Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 16, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie


THE NINTH PRECINCT--The boundaries of the Ninth Precinct are Houston Street, Hancock Street, Bleecker Street, Carmine Street, Sixth Avenue, Fourteenth Street, and the centre line of Thirteenth Avenue and Eleventh Street, and the west track of the railroad in West Street. The station house if at No. 94 Charles Street. It was built for station house purposes, but it has been altered and repaired, and is cramped and unhealthy, and the cells are underground. The officers are: Captain, Theron S. Copeland; and Sergeants, John A. Croker, John Kellaher, William Porcher, and James B. Wilson. Croker was a Policeman in 1862, a Roundsman four years later, and a Sergeant in 1872. Kellaher joined the force in 1861, became Roundsman in 1874, and attained this rank in 1876. Porcher has been in the department twenty-six years. He became Roundsman in 1865, and has worn Sergeant's uniform fourteen years. Wilson is Porcher's senior, so far as Police duty goes, nine months. In 1862 he became Roundsman, and three years later was promoted.

CAPTAIN THERON S. COPELAND was born in Albany, this State, in 1831, and moved to New York City in 1835. He was appointed a Patrolman in 1855, and was made Roundsman in July, 1857; was promoted to the next rank in March, 1858, and went a step higher in October, 1862. He has performed duty in the Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Thirteenth, Twenty-second, and Twenty-fifth Precincts. By reason of Captain Copeland's superior knowledge of military tactics, gained by serving in the National guard, and at a military school, he was detailed by the Police Board to instruct the force in military tactics. For this purpose he was assigned to the Central Office, where he remained for a period of sixteen years, five of which hew was at the head of the class of instruction, and for two year aid to the Superintendent. He succeeded so well in this branch of the service that when the draft riots occurred in July, 1863, the Police force of this city, by this knowledge of military tactics and discipline, were able to meet and overcome the rioters, who outnumbered them a hundred to one, and earned for themselves a world-wide renown. Captain Copeland has participated in nearly all of the prominent Police events that have taken place since he joined the force. In recognition of his services in the draft riots the Police Board awarded him special honourable mention, a like distinction being bestowed on him by the board for the part he took in the Orange riots in 1871. In 1862 he was sent in command of three hundred and fifty officers and men to Riker's Island, to quell a mutiny that has broken out among a large crowd of men who were quartered there. He was also sent in command of fifty men to quell a similar disturbance at Camp Washington, Staten Island, and subsequently to Tarrytown to suppress rioting while men were being drafted for the war. On the application of General Bowen, Captain Copeland was mustered into the United States military service as Adjutant, for the purpose of organizing the Second Metropolitan Regiment (One Hundred and Thirty-third New York Volunteers), a duty which was performed in thirty days. The regiment proved to be one of the best in the service, many of the ex-members of the Police force in its ranks. Captain Copeland has made a number of important arrests, and has been several times injured in the discharge of his duty.

There are seventeen day and thirty-four night posts in this precinct. The force is eighty-seven men, reduced to about sixty-eight by sickness and details. John Flanagan and James B. Ayers are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed men are: A. M. De Nyse Christopher Street Ferry; Charles E. Bush, Jefferson Market; Robert B. Pitcairn, Corporation Ordinances; and Robert Kelly, Special Duty.

The Ninth Precinct was at one time the stronghold of the Native Americans. Today more people of the middle class own or occupy their own homes, despite the tendency to coalesce, or herd in flat, apartment or tenement houses, than in any other precinct. Its streets are quiet, cobble-stoned; and its iniquities, according to the Police record, few. It guards the Jefferson Market, Police Court and Prison, which are of the few architectural ornaments of the city. Gansevoort Market, which within a year will be one of the most important markets for provisions in the city, St. Vincent's hospital, and a section of upper-tenderloin in West fourteenth Street. Its West Streets front embraces important interests, and within its boundaries are the walls of the old State Prison. Few events of magnitude occur here.

