R.I.P. Billy Gallagher (1870-1934) – Part 2

This article appeared in an unknown newspaper – and I’m not sure how accurate the story about Billy giving away a million-dollar fortune … particularly when he just finalized a bankruptcy in 1930.

1934 03 05 Billy Gallagher DiesBILLY GALLAGHER, CAFE OWNER, DIES

Was Among the First to Bring Singing Waiters to Night Life Along Broadway


Gave Away Bulk of a Reputed $1,000,000 Fortune to Aides and Former Patrons.

William J. Gallagher, cabaret proprietor for more than forty years, died yesterday of diabetes and gland poisoning, at the age of 65.

He was known affectionately as “Little Billy” among thousands of business men, politicians, judges, theatrical men, and devotees of the city’s night life.  For the last fifteen years he could be found in his underground cabaret at 711 Seventh Avenue, near Forth-seventh Street, which did not open until after sundown.

As other entertainment places, restaurants and speakeasies closed after midnight, business picked up at Billy Gallagher’s cabaret, until at dawn it was astir with reputable people still celebrating, and others who had practical reasons for circulating after dark.

Buckner Padlocked Place.

He managed to keep order, with only a few notable exceptions.  One of these was just before the prohibition era when a policeman in plain clothes shot up the place and put a bullet through the leg of the manager in a rage over prices.  When Emory Buckner, as United States Attorney, devised padlock proceedings in 1925 Gallagher was one of the first victims.  His place was raided occasionally for the possession of liquor during prohibition.

He was said to have had at least $1,000,000 and to have given most of it away to those who had worked for him as entertainers or had spent their money in his establishment when they had plenty and who came back to him when they were down in their luck to make a touch.  He was remembered along Broadway as the man who couldn’t say no to a hard-luck story.

Mr. Gallagher came to New York at the age of eighteen from Camden, N. J., where he was born.  He devoted his life to the cabaret business, providing food, drink and entertainment in spots which followed the centre of night life along Broadway as it moved uptown.

Encouraged New Talent.

1934 03 05 Billy Gallagher Dies (2)He was one of the earliest to introduce singing waiters uptown after they had become popular on the Bowery.  His floor shows gave the first chance for a public appearance to many younger entertainers who later succeeded on the vaudeville or legitimate stage.

When he was taken ill about six weeks ago, and when the word went out that Billy Gallagher needed a blood transfusion, many of his Broadway friends volunteered.  One of the first, Jack Sheerin, doorman of the cabaret for many years, was accepted.

Mr. Gallagher died in the Medical Arts Sanitarium, 57 West Fifty-seventh Street, after the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church had been administered by the Rev. Edward Leonard, pastor of St. Malachy’s, the actor’s church in West Forty-ninth Street.  At his bedside were his sons, Bernard, Joseph and Walter, who is a police lieutenant in Ridgefield, N. J., and his brother Joseph.  His wife died eight years ago.

The body was sent to his home, 34-51 Seventy-fifth Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, where it will remain until Wednesday.  After funeral services at St. Malachy’s Church, burial will take place in Camden, N. J.


R.I.P. Billy Gallagher (1870-1934) – Part 1

As we know, Billy Gallagher was somewhat of a celebrity.  His passing and his funeral made the news for a while.  Over the next several posts, I will share all the articles from Pop’s scrapbook and even others I found on my own.  


1934 03 05 - Billy Gallagher diesGALLAGHER, OLD RESTAURATEUR, PASSES AT 65

Resort in Seventh Ave. Famed Among Sporting Men, Politicians and Stage Players

Billy Gallagher, who ran what sportsmen called the luckiest restaurant in town, died of diabetes in Medical Arts Sanitarium yesterday.  Three operations and blood transfusions failed.  He was 65 and had been ill six weeks.

Gallagher’s place at 711 7th ave. gained fame among gamblers for the combination of numbers that spell success to crapshooters.


But he included among his friends politicians of the importance of James J. Walker and Frank Hague and hundreds of theatrical folk.

