As I mentioned in my previous post, my aunt stumbled upon a New York Supreme Court case that involved Billy Gallagher. The original trial occurred in 1929 and arose out of the sale of some property a few months before an involuntary bankruptcy petition was filed on his behalf.
This court record included hundreds of pages of testimony and exhibits that contain clues that led me to other court records, which I am in the process of requesting.
So now I’m going to hop into my Time Machine (bet you wish you had one of these!) and take us about 145 years in the past.
[cue the "rewind" sound effect]
William “Billy” Gallagher was born on September 8, 1870 to William and Kate Gallagher. William was born in Ireland around 1847 and immigrated with his family when he was only 2 years old. Kate was born in Pennsylvania. William and Kate were married around 1869, possibly July (if the 1870 census record I found is the right one).
William and Kate had at least three more children by 1880: Fannie, Lizzie, and Emma, and they were living at 1025 Broadway in Camden, New Jersey. This address looks a little something like this today:
It looks like William was working in a planing mill.
An index listing for the 1885 New Jersey census shows the family living in Camden, and now there are two more children: Joseph and Franklin. Lizzie is missing from this enumeration – I found a death record for an Elizabeth Gallagher, age 9, who died on 17 May 1883. The dates roughly fit, but I won’t know until I see the actual certificate, which I have ordered. There is also a person (whom I assume is a boarder of some sort): Watson Parker. (This name never appears in any other record at any other time, as far as I can tell).
I sort of lose track of Billy between 1885 and 1900, but during this time he marries Mary Wilsey and they have four children. Burnet J. was a male child born on May 23, 1893, but died before 1900. Joseph M. is born in May 1894, and Bernard was born in June 1898. Another child is born during that time, but dies before 1900.
In 1900, Billy and Mary are living at 201 W. 46th Street in Manhattan (which today can be found smack in the middle of Times Square). Too bad they were only renting. Billy owns a saloon located at 31st and Broadway.
I think it is also appropriate to add at this time that in 1900 Billy’s father William was ALSO a saloon keeper in Camden, New Jersey. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
So here is another mystery: Who is this Henry Gallagher listed with William as a boarder in 1900? He is an iron moulder and is 10 years older than William, but is supposedly born in New Jersey. I found a couple I believe to be William’s parents (Patrick and Mary – don’t get much more Irish than that, I guess) in Camden, New Jersey in 1860. William has a brother, Harry, who is an “iron moulder” and is 10 years older. Sounds plausible that this could be William’s brother. Obviously, I need to dig deeper into this.
On February 22, 1902, Billy’s son Walter is born. Shortly thereafter, likely before Walter’s first birthday, Billy and Mary are divorced.
For me, this was a big deal. This was the first divorce (the most recent two generations notwithstanding) I had run across in my entire tree. This means court records, potential church records, and who knows what else might be uncovered!
What we discovered next will surprise you too!
The next dated entry in the scrapbook is from 1932. That’s a pretty big jump, considering the last entry was from 1923. Now, there are many undated entries that may fall between these dates, but I am having a hard time nailing down any definite dates. I was curious what happened during this period of time that wasn’t worthy of being recorded in the scrapbook.
I felt compelled to interrupt the scrapbook entries and focus on the story.
Making a Supreme Court Case Out of It
The other night, my aunt sent me a link in an email and said “Have you seen this?” It was a link to an item in GoogleBooks. My first instinct was that it was unrelated because (1) we’re searching for Gallaghers, which is quite common, and (2) we’re never THAT lucky.
I was wrong.
What she found was the 693-page record of an appeal to the Supreme Court of New York County Appeal Division on a 1929 case involving Billy Gallagher. The case itself is virtually irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but the testimony offered throughout the case from various witnesses is priceless!
My great grandfather’s police department file is resting peacefully on the corner of my desk following a traumatic mission of frantic scanning and digital organizing. Fortunately, nearly every single piece of paper in that file has a date on it, which will make it easy to fill in some of the blanks for Walter. Even better, some of those papers coincide with some of the articles in the scrapbooks.
