January 27, 1910
FATHER'S FEARS UNFOUNDED.
Italian's Effort to See Girl Starts
Black Hand Story.
Fearing that he was about to become a victim of a Black Hand plot, Petro Marsala, a wealthy Italian living at 410 Oak street, appealed to the police for protection yesterday. Detectives immediately investigated the case and reoprted that Marsala's apprehensions were for the most part unfounded.
Petro has a 13-year-old daughter whose name is Dora. She recently had an ardent suitor, Sam Valenta, who proposed marriage to her. The father promptly interposed an objection and ordered Sam to desist his attentions. Volenta's feelings were hurt and it is said that he wrote imploring letters to Dora and finally formed the habit of frequenting the Marsala premises in an effort to see the girl.
Then Marsala seemed to take alarm. He had heard that Valenta had relatives who were said to be members of the Black Hand society. Neighbors told him they had heard rumors to the effect that Sam and some accomplices plotted to kidnap Dora. No arrests have been made.
Labels: black hand, children, detectives, immigrants, Oak street, romance
October 29, 1909
PRIEST SUED FOR DAMAGES.
Italian Doctor Says He Was Called
Member of the Mafia.
Bendetto Tripi Rao, an Italian physician, filed suit in the circuit court yesterday to collect $10,000 damages from Charles Delbecchi, an Italian priest.
Dr. Rao sets up in his petition that he has a large practice among the Italians of the city and that on September 24, 1909, Father Delbecchi publicly charged Rao with being a member of the Mafia, said to be an Italian "black hand" society. According to the petition the priest also had a document, said to have borne a seal of the King of Italy, in which Dr. Rao was charged with being a quack and a swindler.
Labels: black hand, circuit court, doctors, immigrants, Lawsuit, ministers
October 29, 1909
TRIES TO BLACKMAIL
R. A. LONG FOR $5,000.
LETTERS TO MULTIMILLIONAIRE
DEMAND THIS AMOUNT.
Is Arrested Just as He Is Given
THADDEUS SEBASTIAN WILSON.
Accused of Writing Letter to R. A. Long Demanding $5,000 Under Thread Against His Home.
A bungling attempt to "black hand" R. A. Long out of $5,000 resulted in the arrest of a man at the general delivery window of the postoffice at 8:30 o'clock last night, just as he had been handed a decoy package, supposed to contain the money demanded.
At police headquarters the prisoner gave the name Thaddeus Sebastian Wilson, who recently came to Kansas City from Garnett, Kas. He denied writing letters to Mr. Long asking for money, and at the same time making a veiled threat. Wilson was placaed in the holdover to be questioned later. Inspector E. P. Boyle said he had reason to believe that he had the right man.
When Mr. Long went to his office in the R. A. Long building yesterday morning, he found this letter on his desk, addressed and written in long hand, on plain stationary:
"Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 27.
"Mr. R. A. Long.
"Dear Sir: -- Say, old man, I am broke, and want some money. I have to help take care of my mother and sister. You know times are pretty hard on poor people and it is pretty stiff.
"I am trying to give my sister an education. If I had some money I would buy a little store for my mother, and I would work. We could make and save money that way.
"Now, I have to have some money, and I am not going to knock some poor devil down to get it. I want you to send me $5,000 at once. I don't want you to give it to me. I will pay it all back with interest.
"You get up $5,000 in bills of different kind and wrap 'em in a package like goods from the store. Wrap them up good so they won't be tore open. Then you mail it like store goods. It will come all right.
MADE NO THREATS.
"Now I must have the money. I want to be honest so I ask you for it. No guess work or foolin, nothin but the dow will do. Send it today. Sure now. Say I've made n o threats. I have not been foolin either. I have lots of friends that will stand by me.
"You send me $5,000.00 as soon as possible today, as I told you konw. I guess you understand. Now get busy if you want us both to prosper. You needent say nothing to anyboydy, either. For the love of your home send that money as soon as you get this. This is more important. Let your work go.
"Waiting for results. O. B. VANDELLER.
Mr. Long read the letter over, then tossed it to his secretary to make a copy. He did not give it a second thought.
R. A. LONG.
But a second letter was received at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. This was more insistent. The writer in his first letter had apparently feigned illiteracy, but in the second the language was pointed and written in the best of style. There were none of the misspelled words that had appeared in the first.
