#30 David Goldstein

David H. Levitt (Abt. 1844-18??), aka Sheeny Dave, Daniel H. Levett/Leavitt/Lovett/Leavett, James Lewis, Louis Lewis, Herman Lewis, Louis/Lewis Ruebenstein, David Goldenberg — Smuggler, Sneak thief, Pickpocket

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-two years old in 1886. A Jew, born in Poland. Married. No trade. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches. Weight, 180 pounds. Dark complexion, black hair, dark eyes, cast in left eye. Black beard, when worn. Dresses well. Is very quick in his movements.

RECORD. “Sheeny Dave,” whose right name is David Levitt, is an old New York thief, and is pretty well known in all the principal cities of the United States. He has served time in State prison in a number of States.

He was arrested In Buffalo, N.Y., on January 26, 1878, in company of a man who reformed about six years ago, for shoplifting (working jewelry stores), and both sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in Auburn (N.Y.) prison.

When his time expired he was taken to Baltimore, Md., for a crime committed there, but was not convicted.

He was arrested again in New York City, under the name of James Lewis, on January 15, 1881, for the larceny of two pieces of blue silk from the store of Edward Freitman & Co., No. 473 Spring Street, valued at $140. For this offense, upon his plea of guilty, he was sentenced to two years and six months in State prison at Sing Sing, on April 12, 1881, by Judge Cowing.

He was arrested again in New York City on December 21, 1883, under the name of Samuel Newman, for the larceny of a diamond bracelet, valued at $500, from Kirkpatrick, the jeweler, on Broadway, New York. He was indicted by the Grand Jury on January 10, 1884, and forfeited his bail on January 15, 1884.

He was arrested again on September 30, 1884, in York County, Maine, for picking pockets, and sentenced to three years in prison at Alfred, Maine, under the name of Herman Lewis. For expiration of sentence, see commutation law of Maine. He is still a fugitive from justice, and is wanted in New York City. His picture is an excellent one, taken in January, 1878.

So successful was this felon in issuing aliases that his real name is only suspected to be David H. Levitt, determined by a consensus of arrest and prison records.

Dave’s traceable career begins in April 1874, when he and pickpocket Tilly Miller were caught on the Niagara Falls suspension bridge smuggling silks from Canada. He was taken to Rochester, New York, where he faced trial in a U. S. District Court and was sentenced to six months and a $500 fine, with the time to be served at the Monroe County Penitentiary. However, while waiting to be transported to the Penitentiary, he escaped from the Monroe County Jail with the help of a female accomplice, known on this occasion as “Julia Reilly”. Why Dave chose to be a fugitive rather than take a light sentence is a minor mystery.

Tilly Miller was separately detained. She had been in Canada after fleeing from New York authorities for her role in helping her husband, Billy Miller, escape from Sing Sing with the assistance of bribed guards. The other woman “Julia Reilly,” was likely Mary Ann Watts, a shoplifter that had taken up with Dave Levitt after the death of her common-law pickpocket husband, Joe Wilson. Mary Ann Watts had been residing in Sing Sing until March 1874 (just a month before the smuggling episode), when she escaped using the same accomplices that Tilly Miller had used to free her husband.

Dave Levitt enjoyed his freedom for over a year, probably in the company of his fellow fugitive, Mary Ann Watts. However, in November 1875, he was caught trying to sneak watches off a jeweler’s tray in New York City. He first gave his name as Louis Lewis, but was later recognized as the fugitive David H. Levitt. He was handed back over to U. S. Marshals, and was sent to Auburn prison to serve his time for smuggling.

After being released, Dave was on his own again (Mary Ann Watts had, in the meanwhile, been arrested and sent back to Sing Sing). Dave soon took a new mistress, known only as Teresa. He continued shoplifting from jewelry stores, making a successful raid in early January 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland. He sent the loot to Teresa in New York for safekeeping. In late January 1878, he was apprehended in Buffalo after sneaking valuables out of  a jewelry store and was sentenced to one year in Auburn State Prison.

While Dave was in Auburn, Teresa’s step-father stumbled across the hiding-place where she had stored the stolen valuables from Baltimore. He took the loot for himself; Teresa discovered it gone and confronted him, and another man overheard the argument and went to police. After interviewing all the participants, Baltimore officials now had the circumstantial evidence they needed to charge Dave with the robbery. After his time in Auburn expired, he was taken to Baltimore, but the case against him was weak enough to secure his acquittal.

He was caught shoplifting silk in New York City in January 1881, resulting in a two and a half year sentence in Sing Sing. Soon after getting out, he was caught again sneaking objects from a jewelry store in December 1883. He jumped his $500 bail and once more became a fugitive.

Dave then went to Maine, where he was arrested for picking pockets in September 1884. Consequently, he was sent to Maine’s state prison for a three year term.

In the late 1880s, Dave somehow resolved his debt to New York courts, but how this was done remains unknown. In the 1890s, he became a special detective hired, as Byrnes indicated in 1895, “by a major sea resort near New York City.” This was almost certainly John Y. McKane’s Coney Island police force, which was notorious for hiring ex-convicts.

A newspaper item from 1897 mentioned that Dave was no longer alive; the exact date of his death and the name he was using at the time are not known.

