#26 Augustus Raymond

Augustus Raymond (Abt. 1855-19??), aka Gus Raymond, Arthur L. Barry, William Walker — Sneak thief

Link to Byrnes’s text on #26 Augustus Raymond

Gus Raymond was a capable all-around thief, but specialized in a type of theft known as the “trunk game.” This crime was committed by gaining entry to a baggage area of a rail-car, depot, or steamship company and switching address labels on the luggage, so that they would be delivered right to the thief.

Although he acquired a reputation as a sneak thief in New York when he was still a teen in the late 1860s and early 1870s, it was not until 1877 that Raymond was caught committing a large heist. The mechanics of the theft of a trunk of jewels was described in detail by one of Raymond’s partners, Langdon Moore, in his autobiography. In his account, Moore himself is the unnamed “fourth man,” while “Bigelow” is Tom Bigelow, and “Briggs” is Thomas “Kid” Leary:

AN EXCHANGE OF BAGGAGE CHECKS: HOW A JEWELRY FIRM HAPPENED TO LOSE A VALUABLE TRUNK BETWEEN WORCESTER AND NEW YORK.

Under the protection of a Boston private detective, whose greed of gain was only excelled by his treachery to me as time rolled on, several important robberies took place in and near Boston. The day previous to my first prospecting visit to the Cambridgeport National Bank, Feb. 26, 1877, the Brigham robbery took place. This was followed by the Garey robbery, April 16; and on May 12 Ailing Brothers and Company’s jewelry trunk was stolen from their traveling salesman.

This salesman and his trunk were followed from the Tremont House, Boston, where he was registered, to the Bay State House, Worcester, by Raymond, Bigelow, Briggs and company. Seeing there was no opportunity to steal the trunk out of the hotel, while the salesman was visiting his customers among the jewelers in that city, the party decided to wait and follow him to his next stopping-place. Just before the afternoon express train was due, he was seen to leave the hotel and enter the Bay State House coach, with his trunk behind him. He was followed to the depot, where he bought a ticket for Hartford, Conn. Being late, he checked his trunk, and before it could be put on board the train started. He got on, leaving his baggage to be forwarded by the next train.

When it was found he had left his trunk, Bigelow went to a store on Main Street, and bought a large glazed cloth valise, while Briggs entered a grocery store and purchased a bag of salt and four dozen oranges, with a package of brown paper. While walking through a back street, the oranges, after being wrapped in the paper, were put in the bag, along with the salt. The bag was locked, and Raymond carried it to the depot, where he bought a ticket for New York. He checked the valise to that city.

Early that evening, when the baggage-master was alone in the room, Raymond and Bigelow entered, and the former asked to be allowed to open his valise, as he wished to get something out. At the same time he showed his check and pointed the bag out to the baggage-master, who, after examining the check, handed the bag to him. The moment he did this, Bigelow engaged the baggage-master in conversation, turning him around and calling his attention to another part of the room. Raymond then walked across the room to where the salesman’s trunk was standing, and set the bag down on the end of the trunk. While Bigelow was seeking information from the baggage-master, Raymond changed the check from the valise to the trunk, and the check from the trunk to the valise, sending that to Hartford and the trunk to New York. He then carried the valise back to where he had taken it from, and gave Bigelow the “tip” that the exchange had been made. They thanked the baggage-master for his kindness, bade him goodnight, and left the room.

A fourth man had remained outside, where he had seen all that had taken place in the room. There he did post duty until released by Briggs, and between the two they watched to see if the baggage-master examined the checks. He did not; and when the express train for New York came along, the trunk and the bag were put aboard. When the train started, the four “crooks” entered the smoker. Not knowing but the salesman might have business in Springfield that would detain him until this train came, they kept a close watch upon all who entered the cars at that place. Nothing, however, occurred that could in any way interest the thieves until the train reached Hartford, where two of the men left the train, and saw the valise taken from the baggage car and placed alone upon the truck, where it remained until the train pulled out of the station.

One man was left behind to see that the salesman did not call or send for his trunk before the train reached New York, for, if he did, it might make it difficult for the party who presented the check at that end to explain how he came in possession of it. Upon the arrival of the train, the check was given to a hackman, with instructions to get the trunk and return to the front of the depot. This he did, being “piped” by the thieves, who saw the trunk delivered to him without question. When he drove to the front of the depot, Briggs got in and was driven to a hotel on Fourth Avenue, where he registered and had his trunk sent to his room.

In the meantime Bigelow entered the hotel, carrying a large valise, registered, and engaged a room for the purpose of changing his clothes. After these men had been shown to their rooms, and the boy who piloted them up had returned to the office, Bigelow went to Briggs’ room, broke open the trunk, transferred all the jewelry he found in it to the bag, returned to his room, and, after cleaning himself up, returned to the office. He paid his bill and left the hotel, carrying the bag. At the corner of Twenty-Seventh Street he was met by the other man, who had been “piping” the hotel while the shift was being made, and together they went to a hotel on Sixth Avenue, near Forty-Fifth Street, and engaged a room, when the “stuff” was looked over.

Briggs, who had been left at the Fourth Avenue Hotel, was told to hire an express wagon and take the empty trunk to a furnished room in Fortieth Street occupied by Bigelow; and that night the trunk was to be taken away and destroyed. Had he done this, all trace of the trunk would have been lost. But while going for the express wagon, Briggs met Raymond, who told him not to go to the trouble of carting the trunk away and destroying it, but to go to the Fifth Avenue Hotel and get a hackman to take it to the Adams Express office and ship it on to Baltimore.

While this was being done, the salesman sent to the depot for his trunk; and when the check was presented, the valise was delivered to the messenger, who carried it to the hotel where the man was staying, and delivered the bag to him. Seeing a mistake had been made and that he had got another person’s baggage, he went to the depot, looking for his trunk. After going through the baggage-room without finding what he was in search of, he made inquiries, and learned that no other baggage but the valise had been left there upon the arrival of the express train from the East. He then wired to Worcester to have his baggage forwarded, and received a reply that it had been sent on by the night express.

The police were soon notified and given a full description of the large, heavily-ironed black trunk, with a large letter “A” printed in white on the ends. The trunk had been over the road a hundred times, and was known to all the baggage-men and many of the hackmen between New York and Boston, to say nothing about the thieves who had followed the salesman over the road many times previous to this party striking the trail. Upon inquiry at the depot, the hackman was found who had taken the trunk and the man to the Fourth Avenue Hotel, where it was learned the trunk had been taken away by another hackman; but no one could tell who he was or whither he had taken the trunk.

