What Became of the Gangsters?

I was curious about what happened to the three “thugs” in the story, so I set out to find some additional information.  I discovered that in 1930, the three of them lived within a half-mile radius of each other.  Stewart and Toohey lived on the same street only a couple of blocks apart.  Carroll lived three blocks up and in the block between Stewart and Toohey.

Michael J. Toohey:

Michael was born to parents Michael and Anna Toohey in 1902, one of many children.  He is shown on the 1910 US census with his family living on Willis Avenue in the Bronx.  His father worked as a switchman for the railroad.  In 1912, at age 44, Michael Sr. is listed as an inmate at the New York City Home for the Aged and Infirm because he was paralyzed and destitute, apparently after a stay at Bellevue Hospital.  He is still listed as a resident of the City Home in the 1915 NY state census.

In 1915, Michael Jr.’s mother Anna is found on the NY state census living at 550 133rd Street in the Bronx and working as a janitor.  Her marital status is not given.  However, by the 1920 US census she is listed as a widow living with her sons John and Raymond, still working as a janitor, but under the name Anna Moorehead.  She also has a 1-1/2 year old daughter named Catherine Moorehead.

House of Refuge, Randall’s Island, NY

This explains why Michael Jr. isn’t listed with his mother in 1920.  I found him on the 1920 US census at age 18 already in prison at the New York House of Refuge, a youth detention facility in New York City.

I next located Michael in the 1925 NY state census living at 310 135th Street in the Bronx with his wife Adel.  His occupation is listed as “brick hand,” which I guess we all know by now wasn’t the whole truth.

Michael Toohey 1925 NY census


Michael Toohey was listed with his fellow thugs in the 1930 US census as a guest of the New Jersey State Prison, a result of the 7-year sentence he received in February 1930.

Thugs in prison in 1930


At some point during the year, the three of them must have been transferred to Rahway Prison.  But Michael Toohey and John Carroll had other plans and decided to make a break for it in December 1930.


I found Michael in the 1940 US census listed as inmate #22788 at Clinton Prison in Dannemora, New York.  I guess they found him.


John Carroll:

In the 1925 NY state census, the Carroll family resides at 300 E. 134th Street in the Bronx.  Father John is a chauffeur and 18-year-old son John is a bookkeeper (I’m not sure who decided to trust this kid with their books).

I searched for his family in the 1930 US census to see if I could identify his parents (to be sure I had the correct John Carroll, since it is a fairly common name).  I found his family listed at the address shown in the newspaper (356 E. 139th Street address in the Bronx); parents John and Mary, both born in Ireland.  His father is a car inspector for the railroad.  His brother is a chauffeur for a wholesale company, and … there is 22-year-old John listed as a clerk for a wholesale company … but he was already in prison!


John Carroll 1930 census


I find the family living at 372 E. 139th Street in the Bronx on the 1940 US census, where they apparently have lived since at least 1935.  No occupation is listed for John Sr., but son Thomas is a bus driver and sister Louise is a counter girl for a five-and-dime.

Rewind a bit … remember the prison break that Carroll and Toohey pulled off?  John Carroll was injured in a shooting in Manhattan on March 12, 1931.

I found John Carroll at Dannemora Prison in Clinton, New York in the 1940 US census too; inmate #24615.


William Stewart/Stuart:

William is the son of William H. (born in New Jersey to German parents) and Louisa Stuart (born in New York).  In the 1920 US census, the family is living at 344 135th Street in the Bronx.

catholic protectory bronx
Catholic Protectory, Bronx

I found William Stuart in the 1925 NY state census enumerated with the New York Catholic Protectory, a home for destitute children and juvenile delinquents that was in operation from 1865 until 1938.  It was located in the area now known as the Parkchester housing development in the Bronx.  I understand that the LDS church has the records from the Protectory on microfilm, but I have been unable to locate them in the FamilySearch catalog.

William’s permanent residence is listed as 306 East 136th Street, which is exactly where I found the rest of his family in the 1925 NY state census.  It appears that William Sr. is now working as a cooper and brother Gerald is a chauffeur.  It also appears that William Jr. is also listed with the family and works as a roofer helper.  I guess it is possible to be in two places at one time.

It appears that by the 1930 US census, William’s mother is a widow and is still living at 306 E. 136th Street in the Bronx with son Charles and son Emil.  Son Gerald is living next door with his own family.

Unfortunately, I think Louisa may have died before the 1940 census, as I lose track of her after 1930.  Fortunately, I believe prison may have made an impression on William Jr.  I find a William Stuart in the 1940 US census living at 496 166th Street in the Bronx with wife Dorothy and 2-year-old daughter Barbara.  The census shows that William and Dorothy were living in the Bronx in 1935, but not at the same address.  This is contradictory to what we know about his 7-year sentence handed down in 1930.  He would still be in prison in 1935.  I can’t be certain this is the same William Stuart, but I would like to think that maybe he learned his lesson and got out early on good behavior.

Clearly, none of these men were saints, but they didn’t exactly have an easy start at life either.  I’m not sure what happened to them after 1940, but let’s just hope they got out of prison and had long, fruitful lives.


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