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Hummel, Abraham H / Danger! A True History of a Great City's Wiles and Temptations The Veil Lifted, and Light Thrown on Crime and its Causes, and Criminals and their Haunts. Facts and Disclosures











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It may not be amiss to remark, in explanation of the startling and
sensational title chosen for this production, that logic has not yet
succeeded in framing a title-page which shall clearly indicate the
nature of a book. The greatest adepts have frequently taken refuge in
some fortuitous word, which has served their purpose better than the
best results of their analysis. So it was in the present case. "DANGER!"
is a thrilling and warning word, suggestive of the locomotive headlight,
and especially applicable to the subject matter of the following pages,
in which the crimes of a great city are dissected and exposed from the
arcanum or confessional of what we may be pardoned for designating the
best-known criminal law offices in America.

So much for the title. A few words as to the _motif_ of the publication.
Despite the efficiency of our police and the activity of our many
admirable reforming and reclaiming systems, crime still abounds, while
the great tide of social impurity continues to roll on with unabated
velocity. Optimists and philanthropic dreamers in every age have
pictured in glowing colors the gradual but sure approach of the
millennium, yet we are, apparently, still as far from that elysium of
purity and unselfishness as ever. Whenever the wolf and the lamb lie
down together, the innocent bleater is invariably inside the other's
ravenous maw. There may be--and we have reason to know that there is--a
marked diminution in certain forms of crime, but there are others in
which surprising fertility of resource and ingenuity of method but too
plainly evince that the latest developments of science and skill are
being successfully pressed into the service of the modern criminal.
Increase of education and scientific skill not only confers superior
facilities for the successful perpetration of crime, but also for its
concealment. The revelations of the newspapers, from week to week, but
too plainly indicate an undercurrent of vice and iniquity, whose depth
and foulness defy all computation.

We are not in accord with those pessimists who speak of New York as a
boiling caldron of crime, without any redeeming features or hopeful
elements. But our practice in the courts and our association with
criminals of every kind, and the knowledge consequently gained of their
history and antecedents, have demonstrated that, in a great city like
New York, the germs of evil in human life are developed into the rankest
maturity. As the eloquent Dr. Guthrie, in his great work, "The City, its
Sins and its Sorrows," remarks: "Great cities many have found to be
great curses. It had been well for many an honest lad and unsuspecting
country girl that hopes of higher wages and opportunities of fortune,
that the gay attire and gilded story of some acquaintance, had never
turned their steps cityward, nor turned them from the simplicity and
safety of their country home. Many a foot that once lightly pressed the
heather or brushed the dewy grass has wearily trodden in darkness, guilt
and remorse, on these city pavements. Happy had it been for many had
they never exchanged the starry skies for the lamps of the town, nor had
left their quiet villages for the throng and roar of the big city's
streets. Weil for them had they heard no roar but the river's, whose
winter flood it had been safer to breast; no roar but ocean's, whose
stormiest waves it had been safer to ride, than encounter the flood of
city temptations, which has wrecked their virtue and swept them into

By hoisting the DANGER signal at the mast-head, as it were, we have
attempted to warn young men and young women--the future fathers and
mothers of America--against the snares and pitfalls of the crime and the
vice that await the unwary in New York. Our own long and extensive
practice at the bar has furnished most of the facts; some, again, are on
file in our criminal courts of record; and some, as has already been
hinted, have been derived from the confidential revelations of our
private office. With the desire that this book shall prove a useful
warning and potent monitor to those for whose benefit and instruction it
has been designed, and in the earnest hope that, by its influence, some
few may be saved from prison, penitentiary, lunatic asylum, or suicides'
purgatory, it is now submitted to the intelligent readers of America,

By the public's obedient servants,


Ancient and Modern Prisons--Some of the City's Ancient Prisons--How
Malefactors were Formerly Housed--Ancient Bridewells and Modern Jails,

Criminals and their Haunts--The Past and Present Gangs of the City--How
and Where they Herd--Prominent Characters that have passed into

Street Arabs of Both Sexes--The Pretty Flower and News Girls--The Young
Wharf Rats and their eventful Lives--How they all Live, where they Come
From, and where they finally Finish their Career,

