Although boxing was beginning to overtake it as one of the nation’s most popular sports, in the first decade of the 20th Century wrestling was still a huge draw for sports fans.
It almost goes without saying that the sport of professional wrestling around the turn of the 20th century was much different from the sport we know today. Back in the day, professional wrestlers were athletes first and entertainers second. The sport was relatively clean and there was an established ranking system which made it clear who was the champion and who deserved a legitimate shot at the title. As professional athletes, wrestlers in the first decades of the 20th century were household names, although usually on a regional basis.
In 1911 one of the more successful pro wrestlers was Jack Grace from Walden, New York, who was known on the circuit as “Strangler Jack” and was once the New England wrestling champion. At 32, Jack was married with children and semi-retired from the wrestling circuit. He apparently had success in the ring, because Jack lived a life of leisure surrounded by friends, none of whom could be found to say a bad word about him when the story of his murder hit the newspapers.
Jack came from an average New York family, all relatively successful in their lives — except Jack’s brother, Anthony, who preferred to be called William. Call him Anthony, William, the black sheep, the bad seed or whatever; it does not matter. Jack and William were polar opposites.
The one thing that everyone who knew Jack agreed on was that he enjoyed showing off his wealth by carrying a large bankroll and wearing a diamond stickpin and matching diamond ring. When Jack was killed, he was carrying $320, which is equal to about $7,500 in current dollars.
“William Grace, on the other hand, at 30, appeared to be plodding, sober minded and practical,” is how one news report put it. “Walden saw the contrast quickly when William soon established himself as a painting contractor, while the wrestler, apparently living on his past purses, led a life of ease and enjoyment.”
Behind the “plodding, sober minded and practical” facade, William was a lifelong con man who was not afraid to break the law if it suited his purpose. At the time his brother was murdered, William was practicing bigamy, having a pair of wives in Massachusetts, and was engaged to a third woman in New York.
In Fall River, (hometown of Lizzie Borden) in 1905, William — as Anthony — married Annie J. Jones, with whom he had three children. He left her and she was forced to take a job in nearby North Westport as a domestic servant.
In Lowell, five years later — as Arthur Brooks — William married Jennie Shrigley, got her pregnant and subsequently abandoned her, stealing thousands of dollars from her and her family after they accepted him as a partner in the family grocery store.
“Before a son was born to them, Brooks or Grace is alleged to have deserted his wife and disappeared,” reported the Lowell Sun in 1912. “Some of the money of the firm was missed about the same time.”
As a testament to William’s character, when she was advised she was a victim of a bigamist, Jennie wanted nothing to do with him and declined to prosecute.
“The second wife seems indifferent about prosecuting him, as she does not know of the first marriage,” wrote the Fall River City Marshal to the murder investigators. Annie, however, was interested in pursuing past due child support.
After abandoning his second wife, William moved to Walden where he began calling on Miss Fanny Andrews and marked her as his next target. Fanny came from a reputable family that was comfortably set if not well-to-do; William’s claim of his coming into a large inheritance helped the family overcome its initial reticence to having Fanny marry a house painter.
“Frequently before his marriage he represented that his mother had died in Fall River and that when he was 35 years old he would inherit $40,000,” The Sun reported. “Chief Ronk (of the Newburg police department) has learned that the mother of the Grace boys is alive.”
The two brothers belonged to a social group in Walden, the 20th Century Athletic Club, which had its headquarters not in a gymnasium as one might expect, but in a set of rooms above a cigar store.
“As a regular thing, it met weekly, on Saturdays, and the ‘meetings’ consisted mainly of a ‘feed’ and card games among the all-men membership,” wrote Lewis Thompson in American Weekly magazine.
It was at the 20th Century Club that Strangler Jack fought his last bout: A death match with his younger brother, William. The brawl that ended in Jack’s murder and with William in the electric chair soon after for the crime was over a woman, or, more specifically, William’s collection of women.
A few days prior to Jack’s death, William announced to his family that he was going to wed Fanny Andrews on Wednesday, September 11. The announcement of the impending nuptials angered Jack and he told his wife he was going to stop the marriage because of William’s planned polygamous marriage.
“I am going to Walden to Will,” The New York Times reported that Jack said to his wife the last time she saw him. “I am not going to let him marry that girl. He already has two wives living.”
Jack left Newburg for Walden, wearing his diamond stickpin and ring, and carrying more than $300 in cash, all of which he placed in the safe at the Metropolitan Hotel. Prior to seeking out his younger brother, Jack had withdrawn his valuables from the safe. Later that evening witnesses put him in the company of his brother in a Walden bar near the 20th Century Club. Some noted that they appeared to quarreling.
