career by that time. In fact, even by 1858, he was described as an extensive operator of confidence games in New York, Philadelphia, and other large cities. His origins are not known, but he likely came from New York City or Boston. As a young man he learned an honest trade–sailmaking.

In 1858, Lilly was arrested in New York for swindling a man via a con known as the “patent safe game.” [Note: in some instances this small patent safe was called a “little joker”; but “little joker” was a term also used for the object hidden under a shell in the shell game; and later, a device used to crack combination locks.] In this operation, Lilly would make the acquaintance of the victim, and then both he and the victim would happen meet a total stranger (who in actuality was an accomplice of Lilly). The stranger would show them a new small safe he had invented with a hidden chamber, inside of which was an object. While the stranger was (supposedly) distracted, Lilly would sneak the object out of the chamber in view of the victim, then would bet the stranger that the object was no longer in the safe. Lilly would then ask the victim for a loan to cover the sure bet. The victim would supply the loan. Then the stranger would open the safe and (via a trick mechanism in the safe) find that the object (actually its double) was there, losing the bet. Lilly would pretend bafflement, and would promise to meet the victim later to pay back the loan for the lost bet. In this instance the victim went to the police. Lilly was convicted and sent to Sing Sing for two years.


Upon his release, Lilly was arrested in 1860 for burglary, but escaped conviction. At the onset of the Civil War, Lilly moved to Washington, DC, and opened up a canvas tent and flag store–his skills as a sailmaker were now in high demand, as the War required huge amounts of canvas camp goods. As busy as he was, Lilly was often mentioned in the Washington newspapers for getting into fights in gambling houses, carrying concealed weapons, intoxication, and attending prize fights.

It was while in Washington that Lilly proved he had a heart. He became upset over a lost dog:


He had even named the dog for his favorite gambling game, Faro. Lilly seemed less attached to his female companions: including Kate Walsh, Sarah Hart, and Margaret Lilly–the last of whom ditched Ned Lilly in favor of the affections of fence Moses Erich (to mention just two of Mag Lilly’s several notorious male companions).

In 1870, Ed Lilly was arrested in Syracuse, accused by one of his victims. Police there confiscated Lilly’s baggage, and found some fascinating items:


During the 1870s, Lilly added forged checks and counterfeit bonds to his kit, a risky choice, in that being caught with those subjected him to the risk of additional charges. It was on a charge of Forgery that he was convicted in New York in 1877 and sent to Sing Sing under the alias James H. Potter, the crime that Byrnes first recites in Lilly’s history.

As Byrnes recounts, Lilly was sent to Sing Sing two more times, in 1881 and 1885. In 1889, Lilly was arrested with bogus bonds in his possession at the Hoboken ferry terminal, and was consequently sent to the Hudson County Penitentiary (Snake Hill) for six months.

In 1894, Lilly checked into a Baltimore boarding house under the name “Alexander Stewart.” He was found one morning in his room, asphyxiated by gas escaping from an unlit lamp. He would have died anonymously, had it not been for the distinctive tattoos that he, like many criminals, bore on his body: in his case a sailing ship and an owl. Those features had been recorded several times in Sing Sing, and were recognized by New York officials.





#8 Walter Sheridan

Walter Sheridan (Abt. 1833-1890), aka William A. Stoneford, Charles H. Ralston, Walter A. Stewart, William Holcomb, Doc Dash, Charles H. Keene, etc. — Horse thief, con man, bank sneak thief, counterfeiter, forger

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-five years old in 1886. Born in New Orleans, La. Married. No trade. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, about 165 pounds. Light brown hair, dark eyes, Roman nose, square chin. Generally wears blonde whiskers. He is a good-looking man, and assumes a dignified appearance.

RECORD. Walter Sheridan is an accomplished thief, a daring forger, bank sneak, hotel thief, pennyweight-worker and counterfeiter. He is also one of the most notorious criminals in America. Among his aliases are Stewart, John Holcom, Chas. Ralston, Walter Stanton, Charles H. Keene, etc. When a boy, Sheridan drifted into crime and made his appearance in Western Missouri as a horse thief. He finally became an accomplished general thief and confidence man, but made a specialty of sneaking banks. In 1858 he was arrested with Joe Moran, a noted Western sneak thief and burglar, for robbing a bank in Chicago, Ill., and was sentenced to five years in the Alton, Ill., penitentiary, which time he served. He was afterwards concerned in the robbery of the First National Bank of Springfield, Ill., with Charley Hicks and Philly Phearson (5). Sheridan engaged the teller. Hicks staid outside, and Phearson crawled through a window and obtained $35,000 from the bank vault. Hicks was arrested and sentenced to eight years in Joliet prison. Philly Phearson escaped and went to Europe. Sheridan was arrested in Toledo, O., shortly afterwards with $22,000 in money on him. He was tried for this offense but acquitted.

