Baltimore Officer Cornelius Carey and the Curious Cases of Yeggmen and Others

ImageNortheastern District 1884, Baltimore Evening Sun, 2 March 1932.

The writer examines the Baltimore Police department at the turn of the century.  Prominent during this time was the disgrace of Captain of the Detectives, A.J. Pumphrey and the Yeggmen case that garnered national attention.  One among many in the background stands a working officer: C.J. Carey.


Carey in History of the Baltimore Police Department.
54. 1907


In the photo from 1907, Cornelius Carey exhibits a mustache that seems bristle in every direction.  In 1888, complete with tights, one can see that Cornelius had two thick arms that must have served well in the backrooms of Baltimore. He joined the force on 21 March 1884, a time of extraordinary change: both for the force and the city. The police officers of this time experienced the formation of their profession.  What we think of as police work was just coming to fruition. According to Eugene O’Hara, “In the mid-eighties, Call Boxes were introduced, Patrol Wagons were activated, shift work was started and the size of the force was increased” (12).1 Cornelius was part of this swell. Cornelius worked tin with his father, John P. Carey, but found a career as a police officer in the streets of Baltimore. A brother in law, John E. Kelly, was already an officer. Kelly was appointed to the police force on 8 June 1876 (Baltimore Sun, 27 September 1902. pg 7). It is very probable that Kelly provided the contacts and inspiration needed for Cornelius to join the force. Cornelius, likewise, probably helped his other brother-in-law, Frank Schaefer, to join the force.

Baltimore’s manufacturing was growing, as well as its “machine politics” (O’Hara 12).  The corruption of the political system in the 1890’s was particularly bad:

In the early 1890’s, Baltimore entered an era of great development of rapid transit, and an era of machine politics. These were times when Baltimore was ruled by political ‘bosses’ who through local power could provide jobs and favors by electing specific candidates through the ballot box, and of course, one of the prime jobs offered to these loyal party members was that of police officer and/or promotion to members of the force in special favor.

In 1898 the Legislature taking special note of the on-going/possible corruption of the Baltimore Police force returned to the Governor the power of appointment for the Board of Police Commissioners. In 1899 the force was reorganized and the city was divided into eight police districts, a system which remained in effect until the end of the Board era in 1920. (O’Hara 12-13)

In a display of the city’s growing strength, the city held an exhibition.  Carey performed acts of strength and agility with his comrades to give some confidence to the on-looking Commissioners and political leaders of the city.  The following is an excerpt from Our Police (1888):

  The fifth and most recent exhibition given by the police athletes previously to the publication of this work was presented on Tuesday evening, May 14, 1887. The entertainment took place as usual in the Opera House. An unusually large number of tickets were sold and the great theatre was crowded from the orchestra to the gallery. Among the audience were many prominent business and professional men. Messrs. Schryver, Robson and Carr of the Board of Police Commissioners, together with ex- Commissioners Colton, Fusselbaugh, Major Ferguson, and John W. Davis were in the right hand lower proscenium box. The programme of events was long and was carried out, especially toward the latter end of the exhibition, amid a running storm of applause. As the evening wore on the dignity of the occasion bent beneath the general spirit of jollity. Personalities of a good natured sort came down from the galleries at frequent intervals. Voices from the audience shouted cheers to the contestants on the stage, and approving exclamations echoed thick and fast through the hall during the exciting portions of the two- handed contests. Enthusiasm and good humor were the order of the hour, and it would be difficult to imagine a more generally “at home” audience anywhere than that which packed Ford’s Opera House from skylight to stage on the evening of the eighteenth of May. […] There was a sparring exhibition between officers Crawford and Carey and then a ” catch-as-catch-can ” struggle between officers Busick and John Doyle, which after an interesting battle ended in favor of Doyle. Sergeant Meehan and officer Spellman followed with a Graeco- Roman wrestling match. […] Officer Carey then outdid officer M. Welsh in sparring for points, and officers Kiggins and J. Welsh gave an exhibition of some remarkable feats of strength, and officers Ackerman, of the North-eastern district, Ryan and William Doyle performed on the horizontal bar. Officer Ackerman was as good as, if not better, than most professional workers on the bars. The way Ackerman brushes his hair and makes his bow and looks after the guy ropes, makes one think he must have faced an audience many a time.[….]Next to the closing exhibition, before the wind-up bouts in wrestling and sparring, was the pyramid exercise, in which the following policemen took part : Messrs. sergeant Meehan, whose arm still hurt him but which had grown considerably better, sergeant Wellener, and officers Chaney, Emerine, Spellman, James and William Doyle, Lutts, Brennan, Ackerman, Carey, Grau, Ryan, M. Welsh, Kiggins, Johnson and Costello. Some of these athletes at once entered the tug-of-war between the Central and the North-eastern districts which followed. The sides were composed as follows: Central — Finnerty, Emerine, Whittle and Busick; North-eastern — Johnson, Emery, Webster and Campbell. This was the last event on the programme and it ended in the triumph of the boys from the North-eastern district. In the course of the entertainment an intermission was taken during which the orchestra played a newly composed symphony, performed for the first time on that evening in honor of the occasion. The general result of the introduction of gymnasiums for the use of the Baltimore police may be summed up in the words of Deputy-marshal Lannan : ” The competency of a police officer,” says that veteran, ” is often measured by the rarity with which he uses his club. To a limited extent this is a very good test, and reckoned by it I may say that in those districts in which the gymnasiums have been in use, the policemen have improved greatly since their establishment. In many precincts clubbing is practically done away with, for when an officer is sure he can hold his man he will rarely draw his club, and there are very few prisoners who can give much trouble to a policeman who has wrestled with such instructors as officer Spellman, lieutenant Scott or the Doyle brothers. (Folsom 456-460)2

ImageFolsom, de Francias. Our Police: A History of the Baltimore Force from the First Watchmen to the Latest Appointee. 451.1888.


On December 23, 1889, the Board promoted Cornelius to sergeant, which must have made for a festive holiday, if it was tempered some with the remembrance of his daughter Agnes, who had died in August.

An annual parade during the late 19th century exhibited to the community the place of a police force in securing their lives; which meant not only safety and service, but, as is exemplified in the 1899 parade, discipline and intimidation.

