Early Female Criminals
New York City
By John William Tuohy
Big Sue the Turtle
Sue was the pseudonym of an African-American saloonkeeper and underworld figure whose Grand Street dive bar was destroyed during the New York Draft Riots in 1863. After she had been attacked and "frightfully beaten" by a group of women from the Five Points, her liquor was confiscated and distributed amongst the rioters around Thompson Street's Arch Block. Although considered an honest dive keeper, as thievery among many of the city's taverns and saloons were rampant, she is suspected to have been involved in prostitution as a procuress and brothel owner.
Arch Street, later known as Mulberry Street
Ida Burger, known in the underworld of New York as Ida the Goose, was a popular dance hall girl and a prostitute during the turn of the century. She was the subject of a major gang war between members of the Gopher Gang and saloonkeeper Chick Tricker's faction of the Eastman Gang.
After being lured away from Hell's Kitchen by a member of Tricker's gang, she performed as the belle of the Cafe Maryland and refused the Gopher's demands to leave her newfound West 28th Street home.
Allowing the matter to be settled between the Gophers and his own underlings, four men entered the Cafe Maryland in October 1910. After drinking for several minutes, Burger protested their presence and the four gunmen opened fire on the six rival gang members seriously wounding five of them. Burger's lover, hiding behind the bar with two bartenders, was forced to come out and face the Gophers. Burger, apparently disillusioned by his cowardice, allegedly shoved him out into the open and supposedly said "Say youse! Come out and take it." With the lone gangster on his knees, each of the four Gophers fired a bullet into his head before returning with Burger to Hell's Kitchen. In March 1910, she was convicted of aiding and abetting of Alexander Devoe, who had escaped from Sing Sing Prison while serving a life sentence for the murder of police informant Lefty Boyle, and was held at Sing Sing Prison with bail set at $1,500.
(1828-?) was a New York criminal and thief during the late 19th century. She was most widely known under the name Old Mother Hubbard, after the nursery rhyme of that name, which was popular at the time. Among her aliases she also included the surnames Young and Haskins. She was one of the most well-publicized female thieves in the United States during the mid-to late 19th century and was part of Marm Mandelbaum's "inner circle" which included other notorious women such as Big Mary, Sophie Lyons, Queen Liz and Lena Kleinschmidt. Born in Ireland, she became a prominent shoplifter and pickpocket specializing in handbags. Although employed as a housekeeper at times, she enjoyed a career lasting over fifty years. She was eventually arrested in Chicago, Illinois and sentenced to three years imprisonment at Joliet prison where she would suffer serious injuries in a failed escape attempt. After being discharged from Joliet prison in 1878, she resumed her criminal career in major cities including St. Louis, Philadelphia and New York before her arrest in Boston on March 24, 1883. Arrested while attempting to steal a handbag from R.H. White's dry goods store, she served a six-month prison sentence in the Boston House of Corrections. Following her release, she traveled to New York where she was again apprehended for stealing a pocketbook from Brooklyn resident Mrs. H.S. Dennison while in Macy's on Fourteenth Street on March 26, 1884. She was again convicted and sentenced to three months at Blackwell's Island.
Released on July 2, she was arrested as she was leaving the penitentiary on Blackwell's Island and returned to Boston for trial, for stealing a purse containing $260 from a Mrs. Coburn in a Boston store. The New York Times reported that police records showed she had been a criminal for 50 years. She was returned to Boston where she was convicted of larceny. Although sentenced to two years in Boston House of Correction in late July, she was eventually transferred to Deer Island due to her old age and infirmity.
Cora Crane (July 12, 1865 – September 5, 1910) was an American writer, journalist and brothel owner. She was married to Captain Donald William Stewart, but she is best known as the common-law wife of writer Stephen Crane until his death in 1900.
(c. 1841-?) was a New York criminal specializing in pick pocketing and shoplifting. A close associate of Fredericka Mandelbaum, she was well known to authorities in several major cities along with her husband James "Old Jimmy" Clegg and had an extensive arrest record. She was arrested with Tilly Miller, "Black" Lena Kleinschmidt and four other shoplifters in Boston on December 6, 1876; her picture taken by the Boston Police Department for the "Rogues' Gallery". She was later arrested in the city for pick pocketing two years later and sent to the House of Correction. Returning to New York, she was again arrested with Walter Price (then under the alias Mary Gray) for shoplifting on November 24, 1879. Pleading guilty, she was sentenced to three years in Blackwell's Island by Judge Gildersleeve on December 16 while Price was sent to State Prison.