He next appeared in a “sneak job” in Baltimore, Md., in June, 1870, where he and confederates secured $50,000 in securities from the Maryland Fire Insurance Company. After this he secured $37,000 in bonds from the Mechanics’ Bank of Scranton, Pa. He was also implicated and obtained his share of $20,000 stolen from the Savings and Loan Bank of Cleveland, O., in 1870. He was arrested in this case, but secured his release by the legal technicalities of the law. Sheridan’s most important work was in the hypothecation of $100,000 in forged bonds of the Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad Company to the New York Indemnity and Warehouse Company, in 1873, for which he obtained $84,000 in good hard cash. It took months to effect this loan. He took desk room in a broker’s office on the lower part of Broadway, New York, representing himself as a returned Californian of ample means. He speculated in grain, became a member of the Produce Exchange, under the name of Charles Ralston, and secured advances on cargoes of grain. He gained the confidence of the President of the Indemnity and Warehouse.

Walter Sheridan is among the handful of the most infamous criminals profiled by Chief Byrnes.  He was often successful, and tried his hand at many different types of crimes. The accounts of Walter Sheridan’s origins are fairly consistent: he came from a respectable family in Kentucky; was sent to New Orleans for his education; went astray, and, in the late 1850s, was known as a horse thief in central Missouri. Unfortunately, none of this can be verified–not even his supposed full name: Walter (Cartman or Eastman) Sheridan.


Several more complete accounts of Sheridan’s criminal career have been written, most recently by Jay Robert Nash in his Great Pictorial History of World Crime. However, the most succinct summary appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch of January 22, 1890, on the occasion of Sheridan’s death:


The identity of Sheridan’s wife and son Walter (who claimed his body from the coroners in Montreal) have defied solving. The body was said to have been taken back to Baltimore, but no burial records have been found.


#14 Charles O. Vanderpool

Charles O. Brockway (Abt. 1837-1901), aka Charles D. Vanderpool, Chester C. Brockway, Charles Seymour, Curley-Headed Kid — Counterfeiter, Forger

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-one years old in 1876. Born in United States. Married. Medium build. Dark curly hair, blue eyes, sallow complexion. Height, 5 feet 9 inches. Weight, 160 pounds. Black beard.

RECORD. Charles O. Brockway, whose right name is Vanderpool, is one of the cleverest forgers in America. He has no doubt been responsible for several forgeries that have been committed in America during the past fifteen years. He at one time kept a faro bank in partnership of Daniel Dyson, alias Dan Noble, who is now serving twenty years in Europe for forgery. He subsequently branched out as a counterfeiter, and served two terms in State prison for it. The last one, of five years, was done in Auburn, New York, State prison. His time expired there in 1878.

He afterwards went West, and was arrested in Chicago, Ill., with Billy Ogle, in June, 1879, for forgery on the First National Bank of that city. At the time of his arrest a full set of forgers’ implements was found in his room. He made a confession, and charged an ex-government detective with having brought him to Chicago and picked out the banks for him to work. This statement was corroborated by a subsequent confession of Billy Ogle. The authorities indicted the ex-detective, and Brockway was admitted to bail in $10,000. The case never went to trial for lack of other evidence to corroborate Brockway and Ogle, who were both men of bad character.

Brockway came back to New York, where he was credited with doing considerable work. The following banks are said to have been victimized through him : The Second National Bank, the Chemical National Bank, the Bank of the Republic, the Chatham National Bank, the Corn Exchange Bank, and the Phoenix National Bank. He was finally arrested at Providence, R. I., on August 16, 1880, with Billy Ogle (13) and Joe Cook, alias Havill (15), a Chicago sneak, in an attempt to pass a check on the Fourth National Bank for $1,327, and another on the old National Bank for $1,264. Brockway pleaded guilty to two indictments for forgery, and was sentenced to eight years in State prison at Providence, R. I., on October 2, 1880. His time will expire, allowing full commutation, on August 26, 1886. See commutation laws of Rhode Island. Brockway’s picture is a good one, taken in 1880.


Contrary to Byrnes’ assertion, Charles O. Brockway was born to John O. Brockway and Abigail Carey in Washington, Sullivan County, New Hampshire in 1837. John Brockway passed away in South America just two years after Charles was born. In 1846, Abilgail remarried to Sylvanus Clogston. By 1850, Charles Brockway was living with a young farming couple named Fletcher, rather than with his step-father’s family.

