100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Archive for the category “Crime”

Boy Arrested For Firing Gun On New Year’s In Louisiana

Louis Armstrong was born in August 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was raised by his grandmother and uncle. He attended the Fisk School For Boys and only saw his father in parades while his mother was absent working in “houses of pleasure”. It was in this atmosphere that Armstrong was exposed to live bands playing in brothels and dance halls. Armstrong dropped out of school and worked for a junk dealer who treated Armstrong like a member of the family. He also joined with other boys and played on the street corners for money.

On January 1, 1913 Louis Armstrong was arrested by police after firing his stepfather’s pistol to celebrate the arrival of the new year. He will most likely be sentenced by the juvenile court to the Colored Waifs’ Home For Boys in New Orleans.

Colored Waifs' Home For Boys in New Orleans 1913

Colored Waifs’ Home For Boys in New Orleans

Prison Transport In Florida

The 13th Amendment of the Constitution outlawed slavery but allows for penal labor as it states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This led to the “convict lease” system which became popular in the South in the late 19th century. State governments who could not afford penitentiaries and needed money could leased out prisoners to work for private individuals and companies. This brought about the “chain gang.” Tens of thousands of African-Americans were arbitrarily arrested and leased to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Since the responsibility to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for the prisoners was put upon the “employer,” extremely poor conditions, numerous deaths, and a system of near-slavery existed in the penal systems of the southern US.

On November 30, 1912 a photo of a cage used to transport prison labor was taken in Florida.
Prison labor transport cage used to transport convicts from camp to work on the road between DeLand and Daytona, Florida November 30, 1912

Prison labor transport cage used to transport convicts from camp to work on the road between DeLand and Daytona, Florida
November 30, 1912

Bread And Roses Strike Leaders Acquitted In Massachusetts

Lawrence, Massachusetts became a textile center in the mid 1800’s. By 1900 local textile mills employed 32,000 half of whom were girls between 14 and 18 who earned less than $9.00 a week for 56 hours of work. In 1911 Congress enacted laws that limited the number of weekly hours that women and children could work. Factory owners reacted by reducing pay to match the shorter hours. The women and children were already working for subsistence level wages were angered by the cuts in pay and some went out on publicized strikes. Within a week more than 20,000 workers were on strike. To circumvent an injunction against loitering in front of the mills, the strikers formed the first moving picket line in the US. Many held signs that read “We want bread but we want roses, too.” The strike was called “The Bread and Roses Strike.”

Whereas the skilled laborers were English, Irish and American and represented by the American Federation of Labor, the strikers were viewed as uneducated immigrants and not laborers worthy of representation by the AFL. This left more radical labor groups such as the International Workers of the World to step in and take control. The IWW organized all workers, regardless of skill level, immigrant status, gender or skin color. The committee, which arranged for its strike meetings to be translated into 25 different languages, put forward a set of demands; a 15% increase in wages for a 54-hour work week, double time for overtime work, and no discrimination against workers for their strike activity. Those opposed to the strike saw the strikers as dangerous, un-American and perhaps worst of all, atheists. They formed the Citizens Committee to fight radicalism stating they were for God and country and against the IWW’s “principles and methods,” denouncing union leaders and members as “godless communists.”In January 1911 a peaceful parade of the strikers was charged by the militia and officer Oscar Benoit fired into the crowd killing striker Anna Lo Pezza. Strike leaders Joseph Ettor of the IWW and Arturo Giovannitti of the Italian Socialist Federation of the Socialist Party of America were charged with the murders even though they had been 3 miles away speaking to another group of workers at the time. The authorities declared martial law, banned all public meetings and called out 22 more militia companies to patrol the streets. The IWW raised funds on a nation-wide basis and arranged for several hundred children to go to supporters’ homes in major east coast cities for the duration of the strike. When city authorities tried to prevent 100 children from going to Philadelphia in February 1911 by sending police and the militia to the station to detain the children and arrest their parents, the police began clubbing both the children and their mothers while dragging them off to be taken away by truck; one pregnant mother miscarried. Public opinion turned against the mill owners.

On November 26, 1912 in Salem, Massachusetts Ettor and Giovannitti were acquitted of charges of murder resulting from the strike. Ettor addressed the court in his closing statement :

“Does the District Attorney believe . . . that the gallows or guillotine ever settled an idea? If an idea can live, it lives because history adjudges it right. I ask only for justice. . . . The scaffold has never yet and never will destroy an idea or a movement. . . . An idea consisting of a social crime in one age becomes the very religion of humanity in the next. . . . Whatever my social views are, they are what they are. They cannot be tried in this courtroom.”

Acquitted Bread and Roses Strike leaders – Joe Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti

Would-Be Roosevelt Assassin Ruled Insane

In October 1912 John Schrank who had been stalking presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt shot him in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


On November 22, 1912 Schrank was found to be insane by a board of five physicians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who wrote that Schrank was “suffering from insane delusions, grandiose in character and of a systematized variety… we are of the opinion he is unable to converse intelligently with counsel on the conduct of his defense.”

John Schrank in custody

Gangsters Found Guilty Of Murder In New York

Herman Rosenthal was a New York gangster who was being extorted by a corrupt police Lieutenant Charles Becker. After he spoke to a journalist about police corruption and was called to testify to a grand jury, Rosenthal was gunned down in the street in front of a hotel.


In July 1912 Becker was arrested by special detectives from the District Attorney’s Office. In August 1912 Becker was indicted by a grand jury for the killing of Herman Rosenthal along with the gunmen and others. Jack Zelig was the head of the Monk Eastman Gang. It was Zelig’s men that committed the murder of Herman Rosenthal at Becker request. Zelig was to testify against Becker and his gang members for leniency but in October 1912 two days before Becker’s trial is to begin Zelig received an anonymous phone call requesting his presence. Zelig jumped on the uptown trolley. While riding the trolley Zelig was shot behind the ear and killed a man with a police revolver.

