Monday, January 2, 2012

An August day in New York, 1858

In my quest for information on John Morrissey I spend a lot of time looking through newspapers of yesteryear and often get so drawn into unrelated stories it takes me much longer than I’d like to get my research done. I thought I’d share one from the New York Times of Aug. 3, 1858 as way of explanation for my wandering eyes.

The U.S. Marshall’s Office busted two men for counterfeiting Aug. 2 after staking out a Duane Street (Lower Manhattan) company that specialized in metal plating. The electroplating technique was fairly new having come over from England in the 1840s, so our two criminals — Charles Howard and James Ryal — were somewhat innovative. The marshals arrested the men, who were working together, but came into the shop at separate times, each carrying about 100 bogus coins that resembled half-dollars.

Nothing was said about the proprietor of the establishment who, it would seem, had to be in on the scheme.

The two marshals, after locking the men up in the Tombs, Manhattan’s infamous jail, went to the men’s base of operations on Eighth Avenue, slipped in through a window and discovered the counterfeiters’ tools, along with fake coins in various stages of manufacture as well as burglary equipment.

There was no mention on whether the marshals had a warrant when they broke into the apartment through a skylight.

Unfortunately, there was no follow up story so the fates of our two alleged criminals have been lost to history.

If you liked this tiny slice of life from the annals of crime, check out my newest blog “Old Time Crime.”

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