Fourteen years later, at age 27, he had not moved far away; he was said to be living in Laconia, New Hampshire. One account suggests he had soldiered for New Hampshire in the Civil War; but his name is not found in muster rolls, and a different account suggests he had been in prison in Concord. Residents of Laconia say he was suspected of being involved in a failed attempt to rob the Laconia Savings Bank in 1864.


It was about this time that Brockway fell in with one of the nation’s most infamous counterfeiters, Bill Gurney. Brockway was said to be a “passer of the queer”, i.e. one assigned to put counterfeit currency into circulation. Brockway was also said to be an avid faro player, the card game favored by gamblers before poker replaced it in later decades. In October, 1864, officers from Albany and New York captured Brockway in Troy, New York. He was accused of drugging and rolling a businessman in a Houston Street saloon; and of passing counterfeit bills in Albany. Though committed to trial in New York, he was eventually returned to Albany and was jailed there. The 1865 state census found Brockway still in the Albany prison.

Upon his release, Brockway connected with a New Hampshire-based counterfeiter named Bill Dow, who was equally notorious in that endeavor as Bill Gurney. After the Civil War ended, federal bank notes replaced individual bank notes, and the United States Secret Service was founded to counter widespread counterfeiting operations. Dow was indicted in Maine, while Brockway tried to set up an operation in Mount Vernon, New York. The house he had rented was raided by agents of the Secret Service, but Brockway convinced one of the agents, Abner Newcomb, that he could provide information leading to much larger counterfeiting operations. They also made a deal to help settle Dow’s Maine indictment by setting up a fake raid and crediting Dow for making the raid possible. Eventually, the whole tawdry affair was exposed in a federal court, to the great embarrassment of the Secret Service. Brockway was sentenced to fifteen years for counterfeiting, to be served in Albany.

Brockway was pardoned in early 1869 by President Johnson (in the last days of his administration) having served just one year and eight months of his fifteen year term. Shortly after his release, as he approached Mrs. Bunker’s residence on W. Houston Street in New York City, he was shot in the back by George Lockwood. The cause of the dispute between Lockwood and Brockway isn’t known; both were womanizers and gamblers.

Upon recovering, Brockway partnered up with a check forger named Lewis M. Van Eaton, and made a forging tour that went from New Orleans to Detroit. Both men were captured; Brockway was brought from Detroit to New York, where he was tried and convicted for forgery. He was sent to Sing Sing for a term of four years and nine months.

Upon gaining his freedom in 1875, Brockway tried to reform himself and landed a job as a streetcar conductor on the Lenox Street Line in Boston. Within weeks, he was arrested for forging streetcar tickets.

Fleeing Boston, Brockway settled in Chicago and attempted to set himself up as a financial broker. Now over forty, Brockway romanced a girl of eighteen and married her. Whether his intentions to go straight were honest or not, his criminal acquaintances sought him out, involving him in further forging schemes. Their operations ranged from Chicago, to Boston, to Washington, and Baltimore, but it was in Providence, Rhode Island where a case was made against him. In 1880, he was sentenced to eight years in the Rhode Island State Prison. His young wife divorced him.

After his release from prison this time, Brockway returned to Chicago and once again set himself up as a broker on the commodities market. In the last dozen years of his life, he stayed out of trouble with the law, though never was particularly successful in his new vocation. He died in debt in 1901 at age 64.






#75 George Lockwood

George Lockwood (Abt. 1843-????), aka George Livingston, Cully, John McDonald — Burglar

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-four years old in 1886. Born in New York. Medium build. Married. Plumber. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, 153 pounds. Reddish brown hair, brown eyes, sandy complexion; generally wears a sandy mustache. Has pistol-shot wound on his arm.