Clegg returned to Boston after her term expired on April 16, 1882 where she was arrested for shoplifting on May 21, 1883 and sentenced to one year imprisonment in the House of Correction. She was returned to the House of Corrections when she was caught attempting to open a woman's handbag to steal her pocketbook on December 22, 1885 and again given a one year sentence.
(fl. 1869) was a, gang leader and river pirate known under the pseudonym Sadie the Goat. She first came to prominence as a vicious street mugger in New York's "Bloody" Fourth Ward. Upon encountering a lone traveler, she would head butt men in the stomach and her male accomplice would hit the victim with a slung-shot and rob them. Sadie, according to popular underworld lore, was engaged in a longtime feud with rival female bouncer Gallus Mag who once bit off her ear in a bar fight]
Leaving the area in disgrace, she ventured to the waterfront area in West Side Manhattan. It was while wandering the dockyards in the spring of 1869 that she witnessed members of the Charlton Street Gang unsuccessfully attempting to board a small sloop anchored in mid-river. Watching the men being driven back across the river by a handful of the ship's crew, she offered her services to the men and became the gang's leader. Within days, she engineered the successful hijacking of a larger sloop and, with "the Jolly Roger flying from the masthead", she and her crew sailed up and down the Hudson and Harlem Rivers raiding small villages, robbing farm houses and riverside mansions and occasionally kidnapping men, woman and children for ransom. Sadie was even said to have made several male prisoners "walk the plank".
Sadie and her men continued their activities for several months and stashed their cargo in several hiding spots until they could be gradually disposed of though fences and junk shops along the Hudson and East Rivers. By the end of the summer however, farmers had begun resisting against the raids by attacking landing parties with gunfire. The group eventually abandoned their sloop and Sadie returned to the Fourth Ward, where she was now known as the "Queen of the Waterfront", and she made a truce with her old rival Gallus Mag. Her ear was later returned to her by Gallus Mag, who displayed it in a pickled jar at her bar; Sadie afterward kept it in a locket and wore around her neck for the rest of her life
was a 6-foot-tall female bouncer at a New York City Water St. bar called The Hole in the Wall in the early 19th century, who figures prominently in New York City folklore. Herbert Asbury's book The Gangs of New York thus describes her: "It was her custom, after she’d felled an obstreperous customer with her club, to clutch his ear between her teeth and so drag him to the door, amid the frenzied cheers of the onlookers. If her victim protested she bit his ear off, and having cast the fellow into the street she carefully deposited the detached member in a jar of alcohol behind the bar…. She was one of the most feared denizens on the waterfront and the police of the period shudderingly described her as the most savage female they’d ever encountered."
Hell-Cat Maggie (fl. 1840-1845) was the pseudonym of an American criminal and early member of the Dead Rabbits. She was a well-known personality in Manhattan's Five Points district and a noted female fighter, her teeth reportedly filed into points and wore long claw-like brass fingernails, who fought alongside the Dead Rabbits and other Five Pointers against rival nativist gangs from the Bowery, most especially the Bowery Boys, during the early 1840s. Although there is little information on her life, she is one of the earliest female criminals of the "Gangs of New York" era and has been compared to later criminals such as Sadie the Goat, Gallus Mag and Battle Annie, the latter leading the female auxiliary of the Gopher Gang during the 1870s. A composite character based on Hell-Cat Maggie, Sadie the Goat and Gallus Mag was played by Cara Seymour in the 2002 film adaptation of Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York directed by Martin Scorsese. She was also featured in the 2003 historical novel A Passionate Girl by Thomas J. Fleming.
(born c. 1851) was a 19th-century criminal, also known as "Big Bertha" or the "Confidence Queen." She was described by famed New York City detective Thomas F. Byrnes as "one of the smartest confidence women in America", and was considered by the New York City police to be "the boldest and most expert of the many female adventuresses who infest the country." She managed to swindle several men out of a total of many thousands of dollars, even while behind bars.