On May 20 1899, the police, on their annual parade, passed the city mayor, councilmen and notables who had gathered on the steps of City Hall. The paper lists the “roll of honor, embracing the members of the force specially commended for good work during the year”. Cornelius is listed three times: the most for the Northeastern District: On August 2, 1898 with Patrolman John E. Sweeney, for the arrest “and conviction of Joseph Howard, colored, charged with murder”; on September 21 1898 for the arrest and “conviction of Harry S. Hires, charged with false pretenses by means of forged checks”; with Officer William H. Austin, on April 12 1899 for the arrest and “conviction of Cornelius Lee, colored, charged with larceny”.


Guardians of the Peace Made A Fine Appearance In Their Annual March.

   Between Franklin and Saratoga streets on Fulton avenue yesterday afternoon at 1 o’clock the annual parade of the police force of Baltimore formed and was reviewed by Mayor Malster and Police Commissioners Johnson and Heddinger, who walked through the lines looking critically at the men and their equipment.

   Both sides of the street were jammed with an admiring throng, composed mainly of negroes, while thousands of persons looked on from windows commanding a view. Marshal Hamilton, booted and spurred: adorned with much gold braid and a yellow tassel hanging from his club, hastened up and down in front of the men, shouting orders, which were re-echoed by Deputy Marshal Farnan and the various commanders of battalions. The Fourth Regiment Band at one end of the line played inspiringly. When the police commisioners arrived with the Mayor and Secretary Kinsey the marshal cleared a space at the top of the hill on Mulberry street, from which point both ends of the line could be seen: Commisioner Schryver arrived a little late. The guardians of the peace made a fine appearance. Every man was on his mettle and the formation was as near perfect as possible. President Heddinger read the roll of honor.

   Mayor Malster made a brief speech. In which he thanked officers, detectives and patrolmen for the protection of the lives and property of the citizens and for their faithful performance of duty. He congratulated them upon their fine appearance and expressed the opinion that the city needed more policemen and ought to have them.

   The parade started, going over the route arranged as follows: Fulton avenue to Lafayette avenue, to McCulloh street, to Biddle street, to Madison street, to Cathedral, to Liberty, to Baltimore, to Gay, to Lexington, to Holliday. Crowds lined the sidewalks as they passed, and when the City Hall was reached several thousand people had gathered.

   As the procession came up Lexington street into Holiday a negro boy ran out with a bouquet of flowers, which he tried to present to Marshal Hamilton, but the Marshal fiercely shook his club at the boy, and he disappeared back in the crowd.

   On the City Hall steps were grouped the Mayor and three police commissioners, many of the new City Councilmen and the present heads of the departments. The parade passed in review, showing up remarkably well, each division being cheered by its friends.3

One can imagine Carey’s three very excited young girls and Annie, Cornelius’ wife,approximately six months pregnant, in their best.  To hear their father’s name announced in such ceremony three times must have filled their hearts and imaginations with pride.


The politics remained the rough sort.  After a P.L. Goldsborough reported that Democrats were going to have the Third Congressional District “roughed,” he was asked to report to the Board of Commissioners in-person.  Goldsborough had been told by Mr. Rosenick that they were “fighting like cats and dogs”:

 I was told there was considerable fighting and trouble there: that in the Third ward eleven Hebrews, who were either precinct executive or runners, had been assaulted, and when they defended themselves were arrested and carried in the Eastern District Station-house where they now are…. (“1902 Proceedings” 87).

The “Proceedings” of the Board of Commissioners show some sensitivity to perceptions of corruption, and at every election cycle they would issue directives to their officers:  “Members of the force shall at all times abstain absolutely from electioneering and political discussions with citizens on the street or elsewhere and with each other, and they must so conduct themselves as to give no ground for accusation of partizanship….” (“1903 Proceedings” 377-378).

In an apparent sensitivity to machine politics, Republican party leaders accused Sergeant Levy of the Northeastern District of distributing a circular telling officers to assist the Democratic party in registering voters:

“…it has come to the knowledge of the Police Commissioners that there is an effort to have policemen assist in bringing out non-registered voters. That is no part of a policeman’s duty; it is no part of a policeman’s duty to assist either of the parties in having voters registered….The one thing that has brought more scandal than anything else upon the police department, not only here but elsewhere, is activity on the part of members of the police force to render aid to one political party or another. It has brought more disgrace on the police department of Baltimore than any one thing that I know of” (413).

President Willis’ stern warning is somewhat ambiguous when Commissioner Preston endorses this view but adds, “…the wisest thing for the Democratic Party, to which I belong, is to give the City of Baltimore first-class police service; first-class police service, not first-class party service” (414).

The most significant political corruption that came to the attention of the Board happened in 1911 when there was a voting investigation of the 23 ward 8th precinct (“1911 Proceedings” 184). The investigation would continue into 1912 (“1912 Proceedings” 4).

Cornelius negotiated this political milieu: being Irish and within a force that favored Democratic politics, it is likely that he was a member of the Democratic party.


The changes within the Baltimore Police Force increased and accelerated in the early twentieth century:

  • Remarkably, it wasn’t until 1908 that police officers got regular training on how to shoot their sidearms (“1908 Proceedings” 488).
  • The new millennium introduced the Bertillon method of finger-printing and the mug-shot (“1909 Proceedings” 345, “1909-10 Proceedings” 44).
  • Attempts to instill discipline are evident in the “Proceedings” with charges including dereliction of duty, intoxication of duty, being late to roll call, conduct unbecoming including soliciting women of bad repute, as well as smoking cigars or pipes. The penalty for being asleep on duty or intoxication was eventually made cause for summary dismissal (“1903 Proceedings” 297). The frequency of charges of intoxication seems to decrease from the early century to 1912. Cornelius’ himself would be reprimanded for enjoying a cigar.
  • The estimated salary in 1908 for a Sergeant was 22 dollars per week, it was two dollars more than patrolmen and three dollars less than Round Sergeants.  At that time, there was 130 sergeants on the force, 17 Round Sergeants, and 725 Patrolmen (“1907 Proceedings” 385).
  • The Special Fund was money set aside for retired officers, or widows of policemen killed in the performance of police duty. 2% of pay had to be contributed to be eligible for the benefits (“1907 Proceedings” 392).