In October 1912 Becker’s trial opened with Judge John W Goff presiding. Judge Goff had no tolerance for corruption and had earned a reputation for being one of the toughest judges to sit on the New York bench. District Attorney Whitman’s main witness was Bald Jack Rose also called “Cue Ball Rose” due to his bald head.

Becker said to me: “There is only one thing to do with a fellow like Rosenthal—just stop him so that he will not bother anybody any more for all time.” I said: “What do you mean?” He said: “Well, there is a fellow that ought to be put off the earth.” “Why,” I says, “I agree with you. He is no account.” He said: “Well, no use saying he is no account, and all of that, but the idea is now to do something to him.” I says: “What do you mean?” and he said: “There is a fellow I would like to have croaked.” And Becker said: “I don’t want him beat up. I could do that myself. I could have a warrant for any gambling house that he frequents and make a raid on that place and beat him up for resisting arrest or anything else. No beating up will fix that fellow, a dog in the eyes of myself, you, and everybody else. Nothing for that man but taken off this earth. Have him murdered, cut his throat, dynamited, or anything.”

Throughout the trial Becker’s defense attorney John McIntire was hampered by Judge Goff interference refusing to allow Rose to be questioned about his criminal associations and even advising the witness when to plead the Fifth Amendment. Becker was found guilty and sentenced to death in the electric chair. The actual killers of Rosenthal went to trial after Becker.

On November 20, 1912 Becker’s accomplices in the Rosenthal murders – Frank Cirofici, “Whitey” Lewis, Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz, and “Lefty” Louis Rosenberg were found guilty of first degree murder.

“Lefty Louie” Rosenberg and “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz in court

Patrolman Shot During Wedding Reception In New York

On November 19, 1912 a wedding reception was taking place in Buffalo, New York. 3 men tried to enter the reception. When they were turned away they began to vandalize a fence in front of a nearby residence. Patrolman George E Claus was coincidentally across the street. Patrolman Claus instructed the men to “move along.” As they walked in one direction Patrolman Claus turned to go the opposite way but the 3 men suddenly ran after Patrolman Claus and attacked him. 2 of the suspects grabbed him around his waist while the third suspect wrestled Claus’ firearm from him. The third suspect put the revolver to Patrolman Claus’ face and fired. Patrolman Claus was killed instantly. The suspect was apprehended and charged with the murder.

Buffalo, New York Police Department

Anarchist Kills Spanish Prime Minister

José Canalejas was born in July 1854 in Ferrol, Spain. He earned a PhD in Literature before becoming involved in politics. He became minister of justice in 1888 and finance from 1894 to 1895. He served as president of the chamber and became Prime Minister and chief of the Liberal party in 1910. Canalejas was a moderate who introduced electoral reforms, attempted to curtail Catholic educational clericalism without threatening the Catholic Church and to turn Spain into a true democracy. Spain was beset with radical unrest which culminated in a bloody uprising in Barcelona in 1909.

On November 12, 1912 Canalejas was in Madrid walking to the Ministry of the Interior on foot as he did everyday. He stopped at a bookstore to look at the books offered for sale. Although he was with 2 guards, a young man walked up and shot Canalejas 4 times with a pistol. While trying to apprehended the assassin, he shot himself in the head. He is identified as Manuel Pardenas, an anarchist.

Assassinated Spanish Prime Minister José Canalejas

Heavyweight Boxing Champion Indicted In Illinois

In October 1912 Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson was arrested on a charge of the abduction of Lucille Cameron, an 18 year old prostitute.


Authorities could not make the charges stick as Cameron refused to testify against Johnson. But the controversial fighter still offends some authorities with his behavior.

In March 1909 Johnson had visited the Everleigh Club, an exclusive all-white bordello in Chicago. He was not allowed in but convinced 5 of the girls to go for a ride with him in his car. One of them was Belle Schreiber the 23-year-old daughter of a Milwaukee policeman. She was soon Johnson’s new favorite. In October 1910, Johnson helped her open her own brothel, paying the first month’s rent and buying all of the furniture. They argued violently and had an on-and-off relationship.

On November 7, 1912 Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago for violation of the Mann Act. Belle Schreiber testified that Johnson had arranged for her railroad trip from Chicago to Pittsburgh for immoral purposes. Johnson refutes the charges.

Belle Schreiber – 1910

2nd Railroad Policeman Killed In Illinois

John W Kamphouse was a police officer with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Police Department. 6 months ago Kamphouse’s brother-in law officer Edward Spielman was shot and killed in the Proviso yards in Chicago, Illinois.

On November 1, 1912 Kamphouse was preparing to make his final rounds before going home when he saw some suspicious looking men in the rail yard. He left a note for a fellow officer and went to investigate. He failed to report for work the following day.

After Officer Kamphouse’s wife reported that he had never come home from work the previous evening, a search was begun. An hour later, a railroad employee found Officer Kamphouse dead of a single gunshot wound to the head on the north side of the yard. Kamphouse was shot and killed less than 200 feet away from the spot his brother-in-law was killed six months earlier.

Anti-Revolutionary Officer Sentenced To Death In Mexico

Felix Diaz, the nephew of ex-President and dictator of Mexico Porfirio Diaz led an anti-revolutionary force and seized the city of Vera Cruz.


Last Thursday government troops loyal to Madero recaptured the city and took Diaz prisoner. An immediate courtmartial was convened.

On October 27, 1912 after being found guilty of treason and insurrection, Felix Diaz was sentenced to death. He plans to appeal his sentence.

Felix Diaz

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