Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 17, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie


THE TWENTY-EIGHTH PRECINCT.--The twenty-eighth Precinct's limits are Fifth-eight Street, Fifth Avenue, Seventy-ninth Street, and the East River. The station house is at No. 220 East Fifty-ninth Street. Although it has a separate prison it is the unhealthiest and most antiquated structure in the city. It was built by the Native American in 1852. In a few months a magnificent station house for this command is to be built on the north side of Sixty-seventh Street, one hundred and twenty feet west of third Avenue, by Architect Nathaniel D. Bush. The lot is 50 X 100'5, feet, the main building will be 50 X 68 feet, and four stories high, and the prison 50 X 23 feet, and three stories high.

The cost will exceed eighty thousand dollars. The officers of he command are: Captain, John gunner; and Sergeants, John Hamilton, William B, McMillen, Henry Roberts, and William J. Linden. Hamilton's dates are: Patrolman 1866, Roundsman, 1871, and Sergeant, next year. McMillen was appointed 1869, was Roundsman 1874, and got rank last May. Roberts was appointed in 1865, became Roundsman in 1866, and six months later was promoted. Linden was Patrolman in 1861, Roundsman two years later, and Sergeant in 1872.

CAPTAIN JOHN GUNNER was born in London, England, and came to this country when he was seven years old. He was apprenticed in the same shop, at No. 17 John Street, in which Daniel Carpenter, who was afterwards Inspector and Superintendent under John A. Kennedy, worked.

Captain Gunner joined the Police on the sixth of April, 1861, and was assigned to duty in the Twenty-ninth Precinct under Captain Frank Speight. He remained there for eight years, during which time he served in the capacity of Patrolman, Roundsman, and Ward Detective. He was then transferred with Speight to the Twenty-seventh Precinct. On June 1, 1870, he was made Captain, and took charge of the Nineteenth Precinct up to 1875, when he was appointed to the Street Cleaning Bureau. At his own request he was removed from this place, and was sent to the Twenty-eighth Precinct.

In 1863 a young Russian nobleman, Eugene Count Medewitzk, came tot his country and put up at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. He mixed among the best society, and insinuated himself into the good graces of everybody with whom he came in contact. A Russian war vessel happened to arrive at the port of New York during the Count's visit here. The officers belonging to the ship gave a grand ball at the Academy of Music, and Eugene Count Medewitzk was invited. He was there introduced to a young lady who resided in West Twenty-fifth Street, near Park Avenue. At the conclusion of the ball he escorted her home. The young lady was engaged to be married to a wholesale flour merchant, who had given her a diamond solitaire ring, which cost one thousand one hundred dollars. After seeing her home the Count called to see her several times. He asked her for the loan of the ring, and she acceded. A few days afterwards the lady's intended asked her what she had done with the ring. She commenced crying, and said that the Russian County admired the ring and asked to look at it. Three letters were written to the Count, but the ring was not returned. The lady's intended then made a complaint tat the Twenty-ninth Street Station House, and Captain Gunner proceeded to the Fifth Avenue Hotel, where he arrested the distinguished foreigner at two A. M., on his returning from a fashionable soiree. The Count was dressed regardless of expense. He was taken to the station house, and charged with larceny. Captain gunner discovered that the thief had abstracted the diamond from the ring, and sold it to Bishop & Ryan, jewelers, under the Fifth Avenue Hotel. When taken before Judge Kelly, at the Tombs, he admitted his guilt. He was confined for four or five months. He was not tried in consequence of some parties not wishing to have their names mixed up on the case. "During the time he was committed for trial he was placed under my charge for two days. He asked me to accompany him to a broker's for the purpose of borrowing three thousand dollars. I consented. I knew the broker, and the Count went in ahead of me. He had letters of introduction to the broker, which stated that he, the County, was a first-class, reliable honorable gentleman. The Russian had also borrowed a ring from a lady, a resident of Syracuse, who was stopping at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. The ring was worth one thousand five hundred dollars. All the diamonds were taken out and paste put in. She refused to prosecute, and he was discharged and went to Europe," said Captain Gunner.

His father, at one time, it is said, was Governor of Poland.