“The meeting between the two, the bartender said, had not seemed a particularly happy one,” the American Weekly reported. “Their conversation, though obviously tense and strained, was nevertheless conducted in tones inaudible to anyone but themselves.”
Police could not find anyone who saw him after that Saturday night.
On Wednesday afternoon, the wedding — a low-key affair because William recently lost his mother — went off without a hitch. William explained away his missing family saying they were still in mourning for his late mother. Following the ceremony, the Times reported, the two took off for New York City via automobile, at the time quite a luxury.
The local gossips pointed out that William must have received his inheritance in the last few days as he was clearly flush with cash despite having to borrow $5 the previous week from a friend.
William and Fanny were barely on their way to New York City when Jack’s body was discovered by the 20th Century Club custodian. His head had been cleaved nearly in half by a large knife, which was located near the body. His jewelry and the cash were gone; all police found on the body was 21 cents.
Police discovered a photograph of Annie Jones — William’s first wife — in with Jack’s belongings back at the Metropolitan Hotel. At the time her identity was unknown to them, but there was the name of a photographer on the picture which, in turn, broke open the bigamy aspect of the case.
Obviously the Walden cops wanted to speak with William, but he and Fanny managed to keep their honeymoon hotel location a secret. Chief Ronk turned that problem over to New York’s finest and waited.
He did not have long to wait; the news of the murder spread to New York City quickly and came to the attention of William Grace. The newlywed said he was cutting short the honeymoon and was heading back to Walden.
When he arrived at the police station for an interview, William did not know that he was walking into a trap set by investigators who had already convinced themselves that William was their man. The circumstantial evidence was strong: In addition to the bartender who observed the brothers’ quiet yet heated conversation, the clerk of the Apollo Cigar Store beneath the club said he saw William come down the stairs of the club with a bundle of clothing in his arm and a bloodstained handkerchief in his hand.
This backed up a story from two other witnesses who saw someone in the club “rubbing the blood spattered window with his elbow,” The Times reported.
William admitted seeing his brother at the bar, but said they parted around midnight. When shown the picture of his wife Annie, William feigned ignorance and suggested that she was a former paramour of his brother’s. That was enough for the police and they placed William under arrest for his brother’s murder.
More evidence was discovered in William’s suitcase that he took on his honeymoon. Two diamond rings and a diamond stickpin were identified by Jack’s wife as those the wrestler always wore. They were concealed in a shaving mug partly filled with soap. Later, bloody clothes belonging to William were found in a trash can.
William’s family disowned their murderous relative shortly after his arrest.
“Joseph Grace of Fall River arrived in Newburg to-day, and visited Grace in his cell,” the Times reported. “They quarreled bitterly, and only the presence of the officers prevented a fight.”
The Times said Joseph told William: “Things look bad for you. We have washed our hands of you. Mother sent me on to bring poor Jack’s body home.”
After this meeting, William resigned himself to his fate and told authorities what had occurred in the club. He and Jack did quarrel in the bar over William’s impending marriage, with Jack eventually threatening to go to the police to stop his brother’s plan. The brothers continued their argument in the club rooms (every member had a key) and when he became convinced that Jack would never allow the marriage to take place, William became enraged. He grabbed a cleaver from the club kitchen and attacked his brother.
The trial was a mere formality, and on August 17, 1913, William Grace died in the electric chair at Sing Sing.
Tag Archive for New York
Although boxing was beginning to overtake it as one of the nation’s most popular sports, in the first decade of the 20th Century wrestling was still a huge draw for sports fans.
The story of the Glicksteins of Brooklyn, New York, serves as a grim example of what can happen to a family when a beloved member is murdered.
In December 1921, Lillian Raizen, 29, visited the office of Dr. Abraham Glickstein. With three patients sitting in the waiting room and Glickstein’s wife standing expectantly near the street entrance of her husband’s office, Lillian walked directly into the doctor’s operatory, approached him and fired three shots from a revolver she had hidden in a cheap skunk muff she carried.
Lillian then turned and calmly walked out of the office and was lost in the crowd before anyone knew Glickstein had been hurt. Because the muff muted the sound of the gunfire, no one realized that the doctor had been shot. In fact, until they examined him, the witnesses assumed he was having a heart attack or stroke. The witnesses could only give a basic description of Raizen.
The doctor stumbled out the exam room and fell in the doorway. His last words were “For God’s sake, get help.”
The second tragedy touched the Glickstein family literally hours later as the family mourned the death of Abraham. His body was resting in his home prior to its journey to the doctor’s final resting space.