In the meantime the salesman, with the assistance of the officers, burst open the valise, and found the bag of salt carefully packed away among the oranges, which were beginning to decay. A search was then made by the police for the man who had sold the valise, the salt, and the oranges, to the man who had the bag. They were not successful in this, however, and the hunt was soon given up. Not so, however, with the New York police, for they caused to be inserted in the papers a notice offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of the trunk, with a request that the hackman who had taken it from the Fourth Avenue Hotel call at police headquarters. As this man seldom read the papers, he heard nothing of the inquiries being made by the police about the trunk until his attention was called to it by overhearing some other hackmen accusing one another of stealing a jewelry trunk with a big “A” printed on the ends. Upon inquiry as to the meaning of their talk, an explanation followed, and he was shown the notice in the papers.

After reading this, he jumped on his hack and drove to police headquarters, where he gave the information that led to the recovery of the trunk at the express office at Baltimore by New York detectives, who returned to New York with it, and renewed their search for the plunder, and the thieves who had dared work a new trick on the police and railroad people. While they were running around among the “stool pigeons” for information, the “stuff” was sold to a “fence” for four thousand dollars, and the party returned to Boston.

Police eventually tracked down the hackmen, which led them to Raymond; both Raymond and Kid Leary were identified by the baggage-master. Raymond and Leary were eventually caught and prosecuted, with Raymond sentenced to five years in the Massachusetts State Prison and Leary given the same number of years in Sing Sing. Moore and Bigelow escaped.

However, before Raymond was tracked down for this theft, he and Moore planned other jobs–and Moore became convinced that Gus Raymond was trying to cheat him. All the later mentions of Raymond in Moore’s book following the trunk theft are damning–though it should be mentioned that Moore also felt he was betrayed by George Mason; and thought Big John Tracy was worthless.

Raymond’s teaming up with forgers George W. Wilkes and Little Joe Elliott in 1886 was out of character. Raymond was not known to have engaged in any forgery schemes after Wilkes and Elliott were jailed.

From 1887 on, Raymond stuck to stealing from passenger ships, either using the “trunk game” or by breaking into cabins just before the steamers left dock. He was still at it in 1910:

 

 

 

 

#38 Charles J. Everhardt

Charles J. Everhardt (Abt. 1842-19??), aka Marsh Market Jake, Charles Williams, George Walsh, Charles Webb, Greenback Charley, George Hartman, Samuel Peters, Charles Koch, Charles McGloin, George Jones, Samuel Wells, William Helburne, etc. — Sneak thief, forger

Link to Byrnes’s text for #38 Charles J. Everhardt

Despite his distinctive name, nickname, and numerous mentions in Professional Criminals of America, there are several mysteries surrounding “Marsh Market Jake.” Most sources agree he was raised in Baltimore, which had a neighborhood (and street gang) named Marsh Market. Baltimore had a large German population, with many families named Everhardt/Everhart/Everhard–but there are no leads indicating whether Jake came from one of them. The same sources locating his early years in Baltimore also say that he was a thief since youth; yet there are no Baltimore crime reports of a chronic offender by this name.

Before any known criminal activities, Jake served in the military, according to the 1890 Veteran Schedule records filled out in Sing Sing. Those indicate that he served three months (May-August 1861) in the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry; and then enlisted in the Navy in 1862 and served over thirty months on the USS Brandywine during its blockade of the Virginia coast.

In January 1870, Everhardt, alias Charles Williams alias George Walsh, was arrested twice in Philadelphia: once for snatching bills away from a man at a bank; and secondly for trying to shoplift a bolt of satin. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in Eastern State Penitentiary.

After leaving ESP, Everhardt teamed up with Philly Pearson and George Williams for an 1876 bank robbery in Montreal, but were captured. Everhardt was sentenced to three and a half years.

In April 1880, Everhardt was back in Philadelphia and led a gang that opened a safe in a whisky store, stealing $2200. His partners were Kid Carroll (identified by Byrnes as “Little Al Wilson”), George Williams, and Billy Morgan. They were each sentenced to eighteen months in Eastern State Penitentiary.

A Cincinnati detective was convinced that Everhardt, Tom Bigelow, John Jourdan, and Charles Benedict were responsible for the October 1881 theft of $20,000 in bonds from Senator Burton in Cincinnati, but the case was never proved, nor were they ever arrested.

In May 1882, Everhardt and Philly Pearson were caught with a third man, known by the alias Charles Wilson, in Kingston, Ontario. They were accused of robbing a Toronto jewelry store; Pheason gave his name as John Miller, and Everhardt gave the name Charles Webb. They were sentenced to five years in the Kingston Penitentiary, but with time reduced were out in March 1885.

Three months later, Everhardt and Pearson were arrested on suspicion in Philadelphia, where Jake offered the aliases William Helburne and Albert Rudolph. Pearson gave the name George Thompson. Though the evidence against them was circumstantial, they were given ninety days in jail.

Upon his release in August 1885, Jake hooked up with Charles Fisher’s gang of check forgers. Fisher and Everhardt were briefly detained by police in Boston, but were let go. In New York, the gang–including Everhardt, Fisher, Walter Pierce, and Charles Denken–were tracked by Byrnes’s detectives, who succeeded in corralling the gang and charged them with several counts of presenting forged checks. Everhardt’s protege, Kid Carroll, was arrested for attempting to lay one of the checks in Baltimore. In January 1886, Marsh Market Jake was sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing.

Jake’s sentence was commuted and he was released from Sing Sing in November 1892.

Everhardt returned to New York and resided there under the alias Samuel Wells, and situated himself as a trader in jewelry. In October 1894, Secret Service and Postal Inspectors had Everhardt arrested on charges that he had broken into and stolen $5000 in stamps from the New Albany, Indiana post office. When he was taken in New York, officials found $3000 in stamps in his possession. Everhardt was brought up on charges in a federal court in Indiana and convicted, despite calling in many respectable witnesses who swore they saw him in New York at the time of the robbery.

Everhardt was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. In October 1896, just four months shy of completing his term, Jake was pardoned by President Grover Cleveland. The Secret Service and Post Office had discovered after his conviction that others committed the robbery.

Jake returned to New York, but within a few years had exhausted every means of legal income. He checked in with Chief Detective George F. Titus, a former lawyer, and Titus got him a job as a watchman on the New York subway construction project.

Many years later, it was said that he died in a poorhouse, but the date and location is unknown.

