#71 Daniel Hunt

Daniel E. Hunt (1847-????), aka George/Henry/James Carter, Samuel D. Mason, Edward McCarthy, David Henderson, James A. Cochran  — Highwayman, Pickpocket, Sneak thief, Shoplifter, Wagon thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-eight years old in 1886. Medium build. Ship-joiner by trade. Born in United States. Single. Dark brown mustache. Height, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches. Weight, about 160 pounds. Brown hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion.

RECORD. Dan Hunt is a very nervy and clever pickpocket, sneak and shoplifter. He will also drive away a loaded truck. He is pretty well known in New York and most Eastern cities, and works with the best people.

He was arrested in New York City on March 25, 1878, and delivered to the police authorities of Brooklyn, N.Y., in company of William Bartlett, charged with robbing the cashier of the Planet Mills, in South Brooklyn. The cashier was knocked down and robbed of $3,500 on March 25, 1878, while within a block of the mills, by three men, who, after the robbery, which was committed in broad daylight, jumped into a wagon and escaped. He had drawn the money from a New York bank, and was returning with it to the mills for the purpose of paying off the hands. He was accompanied by a watchman, but the attack was so sudden that both men were knocked down before either could offer any resistance.

Hunt and Bartlett were arrested on suspicion, brought to trial in Brooklyn, and both found guilty on June 29, 1878. The testimony was so contradictory that Judge Moore, who presided at the trial, had strong doubts as to the guilt of the prisoners. He therefore did not sentence them, but remanded them back to Raymond Street jail, pending a motion for a new trial made by their lawyer. A new trial was granted, and as the District Attorney had no additional evidence to offer, they were discharged by Judge Moore on June 28, 1879, over a year after their arrest.

Hunt was arrested again in New York City under the name of Mason, and sentenced to two years and six months in State prison on January 22, 1880, by Judge Cowing, for grand larceny. Hunt’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1871.

Inspector Byrnes indicates that Daniel Hunt was a ship-joiner by vocation; that was a trade he learned from his father, George Wesley Hunt. Hunt’s crimes began small: in 1868, he was caught forging an order for brass door knobs. He graduated to picking pockets, using the aliases of George W. Martin and Henry Carter when caught in 1877.

Dan Hunt’s criminal career moved to a higher level early in 1878, when he was arrested following a daring robbery of a cashier transporting payroll cash from a bank to the Planet Mills, a Brooklyn yarn manufacturer. Over $3000 was taken by a gang of men who jumped from a wagon and accosted the cashier and his companion on a sidewalk. A group of suspects was rounded up, and Hunt (still using George W. Martin as his alias) was recognized.

However, as Byrnes notes, at the trial of the men, witnesses gave contradictory testimony, and were not positive in their identification. There were rumors that New York City detectives had provided the group of suspects to Brooklyn police–knowing that they were not the true culprits–in order to protect the real thieves. Because of poor evidence, Hunt was eventually cleared.

In 1880, Hunt snatched a wallet of a man leaving a New York City bank. He was arrested under the name Samuel D. Mason, alias Edward McCarthy. He was convicted and sent to Sing Sing for two and a half years.

From Sing Sing, Hunt fell in with a gang of thieves who made their headquarters in Windsor, Ontario, robbing towns and cities along the Grand Trunk railroad, operating from Detroit to Buffalo. In Windsor, they lived in houses rented by Tom Bigelow. In April 1893, that gang was engaged by Windsor and Sandwich constables in a vicious knife fight, in which several officers were stabbed. In April 1884, several of the gang members robbed a drug store in Buffalo, and fled across the border to Ontario. They were arrested there, but refused to return to Buffalo. Instead, they were arrested for previous crimes in Ontario. Hunt was sent to the provincial prison on a sentence of five years.

Upon his release, Hunt returned to Windsor and took up with the remnants of Tom Bigelow’s gang, now headed by Louise Jourdan (Bigelow)’s new paramour, James Maguire. In 1890, Hunt was arrested in Detroit on suspicion, but was later released. That same year he was rumored to have been involved in a Northwestern Pennsylvania bank robbery that netted $10,000, but was never publicized. Eventually, this gang was broken up, and Maguire fled to Australia. Hunt migrated back eastward, where he teamed up with a young burglar from Philadelphia, Henry Vining. Together they went to the Boston area and committed a string of robberies. They were captured in Brighton, outside of Boston, in October, 1892 and arrested on suspicion. Hunt gave the name of James A. Cochran. Hunt was sentenced to a year in jail, but young Vining was released, as he was dying of consumption.

In 1895, Inspector Byrnes’s updated edition of his book stated that Dan Hunt remained in the Boston area after his release from jail in 1894. Byrnes says that he took up the vocation of a bookseller.

Hunt’s resume does not suggest he was the bookish type.