She was born Bertha Schlesinger in Prussia, and came to the United States in 1878. She was married twice; first to Fritz Karko, with whom she lived in New York and later Milwaukee; and then to a man she identified as John Heyman. Contemporary sources described her as "a stout gross looking woman", or alternatively as having a "somewhat pleasing face" or "a lady of the same smart appearance and engaging manners." Byrnes profiled her in his 1886 book Professional Criminals of America, and described her as follows:
“Thirty-five years old in 1886. Born in Germany. Married. Very stout woman. Height, 5 feet 4½ inches. Weight, 245 pounds. Hair brown, eyes brown, fair complexion. German face. An excellent talker. Has four moles on her right cheek.”
Heyman's typical scheme involved conning money out of men by pretending to be a wealthy woman who was unable to access her fortune. She stayed at the best hotels and retained both a maid and a manservant in her service, while bragging about having influential friends. Her confidence tricks "were extraordinarily bold and ingenious, and they were covered by much ostentatious display."
Heyman was arrested and jailed numerous times over the course of her criminal career. She was arrested in September 1880 for conning a sleeping car conductor she had met while on a train from Chicago. Heyman had told him she had a large estate she wanted him to manage, and he quit his job on her promise to hire him. Heyman then told him she needed to borrow some money to obtain the sum that was due to her from her agent, and furthered the deception by taking him to a large house she claimed to own, as evidence of her wealth.
Heyman was soon arrested again in London, Ontario on February 8, 1881, charged with swindling several hundred dollars from a Montreal businessman. She stood trial in June 1881 for stealing $250 and two gold watches from an elderly woman she boarded with in Staten Island, but was acquitted. She was arrested again while leaving the court, this time for conning two New York City businessmen out of a total of $1460. She was convicted on one of the indictments and sentenced on October 29, 1881 to two years in prison. While serving time in prison on Blackwell's Island, she managed to befriend a man and con him out of his life savings of $900. $1 in 1881 is worth $23 in 2011
As part of a scam on her own attorney, she once claimed to be worth $20 million. She also defrauded a Wall Street broker who she had convinced she was worth $8 million, with forged securities. For this crime, she was again convicted in the Court of General Sessions, on August 22, 1883, and sentenced to five years in prison.
Heyman told The New York Times in 1883 that she was only interested in getting money, not in having or spending it, and claimed that she gave the bulk of her ill-gotten funds to the poor. "The moment I discover a man's a fool I let him drop, but I delight in getting into the confidence and pockets of men who think they can't be 'skinned.' It ministers to my intellectual pride."
"Black" Lena Kleinschmidt
(1835-?) was a New York criminal who, as a prominent jewel thief during the late 19th century, was an associate of fence Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum and Adam Worth. Among others in Mandelbaum's "clique", she and con artist Sophie Lyons served as protégés early in their careers shoplifting and pick pocketing. She was eventually arrested after being caught with Christene "Kid Glove Rosey" Mayer attempting to steal two pieces of silk containing 108 yards with a value of $250 from the McCreery & Co. store at the corner of 11th Street and Broadway on April 9, 1880. During their arrest, police found in their possession property recently stolen from Le Boutillier Brothers on 14th Street.
Convicted and sentenced to five years at Blackwell's Island on April 30 Kleinschmidt fled while out on a $500 bail but was soon rearrested and returned to New York where she was convicted after pleading guilty and sentenced to four years and nine months imprisonment along with Mayer on April 30. After her sentence expired on September 30, 1883, and was subsequently released.
Lena eventually moved to Hackensack, New Jersey, and, while posing as the wealthy widow of a South American mining tycoon, became known as a local hostess giving elaborate dinner parties in the style of Mandelbaum. Although having no visible means of support during this time, twice a week she would visit "New York replenishing her coffers." Her charade ended when a guest allegedly recognized a jeweled (or emerald) ring which she had worn during one of her dinner parties which had been previously stolen
(1888 – August 15, 1909) was a Chinese-born slave girl who belonged to the Hip Sing Tong and later to the On Leong Tong around the turn of the century. Her murder was one of the most well-publicized and notorious crimes in New York's history and was the cause of the year-long Tong War between the On Leong Tong and its rivals the Hip Sings and the Four Brothers.
Bow Kum was born in Canton, China, in 1888. As a young girl, she was sold by her father for only a few dollars and brought to San Francisco around 1907, where she was purchased for $3,000 by Low Hee Tong. Tong, a high-ranking member of the Hip Sings and Four Brothers, lived with her for four years until he was arrested by police. When he was unable to produce a marriage license for Bow Kum, she was placed with Christian missionaries under Donaldina Cameron, a Scotswoman who spent much of her life helping young Chinese slave girls escape from tongs. Bow Kum eventually married Tchin Len, a truck gardener and member of the On Leong Tong, who took her back to New York as his wife.