 

 

 

#59 Charles McLaughlin

Edward McLean (Abt. 1833-19??), aka Eddy McLean, Charles McLean, Charles McLaughlin, Charles J. Lambert, A. C. Johnson, T. W. Seaman, C. H. Davis, Edward McLane, etc. — Sneak thief, Hotel thief, Cabin thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty years old in 1886. Stands his age well. Born in Troy, N.Y. Is a saddler by trade. Well built. Height, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches. Weight, 160 pounds. Brown hair. Wears full, dark, sandy whiskers and mustache, turning gray. He has quite a respectable appearance, and is a good talker.

RECORD. McLaughlin is one of the cleverest hotel workers in the country, and is said to be the son of a planter in Louisiana. He was a book-keeper, but lost everything during our civil war and became a hotel thief.

On April 3, 1875, he robbed a room in the Westminster Hotel in New York City of a watch and chain and some diamonds and money. As he was leaving the hotel with his booty, his victim came downstairs and reported his loss to the clerk, who followed McLaughlin and had him arrested, and found the property upon his person. McLaughlin was tried, convicted, and sentenced to three years in Sing Sing prison for this robbery. It is said that the day he was sentenced his father was shot and killed by negroes in Grant Parish, La.

He was convicted and sent to prison in Quebec, Canada, for a hotel robbery in January, 1881.

He was arrested again in New York City on June 10, 1884, for entering three rooms in the Rossmore Hotel. A full set of hotel-workers’ tools was found on his person at the time of his arrest. He had robbed two rooms in this house some time before and secured $400 in money and two watches. In this case McLaughlin pleaded guilty to burglary, and was sentenced, under the name of Chas. J. Lambert, to two years in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, in the Court of General Sessions in New York City, on June 25, 1884, by Judge Gildersleeve. His sentence expired February 24, 1886. McLaughlin’s picture is a fair one, taken in 1875. He looks much older now.

When Edward McLean was arrested in New York in April 1875, the newspapers were full of reports concerning a Supreme Court case relating to the Colfax Massacre, an outrage that had occurred in Grant Parish, Louisiana, in which three white men and about 150 black men were killed. During the time he was jailed, McLean linked his background to this bloody event. McLean never offered any details that could not have been picked up from New York newspaper; and the none of the three white men that died in the Colfax Massacre had names that matched McLean (or his aliases). McLean apparently believed that the story would gain him sympathy.

McLean was, instead, a long-time New York City resident, who began his career as a sneak thief in the early 1870s, along with Joe Howard, aka Joe Killoran. He soon became known as an accomplished hotel thief, but always had an eye for jewelry. After the Sing Sing sentence that followed his April 1875 arrest, McLean next was heard from in 1881 in New York, when he was suspected of stealing stones from Levy & Picard, Jewelers. While released on bail he went to Boston and snatched a handful of diamonds from Henry Morse, jeweler.

It appears this resulted in jail time in Massachusetts, because McLean wasn’t heard from again until the 1884 hotel robberies mentioned by Byrnes. These resulted in a two year sentence on Blackwell’s Island.

McLean spent over a dozen years robbing hotel rooms and passenger ship cabins from the late 1880s through the early 1900s, moving between Europe and America. In July 1890, he was arrested in London under the name Charles McLean and sentenced to six months in Clerkenwell Prison.

In 1892 he was captured in Paris as Edward McLean and sent to a prison for six months.

In August 1893, he was caught in Brussels, Belgium and lost another six months of freedom. In 1894, as George Hamilton, he was found robbing in Southhampton, England, and given three months. He returned to Belgium in September 1895 and was nabbed again, and sentenced to one year.  In January 1898, he was briefly detained in Frankfort, Germany.

McLean arrived back on the east coast of the United States shortly afterward, eluding authorities in Philadelphia and Washington DC before being stopped in Baltimore. There, he was sentenced to three years as Charles McLaughlin alias Charles H. Davis.

With time reduced, McLean was out of prison by 1900 and returned to England, where he was captured robbing rooms in York in July. He was sentenced to three years in prison, then issued a ticket to leave the country. It was suggested that this trip to England had been made in the company of a gang led by his old pal Joe Howard, aka Killoran. McLean was arrested on suspicion as soon as his ship docked in Brooklyn. He was then photographed, and the grainy picture appeared in newspapers:

Not much was heard from him until 1907, when once again he was arrested on suspicion in New York City in the aftermath of robbery at the Hotel Astor. McLean denied any involvement: “I never robbed a woman in this country,” he explained. “They haven’t anything worth while. Outside of the Astors and the Vanderbilts, there are not ten women who have $30,000 worth of jewelry. I have robbed all over the world, I will admit, but I will attempt no crime in this country.”

McLean died poor in New York City on January 24, 1909. His death was recorded under the spelling Edward McLane.

 

 

 

#192 John Carroll

John Carroll (Abt. 1863-????), aka John F. Barnes — Sneak thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Twenty-three years old in 1886. Born in New York. Single. No trade. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 3 1/2 inches. Weight, 115 pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, straight nose, slim face, light complexion. Has India ink spot on left arm.

RECORD. Young Carroll is a first-class bank sneak. He traveled through the country with Charles J. Everhardt, alias Marsh Market Jake (30), working the banks. Carroll was known as “Marsh Market Jake’s Kid.” A number of people claim that this is the boy that used to work with Rufe Minor, alias Pine (1). Such is not the case, as Jake brought this boy out and left him behind him in Baltimore. He is not the first man that Jake left behind.

Jake and “The Kid” entered the Citizens’ Bank in Baltimore, Md., on October 22, 1885, and did what is called a “turn trick.” A citizen, named Jeremiah Townsend, had drawn some money and was in the act of counting it, when Carroll, who gave the name of James F. Barnes, called his attention to some bills on the floor. While Mr. Townsend was in the act of picking up the money from the floor, Carroll snatched $525 of the money from the desk. He was not quick enough, however, as Mr. Townsend caught him and held him until he was arrested. Jake, as usual, made good his escape. Carroll, alias Barnes, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years and six months in the Maryland penitentiary, at Baltimore, on October 24, 1885. See Commutation Laws of Maryland for expiration of sentence. Carroll’s picture is an excellent one, taken in October, 1885.

There is little to distinguish John “The Kid” Carroll from dozens of other men of the same name, age and larcenous tendencies, and the crimes mentioned by Byrnes in his 1886 and 1895 editions offer few clues to Carroll’s origins, fate, or full career.

