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.

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.



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