Store Girls--Their Fascinations, Foibles and Temptations,

The Pretty Waiter Girl--Concert Saloons and how they are Managed--How
the Pretty Waitresses Live and upon Whom, and how the Unwary are Fleeced
and Beguiled--A Midnight Visit to one of the Dives,

Shoplifters--Who they are and how they are made--Their Methods of
Operating and upon whom--The Fashionable Kleptomaniac and her
Opposite--The Modern Devices of Female Thieves,

Kleptomania--Extraordinary Revelations--A Wealthy Kleptomaniac in the
Toils of a Black-mailing Detective,

Panel Houses and Panel Thieves--The Inmates--The Victims--The
Gains--Complete Exposure of the Manner of Operation, and how
Unsuspecting Persons are Robbed,

A Theatrical Romance--Kate Fisher, the Famous Mazeppa, involved--Manager
Hemmings charged by Fast paced Mrs. Bethune with Larceny,

A Mariner's Wooing--Captain Hazard's Gushing Letters--Breakers on a
Matrimonial Lee Shore--He is Grounded on Divorce Shoals,

The Baron and "Baroness"--The Romance of Baron Henry Arnous de Reviere,
and "The Buckeye Baroness," Helene Stille,

The Demi-monde,

Passion's Slaves and Victims--A Matter of Untold History--The Terrible
Machinery of the Law as a Means of Persecution--Edwin James's Rascality,

Procuresses and their Victims--Clandestine Meetings at Seemingly
Respectable Resorts--The "Introduction House,"

Quacks and Quackery--Specimen Advertisements--The Bait Held Out, and the
Fish who are Expected to Bite,

Abortion and the Abortionists--The Career of Madame
Restell--Rosenzweig's Good Luck,

Divorce--The Chicanery of Divorce Specialists--How Divorce Laws Vary in
Certain Slates--Sweeping Amendments Necessary--Illustrative Cases,

Black-mail--Who Practice it, How it is Perpetrated, and Upon Whom--The
Birds who are Caught, and the Fowlers who Ensnare them--With other
Interesting Matters on the same Subject,

About Detectives--The "Javerts," "Old Sleuths" and "Buckets" of Fiction
as Contrasted with the Genuine Article--Popular Notions of Detective
Work Altogether Erroneous--An Ex-detective's Views--The Divorce

Gambling and Gamblers--The Delusions that Control the Devotees of
Policy--What the Mathematical Chances are Against the Players--Tricks in
French Pools--"Bucking the Tiger"--"Ropers-in"--How Strangers are

Gambling made Easy--The Last Ingenious Scheme to Fool the
Police--Flat-houses Turned into Gambling Houses--"Stud-horse Poker" and
"Hide the Heart,"

Slumming--Depravity of Life in Billy McGlory's--A Three-hours' Visit to
the Place--Degraded Men and Lost Women who are Nightly in this Criminal

Our Waste Basket--Contemporaneous Records and Memoranda of Interesting
Miss Ruff's Tribulations,
Astounding Degradation,
Fall of a Youthful, Beautiful and Accomplished Wife,
A French Beauty's Troubles,
Life on the Boston Boats,
An Eighty-year-old "Fence,"
Shoppers' Perils,


It is to be presumed that the readers of this book will expect a few
words on a subject "on which," as Lord Byron somewhere remarks, "all men
are supposed to be fluent and none agreeable--self." However much the
inclination and, I might add, temptation may run in the direction of
fluency and diffuseness in this case, my utterance shall be as brief as
possible. I, William F. Howe, founder of the law firm of Howe & Hummel,
was born in Shawmut street, in Boston, Mass., on the seventh day of
July, 1828. My father was the Rev. Samuel Howe, M. A., a rather
well-known and popular Episcopal clergyman at the Hub in those days. Our
family removed to England when I was yet very young, and consequently my
earliest recollections are of London. I remember going to school, where
I speedily developed a genius for mischief and for getting into scrapes.
I received a liberal allowance of the floggings then fashionable, and I
can recall the _hwhish_ of the implement of torture to this day. We are
all young but once, and when memory calls up the lively pitched battles,
and the pummelings I got and gave at school, I am young again--only my
waist is a good deal more expansive, my step is not so elastic or my
sight so clear. I could recall the names of some of those boys with whom
I fought in those happy school days, and tell how one now adorns the
British bench, how another holds a cabinet portfolio, how another fell
bravely fighting in Africa, and how several, striving neither for name
or fame,

"Along the cool, sequestered vale of life
Pursue the noiseless tenor of their way";

but it would be useless, as would also my experiences at church,
listening to my good father's sermons, and falling constantly asleep.

