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.


The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 2

Last time, we learned about the varied and diverse players in our story. Let’s see if we can figure out what actually happened that fateful Thursday evening.

The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain - Part 2HIT RUN VICTIM SEMI-CONSCIOUS

Funeral Services Today for Girl Killed

Evelyn Kelly, 1112 Edgewater Avenue, Ridgefield, one of the three youngsters hit Thursday night by a hit and run driver, still lies on a cot in the Englewood Hospital in a semi-conscious condition. She suffered a scalp injury and doctors have as yet been unable to determine whether it is a fracture or contusion.

Occasionally she gains consciousness but this lasts for only a few moments and then she lapses again into a coma.  Her general condition is said to be good and she is resting comfortably.

Gertrude Pugh, another victim is nursing a broken leg and lacerations of the body and is also reported to be resting easy at the Holy Name Hospital.

This afternoon at 2 o’clock funeral services will be held for 14-year-old Dorothy Balmaine  [sic]who was killed almost instantly by the hit-and-run driver.  Services will be conducted at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Williamson, 946 Edgewater Avenue, Ridgefield, with the Canon W. J. White, pastor of the St. James Episcopal Church, of which the Balmaine girl was a member, officiating.

The badly twisted and blood spattered car in which Harvey Lyons, 358 Undercliff Avenue, Edgewater, was found shortly after the killing, has been placed in a local garage for close scrutiny of investigators handling the case.  Lyons is out on bail on a charge of manslaughter while Robert Perry, 91 Edgewater Place, Edgewater, has also been released on bail as a material witness.

The death of one girl and the injury of the other two occurred on Edgewater Avenue, Ridgefield, within a few feet of the Kelly youngster’s home.


So we know how the girls are doing.  Let’s see what else is going on in the case:


6 - 1930+ Threats to Witness Lead to Warrant in Fatal AccidentThreats to Witness Lead to Warrant in Fatal Auto Accident

Former Prohibition Agent, Now Speakeasy Owner, to be Arrested as Result of Charges Made in Connection with Girl’s Death

Warrants were issued today by the Bergen County prosecutor for the arrest of Ridgely Armstrong, former prohibition agent and proprietor of the Ridgefield Inn on Bergen turnpike, and his bartender, John Mannion, on charges of threatening to kill Harry Eicholz of 417 Lafayette avenue, Grantwood, operator of a lunch stand at Hendricks’ causeway, Ridgefield.

The charges are the outcome of the fatal accident in Ridgefield on August 25 when Dorothy Balmain, 14, was killed and Gertrude Pugh and Evelyn Kelly of Ridgefield were severely injured.  Harvey Lyons of 358 Undercliff avenue, Edgewater, was arrested a mile from the scene in his car and charged with manslaughter.  He had been drinking, it was stated, but a physician held that he was able to operate a car.

Eicholz made a statement to the Ridgefield Park police in which he told what he knew about a drinking party at Armstrong’s restaurant on the day and night of the fatal accident, and at the Prosecutor’s office today he made a further statement, in which he asserted that Armstrong and Mannion had approached him on the morning after the accident and threatened to kill him if he told anybody what he had seen or heard.

Lieutenant John Gaudetti of the prosecutor’s office left the Court House shortly before noon today and said that he would arrest Armstrong and Mannion on the threatening to kill charge on the strength of Eicholz’s latest statement.

In his statement to the Ridgefield police, Eicholz said that at 1:30 p. m. on August 25, Lyons, another man and two women arrived at Armstrong’s tavern.  At 3 o’clock another man arrived and joined the group and they remained drinking until 5 p. m.  Armstrong then left the place, leaving Mannion in charge, and half an hour later Lyons and the other man and two women left, apparently drunk.

“The party returned the same evening at 7 o’clock,” Eicholz continued in his statement, “and Mannion told me they paid $28.45 for drinks, Lyons giving a check for that amount made out to ‘cash.'”

“At 10 a. m. on August 26 Armstrong gave the check to Murray Penn of Jersey City.  I saw him pass the check to Penn, who left and upon his return later said that Mayor Wissel (former mayor of Edgewater) said there were no funds with which to pay it and it could not be cashed.  Penn gave the check to Mannion in my presence and the latter said he could hide it.

“At 3:30 that same day Armstrong’s friend, I do not know his name but his car license was B39882, (this car is listed as owned by Joseph Elias of 333 Hamilton place, Hackensack) arrived and told Mannion and myself to warn Armstrong that the police did not hold or question him at the scene of the accident but that Lyons was so drunk that he had to hold onto him when he left the place.

“Mannion told me that Armstrong was in the car that ran down the three girls and that he returned to the place with the women after the accident.”


Well, this is an interesting turn of events.  Stay tuned for even more twists and turns!


