More on One of the Most Sensationalized Crimes Ever Committed in Pelham
The intersection of Jackson Avenue and Peace Street in the tiny Village of Pelham Manor was a quiet and secluded area in 1896. There was only one home on Peace Street. There was a section of old growth woods adjacent to the area. Records reflect that residents in the neighborhood routinely carried firearms after dark and kept loaded firearms close at hand when in the comfort of their homes.
Pelham Manor resident Josiah Bertine, his wife, their son and their beautiful daughter, Mary Bertine, lived in one of the few residences in the area, on Jackson Avenue near Peace Street. Mary had suffered a tragic bout of scarlet fever as a child and had been left deaf and mute.
On the evening of Tuesday, October 27, 1896, Josiah and his daughter were returning from the Pelham Manor train station, being driven in their carriage by a coachman employed by the Bertine family, at about 7:30 in the evening. The Bertines and their coachmen were targeted by a group of four men who ambushed them from behind a stone wall near the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Peace Street. The thugs shot Mr. Bertine, who survived, and the horse pulling the carriage, who didn't. The coachman fled the scene and later returned to the Bertine home.
The crime shocked Pelham. It received sensationalized coverage in New York City papers. Headlines blared that Mary Bertine saved her wounded father's life! Deaf and mute Mary Bertine was so frightened that her ability to speak was miraculously restored! Such assertions made the Extras in New York City and appeared in print across much of the nation.
I have written about this shocking crime before. See:
Mon., Feb. 03, 2014: Shocking Crime at Jackson Avenue and Peace Street in Pelham Manor on October 27, 1896.
Fri., Jun. 01, 2007: Article About 1896 Robbery and Shooting of J. H. Bertine of Pelham Manor.
Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog reproduces more sketches related to the crime that were published in 1896 as well as the text of several additional articles that shed more information on the crime.
Only a short time before the infamous robbery of the Bertines, the family's home was burglarized. Consequently, only days after the robbery of Mr. Bertine and his daughter, the family moved out of Pelham Manor, citing a lack of adequate police protection, and returned to New York City where Mr. Bertine maintained a stationer's store.
Eventually a gang believed to include the men who robbed the Bertines was identified. It was a desperate gang of murderers, robbers, and desperadoes operating out of a hideout in Brooklyn. When the gang was captured, New York City newspapers ran sensational stories because the gang had been responsible for so many robberies and burglaries. Indeed, vast quantities of booty stolen in several states, the evil fruits of the gang's dark labors, was recovered when the gang was broken up. Local newspapers included fascinating sketches of members of the gang, their hideout, and the recovered booty at the time of their capture (see below).
Though the gang was a bad crew, it appears that further investigation by the police revealed that a different group was responsible for the burglary of the Bertine house in Pelham Manor and, a few weeks later, the attempted robbery of Bertine, his daughter, and coachman. A thug known as "The Mouse," whose name was believed to be Otto Schaffer and whose aliases (besides "The Mouse") included James Spellman and Peter Barber was arrested and confessed to the crime. He claimed that his gang was led by a violent robber named Emil Wolf, alias "Ben Fadden." The gang, he stated, had burglarized more than fifty homes up and down Long Island Sound in 1895 and 1896, collecting about $16,000 worth of stolen goods. The robberies and burglaries included not only the burglary and the attempted robbery and shooting of Josiah Bertine, but also a notorious burglary of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls on the Esplanade in Pelham Manor during that time.
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Below is the text of several articles about events that form the basis of today's article. Many have sketches that illustrate those involved and even an artist's conception of the Bertine attempted robbery and shooting at the time it occurred in Pelham. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
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"'PAPA SHOT!' A DEAF MUTE CRIES.
Father, Daughter and Coachman Held Up by Four Men Near Pelham Manor.
Mr. Bertine Strikes Away a Revolver Held Close to the Child's Head.
Robbers Shoot Him in the Neck, Fatally Wound the Horse, and Fire in the Darkness.
REMARKABLE EFFECT ON THE GIRL.
