One Century Ago: Mafia in Tarrytown?

Headlines from Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, 100 years ago.

Welcome back to One Century Ago, a collaboration between Patch and the .

Each week we bring you the front page of a local newspaper that covered the news in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (North Tarrytown) one hundred years ago. This front page comes from the Tarrytown Press-Record. The Press-Record was published as a weekly from 1893 to 1946 and has been preserved by the on microfilm.

Friday, August 23, 1912:

Mafia in Tarrytown?

On Monday evening four weary Italian men were returning from a long day working on the John D. Rockefeller property, when they were confronted and robbed by four other men armed with revolvers and “stilettos” (finely pointed Italian-designed daggers). The criminals stole all their belongings, which were listed as “two watches, five pennies and a paper of tobacco”. When describing the robbers, the men said that they “suspected them of also being Italians”.

The affair caused quite a stir in the Italian community, and rumours went about that the robbery was the work of the mysterious “Blackhand Society”, a criminal society associated with the Mafia and Camorra. The day after the robbery there was a stabbing in Tarrytown Heights, but the police were unable to find any evidence connecting the two events.

One of the four robbers was found and arrested in New York City later in the week, and brought before Judge Moorhouse in Tarrytown. However, the man spoke only Italian, and the Judge was unable to procure an interpreter, so the case was temporarily adjourned. Judge Moorehouse did confirm that the suspect’s name was John, but said he could not understand his last name. It was thought that the man was ready and willing to confess and that as soon as an interpreter could be found, he would reveal the whereabouts of his three criminal associates.

Mrs. Schenck Falls from Porch

Mrs. Julius Schenck fell from her porch onto the sidewalk, breaking two ribs and badly bruising herself. She was sitting on the railing of her porch when it gave way and she was cast down almost 12 feet, despite struggling “desperately to save herself”. The injured woman was carried into her house moaning in agony, but rallied under the attention of Dr. Chace, who was able to ease her pain.

Strangest Automobile Accident Ever Seen

Shortly after four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon a baffling and unusual accident occurred on Main Street.

An automobile containing five passengers was struggling to ascend the steep hill, and at the turn near White Street it came to a halt and began to slide backwards down the hill. The driver frantically applied the brakes, but the machine gained momentum and crashed into the curb at the bottom of the street. The car continued backwards over the curb, through a fence and towards a 12 foot “abyss” beyond that. The two men in the front of the car saw the ditch behind them and leapt down to the ground, leaving two screaming women and a child in the back seat. The car plunged down and there was sickening crash. The noise drew a large crowd and several men rushed to help the people still in the car, one of whom was pinned underneath the vehicle.

The automobile was a write-off, but astonishingly all five passengers escaped from the accident with no more than a few light scratches.

Joseph Jacobs Caught in Factory Belt

Sixteen year old Joseph Jacobs suffered a shocking accident at the Maxwell Automobile Factory, where he was employed as a helper. The boy was sent up a ladder to fix a malfunctioning belt, but his arm became caught in the whirling belt and he was wrenched from the ladder, hurled up into the air, and thrown back down onto the factory floor. He lay there unconscious until Dr. Coutant and Dr. Fairchild arrived and ordered him to be taken to Tarrytown Hospital.

For 24 hours Jacobs remained unconscious, but just as the doctors were beginning to lose hope, he came around. Despite having some memory loss and a broken arm, Jacobs made positive steps towards a full recovery.

To join as a member and support the preservation of the history of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, please click here: thehistoricalsociety.net/membership.

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Ted August 27, 2012 at 02:51 PM
So I found a map of Tarrytown Heights, but the roads don't appear to exist anymore. Where is it? (http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/171995/Tarrytown+Heights+Land+Co++++Left/Westchester+County+1872/New+York/)
Gina DeBonis August 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I have to say, I absolutely love this feature on Patch. It's amazing how much things have changed in 100 years. Thank you for posting!
Myles Birrittella August 27, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Tarrytown Heights is area from Union Avenue down Sunnyside and Irving down to the lakes. Train station was where the skate shack was. The walking path near lakes on both sides was part of offshoot of the old putnam line that went through wilson park and then through Rockefeller's property. Many of the existing houses in the heights area were originally built where the Lakes sit now but were moved up the hill when the lakes were built in the 1890's
Myles Birrittella August 27, 2012 at 03:43 PM
The map you posted is of a development that was proposed in the 1870"s, was to be built where the lakes are now. Never built due to Stock Market Crash during time put the developer out of business. Lakes were built in 1890's
Clarice August 29, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Love these articles! Myles thank you very much for the information you provided regarding the Heights, the Putnam Line and the development. I really enjoy reading and hearing of the history of our wonderful village.


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