The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain – Part 1

One girl is killed and two other girls injured in a hit-and-run with a drunk driver.  The incident created quite a spectacle in the community, involving a suspicious medical exam, two NYC night club “entertainers,” a former-prohibition-agent-turned-speakeasy-owner (and his thuggish bartender), death threats, and a possible police cover-up.  

This is a series of articles in Pop’s scrapbook. It apparently affected him enough that he kept every article that was written about this incident.

11/26/15 The Story of [the late] Dorothy Balmain

On August 25, 1932, Evelyn Kelly, Gertrude Pugh, and Dorothy Balmain were walking together along Edgewater Avenue when they were struck by a vehicle driven by Harvey Lyons.

The Players

Evelyn Kelly was about 15 years old.  Her father was Michael Kelly, a newspaper employee, and her mother was Veronica.  She had three brothers and a sister. The family lived on Edgewater Avenue, only a few feet from where the girls were struck down.

1930+ Evelyn Kelly census


Gertrude Pugh was also around 15 years old.  She lived with her mother Harriet and two siblings: a sister and a brother.

1930+ Gertrude Pugh census

Dorothy Balmain was 14 years old.  She lived with her mother, Irene (Seaman) Balmain – a widowed telephone operator – her brother Robert, and her sister Frances, both several years older.  Dorothy’s father, Robert, worked in a saloon before his death.  He and Irene were married 24 Oct 1907 in Kings County, NY.

1930+ Dorothy Balmain census

Harvey Lyons was born in New Jersey on 27 Feb 1889 to parents William Lyons and Ida Truax.1 2  At the time of the incident, he was a 40-year-old truck driver.  He apparently had no children, but was first married to a woman named Sarah, then to a woman named Florence (to whom he was married at the time of this incident).  He was driving the vehicle involved in this incident, and apparently had three passengers: Robert Berry, Anita Corbin, and Dorothy McCoy.

Harvey Lyons 1930 census


Anita Corbin and Dorothy McCoy were both 22 years old and worked at a night club in New York.  They lived at the Hotel Embassy at 70th and Broadway in New York City.

Harry Eicholz was a lunch stand operator in Ridgefield.

Ridgely Armstrong was a former Prohibition Agent, and at the time of the incident was the proprietor of the Ridgefield Inn on Bergen Turnpike.

John Mannion was bartender at the Ridgefield Inn on the night of the incident.

Dr. John V. Lynn was the physician who examined Mr. Lyons at 10:30 p.m. on the night of the incident.

Sgt. Charles Erickson and Patrolman William Heilman were members of the Ridgefield Police department.  Sgt. Erickson was working the desk the night of the incident.  Heilman was one of the officers searching the area of the incident during the investigation.

Coming Up Next:  Part 2 – What actually happened?


  1. “New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980,” database, FamilySearch( : accessed 22 November 2015), Harvey M. Lyons, 27 Feb 1889; citing Rfd., Bergen, New Jersey, reference v 31 p 46; FHL microfilm 494,213.
  2. His WWI draft card says he was born in 1890.

Walter Thwarts a Prowler

Another commendation from a Ridgefield citizen for Walter’s exceptional police work … in sending two police officers to check on a woman who saw a prowler outside her kitchen window.  

11/23/15 Walter Thwarts a ProwlerLetter to Council Extols Boro Police

Cops Responded Immediately When Sought for Aid

The efficiency of the Ridgefield Police was given corroboration Tuesday night, at the council meeting, when a letter was received from a resident of the borough complimenting the prompt manner in which the department responded to a call for assistance.

A verbatim copy of the letter follows:


“On Thursday night, January 14th, a prowler was observed looking into the kitchen windows of my mother’s home.  Mrs. Stansfield immediately telephoned the police and within three minutes, two officials from the Department were at the house investigating, but the offender, apparently realizing that he had been detected, had in the meantime, disappeared.

“May we not express our appreciation of the prompt action of Sergeant Gallagher and the two officers who answered the call, and congratulate through your Honorable Body, the Police Department on their efficiency and alertness.

“It is comforting, indeed, to know that in a case of emergency, an immediate response can be expected of our local Police.

“Yours very truly,


Below is a copy of the actual letter that was received.

1932 01 18 letter of thanks from Chester Stansfield

Walter Named Secretary

I guess being an officer in one organization wasn’t enough for ol’ Walter.  This article was likely published at the end of 1932, since Walter was scheduled to take office in 1933.

1932 - Walter Gallagher named Secretary to Pension FundNAME PENSION BOARD

The following have been named to serve on the Ridgefield Police Pension Fund Commission for 1933: Mayor Emil Berger, Samuel Hendricks, representing the citizens of the borough; Sergeant Walter Gallagher, as a representative of the Police Department and Tax Collector P. A. Meserole.

Gallagher will serve as sercretary [sic] and Meserole as treasurer.  Sergeant Gallagher was recently chosen a trustee of the Beregn [sic] Police Mutual Aid Association as representative of Local 45, Police Benevolent Association