Not Having Spoken Since Early Childhood She Clearly Articulates the Words on Reaching Home -- Three Suspects Arrested.
Four men jumped from behind a stone fence on a lonely stretch of road near Pelham Manor Tuesday night, and held up J. H. Bertine, his fifteen-year-old daughter, Mazie, and Mr. Bertine's coachman. Several shots were fired. Mr. Bertine was wounded in the neck, and the horse that drew their carriage was shot so that he died soon after. The coachman fled, leaving Mr. Bertine and his little daughter at the mercy of the highwaymen. The latter secured no booty, but became frightened and disappeared. Yesterday the police of this city arrested three men on suspicion.
Perhaps the strangest feature of the whole case was the effect on Mr. Bertine's little daughter. She has been deaf and dumb since early childhood, resulting from an attack of sickness. From that day until Tuesday she had never been able to talk, though she had at times uttered inarticulate sounds. Under the stress of great excitement the child, upon reaching home after the hold-up, distinctly uttered the two words 'Papa shot.'
Mr. Bertine is a stationer, of this city. He is fifty-three years old and for a quarter of a century has been in business at No. 81 Fulton street. His home is Echo Lawn, on Prospect Hill, just out of Pelham. Mazie, the younger of his two children, is a scholar at the Institute at Lexington avenue and Sixty-seventh street, this city.
Each Tuesday and Friday the little girl remains later than usual to take painting lessons, and it is the custom of Mr. Bertine to call for her on his way home. He called Tuesday, as usual, and they started homeward by train, reaching Pelham Manor at 7:30 o'clock.
On a Lonely Road.
The coachman, John Royal, a young fellow of about twenty, was waiting for them with a two-seated carriage. The father and daughter took the rear seat and the party started for home.
The moon had not risen and the night was dark, but the old horse knew every step of the way and jogged along at a lively pace. Improvements are being made on Peace street, so the carriage proceeded in a roundabout way, along what is known as the Boston road. For a space of 200 yards immediately before the road intersects Peace street is a stone fence about three feet high, running along the right side. Back of the fence is a space of waste land. On the opposite side of the road are open lots. The nearest house is probably an eighth of a mile away.
Just as the carriage reached this desolate spot four men sprang through a break in the stone fence.
'Throw up your hands!' one of them cried, and the four highwaymen covered the occupants of the carriage with revolvers. The coachman quickly reined in his horse. Two of the men seized the horse by the bridle. The other two aimed their weapons at Mr. Bertine and his daughter.
There were four armed men to two unarmed, and Mr. Bertine had intended surrendering whatever valuables he had about him; but the sight of the revolver held at his daughter's head was too much for his discretion. Throwing back the man nearest him he rose up suddenly and struck the revolver away from the little girl's face. The robber by his side staggered for a moment, then recovered himself, and, aiming full at Mr. Bertine, pulled the trigger. Mr. Bertine felt the bullet strike him in the neck.
At the report of the weapon the horse began to rear and plunge. It jumped to the side of the road, whereupon one of the highwaymen at its head fired a shot into the animal's shoulder.
With the firing of the two shots Mr. Bertine called loudly for help and jumped to the ground, prepared to defend himself and his daughter. The coachman was less valiant. He leaped from his seat and ran screaming down the road.
This hasty flight of the coachman, though not intended as such, was a measure of safety for the attacked. The bandits directed their attention to the fleeing man, firing two shots after him, neither of which took effect. Then, realizing he would give the alarm, they fired several more shots, one of which lodged in the body of the horse, and they disappeared into the darkness.
Mr. Bertine's little daughter by this time was nearly overcome with fright, and lay trembling in the bottom of the carriage. Tying a handkerchief about his neck to stanch the flow of blood, the father took the child in his arms, and leading the wounded horse, proceeded toward his home.
He was anxious to know if the girl was injured, but it was too dark to distinguish the movements of her fingers as she endeavored to speak in the deaf and dumb alphabet. She must have divined his anxiety, however, for she threw her arms about his neck and kissed him. She was unhurt.
