Walking The Beat Through East Harlem's "Little Italy"

Accused of Burning A Boy 1901

Joseph Brossi, an Italian laborer, thirty years old, of 446 East One Hundred and Fifteenth Street, was a prisoner in the Harlem Police Court yesterday morning charged with holding Charles Timmers, seven years old, of 1631 Avenue A, over a bonfire until the boy's hands were fright-fully burned and the hair on his head was completely singed off.

Brossi has been working on a new building at Eighty-sixth Street, between First and Second Avenues. On Saturday afternoon, as it was cold, the laborers built a bonfire, and little Charles, with his brother George, thirteen years old, and Eugene Canfield, twelve years old, of 413 East Eighty-sixth Street, played about it. The boys charge that Brossi lost his temper, seized the smallest and held him over the fire, while the other men refused to interfere.

Brossi denied the charge and said that the boys were at the bonfire and commenced to kick the wood and stones. They were finally ordered away, and in running out of the place little Charles fell into the fire, thus burning his hands.

Magistrate Meade said that he would give Brossi an opportunity to get witnesses and he held him in $1,000 ball for further examination this morning.

The father of the injured boy said that he had positive proof that the Italian held the boy in the fire and that the boy did not fall as the prisoner alleges. (1)

Horses Burned to Death 1886

A row of one story frame buildings on the north side of East One Hundred and Twentieth street, between Third avenue and Sylvan place, was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon. Several valuable horses perished in the flames. The fire broke out soon afternoon in the stables and feed store of John Kerr, in the rear of Nos. 169 and 171 East One Hundred and Twentieth street among the hay and feed stored there. How it originated could not he learned, but it is believed that the fire was caused by an employee smoking on the premises. The fire spread so rapidly that when the first batch of engines arrived at the scene the stables and feed store and the buildings adjoining east and west were in flames. It was known that there were a number of horses in the stables, but the rapid spread of the flames precluded any attempt to save them, and the bystanders were compelled to abandon them to their fate. Chief Reilly sent out a call for reinforcements, and when they arrived the entire row of buildings were ablaze. Before the flames could be extinguished the buildings were in ruins.

The buildings were erected many years ago on a portion of what was then known as Sylvan Park by Morgan Jones, a Sixth Ward plumber and politician, and they are owned by his estate. They were valued at $2,500. The ground on which they stood is city property, on which it is proposed to erect a large schoolhouse. Besides the destruction of a large stock of hay and feed Kerr had a horse valued at $500 burned to death. His loss is estimated at $5,000. Three horses belonging to a truckman named John Lynch, valued at $750; a stallion belonging to B.T. Barrett, valued at $2,000 and three other horses were burned to death. No. 165 was occupied by Frank Foscaldo, an Italian shoemaker, whose loss is $500. AT No. 167 was a "policy shop," on which the loss is $200. The Mechanics Ice Company had an office at No. 173, and the loss of the company will amount to $500. A.D. Marvin & Co., milk dealers, at No. 175, lose $1,000. No. 1 Sylvan-place was a blacksmith's shop, occupied by James Forbes, whose loss is $400. Nos. 3 and 5 Sylvan-place was the carpenter's shop of Day & Somerville, and R.M. Westlake. Their loss is $1,000. (2)

Armed Gangster Shot to Death 1913

A young Italian known as "Charley Baker," said to be a notorious gangster of Harlem's Little Italy, walked into the saloon of Umberto Vespasiano, at 324 East 115th Street, last night and demanded of the saloon keeper $5 for five tickets he had left with him to sell for an "association" ball to be given next week. When Vespasiano pleaded that he had been unable to sell the tickets, and that being a poor man he could buy only one for himself, Baker snatched the four tickets out of his hand, saying:

"All right. I'll collect for the other four when I see you at the ball."

Then he went into the rear room of the saloon and began to p lay pool. A few minutes later there was a rush of several men into the rear room, and immediately thereafter a succession of shots. Wespasiano, running into the rear room, found Baker dead on the floor. Policeman Conway, hearing the shots, ran to the saloon, too late, however, to see any of the escaping assassins.

When they lifted Baker from the floor a revolver, fully loaded, dropped from his pocket, and in two other pockets were found ten cartridges. The saloon-keeper was held in the East 104th Street station as a material witness. He could give no description of the men who had done the shooting. There were five shots fired, and five bullet wounds in Baker two in his chest, one under his chin, one in his right temple, and one in his left temple.