#76 Billy Forrester

Alexander McClymont (1838-1912), aka Billy Forrester,  Frank Livingston, Frank Howard, Conrad Foltz, etc. — Thief, Burglar

Link to Byrnes’s text for #76 Billy Forrester

The story of Billy Forrester’s career is filled with misinformation: false stories of his origins; crimes that he likely did not commit; aliases which he may or may have not used; how he escaped prisons; women he married; and when and how he came to an end. The worst mistake occurred when New York detectives (before Byrnes’s time) accepted the word of a convict-informer and started a manhunt for Forrester, believing him to be the murderer of financier Benjamin Nathan. For many years, Forrester found himself branded as a killer, despite the fact that he proved he was in the South at the time when the burglary at Nathan’s mansion occurred.

When Billy realized that he was about to be railroaded for murder in 1872, he explained his history to the New York Herald: his name was Alexander McClymont, he was born in Glasgow, and served for a long period in the U. S. Navy, starting as a messenger boy in 1852.  [As late as 1907 or 08, Forrester was still trying to get past pay due to him, and in fact thought he was was owed decades of pay, since he had never been formally discharged. Detective William Pinkerton tried to dissuade Billy of that claim, reminding Billy that he had deserted.]

In 1872, Allan Pinkerton gave the Chicago Tribune an account of Forrester’s history, most of which can be verified from 1868 on. Forrester himself had once indicated he had been in Joliet from 1863-1867, but if so, must have been under a different name:


For the act of interceding, “The.” Allen was dragged through court proceedings for six months.

Pinkerton’s account continues on, but skips over an embarrassing episode. From New York, Billy went to Boston, where he romanced a young girl, Elizabeth Dudley, the daughter of a respected liquor merchant from a venerable family, James Winthrop Dudley. They eloped and were married in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in October 1869. [Though there are hints he had been married to others earlier.] “Lizzie” Dudley later claimed she only knew Forrester to be a gambler, but it is more likely that both she and her father knew exactly how Forrester earned his living. Forrester was arrested in Boston in November 1869, discharged, and then rearrested by detectives who had learned about the requisition issued for his return to Illinois. In December, he was put on a train to New York, linked to a detective by a cord. They got off for a drink in New Haven, and Forrester managed to cut the cord and escaped.

Two months later, Forrester and a gang tried a bank robbery in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Before they could crack the safe, they were spotted and had to flee. Billy headed to Pittsburgh, where he was seen by a Pinkerton operative and captured. In March, 1870, he was taken first to Philadelphia to face charges for the Wilkes Barre robbery attempt; while being measured at the station house there, he fled, wearing nothing but his underwear.

In April, Billy and his bride Lizzie Dudley were reunited in Baltimore. The Baltimore police learned of his presence in the city, and the couple were forced to flee south, taking a ship to Key West, then to Havana, and finally to New Orleans, arriving in early June 1870. New Orleans police had already been warned to lookout for Forrester, and he was soon arrested in mid-June, 1870. However, no requisition was yet in hand from Illinois, and so he was released on a writ of habeas corpus.

Billy lived in New Orleans without further harassment for a couple of months, during which time he was seen by many people. Meanwhile, in New York City, financier Benjamin Nathan was killed in his home during a bungled burglary on July 28, 1870.

After a gap of activity in the late summer and fall of 1870, Billy returned to New Orleans in December to coordinate the robbery of Scooler’s jewelry store, which took place on the night of Dec. 31, 1870-Jan. 1, 1871. While Billy was enjoying the spoils from this job, his one-time partner in the failed Wilkes Barre bank robbery, George Ellis, informed police from his cell in Sing Sing that Billy was responsible for the Nathan murder. This kicked off a nationwide manhunt.

He was run to earth in Washington, D. C. in September 1872 and taken by train to New York. There he was interrogated, and proved his alibi to the grudging satisfaction of prosecutors. The Pinkertons and others had been hoping to collect a $50,000 reward for Nathan’s killer, but instead were forced to send Billy back to Joliet to serve out his term.

Billy was freed in January 1880 and drifted to Philadelphia, where he was frequently seen in the new high-end saloon run by the Brotherton brothers, who themselves had recently been released from San Quentin. In April 1881, Forrester was captured during a house burglary in Philadelphia, resulting in his trial, conviction, and sentencing to Eastern State Penitentiary for five years. His term ended there in November 1885.

Byrnes picks up Billy’s history in his 1895 edition:

Shortly after Forrester‘s release from the Eastern Penitentiary, at Philadelphia, Pa. (in November, 1885), he was arrested at Richmond, Va., as Frank Renfrew, charged with breaking into the residence of one A. L. Lee. He was indicted for burglary and carrying burglars’ tools. While in jail awaiting trial he escaped, and the next heard from him was his arrest at Chester, Pa., in 1887, under the name of James Robinson, for safe breaking and shooting at a police officer.

He was convicted at Media, Pa., and sentenced to four years in the Eastern Penitentiary, at Philadelphia, Pa. He was released from there on March 20, 1891, re-arrested, taken to Richmond Va., where he plead guilty to having burglars’ tools in his possession, and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary on April 9, 1891. Forrester’s time expired at Richmond, Va., on August 17, 1895.

It should be noted that while Billy was devoting time to prison in Philadelphia and Richmond between 1885 and 1895, another criminal who took the alias “Billy Forrester” was active in Denver, Butte, and Chicago. His specialty was safe-cracking.