Len was eventually confronted by Low Hee Tong, who demanded compensation for the money he had "invested" in the girl, but Len refused to pay him. Low Hee Tong then petitioned the Hip Sings and the Four Brothers in a letter explaining his grievance. The Tong leaders felt his claim was justified and made demands upon the On Leong Tong on Low Hee Tong's behalf. When On Leong Tong ignored them, the Hip Sings and the Four Brothers declared war. A few days later, a Tong hatchetman slipped into the Mott Street residence of Tchin Len on the early morning of August 15, 1909, and brutally murdered Bow Kum. Her body was found in their bedroom, stabbed three times in the heart, badly mutilated, with some of her fingers cut off. The war between the Chinatown Tongs would continue for over a year before a truce was arranged via mediation between the United States and Chinese governments.
Red Light Lizzie
(1860 –1875) was the pseudonym of a madam, procuress and underworld figure in New York City during the mid-to late 19th century. She was known as the most infamous of the city's procurers and controlled much of its prostitution along with Jane the Grabber during the 1860s and 70s. Like her rival, Lizzie employed a number of men and women to travel to rural communities in Upstate New York and New England to lure young girls to the city with promises of well-paying jobs. Some men were paid by Lizzie to bring girls into dive bars and, similar to Shanghaiing, would be given drugged alcohol. The victims would then be forced into prostitution, either by working in her brothels, or being "sold" to similar establishments. Both she and Jane the Grabber specialized in procuring women from wealthy families. She, in fact, owned at least twelve such "houses of ill-repute" and was so successful as a procurer that she sent a monthly circular letter to all of her clients.
(died 1886)Crazy Lou was the pseudonym of a New York showgirl and prostitute who was a well-known personality in the Bowery during the late 19th century. Described as a "famous local harlot derived from Boston society", little of her life is known prior to her arrival in New York. She is said to have been the daughter of a wealthy Boston merchant who, at the age of 17, was seduced by a young man and travelled to New York to join him. She instead fell into the hands of procuresses who sold her to one of the Seven Sisters on West 25th Street. Forced into prostitution, she was eventually released "when her beauty faded". Remaining in New York, she frequented the Haymarket and the Cremorne and eventually became a popular dance hall girl. She regularly performed at some of the top bars and social clubs in the city including establishments owned by Tom Gould, Harry Hill and Billy McGlory. She spent her last years at Frank Stephenson's Black and Tan Club where, even after retirement, she remained a regular typically staying from midnight until 2:00 am. As she grew older, she became destitute and reportedly "lived on scrappings from garbage pails" and made her living begging or selling flowers on the street. Yet she continued going to the Black and Tan where she had a regular table and was personally served a tumbler of whiskey by Stephenson himself free of charge. One night in 1886, the elderly woman did not show up at the bar and the next morning her body was found floating in the East River. Her mysterious death was never solved, however Stephenson continued to set a glass of whiskey at her usual table for a month after her death and allowed no one to sit at the table until 2:00 am.
(December 24, 1848-May 8, 1924) was a criminal and one of the country's most notorious female thieves, pickpockets, shoplifters and confidence women during the mid-to-late 19th century. She and her husbands Ned Lyons and Billy Burke were among the most sought-after career criminals in the United States and Canada, being wanted in several major cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal, from the 1860s until the turn of the century.
She and Ned Lyons were also prominent underworld figures in New York City during the post- Civil War era as associates of Marm Mandelbaum, Sophie Lyons being a member of Mandelbaum's "inner circle" during the 1860s and 70s. She eventually retired from criminal life and spent her later years involved in the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents, and providing financial assistance and housing for reformed criminals and their families. Her autobiography, "Why Crime Does Not Pay" (1913), was published and distributed by publisher William Randolph Hearst.
Lyons was born to a family of criminals: her grandfather was a known safe-cracker and both her parents had criminal records prior to immigrating to the United States from England. Her mother, Baltimore shoplifter Sophie Elkins, was a "keeper of a disorderly house" in New York's East Side, and supposedly forced her out into the street to steal. Lyons claimed she had been first caught stealing at the age of 3 and tried at the Essex Market police court, although she was again arrested for shoplifting at 12.
