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cA True Story gf the Secret Service
COL. H. C. WHITLEY Former Chief U. S. Secret Service I'RiNri the sixties and and the early seven i li ties of the last cen t tury. counterfeitng S blossomed into one of the fine arts, and to - such perfection was it brought that. in many instances. It was ex ceedingly difficult to detect the bogus stuff from the genu ine. As Insilh'os enfemles of the people in every %alk of life, counterfeiters may well 1, classed among the most subtle aid dangerous persons with whom cti. ors of the law have to cope. Ever v idte awake and on the alert for treachery in their own ranks, these crafty rogues can only be captured and convic'ted by means of carefully baited traps, or by what is generally known as the stool-pigeon system. Counterfiters are divided into six distinct classes: First, the capitalist or procur'r; second, the engraver; third, the printer; fourth, the whole sale dealer; fifth, the retailer, and sixth, the shover or circulator. The capitalist is the most difficult man to reach as he seldom handles any of the plates or spurious money. Hence the chief offender in this line may walk calmly about, defying the detec tive, each tacitly understanding the other in his relative position; one suspecting and watching, the other iatiently and tirelessly picking up, crumb by crumb, convicting evidence. The methods pursued by detectives to entrap counterfeiters are rarely better illustrated than in the following account of the capture of William M. Gurney, alias "Big Bill" the Koniack er, one of the foremost wholesale dealers in "queer" of his day. He was born of respectable parentage, reared in the quietude incident to country life, educated and supplied with a suffcient amount of money W.herewith to live like a gentleman and, strange ly enough, he chose a path-that led to his ultimate ruin. In the excitement of those tumultu ous days the city of New York was well stocked with men possessed of a genius for conceiving and conceal ing crime. Perhaps no other city in the civilized world has ever afforded a better opportunity for fleecing the public. Gurney had been handling counterfeit money for several years but had mataged to escape punish ment. lie was one of the chief dis tributors for Joshua D. Miner, who was the head and front of a power ful octopus whose tentacles were stretched out in almost every section of the country. Gurney was by no means unattract ive in appearance, and there were few men walking Broadway in his day whose physique could compare favorably with his. He stood six feet two inches in height and was corre spondingly well proportioned, while his expansive chest and well-developed limbs gave him the appearance of a man possessing the muscular strength of a giant. His black eyes were sharp and severe, or mild and pleasant, to suit occasions. In conversation he was easy and interesting and, among strangers, would readily have passed for a gentleman of marked ability. To be a leader among the counterfeit lag fraternity seemed to have been the crowning glory of his highest am bition. In the spring -of 1869 I was ap pointed chief of the government se eM service and, though I had had experience with General Butler in New Orleans, and later in the internal revenue service, I was unknown among the counterfeiters. Shortly after my appointment I re elived information, at my headquar ters in Washington, regarding a ratner Unique affair that had taken place at one of the drinking resorts on Hous ten street, in New York city. Wil ham Gurney, with his characteristic push and daring, had invited a party of "queersmen" to partake of a ban quet at this place. There were 24 persons present at this function, three ex4etectives being among the num ber. On the following day I was furnished with the particulars of this remark able assembly, and the ex-detective who reported it also provided a list of the banqueters. Among other things I learned that my appointment - chief of the secret service was dis cussed at the affair, and pronounced a good joke upon the government. Ourney addressed his guests, boast fully declaring that "the new chief Ulht do for a preacher or an internal revenue clerk, but that he could -ever LcU,.with shrewd men like the qaeersmen." "Now is our opportunity," he said, "to reap a rich harvest." At the same I tiae he advised his friends that he Was going to take the new chief into his confidence and keep him well tuffed with fictitious information. -In the meantlm,." he continued, "I will draw out fromn him his plans and I keep myself posted as to his pro posed movements." This plan pleased the fancy of the r scoundrels, and they agreed that G(;ur- t ney was a great man. They s're t eated at the tables imbibing wine. Sad they drank to Gurne 's health while the ex-det,.cti\'es annl counter feiters jostlt-, eIlb s and bandid f ,kes good-natur.dly as tt;,v cunter- . plated the easy times in store for them. When suffli, nt\ly fii-id with I Wine and enthusi:am, they i'app'dl the -lmax by hurrat, irtg for his satanici siesty. The le~ast of ll i-aziar i u is Swiss "Guardian