After Billy got out of prison in Richmond in 1895, he was taken in Washington, D. C. and held to account for a robbery there. He was sentenced to ten years, to be served in Albany County Penitentiary in New York.

Gaining his freedom in 1902, Billy went to New York City and lived for awhile with an old friend, Dan Noble. Flat broke, he approached the Pinkerton Agency in New York and asked for a loan to tide him over until he gained employment. They offered him a small amount in cash, and tried to recruit him as an informer. He declined.

He was never heard from again, until 1909, when he went to Buffalo to meet William A. Pinkerton. Though he tried to press Pinkerton to support his claim to back pay from the Navy, in truth he seemed just pleased to talk to his old adversary.

Billy was then working as a facilities superintendent for “a major Catholic institution near Niagara Falls,” described as a large monastery. This almost certain refers to the Mount Carmel monastery in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Billy managed a staff of seven there, working from 1903 until his death in 1912.













#72 William Morgan

William B. Morgan (1852-1887), aka Billy Morgan, William Moran, William Brown, James Sweeney — Sneak thief, Shoplifter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-three years old in 1886. Born in New York. Medium build. Single. No trade. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, about 142 pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, florid complexion. Has “W. B. Morgan” in India ink on his right arm; one dot of ink on left hand.

RECORD. Billy Morgan is considered one of the smartest till-tappers and shoplifters in the business. He has confined himself to till-tapping and work of that description of late years, and has been arrested in several of the principal cities in America, and is well known in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. He has worked with the best people in this line, and thoroughly understands his business.

He was arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 16, 1880, with “Marsh Market Jake” (38), Little Al. Wilson, and George Williams (194), for the larceny of $2,200 in bank bills from one Henry Ruddy of that city. The whole party were convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in the Eastern Penitentiary at Philadelphia on April 26, 1880.

Since his release he has been traveling through the country working almost every kind of schemes to get money. He has been arrested in New York several times. An account of all his arrests would fill many pages. His picture is a very good one, taken while under arrest, in August, 1882.

Billy Morgan was a habitual, but not particularly notorious thief. He was arrested for grand larceny in 1870, at age 18, and sent to Sing Sing on a two-year sentence under the name William Brown in December 1870.

He was arrested again for attempted larceny, shoplifting clothing, in October 1874 and sentenced to Sing Sing again for another two years.

The April 1880 sneaking of bank bills in a gang led by Marsh Market Jake resulted in his arrest in Philadelphia under the name William Moran. [Charles J. Everhardt, on this occasion, used a little wit in giving his alias as “William Helburne.”]

No further criminal activities of Morgan are documented. In his 1895 edition, Byrnes indicates that Morgan died suddenly in New York City on November 5, 1887, at age 35. He left behind a wife, Hester Logan, and a daughter, Hester Morgan.

#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.


#168 Thomas Shortell

Frank Shortell (1859-????), aka Thomas Shortell, Frank Wilson — Thief, Counterfeiter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Twenty-seven years old in 1886. Born in New York. Single. Conductor. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, 148 pounds. Brown hair, gray eyes, dark complexion. Eyebrows meet ; high cheek bones. Has an anchor in India ink on back of right hand.

RECORD. Shortell, although young in the business, is a very clever sneak thief. He was formerly a conductor on one of the New York railroad cars, and first made the acquaintance of the police in New York City on November 20, 1880, when he was arrested for perjury in a seduction case — Murry vs. Cronin — which was being investigated in one of the police courts. In this case he was not convicted.

He was arrested again in New York City on January 22, 1883, in company of Benton B. Bagley (163) and John T. Sullivan, two other expert sneak thieves, for the larceny of a sealskin dolman, valued at $350, from the Church of the Incarnation, on Madison Avenue, New York City, during a wedding, on December 27, 1882. Bagley and Sullivan were discharged on January 30, 1883, and Shortell was sent to the Reformatory at Elmira, New York, by Judge Cowing, on February 5, 1883.

Shortell was arrested again, under the name of Frank Wilson, in company of Tommy Connors, another New York thief, who gave the name of Thomas Wilson, at Nashville, Tenn., for picking pockets during the race week, in May, 1885. On searching their baggage in their rooms it was found to contain $1,000 in counterfeit $10 United States Treasury notes. They were indicted in the Federal Court, and the charge of picking pockets withdrawn. They were delivered to the United States authorities, tried, and both sentenced to a fine of $100 and five years’ imprisonment in Chester (Ill.) prison on May 26, 1885. Shortell’s picture is a very good one, taken in January, 1883.

Like his friend and co-conspirator Benton Bagley, Frank Shortell’s crimes appear to be more amateurish than professional. He was born in New York’s 21st Ward to Irish immigrants T. Henry and Mary Shortell. It appears that several family members did not survive the 1870s, and by 1880, Frank was living alone and employed as a streetcar conductor. The fact that Shortell was sent to the Elmira reformatory–at age 24–rather than a penitentiary indicates that veteran Judge Cowing did not consider Shortell to be a career criminal.

Shortell’s arrest in Nashville was also amateurish. He and his friend were caught with very poorly-produced counterfeit notes that were easily recognized. Following his sentencing to a federal prison in Illinois, all trace of Shortell is lost.