This command has fourteen day and twenty-eight night posts. Its quota of seventy-two men is reduced by sickness and details to an effective of sixty two men. The Precinct Detectives are Samuel J. Campbell and Hugh Martin. The detailed officers are: Henry McCadden, Foundling Asylum; Edward O. Tyler, Norman College; James Quigley, Ordinances; and James curry, to Inspector Murray's office.

The Twenty-eighth Precinct has within its wing some important charitable, social, and public institutions. There are the Mount Sinai, Hahnemann and Presbyterian Hospitals, the Foundling Asylum, the Lenox Library, the Normal college, the Seventh Regiment Armory, the Liederkranz and Arion buildings, the Third Avenue Railroad Depot, Terrace Garden, Jones' Woods, and other places of summer recreation, the repair shops of the Second Avenue Elevated Railroad and the American Institute building. East of Third Avenue the population is mixed and troublesome, and west of it the citizens range from respectable to wealthy, and the dwellings are those of the middle class to millionaires, especially along Fifth Avenue. This precinct has furnished some remarkable stories, in which the public took great interest. One was the attempted abduction in April, 1881, of the daughter of Louis Strassburger, a wealthy diamond merchant, and on the seventh of April, of that year Detective Campbell, in self-defense, shot and killed one of her intending abductors, Edward H. J. Sagert. On the twelfth of February, 1884, Jenny Avery show Victor Andre at the downtown station of the Elevated Railroad at Third Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street, and then show herself dead. Andre recovered and is now in Europe. The disappearance of Ida Swartz, on November 22, 1882, was the talk of the city for months, and the affair has never been fully explained, although it is known that after hiding in the city for some time, friends enabled her to leave and enter an education institution far away.

THE THIRTIETH PRECINCT.--The Thirtieth Precinct is bounded by One Hundred and Tenth Street, Seventh Avenue, One hundred and Forty-fifth Street, and the North River. The station house is in West One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Street, near eighth Avenue. It was a dwelling house, belongs to the Cortlandt Otten estate, and was reconstructed by Architect Nathaniel D. Bush. The prison cells are underground. The officers are: Captain, Jacob Siebert; and Sergeants: Charles R. Wilson, Cornelius Weston, Christopher Boehme, and Thomas L. Heape. Wilson's dates are: Patrolman 1866, Roundsman 1867, and Sergeant 1870. Weston was patrolmen 1865, Roundsman 1867, and Sergeant 1872. Boehme was appointed in 1862, became Roundsman in eight years, and in 1871 was promoted. Heape joined the force in 1859, was Roundsman in 1879, and next year won rank.

CAPTAIN JACOB SIEBERT, of the Thirtieth Precinct, was born November 27, 1836, In Germany, and cam to this country in 1853. He was appointed on the force February 4, 1861. He was made Sergeant, and was promoted Captain August 21, 1873. He has served at different times in the Thirty-second, Twenty-fourth, Seventh, Seventeenth, Thirty-first, and Thirtieth Precincts. Captain Siebert is one of the most vigilant Captains in the Department, and has on all occasions displayed good judgment, executive ability, and has been a terror to the criminal classes in the several precincts where he has served.

There are ten day and seventeen night posts in this precinct, of magnificent but weary distances. To cover this vast territory there is an effective force of forty-five out of fifty-three men, and they need to be good travelers and inured to hardship in winter and wet weather. Matthew McSherry is the Precinct Detective. The detailed officers are: H. W. Gilliland, Ordinances; Adam Meyer, Convent of the Sacre Coer; James Moody, African Asylum; Charles Miner, Fort Lee Ferry; Thomas O'Brien, Sheltering Arms.

The Thirtieth Precinct covers some of the highest ground in the city, and over the ridge which runs south from One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, rode Aaron Burr the morning that he went to fight his duel with Alexander Hamilton. The district is a growing one, and there is everything in the way of a dwelling on it, from a shanty to a mansion. Part of the best driving ground in New York runs through it, and it protects the Morningside and Riverside Parks, the Convent of the Sacred heart, the Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum, the Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans, Manhattan College, Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane, and the Fort Lee Ferry.