He had been a restaurateur since boyhood, graduating from the Bowery to Broadway and bringing singing waiters uptown with him.


Some of them developed into vaudeville stars.  Others found fame among the songsters of Tin Pan Alley.

He leaves two sons — Walter, a Ridgewood, N. J., police lieutenant, and Joseph.  Their mother died eight years ago.

Gallagher lived at 34-51 75th st., Jackson Heights.  Funeral services will be held Wednesday morning in St. Malachy’s Church, 49th st.  Burial will be in Camden.

The following is from a separate article of unknown origin

Blood which Broadway pals opened their veins to share with him failed to save the life of Little Billy Gallagher, for 1934 03 05 - Billy Gallagher dies (2)forty years a boniface and the man who brought singing waiters from the Bowery to Broadway many years ago.

Gallagher died yesterday morning in the Medical Arts Sanitorium, where he had been confined for six weeks a victim of diabetes and a glandular condition which had necessitated three operations and many blood transfusions.

Gallagher, a friend of those out of luck and an intimate of scores of the great in the theatre and sporting world, ran Billy Gallagher’s restaurant at 711 Seventh Ave.  The place was once called the Broadway Gardens.  He was only 5 feet 5 inches tall, hence the name of Little Billy.

The funeral is tentatively planned for Wednesday.


How to Identify Loyal Cops in a Bad Economy

These articles were published in December 1933. Publication name unknown.  This clearly was in the midst of the Great Depression – a time when communities worked together to succeed.

1933 12 - Cops Offer to Take Pay Cuts - no dateCops Offer To Take Pay Cuts

Ridgefield Council Notified of Their Voluntary Action

Ridgefield police last night at the council meeting, volunteered to take a 10 per cent cut in salary, effective immediately, and to continue until 1935, and further, recommended that the personnel of the department be limited to the present force, not filling the vacancy left by the recent death of Sergeant Charles Erickson.

The voluntary reduction forestalls a cut by protest and limits the time during which it shall continue.  Last year the police contributed five per cent, the only reduction so far effected [sic].

The salary of Patrolman Joseph Sucek was reduced $65 a year.  He has been drawing lieutenant’s pay since he was demoted in 1931.

Fire Chief Romano requested that alarm boxes be installed at the Shaler boulevard, Abbott avenue, and Norfolk street, at the intersection of Edgewater avenue.

The police commission recommendations brought forth a storm of dispute.  Councilmen Lange, Knobloch and Hildebrandt, opposing the measure.  Knobloch declaring that such action was not withing [sic] the province of the present administration, that it should be left to the incoming mayor, who will be held responsible for the 1934 budget.

Mayor Berger expressed surprise, saying: “You did not show that consideration for me last year.”  Knobloch replied, “We weren’t considered much, either.”

The second half of the county taxes, amounting to $30,588, was ordered paid.

The State Highway commission, in a communication, said that it is not responsible for installation of traffic control lights, and that the borough should apply to the State Motor Vehicle Department for a light at Bergen boulevard and Edgewater avenue.

1933 12 20 - Ten Percent of Pay Given Up

10 Per Cent Of Pay Given Up By Ridgefield Police

Cops Surrender Share of Salary to Assist Borough In Economy Move – Council Splits on Offer

As an economy move, the police department of Ridgefield donated 10 per cent of salaries for 1934 to the Borough at a meeting of the Mayor and Council last night.  The uniformed force also recommended that no patrolman be appointed to fill an existing vacancy on the squad and at the same time volunteered to do extra duty if the situation required such service.


Although both offers were accepted, their proposal in a letter from the police commission precipitated a lively controversy among the Councilmen and as a consequence it required the vote of Mayor Berger in both motions to decide the issues.

When the letter was read Councilman Formon recommended that the offers be accepted, but Councilman Knobloch opposed this move maintaining that it should be held over until Jan. 1 for action when a new Mayor will be sitting.  Knobloch succeeded in making his suggestion an amendment to Formon’s motion, and when it came on the floor for a vote Councilmen Lange, Knobloch and Hildebrand favored holding the recommendation over until Jan. 1, while Councilmen Gildner, Formon and Lohrey opposed it.  The deadlock was broken when Mayor Berger also opposed it.