SECOND MORE INSISTENT.
"Kansas City, Mo., October 27, 1909.
"Dear Sir -- Now the best, cheapest and healthiest, and the most satisfacaotry way for you to do is to send along that $5000. No fooling goes much longer. You'll get it all back within three years. Now mind, $5,000 in the postoffice by tonight. Quicker the better; cheaper and healthier way is to send it along. I'll send you a note duly signed for the amount.
"Earnestly, O. B. Vandaller.
"P. S. -- You send a letter also.
Mr. Long notified the police about 4 o'clock and Detectives Jo Keshlear and J. J. McGraw were assigned to watch the postoffce.
NERVOUS IN POSTOFFICE.
When Wilson went into the postoffice he appeared very nervous. He looked around the rotunda before he took courage to step up to the general delivery window. Finally he edged in among a small crowd of peole and in time reached the window. He went into his pocket and from a notebook handed a sheet of paper to the man at the window.
By that time McGraw and Keshlear knew he was the man after the Long decoy package. Before the clerk could hand it to him, however, Keshlear arrested Wilson. He made no resistance, but became more nervous. The slip of paper, which he handed the clerk and the window has been taken from a loose leaf note book in Wilson's pocket. On it was written, in identically the same hand as that of the Long letters:
"Give man my mail. -O. B. Vandeller."
The package which Wilson would have received, had he been given time, was a twelve-ounce bottle in a cigar box. The package was wrapped in newspapers with plain wapping paper on the outside.
To Inspector Boyle Wilson denied that he had written a letter demanding $5,000. Just a brief statement was taken down in shorthand at first, and the prisoner, who gave his name as Thaddeus Sebastian Wilson, was locked up to think the matter over.
Labels: black hand, crime, Inspector Boyle, R A Long, R A Long building
June 25, 1909
BLACK HAND LETTER A JOKE.
Boy Wanted to Keep Father Home
for Dinner July 4.
Dr. E. R. Tenney, police surgeon of Kansas City, Kas., yesterday received a letter purporting to come form the "Black Hand" Society. Unlike the ordinary threatening letters, no demand was made for money . The letter was mailed in Kansas City, Kas., and was signed with the regulation black hand and gruesome skull and crossbones. After warning the police surgeon of the dreadful fate in store for him in the event of his failure to observe the wishes of the society, he was commanded to stay at his home during the entire day of July 4, and on no occasion to venture outside of his own yard.
After consulting with the chief of police, Dr. Tenney concluded that the letter was meant as a practical joke. Later in the day it developed that the letter had been written by his son, Clifford, 11 years old. The boy had planned for a Fourth of July dinner to be given as a surprise for his father. Fearing from a conversation which he overheard that his father would not be at home, Clifford adopted heroic methods in an effort to detain him. Dr. Tenney will eat dinner at home on July 4.
Labels: black hand, children, doctors, holidays, Kansas City Kas
June 15, 1909
BLACK HAND IN KANSAS CITY.
Indiana Italian Ordered to Send
$130,000 Here or His Daugh-
ter Will Be Kidnaped.
EVANSVILLE, IND., June 14. -- Michael Fasciano, a prosperous fruit dealer, today received a mysterious letter demanding $130,000. The letter threatened the kidnaping of Fasciano's daughter unless the demand was complied with.
The letter was mailed at Mexico City on June 6 and directs that the money be sent to a man in Kansas City. Postal authorities and local detectives are at work on the case.
Labels: black hand
May 15, 1909
FOUR ITALIANS SENT
TO THE WORKHOUSE.
BELIEVE THEY ARE BLACK
HAND SOCIETY MEMBERS.
Two Were Fined $1,000 and Two
$500 -- Any Attempt to Secure
Their Release Will Be
Four Italians who were arrested by Detectives J. L. Ghent and "Lum" Wilson in a rooming house at 503 East Third street, and who are suspected by the police of belonging to the Black Hand society, were fined yesterday morning in the municipal court for vagrancy, and in default of payment of the fines were sent to the workhouse. Vincenzo Domenico and Frank Bruno were fined $1,000 each on two charges, while Francesco Amelo and Maro Choapa, the other members of the gang, were fined $500 each.