But that does not mean that nothing can be said about “The Kid.” In fact, John Carroll was singled out for special mention in connection with the theories Havelock Ellis, the famous writer, physician, and proponent of the scientific study of human sexuality. Before turning his attention to subjects such as social reform, sexuality, procreation, eugenics, and hallucinogens, in the late 1880s, Ellis was an authority on criminal anthropology.

Following years of study, Ellis reached a conclusion, published in his 1890 book, The Criminal:

“Large voluminous ears are the most marked characteristic of the criminal,”Ellis declared.

In a feature article on Ellis’s book, the St. Louis Post Dispatch put his contention to the test by examining the rogues gallery photos in Byrnes’s book.

“Of all the men whom Inspector Byrnes has selected probably the most peculiar and in many respects the worst is Eddie McGee. His offenses were manifold and daring. He was finally sent to prison for burglary in Brooklyn. He carries with him the largest ears in the rogues’ gallery. The lobe must be an inch long and the whole ear four inches. They branch from the head at a right angle.

“One more portrait is worth attention. It is that of John Carroll, alias ‘Kid Carroll,’ the bank sneak. His ears are nearly as long as McGee’s, but are narrow and pinched laterally and come out straight from the head.”

While the idea that large ears are somehow related to criminality is ridiculous, the study of ear measurements and shapes remains a crucial component of facial recognition–and was credited by several detectives as the trait they used to spot criminals they had not seen in years.

 

#186 William Dougherty

William Dougherty (Abt. 1845-????), aka William Gleason, William Davis, Big Dock — Burglar, Pickpocket

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty years old in 1886. Born in New York. Married. No trade. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 11 inches. Weight, about 180 pounds. Dark brown hair, dark eyes, dark complexion. Generally wears a brown mustache. Hair worn long and inclined to curl. He is a tall, fine-looking man. Dresses well.

RECORD. “Big Dock” is an old Eighth Ward New York pickpocket and sneak thief. He is well known in a number of the principal cities in the United States and Canada, and is an escaped prisoner from Sing Sing prison, New York. There is a standing reward of fifty dollars for any officer in the United States who arrests and holds him until the prison authorities can come for him. He is a big, desperate fellow, and requires watching before and after arrest. Dougherty has served terms in Sing Sing prison (New York), and in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island; also, in Canada. He is an associate of “Curly” Charley, “Big Dick” Morris (141), “Jimmy the Kid” (143), Freddie Louther (161), “Aleck the Milkman” (160), and several other first-class pickpockets.

He was arrested in New York City on October 7, 1875, for grand larceny and felonious assault. Mr. Joseph Wolf and his wife got on board of a Third Avenue car in Park Row, intending to go up-town. Before the car had proceeded far, his watch was torn from his pocket by Dougherty, who then jumped off the platform and ran away. Mr. Wolf gave chase to the fugitive, and overtook him in Nassau Street. The thief struck him a blow in the face, and continued his flight, still pursued by Mr. Wolf. The latter again overtook the runaway, in Theatre Alley, when Dougherty turned upon him, knocked him down, and while he was lying upon the ground fired a shot at him from a revolver. When Mr. Wolf came to his senses the thief was out of sight. An officer who was in the vicinity heard the shot, and arrived on the scene in time to pursue the culprit, whom he captured. Dougherty was tried, found guilty, and sentenced, on November 11, 1875, to ten years in State prison for the larceny, and five years for the assault, making fifteen years in all, by Recorder Hackett. He gave the name of William Gleason.

“Big Dock” escaped from Sing Sing prison on January 30, 1876, and is now wanted by the prison authorities. The white affair on his breast is a pocket-handkerchief which he placed there to hide a bloody shirt when his picture was taken. Dougherty’s picture is a good one, although taken fifteen years ago.

Dougherty was an accomplished burglar as well as pickpocket. In April 1872, he and another noted burglar/pickpocket, James Munday, were caught on the premises of Stewart & Corbett’s hobby-horse factory. Though one can easily imagine these villainous rustlers making their escape on hobby-horses, the drab reality is that they were after carpenter’s tools. Alternate reports of the same incident said the factory made pianos or chairs, and that a night watchman was bound, gagged, and tied up to a piano leg.

Dougherty was released on bail, which he jumped, reportedly fleeing to Boston. He got into trouble there, and spent much of 1872 and 1873 in the Massachusetts State Prison.

While still under indictment for that crime, two years later, in May 1874, Dougherty was back in New York City and was caught with “Albert Wilson alias Jim Wilson” while at a beer garden dividing the spoils of a burglary of a lace importer. [It is unclear if the partner was Jimmy Wilson the pickpocket; or Albert Wise alias Al. Wilson; or a different man].

For reasons unknown, Dougherty was able to escape the consequences of the 1872 robbery and the lace robbery, and was set at liberty. In August 1875 he was arrested for selling fine linen napkins (with the owner’s name embroidered on them) that had been reported stolen. Once again he avoided lockup, until two months later, when the street-car robbery described by Byrnes went awry.

Facing a fifteen year sentence in Sing Sing, Dougherty resolved to escape. In late March, 1876, he hid outside while his work crew returned to their cell block; and his cellmate answered roll call for him later that evening.

Dougherty’s escape came ten years before Inspector Byrnes wrote his book; and no word had been heard of “Big Dock” in the intervening years. Most people likely assumed he was dead, but Byrnes appeared to suspect otherwise.

 

 

#70 Edward Lyons

Edward Lyons (Abt. 1839-1906?), aka Ned Lyons, Alexander Cummings — Sneak thief, pickpocket, bank robber, green goods operator

