Byrnes’s text: #80 Michael Kurtz

Link to REVISED entry for #80 Michael Kurtz

From Byrnes’s 1886 text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-six years old in 1886. Born in United States. A Jew, Married. Slim build. Carpenter. Height, 5 feet 9 inches. Weight, 115 pounds. Black hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion, heavy eyebrows, Roman nose. Has a small wreath in India ink and number “44” on right arm; left arm spotted with ink; ink ring on the third finger of left hand.

RECORD. This celebrated criminal’s history is a most eventful one. He was for years associated with a gang of skillful burglars, of which George Howard, alias Leslie (now dead), was the leader. Kurtz, which is his right name, made the acquaintance of Howard in Philadelphia, Pa., and was associated with him in several burglaries in that city. When Howard took up his quarters in Brooklyn, N. Y., he gathered about him one of the strongest bands of burglars and thieves that ever existed. Among them was “Eddie” Goodey, “Johnny” Dobbs (64), “Billy” Porter (74), “Jim” Brady, Johnny Irving (now dead), John Green, John Wilson, alias “Dutch Chris,” Jimmy Wilmont, alias “Mysterious Jimmy,” Frank McCoy, alias “Big Frank” (89), Pete Emmerson, alias Banjo Pete (90), George Mason, alias Gordon (24), Joe Bollard, and Kurtz. Howard won his place as chief by his knowledge of safes and mechanism of combination locks, which he made a special study. Sheeny Mike was esteemed as a valuable member of the combination by reason of his quickness to observe the peculiar construction of buildings which it was determined to rob, and to demonstrate their weak points. He was never a bank burglar, but he is very clever at secreting himself in buildings and cutting through floors and partitions. He is also an expert safe-blower, and has a particular affection for jewelry and silk goods, and has been arrested so many times that it would be almost impossible to enumerate them. I will mention a few of them, which may be of service to you, should he fall into your hands.

Mike and John Wilson, alias “Dutch Chris,” were arrested in New York City on February 15, 1877, charged with robbing the cloak house of Hahn, Benjamin & Co., Nos. 313 and 315 Broadway, on the night of February 4, 1877, of silk cloaks, etc., valued at $6,000. Mike was discharged on account of witnesses failing to fully identify him. Dutch Chris pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to three years in State prison by Judge Sutherland, in the Court of General Sessions, on February 19, 1877.

On March 4, 1877, Mike was arrested in Baltimore, Md., and taken to Boston, Mass., charged with robbing the silk house of Scott & Co. of that city. He was convicted on March 29, 1877, and sentenced to twelve years in State prison. While in prison there he made himself very sick and thin by drinking soap-water, and with the aid of a preparation, and by making an incision, he caused a pus to flow from his side. The prison physicians in examining him, gave it as their opinion that he would not live a month, as he was wasting away on account of prison confinement. On their report he was pardoned by Governor Butler, on October 19, 1880.

Before his pardon was granted, he told Mr. Scott that all the stolen silk was sold to Mrs. Mandelbaum in New York. The firm commenced suit against her and obtained a judgment for the full amount stolen.

He was arrested again in New York City on January 30, 1881, and delivered to the police authorities of Washington, D. C, charged with robbing a dry goods store there on December 23, 1880, of silks, etc., valued at $5,000. In this case he was discharged. Mike was arrested again in Pittsburg, Pa., on May 17, 1882, for having burglars’ tools in his possession. In this case he was also discharged.

He was arrested again in New York City on July 19, 1882, with John Love (68), for complicity in the robbery of $5,000 from the Italian-American Bank of New York. They were both discharged, as the parties who had previously given a good description of them to the police failed to identify them when confronted with them.

Arrested again in New York City, on August 27, 1883, on a warrant issued by United States Commissioner Osborn, dated June 5, 1883, charging him with the larceny of diamonds and jewelry, valued at $658, from one Charles F. Wood, of Washington City. He was delivered to United States Marshal Bernhard, and admitted to bail by Judge Brown, in the United States Court, on September 9, 1883.

In February, 1884, the jewelry store of Marks & Son, of Troy, N.Y., was robbed of diamonds and jewelry valued at $14,000. Suspicion pointed towards Sheeny Mike and Billy Porter, both of whom left for England shortly after. In April, 1885, they returned to America and remained only a short time, going back. Mike made a second visit to America in November, 1885, leaving Porter behind him in France. He remained in New York for a short time and went into the cigar business with his brother on Eighth Avenue, but the store was sold out, and they, in company of Mike’s wife, went to Jacksonville, Florida, and started in the tobacco business. He also purchased an orange grove.

In the early part of January, 1886, the tobacco factory burned down and Mike went to live on his grove. On January 19, 1886, he was arrested there charged with the Troy robbery. He obtained a writ of habeas corpus and fought the officers. The writ was dismissed by the Circuit Court at Jacksonville, Florida, on February 11, 1886, but his lawyer appealed from their decision, and the case was argued in the Supreme Court at Tallahassee, Florida, and decided against him. He was delivered to the officers and lodged in the jail at Troy, N.Y., on March 21, 1886. He was tried at Troy, N.Y., for the Marks burglary, on March 26, 27, and 28, found guilty, and sentenced to eighteen years and six months in State prison at Dannemora, N.Y., on March 30, 1886.

After his sentence he made a statement, or “squealed,” and implicated several people in this robbery. He, however, subsequently refused to substantiate it. Billy Porter was arrested in this case. See record of No. 74. Joe Dubuque was also arrested in this case, but finally admitted to bail. Kurtz’s picture is a splendid one, although avoided. It was taken in February, 1877.

From Byrnes’ 1895 edition:

Kurtz obtained a new trial in the Marks jewelry robbery at Troy, N.Y., and was acquitted on June 23, 1887. He kept a cigar store in New York City for some time, occasionally taking trips out of town to do little “jobs.” On April 2, 1893, he was heard from again at Elizabeth, N.J., where with George Rider, alias Freddie Frick, alias Dutch Fred, who had just finished a ten years term in Sing Sing, and Eddie Malone, another well-known thief, they robbed Albert Knoll, a saloon keeper, of $217. Rider was captured on the spot, Malone was arrested the next day, while “Sheeny Mike” escaped.

Kurtz was arrested again in New York City on June 14, 1894, in company of John Mahoney, alias Jack Sheppard (No. 62), George Miller, alias Milliard, Charley Woods, alias Flower, and Michael Wagner, a nephew of “Sheeny Mike,” charged with burglarizing a jewelry store on Third Avenue. Their connection with this crime could not be proven when they were arraigned on June 18, 1894. Kurtz was, however, held to await a requisition from New Jersey in the Elizabeth till-tapping case. Kurtz, Rider and Malone, it is said, were taken to Elizabeth, N.J., by one David McAdams, who knew of Knoll’s habit of leaving large sums of money behind his bar, where the thieves found it. Ryder took the money, but was captured and gave States evidence. Kurtz and Ryder were sentenced to the county jail for six months, Malone five months, and McAdams to five months and $500 fine. On February 2, 1895, McAdams filed a writ of error and was discharged in $2,000 bail. Woods was delivered to the Erie Co., N.Y., Penitentiary, from where he escaped in 1883. Mahoney and Milliard were discharged. He was arrested again in New York City on August 25, 1895, as a suspicious person. Not held.