The Archives (A multi-media Post)

15 Mar

Waldo J. Tomosky                           THE ARCHIVE                                               12/25/11


There are links everywhere and nowhere. Best of luck.

The sky was full of snow that day. The local radio station had been screaming something about a buildup of fourteen inches of the white stuff. I ignored it; or rather, I put it out of my mind. I didn’t want to think about getting all bundled up and then trying to shovel with those heavy motion-restricting clothes on. Besides, if I did not want to shovel then I only had one choice; the snow blower. That method wasn’t really much easier. The blower would toss the snow up in the air. The wind, with equal ease, would blow it back in my face. So my choices were to either shovel and lift or have a man-made blizzard blowing on my face and neck, only to have thawed snow drops fall inside my shirt.

There was one more choice; don’t shovel at all. Rather, look into something that had caught my attention several years ago. I had accidentally run across it on the internet; the trial records in John Jay College’s Lloyd Sealy Library. The physical library is located near the corner of 59th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan. The Sealy possessed a very complete set of microfilm with respect to crimes committed in New York for a one hundred year period starting in 1850.

After spending some time in the NY State Archives in Albany I knew that I had to plan a trip to the Sealy with great care. I had learned that you just don’t walk in and expect everything to be immediately available. You have to know exactly what you are looking for, where it is located in the archives and which hours are good for scanning files. The prime times are hours you can actually draw documents from their sacred holding places. I was lucky in Albany. It made me realize how fortunate I was to have visited on the correct day and hours. I don’t know why I got up at 5 A.M. and drove to Albany on my first visit but it was fortuitous.

Once again I drift. It seems to be  getting more of the pattern than a rarity these days.

Being a little smarter (now that I had the NY archive experience under my belt) I thought it may be better to look at everything listed on the internet first. I wished to learn about the Sealy and visiting hours, as well as what hours the archives were open and available. So that is where I started. Or rather I should say where I meant to start.

I was looking at the Sealy “Crime in New York – 1850 to 1950” and saw the viewing options and types of searches. I started drifting again. My focus was lost because it reminded me of how I had accidentally come across this particular internet page several years earlier. It was because my favorite author, Jorge Luis Borges, had written a story about “Monk Eastman – Purveyor of Inequities.” Oh, there were other very interesting stories in Borges’ “Book of Infamy” but the title of that particular story caught my eye. How does someone “purvey inequities?” I will let Borges tell you that story. Mine is a completely different one.

There I sat, my attention drifting between the snow outside and the crimes inside. How I wanted to read about that purveyor of inequities! So I abandoned my original goal and searched on “names.”

Right there in front of me were the details of what the Sealy was offering about good old Monk Eastman. The Sealy also told me that his real name was William Delaney. I bet the Eastman family, of photography fame, was mortified when they heard about Delaney calling his self an Eastman.

But then an interesting thing occurred. Right there, on Monk Eastman’s data blurb was a highlighted PDF hot link. Could this be true? That particular Eastman trial transcript had been copied and PDF’ed. Was I so lucky as to have all the Sealy records right at my fingertips? I started scrolling up and down the data. Nope; I was not so lucky. However, there were several crimes whose court transcripts had been microfilmed and PDF’ed. Maybe a trip to Manhattan would not be necessary. I hoped.

Right then and there I realized my afternoon had been laid out for me. Oh sure, I would have to go out and shovel snow at some point. It soon became one of my procrastination style projects. After all, I could still shovel in the dark. I gently lifted my PC from my lap and placed it on the floor; I had preparation work to do.

I retrieved a fresh notebook from my stash and grabbed my favorite pen. These I needed to record some items from the Sealy warehouse of information. Sure, I know you younger people would have “copied and pasted” from Sealy to Word but I remain here with one foot in the dark ages. Sometimes I even write things like this longhand in a notebook and then copy, via typing, into Word. I know, I know. It seems redundant to you but to me it is easier to do multiple edits on a notebook than in Word. Go figure. And yes, I had one more item of preparation to do before wandering around in Sealy’s archives. This preparation I must tell in the present tense.

Now you have to follow exactly; no fudging, no changing, no editing. First get yourself a nice wide but shallow tumbler. I would suggest two inches in diameter and three inches deep. Put exactly ten ice thingies in it. Thingies are those ice forms that modern refrigerators make. You know; the half round ones. Oh hell, let’s just give them a name; Ice Arcs. If you are using those old fashioned Ice Cubes then simply fill up the tumbler. Pour three shots of Southern Comfort over the cubes. Careful now, don’t spill any. Take the cap off a bottle of extra dry vermouth. Fill the cap half-way with some vermouth. Once again you have to be careful not to spill and to use exactly one half of a cap full. Finally add one teaspoon of cherry juice. Mix delicately. I had to tell you in present tense to make sure you didn’t screw it up or think it was simply part of the story. Now back to past tense.