Formon’s motion to accept the proposals was then presented and carried with the Mayor again casting the deciding vote.  Formon argued that if the police were willing to make this donation he saw no reason why the Council should not accept it.


Another motion which was also decided by the Mayor’s vote was one in which the police commission recommended the reduction of the salary of Patrolman Joseph Sucek.  He has been receiving the pay of a lieutenant since he was reduced from the rank several years ago.  As a lieutenant he was receiving $8 a day but as a first grade patrolman he will hereafter be paid $6.84 a day.

With the donation made last night this brings the voluntary reductions in pay made by the police to 15 per cent since Jan. 1 of this year.  At that time they also turned over to the Borough $1,000 which they raised on a dance held last winter.

The vacancy which now exists on the force was caused by the death of Sergeant Erickson.  Although the Mayor and Council received a recommendation from the police commission for the appointment of a sergeant several weeks ago, no action has as yet been taken on this recommendation.


Grampa Turns 9!

It’s not every child whose 9th birthday party ends up in the newspaper, but my Grampa wasn’t every child.  He was the son of Walter Gallagher – a man with a plan.  This article was likely published in late September 1933, name of publication unknown. The Dolores Conor on the guest list is no doubt related to former Mayor Alan B. Conor, because rubbing elbows with Ridgefield’s elite – that’s how the Gallaghers roll.

1933 09 24 - John Gallagher 9 Has Bday PartyJOHN GALLAGHER, 9, HAS BIRTHDAY PARTY

John Joseph Gallagher, son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Gallagher, of Virgil avenue, Ridgefield, was given a party recently by his parents, in honor of his ninth birthday.

Winners of prizes at the games were Anne Teien, Anne Hulbert.  Other guests were Dolores Conor, Joseph Lutz Ruth Teien, William Curran, Russell Gilbert, Lester Gilbert, James Hulbert, Gloria Eberhardt, Robert Eberhardt, Doris Browne, Frank Browne, Bernard Zlotnick and Betty Anhilder.


This article was published on September 25, 1933, the day after Grampa’s birthday.  Name of publication is unknown.  Name-dropping abounds — check out the first name on the guest list in this article:

1933 09 24 - John Gallagher Birthday (2nd article)

John Joseph Gallagher, son of Sergeant and Mrs. Walter Gallagher, Virgil Avenue, celebrated his ninth birthday yesterday with a part attended by a group of his playmates and friends.  The youngsters were served refreshments and then played games.  Guests were Dolores Conor, Joseph Lutz, Ruth and Anne Teien, Russell and Lester Gilbert, Anna and James Hulbert, Gloria and Bobby Eberhardt, Doris and Frank Browne, Bernard Zlotnick and Billie Anhelder, all of Ridgefield and Joseph Lutz of Englewood.


The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 5 (final)

This tragic story affected more than just the families of the victims.  The police department suffered a blow to its reputation due to some technical mistakes made during the investigation of this high-profile case.  Unfortunately, the last article is not included in the scrapbook, so we may never know what the Commission’s final decision was …

10 - 1930+ Hearing is Given Ridgefield Police p1HEARING IS GIVEN RIDGEFIELD POLICE

Charge of Withheld Information is Sifted by Officials


In a private hearing before the members of the Police Commission and Mayor Emil Berger, the latter acting in the capacity of chairman of the Commission, Sergeant Charles Erickson and Patrolman William Heilman of the Ridgefield Police Department were questioned regarding statements made by Michael Kelly of Edgewater avenue, Ridgefield, to the effect that these two men had withheld information in the recent accident case, in which one girl, Dorothy Balmain, was killed and two others Evelyn Kelly and Gertrude Pugh were injured.  The driver of the car which on the night of August 25, struck the girls continued on his way after the accident but was picked up by Patrolman Charles Sequine after a chase.  He was examined by Dr. J. V. Lynn who stated that although the man had been drinking, he was not unfit to drive a car.  He is Harvey Lyons, of Edgewater, this week indicted by the Bergen County Grand Jury on charges of manslaughter on testimony of two young women passengers in his car.

