Last Friday night, George Williams and Joseph Henderson, two youug Bowery toughs, were going up Lexington avenue on their way to Central Park. They had been lodging at the Delavan, 143 Bowery, and had been working the lower part of the city, trying to pick pockets or lift articles from the front of Bowery shops. But business had been extremely dull and the low browed, stocky youths had nothing in their ragged pockets but their big idle hands. They thought it might be possible that some stray and belated foot passenger would give up a few cents under pressure in the lonelier parts of the Park.
There was a cold wind blowing, and the young toughs shivered and chattered. At the corner of Lexington avenue and Sixty-seventh street they turned westward toward the Park. The first house from the corner on the north side of the Street attracted their attention. It was a three-story and basement brown-stone front, with a high stoop. The number was 130 East Sixty-seventh street. Although the tough young men did not know it, this house had been the residence of Mrs. Mary T. Slevin, a widow 86 years old, for many years. She lived there in a manner becoming her very considetable income. In December she had shut up the house, and had gone to Hot Springs, Ark., with some of her relatives, to stay until spring. She had left no one to guard the house, which contained furniture and household goods of great value. The police were not informed. Mrs. Slevin relied upon an occasional visit from her brother-in-law, Edward P. Slevin, 278 Madison avenue, who is with the firm of George V. Hecker & Co., flour merchants at 205 Cherry street.
The cold, tough young men thought the drawn curtains and the absence of the slightest glimmer of light looked suspiciously like a vacated and unguarded house. They looked over the situation carefully, and saw that by climbing the fence along the sidewalk to the east of the house, and then climbing four little backyard fences, the rear of the house could be reached. As Sixty-seventh street was empty, and the night was reasonably dark, they ventured, and were soon inspecting the rear windows of 130 from its little backyard. Not a glimmer of light was to be seen. They attacked the kitchen door, and soon burst in its lower right-hand panel. Inside this was a door half of glass, and this was soon opened, as its lock was not secure.
They searched the house cautiously from top to bottom, using matches for light until they came upon a box of wax candles. Not a soul was in the house except themselves. There were small, beautifully furnished rooms, good beds, many closets, and bureaus and dressers and trunks. Williams and Henderson could hardly believe in their good luck. As the house was cold they made the kitchen their headquarters and brought up coal from the cellar and soon had a roaring fire in the stove. To prevent the neighhors from seeing the light they fastened blankets over the kitchen windows.
Henderson had been a baker's apprentice, and as both were hungry he searched for the means of making a supper. He found flour, coffee, sugar, molasses, and such other things as are kept in stock in a kitchen. He also found a little closet which he burst open to reveal its pleasant contents of bottles full of liquors of every description-- whiskey, brandy, champagne, port, sherry, claret. They began upon a bottle of whiskey at once.
Then Henderson fell to and made a doughas well as he knew how and as the limited facilites permitted. Henderson should not be judged by this bread, as he had a badly heated oven to contend against. They sat down before the fire and enjoyed the whiskey while the bread was baking and the coffee was boiling. Then they ate and, having filled themselves, they took a bottle ot champagne and a bottle of port, and went up to the second story where the bedrooms were. Mrs. Slevin's bedroom was in front—a handsomely furnished room, with religious pictures on the walls and a little altar in the corner. For some reason the intruders decided against this room and chose the bedroom in the rear on the same floor. This was a pretty little room, with a thousand indications of a woman's occupancy. There were several novels. The men turned back the clean covers and, lighting candles and putting them in chairs on either sido the bed, fell to smoking some old cigar stumps and drinking from the bottles, and examining the literature. "Don Quixote" pleased neither and was cast aside. Other books were more to their taste, and they read and smoked and drank until they fell asleep.
Could anything be pleasanter than the situation these gentlemen, who had expected a cold bed on the frozen ground of the park as tne ending of long cold hours of weary and probably fruitless search for plunder? Here they were in the house of a rich person, with luxury all about them, rent free, with plenty to eat and unheard-of drinkables, and slumber in good beds with dreams ot magnificent plunder on the morrow. They slept until late Saturday morning. Henderson's bread, which they had put away in the ice chest to keep from the rats, and the coffee and molasses gave them breakfast.
Then they fell to to drinking, and before noon had finished the quart of whiskey, had drunk two quarts of champagne, a quart of port, and a quantity of sherry. Such a drunk was never seen. They tumbled the beds, they kicked over chairs, they smashed furniture, they drank and drank until they finally fell into the bed in the back room, stupefied with the abundance of drinks so different from three-cent whiskey and two-schooners-for-a-nickel beer. They said afterward that when they awoke about noon Sunday they were still drunk and their heads felt as though a pooliceman had been playing a tune on them with his club.
But they realized that they had wasted time. Monday morning the pawn shops would be open, and they must take advantage of their find, lest, peradventure, the owners should return. The only tool they could find was a small hammer. With this and their fists and feet they wont through the house. They broke open closets, they stove in the panels of fine old oak bureaus, they pounded off locks. And in each room they turned out upon the floor all sorts of household goods in disorderly heaps. They brought their bottles with them, and stopped every once in a while to rest and take a drink.