RECORD. George Lockwood, or “Cully,” the alias he is best known by, is a professional safe-burglar, and a son of respectable parents who reside in New York City. His father, a boss plumber, learned Cully his trade. When but a boy he became entangled with a gang of thieves who frequented Mrs. Brunker’s basement, on the corner of Wooster and Houston Streets, New York City, and was arrested for robbing a pawnbroker in Amity Street, and again in the Eighth Ward, in November, 1873, for having a set of burglars’ tools in his possession, one hundred and eight pieces in all. Later on he was arrested on suspicion of robbing the premises of Brougham & McGee, gold pen and pencil manufacturers, Nos. 79 and 81 William Street. He was also arrested for attempting to assassinate Charles Brockway (14), the forger, in West Houston Street. Lockwood, as Brockway was passing by, jumped out of the hallway of his wife’s (Mrs. Brunker’s) residence, and shot Brockway in the back Brockway turned and shot him through the arm. He was not prosecuted, as Brockway refused to make a complaint.
He was arrested in New York City in January, 1871, in company of Pete Burns, alias McLaughlin, for an attempt at burglary and carrying burglars’ tools. Judgment was suspended in this case. He was arrested again in January, 1874, with Pete Burns, in a thieves’ resort that had been raided by the police. They were both arraigned on the old suspended indictment on January 14, 1874, and Burns pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison. Lockwood was remanded until January 21, when he also pleaded guilty to burglary in the third degree, and was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison at Sing Sing, under the name of George Jackson. He was arrested in the Eighth Ward, New York City, on December 1, 1878, on suspicion of a burglary, but was discharged. Next he was arrested in New York City on January 8, 1880, with Charley Woods, alias Fowler, on suspicion of robbing Station F, New York Post-office, but was discharged by Justice Bixby for lack of evidence. Arrested again in New York City on January 1, 1880, and tried in the Court of Special Sessions, on June 15, 1880, for assaulting a man named James Casey, of New Jersey, whom he mistook for an officer who had arrested him some time before for burglary. He succeeded in keeping Casey out of court on the day of his trial, and the court, being in ignorance of his character, discharged him.

He was afterwards arrested in New York City with Jim Elliott, the prize-fighter (now dead), on June 24, 1880, secreted in the cellar of Cornelius Clark’s saloon, at No. 86 Henry Street. They had bored through the floor with the view of robbing a safe containing about $500 in money, and some jewelry that was in the store. A full set of burglars’ tools was found with them. In this case they pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to two years each in State prison, on June 30, 1880, by Judge Cowing. Lockwood was arrested again in New York City on October 14, 1884, in company of Frank Russell, alias Little Frank, another sneak and burglar, for the larceny of three watches from the store of Conrad Baumgarth, No. 16 Sixth Avenue, in July, 1884. “Cully” was committed for trial in $1,000 bail, by Judge Patterson, but discharged in the Court of General Sessions, by Judge Cowing, on November 7, 1884. He was arrested again in Albany, N. Y., in company of Andrew McAllier, for attempt at burglary. They were sentenced to eighteen months in the Albany Penitentiary, on June 26, 1885, by John C. Nott, County Judge, and his sentence will expire on September 25, 1886. Lockwood ten years ago was considered a very skillful and nervy burglar. It is claimed that he is a first-class mechanic and manufactured all his tools. He and Johnny Coady generally use the wood screw for forcing in an outside door. A hole is bored with an auger in the jamb of the door, exactly behind the nosing of the lock, after which a wood screw is inserted into the hole, and with the aid of a good bit- stock or brace, the nosing of the lock is easily and quietly forced off. Of late he has become somewhat dissipated, and is not rated now as a first-class criminal. His picture is a good one, taken in November, 1877.

While Chief Byrnes entry for George Lockwood is one of his most extensive, parts of it are muddled by citing events out of order, name errors, and a few omissions. When it comes to determining Lockwood’s family history, the references to his wealthy, respectable plumber father seem to lead nowhere. New York City directories offer no instances of plumbers named Lockwood (or Livingston, Lockwood’s favored alias). The best evidence of his identity was a tattoo on his body, reading “Lockwood.”


Lockwood’s first brush with the law came years earlier than Byrnes indicates: In September, 1865 he was sentenced (as George Lockwood) to Sing Sing for a term of two years and six months for burglary. He was released and soon caught again, reentering Sing Sing as “John McDonald” in April, 1868; unfortunately, the Sing Sing registers for that period do not exist, but this term is referred to in a later Sing Sing entry.

As Byrnes indicates, Lockwood was arrested in January, 1871 for an attempted burglary. His partner was William Burns (not Pete Burns). As Byrnes relates, Lockwood frequented Bunker’s (sometimes spelled as Brunker’s) at the corner of Wooster and Houston Streets–a notorious criminal hangout. Lockwood gave up on one girlfriend, Maggie Lockwood, who was said to be his wife–in favor of the widowed Mrs.  Minnie Bunker. The cause of his attack outside the Bunker saloon on forger Charles O. Brockway (Vanderpool) is not known.


Lockwood was suspected of stealing from the premises of Starr’s pawnbrokers in early 1873, but no case could be made against him. George was caught with a valise full of an impressive collection of burglar’s tools in mid-November, 1873; judgement was suspended in that case, but a week later, Lockwood was accused of the burglary of Brougham & McKee, gold pen dealers, on William Street. Evidence was lacking, so he was prosecuted on the charge of having burglar’s tools. He was sentenced to two and a half years at Sing Sing under the name George Livingston.