#179 Robert Hovan

Preston Hovan (Abt. 1855-????), aka Robert Hovan, Charles H. Adams, Paul Harrington, Henry Parker, George Wilson, Robert Monroe, Charles Hovan, Preston Sutherland, etc. — House thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-four years old in 1886. Born in the United States. Married. Produce dealer. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches. Weight, 160 pounds. Hair, light brown. Hazel eyes, fair complexion. Generally wears a full, sandy beard. Has an anchor on the right fore-arm, a star on the left fore-arm, and five dots of India ink on right hand. Inclined to be feminine in his actions.

RECORD. Bob Hovan is a very clever house sneak and burglar. He is a brother of Horace Hovan, alias Little Horace (25), the bank sneak; also, a brother-in-law of Bill Vosburg (4), another notorious bank sneak. Hovan is pretty well known in all the principal cities in America.

He was arrested in New York City, on June 18, 1880, for a house robbery, and sentenced to one year in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, by Judge Cowing, on June 28, 1880, under the name of Charles H. Adams.

In December, 1882, Hovan, or Harrington, as he then called himself, was arrested by the police in Brooklyn, N.Y. He had no difficulty in securing his release upon bail, which, when the case was called for trial and Harrington did not appear, proved valueless. A warrant was issued, and detectives Corr and Looney, of Brooklyn, came to New York, and located Harrington at No. 1225 First Avenue, where he was living with a Mrs. Adams, or Charlotte Dougherty, Horace Hovan’s wife.

The detectives, soon after dark, on the night of February 17, 1883, stationed themselves in an opposite door-way, and patiently watched. They had not long to wait, and in the twilight they could see a man entering the house who in build and general appearance resembled Harrington. He, however, did not wear a full beard like that usually worn by the burglar, but had his chin cleanly shaven, and had a mustache and small side-whiskers. They waited for him to come out, and after half an hour’s watch the man they suspected came out of the house. Corr and Looney came to the conclusion that it was Harrington. They followed him to the corner of Sixty-fifth Street, where he caught sight of them, and apparently it flashed across him who his pursuers were.

He quickened his pace, and the two detectives did likewise. Near the corner of Second Avenue, Corr said to Looney, “That’s our man; let us close in on him.” They moved forward rapidly, and as they did so Harrington made a feint as if to ascend the stairs leading to the Elevated Railroad station. The detectives and the fugitive at that time were the only people in sight. Looney was about six feet in advance of his companion, and when he came within two or three paces of the fugitive there was a flash and a report from a weapon which Harrington held in his outstretched hand. With the report Looney fell prostrate into the gutter, shot in the neck.

With the flash Corr whipped out his weapon, and as he brought it to bear on the burglar the fellow fired a second shot, which missed the officer. Corr returned the fire, and discharged two shots from his revolver. As he was about to fire a third shot he received a bullet from another chamber of the burglar’s pistol, which passed through his cheek and buried itself in his neck. Before the officers could recover from the shock of their wounds Harrington had made good his escape.

Hovan was arrested again on March 18, 1883—a little over a month after he shot Looney and Corr—in the east end of Allegheny City, Pa., for robbing a safe in a feed store. He was shortly after sentenced to three years in the Western Penitentiary, at Allegheny City, under the name of Henry Parker. His time expired on November 28, 1885, when he was re-arrested on a requisition by New York officers and returned to New York City, to answer an indictment for assault in the first degree. His case went to trial in the Court of General Sessions, but Judge Cowing allowed Hovan, during the progress of the trial, to plead guilty to one of the indictments. He was remanded until December 10, 1885, and in the time intervening several church people interceded for him, and Judge Cowing sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment in Sing Sing prison—this being his fourth term served in that prison. Hovan’s sentence will expire on July 10, 1889, allowing him commutation.

His picture is a good one, taken in June, 1880.

Inspector Byrnes repeats the assertion that Preston Hovan was a brother-in-law of Bill Vosburgh; but there is no evidence that this was true–and there is a compelling explanation for that misconception. The alias “Charley Adams” was used by bank robber Langdon Moore, who was (for a time) a brother-in-law of Vosburgh’s; and the alias “Charles H. Adams” was used Robert Hovan. Byrnes also states that Preston Hovan was found in December, 1882 by Brooklyn officers to be living with Charlotte Dougherty, Horace Hovan’s wife. This, too, is not quite accurate. Preston’s brother Horace did not marry Charlotte until May of 1884 (when Preston had disappeared and was ensconced in the Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania).


Although several sources suggest that Horace and Preston–with their similar looks– committed burglaries where one brother appeared in public to establish an alibi while the other burgled, the truth is that Preston was more a career prisoner than criminal:

  • At age 15, he was sent to Richmond’s jail for 60 days for thieving.
  • In December 1872, after just turning 17, he served his first sentence in Sing Sing. Two and a half years.
  • In April 1875, just weeks after his discharge, he was sent back to Sing Sing for another two and a half year sentence.
  • After a brief stint of freedom, Preston was back in Sing Sing in August 1877 to serve a three year sentence.
  • Granted a change in scenery, Preston was sent to Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary in June 1880 for a one year sentence

Preston actually roamed New York for two years before shooting the Brooklyn policemen sent to arrest him for not appearing in court. He fled, but a month later sent to the Western Penitentiary in Pennsylvania for committing a burglary in Allegheny City in March 1883. Upon his discharge there in November 1885, he was returned to New York to serve a five year sentence in the familiar confines of Sing Sing. He was released in 1889.