#28 John Tracy

John Tracy (1849-1906), aka Big Tracy, Long John, Jim Tracy, Charles McCarty, John Riley, Edwin Taylor — House thief, Bank robber, Pickpocket

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-seven years old in 1886. Born in United States. Plumber by trade. Single. Stout build. Height, 6 feet 1 1/2 inches. Weight, 180 pounds. Dark brown hair, light complexion. Has a cross in India ink on right fore-arm. Generally wears a dark brown beard and mustache. Scar on back of hand.

RECORD. “Big” Tracy does considerable “second-story” or house work, and is well known in New York, Chicago, and all the large cities. He has served considerable time in Eastern prisons — one term of five years from Troy, N.Y., for highway robbery, in 1878. (See Addenda.)

He was arrested again in the spring of 1884, in company of Billy Ogle (13), for robbing a residence on Jersey City Heights, N.J., of diamonds and jewelry valued at $1,500. They were both tried and convicted on June 26, 1884; their counsel obtained a new trial for them, and they were discharged in July, 1884.

Tracy and Ogle went West, and in the fall of 1885 Ogle was arrested in Tennessee for “house work,” and sentenced to the penitentiary for ten years. He shortly after escaped from a gang while working on the railroad. Tracy escaped arrest, and is now at large in the West. His picture is a good one, taken in 1877. (See records of Nos. 13 and no.)

“Big Tracy” (as he was best known) had a variety of aliases, none of which can be proven as his real given name. His first known arrest was in Boston in 1872 for a petty larceny, under the name John Riley. In 1875 he was an accomplice of Eddie Garing (Eddie Goodie) in a robbery on a horse-car in New York City. The victim, a bookkeeper carrying thousands of dollars, had been targeted and followed onto the car. Big Tracy and Garing escaped arrest for this crime.

Sometime between 1875 and 1876, Big Tracy was one of those who made the first approach to Patrick Shevlin, the night watchman of the Manhattan Savings Institution, which would eventually be robbed in October 1878. Big Tracy had been a friend of Shevlin’s since they were teens; and another of the early conspirators, Tim Gorman (known as Little Tracy) had been a schoolmate.

In the summer of 1877, Big Tracy was recommended as a “good man” to bank robber Langdon Moore. Moore recruited Big Tracy to assist with an attempt on a safe at the Dedham, Massachusetts post office. The attempt was a failure, and Moore placed much of the blame on Big Tracy, whom he portrayed as cowardly. A chapter in Langdon Moore’s autobiography is devoted to this misadventure, titled “Lame Duck at Dedham.”

Big Tracy was not among the gang that eventually pulled off the Manhattan Savings Institution job, the most famous bank robbery of the 19th-century. Several months earlier, in July 1878, he had participated in a horse-car robbery in Troy, New York that was very similar to the 1875 episode with Eddie Goodie. In this case, the crime in Troy was committed by a gang of six or seven men led by William “Mush” Reilly. They targeted a messenger carrying a large amount of cash, got onto a street-car with him, and then one man garroted him from behind while another emptied his pockets.

This time, all the conspirators were captured. Big Tracy was originally sentenced to fifteen years in prison, but on appeal the sentence was reduced to five years, to be served in Clinton Prison in Dannemora. With time reduced, Big Tracy was discharged in October, 1882.

As Byrnes mentions, Big Tracy and Billy Ogle were arrested for house burglaries in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1884; but were released for lack of evidence. They both traveled together to Tennessee to commit more burglaries, were caught, and sentenced to a chain gang. They both escaped.

In 1888, Big Tracy was seen on the streets of Boston and taken in as a suspicious character, and later released. In 1889 he was arrested for picking pockets outside a dime museum in Philadelphia.

Between 1889 and 1894 there is a big gap in his record, which one newspaper attributed to an eight-year (reduced) sentenced in Sing Sing; but if he was convicted in New York, it must have been under an unrecognized alias.

In December 1884 he was caught following a house burglary in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which yielded jewelry worth only $25.00. For this crime he was sentenced to fifteen years in the Connecticut State Prison.

Upon his release in 1906, he was brought in for picking pockets in Brooklyn and sentenced to a year in the Blackwell’s Island penitentiary. He died there later that year at age 57.

#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.

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.



#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.



#110 Edward Gearing

Edward Henry Garing (1848-1923), aka Edward Gearing, Eddie Goodie (Goodrich, Goode, Goody), Henry Miller — Butcher-cart thief

From Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-eight years old in 1886. Born in New York. Married. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 65 inches. Weight, 145 pounds. Brown hair, gray eyes, fair complexion. Has a goddess of liberty in India ink on left fore-arm, anchor and clasped hands on right fore-arm, and a heart on right hand. Bald in front of head. Generally wears a red mustache and whiskers, which he dyes black occasionally.

RECORD. Eddie Goodie, or Gearing, which is his right name, was the originator of butcher-cart work, in company of Steve Boyle and Big Frank McCoy (89), several years ago. He has been connected with nearly every robbery of that character which has taken place in New York City and vicinity for the last twenty years. He is one of the smartest thieves in America, a man of wonderful audacity and resources. He is so cunning and clever that he has always managed to slip out of the meshes of the law, while others not so crafty or culpable have slipped in. He was arrested in New York City on February 13, 1870, in company of a man who has since reformed, for stealing a case of silk valued at $17,000 from a Custom-house truck. The party arrested with Goodie was sent to prison for five years, he assuming all the blame and swearing that Goodie had nothing to do with the robbery.