From Byrnes’s 1886 edition:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-seven years old in 1886. Born in England. Married. Stout build. Height, about 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, about 180 pounds. Hair inclined to be sandy. Wears it long, covering the ears, one of which (the left one) has the top off. Wears a very heavy reddish mustache. Bald on front of head, forming a high forehead.
RECORD. Ned Lyons was born in Manchester, England, in 1839; came to America in 1850. His father had hard work to make both ends meet and look after his children, and in consequence young Ned had things pretty much his own way. They lived in West Nineteenth Street, New York City, a neighborhood calculated to develop whatever latent powers Ned possessed. The civil war, with its attractions in the shape of bounties, etc., proved a bonanza while it lasted, and after that Ned loomed up more prominently under the tuition of Jimmy Hope (20). He was afterwards a partner of Hope’s, and was arrested several times, but never convicted.
In 1869 Lyons, Hope, Bliss, Shinborn, and others, robbed the Ocean Bank, of New York, of money and bonds amounting to over a million of dollars. The bank was situated on the corner of Fulton and Greenwich streets. A basement directly underneath was hired, ostensibly as an exchange. To this office tools were carried, and a partition erected, between which the burglars worked day and night, when opportunity served, cutting up through the stone floor of the bank, and gaining an entrance on Saturday night, after the janitor had left. To tear open the vaults was a task requiring time; but they operated so well, that on Monday morning the iron front door of the bank was found unlocked, the vault literally torn to pieces, and the floor strewn with the debris of tools, mortar, stone, bricks, bonds, and gold coin — the bonds being left behind as worthless, and the gold coin as too heavy.
A few years before this robbery Lyons married a young Jewess, named Sophie Elkins, alias Levy (128), protegee of Mrs. Mandlebaum. Her mania for stealing was so strong that when in Ned’s company in public she plied her vocation unknown to him, and would surprise him with watches, etc., which she had stolen. Ned expostulated, pleaded with, and threatened her, but without avail; and after the birth of her first child, George (who, by the way, has just finished his second term for burglary in the State Reformatory at Elmira, N.Y.), Ned purchased a farm on Long Island, and furnished a house with everything a woman could wish for, thinking her maternal instinct would restrain her monomania; yet within six months she returned to New York, placed her child out to nurse, and began her operations again, finally being detected and sentenced to Blackwell’s Island.
Early in the winter of 1870 Lyons, in connection with Jimmy Hope, George Bliss, Ira Kingsland, and a well known Trojan, rifled the safe of the Waterford (N.Y.) Bank, securing $150,000. Lyons, Kingsland and Bliss were arrested, and sentenced to Sing Sing prison. Hope was shortly after arrested for a bank robbery in Wyoming County, and sentenced to five years in State prison at Auburn, N.Y., on November 28, 1870. He escaped from there in January, 1873.
Lyons escaped from Sing Sing in a wagon on December 4, 1872. About two weeks after Ned’s escape (December 19, 1872), he, in company of another person, drove up in the night-time to the female prison that was then on the hill at Sing Sing. One of them, under pretense of bringing a basket of fruit to a sick prisoner, rang the bell; whereupon, by a pre-concerted arrangement, Sophie, his wife, who had been sent there on October 9, 1871, for five years, rushed out, jumped into the carriage, and was driven away.
They both went to Canada, where Ned robbed the safe of a pawnbroker, securing $20,000 in money and diamonds, and returned to New York, where their four children had been left — the eldest at school, the younger ones in an orphanage.
About this time (September, 1874) the bank at Wellsboro, Pa., was robbed. Lyons was strongly suspected of complicity, with George Mason and others, in this robbery. Although Sophie and Ned were escaped convicts, they succeeded in evading arrest for a long time.
Both of them were finally arrested at the Suffolk County (L.I.) Fair, at Riverhead, in the first week in October, 1876, detected in the act of picking pockets. Two weeks later he was tried in the Court of Sessions of Suffolk County, L.I., found guilty, and sentenced to three years and seven months in State prison, by Judge Barnard.
Sophie was discharged, re-arrested on October 29, 1876, by a detective, and returned to Sing Sing prison to finish out her time. Lyons had on his person when arrested at Riverhead $13,000 of good railroad bonds.
In 1869 Lyons had a street fight with the notorious Jimmy Haggerty, of Philadelphia (who was afterwards killed by Reddy the Blacksmith, in Eagan’s saloon, corner Houston Street and Broadway). During the melee Haggerty succeeded in biting off the greater portion of Lyons’ left ear.
On October 24, 1880, shortly after Ned’s release from prison, in a drunken altercation, he was shot at the Star and Garter saloon on Sixth Avenue, New York City, by Hamilton Brock, better known as “Ham Brock,” a Boston sporting man. Brock fired two shots, one striking Lyons in the jaw and the other in the body. Lyons was arrested again on July 31, 1881, in the act of breaking into the store of J. B. Johnson, at South Windham, Conn. He pleaded guilty in the Windam County Superior Court, on September 14, 1881, and was sentenced to three years in State prison at Wethersfield, Conn. At the time of his arrest in this case he was badly shot. That he is now alive, after having a hole put through his body, besides a ball in the back, embedded nine inches, seems almost a miracle.
Upon the expiration of Ned’s sentence in Connecticut, in April, 1884, he was rearrested, and taken to Springfield, Mass., to answer to an indictment charging him with a burglary at Palmer, Mass., on the night of July 27, 1881. Four days before he was shot at South Windham, Lyons, with two companions, entered the post-office and drug store of G. L. Hitchcock, and carried away the contents of the money-drawer and a quantity of gold pens, etc. They also took a safe out of the store, carried it a short distance out of the village, broke it open, and took some things valued at $350 from it. In this case Lyons was sentenced to three years in State prison on May 29, 1884. His picture was taken while he was asleep at the hospital in Connecticut, in 1881.
From Byrnes’s 1895 edition:
After Lyons’ release from the Massachusetts State Prison, he went West and was arrested at Kent, 0., on June 10, 1887, in company of Shang Campbell (see No. 107) and Ned Lyman (see No. 102), two other well-known eastern thieves, charged with robbing a passenger on a railway train near Kent, Portage Co., 0., on June 10, 1887. Lyons and Lyman were sentenced to five years imprisonment in the penitentiary at Columbus, 0., on September 4, I887. Shang Campbell gave bail and forfeited it. Since Lyons’ release he has been engaged in the “green goods” business, making his head quarters near Perth Amboy, N.J.

Nearly all of Ned Lyon’s criminal career took place within the epic melodrama that had at its center his one-time wife, Sophie Lyons. Her story, involving not only Ned, but her other erstwhile husbands: Maury Harris, Jim Brady and Billy Burke; not to mention other notable friends and lovers, involves a huge swath of American criminal history. She was more than a notable member of the underworld community, she was one of its foremost chroniclers.


Sophie never honestly told her own story, and her criminal reminiscences were only infrequently based on her own recollections, and otherwise relied on other sources (like Byrnes’s Professional Criminals of America), and a large dose of fabrication. A full, accurate, well-researched biography of Sophie’s life has never been published, but it may not be long before one appears.
Because any long-overdue study of Sophie Lyons will cover the major events of Ned’s criminal career–and Byrnes mentions most of them–put those aside and consider two parts of Ned’s life that are likely to defy definitive research: his origins and his death. According to different reports, Ned was born in America, Ireland, England, or Scotland; and grew up in New York City or Boston. Fortunately, starting in 1856, Lyons left a long trail of shoplifting and pickpocket arrests in Boston–which also point back to Lowell, Massachusetts, where a few articles believe Lyons was raised. He was often caught with a pal named Michael Sullivan. The 1850 census shows a boy Edward Lyons, 11, living in Lowell with his mother Bridget. Born were listed as having been born in Ireland.