The Dumb Speaks.
Mr. Bertine, carrying his daughter, led the horse home, where it died a few hours later. The shooting was not heard at the Bertine home, and the first intimation of it there was when little Mazie threw open the door and exclaimed:
Then she fell, fainting. They were the first words the child had spoken since her affliction, although she had attempted to form words, and sometimes it could be distinguished what she meant. In this one instance the words were clearly spoken, and Mr. Bertine is wondering if the excitement may not result in gradual recovery of his daughter's speech.
The coachman reached the house shortly afterward. He was accompanied by Dr. C. T. Washburn and several of the villagers. The doctor made an examination of Mr. Bertine's wound, and found the bullet had passed through his coat and had struck his collar a glancing blow, tearing a hole about an inch long and then had passed through the fleshy part of the neck. Half an inch to the left and it would have severed the jugular vein. The bullet was later found under Mr. Bertine's overcoat collar. Another shot had pierced the lower part of his coat, but did no further injury.
The carriage yesterday showed traces of the battle. There were two bullet holes through the back of the rear seat and the cushions were spattered with blood. Mr. Bertine was suffering from nervous prostration yesterday and remained in his room. He said there were four men, but it was so dark he could not see their faces. He was sure they did not wear masks. His wound is not dangerous.
Mazie was shown a picture of Jacques the escaped murderer from the White Plains Jail, and said it resembled one of the men very much. There was time for the man to reach Pelham Manor from White Plains by driving across country.
The distance has often been traversed in forty-five minutes, and there was nearly double that space of time between his disappearance from the jail and the holdup.
John Royal, the coachman, said he thought he did the proper thing to pull up the horse when the robbers appeared.
'When the shooting began,' he said, 'I did jump and run. There was no use of my sitting there to get shot.'
Mr. Bertine's house was entered a month ago and several hundred dollars' worth of stuff stolen.
Three Suspects Arrested.
Captain O'Brien's detectives arrested in this city yesterday a trio of rough-looking young men who the chief of the Detective Bureau thinks may prove to be the highwaymen. The men were purchasing tickets for White Plains at the Grand Central Depot when Detectives Michael McDonough and Alfonse Rheaume put them under arrest.
On each of the men were found a brace of loaded revolvers and a soft black felt hat, together with a lot of keys and boxes of cartridges. The hats are brand new, and were carried neatly folded in the men's hip pockets. On one of the men were found two pawn tickets representing a clock and a woman's diamond and ruby ring, which had been pawned a few hours before his arrest. Detective McDonough had seen this man come out of an Eighth avenue pawn shop.
The prisoners were questioned separately regarding their whereabouts Tuesday night when the Pelham Manor hold-up took place, but the men maintained silence. They finally described themselves as Joseph Arlington, twenty-four years old, coachman; Joseph Chambers, twenty-four years old, driver, of No. 789 First avenue, and Joseph Thompson, twenty-three years old, of No. 357 East Eighteenth street. Subsequently the prisoners admitted that the names and addresses they had given were fictitious.
A sip of paper was found in Arlington's inside pocket, which bore a printed list of all the national banks in this city. This morning the prisoners will be paraded in front of all the detectives at Central Office, and Mr. Bertine, his coachman and Miss Bertine will be present to try and identify the men."
Source: "PAPA SHOT!" A DEAF MUTE CRIES, New York Journal, Oct. 29, 1896, p. 12, cols. 1-4.
"FEARED THE ROBBERS AND ABANDONED HOME.
The Bertine Family Decided to Move Away from Pelham Manor.
Holdup on Last Tuesday Night Not Their First Experience with Robbers.
Watchdog Tied Up and the Lower Floor of the House Ransacked a Month Ago.
POLICE STILL IN THE DARK.
Unable to Find Any Clew [sic] to the Highwaymen. Mr. Bertine Abe to Resume His Work in This City.