Schools" S*Ing the Difficult Problem of Caring for the Children of the Street. It the overcroný .1 nuarters of ,very rge city where working people live Sre are always manly small chiliru n . are allowed to run the strets -thout proper oversight. In the lar t ities, like London. Paris and York, they are numbered by thou a tame affair in comparison with the indulgence of these men. If there were any letters of warning upon the walls, all were too drunk to read them. or they lacked a sober Daniel to in terpret them. UInder the circumstances it seemed advisable to allow these merry plot ters to pursue their way unmolested until sufficiently off their guard to per mit the successful carrying out of a plan to entrap and apprehend the en tire party. .Much of my time was now spent at my New York office in ileeker street where, in due time, Gurney called upon me for the purpose "of paying hfs re-spects and tendering some in formation in regard to counterfeiters." The artless appearing fellow said that when quite young he had been foolish enough to engage in counterfeiting, but had long since abandoned it and was now ready to render the govern ment such assistance as he could. I affected to receive him with open arms, and apparently gulped down as truth everything he had to offer. Gur O92% jº ' 11 \ 11 Yoe,/T ' A Coo -1Qc5c -. º ~ ` II -, a c) I'! b ~~~I (7: ·····. 'Il if V"p tr R~AC~~ QUI/CKMZOK&c~Af&4'7~ )· 9 &$'RPi~O NAfNDC1/FP6C C~W CGVfN6cYj 5 WAV67r~5 f j-LLJC/L JnNF OI/6VI~SwYER OFT/'~IF~aOW6 ney was well fitted to deceive with a I plausible story, for he seemed candid t in manner and well equipped in every a way to impose upon the most incred- c ulous. The officers of the secret service a all considered him a dangerous per- c son and none was anxious to encoun- r ter a man of such gigantic proportions t and apparently desperate character. r My first move against Gurney was a to send Mike Bower, a newly-fledged a government detective, to form his ac- 1 quaintance. Bower was selected be- t cause his appearance was anything t but that of a detective. Bower drifted c into Gurney's "boozing-den" on East Bleeker street where, after loitering 0 around drinking and smoking for a t, week or two, he one day called Gur- b ney aside and told him he was broke t and must have a little money. He t drew from his inside pocket a gold 11 watch with a short piece of chain 5 hanging from it, giving it the appear- ti ance of having been nipped from the a pocket of some unfortunate citizen. f1 Gurney snapped at the bait at once t and intimated, with a sly wink, that the watch had been stolen. When Bower finally admitted as much Gur- ti ney seemed pleased and bought the p watch at about one-third its value, d remarking: "You're all right, my a boy. When you want anything, come o to mie." t( Aft(er a few days Rower again ap- s pr)auched (;urny. this time with a tJ diamond stud that had been slipped e, from its fastninga. "I need some h more money." said flower. (;urnlr' inispect d the gem with an si appr(eciative t,\*. and finally said: ci "You are a good one. Did you ever ai handle any o(f t i:. 'queer?' " p "I took a little hand in it once," re- Ic sands With such surroundings and urnd,'r such conditions it Is not strange that a large percentage of: themn become criminals. The great question with the authorities Is how to handl., them and prevent them. as far as possible, from becoming crim inals. Switzerland has solved the problem, partly at least. In the city of Basel. for instance, "guardian schools," or plied Rower cautiously. "but I do not like to take the chances any more." "Oh, h-1," replied rurncy. "We've got everything our own way now. The government detectives are all green men and there's no danger of gutting caught unless a fellow goes and gives himsIelf up." Taking from his wal let a $20 counterfeit note on the Na tional Shoe and Leather bank of New York city, he added: "Here's some thing good enough to deceive the dis ciples." After some parleying fower ac cepted $300 of the "queer" for the dia mond, and I now instructed Bower to stay away from Gurney for a couple of weeks. While Bower had been working Gurney. that worthy had been coming to my office every few days to work me. He imagined that I fully believed what he said, and that he was regard ed as a valuable ally. I always re ceived him kindly, and assured him that I had no desire to make arrests unless forced to do so, and that I did not believe in using harsh measures unnecessarily. Gurney fairly chuckled at this simplicity and was thrown completely off his guard. He assumed an air of great mystery and spoke of the possible existence of counterfeit plates that might be reached for a reward. He would not, he declared, accept a dollar for his personal services but, because of his great fancy for me, was ready to as sist in every way possible. He was permitted to blarney along and play the game to his own liking, secure in the belief that he was completely de ceiving the government officials. In the meantime the services of an old counterfeiter, fresh from the peni tentiary, had been secured. Many of his old confederates were