#109 William E. Farrell

William E. Farrell (Abt. 1853-??), aka Alexander C. Stockwell, William H. Stohlmann, Horace Peters, Frank K. Alexander — Butcher-cart thief, store thief, purse snatcher

From Chief Byrnes’ text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-one years old in 1886. Medium build. Born in New York City. Single. No trade. Height, 5 feet 10 inches. Weight, 167 pounds. Black hair, dark eyes, dark complexion. Has a scar over the left eye, another on right side of chin. Left arm has been broken at elbow.

RECORD. Farrell is a desperate and daring thief. He is a burglar, but of late years has done considerable butcher-cart work. He is the man that makes the assault, generally using about eighteen inches of lead water-pipe as a weapon. He has served two terms in Sing Sing prison, one in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island, and one in Boston, Mass., for burglary and larceny. He was arrested in Philadelphia, Pa., on January 15, 1884, by the New York detectives, assisted by Philadelphia officers, with one James Titterington, alias Titter (111), charged with assaulting with a piece of lead pipe and robbing Luther Church, the superintendent of John E. Dwight’s Harlem Soda Works, of $2,300, as he was descending the steps of the 111th Street station of the Second Avenue Elevated Railroad in New York City, on December 31, 1883. Farrell pleaded guilty to robbery in the first degree, and was sentenced to fifteen years in State prison on January 25, 1884, by Judge Cowing, in the Court of General Sessions, New York, Eddie Gearing, alias Goodie (110), the celebrated butcher-cart thief, was also arrested in connection with this robbery, and sentenced to twenty years in State prison. Titterington (111) turned State’s evidence and was used to convict Goodie. He was finally sentenced to seven years and six months in State prison on March 14, 1884. Farrell’s picture is a good one, taken in December, 1877.

Whenever William Farrell was arrested (which was often), he refused to divulge his residence, friends, or family members. His family origins remain untraceable, though he did admit to being born in Brooklyn around 1853. With Edward Garing and James Titterington, he was a leader of the Mackerelville Gang on New York’s East Side.

William Farrell. Illustration by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Farrell first fell into the clutches of the law in August 1871, when he was just eighteen or nineteen. He was sentenced to Sing Sing for three and a half years for petty larceny. After a brief stint of freedom, Farrel was placed back in Sing Sing under the name Alexander C. Stockwell in 1875. The crime was attempted grand larceny, but likely resulted in a light sentence of two years because the attempt failed, and Farrell was not recognized as a repeat offender.

In 1878, he robbed a pawnbroker’s shop and was held in the Essex Market station jail. While a guard was distracted, Farrell escaped the station, hopped over a fence, climbed up a fire escape, and raced across rooftops. His police pursuers lost his track, and Farrell headed straight to Boston.

Within two weeks, he ran afoul of Boston authorities while trying to pass counterfeit currency. He gave the name “William H. Stohlmann.” After receiving a slap on the wrist, Farrell was arrested a year later in Boston for the robbery of a hairdressing salon. This time he used the name Alexander C. Stockwell.

Following his release from jail in Massachusetts, Farrell returned to New York and his companions in Mackerelville. In January 1884, Farrell, Eddie Goodie [Garing], and James Titterington were arrested for the assault and robbery of Luther Church. Most observers believe that Farrell wielded the lead pipe that was used against Church. Though Farrell received a sentence of fifteen years, he was freed in 1894.


Shortly afterwards, he was arrested in Philadelphia for purse-snatching. After another light punishment, he was involved in the robbery of liquor stores in Jersey City, New Jersey. Police in New York picked him up in 1896 and returned him to New Jersey to face charges. From that point, trace of Farrell is lost. If he returned to New York City, he would have found that Mackerelville, the slum that his gang ruled, no longer existed.



#110 Edward Gearing

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

From Byrnes’ text:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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