Erickson was on desk duty that night and he was charged with withholding information.  Supervisor Darrow stated that this was technical and forced because of the circumstances.  Erickson stated that he was alone at the desk and was busy until late in the night making entries, answering phone calls, etc.  He gave a plausible explanation of his lack of detail entry.

Heilmann was interviewed immediately following Erickson who had been charged with failing to make an entry in his memorandum book.  It appears that while the police were searching the vicinity of the accident for clues, a man alighted from a car and said, “take my name and license number, officer, as I don’t want to be charged later as a hit and run driver.”  Heilmann admitted that he had not made an entry in his book, but stated that he had told Erickson of the incident.

Supervisor Darrow advised the press that he had filed the charges and the commission had reserved decision in the case.

1930+ Hearing is 10 - Given Ridgefield Police p2Mayor Emil Berger stated that he had absolute faith in the Police Department and that the commission’s decision would shortly be announced.  Erickson stated that he thought he would be vindicated and that he had been glad of the opportunity to clear himself of any doubts in the matter.

He was appointed to the Departmen [sic] in 1925 and in 1929 was made a sergeant.  He served as acting chief after the dismissal of Chief Edwin Bunce and later was replaced by Supervisor George F. Darrow, who was selected for the position because of his many years experience in the New York Police Department from which he is a retired captain.

Heilman was named to the department in 1926 and has served in the capacity of Patrolman since that time.  Several years ago he was severely injured while chasing a fugitive on the police motorcycle.

Several times the Ridgefield Police Department has received high praise from bystanders and from surrounding towns and cities for their efficiency.  For a department of its size it is equipped with a finger printing department in charge of Sergeant Walter Gallagher and each of the men are outstanding marksmen, having become experts under the supervision of George F. Darrow.  [T]here has always been harmony among the members of the Police Commission since the advent of Supervisor Darrow.  Alan B. Conor, Henry F. Forman and Clarence Kile, are the members of the commission.

Hearings from local residents that “politics” should not be permitted to interfere with apprehension and punishment of the hit and run driver was in no way intended as an [sic] reflection on local officers or officials.  The investigation of the details of the night happenings appear to have been in the nature of a check up on rumors rather than on any suspicions that the local officers had not done their duty.

Gertrude Pugh, of 508 Prospect avenue, and Evelyn Kelly, of 1116 Edgewater avenue, have returned home, Gertrude from Holy Name Hospital and Evelyn from Englewood Hospital, where they were removed following their partial recovery.  Gertrude Pugh is suffering from a broken leg and the limb is in a cast.  It will be several weeks before she will be able to walk.  Evelyn Kelly is recovering from concussion of the brain.


The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 4

The doctor who examined the driver of the car that ran over the three girls stated that he was under the influence of an intoxicant, but not to an extent that he would be unfit to operate a car.


7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p1Kelly Censures Lynn Findings

Father of Maimed Auto Victim Hits Test by Doctor

Indignation at the statement of Dr. John V. Lynn of Ridgefield that the driver of the car which injured his daughter last week was “under the influence of some intoxicant, but not unfit to operate a car.” was expressed yesterday by Michael J. Kelly, 1116 Edgewater road, Ridgefield.

Lynn’s statement submitted to the police reads:

“This is to state that the examination of Harvey Lyons, 358 Undercliff avenue, Edgewater, at about 10:30 p. m., Aug. 25, at police headquarters showed this man to be under the influence of some intoxicant, but not, in my professional opinion, to an extent to render him unfit to operate a motor car.”

Kelly declared Ridgefield residents are “seething with anger” at Dr. Lynn’s statement.  The father said yesterday “After a man kills one child outright and lays out two others for dead, then beats it, the village doctor says the ‘hit and run’ one is capable of driving a car. Did anyone ever heard the beat of it?