now opera ting with the Gurney gang and, through him, Bill Butts, a fresh-look ing detective from one of the western states, was introduced to several of the men who made their headquarters at a saloon on the Bowery. Butts in formed the barkeeper of the saloon that he had just served a term for "shoving the queer." At first the counterfeiters and thieves hanging around the place ap peared to be suspicious of Butts. One day, however, when these villians were drinking beer in the back room of the place, a fight arose. The de tective went in with the rest and stretched out several of the fellows. though he was badly beaten up in the end, and in addition was robbed of his pocketbook and watch. The ethics of the criminal profes sion are peculiar. When a crowd of crooks fight they frequently rob one another, and if the victim calls in the police to recover his property he loses the confidence of the rogues ganized and supported by the state,. are open every day, and from the mid dle of November till the middle of March. every evening. They can hard ly be called schools, but rather recre ation classes. Under the teacher's direction the children play games, tell stories, sing. crochet, embroider, sew and so forth. In good weather they are taken out doors for games or walks. Each class haS about thirty-five children in it, just enough for the teacher or guard tan to handle comfortably. An inspec who took part in the fray. But If be keeps silent it is conclusive evidence in their minds that he cannot stand investigation. and this establishes his character beyond doubt. It is ac cepted by thema as sufficient voucher that he is a member in good standing in the brotherhood of crooks, and he is then admitted into full fellowship. Shortly after the melee one of the crowd suggested to Butts that he call in the police. He promptly replied: "No police for me," and the detective was thereupon received without hesi tation or mental reservation. During the next seven or eight months Butts worked with this gang of counter fetters as a shover of queer. "Counterfeit shovers," as they are called, usually travel in pairs. One fellow carries the bogus money and remains outside, while the other takes one bill, enters a place of busi ness, purchases some trifle, tenders the counterfeit note in payment, and receives change in good money. If this precaution were not observed, the possession of other counterfeit money, in case of detection and arrest, would indicate guilt and lead almost inevitably to conviction. Detective Butts, however, did not pass any counterfeit money but used instead a good bill in the place of the one he received from the carrier. That was kept for evidence, and in this way he deceived the queersmen for months, and secured evidence to convict about twenty of the Gurney party. While Butts had been busy with the gang of shovers, Bower had been de voting his time to Gurney and the other leaders. On one occasion Bower purchased $500 of counterfeit money from Gurney, and this he handed to me as I was on my way to dinner at the St. Clair house. As I entered the restaurant I met Gurney looking as cheerful and innocent as a Raphael cherub. The rascal appeared with a bland smile and informed me that he had come there especially to see me about counterfeiting transatcions out west. I took him by the hand, thanked him, and invited him to dine. We selected a table where Gurney could talk without being overheard. His information, as usual, was in definite, hearsay, with no particular point to it. He told me that my pol icy of being easy with the counter feiters was working like a charm that there was no counterfeit money in circulation in the east-in fact, he had not seen a bad dollar in six months. At that very moment my hand was resting on the package of counterfeit money that had just been purchased froth him by Bower. A few days later Gurney told Bower, in a boasting way, of this in terview and, in a burst of enthusiasm, declared that everything about the government detective headquarters was known to him before it trans pired. He asserted that he was one of my assistants, and was so puffed up over his Imaginary success that he really believed he knew what was go ing on in my office. The time now seemed ripe for the arrest of the entire party who had tor visits the classes frequently and makes reports to the school authorl ties. The state provides all the mate rials for the games and work, and also pays for the lunches. Basel has a population of 130,000, and last year 2,000 children were taken care of in these guardian schools. In addition to this work Basel has an organization known as the Play association, which looks after the games for young people. There is also another society, now 25 years old. whose special business it is to a discussed my qualifications over their s wine at the banquet on Houston I street. Bower had completely won a Gurney's confidence. Telling him that he was about to take a trip to r Texas. he inquired if he could buy t $3,000 in counterfeit money at a whole S sale figure. "Of course; any amount of it," an e swered Gurney. A deal was arranged for its