The police theory is that the shooting was a gang's revenge, deliberately carried out for the satisfying of some grudge. The police believe that the assassins took places around their victim before they attacked him. Baker, the police say had been arrested several times. Under the name of Charles Marrone, he was held in $1,000 bail in Special Sessions last January for carrying concealed weapons, but forfeited his bond. (3)

Gunmen Kill Cousin of Lupo-the-Wolf; Slayers Open Fire From Automobile with Sawed-Off Shotguns in Harlem 1922

Vincent Morrelli, also known as Vincent Terranova, whose murder yesterday morning at 116th Street and Second Avenue is said by the police to have been the cause of the pistol battle in Grand Street last evening, was shot down near his home by several men in an automobile, who escaped. Morrelli's ostensible occupation was that of restaurateur, but he is known to the police as a leader in bootlegging gangs and as an associate of counterfeiters, "policy" men and members of other gangs.

Morrelli, although severely wounded, dropped to one knee and drew his revolver, firing several times. Then, as he fell back, he flung the weapon far into the street, in apparent last effort to have his person free from any incriminating evidence when the police arrived. When Patrolman Winter of the East 126th Street Station did arrive, a minute later, Morrelli was dead and the car was gone. Two witnesses, however, were on hand to tell of its presence.

Morrelli was identified by his widow, who had heard the shooting. Later investigation showed he was the man who was also known to the police as Terranova. It was recalled that several months ago he had been arrested on a charge of a violation of the Sullivan law and that he had been involved in a bootlegging gang. Detective Hugh Cassidy, who once worked under Lieutenant Petrosino in the Italian district, believed however, that the feud that led to Morrelli's murder ran back further than the Volstead act.

The police were still gathering together the loose ends of Morrelli's history last night, when the Grand Street shooting occurred. In 1908, it developed, he had been arrested as a suspect in the murder of Diamond Sam Sicco. He was acquitted of the charge. The murdered man's half brother, Giuseppe Morrelli, and Ignazio Lupo, were arrested in 1900 at Highland, N.Y., for counterfeiting and were sentenced to serve twenty-five years each. They were pardoned recently.

Morrelli was a cousin of Lupo who is known as Lupo, the Wolf, and whose name came up during the investigation of the "barrel murder" at Avenue A and Eleventh Street in 1900.

Nicola Terranova, a brother of the slain man, and Charles Umbracio were lured to a house in Brooklyn and killed about five year ago. A cousin, named Charles Lamonti, was shot in 1913 at 116th Street and First Avenue. Lamonti's brother Joe was shot and killed about a year later. (4)

Italian Butcher Murdered; Was killed by his former Partner, who had married the Girl he loved 1902

Two Italian butchers, who for several years have supplied meat to the residents of "Little Italy" in East Harlem, fought a duel with pistols and knives yesterday morning, which resulted in the death of one and the disappearance of the other. The dead man is Cinzeno Tanzello, twenty-five years old, of 300 East One Hundred and Seventh Street, and his murderer, Giuseppe De Posino, twenty-two years old, of 306 East One Hundred and Seventh Street, who up to a late hour last night had not been captured by the p olice.

Up to several months ago the men were partners in a large butcher shop at 300 East One Hundred and Seventh Street. Among their customers was a young Italian girl named Rosina. Both fell in love with her, proposed, and were refused. De Posino persisted in his attentions and there were numerous quarrels between the partners. Finally Rosina accepted De Posino, and they were married secretly. When Tanzello learned this he was furious. After a fight the partnership was dissolved. Tanzello continued to run the store at 300 East One Hundred and Seventh Street, while De Posino took his bride to 306 East One Hundred and Seventh Street, where he opened an opposition shop. Since that time the two men have fought and quarreled every time they met.

The rivalry culminated yesterday morning, when De Posino saw several of his customers enter Tanzello's store, and leave it with bundles of meat. Furious, he rushed into Tanzello's store and charged him with robbing him of his customers. Tanzello denied the charge, and picking up a butcher's knife made a slash at De Posino. Dodging the blow De Posino stepped backward and drawing a revolver from under his apron fired two shots. One bullet took effect over the left eye, and the other just over the heart. Tanzello fell across the doorstep. De Posino rushed into his won store, grabbed the contents of the till, and disappeared in a tenement house across the street.

By this time the entire neighborhood was in an uproar, and policeman Shaw of the East One Hundred and Fourth Street Station, who heard the shots, arrived and found four Italians carrying Tanzello to a drug store. He at once summoned an ambulance, and Dr. Neal took the injured man to Harlem Hospital, where he died a few minutes after his arrival there.

Capt. Haughey detailed a number of men on the case, but a most careful search failed to reveal the murderer. Detectives Reed and Dixon, however, arrested Assinato Tanzello, who is either a cousin or brother of the dead man, and Antonio Boliandi, both living at 306 East One Hundred and Seventh Street, as witnesses and accessories to the crime. (5)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Walking The Beat Through East Harlem's "Little Italy"
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


(1) The New York Times January 7, 1901, (2) The New York Times June 13, 1886; (3) The New York Times December 6, 1913; (4) The New York Times May 9, 1922; (5) The New York Times March 10, 1902.
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