My youthful reminiscences of events which happened, and of which I heard
or read in my youth, are mostly chaotic and incongruous; but it is
otherwise with the murders. I remember with what thrilling interest I
read the story of Greenacre, who cut up the body of his victim, carrying
the head wrapped up in a handkerchief, on his knees in the omnibus, and
who was supposed to have nearly fainted with fright when, on asking the
conductor the fare, received the answer, "Sixpence a _head!_" Then there
was the horrible Daniel Good, the coachman at Roehampton, and the
monster Courvoisier, the Swiss valet, who murdered his master, Lord
William Russell. These atrocities and the trials at Old Bailey, no
doubt, gave my mind the bent for the criminal law, not that I was in any
sense conscious of the possession of superior powers. It was merely the
selective tendency of a fresh and buoyant mind, rather vigorous than
contemplative, and in which the desire for a special field of action is
but the symptom of health.

At the age of twenty, I entered King's College, London, with the son of
the great American statesman and historian, Edward Everett, and
succeeded in graduating with some distinction. Soon after, I entered the
office of Mr. George Waugh, a noted barrister. 1 had the good fortune to
meet the commendation of Mr. Waugh, and I was consequently placed at the
head of his corps of assistants, and frequently appeared in the English
courts in place of my employer. My connection with this office lasted
about eight years, and then, in pursuance of an intention long prior
formed and never relinquished, I returned to the country of my birth. My
earliest essays at the American bar have been fairly and impartially
told by another pen, and, as the autobiographical form of narrative has
its limitations as well as its advantages, the reader will pardon me if
in this place I drop the "ego" and quote:

"On arriving here, Mr. Howe entered the office of E. H. Seeley, Esq.,
one of our oldest legal practitioners. Here he remained one year,
studying American law and practice with persistent assiduity, and
frequently appearing in our courts, 'by grace,' until he was fully
licensed. And it may be here stated that out of a list of over one
hundred candidates for admission to the bar only eighteen passed, and in
that number was included the young lawyer from London.

"His first case of importance in this city was one of extreme delicacy,
being a test question as to whether Col. Walter W. Price, a wealthy
brewer, was entitled to the position of Colonel of the First Cavalry
Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y., he having received the _second_ highest number
of votes. Mr. Howe took the ground that his client was entitled to the
office, being a resident of this city, while his competitor, Smith, the
founder of the great umbrella house, who had received the largest number
of ballots, resided in Brooklyn. This question was argued before the
Brigade Court, and, its decision being adverse, Mr. Howe carried the
case to the Court of Appeals, where a favorable decision was rendered,
and Mr. Price duly installed in the position. This was the young
lawyer's first technical victory of note, and it brought him almost at
once into considerable prominence.

"He soon after opened an office at the corner of Chambers and Centre
streets, devoted his entire time and energy to civil matters, was highly
successful, and soon achieved a considerable share of popularity. In
1859, finding himself crowded with business, he removed to his present
large suite of offices on the corner of Centre and Leonard streets,
which had formerly been occupied by the late Judge Russell, and from
that time down to the present he has made criminal matters a specialty.

"Mr. Howe's first appearance in the New York courts as a criminal lawyer
was in 1859. A man, by the name of Devine, had been tried and convicted
in the Court of Special Sessions on a charge of larceny. He took
Devine's case to the General Term of the Supreme Court, contending that
the conviction was illegal, inasmuch as the statute provides that
_three_ justices should sit, whereas at the trial of Devine but _two_
had attended. Many members of the bar laughed at him, declaring his
position untenable. In this he was opposed by Assistant District
Attorney, the present Chief Justice, Sedgwick. The Court decided the
point well taken and ordered the discharge of the prisoner, Devine.

