Post Number: 110
|Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 10:46 am: ||
I found this detailed report in the Arizona Republican of 25 April 1891 and thought it might be of interest
Stephen P. Ryder
Post Number: 2737
|Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 9:29 am: ||
From The Western Queens Gazette, 28 May 2003: http://www.qgazette.com/News/2003/0528/Feature_Stories/001.html
Did Jack The Ripper Visit New York City?
Get into a conversation with a long time Queens resident and you’re likely to discover a subscriber of the Long Island Star–Journal, a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968. A banner across the Star–Journal masthead reminded readers that the newspaper’s name came from the merger of the Long Island Daily Star (1876) and the North Shore Daily Journal–The Flushing Journal (1841).
Welcome to May 1891!
On May 8, the Star–Journal had startling news for Queens residents who had been following a gruesome murder case across the river in Manhattan. In April, it had been reported in several newspapers that the notorious killer Jack the Ripper had struck again, stabbing to death a prostitute named Carrie Brown in the East River Hotel on Water Street. An Algerian man called "Frenchy" had been arrested for the crime, but was he really the serial killer who had terrorized London three years earlier? New York’s Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes, who had criticized the British police for their failure to catch the Ripper in 1888, refused to commit himself.
Now Queens residents learned from the Star–Journal that "Queens County Jail has had the questionable honor of housing Jack-the-Ripper." The paper reported that a man corresponding to "Frenchy’s" description had been arrested for vagrancy in Newtown in March 1891, and had spent a month in Queens County Jail, under the name George Fronk or Frank. It was reported that fellow prisoners had seen Fronk using a knife that he had somehow managed to smuggle into prison. Fronk was released on April 11, 12 days before the murder of Carrie Brown on the night
of April 23.
As soon as Queens County Sheriff Goldner communicated this information to Inspector Byrnes, Byrnes sent detectives out to Queens County Jail. "The detectives took with them the knife which the murderer had used in mutilating Carrie Brown. They were permitted [to speak] with the two prisoners who had seen ‘Frenchy’ draw the knife in jail. The knife found with the murdered woman’s body was shown to the two prisoners. They said it looked like the knife they had seen in ‘Frenchy’s’ hands, but they could not identify it positively. Inspector Byrnes thought that the testimony of the two prisoners went a long way toward proving that ‘Frenchy’ had a knife concealed about him just before the murder. The Algerian had no knife on him when arrested, and the theory of the police is that he forgot to carry the weapon away with him after he had committed the crime."
So did Jack the Ripper really spend a month in a Queens jail cell? The connection between the murder of Carrie Brown and the Ripper’s London murders in 1888 was never proven, although the method used in the killings was apparently very similar. "Frenchy" was convicted of the murder of Carrie Brown but later pardoned. It was suggested that in an effort to prevent panic, the police had been too quick to arrest "Frenchy," overlooking other suspects. For instance, George Chapman, a suspect in the original Ripper murders, was living not far away in Jersey City, New Jersey in April 1891. (He would be hanged in Britain in 1903 for poisoning three wives.) Jack the Ripper’s true identity and whether he ever visited this country seem questions destined to remain forever unanswered.
Rather less serious crime was in the news again on May 15, when the Star-Journal warned its readers against pickpockets in Calvary Cemetery in Woodside. Five wallets and a watch had been purloined the previous Sunday from people visiting the cemetery. Decoration Day (as Memorial Day was then called) was fast approaching and the editors warned those planning a trip to decorate the graves of their loved ones to be careful of their valuables.
Visitors to Calvary Cemetery in 1891 might well have gone there on the trolley line operated by Long Island City’s colorful mayor, Patrick Jerome Gleason, also in the news that month. He had been nicknamed "Battle-Axe" Gleason ever since he chopped down a fence built by his rivals the Long Island Rail Road. Modeling himself on Manhattan’s Boss Tweed, Gleason was notoriously corrupt, controlling the police, Fire Department, schools, businesses, and everything else that went on in Long Island City. He was also famous for his belligerent style of conducting city business, often settling arguments with his fists.