There is no further light on the attempt at assassination and robbery that occurred at Pelham Manor last Tuesday night, when Mr. J. H. Bertine, a resident of that place, was coming home from the depot with his daughter and the coachman, and three highwaymen suddenly confronted them.
The story in brief is that Mr. Bertine received a severe bullet wound in the neck, his horse was killed, the coachman took to his heels and the robbers escaped without securing anything. Three suspects were arrested, but as neither Mr. Bertine nor his daughter could identify them they were discharged.
A visit to the home of Mr. Bertine, on Echo Lawn, yesterday, found the family in the midst of moving. They declared that they had had enough of the country and were going to leave for some more congenial locality with better police protection.
A significant incident of four weeks previous was related by Mrs. Bertine. She said they were suddenly awakened one night. Mr. Bertine went to the window, and, seeing two men, inquired who they were and what they wanted. For answer they made off across the yard and fired three shots as they went. Shortly after they had disappeared, Jumbo, their Newfoundland watchdog, appeared with a fragment of rope tied about his neck. The noose end showed that he had chewed it apart.
On the following morning the house was carefully searched, and it was evident that the burglars had gone through the entire lower floor. They took away a bag of silverware, which was subsequently found in the yard, where they had dropped it. The coachman's coat was also missing and was found next day in a barrel in the rear of the Summer kitchen. Another coat of dark salt and pepper color was on top of it. The strange coat contained a plated gold pin in the match pocket, and the right elbow contained a hole which looked as though it had been made by a bullet. It will be turned over to the police, together with about ten feet of rope, similar to the kind with which the dog was tied, which was found in the pocket.
What surprises the Bertines is that anybody could have become so friendly with Jumbo as to tie him to a fence.
'The dog,' said Mrs. Bertine, 'is very dangerous when strangers are around the house, and our neighbors will not visit us at night unless we have him chained when they call. Some of the prowlers probably knew him. The yard was littered with apples that must have been thrown at him. Every time he barked and yelped we could hear the missiles strike the fence. Since that occurrence has not left the corner back of the Summer kitchen for an instant, except to take him food in small quantities. He gets a bone from me and trots back to his post. In the last three weeks he has grown steadily thinner and whines and growls all night as though he expected something more to happen.
The coachman, John Royal, who so unceremoniously left Mr. Bertine and his daughter when the shooting began on Tuesday evening, informed Mr. Bertine yesterday that the reins of the harness in use on that occasion had been cut nearly in two where they join the bit. Who cut them and when they were cut is not known. The Mount Vernon police have been rather suspicious of the speed displayed by Royal on the night of the holdup.
'I had a pistol with me,' he said yesterday, 'but it was wrapped up, and I was afraid to take the time to unwrap it for fear they would shoot me down. It was an old Colt's weapon, a seven shooter and thirty calibre.'
Mr. Bertine had so far recovered from his wound as to be able to return to his business in the city yesterday."
Source: FEARED THE ROBBERS AND ABANDONED HOME, New York Journal, Nov. 1, 1896, p. 20, cols. 1-3.
"DESPERATE GANG, BUT ALL TAKEN.
Wagonloads of Booty Stolen in Several States Found in Their Haunts.
A House in Brooklyn Filled with Bicycles, Watches, Bric-a-Brac and Burglars' Tools.
How Three Detectives Shadowed Some of the Men, and Made a Thrilling 'Round-Up.'
WEAPONS AND PAWN TICKETS FOUND.
Some of the Stolen Property Identified, and News from More of It Coming from Towns in Several States -- List of Some of Their Deeds.
Part of the Gang's Record.
In Summit, N. J., September 28, watchdogs poisoned and the houses of Warner C. Bulkley, president of the Whiting Manufacturing Company, of this city; H. J. Fallon, and eight others broken into.
House of Harrison Hallett, at Bridgeport, entered on October 15.
Mr. Bertine and his daughter held up at Pelham Manor in the latter part of October, Mr. Bertine shot.
Singer's mansion at Larchmont robbed of several bicycles in October.
November 2, bicycle store at One Hundred and Thirty-fifth street and Lenox avenue broken into by Lowenstein, Miller and Werner.