By 1858, Lyons was moving between Boston and New York to avoid arrests, and had already served more than one term in Boston’s House of Corrections. When the Civil War broke out, he set aside his career as a pickpocket to join the more lucrative venture of army recruitment bounty fraud, joining other thieves who congregated at Robert “Whitey Bob” White’s saloon at 104 Prince Street. There Lyons was mentored by the likes of Tom Bigelow, Dan Barron, and Dan Noble. It was during this period–the end of 1864 and into 1865–that Lyons met Sophie, who had just given up on her short marriage to pickpocket Morris Harris.
Skipping ahead to Lyons’s sad final years, in October 1904 he was spotted by detectives on a street in Buffalo, New York, and arrested on suspicion. He said he had been living in Buffalo for the past six months. They held him until they sent out a notice to the Pinkerton agency and to major metropolitan police departments asking if he was currently wanted; but he was not, so he was released.
In January 1906, Lyons was arrested in Toronto, Ontario under the alias Alexander Cummings. He was accused by James Tierney of Brooklyn of working a “green goods” con, in which Lyons was well-versed. Ned had run a successful green goods operation out of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in the mid 1890s, until its operations were exposed by New York’s Lexow Committee on corruption.
Once Toronto authorities had captured Lyons, Mr. Tierney came from Brooklyn to identify him as he languished in jail. When Tierney was shown into his cell, Lyons smiled, extended his hand, and said, “Shake with me.”
“Never. I could see you die in jail,” hissed Tierney, drawing back. “You know the turn you did me. I am only a poor man, drawing $14 a week, but I would go to the ends of the earth to see you punished.”
Lyons himself was likely poorer than his victim. His clothes were shabby; his hair was now snow white. He suffered the lingering effects of bullets left in his body, and years of wear from confinement in State prisons. Despite Tierney’s testimony, no evidence existed to convict Lyons, so he was discharged and told to leave the province in February 1906.
Less than a year later, in January 1907, a short notice in a Chicago paper mentioned that Lyons had passed away the previous year in New York’s Bellevue hospital and had been buried in a potter’s field. However, no death record dated 1906 has surfaced. There is a May 22, 1907 New York City death record for an Edward Lyons, but no confirmation that this was Ned.

#27 Frank Buck

Charles Taylor (Abt. 1843–????), aka George Rush, Frank Bailey, Frank Buck, Buck/Bucky/Buckey Taylor — Sneak thief

From Byrnes’s 1886 edition:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-four years old in 1886. Born in Philadelphia, Pa. Married. Engineer. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 5 inches. Weight, 150 pounds. Light hair, gray eyes, light complexion. Three India ink dots on left hand, one on right hand. Bald on front of head. Generally wears a light-colored mustache.

RECORD. “Buck” is a very clever bank sneak. He has been working with Horace Hovan, alias Little Horace (25), since 1881. He has also worked with Langdon W. Moore, alias Charley Adams (22), Johnny Price and other notorious bank sneaks.

“Buck” was arrested in June, 1881, at Philadelphia, Pa., with Horace Hovan (25), for the larceny of $10,950 in securities from a broker’s office in that city. He was convicted of burglary and sentenced to three years in the Eastern Penitentiary at Philadelphia with Hovan, on July 2, 1881. His time dated back to June 6, 1881. Hovan was pardoned.

Buck served his time, and afterwards joined Hovan in Washington, D.C., in May, 1884. They both traveled around the country and were arrested coming out of a bank in Boston on June 18, 1884, and their pictures taken for the Rogues’ Gallery.

Buck and Hovan went to Europe in the spring of 1885, and Buck returned alone the same fall, Horace having been arrested there and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for the larceny of a package of money from a bank safe. Buck’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1884.

From Byrnes’s 1895 edition:

Since 1885 he has spent a good deal of the time in Europe. Buck, Porter, Johnny Curtain and other fly American thieves have been engineered in Europe by Adam Worth (215), the American ex-thief, still under indictment in Boston for the famous Boylston bank robbery. Worth is a receiver of stolen goods in London, whose place is the rendezvous of all American thieves when they go to that city. He was formerly a bank burglar in this country, and has made a fortune out of his business.

Frank Buck, alias Bailey, alias Allen, etc., and Billy O’Brien, alias Porter, was arrested at London, Eng., on June 21, 1888, on an extradition warrant charging them with burglarizing a jewelry store on the Marionplatz, in Munchen, Germany, on April 29, 1888. It was alleged that property of the value of £50,000 was stolen.

Billy Porter was discharged from custody in London, on September 27, 1888. He proved that he was born on an English vessel, was an English subject, and therefore not extraditable. Buck was sentenced in this case to ten years imprisonment, and ten years loss of civil rights and police surveillance, by the Judge of the Circuit Court of Munchen, Bavaria, on September 22, 1889. He was delivered to the German authorities by England on October 10, 1888, and was in prison there until his trial in September, 1889.

Tracing Frank Buck’s origins takes one down a plausible, but by no means conclusive, path. On the other hand, tracing his fate from the point where he was imprisoned in Germany leads to an enormous red herring. That false trail can be blamed on certain law authorities and/or newspaper writers on the East Coast of America jumping to a conclusion based on one alias that was used by two different men, one of whom was Frank Buck: the alias was “Buck Taylor”.

In 1901, an employee of the Selby Smelter works in Contra Costa County, California, by the name of Jack Winters tunneled beneath the company’s office, removed a portion of brick floor, and drilled through the bottom of the office safe. Inside the safe were the latest finished products of the smelter: bars of gold bullion. Winters got away with $280,000 in gold–the largest gold robbery in California. Initially, authorities believed a whole gang of professional safe burglars was involved. Evidence led detectives to believe that it had been an inside job, and the trail led to Winters. When he was arrested, local authorities announced his capture, and sent out a bulletin listing Winters known aliases, one of which was “Buck Taylor.”

Newspapers in Boston were the first to print headlines claiming that Buck Taylor, aka Frank Buck, the famous burglar pal of Horace Hovan and Billy Porter, had almost pulled off a huge gold heist single-highhandedly. No one had heard of Frank Buck since he was thrown in a German prison in 1888, so it was possible that he had gone to California upon his release, gotten a job at the smelter, and then robbed it. Newspapers in New York and elsewhere in the northeast reprinted the story.