THE FIFTEENTH PRECINCT--the Fifteenth Precinct's boundaries are: the Bowery, Fourth Avenue, Fourteenth Street, Sixth Avenue, Carmine Street, Bleecker Street, Hancock Street, Houston Street, Broadway and Bleecker Street. The station house is at Nos. 251 and 253 Mercer Street, which were dwelling houses turned into a station house, when the station house was in Ambrose H. Kingsland's stable opposite. This stable was the quarters of engine company No. 4, of which Excise Commissioners John J. Morris was foreman; and it afterwards became the quarters of Engine company No. 33, afterwards moved to Great Jones Street. The building is in fair order, and has a separate prison. The officers are: Captain, John J. Brogan; and Sergeants, Donald Grant, James J. Brophy, Joseph Douglas, and John J. Thompson. Grant's dates are: Patrolman 1876, Roundsman 1877, and Sergeant 1880. Brophy went on the force in 1871, was Roundsman in 1876, and he got his rank two years later. Douglas became Patrolman 1868, Roundsman 1870, and Sergeant the same year. Thompson, the senior Sergeant, was appointed in 1860, and waited seventeen years to be Roundsman; four years after this he was promoted.

CAPTAIN JOHN J. BROGAN, of the fifteenth Precinct, is a New Yorker, and was born in the year 1844. While at school he generally occupied himself with drawing on the black board deeds of chivalry and heroism, for which breach of discipline he often received a flogging from his schoolmaster. He was apprenticed at any early age to the theatrical scene painting trade, but he disliked the business, his physical organization demanding a more active occupation. Accordingly, when he was twenty-one years of age, he joined the Police force, and was sent to the Second Precinct.

Captain Brogan was only a fortnight on the force when he made his first arrest, or rather arrests, for there were two burglars engaged in the robbery. As he was on his beat in Maiden Lane, he noticed the door of a fur store open. He waited and waited. Soon two desperadoes made their appearance, loaded with goods. One of them, as soon as he saw Brogan, laid down his plunder and struck at him with a jimmy. Brogan put up his arms to guard the blow, but the jimmy broke one of his fingers. He, however, secured his men. They were Tom Harris and Michael Galvin. They were convicted, and sent to State Prison.

Soon after this, while the remains of the murdered President Lincoln were lying in City Hall, Brogan observed a well-known thief name Williams picking pockets in the crowd. Brogan approached the ruffian, who fled and was followed by the officer as far as the corner of Chatham and William Streets. There Brogan shot him in the leg, and the thief, not being able to go any further, was arrested.

In 1867, while Officer Brogan was doing Detective duty at Staten Island, a society called the ancient Order of Good fellows gave a picnic on a Sunday in that place, and insisted on having all the refreshments they required. On some of the saloon keepers refusing to supply them, a riot ensued, but was very quickly quelled, owing to the foresight and determination of Detective Brogan.

While in the Sixth Precinct Captain Brogan made the arrest of a very tough character named "Country" Nolan, who was trying to rob an old gentleman in Donovan's Lake, behind Baxter Street. A desperate encounter took place between Nolan and the officer, but the robber at last was overcome. He was sent to Sing Sing.

George smith, a Negro, shot and killed his paramour, a white woman, in 1879. After the murder smith tried to conceal himself among the colored folks in the Eighth Ward, and afterwards went on board of a vessel bound south. He, however, could not escape Captain Brogan's vigilance. As the vessel was about to sail, that officer went quietly onboard and arrested his man.

He was made Captain in September, 1878, and was placed in charge of the Fourteenth Precinct. He was shortly afterwards transferred to the Fifteenth, where he is at present stationed.

Towards the end of the year 1880 Captain Brogan and Detective Crowley saw four men enter the store of James McCreery & company, at the corner of Eleventh Street and Broadway. The Captain and Detective followed them, and a regular fusilade was opened on both sides. Two of the burglars were wounded. Their names were Tommy Fay, Dutch Fred, Tom Maypother, and John Brown alias Turk. They were sent to State Prison for five years each.

Soon after this a Sergeant of the regular Army shot and killed a boy at Albany. The Sergeant fled, but Captain Brogan succeeded in finding him in this city.

But the most important achievement of Capt. Brogan's Police service was the capture and conviction of the notorious Mrs. Johnson, a Swede, who used to induce young girls to emigrate, and when they landed at Castle Garden, she took possession of them body and soul.