Preston went over to Europe in the early 1890s. In 1893, the Illustrated Police News of Boston claimed that he was committing second-story jobs of estates in England, Germany, and Austria with Rufe Minor, Frank Searles, and William Ogle (who was already dead). In his 1895 edition, Byrnes stated that Preston was working in a London grocery shop, Walter Chapman & Co., which did indeed exist.

In 1896, New York City papers said that Preston (as Charles Hovan) was back in the United States, and was arrested for possessing obscene materials with an intent to sell. This odd tidbit was the last heard of Preston.


#50 David Cummings

David Cronin (1847-????), aka Little Dave Cummings, J. H. Smith, James Hogan, Harry Smithson, etc. — Sneak thief

Link to Byrnes’s text for #50 David Cummings

Inspector Byrnes not only devoted several pages to Dave Cummings, he also presented information about Dave’s early career that had never been published before 1886, and relating crimes far from New York. Byrnes undoubtedly received most of this information from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which had been tracking Cummings long before he showed his face in New York City.

There is one egregious error in Byrnes’s entry on Cummings: the robbery of Scooler’s jewelry store in New Orleans took place on the night of Dec. 31, 1870-Jan. 1, 1871. This robbery continued to generate headlines for many months, for two different reasons. First, it was suspected that Billy Forrester was among the gang that did the job–and Forrester was the prime suspect in the murder of financier Benjamin Nathan in July of 1870. Secondly, at about 6:00AM on the morning of Jan 1., a fire broke out on one docked steamboat at New Orleans, which spread to four other ships, destroying them all. There were persistent rumors that the fire had been started by the gang to occupy the police while they made their getaway. However, it does not make a great deal of sense that this would be done hours after the heist was completed; or that the fire would get so out of control from one start point.

The Scooler’s robbery had another detail of interest: as reported by Byrnes, Cummings used the trick of fooling a watchman on street patrol by moving a dummy facade of a safe in front of a window, so that the burglars could work on the real safe without being seen. The same trick was later attributed to Mike Kurtz in an 1884 jewelry store robbery in Troy, New York.

Byrnes (or rather, the Pinkerton Agency) was likely correct that Cummings’ real last name was Cronin. Chicago newspapers indicated that Cummings had been there as a youth; and there is an 1860 Census entry for a “David Cronan” (a common variant spelling of Cronin) born in 1847, and no entries for any David Cummings living in Chicago that was close to the same age. Cummings had initials tattooed on his arm, “D. C.”

Cummings worked with many of the best bank thieves of his era. However, it is doubtful that any criminal of his generation could equal the year that Cummings had in 1881–Byrnes’s information from 1881 bears repeating:

  • In January, 1881, he was arrested at the Sinclair House, New York City, a porter having caught him coming out of the room of a son of United States Senator Pinchback’s, with a full outfit of tools and some valuables of the guests. He was committed, obtained bail, and again went into hiding. [Byrnes later suggested that Cummings was able to get out on bail after playing sick–he ate brick dust while in the Tombs, and spit it up, suggesting that he was coughing blood.]
  • His next appearance was at Philadelphia, where he formed a partnership with Walter Sheridan, Joe McClusky, and other noted bank sneaks. Their first robbery was that of a diamond broker on Chestnut Street, near Twelfth, where Cummings and Sheridan engaged the attention of the clerk, and McCluskey secured about $6,000 worth of diamonds.
  • In May, 1881, Sheridan, Dave, and Jack Duffy made a trip to Baltimore, where they ran across a traveling salesman of the jewelry house of Enos, Richardson & Co., of Maiden Lane, New York. They followed him to the Clarendon Hotel, where they watched till he went to dinner, entered his room and stole his entire stock, valued at $15,000. The chase becoming hot for Cummings, he finally returned the proceeds of the robbery, and received $2,500 for it.
  • He then started for the Pacific slope with Old Jimmy Hope and Big Tom Bigelow, and after looking about, these enterprising burglars concluded to rob Sauthers & Co.’s Bank, a Hebrew institution, where there was $600,000. They again put into operation their favorite tactics of securing a vacant room over the vault. They had tunneled through four layers of brick and several tiers of railroad iron, when the chief of detectives learned they were in the city. He took possession of several offices in the vicinity of the bank with his men, and about 10:30 p. m., on the night of June 27, 1881, he made a raid on them. He found Jimmy Hope at work. Cummings heard them coming and ran to the roof, crawled through the scuttle, and running over the tops of several buildings, finally descended through a vacant store, and was once more at large. Bigelow, who was supposed to have been working inside with Hope, in some manner escaped also.
  • Cummings left his trail at every hotel where he stopped, in Southern California, New Mexico, Denver, Col.; and at a small town, twenty miles from Denver, he robbed a well known Chicago liquor dealer, named Al. Arundel, of $1,400 in money, a $500 watch, and a $400 diamond stud.
  • He then paid a flying visit to Chicago, then to Saint Joseph, Mo., from there to St. Paul, then to Oshkosh, Wis. where he was arrested under the name of J. H. Smith, for robbing a Chicago salesman of his watch, diamond pin, and $200 in money, at the Tremont Hotel in that town. Dave pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in State prison there on September 14, 1881.