Ever since Italian business men received threatening letters demanding money a few weeks ago the detectives have been investigating the matter. Domenico and Bruno first excited suspicion, and after watching for several days, the detectives decided to bring them to police headquarters. When searched, both were found to be armed with revolvers. The other two Italians were arrested, and when their room, on Third street, was entered, where all had been living, several revolvers and shotguns were found.
In court yesterday morning, none of the prisoners professed knowledge of the English language. The court failed to establish that any of the men had been the authors of the threatening letters.
The police will fight any attempt to get them out of the workhouse as they regard them as dangerous characters and while it was not proved that they were actually members of the dread Italian society it is thought that they know more than they care to tell.
Labels: black hand, detectives, guns, immigrants, police court, police headquarters, rooming house, Third street, vagrancy, workhouse
April 21, 1909
TREATS BLACK HAND
LETTER AS A JOKE.
J. B. MARKEY HAS NO THOUGHT
OF GIVING UP $10,000.
Note Demanding Money Was Sent
to a Wealthy Farmer From Den-
ver -- Believed to Be the
Work of a Crank.
J. B. Markey, whose children live at 1303 West Thirty-ninth street, but who spends most of the time on his big farm in Harrison county, treats as a joke the "Black Hand" letter sent him from Denver, demanding $10,000 under pain of death.
It was last Friday when Mr. Markey received the letter, postmarked at Denver. At that time he was on his farm near Gilman City, Mo., and the missive had been forwarded to him from Kansas City. Laughingly he handed the letter to his friends and then forgot about it.
Being advised, however, to send the letter to Denver authorities, Mr. Markey did so, and since yesterday morning nothing more had been heard of it. Then it developed that the lives of his children were being weighed against the $10,000.
The letter was poorly written and demanded that the $10,000 be apportioned in designated bills, to be delivered at a certain address on Wellton avenue, in Denver, within thirty days of the date of the letter. No mention was made of the three children. Certain reports, however, have frightened the children, who are ignorant of the exact demands made upon their father.
Yesterday morning W. F. Farren, 3136 Central avenue, a nephew of Mr. Markey, read the letter in a morning paper, and hastened to the Markey home to break the news to the family. Some friends had preceded him and had talked with Miss Markey over the telephone. Though he assured the children that no harm whatever attended them, their fears were not fully dispelled. Last night Miss Markey refused to discuss the matter.
Speaking of the letter, Mr. Farren said:
"It is doubtless the work of some crank who knows that Mr. Markey has some money, and thinks that he can be bluffed into giving it up. Mr. Markey has not the slightest fear of harm resulting form the affair, and treats it only as a joke.
"Mr. Markey has no intention of complying with the demand. He pays less attention to the affair than do his friends."
Labels: black hand, Central avenue, Denver, farmers, telephone, Thirty-ninth street
January 28, 1909
WARNED BY THE BLACK HAND.
Grand Avenue Italian Grocer Gets
Threatening Letter Demanding
$300 on Pain of Death.
A letter signed "Black Hand Socialist" was received yesterday by Tony Jordan, an Italian, who has a grocery store at 507 Grand avenue. He took the letter to police headquarters at 8 o'clock last night and asked for protection. The letter is as follows:
"Mr. Tony: You better pay us $300 or we kill you. Be sure be Second and Grand avenue 12 o'clock a. m. (Signed) BLACK HAND SOCIALIST."
Lieutenant Ryan turned Jordan and the letter over to Benjamin Goode and John McCall, plain clothes men. They arranged to meet Jordan at Second and Grand a few minutes before midnight last night, but Jordan did not appear. He evidently was badly frightened, as he locked his grocery store and left the building.
Other Italians heard of the letter last night and there was a general alarm sent out by them. They gathered in groups in Little Italy last night to talk it over. The frequency of these letters and the efforts made to blow up one or two places has caused extreme nervousness in the Italian settlement.
No "Black Hand Socialist" appeared at Second and Grand avenue at 12 o'clock a. m. (midnight), so far as the officers were able to learn.
Labels: black hand, crime, Grand avenue, grocers, immigrants, Second street, Socialists
January 2, 1909
SUSPECTED MEN ARRESTED.
Police Are Holding Four Italians in
Connection With Dynamite Case.