However, they overlooked the discrepancy in the men’s ages: Jack Winters was in his mid-thirties; Frank Buck, in 1901, would have been nearly sixty. The false story never would have been printed had they compared Frank Buck’s picture in Byrnes’s Professional Criminals of America (top, taken in 1884) with a picture of Jack Winters (bottom taken in 1901):

The truth is that no credible word about Frank Buck’s fate was ever published after he entered the German prison in 1889.

What of his origins? Byrnes states that Frank Buck came from Philadelphia; and the first arrest that Byrnes cites is from June, 1881, when he and Horace Hovan were nabbed for stealing bonds from a securities broker in Philadelphia. On this occasion, Buck gave the alias “George Rush,” but was recognized as an old Philadelphia burglar, “Bucky Taylor.” The Philadelphia Inquirer of June 4, 1881, recalled, “Taylor is the man who committed the $17,000 silk robbery at Benson’s and served a time for the offense.”

The robbery that the Inquirer was referring to took place in September, 1870 at the Besson & Son’s store in Philadelphia. Soon after the robbery, three men were arrested. One was the most notorious thief and gang leader in Philadelphia, Jimmy Logue. The other two men were named as Buck Taylor and Bill Price. Various newspaper accounts also offered Taylor’s name as Charles Taylor; and, indeed, that was the name he was imprisoned under at Eastern State Penitentiary for this crime.

This was not Charles Taylor’s first brush with crime. Philadelphia newspapers between 1865 and 1870 printed numerous items where Taylor was arrested for picking pockets and other forms of thievery.

However, there were several young men named Charles Taylor living in Philadelphia in the 1860s; so there the trail ends.

#171 Theodore Wildey

Theodore Wiley (Abt. 1843-????), aka “The.” Wildey, George Van Dugan, George Davis, George Marsh — Sneak Thief, Till Tapper

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-four years old in 1886. Born in United States. Married. Printer. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 11 inches. Weight, 166 pounds. Brown hair, brown eyes, dark complexion, dark brown mustache, high forehead. Two joints off fingers of right hand. “Josephine,” and numbers “1858,” in India ink on left fore-arm.

RECORD. “The.” Wiley is a clever sneak thief, burglar and pickpocket. He is what might be called a good general thief, as he can turn his hand to almost anything. He is well known in New York and nearly all the principal cities in the United States. He is an old criminal, and has served terms in Sing Sing and other prisons.

He was arrested in New York City on August 14, 1875, and delivered to the Brooklyn (N.Y.) police authorities, for robbing a safe in Calvin Cline’s jewelry store on Fourth Street, that city, of $5,000 worth of diamonds, on August 12, 1875. He was tried in the Kings County Court of Sessions in Brooklyn, on October 6, 1875, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary by Judge Moore, for burglary in the second degree, under the name of George Marsh. He cut off the fingers of his right hand, while confined in the Kings County Penitentiary, so he would not have to work. His sentence expired on April 5, 1882.

He was arrested again in Syracuse, N.Y., on January 4, 1883, in company of Timothy Oats (136) and William A. Brown, alias “The Student,” charged with stealing a tin box containing $250 in money from a saloon there. (See record of No. 136.) Wiley gave the name of George Davis, alias George Marsh, and was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in Auburn (N.Y.) State prison, on March 1, 1883. His sentence expires October 1, 1886. Oats pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years on the same day in this case. Russell also pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to five years in Auburn prison at the same time. Wiley’s picture is an excellent one, taken in September, 1882.

Inspector Byrnes briefly mentions a gruesome anecdote about the thief Theodore Wiley: that Wiley cut off his own fingers in order to avoid prison labor. This event occurred in October 1876, when Wiley was a convict at the Kings County Penitentiary. A firm called the Bay State Shoe and Leather Company had a contract with the county to use convicts to make shoes in the prison workshop. Wiley had three fingers of his right hand cut off by a hide-cutting machine. Authorities thought he did this on purpose to avoid work, but Wiley later tried to sue the company for personal injury.

However, there’s more to the story…

Earlier that same month–October 1876–The.’s older brother, Peter Wiley, died from consumption (likely tuberculosis) while an inmate of Philadelphia’s Moyamensing Prison. Peter Wiley and a partner had arrived in Philadelphia in September on a train from New York, and within a few hours found themselves under arrest for attempting to snatch a handful of gold lockets at a jewelry store. Peter was sentenced to two years.

He was likely already ill when arrested, and in the weeks he was incarcerated taken to the prison hospital several times. According to the prison officials there, despite his sickness, he remained “bold, defiant and hardened,” refusing to see a priest or to receive visits from family and friends. One of his last requests was: “Gimme some chloroform. Let me die game,” i.e. give him a fatal overdose, he was ready to die.

Peter Wiley had come to Philadelphia only a short time after being released from New York’s Sing Sing prison. At Sing Sing, Peter distinguished himself as being a difficult and troublesome convict. When told that he was slacking at his workshop job and had to comply or face punishment (torture), Peter Wiley snatched a hatchet and chopped off four of his fingers.

And so, just days after Peter Wiley died in Philadelphia, his brother Theodore paid tribute to him. People grieve in different ways.

 

 

 

#29 Charles Wilson

Paul C. Wilson (Abt. 1852–????), aka Charles Wilson, Charles Wilks, Little Paul — Sneak thief, Shoplifter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-three years old in 1886. Stout build. Born in England. Not married. Height, 5 feet 2 3/4 inches. Weight, 140 pounds. Brown hair, gray eyes, round full face, light complexion. Whiskers, when grown, are a little sandy.

RECORD. “Little Paul” is quite a clever sneak and shoplifter. He was sent to State prison in New York City in January, 1878, and again on June 18, 1883, for four years, for larceny in the second degree, by Recorder Smyth.

On November 14, 1883, in company of Frank Harrison, alias Frank Reilly (79), he escaped from the mess-room at Sing Sing prison early in the morning, by sawing off the iron bars of a window and crawling into the yard; they then went to the west end of the prison wall, which projects over the Hudson River docks, and there, by means of a convenient float, reached the shore outside the prison wall, where they left their prison clothes and put on civilian’s attire, that had been “planted” there for them some time before.

Paul was re-arrested in New Orleans, La., on January 26, 1884, and returned to Sing Sing prison in February of that year. His full time will expire on June 17, 1887. His picture is a good one, taken in 1878.

Wilson was gifted with a third stint at Sing Sing in November 1893 for Grand Larceny and sentenced to three years and two months.

