August 1, 1899: “‘World’ Jails Newsboys”

“World” Jails Newsboys

Accuses Three of Them of Extortion—Had Another, but He Got Away.

Three newsboys were taken before Magistrate Mott at the Centre Street Police Court yesterday and sent to the Tombs in default of $1,00 bail on charges of extortion made by the World newspaper. The boys are Edward Fitzgerald of 433 East 122d street, Henry Butler, alias “Butts,” of 425 East 115th street, and Jack Harney of 82 West 105th street. A fourth boy named Jack Seeley was in the circulation office of the World with the three who were arrested, but escaped out the window.

The facts alleged in the complaint drawn against Fitzgerald and Butler are that they went to the office and demanded $600, promising to settle the newsboys’ strike by 6 o’clock, and that in the presence of Detective Distler, who was immediately summoned, they took $10 on account. The charge against Harney was that he promised to settle the strike in the vicinity of 104th street and demanded $100, receiving $2 on account.

Fiztgerald and Butler say that they and Seeley were stopped in front of THE SUN office by “Kid” Blink, the former leader of the strike, whom the newsboys accuse of going over to the enemy. Blink, the boys said, told them that the World and Journal were ready to sell them evening papers at 55 cents a hundred, all papers returnable at half-price. The boys followed Blink up into the circulation office of the World, where they found P. F. Duff, the manager, waiting with E. H. Harris of the Journal. The boys say that Harris opened the conversation by saying:

“Now, boys, this strike is hurting both you and us, and we want to settle it. Will you take $300 to stop it by 6 o’clock tonight?” The boys say they replied that they had no power to stop the strike. Then they say, Harris produced a paper which he tried to induce them to sign. They refused to sign. About this time Harney came in and told Harris and Duff that he had been sent down from Harlem by Fitzgibbon, the Harlem agent of the World, with a promise that he and any ten boys that he might name would get $10 each if they would sell the Evening World. As soon as Harney came in, the boys said, Harris walked over and thrust a $10 bill into Fitzgerald’s hand, saying, “That’s on account,” and at the same instant Detective Distler of the Oak street station came through a side door and said, “You are all under arrest.” Seeley and Butler made a dive for the window and reached the roof below by way of the water pipe. Seeley kept on to the ground and escaped, but his weight broke the pipe and Butler was left on the roof, where Detective Distler got him.

Source: “‘World’ Jails Newsboys.” The Sun [New York], 1 Aug. 1899, p. 3.