The most compelling entries in the “1902 Proceedings” are in reference to a violation of the Sunday liquor law that occurred in Harford County and in Baltimore City.  The Maryland Anti-Saloon League hired a private detective, Louis Wein, to find saloons selling liquor on Sunday.  When the cases were brought to trial, there were two Baltimore City detectives acting as character witnesses for the Defense.  The defendants, based heavily on this testimony, were acquitted.  The Anti-Saloon League was furious and worked through the later half of 1902 trying to charge A. J. Pumphrey, Captain of the Detectives, along with Detective Harry Hammersla:


That after the finding of the indictments aforesaid by the Grand Jury in Baltimore City the said Pumphrey, knowing that the said Wein had secured evidence of violations of the liquor law of Baltimore City, and that the said Wein was a necessary witness for the state in such cases, and with the intent to discredit the testimony of the said Wein, did undertake to find if possible something detrimental to the character and reputation of the said Wein [this included accusations of visiting Chinese opium dens]; and that the said Pumphrey with the said end in view did secure from George F. Titus, Captain of the Detective Force of New York City, a certain letter of the date of June 18th., which contained certain false statements injuriously reflecting upon the character of the said Wein, and your informant, the Maryland Anti-Saloon League, alleges and believes that the said Pumphrey could readily have discovered the falsity of the statements set out in the said letter had he desired so to do.  (“1902 Proceedings” 126-127)

Pumphrey was found not guilty of the charges by the Board, but it got the attention of the State’s Attorney who appeared before the Board, presumably to express his displeasure.  The Board subsequently gave Pumphrey a dressing down telling him he should avoid testifying for the defense from then on.  Pumphrey would later lead the “Yeggmen Raid” and give a stark contrast to the man: both a competent Detective and an unscrupulous public servant.

 Pumphrey continued to be a target of the press.  In a 1909 “Black-Hand” case out of Buffalo, the two city police agencies came to litigation over Pumphrey’s role. The case would eventually lead to Pumphrey’s ousting (“1909 Proceedings” 468-469). 

There was bad blood within his own department as well; Detective O’Donnell and Pumphrey came to blows during a morning brief.

The brash behavior culminated in the resignation of Pumphrey in 1910 (“Proceedings” 348-355). In a section within the various “Proceedings” entitled “Donations,” if a civilian was so inclined and grateful to the officer who handled their problem they could give money directly to the officer which was then approved by the Board.  A change in the acceptance of monetary gifts made it mandatory for officers to report any gift.  Pumphrey was brought before the Board after a paper alleged Pumphrey had accepted a gift from John R. Bland, President of the United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co.  Pumphrey had organized the investigation and the arrest of Briedenstein in Buffalo.  This had been done outside of Pumphrey’s official duties and he was rewarded five hundred dollars.  The “Black-Hand” case involved Buffalo suing for the reward, a case Pumphrey lost.  Additional to the reward, Pumphrey received close to one thousand dollars from Bland.  Pumphrey was brought before the board and asked for his resignation:

Captain Pumphrey:- The Board wants my resignation?

Mr. President:- The Board feels that it would like to have your resignation.

Captain Pumphrey:- If I refuse to resign and take my case to Court- can I not do it- and get counsel.  You will certainly give me a hearing.

Mr. President:- In the event you decline to resign the Board will act in your case promptly under the law- we have the right to dismiss you.

Captain Pumphrey:- I understand that thoroughly: that its all right.  If the Board asks me for my resignation I will give it to you, but I think that this is awful bad treatment, the Board might take into consideration to retire me.  Never in my life have I received a dollar from any crook or protected any thieves”


Captain Pumphrey:- All right, there is no use of my arguing with the Board.  I do not want to leave the department with any bad feeling, but I must say this is awful bad treatment.  I am compelled to resign.  If I had wanted to be crooked I could have been so and I could have accumulated fifty to one hundred thousand dollars….I can fight it, but do not propose to do it.  I think it is awfully hard after thirty-five years in this business.  I have some of the most important cases; have made enemies by doing it.  No department chief in this country has done better work than I have done since I have been head of this department.  I am willing to submit to a pension; others have been pensioned who have rendered no service at all.  I have been disabled; have me surveyed by the physicians- Dan O’Connell kicked me and I have lost one part of the lower instruments, and I broke my hand on Dan O’Connell.  Let the physicians examine me, they will see my condition.


Mr. President:- Will you put it in writing?

Captain Pumphrey:- I will not put it in writing- I can tell the Board I have resigned, but I do think this is a hand all right.

Mr. President:- I assure you there is no hand in this.

Captain Pumphrey:- I do not think it is my place to talk now.  I want to go out all right, I understand that thoroughly.  If this is right and justice it is all right with me. – I am obliged to you gentlemen.

Aquilla J Pumphrey was forced to hire out as a private detective, for which he applied for a license with the board (“1910 Proceedings” 404).

Pumphrey was not the only Captain to find disgrace; the Board removed Captain Ward from duty regarding a Maggie Hunter.  The charges insist that Ward knew of a “bawdy house” and accepted graft (“1909-1910 Proceedings” 276-278).

The introduction of a different Board at this time may have been the advent of reform, leading to the resignation of Pumphrey and firing of Ward.  Even Police Marshal Farnan found the Board less amenable; the board showed several moments of disagreement which was not the case before (“1910 Proceedings” 400, 410, 425).


Returning to the Northeastern District, on February 2nd 1903 there was a complaint that on January 26th, “an alleged assault upon a colored prisoner by the name of William Preston by Officer Timothy E. Murphy, wagonman, Northeastern District….” (269). These charges were denied and it was found the accusing party had been drunk and must have fallen into a jail cell. Race relations were not good, which can be seen in this directive from Marshal Farnan: “no boxing exhibition shall consist of more than ten rounds, also to prohibit white and colored from sparring together in public, as it has a tendency to stir up race prejudice, which is not good for the public welfare” (“1902 Proceedings” 121).

The “Proceedings” of 1911 show a dramatic increase in enforcement of neighborhood segregation (50, 58, 60, 100, 112).


