An Early Example of a Hold-up. . .

25 March 2011 at 8:56 pm Leave a comment

| Scott Masten |

. . . in which two Irishman sweep fifteen or thirty Italians into an open ditch.

The context is a dispute over a contract for the supply of water to Bayonne, NJ., circa 1896, as reported in The First History of Bayonne, NJ (1904: 92):

At the mayoralty election in the spring of 1895, Egbert Seymour, on the Democratic ticket, was elected Mayor. Several of the Councilmen who were elected at this election, and two or three city officials, were opposed to the new water contract, and attempted a “hold-up.” The trouble reached its height one day during the first year of Seymour’s administration. While employees of the water company were tapping the old mains to make the necessary water connection, some city officials arrived on the scene. Immediately there was trouble.

The New York Times article (Nov. 24, 1896) on the right (click to enlarge) elaborates, amusingly, on the manner in which the holdup was executed.

I have not yet been able to verify it but, according the previous source, “The matter was taken before the Supreme Court of the United States by the water company, and an injunction was obtained against the city. United States marshals were stationed at the scene until the work was completed, to arrest any city official who interfered.” The city eventually bought out the company in 1918.

(Wish that I had found that quotation before completing this.)

Entry filed under: Business/Economic History, Ephemera, Former Guest Bloggers.

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