THE THIRTY-FIRST PRECINCT--The Thirty-first Precinct's limits are Sixty-third Street, Eighth Avenue, One Hundred and Tenth Street, and the North River. The station house, a new one of the second class, with a separate prison, is at Nos. 432 and 434 West One Hundredth Street, in the rear of the Ninety-ninth Street Hospital. The officers are: Captain, James M. Leary; and Sergeants, Patrick Walsh, John Fitzgerald, Richard Coffy and Frank B. Randall. Walsh was a Patrolman in 1866, Roundsman 1875, and Sergeant next year. Fitzpatrick's dates are: Patrolman 1862, Roundsman 1864, and Sergeant 1865. Coffy as appointed in 1873, became Roundsman in 1877, and three years later Sergeant. Randall joined the force in 1865, was Roundsman in four years, and in 1870 won rank.

CAPTAIN JAMES MADISON LEARY wad born in Oswego, N. Y., on the twenty-sixth of February, 1833. When quite young his father died, and the future Captain was put to work to learn the trade of printer. In those days type was cast by hand-moulds, and the apprentice boys used to be sent out to blacksmith shops to buy horse nails, which were pounded into spoons, with which the lead was lifted and cat into the moulds. In those early days, young Leary and a bright lad named Conlin, worked together in the same shop, and were great "chums." The boys has never been to a theatre, and at the suggestion of young Leary, both of an evening "took in" the old Chatham Street Theatre (afterwards known as the National Theatre). Conlin was infatuated with the play, and regularly after that he used to spend his spare dimes in patronizing the drama. Conlin, the young type-setter, became famous in after years as a histrionic star, having adopted the stage name of Billy Florence. Young Leary soon got tired of type-setting, and learned the trade of jeweler. At the breaking out of the war he enlisted in the Eleventh New York Volunteers, immediately after the first gun was fired on Fort Sumter. He was severely wounded at the first battle of Bull Run, having been shot through the thigh. He was taken prisoner and immured in Libby Prison. He, on his release, on the recommendation of his Colonel, was promoted to First Lieutenant for bravery on the battlefield. He joined the Police force in 1863, was made Roundsman in 1864, Sergeant in 1867, and Captain in August, 1871. He served as Patrolman in the fourth Precinct, as Roundsman in the Eighteenth precinct, as Sergeant in the Second and Eighteenth Precincts, and as Captain in the Twenty-first, Twenty-sixth, Thirtieth, Thirteenth and Thirty-first Precincts, he being in command of the latter precinct at the present time.

This precinct has thirteen day and twenty-six night posts, all long. Its quota of sixty-four men is reduced by sickness and details to fifty-two men. Herman Wagner is the Precinct Detective. The detail officers are: Lancelot J. Tierney, ordinances; and William Holmes, House of Mercy.

Territorially, and in respect to population, the Thirty-first Precinct is similar to its neighbor, the Thirtieth precinct. The face of this district is being constantly changed by builders, and, it being high ground, it cannot fail of some day being the home of many of the better class. Its shanty population is being fast crowded out. It has within its boundaries the House of Mercy, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Dakota Flats--the largest apartment house in the city. At Seventy-ninth Street and Western Boulevard are to be found cells in which British prisoners were kept at the time of the Revolutionary War, and there is the house where Washington's officers were quartered. Elm Park, a summer picnic ground, was the scene, fourteen years go, of the rough handling of a number of Orangemen.

THE THIRTY-SECOND PRECINCT.--The thirty-second Precinct is confined between One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street, the Harlem River, Sherman's Creek, Dyckman's, Norwood Street, and the North River. The station house is at the southwest corner of One Hundred and Fifty-second Street and Tenth Avenue. Built twelve years ago, it was so well constructed, and has been so admirably kept, that it equals, in every respect, the most modern station house. It is snug in the winter, and a charming, breezy resort in summer. In spite of the arduous duty required of its Patrolman, few are ever sick, and a sick man sent there quits it a sanitarium. The officers are: Captain, Moses W. Cortright; and Sergeants Thomas F. McAvoy, William F. Kirchner, John R. Groo, and Eugene T. Woodward. McAvoy was Patrolman in 1870, Roundsman in 1871, and Sergeant in 1877. Kirchner's dates are: patrolman 1870, Roundsman 1873, and Sergeant, 1880. Groo was appointed in 1868, became Roundsman in 1869, and two years later was promoted. Woodward joined the Department in 1862, was Roundsman in three yeas, and won rank in 1871.