In February, 1876–just a month after his release from Sing Sing, he was caught again carrying burglar’s tools; and again in July of 1877. In both instances he claimed he had reformed, and was discharged. In 1880, Lockwood and a partner, Jimmy Elliott (a former heavyweight boxing champion) was caught breaking in to a saloon. Consequently, Lockwood wound up in Sing Sing again.

Lockwood’s final jail term began in 1885 in Albany. Lockwood had been ranging around the country with several partners, conducting burglaries in Montreal, Cleveland, and Luray, Virginia.

After his release in 1886, George and Minnie migrated west, and apparently escaped further trouble with the law.






#69 Joseph Otterburg

Joseph Ottenburg (Abt. 1858-19??), aka Joseph Newman, Joseph Clark, Joseph Stearn, etc. — House burglar

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Twenty-eight years old in 1886. Born in New York City. Single. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 5 inches. Weight, 125 pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a light-brown mustache.

RECORD. Joe Otterburg is a very clever house sneak, that being his principal business. He will stand watching when you go to arrest him, as he generally uses a pistol. He is an associate of Hoggie Real (67), and is well known in several Eastern States. He was arrested in New York City and sentenced to four years in State prison on October 6, 1870, under the name of James Oats, by Recorder Hackett, for a sneak robbery. Otterburg was convicted for having burglars’ tools in his possession at White Plains, N. Y., on September 19, 1875, and was discharged from the penitentiary at Albany on July 15, 1877, after serving two years there, under the name of Joseph Osborne.

He was arraigned for trial in the Kings County Court of Brooklyn, N. Y., on May 11, 1878, for robbing the residence of Mrs. Adolphus Nathan, of No. 117 Adelphi Street, that city, on January 25, 1875, of $450 worth of property. In this case he was tried and acquitted on May 31, 1878. Christopher Spencer, who was in this robbery with Otterburg, was afterwards sentenced to the Albany (N. Y.) Penitentiary for five years for breaking jail and assaulting his keeper at White Plains jail, Westchester County, N. Y. Otterburg was arrested again in New York City, and sentenced to four years in State prison by Judge Gildersleeve, on April 24, 1883, for robbing a house in Harlem in company of Joseph Real (67). His time expired on April 23, 1886. His picture is a good one, notwithstanding his eyes are closed, taken in April, 1883.

Chief Byrnes begins his profile of Joseph Ottenburg by misspelling his name (although it was variously spelled Ottenburgh, Ottenberg…but never “Otter–“) and by mistakenly confusing him with a different prisoner, James Oates, arrested in 1870. In 1870, Joseph Ottenburg was still a boy of 11 or so, living in the Boys Reformatory in New York City. His parentage is unknown, but he did have a sister and an aunt living in New York City.

Byrnes is correct about Ottenburg’s 1875 conviction, and his May 1878 acquittal. However, a few months later in October 1878, Ottenburg was caught burgling and was sentenced to two years in Sing Sing–an episode missing in Byrnes’s account. After a couple of years of freedom, he was arrested again in 1883 and returned to Sing Sing under the name Joseph Stern.


Upon release from Sing Sing in 1886, Ottenburg changed scenery and moved to Chicago, where he met and wed an Irish girl, Bridget Higgins Fitzgerald. Their first child, a daughter, Mabel Ottenburg, was born in Chicago in 1887. However, the next year, 1888, Joseph Ottenberg was caught in Chicago with burglar’s tools and swag in his rooms, along with crucibles for melting down silver and gold (the safer way to dispose of metal wares if they are not to be sent to a fence far away). This evidence sent Ottenburg to Joliet prison for several years.

He returned to Chicago after his release from Joliet and sired a son, Herbert, in 1894; and a daughter, Ruth, in August of 1897. He had no known brushes with the law after Joliet; but can not be said to have gained much righteousness: he abandoned his family and moved back to New York City, enlisting in a volunteer militia during the Spanish-American War. He was 42 years old at that point, and was assigned duties as a nurse in Army hospitals. He became sick himself and was invalided out after the War ceased.

Joe’s daughter Mabel, 13 when he abandoned the family, likely was old enough to become a servant; but his wife Bridget was forced to place the younger children, Herbert and Ruth, in an orphanage: the Chicago Home for the Friendless.

Ottenburg’s three children all survived their traumatic childhood, and grew into adulthood. Mabel and Ruth both married, and Herbert lived with his sister Mabel and her family. However, all trace of their father is lost after 1899.