Sophie married another pickpocket when she was 16, a Maury Harris, but the marriage ended when Harris was arrested and sentenced to New York State Prison for two years. During her youth, she became known as a skilled pickpocket and confidence woman. She was considered a consummate actress who, even when caught by her victim, was able to "counterfeit every shade of emotion" to persuade them to release her. According to one incident in 1880, she was able to convince a store detective that she suffered from kleptomania.
She eventually married Ned Lyons, known then as "King of the Bank Robbers", and together they had three children. Two years after their marriage, Ned Lyons was able to purchase a villa on Long Island from his share in a major bank robbery. Although he tried to discourage Sophie from pickpocketing, she continued to do so and eventually both were imprisoned. Soon after Ned's escape from New York State Prison in 1872, he returned to New York to help Sophie escape from prison, by using a disguise to infiltrate Sing Sing and breaking through the wall of her jail cell. They escaped to Paris where Sophie Lyons lived under the name Madame d'Varney and the two continued their criminal activities.
On the afternoon of January 31, 1880, Sophie returned to the Essex Market police court where she brought her youngest son, 14-year-old George Lyons, before the magistrate. She claimed that he refused to attend school, often left home at nights to sleep in the streets and "was so generally unruly" that she requested that he be put in a juvenile correctional facility. After she had finished, George Lyons shouted "that woman is a thief and a shoplifter. I have seen her steal in Montreal and elsewhere". He denied his mother's charges, claiming she wanted to get rid of him, and that he had "recommendations showing his good character". He went on to make further criminal charges against his mother, continuing "Yes, you want to get rid of me, and you're my mother. How can I tell you are when you have two husbands with whom you go all over the country, stealing everywhere ?" These accusations caused a disturbance in the court room and the magistrate called for a recess to listen to both mother and son in private.
Sophie Lyons confessed to her criminal past and being the wife of Ned Lyons, however she maintained that she had spent considerable time and effort trying to keep her son from becoming a criminal. She had sent him to three colleges in Canada (her two daughters attended schools in Germany ) but he returned to New York where he began frequenting underworld resorts, including Dan Kerrigan's infamous Sixth Street saloon, where he performed as a singer, and associating with known criminals. She also said that her son had obtained at least one of his recommendations by threatening a former employer, a Kate B. Woodward, with a carving knife.
After hearing of this incident, Sophie invited her son to their home on Montgomery Street and had him arrested by waiting police officers. George Lyons admitted he did have an argument with Ms. Woodward, who had withheld his pocket watch, but denied intimidating her to obtaining his recommendation. He did admit to picking up a carving knife during the argument, but did not use it towards her or use threatening language. He was reportedly disruptive while his mother made her statement, making claims of child neglect and abandonment. The magistrate ruled that George Lyons would be held in custody until the claims of both parties could be investigated. George, being informed that he would not be released, had to be escorted from the court room by police, and attempted to choke himself by swallowing a handkerchief.
Sophie Lyons spent much of the 1890s in the Midwestern United States as a member of a burglary gang led by Billy Burke whom she would later marry. She returned to New York in 1895 and, after her arrest by noted police detective Stephen O'Brien, she was put under close police surveillance by Brooklyn detectives, under orders from Superintendent McKelvey.
On the afternoon of June 21, 1896, Lyons entered a dry goods store at Sixth Avenue and Fourteenth Street. Lyons, then using the alias Mary Watson, was approached by store detective Mary Plunkett, who had recognized her, and who informed her she was wanted by local police. When Lyons dismissed her, Plunkett grabbed her arm, attempting to bring her in by force. A crowd began to gather as the argument escalated. Plunkett told the crowd that "one of the most notorious pickpockets in the world was standing before them". At that point, Lyons got free of Plunkett and left the store, with the detective in pursuit. Plunkett pursued Lyons onto a street car where she informed the driver that Lyons was wanted by police. The driver allowed Lyons onto the street car, replying to Plunkett it was none of his business. As they reached Eighteenth Street, Plunkett was able to call two patrolmen and had Lyons placed under arrest.