In October 1890, Gleason had spent five days in jail for assaulting a reporter. The outraged editors of the Star–Journal noted at the time of his arrest, that "The election of a man of Gleason’s character to head and direct the affairs of an American municipality was an outrage on common decency. Ever since the day of his elevation there has been nothing but turmoil. The laws of the state have been defied. The town has been overrun by thugs and respectable citizens have shuddered as they looked upon the reign of terror that was being inaugurated."
On May 22, the Star-Journal noted tersely that Gleason owed nearly $30,000 in unpaid city taxes. They devoted more space to a civil suit brought against the mayor by the unfortunate reporter he had beaten up the previous year. Under the headline "Again at Bay," the newspaper reported that "The civil suit brought by Mr. George H. Crowly against Mayor Gleason for $10,000 damages for the brutal assault committed upon him on the memorable Sunday night, last summer, in Miller’s Hotel, has been discontinued, Gleason paying the victim of his fury the sum of $1,000."
The editors added that "In view of the fact that Gleason had already suffered a term of imprisonment, besides paying a fine of $250 for his cowardly attack, the settlement on the basis named was undoubtedly the wisest course open under the circumstances, as a jury could scarcely be expected to award the plaintiff more than the sum named, which sum is piling up the agony in a pretty steep manner for a single night’s discussion after the style peculiar to our distinguished local ‘statesman.’ Five days in jail – $250 fine – and $1,000 additional in hard cash ought to be a pretty good instructor. Mr. Crowly has done his duty, and he is to be congratulated upon the successful manner in which he delivered the final blow by the persistent pushing of his suit which knocked the ‘stuffing’ out of the great all-round champion of the ‘scrapping’ business."
Thanks in part to the ceaseless campaign conducted against [him] by the Star–Journal, Gleason would be driven from office the following year.
That’s the way it was in May 1891.
Compiled by Clare Doyle, Librarian, Greater Astoria Historical Society. For more information, contact the Society at 718-728-0700 or visit our website at astorialic.org.
Stephen P. Ryder, Editor
Casebook: Jack the Ripper
Christopher T George
Post Number: 164
|Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 3:05 pm: ||
Thanks for posting this.
The writer says, "It was suggested that in an effort to prevent panic, the police had been too quick to arrest 'Frenchy,' overlooking other suspects. For instance, George Chapman, a suspect in the original Ripper murders, was living not far away in Jersey City, New Jersey in April 1891. (He would be hanged in Britain in 1903 for poisoning three wives.)"
Right but despite what Donald McCormick says, I doubt if anybody thought about George Chapman as a possible killer much before he was had up for the poisoning of his common law wives. Thus the New York City police likely would have known nothing whatsoever of the musical Polish barber of Jersey City.
All the best
Post Number: 24
|Posted on Sunday, June 01, 2003 - 3:58 pm: ||
According to Chief Inspector Byrnes Ameer Ben Ali had been released from the Queen County Jail on the 13th of April rather than the 11th.
The two prisoners, who were to appeared at Ben Ali's trial, were named David Galloway and Edward Smith. Their testimony about the knife that they had seen while in jail was contradicted by the arresting officer, Constable James Hiland, who testified that Ben Ali had no knife on him when arrested and it was unlikely that he could have got his hands on one.
As for Chapman he was still in London on the night of the murder of Carrie Brown.
|Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 5:35 pm: ||
This is a very intriguing thread. I have just been learning about these events so pardon any ignorance here. How exactly do we know that it was Ben Ali (Frenchy 1) who was held in the Queens County Jail and not Arbie La Bruckman (Frenchy 2). La Bruckman stated in his interrogation by reporters that he often used the alias John Francis. It struck me as similar to the name given by Frenchy while in jail - George Frank (Frank possibly being derived from Francis).
Weren't there several descriptions of the suspect floating around? I thought that the first one that the papers got ahold of more closely matched that of La Bruckman.
|Posted on Monday, August 29, 2005 - 6:28 pm: ||
Definitely sounds like it was the work of the ripper at large here! No doubt copycats do exist, but this one seems a bit close! Why shouldn't we believe Jack capable of travelling and continuing his evil deeds for a while elsewhere? Since we don't know who he was, it's quite possible he was in a position to travel as he wished. And once all the excitement of the "last" murder in Whitechapel had died down, perhaps he felt capable of continuing his terrible work.
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