At Philadelphia, on November 7, several bicycles stolen from a manufacturer.
At Chicago, in September, silk dresses stolen by Miller, Werner and Szantho; goods found in the Brooklyn house.
At Stratford, Conn., about November 15, shotgun and two bicycles stolen.
Commodore Gillig, of the Larchmont Yacht Club, robbed of a $150 bicycle.
The manor houses of George Mertz, H. Mace and Charles Sabold at Portchester, stolen silverware.
F. W. Shoemaker, J. J. Wilson and the Misses Hazen's Ladies' Seminary, at Pelham Manor, robbed of bicycles, jewelry and silver plate.
Captain O'Brien's detectives have captured a desperate gang of burglars, whose operations have extended over several States, and whose daring has kept residents of country homes near New York City in a fever of fear for the last three months. The case was worked with skill: the arrests were really a master stroke of public work. Nearly $5,000 worth of booty has been recovered, and pawntickets [sic] for as much more were found on the members of the band.
The prisoners are Frank Salswarth, alias Szantho, alias Ferdinand, aged twenty-six, of No. 28 Madison street; William Werner, alias 'The Berliner,' aged twenty-two, of No. 39 Bowery; Julius Bollinger, alias 'The Switzer,' aged twenty-five, of No. 192 Allen street; Henry Miller, aged twenty-four, of No. 125 Washington street; Max Lowenstein, aged seventeen, of No. 39 Bowery, and Mary Miller, alias Szantho, aged twenty-eight, of No. 28 Madison street.
The day after Mr. Bertine and his daughter were held up at Pelham Manor, Captain O'Brien received information that made him confident that Werner, Miller and Lowenstein, who is only seventeen, were three of the highwaymen. They were arrested but Mr. Bertine failed to identify them, and Werner and Miller were discharged. Lowenstein was held, charged with stealing a bicycle. During the time that elapsed before his arraignment in General Sessions the detectives learned from him that the gang of which he was a member met nightly in Gross's saloon at Orchard and Division streets.
Shadowed by the Police.
Lowenstein was acquitted, but the police didn't lose sight of him. Three of the cleverest Headquarters men, George Doran, John Tinker, and William H. Barrett, took turns shadowing him day and night. The detectives dressed roughly and frequented the rendezvous, where they spent money freely and gave the impression that they were Western 'crooks.' They were unknown to Lowenstein. The lad was followed to Brooklyn one night and was seen to enter No. 28 State street, where the detectives found that Mrs. Miller, under the name of Szantho, had hired two rooms on the second floor.
Six weeks ago she went to Landlord Gavin, who keeps the saloon underneath, and, paying the rent in advance, received the keys. She was a gentle mannered little woman, and when seven bicycles arrived among her belongings she asked Garvin whether she had any objection to having them stored in her rooms.
'Why, ma'am,' said he, 'you hardly have room in there for yourself and husband. Put the wheels in the cellar.'
'That's all right for you to say,' she answered, 'but how do I know that they won't be stolen? Thieves are awfully busy these days, and they'll take a chance at almost anything. I'm always afraid of thieves.'
'And what are you doing with so many wheels?' asked Garvin.
'My husband is a storekeeper,' was the ready reply, 'and as we expected to have a new store soon, we thought it safest to bring the goods along with us.'
She stored the wheels in the smaller of the rooms.
Salsworth the Leader.
The detectives watched the woman. They were ready to make the arrests, but they wanted to capture Salsworth with the others. Him, they considered the master spirit, who, cornered, would fight like a wild beast. He is the hero of numerous rough-and-tumble 'scraps,' in one of which he nearly pounded the life out of three muscular opponents. But what really gave him distinction was the shooting of Policeman McNeilus, of the Oak Street Station.
Salsworth was firing his revolver in the street on July 4, last year, when the policeman ordered him to stop. He sent a bullet into McNeilus's left eye. He was captured and subdued after a fierce struggle, in which his wife took part. The bullet is still in McNeilus's eye. So it was that the detectives knew they had an exciting time before them, especially as Salsworth was reported to have said:
'If they get me, they've got to get me dead.'