Lyons refused to be taken back to the dry goods store, insisting that she be searched to prove her innocence, but was instead arrested and taken to the Mercer Street police station. She was held at the precinct until her arraignment at the Jefferson Market police court on June 22. She was charged with the theft of a pocketbook from an unknown woman in New Jersey, which contained $12 and a railroad ticket, and it was requested by the court that she be remanded. Her lawyer, Emanuel Friend, successfully argued for her release, pointing out the largely vague circumstances of the charges, as well as the absence of the store detective. The magistrate agreed that the city had no evidence to prosecute Lyons and dismissed her case.
Following her "retirement" from crime in 1913, Sophie eventually settled in Detroit where she wrote her memoirs, "Why Crime Does Not Pay", and became a known philanthropist and prison reformer. She also owned forty houses, not including vacant property, due to real estate and business investments worth half a million dollars. She publicly offered to provide rent-free homes for any criminals with families who were brought to Detroit by the Pathfinders' Club reform group. On February 2, 1916, she announced at the Pathfinders' annual dinner that she would be donating land worth $35,000 to establish a building for juvenile delinquents.
The Pathfinders' Club operated a similar "character building" facility at Lafayette Boulevard at Twenty-Fourth Street. Lyons specified that the gift was offered on the condition that "The home is to be devoted to the work of convincing children who have begun to be criminals that they have chosen the wrong path, and also to training them so that they will have the strength to go alright. A secondary purpose is to provide a place in which adults who have fallen into crime may get a new start in life".
In July 1922, the 76-year-old Lyons discovered her house had been robbed of between $6,000-$7,000 in bonds and $13,000 in diamonds. She had returned to her Detroit home after a day trip to Put-in-Bay to find her house "ransacked and the floor strewn with empty boxes, books and other articles". She claimed the diamonds were a gift from her son who had recently died in Seattle. She commented to reporters stating 'I have no idea who did the 'job,' and I am unhappy to think that men would do such a thing to an old woman who devotes a large income to prison relief work". She died two years later on May 8, 1924.
Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum
(1818 – February 1894) was a New York entrepreneur and operated as a criminal fence to many of the street gangs and criminals of the city's underworld, handling between $1-5 million in stolen goods between 1862 until 1884. Like her principal rival John D. Grady and the Grady Gang, she also became a patron to the criminal elements of the city and was involved in financing and organizing numerous burglaries and other criminal operations throughout the post-American Civil War era.
Emigrating from Prussia with her husband Wolfe Mandelbaum, the two arrived in New York in 1848. Purchasing a dry goods store on Clinton Street, by 1854, the business was operating as a front for the Mandelbaums' criminal operations (she would later need to store goods in two large warehouses in the city). However, instead of waiting to be approached by criminals, Mandelbaum began financing thieves and burglars and was involved in planning some of the biggest thefts in the city's history. Expanding her operations, she controlled several gangs of blackmailers and confidence men as well as a school to recruit and teach younger criminals on pickpocketing. She was also a top competitor to the Grady Gang.
During this time, she had become one of New York's most prominent hostesses of New York's high society, as well as the underworld, regularly associating with some of the most well-known criminals of the day including Queen Liz, Big Mary, "Black" Lena Kleinschmidt, Adam Worth, Sophie Lyons, and George Leonidas Leslie as well as judges and police officials.
Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum (Right)
However, in 1884, New York District Attorney Peter B. Olney hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate Mandelbaum's organization. An agent, posing as a prospective thief, arranged to have several marked bolts of silk stolen from a store where it was discovered in a police raid on her home the following morning. Arrested with her son Julius and clerk Herman Stroude, Mandelbaum was released on bail and fled the United States with an estimated $1 million. She settled in Toronto where she remained until her death in 1894.
(Also spelled Meyer) or Kid Glove Rosey (born 1847) was a New York criminal and thief during the late 19th century; her aliases including Mary Scanlon and Rosey Roder.
Born in Germany, she became known as a prominent shoplifter in New York and other major cities before her arrest with "Black" Lena Kleinschmidt for stealing two pieces of silk containing 108 yards (valued at $250) from the McCreery & Co. store at the corner of 11th Street and Broadway on April 9, 1880. Recently stolen property from Le Boutillier Brothers on 14th Street was found in their possession as well as the stolen silk.
Convicted and sentenced to five years at Blackwell's Island on April 30 (Kleinschmidt, who had fled while out on bail, was soon rearrested and sentenced to four years and nine months imprisonment on the same day), her sentence eventually expired on November 30, 1883, and she was subsequently released.