This precinct has sixteen day and thirty-two night posts. Eighty-one men are on the roll, but about sixty-seven do duty, sickness and details reducing the effective force. The Precinct Detectives are William Warren and Thomas Reynolds. The detailed men are Manuel A. White, Juvenile Asylum; Edward Gilgar, Ordinances; John J. Farley, Clinton Place and Sixth Avenue; John Fogarty, Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street; John Cunningham, St. Joseph's Home; James McAdams, Fourteenth Street and University Place; and Benjamin Tesaro, Detective and Interpreter's duty at Police Headquarters' Detective Bureau.

People of every condition are under the protection or surveillance of the Fifteenth Precinct. Wooster Street has its dissolute Negroes, Fifth Avenue its aristocrats, Minetta Lane and Bleecker Street their Negroes, Waverly Place and Clinton Place their boarding houses, Broadway, fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue their tradesmen. There is a little of everything in this precinct, but it is principally occupied by either the respectable or the wealthy classes. In this command are the Star theatre and the Union Square Theatre, Washington Park, and Grace Church, some of the finest stores in the city, among them the Stewart Building, the University Building, the Excise Office, the Bleecker Street Savings Bank--one of the richest institutions of the kind in the world, the Astor and Mercantile Libraries, the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin, the Brevoort House, Grand Central, New York and other hotels, and Society Library. Such a precinct requires and possesses a circumspect body of Police, equal to any emergency, and it is daily mentioned in the press as having furnished at the Jefferson Market, or Police Headquarters, or the Coroner's Office, some tale of interest. The most stirring incidents of the past few years are the killing of James Fisk, Jr., by Edward S. Stokes, at the Grand Central Hotel twelve years ago; the burglary on the twenty-seventh of October, 1878, by which the Manhattan Savings Institution lost two million seven hundred and forty-seven thousand seven hundred dollars, in money and securities, and the burning, on the sixth of March, 1877, of Jewelers hall, Nos. 1, 3, and 5 Bond Street, where six hundred thousand dollars' worth of property was destroyed. Inspectors Byrnes, Murray, and Dilks were graduated from this command.

THE SIXTEENTH PRECINCT--The sixteenth Precinct is almost a parallelogram, who sides are Fourteenth Street, Seventh Avenue, Twenty-seventh Street, and the North River. The station house, at No. 230 West Twentieth Street, is a very old one, constructed out of a dwelling house. It is snug and healthy, but the cells are underground and an extra story was added to the building seventeen years ago. The officers are: Captain, John McElwain; and Sergeants, Daniel Polhamus, William Blair, James Lonsdale and Oliver H. Tims. Polhamus was a Policeman in 1861, a Roundsman in 1865, and a Sergeant in 1867. Blair, the senior Sergeant, joined the force in 1858, was made Roundsman in 1863, and was promoted the next year. Lonsdale was appointed in 1862, became Roundsman six years later, and got rank in 1869. The dates of Tims are: Patrolman 1866, Roundsman 1870, and Sergeant 1872.

CAPTAIN JOHN McELWAIN, of the Sixteenth Precinct, was born in New York in November, 1831. His parents were well off, and he received a thoroughly good education. He served his time to the jewelry business, and he worked in some employment for several years. He joined the force on the second of September, 1872, and was assigned to the Fifteenth Precinct. During his stay here the draft riots broke out. and he took part in quelling the disturbance. For his conduct in these riots he was promoted to the rank of Roundsman, and was transferred to the Twenty-first, and afterwards to the Seventeenth. While here he was made Sergeant, and transferred to the Eleventh. He was afterwards successively stationed at the Twenty-third, eighteenth, and Twenty-ninth. He was made Captain in September, 1872, and went to the Twenty-first. He was then transferred to the Twentieth, then returned to the Twenty-first, then to the Twenty-third. He went back again to the Twenty-first, then to the Seventh, and finally to the Sixteenth.

Captain McElwain is an exceptional, shrewd officer. It is said that he an tell a thief at the first glance.

