#187 Emanuel Marks

Emanuel Marx (Abt 1846-????), aka Emanuel Marks, Minnie Marks, The Red-Headed Jew, etc. –Pickpocket, Thief, Bank Sneak, Con Man

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-four years old in 1886. Jew, born in Illinois. Married. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, about 160 pounds. Florid complexion, bushy brown hair, almost sandy. He is a little stooped shouldered. Blue eyes that have a bold, searching look. Walks with a very slouchy gait. He is a good talker, and rattles away at a furious rate. Speaks good English, German and Hebrew. Used to dress well, but getting careless of late.

RECORD. Minnie Marks, alias The Red-headed Jew, is a Chicago thief, and is well known in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, and New York. He received considerable notoriety when arrested In New York City, on October 21, 1881, and was delivered to the police authorities of Detroit, Mich., charged with robbing the First National Bank of that city of $2,080. It was a sneak robbery, which was done by four men, with a light wagon, on June 22, 1881.

In Chicago, where Marks is well known, he is not considered a very smart thief,, although other people who know him say he is a good man. He works with men like Rufe Minor (1), Mollie Matches (11), Johnny Jourdan (83), Georgie Carson (3), Big Rice (12), Billy Burke (162), Paddy Guerin, and other celebrated thieves. Marks’s picture is in the Rogues’ Gallery at New York, Chicago and Detroit.

He is said to have been with Jourdan, Minor, Carson and Horace Hovan in the Middletown Bank robbery in July, 1880. He is also said to have been one of the men who, in April, 1881, attempted to rob the bank at Cohoes, N.Y. Marks succeeded in making his escape from the jail in Detroit, Mich., on March 12, 1882, with twelve other prisoners, and has never been recaptured. Since that time he has served two years in St. Vincent De Paul prison in Montreal, Canada. The latest accounts say that he is now employed as a porter in a first-class hotel in Montreal, Canada. Marks’s picture is a very good one, taken in Detroit, Mich.

Emanuel Marks (the spelling used throughout his career) was born in New York about the year 1846 to German Jew immigrants Isaac and Cecelia Marx. The Marx family, including Emanuel’s younger brother Louis and sister Cornelia, moved from New York to Chicago in the 1850s where Isaac worked as a driver and Cecelia was an “intelligence officer,” i.e. a phrase used at that time for an agency placing servants in homes or finding rental properties.  As a young man, Emanuel found temp servant jobs through his mother, working large dinners as a dishwasher; or as a health aide to sick, wealthy clients.

His other pursuit, starting in 1866, was picking pockets. He was arrested many times during the late 1860s, and always seemed to get charges dismissed or light sentences, indicating that he had good lawyers. He also had saloon owners putting up his bail money, a sure sign that he was connected to an underworld fraternity. By the early 1870s he was picking pockets and working small cons on travelers passing through Chicago train stations. The only effective measure against him were arrests for vagrancy. By 1873, the Chicago Tribune declared him a successful “thief, burglar, assassin and outlaw,” though the paper does not defend those accusations.

By 1875, Emanuel had made at least one roving tour to pick pockets and con travelers, and was told to leave the city of Buffalo, New York. He returned to Chicago to continue his same habits, now well-rehearsed. He picked up the nickname “Minnie” as a play on his childhood name “Mannie”. During the 1860s and 1870s, a petite woman named Minnie Marks was an immensely popular trick-rider in circuses. When arrested, his sentences were still mere slaps on the wrist.

Life changed quickly for Minnie Marks; his father died suddenly in 1876, followed by his mother in 1877.  His arrest record came to include burglaries. In 1880, Marks joined fellow Chicagoan Billy Burke on several bank sneak operations. Along with frequent gang members George Carson, Rufe Minor, Horace Hovan, Big Rice, Mollie Matches, and Johnny Jourdan, Burke’s gang robbed banks in Middletown, Connecticut; Cohoes, New York; Detroit; and Baltimore between July 1880 and September 1881. Emanuel’s job was to “stall,” to distract cashiers.

He was arrested in November 1881 and sent to Detroit to stand trial for the bank robbery that had occurred there the previous June. While awaiting trial, he escaped from jail in March 1882 and fled to Canada. In Montreal in 1884, he was caught stealing a gold chain in a store and was sentenced to two years in St. Vincent De Paul prison.

In 1886 Inspector Byrnes reported, hopefully, that Marks was now a porter in an upscale Montreal hotel–but if he was, Byrnes’s publication likely sabotaged that employment. Marks was not heard from again until the early 1890s, when police spotted him again in Chicago and told him to leave town. The last mention of Marks is from New York in 1897, where he was found cheating newly-landed immigrants out of $5 and $10.

Minnie Marks’ father, mother, sister and brother can be found resting eternally at the Zion Gardens cemetery in Chicago, Illinois (under the name Marx). No one knows where Emanuel’s remains can be found.


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