#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:

18750507buffalocourier

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.

 

 

 

 

 

George Williams (#194)

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’ 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’, 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’ 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:

18750507buffalocourier

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.

SHERIDAN
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.

 

 

William E. Farrell (#109)

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.

SHERIDAN
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.

Capture

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.

 

 

James R. Titterington (#111)

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

From Byrnes’ 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 (no), 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 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.

Capture2

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.

 

“Piggy Real” (#67)

“Piggy Real” (1859-19??), aka Robert Williams, John Williams, James 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–or, one prison registered 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.

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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.

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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 their, 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.

800px-Bertha_Heyman_1888_tobacco_card

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:

origins

“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:

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

Bertha Schlesinger (#122)

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

From Byrnes’ 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.

800px-Bertha_Heyman_1888_tobacco_card

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 one version of her early career, much of which can be verified:

origins

“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 fro 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 convinced 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 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 fled back to New York.

Back 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 until her release in June of 1883. She was then put on trial for her earlier swindles in New York, and was returned to prison on August 30, 1883. Finally, she was set free by New York authorities 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 man 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 here 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 “Willie” asked Gruhn for $500 to overcome his objections to his mother remarrying. Bertha wore a great quantity of diamonds, which were paste; but which gave “Willie” to 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-class opera house.  He act consisted in posing in scenes recreating her episodes 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 very 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 entertainment that is hard to imagine today:

Capture2

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