(1825-1840) was an American criminal fence and underworld figure in New York City during the early-to mid-19th century. She is the earliest known business owner to begin actively dealing with the city's emerging underworld and whose Centre Street grocery store and dive bar, just south of Anthony Street (on the northern side of present-day Foley Square), was used as the longtime headquarters of the Forty Thieves upon their formation by Edward Coleman in 1826.
Her establishment was described as a sort of early underground speakeasy where "piles of decaying vegetables were displayed on racks outside the store" while Peers provided a back room "in which she sold the fiery liquor of the period at lower prices than it could be obtained in the recognized saloons". Her store would become a popular underworld hangout for criminals in the Five Points district and throughout the city during the next two decades. Peers' success encouraged others to open similar establishments along Anthony, Orange and Cross Streets catering to the New York underworld as the later famous resorts, dance halls and saloons would originate from this area.
Little Annie Reilly
(1844-death date unknown), also known under the aliases Kate Cooley, Connelly and Manning, was a 19th century American thief and con artist widely regarded as "the cleverest woman in her line in America". A well-known member of New York's underworld, she was part of an elite "inner circle" of female career criminals under Marm Mandelbaum during the 1860s and 1870s. These included some of the most notorious thieves, blackmailers and confidence women in the country such as Lena Kleinschmidt, Sophie Lyons, Kid Glove Rosey, Queen Liz, Big Mary and Old Mother Hubbard,
Annie Reilly was born in Ireland in 1844. She later immigrated to the United States and settled down in New York City where Reilly found employment as a servant and child's nurse. She was said to look much younger than her age and was both charming and intelligent. She spoke at least two or three languages. Once gaining the confidence of the lady of the house, most often by making "a great fuss over the children", she would rob the house of its valuables, usually jewelry, sometimes leaving with sometimes as much as four to five thousand dollars. She rarely stayed in one place for long, waiting only one or two days before robbing her employers, and eventually became known up and down the Eastern seaboard. She became especially infamous in New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia and was considered "the cleverest women of her line in America"
It was during this time that Reilly became associated with Marm Mandelbaum, then one of the biggest criminal fences in the city, and eventually became part of an elite "inner circle" of female career criminals which included Lena Kleinschmidt, Sophie Lyons, Kid Glove Rosey, Queen Liz, Big Mary and Old Mother Hubbard, These women would meet often at extravagant dinners hosted by Mandelbaum where it was said they discussed their latest criminal escapades.
In early-1873, Reilly was finally apprehended in New York after robbing the East 84th Street home of Mrs. A.G. Dunn among others. Held in custody in default of $6,500 bail, she was tried in the Court of General Sessions by Judge Sutherland, convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in New York State Prison on April 23, 1873. She was then using the name Kate Connelly. Three years after her release, she was again arrested on August 3, 1880, for stealing from the Second Avenue home of Mrs. Evangeline Schwarz. She was convicted on September 8, under the alias Kate Cooley, and sentenced by Judge Gildersleeve to three years imprisonment on Blackwell's Island.
She immediately returned to her criminal activities following her release in January 1883. Reilly remained active in and around New York and, while employed at the New York Hotel, was responsible for the theft of $3,500 worth of jewelry and other valuables from guests. She soon moved on to Brooklyn where, under the name Kate Manning, she was arrested for the theft of a watch and chain from Charles A. Jennings on June 5, 1884. A stolen bronze statuette was found in her possession at the time of her arrest. She pled guilty in court and was sentenced to another 4 1/2 years in the Kings County Penitentiary. Her criminal career was among those featured Thomas F. Byrnes' "1886 Professional Criminals of America" (1886). As of 1886, she had stolen more property in the last fifteen years than any other female thief in the United States.
(May 6, 1812 – April 1, 1878), better known as Madame Restell, was an early-19th-century abortionist who practiced in New York City. Restell was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire, England. Her father was a labourer. At the age of fifteen she started work as a maid in a butcher's family, and at sixteen she married a Wiltshire man called Henry Summer. After three years living in England, they emigrated to New York in 1831 where Summer died of yellow fever. Restell was forced to make a poor living as a seamstress.
