Posts Tagged ‘Gophers gang’

Girl gangsters of 19th century Manhattan

December 2, 2009

When you think of the criminal gangs of New York in the 1800s, ruthless young men probably come to mind.

But these gangs had female members as well, some of whom were notorious fighters.

There was Hell-Cat Maggie, a member of the Irish-American Dead Rabbits in the 1850s. Her home base was the Five Points slum, near today’s City Hall. Supposedly her teeth were filed into sharp points and she clawed rivals with brass fingernails.

Another was Sadie Farrell, aka Sadie the Goat. Reportedly she robbed East Siders by first head-butting them in the stomach. In the 1860s she joined the Charlton Street Gang, river pirates on the West Side.

Ida Burger, called Ida the Goose, was a prostitute and Lady Gopher, part of the Gophers of Hell’s Kitchen. In the 1910s she was lured away to the Lower East Side’s Eastman Gang, led by Monk Eastman, but eventually went back to the Gophers after a bloody shootout.

The illustration above, from the New York Public Library, depicts tough chicks rumming it up at a Five Points tavern in the 1870s.