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The Ulmore Case

From the autobiographical notes of Captain Charles Albertson regarding the time he served in the New York City Police Department 8th Precinct.

THE ULMORE CASE

About 5 A.M. one morning in the summer of 1884 when on post at the north west corner of 17th Street and Broadway, a tall well built German about twenty one years of age came down Broadway carrying a very large valise and bundle. There was a very important rule in the department directing members to be vigilant in examining all property being conveyed in a suspicious manner at night time. As he passed me I said to him “What have you there?” He replied with a German accent, “This is my business. You mind your own business.” I jumped and caught hold of him and brought him back on the walk as he was then in the middle of Broadway. I said, “What have you in the valise?” He said, “I do not know, it belongs to my brother.” I said, “Open it.” He said he could not as his brother had the key.

I unfastened the clasps and opened it and on top was a valuable lady’s gold watch and chain and on the inside was engraved: “Presented to Ulmore by her friends at Sidney, Australia” two or three months previous. The German also had a solid silver cake basket wrapped in a newspaper. I arrested him and each took hold of a handle of the valise and he carried the cake basket by the handle. When we arrived opposite the Coleman House which was on the west side of Broadway between 27th and 28th Streets, h e let go of the valise and struck at me with the heavy cake basket and as he was left handed, it made a dangerous weapon. He very n early got me the first crack. I hit him so hard with the stick that if I had not caught him, he would have gone through a plate glass window.

When we unpacked the stolen property at the station, it was a valuable lot consisting of jewelry, curious and solid silver tableware valued at about two thousand dollars. The Ulmores were English actresses and the father at one time was very wealthy and when reverses came the sisters went on the stage playing an entire season at the Broadway in Hoyt’s “Bunch of Keys,” a year or two previous to this time. They were very clever artists. As soon as the prisoner was locked up the property spread out on the table and listed, I started out to locate the owners. After considerable inquiry, I found a belated actor who was acquainted with Miss Ulmore and had met her the day before when she stated that she had secured apartments consisting of a parlor floor and basement in West 47th Street. After two hours search, I rang the bell of a house very near the 47th Street station and eventually Miss Ulmore came to the door. I informed her that her apartments had been burglarized and she said, “Officer, you are mistaken.” After much argument, she went to investigate and came back with a look of horror on her face. The entire basement had been ransacked and the jewelry taken from a dresser in the room where she slept. She came to the station and identified her property, then to Jefferson Market Court where she entered a complaint against the prisoner who was held for trail.

As we were passing up the aisle on our way out of court, Miss Ulmore stopped and loudly said, “Oh Mike! Oh Mike!” and hugged and kissed and wept over a little Irishman who was among the spectators. The Judge rapped for order and I hustled them out of court. When outside, she made this explanation. Mike was for many years a house servant at her home in England and was so genial that they all loved him. He was more than a servant to her for it was Mike she took most of her troubles. When the financial crash came, Mike was given some money and went to America where he had failed to succeed, for when she found him, he was waiting to ask the Judge to send him to a charity institution, down and out. Miss Ulmore purchased an entire outfit for Mike and took him home with her very proud and happy. When I called later at the Ulmore’s home he was in full charge.

When I turned out at 6 P.M. the day of the arrest, Captain Williams complimented me very highly for the arrest and censured the men over whose post he had passed for neglect of duty.

The prisoner plead guilty and was sentenced to five years in State Prison. He had a key to the front door having driven a bakery delivery wagon and served bread there.

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