Despite the stance that there would be no women police (1910 “Proceedings” 370), and the refusal to allow police matrons to participate in a Suffragist parade (1912 “Proceedings” 29), there were in fact instances where women participated in police work. The instances usually were undercover.  Marshal Farnan writes:

“In connection with the recent complaint upon the subject of women loitering in the neighborhood of Calhoun and Lombard streets, for the purpose of picking up men, beg to say that I detailed Miss Mary C. Harvey (Policewoman)….(“1912 Proceedings” 334, parenthetical in original ).

1912 seems to have been a significant year for women’s rights within Baltimore. Even while they were not recognized fully, women were making progress within the police force.

“I detailed Mrs. Faber, Police Matron and Patrolman Cain to attend the ball under German Hungarian Liederkranz….failed to observe any improper dances and the affair was conducted in an orderly manner with the exception that during the evening a young girl of fourteen years of age ordered and was served with a glass of beer…” (“1912 Proceedings” 426).


  • In 1909, the Northeastern district had the largest number of bars with 338.  The closest was Eastern, with 309. In June of that year there were 297, again the largest number (“1909 Proceedings” 8).
  • There were what would be called gangs in the Northeast District, as shown in a case against an officer: “Furthermore he accused the boy of being the ring leader of a bunch of thirty or more ruffians so called the Cocksey’s Army, and that he also belonged to the Homesteaders” (“1911 Proceedings” 191).
  • There is a fascinating “census” of “bawdy houses” and their tenants (“1912 Proceedings” 419).  Prostitution was a legal but came under frequent moral censorship.


Woman Shot in the Breast

Mamie Brown, colored, 807 Madison alley, is at the City Hospital suffering from a pistol wound in the left breast, and Alexander Martin, also colored, is locked up charged with the shooting.

Sergeant Cornelius Carey and Patrolman John Sweeney, of the Northeastern district, were informed about 9 o’clock yesterday morning that a woman had been shot in Madison alley. They went to investigate and found the Brown woman with a bullet wound in her breast. She was taken to the City Hospital, where it is said that her condition is critical.

When arraigned before Justice Lewis, at the Northeastern Police Station, yesterday, Martin acknowledged shooting the woman, but said that it was accidental. He was committed for a hearing September 8. (Baltimore Sun, 3 September 1900. pg 10)

A “curious case” involving cyanide in a sugar bowl lead to the arrest of a George W. Shanks, on charges of trying to kill his wife and adopted daughter. After a heated argument over money and property and not a small amount of alcohol, George attempted to poison his family.  With the pretense of leaving for good, he went to the kitchen for a glass of water then took a painting of his name sake down from the walls and told his wife he would never see her again, but the thinness of their walls must have been extraordinary because a neighbor had heard the “rattling of the sugar bowl”.  Where our Cornelius enters the story is that previous to this incident, on April 2 1903, he had discovered the brother of George, Samuel Shanks, dead in his bed, a suicide, by inhaling illuminating gas.

On the 27 of April 1904, Cornelius one day doused a fire inside a synagogue with a bucket of water; saving the day apparently, as no one had thought to try a bucket of water before an officer arrived.5

The case that garnered the most nation-wide attention was an arrest of a gang of safe-breakers or “Yeggmen” in the winter of 1904. Cornelius stands in the back row of a group of policemen in a photo of the December 11, 1904 Baltimore American with the title, “Detectives and Police Who Captured the Gang of Yeggmen.” In the 1907 police history this episode in the department takes a prominent space. Cornelius is mention in the “How Morgan Was Trailed” section:

ImageBaltimore American, 11 December 1904. Cornelius stands in the back at the far left.  A. J. Pumphrey sits in the front.



   The onslaught made by the detectives and police during the month of December, 1904, upon one of the most dangerous bands of criminals and safe-blowers that ever carried on their operations in any community, brought Baltimore and her police into an enviable prominence, not only in the realms of the police world, but before the country in general.

   For three months prior to December 8, 1904, banks, postoffices and country stores throughout the rural sections of the State had been looted by organized bands of burglars and safe-blowers of that class known in police parlance as “Yeggmen.”


   Early on the morning of December 8, 1904, the bank at Mt. Airy, Carroll county, was burglarized and the safe blown open with nitro-glycerine. Similar burglaries and safe blowings had been committed in other localities, notably at La Plata, Charles county; at Aberdeen, Harford county, and in other sections of the State during a period of about three months. The report of the burglary on the Mt. Airy Bank was reported to the Baltimore Police Department early on the morning of December 8, about four hours after its occurrence.

   For at least six weeks prior to the Mt. Airy burglary and safe-blowing Captain Gittings, of the Northeastern District, had been keeping under surveillance a gang of men who were stopping at the saloon of John Smeltzing, 3149 East Monument street. The work of this watching devolved upon Patrolman Joynes, now deceased, and Sergeant Zehner. The vigilant sergeant and his patrolman received a report of the bank burglary and immediately remembered that on the evening preceding the attack upon the Mt. Airy financial concern and on the morning following the gang of suspects had not been seen around Smeltzing’s. The information gained by Sergeant Zehner and Patrolman Joynes was communicated to Captain Gittings and, with the experience of a well-trained officer of police, he immediately acted upon it. Captain Gittings got into communication with Deputy Marshal Manning, who was Acting Marshal, and the result was that the commander of the district personally led a raiding party, among whom were Detectives Burns and Bradley, of Headquarters, to Smeltzing’s. The saloon and the rooms above were entered. Captain Gittings, with drawn revolver, held up four men who were gathered in one of the rooms. While the quartet were being secured, the captain and two other officers searched the rooms. They found pistols, nitro-glycerine, fuse caps and electric batteries, flash lights and wads of oakum, which the “Yeggmen” use in deadening the sound of explosions. The four men arrested gave their names as William Smith, John Smith, James King and John Adams. The next day William Smith was identified as Emerson Palm, alias “Frisco Slim,” one of the most noted “Yeggmen” that ever blew open a safe on the Atlantic seaboard and throughout the Middle West.