In 1874 Goodie and Mike Hurley, alias Pugsie Hurley (88), robbed a butter merchant in Brooklyn, N.Y. They were let out on bail, which ended it. In 1875 Goodie, Billy Williams, Big John Tracy, and John McKewan robbed William B. Golden, a book-keeper, of $5,000, while he was on his way to pay off the hands of the Badger Iron Works Company, in New York City. The book-keeper left the Dry Dock Bank, then in East Tenth Street, New York, taking a horse-car. Two men entered after him, and seated themselves by his side. Another man, who was on horseback, followed the car. At Fourteenth Street and Avenue D the two men grabbed the money bag and threw it to the man on horseback, who was Goodie, and they all escaped. In 1876 the book-keeper of the Standard Oil Works left their main office, in Pearl Street, New York City, with $8,000 in money, to pay off the hands in Greenpoint. He was followed from New York by Goodie and two other men, who assaulted and robbed him. He was also implicated in robbing the cashier of the Planet Flour Mills, in Brooklyn, N.Y., of $3,500, in March, 1878. Goodie was the driver of the wagon used in the Northampton, Mass., bank robbery in January, 1876, and was an associate of Red Leary, George Bliss, Bob Dunlap, and several other expert bank robbers.

He was also connected with the Manhattan Bank robbery in New York City, in October, 1878. In the latter part of 1880, Goodie and Willie Farrell (109) robbed a man of $2,200 near the Bank of the Metropolis, New York. They escaped by driving away in a butcher-cart. It was Goodie who drove the butcher-cart when Ruppert’s collector was robbed of $9,600 in money, in East Forty-second Street, New York, in July, 1881. Goodie was the man that was described as wearing a big brown mustache, who jumped over the fence in Jersey City, N.J., on July 18, 1883, when Cashier Smith, of the National Bank of Orange, N.J., was assaulted and an attempt made to rob him of $10,000 in money. Pete Emmerson, alias Banjo Pete (90), Ned Farrell, and John Nugent, the other parties in this robbery, were arrested at the time, and are now in State prison. Goodie was arrested in New York City on February 7, 1884, charged, in connection with William Farrell (109) and James Titterington, with assaulting with a piece of lead pipe and robbing one Luther Church of $2,300, on December 31, 1883. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to twenty years in State prison on February 21, 1884, by Recorder Smyth, in the Court of General Sessions, New York City. Goodie’s picture is a good one, taken in February, 1884.


“Butcher-cart thieves” used one-horse wagons popular with butchers and other delivery services to accost bank messengers and other delivery men on the street and make quick getaways. Eddie Garing was among the best in this type of crime–Byrnes credits him with originating the technique–but Byrnes leaves out a critical piece of information. [Note that Byrnes and many newspapers used the spelling “Gearing”, but the family preferred “Garing.”]

Brynes lists Eddie Garing’s first crime as an 1870 robbery of a case of silk from a Custom-house truck, and mentions that he committed this crime “in the company of a man who has since reformed.” That man, whom Byrnes refused to name, was George Washington Garing, Edward Garing’s older brother. In fact, this brother, also known as “Wash Goodrich,” “Wash Goody,” “William Miller,” and “George Sloan” appears to have been the originator of the cart robbery technique; and he was arrested and convicted more times than his younger brother.

Edward Gearing. Illustration by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Byrnes profiled the younger brother only–which demonstrates Byrnes’ peculiar ethical sense. Byrnes, at least in this instance, appeared sensitive to the idea that reformed former convicts should not be outed in public. Moreover, Byrnes’ courtesy was–unfortunately–misplaced. In 1888 (two years after Byrnes published his book) Wash Garing was arrested for stealing a horse and wagon; and was suspected of robbing a feed-store safe along with Herman Palmer.

Meanwhile, Eddie Garing followed in his brother’s footsteps for 14 years (between 1870 and 1884) without being convicted. For many of those years he was a leader, along with James Titterington and Willie Farrell, of the Mackerelville gang, the terror of the East Side. The luck of Garing and Titterington ran out after they assaulted and nearly killed a man named Luther Church with a lead pipe during one robbery in 1884. For this crime, Eddie was sent to Sing Sing for a twenty year sentence. With time reduced he was released in 1896.

If Eddie then resumed his criminal career, he was equally lucky in escaping punishment in his late career as he was in his earlier career. He lived in Queens as a house-painter for the rest of his life, dying at age 75, with no further arrests or jail stays on his record.

Byrnes realized that it was possible for repeat offenders to reform; but in the case of Wash Garing, he miscalculated the man’s resolve. There is no formula to predict how many arrests or years in prison will move a criminal to reform–or whether that experience just encourages a return to crime. Both Garing brothers lived out their last years in freedom, so on their own terms they each decided to live a straight life.