7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p2Kelly Talks

Kelley’s [sic] statement follows: “Harvey Lyons was intoxicated at the wheel of the death car when he drove down the wrong side of the road and killed one girl, leaving two others at death’s door.  He was intoxicated when he stopped near at the beginning of the ride.  He was intoxicated when he drove the car headlong into the children.  He was intoxicated when he stopped near the Ridgefield Cemetery and tried to pull the fan away from the radiator to stop the noise caused by the radiator being smashed back against the fan.

“He was intoxicated when the blonde woman in black came running up the road and cried out to him, ‘For God’s sake, beat it, there are three of them lying on the road.’

“He was intoxicated when Patrolman Charles Sequine picked him up a mile and a half from the scene of the accident.  He was intoxicated when they carted him in the police station and had to be supported to keep him from falling down while being questioned by Sergeant Erickson.  He was intoxicated when taken to the Cliffside police station to be photographed and fingerprinted.  He was still intoxicated when they took him back to Ridgefield an hour or so later.

Hoffman’s Ruling

“In a circular letter sent to law enforcement and judicial officers State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Harold G. Hoffman, sets out the legal definition of a drunken driver as follows:

“It is to be noted then that a person charged with operating a motor car while under the influence of liquor need not be in such a physical condition as to be helplessly drunk.  The test is whether he varies in any degree from normal, mental, or physical state, and if he does and the same is the result of the consumption of any liquid which causes intoxication, he is guilty of the offense.

7 - 1930+ Kelly Censures Lynn Findings p3“While the most expert method of ascertaining the condition of the accused is by a doctor’s examination and should be followed wherever possible, such examination is not always essential in order that the defendant be found guilty.  The law permits the testimony of any person to prove the mental or physical condition of the accused.

“A practice which has developed and which is abhorrent to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and is in conflict with the laws of the evidence of this state is the allowance by judicial officers of the introduction of a medical certificate as evidence of the intoxication of the accused.

Law Strict

“Under no circumstances should a judge trying a person charged with a violation of Subdivision 3 of Section 14 of the Motor Vehicle Act, permit the introduction of such a certificate.”

“One driving an automobile on a public street while under the influence of intoxicating liquor offends against the act, even though he drives so slowly and so skillfully and carefully that the public is not even annoyed or endangered.

“I have the signed, sworn statements of 12 people of mature age that Lyons was drunk on the night of Aug. 25, when he caused the calamity he did.”


The whole hit-and-run incident is wrapped up in a final article:

8 - 1930+ Heartless KillerHEARTLESS KILLER

The State’s legal machinery should move with the speed and precision in prosecuting the Edgewater hit-and-run motorist who was responsible for the fatal accident in Ridgefield last week.

There are no mitigating circumstances in the case as reported by the police.

Harvey B. Lyons, driver of the death car, ran down three girls who were walking on the edge of the highway, injuring one victim fatally and two seriously.  Then he ran away.

Excellent police work led to the arrest of the driver.  Later one of his companions who had fled from the car after the mishap was also arrested.

The killer was examined by a physician, who ruled that although he had been drinking he was sufficiently sober to operate a car.  His companion was drunk.

If Lyons was drunk he deserves to go to State’s Prison for his offense.

If he was sober he deserves a prison term for failing to stop to assist his victims after the accident.  Heartless indeed must be the man who would drive away, leaving his victims writing in agony along the roadside, without stopping to determine the extent of their injuries or to offer assistance.

Lyons has been released in [sic] $3,500 bail, a very nominal sum considering the enormity of the offense.  Clever lawyers have a way of beating such cases by taking advantage of every legal technicality.  Prosecutor Losche, in charge of the State’s case, should leave no stone unturned in preparing the evidence.

Examples must be made in such cases if our highways are to be kept free of reckless killers.


Next time, we’ll see how the case against the police officers panned out.


The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 3

When we left our story last time, we had just learned that Mr. Lyons had been partying all day with at least three friends when he decided to go for a joyride, shattering the lives of three families.

6 - 1930+ Night Club Hostesses Jailed p12 Night Club Hostesses Jailed in New York For Ridgefield Hit-Run Case

Girls Held in Connection With Death of Child Here; Two Ridgefield Cops on Stand For Hiding Evidence After Crash.