Cummings career following his release from the Wisconsin State Prison was much more dismal. He went to England, and with Rufe Minor started to plan hotel thefts. However, they were advised against targeting hotels, as security in England was tighter than in the United States. Cummings ignored that advice, and for his trouble was arrested and imprisoned for five years.

He returned to the United States and was arrested for possession of burglar’s tools in New York City in February 1891. He was sentenced to five years in Sing Sing under the name Patrick Robertson.

Cummings was released in September 1894. From that point, little is known of his fate. A 1905 item in the National Police Gazette implied that he was alive and had moved to the Pacific Coast.

In 1912, newspaper columnist Henry C. Terry devoted one of his “Parallel Stories of Famous Crimes” columns to the foiled 1872 Jersey City bank robbery attempt, in which Cummings escaped arrest. Terry’s approach is interesting: he first lets one of the criminals tell his story; then lets one of the police detectives give his view of events:






#43 William Fale

William Brooks (18??-????) — Hotel thief, Sleeping-car thief

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-five years old in 1886. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 7 3/4 inches. Weight, 150 pounds. Dark brown hair, gray eyes, dark complexion. Wears a brown mustache. A German. Baker by trade.

RECORD. Fale, or Brooks, is an old hotel and sleeping-car worker, and is pretty well known in the principal Eastern and Southern cities, where he has been arrested and convicted for similar offenses. He was arrested at the Grand Central Railroad depot, in New York City, on December 23, 1874, for the larceny of a gold watch and chain from a sleeping-car. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced, in the Court of General Sessions, to four years in State prison on January 18, 1875.

His manner of working was to meet the in-coming trains in the morning by walking up the railroad yard, jump on them, and rob the berths, while the persons who occupied them were washing and getting ready to leave. Fale’s picture is a fair one, taken in 1874.

Inspector Byrnes’s forty-third criminal profile is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; and Byrnes himself is partially to blame. Byrnes gives no indication as to where he found the name “Fale.” There were only a handful of people in the United States in the nineteenth-century with that surname; and none were born as early as this criminal. Likewise, it is not known where Byrnes learned that he was German by background or a baker by trade.

The one specific crime that Byrnes associated with this man was the January, 1875 conviction for a sleeping-car robbery. That arrest, conviction, and imprisonment was made on the name William Brooks. The Sing Sing register for the prisoner gives his age as 50, his birthplace as Missouri, his residence as Philadelphia, and his trade carpentry. Another man, about 10-15 years younger was arrested as Brooks’ accomplice. His name was Joseph Morton alias John Martin, who was also labeled a notorious thief. The evidence against Morton/Martin was weak, so he was released.

The New York Times further noted that Brooks used the alias Burke; that he was a well-known hotel thief; and that he had been sent to the State Prison (Sing Sing) in 1867 for a burglary.

The Sing Sing registers for 1867 do indeed have an entry for William Brooks. His physical description matches the 1875 entry, but his age is given as 45 (a three-year difference); his birthplace is here listed as Rochester, NY; and his residence as New York City. Looking at the newspaper accounts of the crime that led to this sentence, it can be seen that Brooks was arrested in January, 1865, along with accomplice John Moore for the burglary of a New York hotel resident. Moore was sent to prison (on a two year sentence) in February, 1865; but before Brooks could be tried, the main witness against him left town, so Brooks was discharged. Then, two years later, Brooks was arrested in February, 1867 for another hotel room burglary, along with an accomplice, John Martin alias William Gale, alias John Moore. The evidence against Brooks was weak, so the District Attorney, upon learning that the 1865 main witness had returned to New York, decided to try Brooks on that two year old indictment.  Martin/Gale/Moore was sentenced to two and a half years in Sing Sing; while Brooks, as a notorious past offender, was given ten years.

It seems apparent that the thief William Brooks had been working with an accomplice–likely just one man–between 1865 and 1875. One theory may be that the records that Byrnes reviewed were not clearly legible, and that he mistook the name “Gale” for “Fale,” and moreover ascribed that name to Brooks, not Martin/Morton/Moore.

But there is a further fly in the ointment: in 1860, a “John Moore” was arrested in New York for stealing at a hotel. He had an unnamed accomplice. The National Police Gazette printed a drawing of this “John Moore,” and it resembles the man who was photographed in December 1874 as “William Fale alias Brooks.”

One possibility may be that the two thieves took turns exchanging aliases. Or did authorities get their identifications mixed up? Or were there more than two criminals involved among all the above facts?

#187 Emanuel Marks

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

From Byrnes’s text:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#62 John Mahaney

John Mahaney (1844-19??), aka Jack Sheppard, John H. Matthews, James Wilson, John Mahoney, etc. — Thief, Escape Artist

Link to Byrnes’s entry for #62 John Mahaney

John Mahaney would have been a much more notorious criminal, had he not been saddled with the nickname “Jack Sheppard,” in honor of the 18th-century English thief. That original Jack Sheppard had started his thieving career in 1723, and was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 before being held and executed. Since his death, many thieves in England and America were called the “new Jack Sheppard,” but with John Mahaney, the name stuck throughout a career spanning sixty years–long after the American public had lost memory of the original Jack Sheppard.

Mahaney was first jailed years before the Civil War started; he was last jailed (as far as is known) in 1915, as a member of a ring of auto thieves. Most of his adult life was spent in various prisons, but he still committed a remarkable number of crimes.