   The story of the raid made by the detectives on the “Yegg” haunts at 23 and 27 South Front street and at 711 South Caroline street is one that will probably interest even those who are not interested particularly in police work and who do not keep “tab” on criminal matters. All the day of December 9 Captain Pumphrey’s men had kept watch in the neighborhood of the three places which they knew were “Yegg” haunts. No. 23 South Front street and No. 711 South Caroline street were saloons. No. 27 South Front street was a low lodging house. No. 23 South Front street was the first place visited by a detail of plainclothes men under the personal command of Captain Pumphrey. This resort was conducted by a man generally known as “Will” and was styled “Will’s Place.” For two months the resort had been under the surveillance of the detectives. Men in plain clothes had dressed as day laborers, had gone into the saloon, purchased drinks and had tried without exciting suspicion to fraternize with “Will’s” regular patrons. About 9.30 o’clock the proprietor of the resort and his patrons were treated to a surprise that was as complete to them as it was unpleasant. During the afternoon the front and side door, connecting with a dark and evil-smelling alley, had been watched. Men who were known as professional beggars, “Yeggmen,” railroad “hoboes” and “Pathfinders” went in and out, confident that they were safe from any particular observance….

   Captain Pumphrey divided his party into two squads. The party led by himself included Chief Ogline and Detective Bradley. The second party included Chiefs White and Cross, Detective Burns and a police reporter on an afternoon newspaper. The two squads went by different directions to Baltimore and Front streets and then in single file trailed down the winding thoroughfare.

   “Will’s” place was in full blast, but there was little noise from the men gathered in the low- ceilinged groggery. Detective Burns and White, who slipped around the narrow alley on the side of the building, peered through a broken shutter. Some of ”Will’s” patrons were sitting around a table drinking, while others were standing around the room talking in low tones. Chief Cross guarded the rear exit. Burns, with his hand gripping his revolver ready to draw it, watched the side entrance. Captain Pumphrey, Chiefs Ogline and White and Detective Bradley pushed in through the front door.


   As Pumphrey entered the front room of the two apartments a sudden silence fell upon “Will’s” patrons, and they looked at one another as if each man suspected the identity of the visitors who pushed through them and took up their positions at each doorway and window. It seemed strange that not one of the gang asked why they were intruded upon, and there was perfect silence while Captain Pumphrey ran his eyes over their faces. A powerfully built man, with a shock of light hair, who was standing in the front room, edged toward the door, only to find that Ogline and Bradley blocked his way.

   “Can’t I get out? Who the is youse fellers?” he muttered, sullenly.

   It was the first word spoken, and was answered by Captain Pumphrey’s “Hold the doors and windows; everyone here is under arrest.”

   Even then there was no scrambling, nor did one of “Will’s” sullen-looking guests show surprise.

   One man a squat, dirty-looking creature— whined “Please let me go; I’m a poor cripple,” and held out a bent arm.

   “Yes, I know you,” said the Detective Captain, as he stepped quickly to him and straightened out his arm; “you are no more a cripple than I am; you’re a professional beggar, and we want you, too.” The man whose arm had been bent and distorted kept it straightened until the patrol wagon arrived.

   While Detective Burns went to the patrol box to call the Central District wagon the detectives stood silently at the doors and windows, and it was noticeable that while no weapons were displayed every officer kept his right hand in his right overcoat pocket. A man who started to open a drawer in the greasy table received a sharp command to “Sit up straight and keep your arms on the table.”

   The bartender and manager, William Johnson, walked back of the bar and poured out a half tumbler of whisky, which he drank at a gulp. “Do I go with them, too?” he asked Captain Pumphrey.

   “You, too,” was the short reply.

   “Can I take the money from the cash register?”

   “Yes; but you can’t take anything else.”

   “This is a turn up. I guess you’re going to search the house?”

   “Rather,” replied Pumphrey, with a grim smile.

   “You won’t find anything. There is nothing here.”

   But there was. After the raid, when the search was made and cupboards were opened, drawers ransacked, picture frames moved, and even the coal box examined, a burglar’s “jimmy,” a drill, a short-handled sledge hammer, a dangerous-looking knotted club, railroad caps and professional beggars’ cards were a part of the contribution made by “Will’s” place to the other “queer” material secured by the detectives.


   In the meantime, the lodging rookery 27 South Front street was being watched. A woman came down the street, started to enter the raided saloon, drew back and walked quickly toward 27. As she saw the two detectives in the hall, she fled upstairs, closely followed. In a moment there was pandemonium in the place. Several women attempted to rush out, but were made to return. Three rooms upstairs were searched.

   One room was occupied by a woman who said her name was Stella; Poor as the room and its furnishings were, there was a trunk and a traveling case of good appearance in it. The trunk was opened. In it was found a satchel containing two handsome .38-calibre revolvers, a burglar’s drill and a map showing the trolley lines in Eastern Pennsylvania, with marginal notes of the names of persons residing on them. A similar map was also found in “Will’s” saloon.

   The woman in whose room the dress-suit case was found sat on the edge of her bed and watched the detectives as they ransacked her belongings, even taking up a piece of carpet from the floor and the backs out of two pictures. The women were not placed under arrest.

   The next raid made by the police was on house 711 South Caroline street, where Edward Martin conducted a saloon. Martin was one of the men captured at “Will’s Place,” 23 South Front street. Marshal Farnan, Deputy Marshal Manning and Captain Pumphrey believed that the two saloons, 711 South Caroline street and 23 South Front street, were used as hiding places by the “Yeggmen,” and that in these two places the booty which they secured in robbing banks and postoffices was divided and disposed of. In 711 South Caroline street Burns and Bradley arrested James Hart. Concealed in one of the bedrooms the detectives found a bottle of nitro- glycerine and two wedges used for forcing open the doors of small safes.


   On the morning of December 11 a devoted band of detectives took an early train to Mt. Wilson, Baltimore county, for word had reached Marshal Farnan and Captain Pumphrey that men had been seen moving around a camp which had long been suspected of sheltering members of gangs of “Yeggmen” and railroad “hoboes.”