Doran, Tinker and Barrett were in the meeting place, Gross's saloon, on Wednesday night, when Mrs. Miller appeared and called out Bollinger. Doran and Tinker followed them, leaving Barrett to cover the place. The woman seemed fearful of being followed, and looked behind her frequently. She and her companion reached the Bowery by a roundabout way, and while she entered Simpson's pawshop [sic] at 181, he stood outside to watch.
Started to Escape.
The woman remained long in the place, and Bollinger seemed uneasy. He started up the Bowery, with Doran close behind him, and when he turned and saw the detective he started on a run. There was an exciting chase for three blocks before Doran caught his man. Meantime the woman emerged from the pawnbroker's and into the arms of tinker. Both prisoners were taken to Headquarters. On Mrs. Miller was found a pawnticket [sic] for a diamond of Mr. Hallett, of Bridgeport, on which she had received $145. Bollinger also had pawntickets for a variety of articles.
Doran and Tinker made haste to return to Gross's saloon. Great was there surprise to see Salsworth, the man they wanted most of all. They knew that the time had come for the 'round up,' and they shifted their revolvers to the outside pockets of their coats. As they entered Werner, Miller and Lowenstein were seated at a table playing pinochle. Barrett stood with his back against the bar talking with a sneak thief named 'Shorty, the Hog.'
The Time for Action.
Doran and Tinker stood at the end of the bar near the door and waited. Salsworth finally sat down to take part in the game with his friends. Then Barrett received a signal from the other two Headquarters men. Without attracting attention the three detectives reached the table at the same time.
Doran laid his left hand on Salsworth's shoulder and, leaning over, said very quietly:
'We want you people; we are police officers. Come outside.'
Salsworth's companions appeared stupefied, and for a moment even he seemed to lose his nerve. Then his eyes blazed, and he rose with such suddenness that the table was overturned. His hand sought his pocket, but stopped before it reached it, and he stood like a man petrified. Doran had been expecting just such a move, and before the desperado was well upon his feet the detective had placed the muzzle of a revolver against his stomach.
'Are you going dead or are you going alive?' coolly asked Doran.
'Alive,' sullenly answered the burglar.
'Well, see that you do if you don't want to get hurt,' admonished the detective.
Stampede from the Saloon.
At the first sign of trouble 'Shorty the Hog' had yelled 'We're pinched!' and there was a stampede from the saloon. The crowd that gathered outside made no effort to interfere, but within a few blocks of Headquarters, Salswarth started to break away. A prod from Doran's revolver caused him to change his mind.
When he was searched there was found upon him two revolvers and a peculiar but terrible weapon, known as the 'Chicago dope.' It was made of a solid rubber bicycle tire, bent over and tied at one end. It is even more effective than a sandbag, the police say, and it leaves no mark. He had cartridges in nearly every pocket, and at a range of twenty feet would have given the detectives a fight that would have recalled the dead glories of the Western border.
But the work was not yet complete. The detectives went to the rooms in Brooklyn and took possession. They found there enough goods to stock a respectable store, all sorts of dresses, watches, bric-a-brac, silverware and what not. There were also masks, dark lanterns, burglars' tools, ninety-four keys, seven picklocks [sic], a shotgun and two revolvers. A great quantity of silverware was hidden between the bedding.
Wanted a Bicycle, Plated.
'I merely wanted my handle bars nickel plated,' he faltered.
'That's all right,' said the detectives. 'Don't worry about handle bars. There are others.'
And the lad, who said he was 'Gus' Henckey, of No. 151 Fifty-second street, Brooklyn, was given over to the police of that city.
After the plunder had been removed to this side of the river the detectives went to the home of Mrs. Krpel, Mrs. Miller's sister, at No. 20 Cherry street, and seized a trunk that had been left there. In it were several elegant gowns and some tailor-made Summer wear, bearing the tag of the maker -- J. A. Dunn, No. 92 Regent street, London.