I set the tumbler on a coaster right next to my lounge chair. My tablet and pen were also on the same end table. I was now prepared for some serious work.

These are the Sealy highlights of what I came up with:

Ø  140 Abductions

Ø  556 Assaults of both degrees

Ø  164 Third degree burglaries

Ø  957 Grand Larcenies of both degrees

Ø  445 Murders of the first degree

Ø  247 Rapes of both degrees

Ø  265 Robberies of the first degree (With several other variations)

There were myriads of other crimes; way too many to list but not too many to mention, this time in reverse alphabetical order:

Ø  Wrongful act

Ø  Weapon carrying

Ø  Voting offense

Ø  Seduction

Ø  Sodomy

Ø  Receiving

Ø  Public Officers; Misappropriation, Corruption, Neglect, Taking  Note 1

Ø  Liquor

Ø  Forgery

Ø  Compounding a felony

Ø  Bribery

Ø  Arson

Note 1:  These are now “Ethics Violations”, not crimes, exercised by the NY State legislature.

I first took a peek at the summary of Monk Eastman’s specific trial.

TRIAL #421 Date: 1904/4/12; Reels(s): 73. Defendant(s): William Delaney, Sex: M; Monk Eastman, Sex: M; Charge(s): Assault (1st degree); Assault (2nd degree); Murder (1st degree), attempted;  Judge: John W. Goff; Defense Attorney(s): Cantwell; George W. Hurlbut; Moore; Prosecuting Attorney(s): William Rand Jr.; Nathan A. Smythe; Note(s): Alias Monk Eastman. Stenographer Number: 514; Page(s): 289 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 421.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

And then I perused the top page of the legal document.

Finally I studied some of the testimony:

Soon I realized that I had accidentally found a hot link that pointed to Monk’s trial record.

I was happy to realize that I was using a platform that allows me to hot-key to these documents. I now had the ability to sit through Monk Eastman’s trial. But this was just the beginning.

I copied down several other names of the dutifully convicted. My plan was to select several names and to read the trial transcripts. I usually don’t stop to look at car and train crashes; however I do love a good criminal trial. I collected the following data from ten trial transcripts to save you time. But if you wish to read the complete transcripts then be my guest. Click on the pdf links.

This is where my story really begins. At various trial records. Allow me to list all ten of them.


TRIAL #1170 Date: 1910/05/18; Reels(s): 153. Defendant(s): Francesco Purpura, Sex: M; Charge(s): Abduction; Assault (2nd degree); Rape (2nd degree);  Judge: Joseph F. Mulqueen; Defense Attorney(s): T. S. Nolan; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Adams; Stenographer Number: 1215; Page(s): 182 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 1170.pdf 1170_2.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

Mr. Francesco Purpura was charged with rape, assault and abduction. He allegedly committed the crime at 80 Catherine Street; in the back of his shoe repair shop. The victim was a thirteen year old Italian girl. The question of her consent was raised. Mr. Purpura was found guilty by the jury.


TRIAL #421 Date: 1904/4/12; Reels(s): 73. Defendant(s): William Delaney, Sex: M; Monk Eastman, Sex: M; Charge(s): Assault (1st degree); Assault (2nd degree); Murder (1st degree), attempted;  Judge: John W. Goff; Defense Attorney(s): Cantwell; George W. Hurlbut; Moore; Prosecuting Attorney(s): William Rand Jr.; Nathan A. Smythe; Note(s): Alias Monk Eastman. Stenographer Number: 514; Page(s): 289 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 421.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

Mr. William Delaney (aka Monk Eastman) was a gang member in 1904. The following fact does not show up in these trial transcripts but does appear in several other documents. Monk Eastman had been doing the dirty work for Tammany Hall, the corrupt force behind New York City politics. Monk Eastman had become arrogant and foolish. Tammany Hall had to get rid of him. Jail seemed the easiest method.

In this transcript Monk Eastman allegedly fired his pistol at two Pinkerton Policemen. They were hired to protect the black sheep of a well-to-do family. Monk and some of his gang attempted to rob the sheep. The Pinkerton’s moved in and the gun fight on 42nd street erupted. The jury found Monk Eastman guilty of the charges.