A snowstorm, which was almost a blizzard, was sweeping the country. Huge drifts blockaded the main roads and less used thoroughfares, yet this did not deter the determined little band of criminal hunters. [….] The camp was found, but the birds had flown. The “Yegg’s” rural haunt bore every evidence of having been vacated hurriedly. A copy of a Baltimore newspaper, dated on the date preceding, was found wrapped around a couple of drills, indicating that the campers had read the day before that their country rendezvous was known, and had exercised a prompt discretion in vacating without a formal notice to quit. Several empty champagne bottles indicated high life in the camp. The ‘Yegg’s” rural haunt was on the farm of Mr. Thomas Craddock. “The Mystery of a Hansom Cab” began to figure in the story at this point. The detectives learned that between midnight and 1 o’clock that morning a cab, believed to be from Baltimore city, had been driven along the Hookstown road, and had stopped at a point about an eighth of a mile from the camp. Further trace of the vehicle was lost, but the detectives figured that it was sent to the rescue of the beleagured “hoboes,” and that some, or all, of them escaped in it. The cab was driven by a well-dressed young man about 35 years of age, wearing a small, dark mustache and a long, dark overcoat, and it is said the same man earlier in the evening asked at various places for lodging. He stated that he knew men were permitted to sleep in a nearby barrack, but he did not wish to herd with tramps. The detectives believed he was the chief of the gang, and that he was acting as a relief party.

   A number of articles were found in the deserted camp. Among them were sweaters, a cap, the two drills mentioned, a dirk knife, a spring-clasp knife, a vaseline bottle containing caps used to set off dynamite charges, and a heavy blanket, which the detectives stated is of the kind used to place over safes when being blown to deaden the explosion. The vaseline bottle containing the dynamite caps bore the label of a Harrisburg (Pa.) druggist.

   Under the hay in the Craddock barrack were found two steel punches, a drilled steel wedge, a new black fedora hat, wrapped in a newspaper, and a bottle of fuses. The detectives called the punches starters, and said they were used in breaking off safe knobs. The hat had the word “Allegany” stamped on the sweatband. These articles were found buried about four feet in the hay.


   On the morning of December 12, Edward Morgan, alias “Portland Ned,” the leader of the “Yegg” band, was captured at 2002 Ridgewood avenue by a squad of police and detectives. With Morgan was captured his wife, Maude Morgan, who had really played the consort part of “Queen of the ‘Yeggmen.’ ” Mrs. Morgan, when she heard the officers entering the hall of the house at 2002 Ridgewood avenue, hastily threw a blanket over her husband, who was reclining on a sofa. She then threw herself on the blanket and pretended to be asleep. The detectives knew that Morgan was in the room, having peered through a window, and Detective Burns exclaimed, “Get up, Morgan; we know you are under there.”

   Morgan threw himself from the sofa and attempted to draw a .44-calibre revolver, which was in a holster strapped around his waist. His wife, who had been thrown to the floor as he rolled from the sofa, and the blanket, which had caught in the heel of his shoe, impeded his movements. Before the revolver was half way from the holster the officers were on him and the handcuffs clicked over his wrist.

   Morgan and his wife were taken at once to Police Headquarters, where Marshal Farnan, Deputy Marshal Manning and Captain of Detectives Pumphrey attempted to “sweat” them, but neither the man or woman would talk.

   Both prisoners were locked up in the Central Station. On the docket Morgan was charged with burglariously entering the Mount Airy (Carroll county) Bank on December 8. When Morgan was searched at Police Headquarters a bag containing $209.11, a 44-calibre revolver and two watches, one a lady’s gold watch, with a diamond set in the back, was found in his clothing. Morgan was 24 years old; his wife was 22. The alleged leader of the “Yegg” gang was well dressed and appeared to be intelligent.


   When the other two haunts of the alleged “Yeggmen,” saloons 23 South Front street and 711 South Caroline street, were raided, the police hoped to find among those gathered in the vanished leader, but he was not in the round-up. Captain Gittings received information that a man named Morgan, the supposed leader of the gang, had been living at 413 North Rose street, and later through the information furnished by Captain Gittings, Captain of Detectives Pumphrey, Burns and Bradley, discovered that Morgan had moved to Walbrook.

   The next bit of information was obtained from a small colored boy, whom Maude Morgan had employed to run errands. The boy had taken a package to the Walbrook residence just after the Morgans moved into it, but had forgotten the street and number. He was taken out to Walbrook by the detectives, and finally located the house at 1930 Walbrook avenue.

   All Friday night the detectives and Captain Gittings’ policemen shadowed the house. Mrs. Morgan was inside, but Morgan did not appear. At 3.45 o’clock that morning Sergeant Zehner, Sergeant Carey, Patrolman Joynes and Detectives Bradley and Burns saw a man approach the house cautiously. He carried a short stick, with which he lightly struck the steps of the house. A moment later the front door opened and the officers waiting in the shadows saw Mrs. Morgan admit her husband.

   Word was sent to Captain Pumphrey, and he was asked if it was advisable to force the door of the house. The captain hurried to the scene and the house was entered, searched from top to bottom. Morgan and his wife had disappeared as mysteriously as though the earth had swallowed them. The mysterious vanishing was explained later when the rear gate was found open and footprints showed that Morgan and his wife had taken alarm at something and had left the house.

   Mrs. Morgan was known to be devoted to two dogs, a fox-terrier and a Scotch poodle. The animals had also disappeared and the officers were confident that the fleeing couple had taken them with them. At 6.45 the officers received information that a man and woman, accompanied by two dogs, had gone to the house of a Mrs. Adams, 2002 Ridgewood avenue. Fearing that Morgan had again eluded them, all the officers, except Burns and Bradley, were posted around the house.

   Peering through a window in the rear, the police were able to look into the dining-room. Morgan was in plain view, reclining on a sofa and caressing his fox-terrier. Mrs. Morgan was sitting in a chair by the sofa.

   Burns and Bradley rang the doorbell. A woman came to the door.

   “We want to see Mr. Morgan,” said Bradley.

   “He doesn’t live here,” replied the woman, and attempted to close the door in their faces. They pushed past her and entered the dining-room. Mrs. Morgan heard them in the hall, and had thrown the blanket over her husband and was lying on top of it when they entered. The weight of the woman and the fact that the blanket entangled his limbs prevented Morgan from drawing his revolver. Even when the officers had him covered with their revolvers the woman did not give up hope of him escaping.