However, in Wilson’s case, his criminal career is far less interesting than the Gordian’s knot genealogy puzzle he left for future generations. Here are the clues:

  • Despite Byrnes’s assertion, there are multiple sources that place his birth year at around 1852 in Philadelphia, not England.
  • He had the letter “P” tattooed on his right arm. Both Byrnes and Sing Sing registers maintain that his real name was “Paul C. Wilson.”
  • His earliest Sing Sing record, from May 1874, offers his name as Charles Wilks, and his father’s name as James Wilks of Philadelphia (no specific address).
  • His 1883 Sing Sing record uses the name Charles Wilson, and he lists a sister: Mrs. Mary A. Lodge of 715 Sansom Street in Philadelphia.
  • His November 1893 Sing Sing record also uses Charles Wilson and lists a cousin, Mrs. C. R. Forepaugh of 303 N Fifth Street, Philadelphia.

And some items to ponder:

  • In 1883, the address 715 Sansom Street in Philadelphia included upstairs apartments: but also was home to the Miller & Sharkey Detective Agency.
  • There was a Mary A. Lodge living in Philadelphia in 1883, married to Louis Lodge. Mary’s maiden name was Farrell. Her paternal grandmother’s name was Mary Wilson. Mary had a brother, Joseph Farrell, born in 1852, whose fate can not be traced into the 1870s or beyond.
  • Mrs. Caroline R. Forepaugh married into the famous Forepaugh circus family. Her maiden name was Lachlan. Nothing can be traced beyond her mother and father’s names–making it possible to know the family names of any cousins.

While it’s fairly obvious that “Little Paul” came from Philadelphia; and used the names of real people as contacts; it also appears that he made something of a game out of hiding his identity.

#167 Edward McGee

Samuel Edward McGee (Abt. 1843-????), aka Charles A. Bernhard, Benjamin Earle, Edward Meyers, Edward Murphy

From Byrnes’s 1886 text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-nine years old in 1886. Southerner by birth. A baker by trade. Height, 5 feet 10 1/2 inches. Weight, 130 pounds. Tall, slim man. Brown hair, dark eyes, dark, sallow complexion. Has a coat-of-arms and sunburst in India ink on his right fore-arm. Dark mustache and chin whiskers; grows thin.

RECORD. Eddie McGee is one of the cleverest burglars, sneak thieves and pennyweight workers there is in the country. He is a partner of Johnny Curtin, alias Cunningham, alias Roberts (169), another daring and desperate thief. McGee is well known in all the principal cities of the United States, especially Chicago, Philadelphia (Pa.), New York and Boston, in all of which he is said to have been sent to prison.

McGee and Curtin were arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., for shoplifting, and sentenced to eighteen months each in the Eastern Penitentiary. When their time expired, on August 14, 1883, they were both arrested by New York officers, at the penitentiary gate, and brought to New York City, to answer an indictment charging them with the larceny of $1,200 worth of jewelry from Theodore Starr, a Fifth Avenue jeweler, in January, 1882. In this case there was no conviction.

Shortly after their release they went to England. Curtin was arrested there and sent to prison. McGee returned to America, and was arrested in Brooklyn, N.Y., on February 12, 1884, for burglary, and sentenced to five years and six months in the Kings County Penitentiary on April 16, 1884, under the name of B. C. Earl. McGee’s picture is an excellent one, taken in August, 1883.

From Byrnes’s 1895 text:

He went to Europe with Johnny Curtin (No. 169), one of the most expert jewelry and sneak thieves in the world. They were both arrested at Paris, France, in the spring of 1884, for a sneak robbery, and sentenced to four years imprisonment each. This was reduced for some cause, as they were at liberty on April 15, 1886.

He was arrested again at Hoboken, N.J., on June 11, 1888. He was charged in company of Billy Goodman, alias Gordon, alias Gardiner, with attempting to rob a show case in a jewelry store in that city of a handful of diamond rings. He was arrested on the spot. Goodman made his escape. He was arrested again in New York City on June 23, 1888, and delivered to the Hoboken authorities. For this Offense he and Goodman were sentenced to five (5) years each in Trenton, N.J., State Prison, and costs, on September 21, 1888. McGee gave the name of Chas. A. Bernard. Picture taken August, 1883.

There is a glaring inconsistency between the 1886 and 1895 editions of Byrnes’s book in their profiles of Eddie McGee: the 1886 edition states that McGee was arrested in Brooklyn in April, 1884; while the 1895 edition asserts that McGee went to Europe with John Curtin and was jailed there in the Spring of 1884.

Capture
Collection of Shayne Davidson

Given the grim predictability of McGee’s career, one almost wishes he might have at least known the variety of a Parisian prison. Sadly, it appears that his placement in Paris in 1884 is the error.

McGee was born as Samuel Edward McGee, son of a very successful Washington, D. C. baker, Samuel McGee, about 1843. Though it’s possible he saw service in the Civil War, most accounts suggest he only spent twenty out of his first fifty-two years out of prison. One of those terms was supposedly served at Joliet State Prison in Illinois, which was not a consequence of any of his known transgressions, from 1877 forward.

In June 1877, McGee and a partner, George Clarke alias Henry Miner, were captured in New York City with the proceeds of several house burglaries. They were sentenced in July to five years in Sing Sing; Both McGee and Clarke were described as “well-known burglars.”

No long after his release, in January 1882 McGee partnered with John Curtin on a robbery of diamond jewelry from the store of Theodore Starr in New York City. Before long, the same pair were caught picking pockets in Philadelphia, and both were sentenced to eighteen months in Eastern State Penitentiary. Inspector Byrnes suspected that they were responsible for the diamond robbery, and had a clerk from the store visit the Penitentiary to identify them. Upon their release from Eastern State, New York detectives arrested them and took them back to New York. They were tried in August 1883, but escaped conviction for lack of evidence.

If Eddie McGee then went to Europe with John Curtin, then McGee returned alone before April, 1884. That month he was caught fleeing a burglary scene by a Brooklyn police officer after a long foot chase, one in which McGee was seen flinging one tool after another into the streets. He was arrested as Benjamin Earle and sentenced to five and a half years in the Kings County Penitentiary.

He wasn’t free long before he was caught trying to rob a Hoboken jewelry store in June 1888. This episode cost McGee five years at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

In May 1895, McGee was nabbed once again while stealing silk bundles from a New York store. He was returned to Sing Sing for two years and five months. He was barely out of prison before being caught with a partner, Martin McCloskey, stealing opera glasses worth $2000 from a Philadelphia optician. The two old burglars informed on each other, but did not improve their cases. They were both given three and a half years at Eastern State in January 1898.

Nothing more was heard of McGee after this prison term.