I will try to weave the testimony from the court case and the police department records into the articles from the scrapbook to fill out the story a little more than I could with just the scrapbooks.
Stay tuned for a story riddled with deception, intrigue, debauchery, and more!
I was hesitant to put a date on this article. It is clearly published in the Daily Mirror – which I can only assume is a New York newspaper – but the first issue of the Daily Mirror in New York was not published until 1924. However, the date that is written in the scrapbook is 1923, so that’s what we’ll go with for now.
At the very least, we can be sure that our ancestors did indeed have a sense of humor.
By Gene Fowler
Knives are trumps tonight at Billy Gallagher’s milk and honey depot, the Monte Carlo. Champion Jack Dempsey is entertaining there. His guests of honor include Luis Angel Firpo, champion prune and been demolisher of the Andes, and Tex Rickard, the charlotte russe magnate of Madison Square.
There will be speeches, and will you please excuse Firpo for talking with his mouth full? Once Firpo and Dempsey were enemies. Now they are thick. But we don’t mean the kind of “thick” that one might infer from this observation.
Sporting writers and their grandsons will be there in droves. Chauncey DePew has sent his regrets. The famous after-dinner speaker is quoted as having failed to [sic]
“I am strictly a Marquis of Queensberry after-dinner speaker. From where I sit, it looks as though I wouldn’t get any dinner. There will be entirely too much competition when the Blue Plate Special steams into the station. No eat, no speak! That’s the motto of the DePews.”
Say, What’s Eating on Firpo, Anyway?
Wall Street is laying heavy odds on Firpo to win the Billy Gallagher championship belt. This belt is inlaid with Bermuda onions and Florida grapefruit. It must be won three times in succession before it becomes the permanent property of any one food-destroyer. Inside advices have it that Firpo will solve this question of perennial ownership by eating the belt once he has won it.
Dempsey, the host, will enter the lists himself. He is said to be in great gastronomical form. The fact that $90,000 income tax had to be paid made it necessary for the Champ to starve a month. This was a lucky thing, as it will make the Dempsey-Firpo nosebag futurity a real race.
Joe Bannon Spurns the Victual Watch
Billy Gallagher is referee. Joe Bannon, the Duke of William Street, would have been timekeeper. But Joe was afraid it would be too brutal. Hence, he sailed on the S. S. Berengaria. Commissioner Enright will act as Club Physician. Anyone caught cheating in such manner as hiding a side of beef under the table will be automatically disqualified. Contestants who drop gravy on the necktie instead of in the proper receptacle will be warned.
At the command of the referee, which shall consist of a gentle rap with a meat cleaver on the neck, a scoffer and his steak shall break cleanly. Fighting trunks shall consist of a napkin knotted under either ear. Celery and lettuce is barred, as it makes too much noise. Give Firpo ten heads of lettuce and a cluster of celery and it sounds as if he is half-soling a pair of Epinard’s shoes.
Referee Gallagher has issued explicit orders that no contestant shall eat the pictures on the wall. Anybody detected gnawing upholstery on the chairs will be set back two yards. The wrinkle-crowding classic makes it look like a year of famine for the boys on Broadway. Nothing will be left when those Dempsey guests get through with their rations.
Luis Angel Firpo (aka “The Wild Bull of the Pampas”) was the first Argentinian to challenge the world heavyweight title. Even though he lost to Dempsey in a controversial match in September 1923, he returned to Argentina a hero. After a few uneventful comebacks, he retired in 1936 and became a car dealer for Stutz and by 1940 had a successful ranching business. Firpo and Jack Dempsey teamed up to manage amateur boxer Abel Cestac, who later became the heavyweight champion of South America.
Chauncey DePew was a senator from New York, and a lot of other things. Here is a brief biography.