   “Try the window, ‘Ned,” she whispered; but the officers heard her, as did Morgan. The trapped man gave a glance at the rear window, and saw two men standing outside.

   “No good trying that,” he replied, and held out his wrists for the handcuffs. As he stood there with the steel bracelets on his wrists the woman went to him, put her arms around him and kissed him.

   “Take care of the dogs,” said Morgan to her.

   She said “Yes,” but Detective Bradley interrupted with: “Very sorry, madam, but you’ll have to go with us, too.”

   Mrs. Morgan was watched closely while she put on a stylish light coat and black picture hat to accompany her husband to Headquarters.


   Morgan was silent on the way downtown. The only remark he made to the officers was before they left the house, when Burns said to him: “You have given us a good long hunt.”

   “You can’t blame me for that,” replied the prisoner….

   For days after the arrest of the “Yeggmen” Baltimore’s Police Headquarters was crowded with detectives from other cities. United States postal inspectors and Pinkerton operators, the latter agency being particularly interested in the raids because of their connection with the American Bankers’ Association. Valuable aid was given the local Department by United States Postal Inspector Samuel T. Hooton and Chief Charles Wright, of the Baltimore branch of the United States Secret Service. It is interesting to note that Morgan, the “Yegg” leader, is now serving a seven years’ sentence in the South Carolina State Penitentiary, while eight other members of this desperate gang are in prisons in other sections of the country.

The liquor laws were a source of constant activity.  Their enforcement occupies more text within the “Proceedings” than any other article of law.  On the 16th of March 1908 one could read in the Baltimore American of liquor raids, one of which Cornelius was a part of:

A raid was also made yesterday on the saloon of John L. Munn. 1500 E. Madison street, by Sergeant Cornelius J Carey and Patrolmen H. Jacob Heineman and Charles E. Lentz. The place was entered without any difficulty, and the proprietor, with three witnesses were placed under arrest. As they were engaged in a game of cards at the time of the capture, all were charged with gaming, while the proprietor had to answer to the additional charge of selling or furnishing intoxication liquour on Sunday. The latter case was sent to court by Justice Keplinger, but the gaming charge was dismissed. (Baltimore American)6

In a news article dated September 22 1913 of the Sun, the headline reads:


Chased Half Mile after Assaulting James Heffy.

   Chased for nearly a half mile by Sergeant Cornelius Carey and Patrolman Fields, of the Central district, two negroes who assaulted and attempted to rob James Heffy, of Cold Spring land and Falls road, early yesterday morning succeeded in eluding policmen, who fired at them in an effort to effect their capture.

   About 1 o’clock yesterday morning Mr. Heffy was waiting for a car at Pratt street and Market Place when he was approached by the negroes.

   “What time is it?” asked one of the negroes.

   “I haven’t the time.” replied Heffy.

   One of the negroes then struck him a blow in the face, while the other seized him by the arms. They attempted to search his pockets, but, being a man of considerable strength, he fought his assailants, at the same time shouting for the police.

   “If you shout again, we will kill you, ” the negroes told him.

   Heffey, nevertheless, shouted at the top of his voice. Sergeant Carey and Patrolman Fields, hearing the cries, hurried to the scene.

   When the negroes saw the policemen approaching they took to their heels and ran out Pratt street to Light, to Camden, with the policemen in their wake. As they turned into Camden street from Light the two policemen lost sight of their quarry.7

This incident was only six days after Cornelius was involved in the hearing of Patrolman Hanrahan:


Hanrahan Charged with “Walking Lopsided” and Therefore Drunk.

“Can you tell when a man is drunk?” was the question put to Sergt. Cornelius Carey, of the Central district, yesterday afternoon by Alfred S. Niles, acting president of the Police Board, when Patrolman Thomas S. Hanrahan was arraigned before the Commissioners on the charge of being drunk while on active duty.

“I can, sir,” declared Sergeant Carey “Patrolman Hanrahan was drunk last Thursday when I saw him at 2 o’clock in the morning. He was so drunk that he had to walk lopsided.”

After hearing the evidence the Police Board dismissed Hanrahan from the force.8

A reader of these articles in the city of Baltimore would begin to get a sense of their policeman C. J. Carey, a man who took his job seriously, and was intolerant of unprofessionalism.  He would toe the line when it came to the tradition of being a policeman. C. J. Carey was quite capable of dealing with the unpleasantness that most people choose to ignore: from the rotting corpses, petty crimes here and there, to the fear of a murderer in your grasp.  If you happened to ignore him he wasn’t shy of sending a few short shots your way.

In the Eligible List No. 39 of July 14th 1910 Cornelius was 37 on a list of 55 with an average of 96-1/2. Competition was obviously steep, four men averaged 100, 12 men average 99 or better (“1910 Proceedings” 404). A description of the exam follows:

The examiners design the tests to be educational as well as mediums through which promotions are to be made. It was for this reason the board had the law amended to provide for annual examinations. The board has requested that each member of the forces make a thorough study of the questions submitted at each examination, in order that the knowledge of the rules and regulations of the department, and of other subjects, may be broadened and increased. (Baltimore Sun 1 July 1911 pg 5)

Cornelius scored a 98.5 in 1911.  Cornelius never made the rank of Round Sergeant.  From the Round Sergeant results it seems he was of average intelligence.  After 25 years of service, Cornelius got in trouble:


Sergeant Carey Deprived of Three Days’ Leave of Absence

His coat off and nonchalantly smoking a cigar. Sergt. Cornelius Carey, of the Central district, was found last Monday night reclining in a chair in the office of the Baltimore and Caroline Packing Company, foot of Commerce street.