He arrested Scannel for the murder of Thomas Donoghue, at Apollo Hall, November 29, 1872, for which he was presented with an elegant gold medal by the Commissioners. The medal is inscribed with the names of B. F. Manierre, Thomas Bosworth, Thomas J. Barr, and A. Oakey Hall.

During his Captaincy of the Twentieth Precinct he was instrumental in obtaining convictions which amounted in the aggregate to three hundred and twenty-three years.

Minnie Davis, the notorious fire bug, was also arrested by him, as also George West alias Davis, who, four days after his capture, was amusing himself breaking stones in Sing Sing Prison.

Captain McElwain was complimented by Commissioner Acton, in his annual report to the legislature, for his action in quelling a disturbance raised by the Live Oak Volunteers, who were on an excursion to Astoria. The Volunteers went about that town ransacking it, and terrifying the inhabitants. There were only a few men at the station house when this intelligence arrived, but Captain McElwain decided on at one going to Astoria. He concealed himself and his me in the ferryboat until its arrival at that place. He then suddenly precipitated himself on the rioters, and, after a severe struggle, arrested the ringleaders.

While Captain McElwain was one day pursuing the notorious cart thief, Wilson, he was attacked by Wilson, and both fell to the ground. After a fearful struggle, Wilson, however, went under, and was taken to the Police Station.

During his Captaincy of the Twentieth Precinct, the citizens presented Captain McElwain with a very complementary testimonial.

Galvin and McGinn, who knocked down and robbed Mr. Hanks, the jeweler, were also arrested by Captain McElwain. This was considered a very clever capture, as there was no clue whatever at the time to the perpetrators of the outrage. The Captain, for this, was publicly complimented by Recorder Hackett from the Bench.

"Fagan," whose proper name is Isaac Lycres, was a notorious receiver of stolen goods. He was so adroit at his work that it was very difficult for the Police to get at him. Captain McElwain worked up the case so well that he managed to secure "Fagan" and recover thousands of dollars' worth of goods.

This precinct has eighteen day and twenty-eight night posts. Its full force is seventy-three men, but the average of them doing full duty is sixty-two. Adolph Schmidt and Richard Wilson are the Precinct Detectives. The detailed officers are: John Ferguson, Truancy; Richard Flynn, ordinances; Patrick W. Vallely, Twenty-third Street Ferry.

The Sixteenth Precinct Police have to deal with both rich and poor, from those who inhabit the fine residences in West Fourteenth Street to those who lounge about the lumber years of the North River front, which represents three-quarters of the lumber interest of New York. It has the Twenty-third Street Ferry, the Grand Opera House, the bath and flat houses in West Twenty-third Street, and the tradesmen of Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The most stirring event of late years within its boundaries was the Orange Riots of 1873, and the firing of the military in eighth Avenue, near Twenty-third Street. A score of persons were killed outright, and it is estimated that as many more died afterwards. The bodies of those that fell in the streets were transported to the station house, and laid out in the basement. Old officers of the command yet remember the wails that were uttered by those who came to claim their dead. Another tragic event was the shooting, at the Vienna Flats, No. 341 West Twenty-third Street, of W. H. Haverstick by George W. Conkling, brother of Mrs. Uhler, with whom Haverstick lived in defiance of decency. This occurred March 19, 1883. Since then Conkling died out West and Mrs. Uhler poisoned herself. Another mysterious occurrence was the killing, in the grounds of the Protestant Episcopal General Theological Seminary, at Twentieth Street and Ninth Avenue, on the morning of July 4, 1879, of John F. Seymour, of Bishop Seymour' s family. He was walking in the grounds and was, it is supposed, killed by a small bullet discharged from a boy's toy pistol or rifle.

THE TWENTIETH PRECINCT.--the Twentieth Precinct begins at Twenty-seventh Street, goes along Seventh Avenue and runs to Forty-second Street, and the North River. The station house is at Nos. 434 and 436 West Thirty-seventh Street. When it was built, fourteen years ago, it was considered a vast improvement on any other that existed. It was a separate prison, and is so well looked after as to be always wholesome and healthy. The officers are; Captain, George Washburn; and Sergeants: Andrew J. Thomas, William F. Devery, George H. Havens, and Stephen E. Brown. Thomas has been on the force twelve years. He was made Sergeant last year after doing seven months; duty as Roundsman. Devery's dates are: Patrolman 1878, Roundsman 1881, and Sergeant 1884. Havens' are: Patrolman in 1861, Roundsman in 1863; and Sergeant in 1866. Brown was appointed in 1868, was made Roundsman in 1870, and three years later obtained promotion.