I’m pretty sure Joe Bannon was a muckety-muck of some sort, but it was difficult to find any information on him or his title “Duke of William Street.” However, this is a history of the S.S. Berengeria (aka RMS Imperator), in case you wondered.
Commissioner Enright could quite possibly be Police Commissioner (1918-1925) Richard Enright. His wikipedia page is here.
This was the only portion of this article that was preserved. The fight that was broadcast would be Jack Dempsey’s last successful defense of his Heavyweight Champion boxing title. 85,000 people were watching the fight live, and it was broadcast via radio as far away as Argentina. Dempsey defeated Firpo in a 2nd round KO.
September 14, 1923 – Newspaper unknown
One Installs Latest in Radio to Bring in Sporting Events – Andrew Club Has Annual Dinner – Fall Rush Gets Under Way.
By David G. Casem.
An experiment of connecting a highly developed amplifying public address system to a powerful, multiple-tube radio set in a restaurant, was conducted last night in the Monte Carlo, Broadway and Fifty-first street, during the Dempsey-Firpo battle. Every patron in the crowded establishment was “sold on the proposition,” as salesmen say. And it was not without reason. Many of them, having sets of their own, were amazed by the perfection attained by the Western Electric’s engineers in the development of its amplifying system, which is being installed in hundreds of the country’s largest hotels to aid speakers in reaching their audiences.
Hooked to the radio set last night the system brought the fight to the restaurant floor in all its realism. J. Andrew White’s voice, it was demonstrated while he was describing the preliminaries, could be so amplified as to be thunderous in its volume.
Pierson A. Anderson, commercial radio engineer of the Western Electric Company, installed the Monte Carlo’s equipment and supervised its operation during the battle. Later he showed the efficacy of the amplifying system by tuning in far Western orchestras, to the music of which the patrons had the novelty of dancing on the large floor.
The instruments are to be used during all sporting events of importance in the future, says Walter Gallagher, floor manager of the Monte Carlo, who was responsible for the innovation …. Frank McGuire, formerly with the Hotel Commodore and a number of well-known Broadway restaurants, has joined the Monte Carlo staff as an assistant to Walter Gallagher.
As depicted in this cartoon (date and newspaper unknown), Jack Dempsey was obviously a frequent patron of Billy Gallagher’s establishments. The club pictured is the “underground” cabaret on 7th Avenue between 47th and 48th; not to be confused with the Monte Carlo on Broadway.
… apparently they weren’t kidding:
Here’s another publicity photo taken during a dinner for newspapermen by Dempsey at the Monte Carlo:
This isn’t the last we see of Jack Dempsey …
Walter W. Gallagher is the eldest son of William J. “Little Billy” Gallagher. He followed in his father’s footsteps in the entertainment industry, acting as manager for several of his father’s establishments, and even running a few of his own.
This is his business card when he was Manager at Billy Gallagher’s Broadway Gardens Restaurant:
Here is another when he was Manager at Rainbo Gardens in Atlantic City:
And he was running the Monte Carlo “barely out of his teens” – and the media was predicting a bright future for him!
Wally Gallagher, son of the popular Billy Gallagher, is putting over the handsome Monte Carlo all by himself. Although scarcely out of his teens he already knows all the tricks of the trade and he seldom, if ever, has anything put over on him. There’s no prettier restaurant in town than the “Monte,” formerly the Club Maurice, and Wally conducts it in a high class manner. He sure is a “chip of the old block,” it being a case of like father like son, and if Wally keeps on as he is going some day he may be as popular as his dad – if such a thing is possible – as up to date no one yet has been able to endanger Billy Gallagher’s reign as the king of restaurateurs.
In June 1929, Walter applied for and was appointed as a patrolman in the Ridgefield (NJ) Police Department, where he would become popular in a whole different way.
William J. (affectionately known as “Little Billy”) Gallagher was born around the late 1860s/early 1870s, either in Ireland or Camden, New Jersey (I have conflicting stories). He was something of a “big deal” in New York restaurant/entertainment circles in back in the day. Several of the entries in the earliest scrapbook are about him or one of his cabarets. He was a restaurateur/night club proprietor for about 40 years.