MOSES W. CORTRIGHT is a native of this State. He was born in 1839, and joined the force as Patrolman on January 7, 1867. He was made Roundsman March 19, 1875; Sergeant July 19, 1876; and Captain, February 8, 1884. He served with credit in the Twentieth, and Twenty-second Precincts.

This is a Mounted Police Precinct, and even the horsemen are aided by boxes from which they can send necessary signals to the station house; no footmen could ever cover the posts. There are thirteen day and twenty-four night posts. Of the day posts mounted officers cover four, and the night posts seven are covered by horsemen. The many details, and not sickness, reduce the effective force from seventy-one men to fifty-six. Joseph H. Thayer is the precinct Detective. The detailed men are Roundsman H. Wagner to stable; John C. Moore, Juvenile Asylum; James Crosby, Ordinances; Charles H. Francis, Central Bridge; and Michael Kirby, Telegraph Office.

The most delightful command in the summer. A district of villa residences. A population of well-to-do citizens, who have business in New York. High in elevation, and remote from the city, it is luxurious rusticity within its walls. A zephyr down-town is found to be a breeze here. In winter it is pleasant in this neighborhood, and few of its villa residents find it necessary to more to the city. It protects the Juvenile Asylum, the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, the Trinity Cemetery, the Institution for the Blind, the High Bridge park and Reservoir, High Bridge and its approaches, the termini of the Ninth Avenue and New York City and Northern Railroad. Aubudon Park, with the magnificent residences there of George Grinnell, Charles H. Kerner, Edward P. Griffin, Charles Shaw, Sheppard F. Knapp, Andrew L. Soulard, William Forster, Jr., Eugene M. Jerome, John Dalley, Charles Miller and Wellington Clapp, and the houses of Leopold Schipp, Nelson Chase, Richard C. Combs, Hood Wright, Robert C. Rathbone, Charles A. Tatum, Louis F. Martin, Isaac P. Martin, E. B. Whiting, Douglas Hollister, Frederick Sherman, John M. Hopkins, Mrs. Seth C. Hawley, John Haven, Hosea B. Perkins, Arthur V. Briesen, Charles S. Fitch, John B. Hays, LL.D., George F. McCandless, James G. Mitchell, William Libbey, William H. Hays, James G. Bennett, Warren H. Ward and hundreds of others. In his villa district in summer time the scene at night is fairy-like, with the lights from brilliantly illuminated dwellings falling on cleverly mower lawns, shrubberies, trees and flowers, Little, if any, crime is chronicled in this precinct.

THE THIRTY-THIRD PRECINCT.--The Thirty-third Precincts limits are the Bronx River, Long Island Sound, the Bronx Hills, the Harlem River, Cromwell's Creek, Central Avenue, the Town line of Morrisania, Horton Street, Broadway, Boston road, Union Avenue, One Hundred and Sixty-ninth Street, an imaginary line to the West Farms, Lyons Street, and Westchester Avenue. The station house is the old Morrisania Town Hall, a structure of somewhat pretentious architecture on an irregular plot, and the grounds are lovely in summer, rank and file taking an interest in the flower garden, pastures and lawns. The accommodations are wretched, but the place is comfortable. The cells are in the basement. The time is not far distant when two first-class modern station houses will be required in this precinct. The officers are, the Senior Caption of the force, Theron R. Bennett, and Sergeants Patrick Connor, Stephen Keating, Bernard McEveety, and Robert J. Wallace. Connor was a Westchester county Sergeant, and annexation transferred him to New York County. Keating was a Patrolman in 1868, a Roundsman in 1870, and a Sergeant in 1873. McEveety's dates are: Patrolman 1873, Roundsman 1875, and Sergeant 1880. Wallace was appointed in 1865, was made Roundsman in 1874, and got rank in 1882.