CAPTAIN WASHBURN was born on the ninth of June, 1826, in the city of New York. At the age of four years his parents moved to Sing Sing, where he resided until he was fifteen years old. He traveled round the world for four years, having served alternately as sailor and soldier. In February, 1858, he was appointed on the Police, where he served until august, 1862, when he joined the Metropolitan Regiment as First Lieutenant. After one year's service he was promoted to Captain, and fifteen months later he rose to the rank of Major, which position he retained until the end of the war. He served under General Banks and General Sheridan. Upon returning from the war he was re-appointed a Patrolman, and five days later he was promoted Roundsman, and within a week from that date he was made a Sergeant, that being his rank on the Police force when he resigned to go to the war. After serving as a Sergeant for three years he was raised to the rank of Captain. He took part in the Orange riot, and was on that day second in command, under Captain Walling.

This precinct has thirteen day and twenty-eight night posts. Its full force is seventy-eight men, from which an average of seventeen should be deducted for sickness and details. Stephen Carmick and Matthew McConnell are the precinct Detectives. John W. King on Ordinances; and John Murphy to the Offal Dock.

In the Twentieth Precinct are few public buildings of any note. It has a busy waterfront, crowded with repulsive industries, such as hog and cattle abattoirs. The offal dock, and the terminus of the Hudson River Railroad Depot make constant traffic along grimy eleventh Avenue. Within the precinct limits are the Institution for the Blind, Manhattan Market, the West shore depot and ferry, large gas works, "Battle Row" and "Hell's Kitchen," the resort of the depraved adults of both sexes, and a hundred other dwelling places of the New York hoodlum, who only exists in this district. The "Tenth Avenue Gang" is what they are wrongly called. They belong to all parts of the city, but this is their stronghold, and their plunder is from the freight cars on the Hudson River Railroad. This precinct has furnished more frightful examples of juvenile depravity than all the other precincts together since 1870. One of the leaders of the gang was "Dutch" Harmon, a German freight car thief. On the sixth of February, 1874, he was planning a depredation, when he was surprised by Roundsman Stephen Carmick, and escaped after firing at the officer. On the eighteenth of that month Nicholas Schweich, a Hudson River Railroad watchmen, was murdered at his post because he interfered with thieves who were robbing a freight car. The police say positively that he murder was committed by Harmon, or an associate named Dougherty. Harmon was sought for, and office Patrick Lahey, on the twenty-second of February, 1874, believed that he had corner Harmon at No. 530 West Twenty-ninth Street, and fired a shot through the door, supposing Harmon had his back to it. The shot killed an innocent man named McNamara and Harmon was not in the house. He was caught nine days later, but could not be convicted for the murder of the watchman. Since then he has served two terms in prison, and broke his leg in this city while escaping out of a hack at Fulton Street. In the hack were silks stolen from a factory at Union Hill, N. J.

THE TWENTY-FIFTH PRECINCT.--The Twenty-fifth Precinct or Broadway Squad's daily territory is Broadway from Bowling Green to Thirty-fourth Street. The station house is at No. 34 East Twenty-ninth Street, where are the quarters of the Second Inspection District. The building is private property owned by the Goelet estate, and was not erected for Police purposes, but transformed into a station house thirty-seven years ago, when the Eighteenth Precinct had its headquarters there. It was afterwards the Twenty-first Precinct Station House and the Twenty-ninth Precinct station House. A prison was added in 1877. The officers are: Captain, Ira S. Garland; Sergeants, Washington T. Devoe whose dates are: Patrolman 1861, Roundsman 1872, and Sergeant 1873, and William H. Lefferts, who as a Patrolman prior to 1857, and passing the grade of Roundsman, was promoted in 1858.



Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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