#142 James Anderson

James Cassidy (18??–????), aka James Anderson, Big Jim Cassidy, Jimmie the Kid — Pickpocket

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-three years old in 1886. Born in Ireland. Married. Tailor. Medium build. Height, 6 feet. Weight, about 180 pounds. Hair black, turning gray; gray eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a sandy mustache.

RECORD. “Jimmie the Kid” is a clever old New York thief. He has been traveling through the country for a number of years, and is well known in all the principal cities East and West. He is a great big rough fellow, and will get the money at any cost.

He was arrested several times in New York, but never with a clear case against him until April 10, 1876, when he was arrested for robbing George W. Mantel, on one of the horse-cars, for which he was convicted, and sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing prison, on June 16, 1876, by Recorder Hackett, in the Court of General Sessions, New York His time expired on December 16, 1882. His picture is an excellent one, taken in January, 1876.

One Saturday night in January 1888, pickpockets William Rodgers, alias Ryan, and James Cassidy, alias Jimmie the Kid, walked into Nooney’s saloon at the corner of First Street and Second Avenue in Lower Manhattan to quench their thirst. While at the bar, they encountered James “Jersey Jimmy” Johnson, another pickpocket of the same generation. All the men were over forty years in age; Jimmie the Kid Cassidy may have been well over fifty, since the ages given on his prison records varied from birth years of 1830 to 1843.

Rodgers had a beef with Jersey Jimmy. He accused Johnson of being a “squealer,” a police informant, who had ratted him out. The previous day, Friday, Rodgers had been arrested and had been given  the “third degree” over his knowledge of a recent robbery, but was ultimately discharged. Rodgers spotted Johnson at a table and heated words were exchanged, and then Jersey Jimmy’s hand, holding a knife, punched Rodgers’s chest. More shoving occurred, and the blade was seen to swipe Rodgers in the stomach and across his hands. Cassidy and other bystanders separated the two men, and Cassidy assisted Rodgers out the door. Jimmie Cassidy took Rodgers to a doctor, who did his best to bandage the wounds, and then took Rodgers back to the apartment he shared with his wife.

Inspector Byrnes heard about the fracas and sent detectives to Cassidy’s apartment, where they found Rodgers sleeping. They took both Rodgers and Cassidy to the Central Station, where a police doctor took a look at Rodgers and immediately sent him to Bellevue hospital. Rodgers was listed in critical condition, but flatly refused to press any charges against Johnson. Inspector Byrnes had Johnson and Cassidy dragged into court all the same, since Cassidy was willing to testify about the stabbing. The judge took Johnson and Cassidy over to Bellevue, where Rodgers once again denied that Johnson had been his assailant.

A year later, in 1889, Jimmie the Kid Cassidy was arrested for larceny, and sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing. He emerged in May 1898, with time reduced.

Four months later, in September 1898, Cassidy walked into a saloon and encountered Charles Robinson, alias Henry Carter, an ex-convict he knew from Sing Sing. By one account, Cassidy and Robinson had an ongoing dispute left over from prison; by another account, the two shared drinks, but then disagreed over who was paying. Robinson just turned his back and started to walk out of the saloon. Jimmie the Kid pulled out a revolver and shot him in the back.

On his way to the hospital, Robinson identified his attacker. Cassidy was arrested at his home. “Yes, I shot the man,” Cassidy told police, “but I didn’t think he would peach on me.”

Cassidy was convicted of manslaughter. Because of his age and the fact that his victim was an ex-convict, Judge Goff gave him a comparatively light sentence, twelve years. However, because Cassidy had been released on a reduced sentence earlier, he would also owe the reduced time on top of the twelve years, making a sentence that totaled over fifteen years. Since Cassidy was already between 68 and 55 years old in 1898, he was virtually assured of living out his last years behind bars.





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