Joe Bruno on the Mob — The Whyos Street Gang

http://www.amazon.com/Mobsters-Gangs-Crooks-Creeps-ebook/dp/B0058J44QO/ref=zg_bs_11010_1

The Whyos were a vicious Irish street gang that ruled Lower Manhattan, starting right after the Civil War and running through the 1890’s. The gang started out as the offshoot of a pre-Civil War gang called the Chichesters. Their headquarters was in the 6th Ward on Baxter Street, formerly Orange Street, and named after Mexican War hero Lt. Col. Charles Baxter.

http://www.amazon.com/Mobsters-Gangs-Crooks-Creeps-ebook/dp/B006H99D1U/ref=zg_bs_11010_5

The Whyos got their name from the bird calls they made to each other, to identify themselves as members of the gang. When they first appeared on the streets of Lower Manhattan, the Whyos cruised the area called Mulberry Bend, robbing, beating and killing with ungodly gusto. Soon they extended their domain to the Lower West Side, into Greenwich Village, then further north. The Whyos favorite hangout was a dive on the corner of Mulberry and Worth called “The Morgue.” An apt name, since it was estimated that over a hundred murders took place on the premises. The bar owner boasted his booze was powerful and quite tasty, but could also be used an an excellent embalming fluid.

Myth had it, that in order to become a member of the Whyos, a aspiring member had to kill, or at least made an attempt to kill someone. One of their early leaders was Mike McCoin, who was hanged in the Tombs on March, 8, 1883, for the slingshot murder of a saloon owner on West Twenty-Sixth Street, named Louis Hanier. The day after he killed Hanier, McCoin announced to his gang, “A guy ain’t tough until he’s knocked his man out (killed).” Some hard men took McCoin’s remark to heart, and a string of murders followed, precipitating new members being inducted into the gang.

The Whyos reached the height of their power in the 1880’s, when such miscreants such as Big Jim Hines terrorized the city. Hines was the first person to hold up struss games, which were the run by the Italian and Jewish gangs, and a great source of revenue to boot. The struss games were played nightly in numerous locations, from east of the Bowery, up to Fourteenth Street, then west to Broadway. And almost every night, Hines bounced from one game to another, a huge gun in each hand. Using impending force, Hines extracted a percentage of each game, gracefully, always leaving a nice cut for the house.

Once, after he was arrested, he told a detective, “Them guys must be nuts. Don’t I always leave ’em somethin’? All I want is me share.”

In 1884, Whyos member Piker Ryan was arrested for one of his many crimes. The police found a book on him, with prices for a laundry list of crimes the Whyos performed for monetary profit. The list read:

Punching — $2,

Both eyes blacked — $4

Nose and jaw broke — $10

Jacked out — $15

Ear chewed off — $15

Leg or arm broke — $19

Shot in the leg — $25

Stab — $25

Doing the big job (murder) — $100 and up

Another prominent Whyos member was Dandy Johnny Dolan, who was fastidious in dress, with oiled and plastered hair, and a penchant for wearing only the finest shoe apparel available. Dolan was also the inventor of two gruesome weapons. The first was sections of ax blade embedded in the sole of his “Fighting Shoes,” which he used to stomp and stab a fallen foe. The other was an “eye gouger” made of brass and worn on his thumb.

On August 22, 1875, Dolan decided to rob a brush manufacturer at 275 Greenwich Street. On the premises, he confronted James H. Noe and bashed him over the head with an iron crowbar. Then he proceeded to rob him of money, a gold watch and chain, and Mr. Noe’s walking stick, which had a metal handle formed in the shape of a monkey. But before Dolan left, he gouged out both of Mr Noe’s eyes with his “eye gouger,” then proudly showed the eyeballs to his pals. Mr. Noe died a few days later, and when Dolan was soon arrested, he was walking with Mr. Noe’s distinctive cane and carrying Mr. Noe’s eyeballs in his pocket. As a result, Dolan was tried and convicted of murder, and hung in the courtyard of the Tombs Prison on April 21, 1876.

The most famous of the Whyos leaders were a couple of Dannys; Messers Driscoll and Lyons, who co-ran the Whyos in the 1880’s. In 1888, Driscoll became involved in a gunfight with Five Points gang member John McCarthy, over the affections of a prostitute named Beezy Garrity. Not being the greatest gunslinger, Driscoll accidentally shot and killed, Ms. Garrity instead, and he was hanged for his mistake on January 22, 1888.

Lyons was considered the most vicious gangster of the 1880’s. And his downfall was an argument over a young lady too. It seemed Lyons snatched Pretty Kitty McGown from her paramour Joseph Quinn. Quinn vowed revenge and on July 4th, 1887, the two men squared off with guns at Paradise Square in the Five Points area. Lyons was a better with a gun than his pal Driscoll had been, and he shot Quinn right through the heart, killing him on the spot. Lyons took it on the lam for a few months, but was finally captured and hung at the Tombs Prison on August, 21, 1888, just seven months after Driscoll had met the same fate.

After the deaths of Lyons and Driscoll, the Whyos fell into disarray. In the late 1890’s, Monk Eastman defeated what was left of the Whyos, and with Paul Kelly, leader of the Five Points Gang, they fought for control of all the rackets in Lower Manhattan for years to come.

http://www.amazon.com/Mobsters-Gangs-Crooks-Creeps-ebook/dp/B0058J44QO/ref=zg_bs_11010_1

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