In a satchel in the trunk was a solid silver set of knives and forks, napkins, handkerchiefs, and table linen, marked 'S.,' silver spoons, knives and forks, marked 'G. D. C.,' 'E. H.' and 'W. B.,' a large quantity of brand new toothbrushes, a souvenir spoon from the Seal Rock Cliff House, San Francisco, marked 'F. C.,' salt and coffee spoons, marked 'L. C.,' a gold back circular thermometer and a gold backed hair brush.
Many Pawntickets [sic] Found.
Through a ticket found on Salswarth these articles were recovered at the pawnshop of M. Phillips, at No. 157 Bowery: Four silver pitchers, two silver sugar bowls, one silver box, one silver tray, one card receiver, one brass teapot, one pair of brass candlesticks, twenty-one silver spoons, four forks, twenty-one bone-handled steel knives, one silver butter knife.
Captain O'Brien's office looked like an auction room, and it is probable that today the amount of property recovered will be considerably increased. Messrs. Bulkley and Fallon, from Summit, yesterday identified much of their property, as did Mr. Hallett, of Bridgeport.
Chief of Police Stewart, of Summit, positively identifies Salswarth, Builluger, and Werner as men who were seen in the town just prior to the robberies. A cap was found on Lowenstein which connects him with a robbery in Fairfield, Conn. A farmer who saw the fleeing burglars gave ab excellent description of one of them, a lad who wore a peculiar white cap. And that found on Lowenstein exactly fits the bill. He and Miller were together at the time. News of robberies which bear the 'earmarks' of this gang comes from Philadelphia, Chicago and many small towns within a radius of 100 miles of New York."
Source: DESPERATE GANG, BUT ALL TAKEN -- Wagonloads of Booty Stolen in Several States Found in Their Haunts, New York Journal, Nov. 20, 1896, p. 12, cols. 1-6.
"'THE MOUSE' HUGS A CELL.
Now That the Highwayman Has 'Squeaked' on His Confederates He Fears They May Take His Life.
If a confirmed criminal ever made a confession which throws a searchlight on a monopoly of robberies committed by a band of dangerous burglars and 'squeaked' on his pals it is Otto Schaffer, alias 'The Mouse,' alias James Spellman, alias Peter Barber.
'The Mouse' was arrested in this city last week by Central Office detectives, charged with being one of the five men who held up J. H. Bertine and his daughter at Pelham Manor last Autumn and also with being associated in the robbery of the Summer homes along the Sound.
'The Mouse' is well worthy of his alias. He is thick set and about five feet in height. He has mouse-like eyes and clawy fingers.
'The Mouse' said in his confession that he was one of a band on nine robbers who during 1895 and 1896 had robbed some fifty mansions and cracked a dozen safes. 'I was with the band,' said 'The Mouse,' 'when they broke into Bertine's house, the Pelham Manor Country Club, Mrs. Hazen's Young Ladies' Seminary, Charles Singer's home at Larchmont, E. C. Benedict's mansion at Indian Harbor, and other places, and we got about $16,000 worth of plate, jewelry, money, bicycles, and other articles.
'Out of all the plunder Emil Wolf, alias 'Ben Fadden,' the leader of the band only gave me $12, and what I wanted to eat. That 'Ben Fadden' is a dangerous man. He is at large in New York City now and is almost within touch of the police and detectives all the time, and yet they can't catch him.
'Then there is Ferdinand Dantz, alias 'The Count,' and his wife, the only remaining members of the burglar trust who are enjoying their freedom. If these three persons were only under arrest I would feel easy.
'Most of the stolen plunder was sold at a certain place on the Bowery, but the police will not get it, as 'Ben Fadden has by this time given the purchasers a tip.'"
Source: THE MOUSE' HUGS A CELL -- Now That the Highwayman Has 'Squeaked' on His Confederates He Fears They May Take His Life, New York Journal, Mar. 11, 1897, p. 8, col. 6.
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