Although the New York Times reported that some 2,000 people “drawn by morbid curiosity” were standing on Bedford Avenue outside the home, in keeping with Jewish tradition the Glickstein house was only occupied by mourning family members when Abraham’s widowed mother, 68-year-old Lena Glickstein, arrived to view her son’s body for the first time. She had not been told how her son died, only that it had been sudden and unexpected.
“Mrs. Glickstein, who had been in failing health for several years, showed unmistakable signs of feebleness,” the Times reported. “The aged woman became excited when she observed the large crowd, and by the time she was ushered into the room in which the coffin rested she was on the verge of collapse.”
According to witnesses inside the home, Lena Glickstein was led into the parlor by two granddaughters and slowly made her way to the simple wood casket where her son lay.
“Abraham, my son, you ought to be going to my funeral,” she said, kissing her son’s forehead. “Instead, I am going to yours.”
Whether she actually made her next statement is unknown (it makes for a much more dramatic story), but the end result is not in doubt.
“She slowly lifted her eyes to several relatives weeping at the head of the coffin, and continued: ‘I wish to God I had died instead of my boy. I must go with him,'” according to the Times reporter.
Lena then collapsed on the carpet, dead.
“Dr. Samuel Swetnick by that time was standing beside the aged woman, but was not quick enough to catch her before she fell,” the reporter wrote. “He, with the other physicians, leaned over her and after a cursory investigation, announced that she had died of heart failure due to the strain occasioned by her grief.”
The Times said that Abraham’s widow, Anna, and several other female relatives fainted following the tragedy.
After a delay of three hours while authorities sorted through the chaos created by the tragedy and the rabbis conferred about how to combine the ritual mourning of Lena with that of her son, the funeral of Abraham was completed.
At the time Abraham and Lena were buried, New York’s finest were running down clues as to who the shooter might be. Even based on the vague description of the shooter, police were looking for Lillian. The Glicksteins had known Lillian and her family for more than 20 years, one of the doctor’s brothers said
“After I heard her described, I thought it must be Lillian,” he said.
The manhunt did not last long. As calmly as she did when she shot Dr. Glickstein, Lillian Raizen walked into the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Harry E. Lewis on December 14 and promptly confessed to the shooting. Not surprisingly, she claimed temporary insanity.
Lillian told investigators that she and the doctor, who looked after her family, had carried on an affair for six years, beginning when Lillian was 21 and continuing until shortly before Lillian wed Charles S. Raizen, described in the press as “a toy manufacturer.”
“He destroyed my life,” Lillian swore. “And I decided to kill him. I had confessed our relations to my husband on our honeymoon last May and he forgave me. But the knowledge of our intimacy preyed upon my mind. I feared I was becoming insane.”
She told police that she purchased a .38 pistol from a man in Jacksonville, Florida, where she had been sent by her family in an attempt to cure the melancholia that was taking over her mind.
“I looked at him for fully two minutes without a word. Then something happened. I remembered the pistol…I had it in the fur scarf which that afternoon I had sewed into the form of a muff,” she confessed. “I took a firm grip on it and while Dr. Glickstein stared in amazement at me I tried to pull the trigger,” she went on. “I don’t know whether he spoke to me. In fact I don’t know what happened. I must have pulled the trigger, for I saw him fall.”
Lillian said her motive for killing the doctor was to rid herself of the strange hold the doctor had on her.
“Dr. Glickstein knew me when I was a little girl. Advice from him is virtually a command. He dominated me,” she wrote in a statement released the day before her trial. “Afterward, I was never able to escape the strange influence he had over me. Even after I married Charles Raizen, one of the best men, this doctor tried to draw me back to him.”
Not surprisingly the family denied any sign of untoward behavior by the head of the household.
“We are exceedingly surprised, however, with her story regarding the motive for the killing,” Abraham’s son-in-law told reporters. “There was never the slightest indication on her part in her friendly intercourse with the family of Dr. Glickstein that his conduct had ever been anything but that of a friend and a physician toward a patient.”
Lillian’s alienist, Dr. Samuel A. Tannenbaum said his patient was suffering from “a slight form of mania.” Her family said she had always been hysterical and neurotic. Whether the intimacy was real or imaginary, consensual or rape, it consumed Lillian to the point of madness.
“Mrs. Raizen called on me three months ago,” he said. “She told me a story of her relations with Dr. Glickstein. She showed unmistakeable evidence of a homicidal mania.”
Charles Raizen stood by his wife throughout the ordeal, placing the blame squarely on the back of Abraham Glickstein. He said he received many letters from his wife as she rested in Florida, but they only convinced him that Dr. Tannenbaum’s diagnosis of “homicidal mania” was spot on.