Moreover, more anecdotes exist concerning Mahaney’s youthful exploits than any other criminal in Chief Byrnes’s book. Mahaney’s childhood was both appalling and enthralling. He related his career to a reporter from the New York Sun shortly before escaping from the Central Station of the New York Police Department in April 1872 [Note: ethnic slurs made by the reporter have been edited out]:

“This notorious criminal, whose exploits have almost surpassed those of Jack Sheppard, was born in this city of Irish parents in the year 1844. Jack’s father died when Jack was quite young. Jack’s early care and training devolved upon his mother. He was sent to school, but proved such a mischievous urchin that he received more floggings than any other boy in his class. On a certain occasion Jack says one of the schoolboys played a trick on the master. Jack was suspected. He and three other boys were made to kneel down and were allowed 15 minutes in which to confess the deed. Jack was really innocent, but one of the boys promised to give him a tin box with six cents in it to say that he had done it. He got a severe flogging, but never got the box nor the pennies. He ran away from this school so often that his mother sent him to a boarding-school at Jamaica, L.I.

“The teacher at this school had a son about twenty years old. This young man and Jack became chums, and any mischief that was done was invariably laid at Jack’s door. While attending this school Jack manifested the old disposition to play hookey. The master made him wear nothing but a frock, which gave him the appearance of a girl. One day Jack got out of a window, and, catching hold of the gutter on the roof, worked his way to the room containing his clothes. He then swung himself into the room, and, dressing himself, escaped from the school and returned home, only to be taken back the next day by his mother.

“One day Jack stole some gunpowder. He put it into a large ink bottle, then put a piece of lighted paper into the bottle and stood over it, expecting it to burn like a Fourth of July blue light. The powder exploded the bottle, and a piece of glass was driven into his leg. He was crippled from the effects for a long while, and carries the mark to this day.

“On another occasion he took a loaded rifle from the teacher’s closet. Holding it above his head he pulled the trigger. The recoil stretched him on the floor. The slug went through the ceiling floor overhead, and in close proximity to the servant girl, who was making the beds in the rooms upstairs.

“Jack was so wild that his mother took him home and sent him to a private school near his residence. He played truant so often that his mother, acting under the advice of friends, sent him to the House of Refuge, at that time located in Twenty-Third street. When Jack entered that institution he was a wild but innocent boy. He remained there but nine months. During that time he was forced to associate with boys from eight to twenty, chiefly from the Five Points, Water street, and the slums of New York City. Among the inmates of the House of Refuge at that time was Jerry O’Brien, who was executed in 1868. When Jack left that institution he had become schooled in every kind of wickedness. He was taken home, and placed in the Juvenile asylum, under the care of Dr. Russ. From there Jack ran away so often that they placed shackles on his legs; but he managed to saw them off with table knives, which he would nick like a saw. One night he made his escape, but was recaptured and taken back. Dr. Russ then put a chain around his waist, and attached it to another boy. One day Jack took the boy on his back and started for the city, but was recaptured.

“He became a constant visitor at the theaters, with which he was so infatuated that he resorted to thieving and dishonesty to obtain the means requisite to gratify his passion. He usually slept in hay barges and wagons, and would steal all day to raise “pit money.” One night his mother found him snugly stowed away in a dry-goods case on the sidewalk. He was taken home and supplied with a new suit of clothes. He was at home but a short while when the temptation to visit the theater came over him, and he ran away and returned to the Five Points. Being well-dressed and smart-looking for a boy his age, he was picked up by a notorious thief and villain known as “Italian Dave.” Jack was known as Dave’s “kid.” Every morning Dave and his pal would go down to rob the large stores which were just opening. While Dave would buttonhole the porter, Jack would sneak into the store and help himself to the valuables. The afternoons would be devoted to robbing dwellings in the upper part of the city.

“Sometimes Dave would take Jack with him to the Battery, where he would waylay gentlemen who were wending their way to the Brooklyn ferryboat. Jack’s part of the job was to go through their pockets and take all the valuables from their persons. For the work he performed he was remunerated with a few shillings.

“One night Dave armed himself with a long knife, and started across the street to a den to kill another thief, who it seems had done him some injury. Dave was drunk, and while reeling across the street was set upon and beaten with clubs until he was almost dead. The following night Jack was arrested while at the National Theater by a detective who had been hired by his mother to hunt him up. Jack, while on the road home, told the detective all that he had done, and instead of being taken home, was taken to the station house. He was afterward taken in custody by three officers, who wanted him to show them the thieves’ den. With a revolver at his head, Jack led the way through an old building in the Five Points. The house was searched and a large quantity of jewelry found. The receiver was arrested, and Jack put in the House of Detention as a witness. Jack was an unwilling witness, and one night set fire to his bed and escaped during the confusion. He then made his way to Newark, where he robbed a jewelry story of six gold watches, which he sold for $15.

“After this robbery he returned to New York, where he was arrested and confined in the Tombs. One day he picked the lock of his cell and got out in the hallway. Being small, he crawled through the bars of the window facing Franklin street. He went home, and his mother dressed him in his sister’s clothes, and sent him to a relative who lived on Ling Island. He remained there but a few months. One day, being sent on an errand, he broke into a house and stole the silverware. He was caught with the plunder, but managed to escape. He next went to Jersey City. While there he was arrested and committed to jail. He made his escape and returned to New York, where, after committing a series of crimes extending over a period of two years, he was finally arrested and sentenced to Sing Sing for two years [age 16, year 1860]. At the State Prison he was confined in a cell with an old criminal who initiated him into the mysteries of a “cross life.” On leaving Sing Sing he returned to his wicked career, and was arrested for robbing a gentleman on Grand street. For this he got off with six months in the penitentiary [Blackwell’s Island].