From the vast amount ot fine personal belongings they ejected enough to make two big bundles. There were decant gowns, dozens of pairs of kid gloves, women's jewelry, a large music box, bric-a-brac, and some table ware. They made ready to carry out about $2,000 worth of stuff. Then they went to sleep and slept-until 5 o'clock Monday morning. After a farewell drink they went out the way they had come in, and, climbing the fences in the darkness, they reached the street again in the loneliest hours of the morning.
They went straight back to their old haunts in the Bowery. At 102 East Tenth street lived a young man of their own kind named Tom Russell. There was a girl living with him known as Mrs. Russell. The two burglars took the bundles to the Russell's room, in the second story, rear. With this place as headquarters they rapidly pawned much of the stuff. The $200 music box brought $4. A handsome wrap worth S150 brought S2.50. And so it went through the list. They destroyed the pawn tickets at once, but the prudent Mr. Russell put stop tickets on several of the articles with an eye to future profit. Some of the stuff could not be pawned conveniently, so it was left in a closet in the little back room of the Russells.
The rest of Monday, all of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the two burglars spent in high rioting among their friends of the Bowery, who drank freely to their future success. They told in a vague way where they had come upon their treasure trove, and had congratulations showered upon them. On Thursday night, after a farewell drink with the boys, they took a huge cloth bag, what is called a "burglars bag" by the police, and went uptown. They had twenty cents in their pockets-— ten cents for car fares up town nnd ten cents for the return fares.
But in the meanwhile something had happened. Mr. Edward P. Slevin bethought him on Thursday afternoon that he had not been to his sister-in-law's house since Feb. 6, and decided that he would take a look at it. He entered the front door about 6 o'clock, and at once noticed a peculiar and suspicious odor of wine and bad tobacco. He lighted a candle-- the gas had been shut off when Mrs. Slevin left-- and went up stairs. He looked into Mrs. Slevin's room and saw the wrecked furniture. He went from room to room, and finally to the kitchen. Then he locked up the house, and called on Capt. Schmittberger at the East Sixty-seventh street police station. He apologized to the Captain for not having left word at the station house that Mrs. Slevin's house was untenanted, and then explained what had happened.
Capr. Schmittberger felt certain that the burglars would return. He and Detectives Long and Gannon examined the house, saw how the burglars had got in, and formed an idea or what sort ot men they were. Then Capt. Schmittherger set his trap. He put officer Tom Stevenson in the front parlor under the piano and told him to follow his own devlces as to capturing the men and to fire his pistol if he needed help. Then the Captain and the two detectives hid in the basements near the front of the house and waited. Everything was ready for the burglars at 11 o'clock. They did not come until 1 o'clock.
At that time those watching outside saw two men come into Sixty-seventh street, look all around, and then begin to scale the fences. They waited to hear Officer Stevenson shoot. Stevenson was beginning to get a little tired of his wait in the darkness under the piano, when he heard the men in the kitchen. They came up stairs, looking for their candle, entered the parlor, and knocked over a chair in the darkness.
"Hully gee, Joe. I'm hungry." said one. "Do you think there's anything to eat besides that damn bread of yours?"
"We'll be all right." said Joe: "only I think the champagne is all gone."
Then they left the room. Stevenson now had them so that he could get between them and the kitchen stairs. He crept from under the piano and peered into the hall. He could see them now, as they had lighted the candle. He drew his revolver, jumped for the smaller one, and got him by the collar. The other, who had the candle, dashed up the stairs. Stevenson pointed the revolverr at him and said: " Stop and come down here or I'll let go at you." The man with the candle hesitated and came down.
Ktevenson drove him and dragged the other into the vestibule, and when Capt. Schmittberger opened the storm door he found them there. Yesterday morning he induced them to confess, and before noon Detective Gannon went down to 102 East Tenth street. He found Mr.and Mrs. Russell in bed. He arrested them, and after a little search found much of the stolen goods. All day yesterday the pawned goods were arriving at the East Sixty-seventh street police station. Gowns, wraps, gloves, bric-a-brac, jewelry, dress goods not yet made up, came In from various shops. The music box was found at Simpson's, Mr. and Mrs. Bussell protested that they had no idea Joe and George had been stealing. They will be taken to the Yorkville Folice Court this morning, charged with receiving stolen coods. Henderson, who is 20 years old, and Williams, who is 21, will be charged by Mr. Slevin with burglary.
They had ten cents and two jimmies in their pockets when arrested. It is supposed that the jimmies were to be used in operations against other houses in the neighborhood. The two men who had stolen a house looked quite chopfallen yesterday afternoon and not at all clean. Indeed, about the only part of the house they had overlooked was the bath room. They had also left untouched the little altar in Mrs. Sievin's room, upon which were many small articles of value.
New York (New York) Sun, February 20, 1892.