TRIAL #1850 Date: 1914/3/11; Reels(s): 233. Defendant(s): Michael J. Whelan, Sex: M; Charge(s): Bribery; Extortion, attempted;  Judge: Edward Swann; Defense Attorney(s): George R. Simpson; Prosecuting Attorney(s): O’Malley; Stenographer Number: 2232; Page(s): 204 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 1850.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

Michael Whelan, a city building inspector in 1914, was accused of demanding and taking a $25 bribe. This was in relation to some boiler work being done at 532 E. 20th Street, Manhattan. Witnesses have stated that, after the demand for the $25 bribe, a sting was set up with marked money. Mr. Whelan took the marked money and placed it in his pocket. He was immediately arrested. The trial papers are prematurely terminated. Therefore we do not know if Mr. Whelan was found innocent or guilty.

FOURTH RECORD: J. Harris, H. Simon, and Hirsch Seliger

TRIAL #484 Date: 1905/02/07; Reels(s): 83. Defendant(s): Joseph Harris, Sex: M; Harry Simon, Sex: M; Hirsch B. Seliger, Sex: M; E. B. Seliger, Sex: M; Charge(s): Burglary (3rd degree); Grand larceny (1st degree); Receiving;  Judge: Joseph E. Newburger; Defense Attorney(s): Moses A. Sachs; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Robert Townsend; Note(s): Impleaded with Hirsch B. Seliger, otherwise called E. B. Seliger Stenographer Number: 685; Page(s): 81 p Full-Text Transcript available: 484.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

The case, tried in 1905, revolves around several cases of butter and eggs being burgled from 650 Hudson Street and delivered to 324 Greenwich Street. The goods were alleged to be illegally received and were of sufficient value to meet the requirements for grand larceny. Harris and Simon were caught delivering stolen goods to Seliger at his place of business. All three charges were bundled together to save time for the court. The defendants were found guilty.


TRIAL #629 Date: 1907/02/18; Reels(s): 100. Defendant(s): John F. Dorthy, Sex: M; Charge(s): Forgery (2nd degree); Grand larceny;  Judge: Otto A. Rosalsky; Defense Attorney(s): W. N. Cantwell; R. M. Moore; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Hart; Stenographer Number: 475; Page(s): 119 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 629.pdf 629_2.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

John Dorthy, in 1907, is charged with forging a working man’s name to a bank withdrawal statement. The location of the crime was 148 E. 45th Street. The crime was perpetrated under the pretenses that the working man was only signing as a witness to a will. There were two sheets of paper; the will and the second sheet being the withdrawal statement. The working man did not realize what he was signing. The top sheet was discarded and the money was taken from the bank. Because there was really no forgery that charge was dropped. The grand larceny charge was presented to the jury. The trial record does not show how the jury decided.

SIXTH RECORD: Mary Green and Mabel Rosher

TRIAL #485 Date: 1905/02/07; Reels(s): 83. Defendant(s): Mary Green, Sex: F; Mabel Rosher, Sex: F; Charge(s): Grand larceny (1st degree);  Judge: Rufus B. Cowing; Defense Attorney(s): Campbell; Pentecost; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Keyran J. O’Connor; Stenographer Number: 900; Page(s): 51 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 485.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

In 1905 Frank Hellam, a boat captain from the state of Maine, contends that Mary Green and  Mabel Rosher have robbed him. This allegedly took place at 213 West 27th Street, Manhattan. This, indeed, is a strange official transcript. In fact, it is not a transcript but rather the remembrances of someone. The two female defendants were convicted of grand larceny of the first degree.

SEVENTH RECORD: Stephan Hooker, Toussaint Vogelsand and Martha Pell

TRIAL #39 Date: 1893/11/10; Reels(s): 10. Defendant(s): Stephen A. Hooker, Sex: M; Toussaint L. Vogelsang, Sex: M; Martha E. Pell, Sex: F; Charge(s): Murder (1st degree);  Judge: Frederick Smyth; Defense Attorney(s): Hugh O. Pentecost; Prosecuting Attorney(s): James W. Osborne; Note(s): Impleaded with Toussaint L. Vogelsang and Martha E. Pell. Adjourned. Stenographer Number: 658,1803; Page(s): 228 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 39.pdf 39_2.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

The two males and one female defendant are charged with 1st degree murder in 1893. Neighborhood boys and men were playing craps on John Dozier’s front stoop at 25 Minetta Lane. An argument erupted and Dozier’s front door is broken. As a result a fight erupted between one of the young men and Dozier. Later that day three people conspired to give Dozier a beating. That evening Dozier was attacked and hit in the head with two bricks. He died the next day in the hospital. There is much testimony about the character of the defendants. The trial transcript does not include the jury’s decision.