"In defending a German named Jacob Weiler, indicted for the murder of
his wife, by shooting, in 1862, Mr. Howe took the ground that the
deceased shot herself, a discharged pistol being found by her side. This
case was very thoroughly canvassed by the entire press of the city, and
occasioned the greatest excitement among the German population. The
trial lasted eight days, and resulted in a disagreement of the jury. At
this stage of the proceedings, owing to a misunderstanding (which it
would hardly be in good taste to explain at this late day), Mr. Howe
withdrew from the defense. Other counsel were substituted, when the case
was re-tried, and the prisoner was convicted and sentenced to state
prison for life.

"Mr. Howe has tried more capital cases than any six lawyers in America
combined. There has not been a murder case of note for the past
twenty-five years in which he has not appeared as counsel. The records
of the Courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Sessions show that he has
tried more than three hundred homicide cases since the year 1860. Mr.
Howe, as a specialist in diseases of the brain, is regarded by
physicians as the peer of the most eminent alienists in practice."

The circumstances under which Mr. A. H. Hummel became associated with
me, first as an office boy, in 1863, at a salary of two dollars per
week, and subsequently, in May, 1869, as my partner, have been told more
than once in the public press. Mr. Hummel was born in Boston, July 27,
1849; came, with his parents, to this city at an early age; attended
Public School No. 15, on East Fifth street, and made my acquaintance on
a January morning before he was fourteen years old. I have at hand a
newspaper clipping, taken from the Rochester, N. Y., _Democrat and
Chronicle_ of March 25, 1877, in which is printed an elaborate notice of
the law firm of Howe & Hummel, in which the junior partner is thus

"Soon after Mr. Howe opened his office, a bright lad, conversant with
foreign languages, applied on a cold January morning, in the year 1863,
for employment, and was accepted. His duties as office boy were to
answer questions, make fires, do errands, and do copying and
translations. Such was his winning address, his ready tact, his quick
perceptions, his prudence and discretion, that he not only performed his
duties to perfection but, in his few spare moments, learned law. While
he grew but little in stature, he made great progress in his chosen
profession. As he had fluent command of the German language--a useful
adjunct to the practice of a criminal lawyer in New York--and gave
promise of attaining a high rank as an advocate, Mr. Howe made him his
partner before he was admitted to the bar. To-day, in stature, he is
probably the smallest professional man in America; but size is not 'the
standard of the man,' and if Abe's stature were in proportion to his
merit he would be a veritable giant indeed."

With this sentiment I most cordially coincide, and at the same time
bring these somewhat rambling and discursive reminiscences to an end.





_Some of the City's Ancient Prisons--How Malefactors were Formerly
Housed--Ancient Bridewells and Modern Jails._

From old Dutch and Knickerbocker records it appears that as far back as
the year 1600 there existed a place for the confinement of malefactors
in the City of New York. At that early date in its history the town must
certainly have been restricted to a half dozen or so of narrow, crooked
streets, in the immediate vicinity of what is now known as the Bowling
Green. The population did not, probably, number more than a few
thousands; but, nevertheless, we find from these same records that, even
in that small community, criminals were so numerous and crime so rife
that a jail or Bridewell had already been established for the
safe-keeping and punishment of evildoers, and a system of citizen-police
inaugurated for the preservation of the local peace.

It was not, however, until some years later, 1642, that the "Staat Huys"
was built, a municipal building, with a portion of it erected especially
for the housing of dangerous criminals. Thus it would seem that for
upwards of two centuries crime and criminals have had their haunts in
this city, and, it is safe to say, while the more ancient cities of
Europe have, unquestionably, originated more felons of every grade,
there are few places that can rival New York in the number of actual
crimes committed during its comparatively brief existence on the earth's

During the earlier history of the embryo city, the nature of the
offenses perpetrated on the then small community, and the type of men
who boldly executed the crimes, were undoubtedly of the same pattern as
those which obtain among us to-day, but with this difference, that with
the onward march of Improvement, hand-in-hand with the progress of
Science and Civilization, have also grimly stalked fashionably-clothed
and modernly-equipped Crime and the scientifically-perfected
law-breaker, with his modern and improved methods. Man's villainies,
like his other passions, remain the same to-day as when the murderous
club of Cain crushed the skull of his brother Abel, and the maiden earth
was crimsoned with the first blood that appealed for vengeance. They
differ only in the manner of commission, and the commission would appear
to be assisted by modern invention and appliances.