Suspicion has been directed against four Italians by the police department in connection with the dynamiting of the apartments of Antonio Armenio, 550 Gillis street, early Wednesday morning. Detectives Lum Wilson and Alonzo Ghent, who have been working on the case, found it very difficult to make much progress among the Italians, and Patrolman S. P. Spizzirri, an Italian, was assigned to assist them.
While conclusive evidence against any one person has not been secured by the police, they have made four arrests, Frank Bruno and Palermo Venato were arrested yesterday morning, and Francisco Stuzlone and Dominico Olivo were arrested in the afternoon. A charge of investigation was placed against them. The men refused to talk to the police.
Their rooms were searched and all papers containing writing were turned over to the postoffice inspectors, along with the three Black Hand letters received by Armenio. If the police fail to connect the men under arrest with the crime, they will charge them with vagrancy.
Labels: black hand, crime, detectives, Gillis street, immigrants
December 31, 1908
BLACK HAND TRIES
TO MURDER FAMILY.
TONY ARMENIO'S HOUSE BLOWN
UP BY DYNAMITE.
Inmates Escape Injury, but Front of
Building Is Wrecked -- Money
Had Been Demanded of
Coming to the country twenty-one years ago, Tony Armenio prospered in business but gained the enmity of the Society of the Mafia, or Black Hand, members of which early yesterday morning attempted to kill Armenio and his wife and child by exploding a dynamite bomb in his living apartments. The Italian owns a saloon at 550 Gillis street and lives on the fourth floor above the dramshop.
Preceding the explosion yesterday morning Armenio on Monday received a letter, which was unsigned, demanding $5,900. If Armenio failed to give the money to "friends," the writer stated, his entire family would be killed. The Italian saloonkeeper did not heed the warning and thought but little of it, because he received a similar letter about a year ago.
A tenement house four stories high with storerooms occupying the ground floor, situated at 536 to 550 Gillis street, is owned by Armenio. Along the rear of the tenement is a porch, and it was upon this porch that the Black Hand arranged the bomb.
NOISE WAS FAR REACHING.
An explosion, the detonation of which was heard as far as Sheffield, occurred at 1:30 o'clock yesterday morning and wrecked the rear rooms of the apartments occupied by Armenio and his family. In the front room were Armenio and his wife, while in the room to the west was their daughter, Mary, 16 years old. The dining room is directly west of that in which the daughter was asleep. A window opens out onto the rear porch.
Just beneath the window ledge the Black Hand agent had removed a brick from the wall, and placing a bomb on the window ledge, balanced it with the brick. A fuse was attached and set off. The force of the explosion tore the window casing out and knocked bricks out of the wall, and caused the plaster to fall off the ceilings and walls of every room.
Mary Armenio was covered with debris and unable to get out of bed until her father and mother assisted her. The shock greatly frightened the Armenio family and the other inhabitants of the tenement house. Window panes were broken in houses a block away. As soon as the first excitement was over the Italian family joined the throng in the street below. Luckily none was injured by the flying debris.
The explosion played havoc with the tenement, but also performed many peculiar tricks. A two-by-four scaritling torn from the porch was driven through the door from the dining room leading into Mary Armenio's room. A bird cage, imprisoning a canary bird, was hanging to a window casing. All of the casings was blown away except a small part to which was attached the cage. The glass and plaster fell into the cage, but the bird was uninjured.
THEY'RE AFRAID TO TALK.
Nails were driven into the walls and door frames and the police believe that the bomb was composed of a beer bottle filled with nails and iron slugs.
As is always the case where trouble has occurred among the Italian inhabitants of Little Italy, the police are at a loss. When asked, the Italians invariably shake their heads and mutter: "I don't know." Never have the police been able to make the Italians say they believe a murder has been committed by members of the Black Hand, so powerful is the influence of the society.
The report of dynamite explosion was heard by practically every policeman on duty in Kansas City. Immediately afterwards the patrolman called up their various stations and reported. But not one of them was able to give definite information as to where the explosion occurred. At police headquarters at 2:45 o'clock they learned that the explosion occurred at 559 Gillis street. And it was 3 o'clock before they learned that it was caused by a dynamite bomb placed in the building with murderous intent.
Labels: black hand, explosion, Gillis street, immigrants, police headquarters, saloon
August 11, 1908
"BLACK HAND" IN ROSEDALE.