EIGTH RECORD: The Zreik Brothers; Elias and George

TRIAL #599  Date: 1906/10/1; Reels(s): 96-97. Defendant(s): Elias Zreik, Sex: M; George Zreik, Sex: M; Charge(s): Murder (1st degree);  Judge:  Defense Attorney(s): James W. Osborne; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Arthur C. Train; Note(s): Impleaded with George Zreik. Stenographer Number: 2036; Page(s): 610 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 599.pdf 599_2.pdf 599_3.pdf 599_4.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

The transcript starts on page 296. There is no explanation as to why. An unknown witness (due to the missing transcript pages) is being questioned with the aid of an interpreter. There was a stabbing and two gunshots in a restaurant at 81 Washington Street. A man named John Stephen has been shot and falls to the floor. The witness tells the jury that George Zreik had a knife and a pistol at the time. The transcript is extensive due to most of the witnesses being Arabic and requiring a translator. Much of the transcript is discussion about the true meaning/intent of the translation. Multiple translators are called in due to confusion. There are conflicting stories between several of the witnesses. The jury’s decision is not in the transcript.


TRIAL #1354 Date: 1911/4/18; Reels(s): 175. Defendant(s): Richard H. Lee, Sex: M; Charge(s): Misappropriation and falsification of accounts by public officers; Public officers: Misappropriation and falsification of accounts;  Judge: Edward Swann; Defense Attorney(s): Abraham Levy; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Oswald N. Jacoby; Stenographer Number: 1526; Page(s): 161 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 1354.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

The defendant, a dock master, is accused of changing the price of a docking fee. Triplicate fee tickets are always made. In this case ticket #1 shows that $0.50 was collected. Ticket #3 shows that $37.38 was paid for docking the schooner “Nellie W. Craig.” The dock is located between East 19th and 20th Street on the North River. The defendant is accused of pocketing the difference. There is much technical wrangling between the lawyers and the judge. Witness testimony is sparse and conflicted due to this. In the end the whole case falls apart due to a lack of comparative signatures for the defendant. The tickets which the entire case is built on are not allowed. The judge directs the jury to acquit.


TRIAL #2100 Date: 1915/9/20; Reels(s): 264. Defendant(s): Harry Newman, Sex: M; Charge(s): Rape (1st degree);  Judge: Thomas F. Mulqueen; Defense Attorney(s): Jacob Stiefel; Prosecuting Attorney(s): Millard H. Ellison; Stenographer Number: 2552; Page(s): 110 p. Full-Text Transcript available: 2100.pdf  Court: Court of General Sessions

Harry Newman, a sixteen year old, is accused of raping a 6 year old girl. The alleged place of the rape was 125 E. 50th Street. Several witnesses saw him take the girl into a hallway and became alarmed. They notified the mother who was in a building attached to the hallway. The mother says she caught the man with his private parts exposed and her daughter had her dress up and her panties unbuttoned. None of the witnesses saw an actual rape. However a doctor examined the girl the day of the alleged rape.  He confirmed that her hymen had very recently been ruptured. A second doctor, less experienced, claimed that he only saw irritation of the girl’s private parts. After much discussion and closing remarks the jury finds the defendant guilty of attempted rape.

There I sat in my easy chair. Hardly had I expected to see such a group of infamous people. Jorge Luis Borges had attempted to warn me when I read his “Book of Infamy.” He had introduced me to infamous people from around the world. But I never expected to see so many of them living in the south end of Manhattan, New York. What is even more frightening is that I had only met sixteen of them. There were thousands more waiting for me in the college of John Jay’s “Lloyd Sealy Library.” I hoped that none of them would appear to me that night.

I closed my notebook and put the leg rest up on my Lazy Boy lounger. I closed my eyes to reflect on the people I had just read about.

There was Francesco Purpura, rapist, who had taken advantage of a thirteen year old girl in the back of his shoe repair shop.

Then the semi-infamous Monk Eastman who was also known as William Delany. There is much more to be found of him than were in the trial transcripts. Even Google and the NY Times knew about him. Borges had compiled a list of the “inequities” that Monk Eastman had for sale. However the transcripts only told a single story about him. He started his evening by carousing with his gang.  He ended it by attempting to shoot a private policeman.

And then they turned him into a hero.

Ah yes! Let us not forget good old Michael Whelan the New York City building inspector. He could very well fit into today’s world. Michael attempted to hold the installation of a new boiler for ransom. If the boiler owners wanted to get a permit to install it they only had to deposit $25 into Michael’s pocket. They did. It was marked money. He was arrested. He was convicted. End of the story and Michael’s job.