To expect large civilized communities dwelling together to be free from
crime would be to imagine an elysium on earth, for where poverty exists
crime will assuredly be found, and poverty will never be divorced from
civilization. It would also appear that, in accordance with the growth
and expansion of the young city in other respects, vice and crime kept
pace, while youthful depravity early began to trouble the good people
then as it worries the same class of persons to-day, for in 1824 we find
that a House of Refuge, for the reformation of juvenile delinquents, was
built, ostensibly superseding the old "Society for the Prevention of
Pauperism." To follow in detail the history of crime in this city, from
so early a date, would be of very little service here, but a simple
chronicle, referring to the periods at which prisons were found to be
necessary, may be briefly touched upon as tending to show how crime
increased and criminals multiplied, as the city grew in wealth and

The new "Staat Huys," before alluded to, was erected on the corner of
Pearl street and Coenties Slip, a locality then considered the most
central in the infant town, and as offering the best facilities for
securely keeping prisoners. It served its double purposes of jail and
city hall until 1698, when it was decided by the authorities to build
another--a larger and more commodious structure; while, in the meantime,
the old military block-house in the immediate neighborhood of the
Governor's residence was conscripted and made use of, additionally to
the "Staat Huys," for the accommodation of the constantly-increasing
number of culprits.

The new building--City Hall--was erected on Broad street, on the ground
now covered by the sub-treasury building, and was finished in 1699, but
was not used as a jail until five years subsequent. In the winter of
1704 the sheriff was required to have the city jail prepared for the
reception of felons. Crime, however, would appear to have become a
monster of terrible mien in those days, far exceeding all the efforts of
the authorities to restrict or even to limit the number of malefactors,
aside from the apparent impossibility of diminishing them, for again, in
1758, another new jail was found absolutely necessary to the needs of
the inhabitants, and was erected on what was then known as "The Fields,"
now City Hall Park, and where, tradition has it, the prisoners were most
barbarously treated. This new place of confinement, together with those
previously in use, served their purpose very well until 1775, when the
new Bridewell was erected, when all were converted into military prisons
during the occupancy of the city by the British. The frightful cruelties
that were then practiced upon the patriot soldiers, unfortunate enough
to be inmates of those prisons, are too familiar to every one to need
mention here.

Shortly after the Revolution, the Penitentiary was established at
Bellevue. In 1816, a portion of the almshouse was set apart for the
punishment of felons, by the institution of the treadmill. This was on
Twenty-sixth street, near First avenue, the present site of Bellevue
Hospital, and its part occupancy as a prison somewhat relieved the
overcrowded condition of the jail. The city jail still continued in City
Hall Park, and was used as a debtors' prison, remaining so until 1832,
when it was entirely converted into the Register's Office, the present
Hall of Records, and is such to this day. It stands opposite the _Staats
Zeitung_ building in old Tryon Row.

The Penitentiary was soon found to be too small for the keeping of the
greatly-increased number of prisoners, and so, in 1836, the buildings on
Blackwell's Island were constructed, and two years later, again, the
Tombs, the sombre, miasmatic, Egyptian edifice on Centre street, was
completed; which latter had been in course of construction for some

In addition to the prisons previously alluded to, there was begun, in
1796, a state prison, which was erected in the Village of Greenwich,
about West Tenth street, near the North River, and which is still in
existence to-day (1886), being occupied by, and known as, the Empire
Brewery. It was used as a state prison until the completion of the
present extensive buildings at Sing Sing, on the Hudson.

Such is, briefly, a history of the establishment of the prisons of this
city, but of the unfortunate class of criminals that have, from time to
time, occupied them, much remains to be said, and will be found in the
succeeding pages.