Christopher Egers Gets Skull and
Cross Bones Messages.
There is an active "Black Hand" organization in Rosedale, according to Christopher Egers, a druggist of the west end of Kansas City avenue, Rosedale. He complained to County Attorney Joseph Taggart yesterday that warnings had been pinned on his door.
He said that on several occasions he had found notices left on his premises during the night, previous, threatening his life and supplemented by a fairly well drawn skull and crossbones.
"I have no enemies in town that I know of," said Egers . "I do not suspect anyone and the only reason I can guess why anyone should want to frighten me is to obtain money."
Labels: black hand, County Attorney Taggart, Rosedale
May 30, 1908
BLACK HAND IN
MOVES MEN LIKE PIECES IN A
GAME OF CHESS.
SHADOW OF MICKEY O'HEARN.
COMPELS TERROR AND SILENCE
WHEREVER IT FALLS.
"I Get My Orders From the Boss
Down Town," Boasts an Insub-
ordinate Sergeant --
What Happened to James.
"You'll only be here a few days."
"To hell with the captain. I get my orders from the boss down town."
Could it be that his avowed friendship for Alderman Mickey O'Hearn, and the fact that Mickey was for him when he made sergeant, inspired these remarks from Sergeant Charles Beattie? They were made some time ago in No 3 police station on the Southwest boulevard to Sergeant R. L. James, who, at that time, was in command of the station nights. There was more truth than poetry in the remarks, for James was moved at the next monthly meeting. It is said five persons heard the remarks of Sergeant Beattie.
It is a well known fact to all who understand police duty that the sergeant in charge of a station has full charge of the men in the entire district. On the night that the remarks were made it is reported that Beattie, who was serving as outside sergeant, changed a patrolman whom Sergeant James had ordered to walk the Southwest boulevard until the saloons closed. It was Saturday night and things were doing on the boulevard.
When the patrolman was told to go another beat he went to the station after his lunch, so report says. There this dialogue is said to have taken place:
"It's only 11 o'clock, officer. I thought I told you to stay on the boulevard until the saloons were closed," said James.
"Sergeant Beattie has ordered me back on my beat," was the reply.
ORDERS FROM THE BOSS.
Just at that juncture Beattie entered and an explanation was asked for. He said that he had ordered the officer back and intended that he should go there, too. He was asked if he didn't know that the sergeant in charge of the station was his superior officer and t5hat he is said to have replied: "Oh you'll only be here a few days."
James, according to the witnesses, must have felt the influence of the unseen power which has for nearly a year been guiding the affairs of the police, still he fought for his authority.
"I don't want to quarrel with my men, and won't," he is reported as saying, "but, Beattie, if you will be here tomorrow at 9 o'clock we will put this whole matter up to the captain and see who is right."
"To hell with the captain. I get my orders from the boss down town," is the reported remark of Beattie. Then the officer was ordered by Beattie to go hence and he went.
A full report of this affair was made to Captain John Branham, who has charge at No. 3 police station. The captain made his report and the correspondence was sent to Chief of Police Daniel Ahern. There the matter has apparently rested, for Beattie has never called "on the carpet" to explain his remark, and James "got his" at the first of the month. It is also said that the matter of James's removal was taken up with the commissioners later and that they knew nothing of it. Yet the board unanimously adopted a resolution in July last year, saying that only the commissioners should have to do with the shifting of men.
WHAT UNSEEN FORCE?
Who moved Sergeant James? What for? He is rated as one of the best officers on the force and there is not a black mark against him. What force was brought to bear? How did Beattie know that James would be moved? Beattie is said to be a close friend of "Mickey."
A reporter attempted to interview Sergeant James last night in regard to the affair. Here is all he got: "Yes, I was once at No. 3. I was moved from there and made relief sergeant. If there was any trouble down there, a full report was made on it, and that is all I have got to say unless called on by my superior officers or the board."
Before Beattie was made a sergeant, he walked a beat on West Twelfth street, by the Century hotel and theater. There he came daily in contact with Joseph Donegan, manager, a close friend of O'Hearn. He also saw O'Hearn many times a week for the Century was a hang out of his when not at his saloon. Many reports came to headquarters of a poker game in that neighborhood, but it was reported "impossible to get at it."
THEY'RE AFRAID TO TALK.