Yesterday he faced the Police Board and was found guilty of being in the office for 25 minutes on other than police business. He was deprived of three days leave of absence. On Monday he will be transferred to another district. (Baltimore Sun, 19 September 1914. pg 4)

Some years ago when I first saw the picture of Cornelius in my parents’ house my uncle Carey (after the Carey family name) said that he had been shot and paralyzed, later dying from complications due to the paralysis. This was told to him by Eva (Carey) Donohue his grandmother and Cornelius’ daughter. Carey Donohue believed it was in 1919 that he was shot. While the fact that he died in 1919 is not true and there is no record of Cornelius being injured, there was a shooting at the Central District police station on July 3 1919:

 Turnkey’s Case

Frank Wojniak the murderer of Patrolman John Lanahan, turnkey at the old Central Police Station on Saratoga street near Charles street., only recently escaped from the Penitentiary, where he was serving a life sentence for his crime. Arrested on a minor charge[larceny] July 3, 1919, Wojniak was ordered searched when brought into the police station. As Lanahan walked toward him, Wojniak whipped out a revolver and shot the turnkey through the heart. (Driscoll, Hackley)9

It is perhaps a story Cornelius told to his daughter and her to her grandson. Cornelius was transferred from the Northeastern district, to Central District and by 1914 was patrolling the Northern District.  In Report of the Board Police Commisioners for the year 1917, under “Statement No. 12” it lists Cornelius as having been a Sergeant in the Northern District and being “Commended for Specially Meritorious Service” once in 1917 (25).  This was for “good policemanship shown by him in the detection of Clarence Buell, Elmer Parks and Franklin Parks, charged with having committed a number of robberies in the Northern District” (“1917 Proceedings”).


An argument between an umpire and the Oriole club manager escalated to a small riot. A Sergeant Gooding of the Northern district attempted to escort the umpire off the field. A thrown object crushed in Sergeant Gooding’s hat. Gooding arrested the guilty man, a Albert Darago, but not without angering the crowd even more and that directed its anger on the policeman.

The attitude of the crowd was so threatening, individuals making attempts to strike the policeman while his back was turned, that Sergeant Gooding, retaining hold upon Darago; backed to the grandstand, where he kept the crowd at bay with his blackjack. At this juncture Sergt. Cornelius Carey; Northern district; Sergt. William Murphy, of headquarters, who was in plain clothes, and several patrolman who had been stationed at the park reached Sergeant Gooding’s side. Darago was taken by them to the police box on Twenty-ninth street and York road, with the crowd still about them.


When the call for the patrol was made members of the crowd began throwing missiles at the policemen. Darago was struck on the head by a rock and knocked down. Persons on the outskirts of the crowd pushed those in front of them in closer, where they were held back by the police. (Baltimore Sun, 10 August 1920 pg 20)

The riot resulted from a close race of the “International League,” and from a persistent atmosphere of animosity between the teams.

Within Cornelius’ Personnel File (graciously provided by the Baltimore City Police Department) one finds record of Cornelius’ last years on the force as part of the Northern District:

  • A series of personnel reports lists the kind of post as “Quiet.”
  • Cornelius’ rank was Squad Sergeant or Sergeant.  Division A & B in 1920 or 1-2-3 in 1921.
  • For the question concerning complaints, Captain League writes: “none, outside of the ordinary that come to our notice from time to time, and these were of a minor nature and were promptly attended to.”
  • For comments: “Find him to be attentive to his duties as well as conscientious in the performance of them.”
  • Arrests from July 1 to September 30, 1920: 1 “Carnal knowledge”; 1 “Felonious Entry”
  • Arrests from October 1 to December 31 1920: 1 “Assault and attempt to ravish”; 3 “Disturbing the Peace”
  • Arrests from January 1 to April 1 1921: 9 “Disorderly Conduct”
  • Arrests from April 1 to July 1 1921: 2 “Larceny”; 2 “Traffic Cases”; 1 “Assault”; 1 “False Pretense”

On 21 August 1928, a lawyer from Buffalo, Alfred F. Cohen wrote to the Baltimore Police to thank them for their assistance:

Mr. Chas. D. Gaither

Police Commissioner,

Baltimore, Md.

My dear Sir:-

    Sometime ago while visiting your City, my wife had the misfortune of having several articles of clothing, some jewelry and money taken from her bed room….

   Within twenty-five minutes, two of your officers whom I have since learned to be Sargent Cornelius J. Carey and Patrolman J. W. Santmyer, had called on us within an hour following had apprenhended the guilty party and recovered most of the articles stolen.


   May I therefore, congratulate you upon your efficient police protection and the spirit of courtesy and cooperation with which you have instilled the members of your department. (Carey Personnel File)

Cornelius was seventy-three at the time of this event.  Cornelius retired from the force on the 7th of January 1931. A career of almost forty-seven years. In eight months, Cornelius would be dead.

I would like to thank retired officer Ken Driscoll, the late William M. Hackett for their website, and Charlene D Pasquale of HR BPD for taking the time to dig up the “Personnel File.”


6 Baltimore American, 16 March 1908

3 Baltimore Sun, 20 May 1899 vol CXXV issue 4 page 7

7 Baltimore Sun, 22 September 1913 vol CLIII issue 12

Baltimore Sun, 16 September 1913 vol CLIII issue 123 page 14

5Baltimore Sun, 28 April 1904 vol CXXXIV issue 164 page 8

4 Board of Police Commissioners for Baltimore. “Proceedings.” Web. Accessed Nov 30 2013. MSA s1894/ 02-0065, Annapolis, MD. BCA BC/45/33/000Baltimore, MD.

Board of Police Commissioners. Report of the Board of Police Commissioners for the City of Balitmore: To His Excellency The Governor of Maryland. for the year 1917. Baltimore: George W. King Co. 1918. Web. Accessed 6 December 2013

Carey, Cornelius Jerome. Personnel File. Baltimore City Police Human Resources. Baltimore, Maryland.


 9 Driscoll, Ken and Hackett, William M. “Fallen Heroes.” Web. Accessed 30 November 2013.

2 Folsom, de Francias. Our Police: A History of the Baltimore Force from the First Watchmen to the Latest Appointee. Baltimore: J. D. Ehlers and Co and Guggenhiemer, Weil and Co. 1888. Web.


McCabe, Clinton. History of the Baltimore Police Department 1774-1907: Compiled and Published by the Permission of the Board of Police Commissioners. Baltimore: Fleet-McGinley Co. 1907. Web. Accessed 6 December 2

1 O’Hara, Eugene. “Policing 19th Century Baltimore.” May 1983. Web. Accessed 30 November 2013.