“While there he attempted to escape, but fell on an iron picket fence. One of the spikes passed through his right wrist, and in the fall he broke his arm and sprained his ankle. He was found in this condition by the guard and taken to the hospital. Before he had thoroughly recovered he escaped from the hospital and went to New Orleans. That city did not offer a good field for his peculiar line of business, and he returned to New York after a stay of only three weeks. One morning after his return he stole a case of silks and was arrested. The informant in this case was known as Morris. Morris gave the information to Captain (later Superintendent) Jordan, and a watch was set on the house in which the goods were concealed. Jack was arrested while examining his booty.

“In order to get rid of this charge, Jack enlisted [in the Union Army] and was sent to camp on Riker’s Island [then a boot camp for new enlistees]. While there he picked a man’s pocket of $100. Capt. George Washburn, now captain of police, was provost marshal of Riker’s Island. He suspected Jack, and tied him up until he confessed where the money was hidden. A short time after this occurrence Jack escaped from the island. He was recaptured and sent to Castle Williams on Governor’s Island [a garrison and prison]. From there he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, but was caught and tied up by the thumbs as punishment.

“He was subsequently sent [on active duty] to Alexandria, and from there to the front. Jack, while at Brandy Station [Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia, June 9, 1863], about seventy miles south of Alexandria, took an observation of the state of the army, and not being favorably impressed with the condition of things, managed to elude the guards and escape. He hid himself in a car containing the bodies of embalmed soldiers, and arrived safe at Alexandria at two o’clock the following morning. He tried to escape from Alexandria, but was picked up by one of the night patrols and was placed in jail. While in jail his head was shaved. The next day Jack broke out of the jail. He tied a silk handkerchief around his head and started for New York City, where he arrived without further molestation [at age 19].

“After leading a life of dissipation and crime for a long time, he was arrested again for burglary. He was convicted and sentenced to Sing Sing for four years and six months. He had been in State Prison but a few weeks when he escaped through the roof. He was re-arrested on the same day on the Harlem railroad, twelve miles from the prison. His captor started with him to the city to have him remanded to Sing Sing. Jack had made up his mind to run any risk to escape. While passing through Thirty-fourth street tunnel, he suddenly struck the constable between the eyes, then jumped from the train and escaped. Jack then made the acquaintance of some safe operators and went with them for a few weeks, until one of the party was arrested. While operating on a safe, the store was surrounded, and the burglars were fired upon by the night watchman. One of the burglars was captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to Sing Sing for three years.

“After this, Jack went to Boston. While there he stole $6000 worth of goods, which he expressed to New York to dispose of. While on his way to this city [New York] he was arrested and remanded to Sing Sing. The authorities of the prison then put a ball and chain on his left leg and kept him sitting in the prison hall under the eye of the keeper. When Jack had worn his jewelry about five months he became tired of it. One day he asked the warden to remove the shackles and let him go work in the shops. ‘I could take them off myself if I wanted to,’ said Jack, ‘but if you will take them off for me, I promise you I will not attempt to escape.’

“The warden laughed at the idea. On the following day Jack managed to get an old coat and the keeper’s spectacles. He played sick and remained in his cell. While the rest of the prisoners were at dinner, he took the ball and chain off and walked to the end of the shoe shop where the contractor had his horse in the stable. He harnessed the horse to a light wagon, and got through just as the convicts were leaving the mess-room for their shops. Jack put on the spectacles, wrapped the horse blanket around his prison pants, jumped into the wagon, and started. He had to pass about twenty guards armed with muskets, and was discovered before he got half way. The guards opened a fusillade on him, but he whipped up his horse and escaped without a scratch. He rode about seven miles, when he let the horse go, and entered a barn where he concealed himself in a haystack. While in the barn, a gentleman drove in with a horse and sleigh, which he left in the barn. Scarcely had the owner of the sleigh left when Jack jumped into the vehicle and started for New York. He reached the city on the following morning. From New York he went to Boston, and thence, in company with a notorious criminal, to Philadelphia. In the later city his companion committed a crime, and the house where they were concealed was surrounded by police. Jack escaped by jumping from a second-story window.
“He returned to Boston and stole $3500 worth of broadcloth, which he expressed to New York. Jack started to follow the goods, but was arrested at Yonkers by Detective Baker, and taken back to Boston. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the Charlestown State prison for five years [in April 1866, when he was 22]. While there he made three ineffectual attempts to escape, and finally concluded to serve his time out. At the expiration of his term of service he went out West and remained quiet until recently.”

The writers of this Sun article were not aware that after Jack was discharged from Massachusetts in January 1871, he returned to New York and in March, 1871, married shoplifter Ellen Rodda, alias Ellen Darrigan. He then went to Illinois, but was hardly quiet. He was arrested in that state and sentenced to four years in Joliet State Prison, and returned to New York in the spring of 1875.

This summary has covered only the first twenty years of Jack’s sixty-year long career, but should suggest the pattern of the remainder his resume. John Mahaney put the original Jack Sheppard to shame.