CAPTAIN THERON R. BENNETT was born in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., July 8, 1813, and, while he was yet quite young, came to this city and took a position as clerk, at the center of Greenwich and Perry Streets. He afterwards worked as a baker; was boss on the building of the Ramapo Railroad, and held the same position in the making of the Hudson River Railroad. He also served as steward and mate on a line of steamers to Boston, after which he returned to the bakery trade, and was employed at the Almshouse at the foot of Twenty-sixth Street, East river. He was appointed Assistant Police Captain by Mayor Caleb J. Woodhull, in 1849, and was assigned to the Eighteenth Ward. He was made Captain of the same Ward in 1857.

Captain Bennett has had a remarkable career during his long connection with the Police force. He particularly distinguished himself during the Ward's Island riot in 1868, when he, with only six men, stood gallantly before six hundred wild rioters, and quelled the disturbance. It appears that a feeling of hatred had sprung up between the Irish and the Germans, who were then housed on Ward's Island, and on the morning of the fifth of March, 1868, the war at length opened in real earnest. While the Germans were waiting for their breakfast, they gesticulated wildly, spoke in loud tones, and it was apparent that they were bent on mischief. The Irishmen at this time were in the basement of the building, and as the Germans were passing through the hall on their way to breakfast they made a savage onslaught on the with clubs, stones, pitchforks, shovels, and anything they could lay their hands on. The Irishmen were taken by surprise, and beat a hasty retreat, vowing vengeance against the Germans. After a while the Irish returned, armed with bars, long poles, ice breakers, clubs and knives, and one of their number, placing a green veil on the top of a flagstaff, called out: "That's your flag, boys; now rally round it." A vociferous cheer greeted these words, and a headlong rush was made towards the basement, where the Germans had taken up their quarters. Superintendent Hinck, when he saw the affair would be likely to lead to bloodshed, and being unable to quell the riot, dispatch a messenger for Captain Bennett, who was then at the Twelfth Precinct, asking for assistance. Meantime, the Irish had broken down the basement door, and were furiously attacking the Germans. When the fight was at its heighth, and as the Germans were gradually giving way, Captain Bennett, with eleven men, arrived on the scene. He ordered them to stop fighting, and on their refusal to do so, he ordered his men to draw their revolvers. This action infuriated the Irishmen, and they flung themselves on the small body of officers, who fired on them, and severely wounded four of them. This made the rioters hesitate. At this moment an additional force of me was seen hastening tot he aid of Captain Bennett. The rioters immediately desisted, and went out into the grounds to await the arrival of the Police. On the arrival of reinforcements, the rioters on both sides were made to walk through a lane of Policemen with drawn clubs. They were afterwards searched, and all dangerous weapons were taken from them. The most prominent leaders in the riots were arrested, but the man who carried the green emblem could nowhere be found, and it was thought that he escaped. Neither Germans nor the Irish ever again attempted a similar exploit on Ward's Island.

The partisans of Fernando Wood in 1857 intended to hold a meeting at the Academy of Music, but when the crowd got there the owners of the hall refused to admit them. There was a good deal of shouting, and a riot was threatened. Captain Bennett, with a force of only eight men, arrived on the scene, and, by his coolness and foresight, gradually got the crowd of seven thousand person to quietly disperse, and thus saved the Academy of Music from destruction.

During the draft riots Captain Bennett had command of the Seventh Precinct, and on several occasions dispersed crows of the rioters.

This is a horse patrol precinct. Of the right day posts, three are covered by horsemen, as are five of the sixteen night posits. The quota of forty-nine men has an effective force of about forty-two. There are three telegraph boxes in the precinct, from which it is possible to send communications by signal to the station house. One is at Harlem Bridge, another on the Eastern Boulevard near Arcularis' Hotel, and the other on the Eastern Boulevard, near One Hundred and Seventy-fifth Street, the upper end of the precinct. The Precinct Detectives are William Clark and Joseph Schirmer. The detailed men are: James E. Conklin, Ordinances; James A. McCauley, Madison Avenue Bridge.



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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