_The Past and Present Gangs of the City--How and Where They
Herd--Prominent Characters that Have Passed into History._

New York, from being the largest city on the western hemisphere; in
almost hourly communication with every part of the known world; the vast
wealth of its merchants; elegant storehouses crowded with the choicest
and most costly goods, manufactured fabrics, and every kind of valuable
representing money; with its great banks, whose vaults and safes contain
more bullion than could be transported by the largest ship afloat; its
colossal establishments teeming with diamonds, jewelry and precious
stones gathered from all parts of the known and uncivilized portions of
the globe; with all this countless wealth, these boundless riches, in
some cases insecurely guarded, in all temptingly displayed, is it any
wonder, then, that this city should always have proved the paradise of
thieves? The fact of its being the chief city of the New World, alone
caused it to be the principal magnet of attraction for all the expert
criminals of the Old World, in addition to those who were "to the manner

What trouble they proved to the police of some years ago, and the
frequency with which crimes of every kind were committed, is best
evidenced by referring to the records of that time, when jails and
prisons were crowded and courts and judges were kept busy trying
offenders against the laws, while the entire police and detective force
was unable and inadequate to successfully reduce the occurrence of the
one or diminish the number of the other. It was at that time
appropriately styled the "Thieves' Paradise," for even after some daring
and expert felon had been captured by the authorities and securely
lodged in jail, the meshes of the law, as it then existed, were so
large, and the manner of administering justice (?) so loose, that the
higher class of criminal, possessed of political influence, or, better
still, of money, invariably escaped the punishment his crime deserved.
The very police themselves were, in many cases, in league with the
thieves and shared in the "swag" of the successful burglar, expert
counterfeiter, adroit pickpocket, villainous sneak and panel thief, or
daring and accomplished forger; hence crime, from being in a measure
"protected," increased, criminals multiplied and prisons were made
necessarily larger.

But this was years ago, and under a far different police system than
that now in vogue, the merits and efficacy of which it will be both a
duty and a pleasure hereafter to fully mention. The collusion between
the police and the criminals, at the times of which we speak, became a
very serious matter, in which the public early began to exhibit its
temper. So late as the year 1850 it was an anxious question whether the
authorities or the lawless classes should secure the upper hand and
possess the city, and this condition of affairs, this triangular strife
of supposed law and order on one side, protection to law-breakers on the
other, and the protests of an indignant, outraged and long-suffering
people on the third, prevailed until the year that Bill Poole was
murdered by Lew Baker on Broadway, which notable event marked an epoch
in the city's history, and to some extent improved the then existing
state of affairs, as it occasioned the dispersal of a notorious gang of
swell roughs, whose power was felt in local politics, and directed the
attention of every lover of peace and justice to the enactment of better
laws and a sterner method of executing them.

About the year 1855, two classes of "toughs," or, as they were dubbed in
those days, "rowdies," appear to have had and maintained some control of
the city, overawing the regularly constituted authorities, intimidating
the police by their numbers, and carrying things with a high hand
generally. One class consisted of the individuals comprehended in the
title of "Bowery Boy"--a term which included that certain, or rather
uncertain, element of New Yorker residing in the streets running into
the Bowery and adjacent to it, below Canal street, and the other, a
rival gang, called "Dead Rabbits," which unsavory distinction was
adopted by an equally questionable portion of humanity dwelling in the
Fourth and Sixth wards and streets in the vicinity of Catherine and
Roosevelt. There were among these two gangs of the city's representative
"toughs," materials of a far different kind from the actual felon, but
who were none the less dangerous, and among them may be classed many
leaders of ward politics and volunteer fire companies, and from which
Lew Baker and his victim, Bill Poole, "The Paudeen," "Reddy, the
Blacksmith," and numerous others were afterwards developed; but they
were oftener far more guilty than the real criminals, for they aided and
abetted, and in cases of arrest befriended them, causing their
subsequent escape from the penalties justly due for their crimes.