Good men on the police force who got "in bad" by doing their full duty are now living in deadly fear that their names will be published.
"What do you care?" one was asked yesterday. "You did your duty and got the worst of it, didn't you?"
"Yes," he replied mournfully, "and I know just why I got it and who gave it to me. But I have a family to support and I need my job. If you run my name I'm afraid the man who had me moved will have me fired."
All through the whole department that unseen power is felt. All seem to know what and who it is, but they fear to say so, unless called on to do so by the board of police commissioners.
A new man said yesterday that O'Hearn moved to the Century hotel in the Second ward just to run for Alderman there. The January Home telephone book gives his residence as 3427 Euclid avenue.
The police board seems to be resting fairly content while the force is being manipulated to suit a saloonkeeper-politician and his friends. Or is the board "wise" to what is going on -- and willing to stand for it?
Labels: Alderman O'Hearn, black hand, Euclid avenue, hotels, No 3 police station, police, politics, saloon, Southwest boulevard
May 18, 1908
LASOLA CUT HIS
SLIPPED UP ON DE ROSA, DIS-
GUISED BY A BEARD.
BELONGS TO THE BLACK HAND
De Rosa Shot at His Assailant, Police
Shot at Him, and Everybody
Missed -- De Rosa Only
Shots, cries, hurrying feet; a cut throat, poor marksmanship, a woman; black whiskers, Black Hand and a bunch of policemen that couldn't hit Clay county if it stood on edge, were factors in a riotous drama near police headquarters at 11:30 o'clock last night.
It started when Alessandro De Rosa, who is a bartender at 302 Main street, went to his place of employment to roll a few lemons and knock a bung or two for the brief, but brisk, hour of trade between midnight and 1 a. m. Alessandro had inserted his key in the front door lock and was bending over it, grunting a bit because it turned with difficulty, when a heavily whiskered man darted from the shadow of the next doorway, slashed De Rosa's throat twice with a knife and ran.
De Rosa, who is tough under the chin, thanks to shaving for many years past in North End barber shops, wasn't much more than scratched. He jerked a revolver from his pocket and fired at the flying whiskers. Once, twice, thrice, he blazed away, but the person with the beard and dull knife ran up on Main street toward Fourth. De Rosa followed, shouting for the police and snapping his revolver, which had gone to sleep, at every leap.
The police were awake in Central station, Fourth and Main streets, at that hour. They heard the noise and turned out, several of them, just as the whiskered man wheeled into West Fourth street and galloped toward Wyandotte.
The police added their imperious commands to the tenor wail of Alessandro de Rosa, but whiskers bobbed along with hardy disregard. Shots sounded again, and the fugitive increased his gait, while Alessandro, who was behind the policemen, and ripe in experience, took shelter back of a fat telephone pole.
The fugitive passed into the penumbra of a wholesale house, became obscured in the eclipse of black shadow, and the police pelted on. When they came to the point where the man they chased had disappeared, they halted. Another man, but whiskerless, was walking toward them, calm, unagitated. They nabbed him, and led him into the light.
Alessandro de Rosa had come up by then, and when he saw the captive he exulted.
"It is Joe Lasola," said he, "but he wore whiskers w hen he cut my throat."
On the way to the station a policeman found the whiskers, lying where Lasola had cast them in his flight. They were made of black dyed wool, clumsy, dense, with a tin attachment to hook them on behind the ears.
De Rosa said that he had quarreled with Lasola over a woman. That was the whole trouble. Lasola, being known to him, knew he could not approach withing damaging distance in his own proper face, so he had made the whiskers and waited.
The police brought the woman from the address given by De Rosa. She said her name was Anita Zuvino and that she knew Joe Lasola to be a member of the Black Hand. She had lived with him formerly, she said, and offered as evidence a newly-healed knife wound on the back of her hand. Lasola received money each month from headquarters of the Black Hand organization, she declared.
Lasola repudiated everything, but the whiskers. He grinned when they were held up before him.
De Rosa's wounds are only slight. Lasola passed through the rain of fire without a mark. He was held by the police and will be turned over to the state authorities today.
Labels: black hand, Central station, Fourth street, Main street, North end, police, police headquarters, violence, Wyandotte street
|Share on Facebook
|Get the Book|
Kansas City Stories