1922 Murder and Mayhem

January 7

The first Saturday of the year is spent meeting with Jack Hart. He picks up some whiskey and passes along some cash to the Kavanaghs. Jack wants to cut back production a little. He is still selling, but the market is a little inflated right now. Also, he has run into some new competition. He doesn’t go into specifics and Joe doesn’t ask for them. The Kavanaghs are fine cutting things back. They have been going full bore on whiskey production for almost a year. Also, their actual coppersmith work began to return at the end of the year. Jack will start picking up every other Saturday.

January 27

A cold Friday turns snowy fast. The Shop’s crew are working on some new kettles for several Washington D. C. candy companies. The confectionery work has returned. They are also working on some rye. The workmen are very busy through the day as the snow piles up. Joe keeps a wary eye on the weather. Snow is something that generally can be worked around. They do their jobs then deal with it on the trip home. This time, however, the storm is very heavy. Blasting Baltimore and the surrounding area with snow. The snow reaches six inches by mid-afternoon. Joe and James have a brief chat. Tomorrow they are not working. This is one of the weeks when Jack does not come up to the Shop. They quickly decide to close up and send everyone home. If this keeps up, they will be buried this weekend.

January 29

What is now called the Knickerbocker storm(named for a theater in Washington D. C. that has a roof collapse during the blizzard) dumps approximately 26 inches of snow on Baltimore. It has snowed all through Saturday and into Sunday. When it is finished, the City will be effectively shut down for nearly a week.

February 2

The Kavanaghs are finally able to reach the Shop. Travel in the City has been non-existent for three days. Blowing, drifting snow is everywhere and there is nowhere to put it. Joe sets his sons to work immediately. They start shoveling just to get the door open. Once inside, Joe calls his workers and lets them know that they are open. He needs them at the Shop to help dig them out. The crew arrives in several waves. All get right to shoveling. The building is checked out for damage. The roof has held up well which is good news. Joe spends the bulk of the day on the phone with customers. Everyone compares notes on how they made out through the storm. Joe informs them all that they are open and will be the rest of the week.

March 11

A cool spring Saturday is spent at the Shop. Whiskey is distilled. The Kavanaghs see Jack. He picks up what they have ready and pays them. He has two boys with him, John “Wiggles” Smith and Charles “Country” Carey. They assist Leo and Eddie in bringing the barrels up from the basement. Then they load five barrels on Jack’s truck while everyone else chats and smokes. Jack passes along greetings from Kitty to Joe and Eddie. She misses all the Kavanaghs since her and Jack relocated to D. C. They visit regularly, but it’s not the same as living in the City. Joe sends along his best to his god-daughter. Jack assures Joe she’s doing well and he is taking good care of her. Jack tells Joe things are going very well. He has some other side jobs going on. He has invested his money and will soon have a big payoff. Joe nods, but doesn’t ask any questions. Jack and his friends leave followed soon by the Kavanaghs.

April 22

This Saturday the Shop is closed. The Kavanaghs and crew enjoy a day without work. Eddie takes his parents, Joe and Jo shopping. They are going to buy the latest thing. A wireless radio. Radio broadcasts have just begun earlier this year in Baltimore. Eddie purchased one from Westinghouse for $ 12.00. He chauffeurs his parents off to buy the same. Joe is not one to jump into the latest trends, but when Eddie spoke about this device, Joe and Jo were both intrigued. They purchase their radio and Eddie sets it up for them. Suddenly, nights gathered around the radio for news, songs and stories becomes a thing.

May 8

The work week begins with Eddie pulling up in front of the Shop on his brand new Indian Chief motorcycle. He bought it over the weekend. He will miss his old Flying Merkel, but the Indian was a bike he could not turn down. Plus, the Shop and the Kavanaghs are flush with cash right now. They have all got some in reserve for bad times. The year has started off well. Even with the cut back in production and sales of whiskey, they are still making money. The Shop is busy in its own right. Kettles to be made and they have been busy with some ornamental brass work. Eddie is proud as he can be on the Indian. Joe shakes his head and mutters something about it being a death trap.

May 17

Eddie and Anna are very excited. Anna is pregnant with their second child. Young Ed, their son will be three this year and a big brother.

June 12

Another busy work week begins. The Shop’s crew are working on several pump-chambers for the steamships and they are making a still. This one is a legal one. A small 40 gallon still for Sharpe & Dohme. One of their oldest patent medicine customers. Since their alcohol is for medicinal purposes, it is legal. There are attachments and fittings to go along with it. Eddie and several men are at Baltimore Dry Dock as well. There is some copper and brass work to be fabricated there. On top of all that, they are cooking some mash for rye. It is a busy start to the summer for the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

July 15

A hot Saturday is spent passing whiskey and dealing with Jack. Everything seems to be going well. They are all making money and the Shop is busy. The crew have been working the Saturdays when Jack is not visiting. Today, Jack takes his rye and departs. The Kavanghs finish up for the day and head home.

August 12

Jack Hart, “Wiggles” Smith and “Country” Carey arrive at the Shop late in the morning. They chat for a few minutes with the Kavanaghs. “Wiggles” and “Country” load their truck. Jack finishes his business and they depart. The Kavanaghs put some more cash away. They are making some money and have a reserve to fall back on. Joe and James knew that bootlegging would be profitable for them. They did not know how profitable. The brothers and their sons have all made a nice bit of money. Their crew have been paid and have had no shortage of hours. They knew working with Jack could help them, but they did not expect this level of success. They did not know Jack could deliver on his promises like he has. Another thing they did not know is that Jack was a career criminal. His first gang was the Canary Island Gang in New York. Now, he leads a group called the Hart-Sapperstein Gang in Baltimore. They did know he had been in prison, but did not know that he had served time in Sing-Sing for murder. Jack killed a small time gangster, “Jumbo” Wells after a dispute over a woman. Kitty knew, but not her family. They did not know that those same fellows that accompanied Jack to the Shop on Saturdays were part of his gang. They did not know that Jack had been looking for a big score for some time.

August 17

A Thursday evening meeting of the Hart-Sapperstein Gang at 909 S. Broadway. “Buddy” Blades has a scheme for a payroll robbery the next day. He has most of the details worked out even down to the minute. Jack Hart, “Noisy” Socorow, “Wiggles” Smith, “Country” Carey, Frank Allers, Benny Lewis, John Keller, George Heard and John “Fats” Novak listen as Blades fills them in on his idea. A construction company payroll is moved on Friday. It will be easy pickings since they know the schedule and the route they take. After most of them leave, Blades, Hart and Socorow stay and go over the details more thoroughly. Jack Hart is very interested and he knows he can pull this one off.

August 18

At approximately 9:30 a. m. William Norris and his bookkeeper, Frederick Kuethe, of the Hicks, Tate and Norris Construction Company are returning to their offices with the company payroll of $7,263.00. Norris carries a satchel while Kuethe has a small tin box. The two are walking along Madison St. They pass a dark blue Hudson. Inside are Jack Hart, “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith, “Noisy” Socorow and Frank Allers. After the two gentlemen pass the car, Jack, “Noisy” and “Wiggles” jump out and charged at Norris and Kuethe. Hart and Socorow draw pistols and Jack orders them to hand over the money. Norris holds the satchel tight and begins scuffling with Socorow. As Socorow tumbles to the ground, he fires a shot that wounds Norris in the thigh. Kuethe panics and tosses the tin box into the street. “Wiggles” strikes him in the head with a black jack and he falls unconscious. Socorow stands up as a crowd begins to gather. Jack turns to them holding his gun to keep them at bay. As Norris reaches for the dropped satchel, Socorow fires three more shots into him. The thieves grab the satchel and tin box as Frank Allers pulls the Hudson next to them. Hart, “Wiggles” and “Noisy” hop into the car. Allers guns the engine and heads east on Madison Street at high speed. One person in the crowd is able to write down the license plate of the car. Norris and Kuethe lay in a pool of blood on the street. People are screaming and the police are being summoned. The crowd closes tighter around the two men. Kuethe is seriously injured. William Norris is dead. A few moments later, a police officer sees the car driving very fast at the intersection of Eager and Patterson Park Avenue. He spots “Noisy” in the Hudson and recognizes him as a young hoodlum and member of Baltimore’s criminal underworld. He quickly writes down the plate number. Jack and his men stop at a NE Baltimore home to divvy up their cash. After splitting the money, the men take off and go their own way except “Wiggles” and Benny Lewis take the Hudson to a garage and exchange it for Jack’s Mercer. The garage is rented by Jack. They drive Jack’s car to Essex to hide out, but Jack’s car breaks down. “Wiggles” and Lewis begin arguing about whose fault this is and get into a fight about it. The police are called and they are arrested in the late afternoon for disturbing the peace. The Baltimore Police have been flooded with calls and tips about the robbery and murder. They have the plate number and are pursuing all leads. When they hear of the two men in Essex being arrested, the City police send for them both. “Wiggles” is quickly identified in a lineup by one of the witnesses. He is still angry with Benny about their fight and immediately implicates him.

The dark blue Hudson touring sedan used in the Norris murder. August 18, 1922. Photo courtesy of the Daily Record.

August 19

A hot sweltering Saturday at the Shop is spent on several large pump-chambers. Copper pots that can be pressurized and used to pump out water. The work has been strong and steady. They pass some whiskey through the still. The full crew are busy, but they are distracted by the news. There was a murder in broad daylight yesterday morning. The Kavanaghs and crew are shocked to read about it. Joe passes around the paper and then regales them on what it says. A payroll robbery that went bad. One man shot dead. Joe shakes his head and wonders what the world is coming to. Like all of Baltimore they pray the culprits are captured as soon as possible. Best to have such violent men off the streets.

The police are piecing together what happened under intense scrutiny and criticism from the public. They have “Wiggles” Smith and Benny Lewis in custody. Soon, “Country” Carey and Billy Blades are picked up based on their past records and in a sweeping search of Baltimore’s underworld. An unidentified man has called the police and said the car is his. He claims it was loaned to Frank Allers for a bootlegging run. He knows nothing of the murder.

August 21

Another week starts at the Shop. It could be any other Monday for the Kavanaghs. They heat and hammer. They bend and curve copper. They make whiskey. It is a typical day for them. Jack Hart and “Noisy” Socorow have been hiding out at Jack and Kitty’s house in D. C. When they arrived on Friday, Jack explained to Kitty what happened. She was upset, but Jack told her not to worry. They were miles away and no one knows who they are. Kitty was still worried, but happy that Jack was there with her. The robbery and Norris’ death were causing quite the stir even in Washington. Jack and “Noisy” stay inside. Kitty acts as if nothing unusual is going on. She opens a safe deposit box at a Washington bank. She places some of the money from the robbery there. Jack does not want that kind of cash laying around. He does not want it at Kitty’s. In Baltimore, Frank Allers calls an attorney to confess his involvement in the robbery and murder. He is seeking a deal to save himself.

August 22

Jack receives a phone call from Baltimore. The police have taken Frank Allers into custody. It sounds as if they may be on to them. Jack doesn’t know what will happen, but he knows he can’t stay with Kitty. He won’t drag her into all this and this is the first place they will look. He tells “Noisy” and they gather some supplies. Cigarettes and some food. Jack breaks the news to Kitty and she becomes upset. She is worried Jack will be caught. He will go to jail or they will never see each other again. Jack swears to her he will keep in touch. He will always find her. He loves her. Jack promises Kitty he will call her. He will call and let the phone ring once then call again. That way she will know it’s him. She will be here waiting she tells him. She will help him in any way. He tells her to call her Uncle Joe and tell him that there might be trouble. Jack and “Noisy” leave and head to Baltimore to see if they can pick up any news about the investigation. They hide out in a burial vault at Home Sweet Home Cemetery on Biddle Street. They will hide here and see how things go. If they are lucky, it might just blow over. Kitty calls Joe at noon. She tells her uncle that James may be in trouble. She is as vague as she can be, but she tells Joe that the police may be looking for Jack Hart. Jack wanted to give Joe a warning that the police might be looking for him. Joe asks Kitty if this has anything to do with the Norris murder of last Friday. Kitty says it does, but Jack didn’t do it. Joe cuts her off and asks where Jack is. Kitty says she does not know. Joe tells her he must hang up. He has a lot to do. He tells her to keep him up to date and if she needs something, she should call him. Joe sits back in his chair and holds his hands to his face for several moments. He then heads to the Shop and calls James, Leo, Eddie and Guy into the office. He closes the door and quickly tells them about Kitty’s call. The Kavanaghs slip into a bit of a panic before Joe continues. He lets them know they have got to cover themselves. They have to get rid of the whiskey and the stills. They can not have anything to do with Jack Hart. Everyone agrees on this, but how can they cover their tracks in this building full of evidence. They will stay late tonight. They will work all night if they have to do so. They finish out the day as if it was any other. The rest of the crew are told to head home a little early due to the heat. They were too happy to wonder why when it was just as hot yesterday. When they exit the building, the Kavanaghs get to work. They bring up three barrels of whiskey from the basement. They gather all the mash and dry ingredients they have. The truck is loaded with all of this contraband. Next, they start on the stills. Leo, Eddie and Guy disassemble them as quickly as possible. They are in pieces quickly, but then they hammer on them. In this case, they are misshaping the copper. Trying to change the shape of the pots. Joe searches his office for receipts. They have receipts for the ingredients they have purchased, barrels and even bottles from when they started. James and Joe burn these and destroy several empty barrels. There is no more room on their truck so the pieces are tossed into the basement. Finally, they search the Shop, they look in every corner, under every stair and behind every door. They make sure there is no more incriminating evidence laying around. It is late in the evening when they look around and see a very empty Shop. The two stills are reduced to piles of copper. The truck is loaded with rye barley, corn and illegal whiskey. Joe instructs Leo and Eddie. They must take the truck and empty it as far from the City as they can. Some isolated spot outside of the city limits. His sons are nervous, but they know they must dispose of it all. They drive off into the darkness. James and Guy head home. Joe remains in the Shop for a few minutes alone. It is nearly midnight. He goes over it all in his head. He takes one final check all over the Shop. He hopes they have done enough.

August 23

Joe reads the newspaper at his desk. There is now a widespread manhunt for Jack and “Noisy”. They are searching for them up and down the east coast. Joe is sure they will be found soon. He worries, but knows there is nothing he can do about it. The Shop’s crew arrives and notices the sudden absence of the two stills. They question Joe and he shrugs it off. He tells them that they have been trying to get away from all of that. Making a point of never saying what he was talking about. He says that the work is here now, they are busy and there is no need for all of that as he motions to the pile of copper. He puts them to work. They are still fabricating some pump chambers along with some brass work. The Kavanaghs confer mid-morning. Joe has not heard anything else. They will go about their business and deal with whatever happens. Also, Joe makes this very clear to all of them. If asked, they do not know Jack Hart. They know no Jack Hart. They know James Connelly. He insists that they all be sure to stick to this. He says to make no mention of bootlegging. James Connelly is Kitty’s husband. We don’t know much more. He looks around from his brother to his sons then to his nephew. We must all say the same thing to avoid any problems. Each of them nod in agreement. They all will take Joe’s lead on this. They hope they don’t have to worry about it but if they do, they are prepared.

August 24

The investigation takes a wild turn as a young man, John Keller, tells Assistant States’ Attorney John Leach that the robbery and murder were perpetrated by men from Chicago and Boston. Hart and Socorow are innocent. After following Keller’s lead, they find the license plate and the tin box. This does not refute his story so they interrogate the 17 year old Keller further. In short order, he breaks down. He confesses that Jack and “Noisy” have asked him to make up this story and go to the police. Now, the police are sure again that Hart and Socorow are the men involved. Keller admits to helping them. Taking them food and news to their hiding place. He reveals it is the Home Sweet Home Cemetery.

August 25

An early Friday morning raid at the Home Sweet Home Cemetery finds nothing. Jack and “Noisy” are gone. They have split up and gone their separate ways. The police claim they have strong evidence to focus north and west of the City. They receive a tip from a taxi driver that he drove Hart, Socorow and Keller to the home of Harry Wolf, an attorney, at Park Heights and Slade Avenues on the night of August 23. Wolf is a well known criminal defense lawyer. Jack and “Noisy” came seeking advice and representation. Harry Wolf invited them in and to dinner. They ate and discussed the case. At the same time, Wolf received a visit from Police Detective Harry Hammersla. He speaks to Wolf on his front porch asking for help in finding Hart and Socorow. All the while that this porch chat is going on, Jack and “Noisy” are enjoying dinner inside. After the police learn of all this, Wolf is questioned and the cops hint at obstruction of justice from him. The police keep searching and sorting through tips and information. They know they must be getting close to finding Hart and Socorow. At Pratt and Central, the Shop’s crew are finishing the last of their pump-chambers and beginning a large brass rail job. Kitty calls Joe again. She is very worried about Jack. She does not know where he is and is concerned something will happen to him. Joe does his best to calm her down. He tells her that Jack will get in touch with her. He will call when he can. Joe offers her any help if she needs it. After the crew leave, Joe calls another meeting. He and his brother, his sons and his nephew Guy sit in the office and talk. Joe, again, implores them to keep to the story they have. Joe is certain the police will show up here. It is just a matter of time. In the interim, the problem may be work. They are busy in the Shop at the moment, but with no bootlegging, there is no guarantee that this will continue. James speaks up that we have to just hope that work comes along. We do have cash. They all nod for they have stored away some money for emergencies. This would definitely qualify. After a bit more discussion, they decide to keep paying everyone as they have been. They will not work Saturdays unless it is absolutely necessary. They will break into the Shop’s cash stocks and everyone will be paid. They will adjust as they need to.

August 28

Another work week begins. They focus on the brass railing and the attachments for it. They also have a repair at Gunther’s brewery to attend to. Eddie, James Woods and three helpers are dispatched. While they are gone, Kitty calls again. This time she tells Joe that the police visited her today. They questioned her. They are convinced that Jack is involved and they seem to think she knows where he is. She adamantly denied this, but she tells her uncle she doesn’t think they believe her. Joe listens then tells her that it is only normal procedure for the police to question her. She should not read too much into it. She should just tell the truth. She does not know where Jack is and knows nothing of this crime. Joe pauses then says that she should not mention any of Jack’s other activities. He would genuinely appreciate it if she left out the whiskey activities that involve the Shop. She quickly tells him not to worry. She won’t say a thing about that nor will Jack. Jack is the one who told her to call Joe and give him fair warning. He wanted to be sure the family was okay and protected. Joe thanks her and again offers any assistance he can give. At lunch, he passes all this on to the rest of the Kavanaghs.

August 29

The Shop’s crew are busy heating and hammering. A replacement beer vat must be made for Gunther’s. The repair was successful, but it was a temporary fix. A new vessel must be fabricated. At approximately, 10:00 a. m. several Baltimore City Police officers arrive. Two patrolmen and two detectives. Joe greets them and welcomes them. They ask Joe if he knows where Jack Hart is. Joe replies that he knows no Jack Hart. The police say he is James Connelly. That name Joe recognizes. He tells them that is his niece, Kitty’s husband. They ask again if Joe or any of the Kavanaghs know where he is. He is a wanted man. Joe plays dumb as he can. Telling them that he does not know James Connelly very well. He has known Kitty since she was a child. They have been married for a few years. Connelly has been to family parties even the Christmas Eve Party at the Shop, but Joe does not know him beyond that. He assures the police that this is true with the rest of the family. He calls the rest of the Kavanaghs over and they agree with all he said. They know James Connelly through Kitty, but they don’t know much more about him. They believe he works as a streetcar driver, but are not sure. The police question them for a little over a half hour. They wander through the building. Not really searching, but certainly looking around. They regard the pile of disassembled still parts with some interest. They ask what this is and Joe shrugs it off as an old copper still. They took it apart and are waiting to re-use the copper. They accept their answers and seem to believe them. They depart, but tell Joe they may be back. Joe tells them to come by any time. The police leave and the Kavanaghs breathe a sigh of relief.

August 31

Another call to the Shop from Kitty. This time she informs them that the police escorted her to the station today. They questioned her again. Repeatedly asking where Jack is. She is very frightened that they don’t believe her. Joe does his best to console her. He says good bye and updates the family on what Kitty said. The phone rings again. This time it is Kitty’s sister, Regina. She tells Joe the police just left her mother’s home. They have questioned her, her mother and her sister, Mary. They ask the same thing. Where is Jack Hart/ James Connelly? None of them know where he is. Joe tells Regina that they were visited by the police as well. She is very upset and worried about Kitty. Joe assures her he is in touch with Kitty. He will help Kitty any way he can. He says that Regina and her mother and sisters should just tell the truth. Tell the police they do not know where he is if asked again. Joe hangs up. He calls his brother, sons and nephew into the office. He lets them know about Regina’s call and says we need to expect another visit from the police.

September 1

A typical Friday is broken up by the return of the Baltimore City Police. This time they ask to speak to several of the Kavanaghs individually. They want to talk to Joe, James, Leo and Eddie. Joe and James are the owners so that is understandable. As far as Leo and Eddie go, the police may believe they know Kitty and Jack better. Being closer in age and contemporaries. One by one, the Kavanaghs in question sit in the Shop’s office and speak to the detectives. They ask them all general questions about their knowledge of Jack and Kitty. The Kavanaghs stick to their story. They are close to Kitty as she is family, but Jack not so much. They have socialized with them, but mostly during the holidays. They see them even less now that Jack and Kitty live in DC. The final question is always, “Where is Jack Hart/James Connelly?” They all answer they have no idea. When asked if Kitty knows, they say no to that also. The police leave with answers but none of the ones they want.

September 3

Kitty Kavanagh is taken into custody as a material witness and for possible involvement in the crime either before or after the fact. The police have discovered her safe deposit box with some of the money from the robbery inside. In addition, there are varying stories of Kitty’s whereabouts on the day of the crime. She insists she was in Washington DC, but her mother, Mary Rachel Kavanagh, told the police they had spent several hours together that day in Baltimore. Mary Rachel assumed Kitty was spending the night in an apartment in her home town. Kitty responded that her mother was mistaken. She and Jack did keep an apartment in Baltimore to use during visits, but she was not there on August 18. Several witness have said they saw a woman in the getaway car on that day. This has given the police enough evidence to hold her in custody. She is not allowed to leave as they interrogate her every day. They ask the same questions of her and she gives them the same answers. She does not know where Jack is. When Joe hears about her being taken in by the police, he is very concerned. He is worried for Kitty. He can not believe she was involved in this robbery. He hopes that the evidence clears her. Joe does worry that the bootlegging might come out. If so, he is prepared for something bad to happen. He discusses it with the rest of the Kavanaghs. They will deal with any problems that come along. At the moment, they worry for Kitty.

September 7

The police visit the Shop for a third time. This time they conduct a comprehensive search of the building. They spend some time in the basement with Leo and Eddie. They pick through the broken barrels that were left there. When they return to the first floor, one detective says it sure smells like whiskey down there. What were those barrels for he asks. Joe quickly answers that they did a lot of distillery work before Prohibition. They had barrels for storage of sample whiskey for their customers to taste. The detective answers that was several years ago. Does the smell last that long? Joe responds that must be it. They were in the basement which is out of the air and it’s a little stifling down there. The detectives move on from the basement and ask Joe if he thinks Kitty knows where Jack Hart is. He says he is absolutely sure she does not. If she knew, she would tell them. The police seem unconvinced of this, but the rest of the Kavanaghs concur with Joe’s opinion. The police leave the Shop. The crew returns to work and finishes the day.

September 16

Jack Hart is arrested. The police find him in a DC apartment approximately six blocks from the White House. He is sitting smoking a cigarette with another man, Bernard Livingston who is wanted in an unrelated jewelry heist. He is taken immediately to Baltimore for incarceration. A crowd has formed outside the courthouse on Calvert and Lexington as news spread that Hart has been captured. A loud and boisterous crowd to welcome Jack back to Baltimore. The Kavanaghs read about it the next day, Sunday in the newspaper. They are relieved, but still concerned. They must wait and see if Jack is a man of his word. Does he keep them out of it? Or does he spill the beans on the bootlegging? Joe is convinced they will be fine. The police do not seem interested in the bootlegging issue. In fact, when they smelled whiskey in the Shop’s basement they were curious, but they did not push it. Jack is arrested for robbery and murder. That seems to be the focus of the investigation.

September 17

“Noisy” Socorow is located and arrested in New York. He is buying a copy of the Baltimore Sun at a news stand at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. Two detectives take hold of him from either side and he is captured by the New York City police. He will be held for an extradition hearing and then returned to Baltimore to stand trial.

September 18

Today “Noisy” Socorow’s extradition hearing is scheduled. He has a lawyer and this is cause for concern for the Baltimore City States’ Attorney, Herbert O’Conor. He wants Socorow back in Baltimore. He is ready to proceed with the trials. The citizens of Baltimore are clamoring for justice after this bold murder in broad daylight. O’Conor and three Baltimore City Detectives take the train to NY and attend the hearing. They are given the use of a New York City Police vehicle while they are in town. One detective waits in this loaner police car while O’Conor and the other two detectives sit in court. A pre-trial meeting of the lawyers in judge’s chambers reveals that Socorow’s lawyer will submit a writ of habeas corpus. He is claiming that Baltimore has the wrong man. This is a case of mistaken identity. O’Conor is outraged and insists that Socorow be turned over into his custody. The judge tells them both to plead their cases during the trial then he will decide. As the trial begins, O’Conor begins to feel as if the judge will side with the defense. He will demand more evidence before turning “Noisy” over to the Baltimore authorities. At the conclusion of the trial as NY State Supreme Court Judge Martin orders “Noisy” remanded to NY, O’Conor leaps up and shouts to the detectives to grab him. They both take hold of “Noisy” Socorow and drag him out of the courtroom led by State’s Attorney Herbert O’Conor. The judge begins yelling at them to leave that man lone. Several bailiffs step in the way. They push through them. The defense attorney is knocked to the ground in the chaos that ensues. They rush down the stairs as they are pursued by court officers and bailiffs shouting for them to halt. Before they can be stopped, they reach the door and hurry to the police car. The detectives toss Socorow in and all climb inside. They race away with “Noisy” in custody. More loud shouts and cries from police and court officials are ignored as they drive off. They drive to the New Jersey Ferry. They take a train the rest of the way and deliver “Noisy” Socorow to Baltimore City Jail. The state of New York threatens sanctions. An outraged Governor Miller of NY demands his return to New York. Governor Albert Ritchie of MD refuses and there are some harsh exchanges between them. No sanctions are filed though and in time the dispute between the states passes over.

September 21

The trials for “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith and Frank Allers move very quickly. Allers is given immunity for his testimony. He implicates both in the crime. Carey and Smith are found guilty and given life sentences.

September 24

Kitty Kavanagh is released from police custody. The witnesses that claimed a woman was in the Hudson used in the getaway are refuted. Other more believable witnesses are sure there was no woman at the scene. Obviously, with Jack in jail, they felt no need to ask Kitty about him anymore. Her mother, sisters and younger brother welcome her home. She calls her Uncle Joe. She tells him that she would never turn on Jack or her family. She is glad to be home, but very worried that Jack will be found guilty. She says Jack is considering pleading guilty, but she does not want this. Nor does Jack’s lawyer want him to do this. While Joe listens, he thinks to himself that he does not want that either. A guilty plea would involve a full statement. Though the Kavanaghs and the Shop are not involved in anyway in the Norris murder, the full statement could be embarrassing for them or worse if the bootlegging comes out. He tells Kitty she is right. He should plead not guilty and trust his lawyer. He emphasizes that Jack should trust his lawyer.

October 10

The Giants beat the Yankees again in another all New York World Series. The Series is cut back to a best of seven this year. The Giants win four of the first five games to capture the championship. Game two ends in a tie. A somewhat suspicious tie as the game was called due to darkness although the sun was still out. There is speculation that the game was called to extend the Series and increase gate receipts for both teams. To avoid any controversy, Commissioner Landis orders all money received for game two attendance be donated to WW1 veterans. The Kavanghs discuss the World Series as they always do. Joe is happy for the former Oriole John McGraw who wins his third World Series as a manger. The season comparison of Ruth vs. Cobb is gone over too. Ruth misses some time due to injury. He bats a modest .315 and hits 35 home runs. A disappointing year for him. Cobb has a great year. Hitting .401. Eclipsing that magic .400 plateau. He does not win the batting title however as George Sisler tears up the American League with a .420 average.

October 14

Anna Kavanagh gives birth to a girl, Alice. Another Alice named for the original who brought this family to America. Sadly, Alice is not well. She has health problems. She is what they called a “blue baby”. There are problems with her lungs and breathing is very difficult for her. The doctors are honest. There is little chance she shall survive long. Eddie and Anna are crushed, but pray for their baby.

October 21

Walter “Noisy” Socorow’s trial begins in Towson after his request for a change in venue. He is found guilty and also sentenced to life in the Maryland Penitentiary.

October 25

Finally, the day of Jack’s trial arrives. The testimony of witnesses recounts the events of August 18. Frank Allers testifies to Jack’s leadership of the gang and the attack. He walks them through the events leading up to the robbery and murder. Finishing with how Jack gave his gang their cut and headed to Washington, D C. Martin Kavanagh, Kitty’s 17 year old brother, is called to the stand. He answers questions about Kitty. He provides a solid alibi to corroborate her statement. He is asked about Jack, of course. He answers all questions, but clearly knows nothing of Jack’s illegal activities and nothing about the Norris murder. After a quick deliberation, Jack is found guilty. He too is remanded to MD Penitentiary for the rest of his life. He breaks into tears and declares he will be a model prisoner As they walk out of the courtroom, a weeping Kitty lunges to Jack to embrace him. Jack tells her not to worry. He will come for her. When he arrives at the penitentiary, he informs the warden that “There is no prison that can hold me”.

November 14

Things at the Shop seem finally to be back to normal. The Norris murder will become one of the most bizarre strange but true criminal tales in Baltimore history. For the Kavanaghs, it is a tale told to children for generations. Some details slipping away with each telling. A family story that explains what is quite possibly the strangest year in the history of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. At the Shop there is no whiskey to make, but the economy has held strong. They have several large commercial cooking vessels to make and E. J. Codd has brought in a large boiler job. This has quite a bit of copper and brass work. Liners, valves, fittings and bearings are fabricated. The Shop is filled with the sound of hammers and the heat of torches with nothing illegal going on.

December 23

The Shop’s Christmas party is held a day early. Christmas Eve is a Sunday so the party is today. It is a quieter affair than the last several. After the strange year with Jack, the end to their bootlegging and the sad news about Alice, they celebrate but without the same enthusiasm. Customers, vendors, employees and the Kavanagh family mingle together. Kitty and her sisters, Mary and Regina are there. Joe has remained very supportive of Kitty, his god-daughter. She has moved back to Baltimore to be closer to her family. Jack and all his cohorts are in the Maryland Penitentiary just several blocks away from the scene of the Norris murder. The attorney, Harry Wolf, who advised them is disbarred. The Assistant States’ Attorney Herbert O’Conor becomes a rising star in Maryland politics. The whole strange sequence of events is over and the family is very relieved. The Shop’s Kavanaghs are happy they have work. They are glad to be safe and not in jail, obviously. They are happy that they have some cash put aside for tough times if they come. They worry for young Alice. The family rallies around Eddie, Anna and their baby. They pray and support them. They do not hold out much hope for her. They rest on each other and their faith to guide them. Before the last song is sang and the party breaks up, Joe calls his sons, Leo and Eddie, and his brother, James into his office. They drink one toast of rye together. Apparently, Joe has several bottles of their own rye that he managed to save. He asks them all to think about the future. They will be challenged to stay busy in the new year. He wants them all to give it some thought. He assures the three others that they will find a way to keep going and to stay open. He knows they will or at least the Shop will. The Shop always does.



Warren G. Harding is the President. He delivers the first presidential speech by radio this year. The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated. The Hollywood Bowl opens. The Molly Pitcher Club is formed with its goal being the repeal of Prohibition. A 20 ton meteorite lands in VA. The California Grizzly Bear becomes extinct. Betty White, Jack Kerouac, Carl Reiner, Charles M. Schulz and Stan Lee are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Special note of thanks to the Baltimore Sun, New York Times, Washington Post and the Daily Record. Articles from all were used to verify the facts of the Norris Murder case.

Jack Hart being returned to Baltimore from Washington DC. Escorted by Police Captain William Murphy on the left and Detective Jim Comen on the right. September 16, 1922. Photo courtesy of the Daily Record and the Jacques Kelly collection.


4 thoughts on “1922 Murder and Mayhem

  1. This was the most exciting chapter so far. I was on the edge of my seat during most of it. I especially enjoyed it when the asst. state attorney “kidnapped” “noisy from New York!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. That extradition hearing threw me. It’s true though. It soubds made up, but truth is stranger than fiction. 🙂 I read both the Baltimore Sun & NY Times stories. It’s all true though they had very different takes on it. NY was mad. Nasty letters & speeches between the governors. Really nutty when I read it all. Thank you for reading.


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