As a type of the veritable "Bowery Boy" may be taken the leader of that
gang of notorious "toughs," one who, from his well-earned reputation as
a bar-room and street rough-and-tumble fighter, has become a historical
personage, under the sobriquet of "Mose." His faithful lieutenant,
"Syksey," of "hold de butt" fame, will not soon be forgotten either, as
both figured prominently in the terrible pitched battles the two rival
gangs frequently indulged in, to the terror and consternation of all New
York. Of the rival mob, known as "Dead Rabbits," Kit Burns, Tommy Hedden
and "Shang" Allen are names long to be remembered by the terror-stricken
citizens who lived in the days when the fights between these notorious
aspirants for pugilistic and bloody honors were often of the deadliest
and most sanguinary character, lasting for days at a time; when entire
streets were blockaded and barricaded, and the mobs were armed with
pistols and rifles. Even cannons were sometimes used, and the police,
even when aided by the military, were powerless to suppress these
battles until many were killed and wounded on both sides. In these
desperate conflicts it was no unusual sight to see women, side by side
with men, fighting as valiantly as their husbands, sons or fathers, and
the records of the courts and prisons of those days tell dreadful
stories of murders, robberies and other crimes done under cover of these
periodical street fights.

At this time the locality known as the "Five Points" was probably the
worst spot on the face of the civilized globe. In and around it
centered, perhaps, the most villainous and desperate set of savage human
beings ever known to the criminal annals of a great city. To pass
through it in daylight was attended by considerable danger, even when
accompanied by several officers of the law. Woe to the unfortunate
individual who chanced to stray into this neighborhood after dark. A
knock on the head, a quick rifling of pockets, a stab if the victim
breathed, a push down some dark cellar, were frequently the skeleton
outlines of many a dreadful tragedy, of which the victim was never
afterwards heard. The name "Five Points," was given to that particular
spot formed by the junction or crossing of Worth, Baxter and Park
streets, but nearly embraced all the neighborhood comprised in the
locality bounded by Centre, Chatham, Pearl and Canal streets in the
Sixth ward, and was frequently afterwards mentioned as the "Bloody
Sixth," from the many daily conflicts eventuating there.

The "Five Points," from being the hiding-place and residence of the most
bloodthirsty set of criminals, vagabonds and cut-throats, has, through
the influence of the Five Points Mission House and the gradual
encroachments of business houses, become quite respectable, and while
now sheltering a large number of the foreign element, has ceased, to a
great extent, to longer excite terror in the community. Still, it has
not entirely lost its former well-merited title of "Thieves' Nest." It
is comparatively a safe thoroughfare in daylight, and after dark, if one
is on constant guard, he may safely pass unharmed.

In the Fourth ward, just beyond the locality written about, was another
terrible rendezvous for an equally desperate set of men. It was known as
Slaughter-house Point, and a criminal here was, for a time, safe from
the police, as its many intricate streets and tumble-down houses offered
a safe hiding-place for every kind of outlaw, even up to very recent
years. Here the terrible garroter dwelt for a long time; aye, and
throve, too, until our criminal judges began sentencing every one of
them convicted before them to the extreme penalty of twenty years in
Sing Sing, which largely suppressed that class of criminals in this

The methods of the garroter were quick, sure and silent. At
Slaughter-house Point and its environs many a returned East India sea
captain, whose vessel was moored to one of the docks at the foot of a
contiguous street, has either strayed or been beguiled into this
neighborhood, drugged and robbed. Others, whose business or chance
brought them within the reach of this set of desperadoes, have fared
similarly. Sad has been the fate of many an individual unfortunately
falling into the clutches of these murderous villains. A stealthy step,
an arm thrown under the chin of the unsuspecting victim, a bear-like
clasp, and total unconsciousness. To rifle the pockets of the unlucky
man--sometimes stripping him and throwing him off the dock--and escape
into one of the many dark and dismal passages abounding in the
neighborhood, was but a few minutes' work, and nothing remained to tell
how the drama, perhaps tragedy, was enacted.

Another class of dangerous criminals haunted the precincts of Water and
Cherry streets, and that immediate locality. They were all frequenters
of the well-known establishments presided over by such eminent lights of
the profession as Kit Burns, Jerry McAuley, Johnny Allen, etc., but all
three of whom afterwards forswore their evil ways and died in the odor
of piety.

These various gangs inhabiting the portions of the city already
indicated were eventually succeeded by others in widely separated
localities. The succeeding gangs were quite as numerous, but not quite
as ferocious or formidable, so far as numbers were concerned, but more
dangerous and daring individually; for while the former type lived in
communities by themselves, and dwelt in certain well-known streets and
houses, using their bloodthirsty propensities occasionally against
themselves in their street fights, the latter at all times waged an
indiscriminate and perpetual war on the respectable element of society.
To the latter and more modern gangs, which were really worse, so far as
the higher classes of crimes were concerned, belonged such men as
"Reddy, the Blacksmith," "Dutch Heinrich." Chauncey Johnson, "Johnny,
the Mick," and their favorite places were "Murderers' Row," and other
notorious localities on Broadway, Houston, Crosby and adjacent streets.

The war did much to bring these latter into prominence. They made money
when money was in the hands of every one, when bounty-jumpers were as
thick as berries on the bushes, and the leading streets of the city were
a blaze of light at night, from the myriads of colored lamps displayed
by the pretty waiter-girl saloons and other notorious and questionable
dives. When the war ceased these and kindred gangs of "toughs" were
again superseded by those at present to be found in various parts of the
metropolis, but which, thanks to an excellent system of police, are all
or nearly all under complete espionage of the local authorities.

It now becomes our duty, as faithful chroniclers, to point out the
localities at present occupied by that class of the population, and tell
the secret of their lives and how they exist. The region which most
engrosses the attention of the police is that conspicuously known as
"Mackerelville," which for some years past has borne rather an unsavory
reputation. While there are many deserving and worthy persons dwelling
in the locality, quite a different type of humanity also makes its home
there. The neighborhood in question is comprised in Eleventh, Twelfth
and Thirteenth streets, and First avenue, and Avenues A, B and C. It
harbors a wild gang of lawbreakers, ready and willing to commit any kind
of lawless act, in which the chances of escape are many and detection
slight. Notwithstanding the decimation of its ranks by frequent and
well-deserved trips to the penitentiary of its members, for every crime
from murder down, it appears to survive, to the terror of the
respectable poor living in the neighborhood and the constant dread of
the police officer. It is a locality and a gang much dreaded at night,
but not nearly so much now as formerly, for when a member commits a
crime of any importance now he is invariably ferreted out, arrested and

The Tenth Avenue gang is a chance affair, owing its existence to the
successful and bold express robbery occurring some years ago, but which
is still fresh in the minds of most people from the skillful manner in
which it was executed, and from the number of prominent rascals
participating in it. The robbery referred to, at the time of its
occurrence, was current talk, and continued a subject of conversation
for many weeks afterwards. A number of ingenious, daring and
highly-cultured train robbers, under the leadership of the notorious Ike
Marsh, among whom was one who has since attained celebrity as an actor,
boarded a train on the Hudson River Railroad, near Spuyten Duyvil, the
spot immortalized by Washington Irving, and, entering the express car,
bound and gagged the messenger in charge, threw the safe off and jumped
after it. The iron box contained a large amount of greenbacks and
government bonds, which the thieves succeeded in appropriating. Some of
these daring robbers were subsequently arrested and lodged in the White
Plains jail, but on the day set for the trial, the sheriff discovered
that his prisoners of the night before, whom he imagined quite secure,
had left, without waiting to say good-bye. Some friends and confederates
came to their assistance, released them and drove them down to the city,
from whence they finally reached our sister Kingdom, recently made
famous as the abode of the fashionable defaulter.

The successful perpetration of this bold robbery suggested to a number
of idle men the idea of robbing the freight cars as they remained
apparently unguarded on the tracks in the vicinity of the West Thirtieth
street station, and led to the formation of the notorious Tenth Avenue
gang. The cars arriving from the west and other points loaded with
valuable goods and merchandise, offered facilities of a most tempting
kind to the members of this gang, and large quantities nightly
disappeared until, week after week, the goods stolen aggregated
thousands of dollars loss to the railroad company. The proximity of the
river aided the operations of this gang very materially, for much of the
goods were spirited away with the assistance of the river thieves and
their boats, both sets of thieves acting, of course, in collusion.

It is a very difficult thing to map out just the precise localities
where criminals reside now, owing, in a great measure, to the efficiency
of the present police, who keep evil-doers under constant surveillance,
preventing them remaining long in any one place.

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