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The Notorious Mollie Hash & The Feather Burglary

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

THE NOTORIOUS MOLLIE HASH

At the time of my appointment there were about ten or fifteen notorious women cruisers on Broadway between Bleecker and Grand Street known as “badger thieves;” those who solicited men, took them to houses of assignation and robbed them. Some of them were very clever or expert. One of the most notorious was known as Molly Hash. One cold winter night I saw her from some distance away go west on Broome Street with a man. Some time later this man came up through Grand Street. I spoke to him and requested to know if he had lost anything. He was very indignant and said he was able to care for himself. In about an hour, he came back very meek and said he had lost $900. I said, I would hunt her up if he would make a complaint. I went down to Wooster and Grand Street and found Mollie, took her to the Station and had her searched and found the $900. Now for Tammany methods for Mollie had friends in that organization. The Tammany Judge postponed the case from time to time until the complainant was discouraged and had to go home as he lived out of town. At another time Mollie bit a four karat diamond stud from the shirt front of one of her victims and then her Tammany friends helped her out as usual.

Mollie was quite successful at her trade financially as she owned a valuable house on the south west corner of Prince and Sullivan streets with a house at the rear of the lot on Sullivan Street. She also had a son and daughter in college. When you come to turn a dozen thieves like Mollie loose on the public it is quite a serious proposition.

THE FEATHER BURGLARY

In the fall of 1880, I was on patrol on Sullivan Street during the tour from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. About four o’clock the man on Prince Street which was the station house post came from the station in a great hurry and said he was going to Detective Reynolds’ home to noti9fy him that an ostrich feather importing house in Mercer Street had been burglarized and it was believed a large lot of valuable goods stolen. I continued down my post thinking of the burglary when the thought came to me that when at Houston Street a couple of hours before I saw two men cross the walk near Prince Street which was one block away, and then heard a wagon drive away. The Mollie Hash house and lot was on the corner of Prince and Sullivan Streets, twenty-five feet on Prince Street and the lot one hundred feet on Sullivan Street. On the rear of the lot was a house twenty by twenty-five fronting on Sullivan Street with a high board fence extending from the side of the rear house to the rear of the front house. In this fence was a door opening into the yard. By getting up on the porch of the rear house I could look into the yard. Although it was quite dark inside, I believed I could see several large bales or bundles. I rapped on the sidewalk with my locust night stick for assistance and when several men had arrived we forced the door and found several bales of ostrich feathers as they are imported. There was about $6000 worth. In a livery stable a short distance away, the door being unlocked, I found a horse hitched to an express wagon which we took the feathers to the station in. The same wagon evidently brought the property there. Captain McDonald and Detectives Murphy and Reynolds received great credit for their detective ability in recovering the proceeds of the burglary so quickly. No special ability on my part was needed as Mollie’s husband and the man living in the rear house who was known as the Doctor were notorious crooks although neither one took any active part in the burglary but would have been receivers if the property had not been recovered. Several arrests were made in the case and three of the prisoners convicted, one of them a private watchman who was being paid for watching their place.

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