“She told me that Dr. Glickstein when he heard of our engagement which led to our marriage, tried to induce her to break off with me,” he told the press. “She wept as though her heart would break when she told me how Dr. Glickstein attacked her and how she had to fight him off.”
The accused murderess was taken to Belleview Hospital for a sanity check, which eventually revealed she was competent to stand trial where a jury would determine if she was insane when she gunned down the doctor.
Five months before Lillian killed Dr. Glickstein, another high-profile murder took place in Brooklyn. The case involved allegations similar to those raised in the Glickstein case and would have a profound and crushing impact on the Glickstein family.
In that case, Olivia Stone, a Cincinnati nurse, traveled to Brooklyn to confront an attorney named Ellis Guy Kinkaid, whom she believed had wronged her by seducing her. The long trial contained lurid letters, including some written by Stone threatening Kinkaid’s life, as well as dueling alienists.
During her trial for first degree murder, the Times reported that her defense was “temporary, transitory emotional insanity, also termed ‘Brain Explosion,’ a mental condition, in which, it was maintained, was predicated on acts of the slain man.”
The prosecution, citing the threatening letters and Stone’s trip from Cincinnati to Brooklyn, asserted premeditation. The jury disagreed. Amid a joyous outcry from the gallery, Stone was acquitted.
“The cheers which greeted the acquittal drowned out the voice of the clerk as he started to poll each juror,” a courthouse hack wrote.
Not surprisingly, Anna Glickstein watched the Stone case closely and became despondent when the defendant was acquitted, fearing her husband’s killer would receive a similar verdict.
During Passover, one of the most joyous Jewish holidays, Anna and her daughters visited the home of her parents, but the Seder was subdued.
“There is no justice,” people would later report Anna as repeating over and over.
After the dinner Anna and her youngest daughter, Frances, retired to a guest bedroom in preparation for bed. Shortly before dawn Frances was awakened by a loud crash below her window.
“Louis Lebowitz, who lives on the ground floor, looked out and saw Mrs. Glickstein lying on her back, her arms stretched wide,” the Times reported. “She had fallen on a heavy iron post, which had been knocked from its base by the blow. In her hand was a silk handkerchief.”
The Glickstein family insisted that Anna had accidentally fallen, but it was apparent from the evidence that she had launched herself out the window so she fell in such a way that an accidental slip could not explain.
When advised of the tragedy, Lillian, held in lieu of bail, broke into tears.
“I am the cause. I am to blame,” the warden of the Raymond Street Jail told reporters Lillian had cried. “If I had been in my right mind, I would never have shot Dr. Glickstein.”
The trial of Lillian Raizen for the murder of Abraham Glickstein began before Justice James C. Cropsey on February 12, 1923 to a full gallery of curious court watchers and reporters.
As far as trials go, it was a typical affair for cases like this. The only issue to be answered at this trial was whether Lillian was sane when she shot the doctor, and if not, what degree of murder was the crime.
It was necessary for Lillian to take the stand, and for her part, Lillian played the role of the mentally unsound defendant quite well. She talked of her “urge to kill” and her need to force the doctor to “return her to the way she was.”
On February 19, 1923, after 12 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder against Lillian Raizen. Lillian, confident of acquittal, was rendered speechless by the verdict at first, but then shuddering, she blurted out: “Oh, my God! Oh, My God, how miserable I am.”
Then she blotted her eyes with her handkerchief as she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The damage she wreaked on the Glickstein family lingered on long after Lillian was locked up in Auburn prison.
The New York Times, on August 19, 1927, ran the following brief:
Laura Glickstein, 26, was taken to the Kings County Hospital yesterday for treatment as a drug addict, following her arrest the night before on charges of possession of morphine and forging prescriptions to obtain narcotics. According to the police, she admitted the use of drugs, which she said she had begun following the murder of her father, Dr. Abraham Glickstein, by Mrs. Lillian Raizen and the death of her mother and grandmother.
Although Dr. Glickstein had been reputed to be wealthy, his estate dwindled down to almost nothing, Miss Glickstein told police. She said that she was unable to sleep following the crushing series of misfortunes that had followed her and in despair began to use drugs.
There are no records of what happened to Laura Glickstein, but her future was exceedingly dim.
In “Women and Addiction in the United States — 1920 to the Present, Stephen R. Kandall wrote: “Facing limited treatment options, women addicts lived almost totally dependent on men for their drugs, with little belief that America’s hard-line approach held any hope for them.”