This is the front and back of his business card for his underground cabaret in New York City. His cabaret on Seventh Avenue was open from about 1919 until his death in 1934. Many of these items are undated, so I can only guess as to when they were created.
When he put on a show, he really put on a show. He was, after all, “The Nations Host from Coast to Coast.” (I’m still looking for any of his establishments on the west coast). Here is a flyer for one of his special events. I believe it’s from 1933, since that’s the most likely year before Billy’s death in which October 30th fell on a Monday (the only other possible year would have been 1922). Plus, Henny Youngman would have only been 16 years old in 1922. Unfortunately, I’ve never heard of Pat Goode, Marie Austin, Gerty Dwyer, Bubbles Shelby, Allyn Reese, Mary Titus, or Lillian Wayne.
Apparently, Henny Youngman was a regular entertainer at Billy Gallagher’s. Here is a flyer for another event, clearly in favor of repealing the Volstead Act.
… and seriously – how can you go wrong with acts like “Twelve Appealing Repealers”? He’s also added Billie Roberts and Accordionist Pete Marconi to the act! (And no, I won’t comment on the misuse of apostrophes in this one).
Sometimes the party theme was even more blatantly political:
This one is clearly from 1933. I can see how it might have been difficult to run a cabaret-style club during Prohibition. But somehow (I’m not at liberty to say), Billy made it work. And the people – and celebrities – kept coming.
I think I’m going to enjoy getting to know Billy!
First, a little background.
My grandfather was born Joseph Smith on September 30, 1924 in New York, New York. He was adopted by Walter and Ruth Gallagher on December 4, 1928, and given the name John Joseph Gallagher.
Walter Wiltse Gallagher was the oldest of six children of William J. “Billy” and Mary Gallagher. He was born February 22, 1902 in New York, New York. Walter married Ruth Burrows around 1921. John Joseph was their only son. Ruth passed away in April 1971, and Walter married a woman named Marie Talmo.
When Walter passed away in September 1973, instead of offering Walter’s belongings to his only son, Marie decided she would just divvy everything between her nieces and nephews (she had no children of her own), and donate the rest to the Ridgefield Public Library without mentioning them to Walter’s family.
But I’m not bitter.
Fast forward to 40 years later … we are finally made aware of the existence of these scrapbooks quite by accident. We were told there were three or four of these books. My mom, two of my aunts, and I traveled to Ridgefield, New Jersey, to look at the scrapbooks ourselves.
We discovered a total of at least 11 scrapbooks (I’m still not convinced that we found them all) and 5 other books that were donated in his name (Police Journal magazines and Chief’s Association Annual Meeting Books). The scrapbooks date from the early 1920s to the mid 1960s. We made a request to the Board of Trustees of the library to allow us to borrow or have the scrapbooks, and they agreed to let us have them. As I scan them for my blog, I will be putting them on a CD so I can provide a digital copy to the library when it’s all done.
There are very few articles and photos that are dated, and even fewer that contain the name of the newspaper from which they were cut. Several of the articles are duplicates – possibly from multiple newspapers. I can’t begin to imagine how many bottles of rubber cement were used.
I will attempt to date as many of the articles as I can and post them chronologically, in an effort to tell the stories of my great grandfather, Walter Gallagher, and his father, Billy Gallagher. Occasionally, I will make a mistake. So, I’ll say it ahead of time … oops. Ultimately, this blog may read like the story of the Ridgefield, New Jersey Police Department, because it played such a huge role in my great grandfather’s life and the majority of the newspaper clippings are related to his activities within the police department. There will also be people (criminals and victims alike) who are named within the articles that are no relation, but I feel compelled to list them since I know of no other place that the Ridgefield area newspapers are archived and searchable online.
My intent is to post at least one article per week – hopefully more. I just hope you enjoy watching the story unfold as much as I will enjoy telling it!