The egg and butter thieves; now there is a classic case. Joe Harris and Harry Simon decided to steal cases and barrels of these goods and deposit them in Hirsch Seliger’s cellar. Hirsch received these stolen goods so that he could sell them in his upstairs store.

As the silly old poem goes;

“A bright policeman heard the noise,

and came to arrest those three bad boys.”

As I sat there relaxing other things popped into my mind.

John Dorthy; now there is a real weasel. He had two accomplices who aided and abetted but they escaped the clutches of the law by the skin of their teeth. Mr. Dorthy, realizing that some poor working slob had saved over two thousand dollars, decided that he could scam him out of his hard earned savings. Knowing that the working man was not at the top of the intelligence game and hardly able to read, Mr. Dorthy made up a false will for a non-existent person. He then attached a blank bank withdrawal statement to the back of it. He read the “Last will and testament” to the unsuspecting fellow and asked him to witness it. The working stiff agreed and signed the second sheet which was actually the bank withdrawal statement. The rest is history.

Whoe unto the boat captain that decided to hit a few beer joints and talk to a few women with painted faces and scented bodies. Larceny was on their minds. I think we may surmise what was on the captain’s mind. The two lovely lassies, Miss Green and Miss Rosher, decided to separate the captain from what remained of the ship’s money. They did, went to trial, were convicted and obtained free room and board on the tab of New York City.

The boys of Greenwich Village were just enjoying a nice game of craps when all the crap started. Pushing and shoving ended up with a broken front door. The owner of the door and young Stephen Hooker ended up in a second shoving match. Hooker was shamed by the older man. The two young men, Hooker and Toussaint conspired with Martha Pell (apparently a lady who enjoyed young men) to beat the owner of the broken door. Hooker ended up killing the owner with a couple of well-placed bricks to the head. We are not privileged to see how the story ended but it sure doesn’t look good for the three conspirators.

From the beginning of one the transcripts it looks like the Zreik boys really got themselves in trouble this time. However, before too long, it becomes apparent that confusion reigns. Several translators have to be brought in to understand the majority of Arab witnesses. Add to that the several different stories that the Egyptian and Syrian witnesses tell. Even though this transcript covered 610 pages of double spaced testimony, both the beginning and the end of the story are missing.

And is there any good trial that ends up with the defendant getting smeared without any substantial proof? How this trial ever got past the grand jury is beyond the normal person. Richard Lee is a dock master of the wharves at the east end of 20th Street as it meets the East River (yesteryear’s North River). He is accused of taking $38 dock rental fee for the schooner “Nellie W. Craig” and then recording it as only a 50 cent rental. There is no proof that it is Richard Lee’s signature on the documents. The judge rightfully directs the jury to acquit Mr. Lee.

Finally, in the last of the ten trial transcripts there is the inept sixteen year old Harry Newman who decides to either molest or rape a six year old girl. The activity is put to a halt as the girl’s mother finds her child partially unclothed and inept little Harry exposed. GUILTY!

With these ten cases reviewed I decided to determine in which neighborhoods of Manhattan these crimes took place. I had all the addresses recorded in my notebook. My next step was to do a Google map search on Manhattan.

This is where my story ends.

When the map appeared on my PC I had no additional work to complete. I was a little concerned when I saw what I thought I saw. Was I dreaming or was it the Southern Comfort Manhattan?

Right there, popping out of the map, were all of the alleged criminals that I had become familiar with. None of them appeared to be happy as the policeman hauled them off to jail.

That ended the evening. I never did get to shovel the fourteen inches of snow that night. It waited for me until morning.



80 Catherine Street, Manhattan, Francesco Purpura, Rape

East 42nd Street and 6th Avenue, Monk Eastman, Attempted murder

532 East 20th Street, Michael Whelan, Attempted bribery

324 Greenwich Street, Harris/Simon/Seligar, Burglary and receiving

148 E. 45th Street, John Dorthy, Grand larceny

213 West 27th Street, Mary Green/Mabel Rosher, Grand larceny

25 Minetta Lane, Hooker/Vogelsang/Pell, Murder

81 Washington Street, Elias & George Zreick, Murder

East 19th and 20th Street, Richard Lee, Misappropriation

125 E. 50th Street, Harry Newman, Attempted rape

QUICK LIST: Hot Links to the ten trial transcripts


Reel #1  

Reel #2  





Reel #1  

Reel #2  



Reel #1  

Reel #2  

The Zreiks:

Reel #1  

Reel #2  

Reel #3  

Reel #4  



    • © Copyright – Waldo Tomosky


One Response to “The Archives (A multi-media Post)”

  1. Waldo "Wally" Tomosky September 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    Reblogged this on waldotomosky.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: