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William "Bill the Butcher" Poole

Continuing the subject of bad boys...In the 19th Century William “Bill The Butcher” Poole was said to be the toughest gang leader in New York.  A butcher by occupation, Poole led a gang of street toughs on the lower East Side. A dirty fighter, Poole would gouge his opponents in the eye. Having been a member of the Bowery Boys, Poole later formed his own gang. His arch opponent was another gang leader, John Morrisey, who was badly beaten by Poole the night of February 24, 1855. Three of Morrisey’s cohorts retaliated and shot Poole in the heart. Poole, 33, lingered for two weeks before he died. His last words were purported to be: “Good-Bye Boys, I die a true American.”  Poole’s funeral was a huge one with reports of 6,000 mourners in attendance. After a procession through lower Manhattan the cortege was ferried to Brooklyn and then made their way to Green-Wood Cemetery. In 2003, Green-Wood unveiled the new granite monument (seen above) in a ceremony at Poole’s grave after Martin Scorcese’s movie Gangs of New York renewed interest in the Poole. On the monument, Poole’s last words are inscribed.


  1. Surely you mean 18Th century bad boy. It says it right there on his tombstone.

  2. No, I didn't mean 18th Century. FYI: The 19th Century encompasses the years 1801-1900 and Poole died in 1855.


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