Restell remarried in 1836, to a German–Russian immigrant, Charles Lohman, who worked in the printing trade. Lohman was a radical and freethinker, a friend and colleague of George Matsell (radical), the publisher of the radical journal the Free Inquirer. With Matsell, Lohman was involved in the publication of Robert Dale Owen's book Moral Physiology; or, a Brief and Plain Treatise on the Population Question (1831) and Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy; or, The Private Companion of Young Married People (1831).
Restell's brother, Joseph Trow, had also immigrated to New York, and was working as a sales assistant in a pharmacy. Restell began to develop an interest in women's health, selling patent medicine, and (probably in partnership with her husband and brother) creating birth control products, advertised under the name "Madame Restell". The term "Restellism" became a euphemism for abortion.
Ann Lohman arrested by Anthony Comstock. From the 23 February 1878 edition of the New York Illustrated Times. Her business was one of a number at the time, and like them was under constant attack by both the respectable and the penny press. Newspaper editor Horace Greeley criticized other newspapers for accepting advertisements by Restell, and George Washington Dixon of the Polyanthos as well as the National Police Gazette also refused her advertisements.
In 1841, Mary Rogers was found dead in the Hudson River. Newspapers suggested that she had died during an abortion carried out by Restell, although later evidence seems to contradict this. Regardless, abortion was soon outlawed. Soon it became legally defined as an obscene subject and was no longer covered in the papers. Following Restell's arrest in early 1878, a maid discovered Restell in the bathtub at her Fifth Avenue home; she had slit her own throat on the morning of April 1, 1878. Upon her death, she was claimed to have been worth between $500,000-$600,000 ($11.3 million-$13.6 million in present-day terms).
Mary Varley was a Bowery thief of some accomplishment as well as a “Booster” (Shoplifter). She was the younger sister (They probably weren’t sisters) of another character called “Reddy the Blacksmith” .The two women ran a house of ill repute on James Street.
AKA Big Mary AKA Boston Mary, (. 1863-1869) was a New York criminal during the late 19th century; among her known aliases included Eliza Gilford, Mary Anderson and Mary Rogers. An associate of Fredericka Mandelbaum, she was a prominent thief and con artist in New York's underworld during the 1860s and 70s.
In 1863, Wallace was arrested under the alias Mary Anderson for stealing silk from Stewart's and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment as well as serving a two and a half year prison sentence in Sing Sing Prison for shoplifting under the name Eliza Gilford.
On June 25, 1868, she was arrested on charges of stealing 70 yards of silk estimated to be worth $210 from the Lake & McCreery store on Broadway. After posting bail, she failed to appear in court and an arrest warrant was issued by District Attorney A. Oakey Hall on July 8. However, a search by Capt. John Jourdan of the Sixth Precinct failed to locate her and she remained a fugitive for over a year before he received information that she was in Philadelphia. After gaining consent by police officials, a Detective Woolridge was sent to take her into custody on January 22, 1869.
Returning with Wallace the following day, she was arraigned before a Justice Dowling (the Court of General Sessions having adjourned shortly before his arrival). She was additionally wanted by police officials in Philadelphia on between six to eight criminal charges while awaiting trial in New York
Other Notable Characters
Bunty Kate 1887-? Five Points prostitute who worked for Whyos leader Danny Lyons.
Beezy Garrity: Died 1886 Five Points prostitute killed during a shootout between Whyos leader Danny Driscoll and John McCarty
Crazy Lou. Died 1886 Bowery prostitute and dance hall girl.
Gentle Maggie: Born 1887 Five Points prostitute who worked for Danny Lyons.of the Whyos
Hoochie-Coochie Mary: A longtime Chinatown resident and prostitute. Found the body of murdered Chinese comic Ah Hoon in 1909.
Jane the Grabber: Madam and procuress involved in kidnapping young women and forcing them into prostitution and white slavery during the 1870s
Lizzie The Dove: Born 1887 Five Points prostitute who worked for gangster Danny Lyons.
Moly Maher: Born 1850 Associated with the Daybreak Boys and a girlfriend of Bill Lowrie and later of Sam McCarthy
Old Shakespeare: Died 1891. Bowery prostitute and alleged murder victim of Jack the Ripper
Pretty Kitty McGowan: Born 1887. Five Points prostitute and subject of a gunfight between Danny Lyons and Joseph Quinn
Red Light Lizzie: Procuress and rival of "Jane the Grabber", she owned half a dozen brothels and was a supplier of prostitutes to similar establishments.