deliv ery on the New York side of Fulton a Ferry. Bower was to be at a desig i- nated spot at a certain time, and Gur 9 ney was to pass along, hand over the s spurious and receive good money in payment. At the appointed time there was a a large crowd standing around the ferry a landing waiting for the boat. Bower was there, and a few paces from him r stood a seemingly honest tinsmith with a joint of stove-pipe under his arm and a pair of snippers in his I hand. His clothes and the soot upon f his hands and face bore unmistakable 1 witness to his calling. Near by, look Sing in another direction, stood a stout' ly-bu'.t business man of ample girth. In o4e hand he carried a hat box, in I the dher a valise. In the immediate t vicinity was a tall, reverential ap t pearing gentleman, with neat side whiskers, whose white tie and the ministerial cut of his coat were in k keeping with the sanctimonious ex I pression of his face. When the ferry boat struck the dock Gurney stepped off. peered cau tiously and carefully around, scanning the faces of those who were standing near. Being satisfied that there were no suspicious persons about, he drew a package from under his coat and stepped toward Bower to deliver it. At this instant the ministerial-look ing man raised his hand. The fat man dropped his luggage and the tin smith his tools. Both seized Gurney by the arms and held him while the tall brother, with a quick movement, snapped handcuffs on his wrists. Everything was done so quickly that Gurney did not have time to catch his .breath before he was securely t ironed. The prisoner was taken to the secret service office. I removed my side whiskers and made some change in c my clothing, then entered the office and shook hands with the crestfallen criminal. During that'day and evening the I government officers were engaged in r arresting the shovers of the gang, I against whom Butts had secured evi dence. Two of the ex-detectives, d guests at Gurney's banquet, had al ready been arrested for passing coun terfeit money-one at Pittsburg and the other at Cincinnati. By 11 a o'clock that night the officers had ar rested 20 of the gang. They were arranged in a circle at the office, and the right hand of one was hand cuffed to the left hand of the next. Gurney, appropriately, happened to be the center-piece. I could not help a feeling of pity for the unfortunates, but they had volun tarily preyed upon society and trans gressed the laws of their land, and the common weal required that they be punished. They were all tried and convicted, most of them entering a plea of guilty. The boastful Gurney now fully real ized the trap into which he had falles. He had been hoisted by his own petard, a circumstance that seemt. to hu.nillate him almost be yond measure. With little or no pres sure he weakened and confessed that he had received his counterfeit money from Joshua D. Miner, who was the eapitalist that owned the plates upon which the National Shoe and Leather twestles were printed. Among the secret service o>cers Mimer was known to be a counter feiter, but on account of his great wealth and political standing, he was considered a difficqlt man to grapple with. He was a loKge city contractor at this time, and employed about one hundred men opening up a new road etthe end of Ninth avenue. bFney was altogether too timid to make a deal with Miner in order to give the odicers an opportunity to cap. ture him red-handed, but he finally agreed to go with me to see Miner who, he believed, would surrender the $20 counterfelt plates for the purpose of shortening his sentence. Leaving a carriage on the boule vard, I walked with Gurney a short distance on Sixty-ninth street toward Miner's house. We met Miner on the sidewalk and I was introduced by Gurney, who then explained the trouble he had gotten himself into. Miner said he could do nothing for him and, as a last resort, I requested Miner to step aside with me, where I told him that I was convinced that he was the owner of the counterfeit plates of the National Shoe and Leather bank. This he firmly denied, but I insisted and threatened to ar rest him. He finally said that he would make an effort to secure the plates. I knew what this meant and, upon his promise to meet me the fol lowing day, I left him. Mmner appeared on time, but was still doubtful in regard to his ability to make the surrender demanded. He was a hard nut to crack but, be. fore we parted, I succeeded in con vincing him, by the use of language not less threatening than it was forcible, that it was for his Interest to surrender the plates. This he now Spromised tol o and, shortly after an other interview at his home, I re ceived a check for a piece of baggage at the Grand Central depot. A de tective went to the baggage room at this depot and obtained an old hair According to promise, Gurney, through my intercession and explana. tion, was given a sentence of seven - years instead of the maximum sen tence of fifteen. 'CoDyright. 1l10, by W. O. Chauman.) give instruction to and provide recre ation for boys on Sundays and in the evenings. 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