(Special to the Bergen Evening Record)

New York, Sept. 13 — Two 22-year-old New York night club entertainers, Anita Corbin and Dorothy McCoy, living at the Hotel Embassy, Seventieth Street and Broadway, were arrested last night on a prosecutor’s warrant from Bergen County, charging manslaughter in connection with the hit-and-run automobile killing of Dorothy Balmaine at Ridgefield Aug. 25 last.


The young women denied being in the car when the accident took place, but according to police, they fled on foot after the mishap, hitch-hiking back to New York.

They were booked at West Sixty-eighth Street Station last night and held in the women’s Detention Prison.  Detective John E. Guidetti, of Bergen County Prosecutor’s staff, was to take them to Hackensack this morning for questioning.


At Ridgefield, meanwhile, an echo of the hit-and-run tragedy that resulted in death to the Balmaine girl and severe injury to two others was heard last night when Sergeant Charles Erickson and Patrolman William Heilmann were placed on trial on charges of violating departmental rules and regulations.

The hearing was held behind closed doors in the borough clerk’s office, municipal building, with reporters and spectators barred.  Erickson, it was charged, failed to make proper entries on the blotter, while Heilmann neglected to place information he had received at the scene of the killing in his memorandum book.

The trial was held before Mayor Emil Berger and the three members of the police commission, Alan B. Conor, Henry Formon and C. Kile, with Supervisor of Police George Darrow present as complainant.  Decision on both officers was reserved, and when it will be handed down could not be determined.

The alleged breaches of departmental regulations were committed on the night of Aug. 25 when a hit-and-run driver killed the Balmaine youngster and injured her two companions.

The action was instigated by Michael Kelly, 1116 Edgewater Avenue, father of Evelyn Kelly, one of those injured by the hit-and-run driver.  He is understood to have been looking for certain information which did not appear on the blotter of the Ridgefield police department.  He informed Supervisor Darrow of this fact and immediately an investigation was started.  Darrow discovered that Sergeant Erickson had failed to enter one case on the blotter and had also made improper entries.

A search of Heilmann’s book also failed to reveal information which he had received on the night of the killing.  Darrow summoned the men before him and after hearing their stories preferred charges which he filed with the police commission.

The specific charges involving Erickson alleged that he failed to enter in the blotter the fact that Warren L. Bahl, 644 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, had been arrested Aug. 25 on a charge of disorderly conduct, tried by Recorder Clarence A. Davis and fined $10 and $2.50 cost of court.

In the other complaint against the sergeant, it was charged that he had received information from Patrolman Heilmann, relative to the hit and run case.  This information he also, it was charged, failed to place in the blotter.  At the hearing, it is reported Erickson told his judges that the memorandum possibly became misplaced and for this reason no record was made on the blotter.

On the night of the killing an autoist approached Heilman and informed him that inasmuch as he was in the vicinity he wanted his license number recorded.

6 - 1930+ Night Club Hostesses Jailed p2GAVE COP HIS NUMBER.

He told the policeman that he did not want a bystander to jot down his number and then later be called on by the police to explain his presence in the neighborhood.  The patrolman took the information, but failed to make a permanent record of it in his memorandum book.  He maintained that he turned the information over to the desk sergeant.

Patrolman Charles Seguine, who arrested Harvey Lyons and Robert Berry, both of Edgwater, immediately after the killing, was also called as a witness.  He was in the hearing room only five minutes and was unable to give any information vital to the charges.

He told the commissioners that he was at the police station for only a short time the night of the killing, being occupied with rushing to Holy Name and Englewood hospitals, determining how badly the victims of the hit-and-run driver were injured.

Erickson spent about forty-five minutes in the hearing room, while Heilmann after testifying for fifteen minutes was recalled for further examination, which lasted for five minutes.

Although Kelly, the instigator of the investigation, could not be reached last night at his home for a statement, it is understood he commended the department for the efficient manner in which it handled the hit and run case in which his daughter was injured.