On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1917
There will be clear and fair skies over Philadelphia today. The high will be a cool 69° with the low this evening near 55°. Today’s developments in the investigation of the murder of policemen George Eppley and the violence in the 5th Ward led up the coast to New York City. This morning Police in that city arrested a dozen gunmen believed to have been involved in the mayhem Wednesday in the “Bloody 5th “. Most of the arrests were made in the “Frog Hollow” section of the Bronx. Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Samuel Rotan (shown below) had shared certain information with the New York authorities which led to the arrests.
One of the men arrested, Ruggiero “Jimmy the Flash” Falcone, confessed to his involvement and told police his story. Falcone said three strangers from Philadelphia offered $15.00 a day to come here, intimidate voters and start trouble. Falcone rounded up gang members he knew in the Bronx including his friend Louis “straight Louie” Brannelli (Brannelli is called “straight Louie” because he is cross eyed). Those who accepted the job were given white ribbons to wear on their jackets or in their hats for identification. They were also supplied with pistols and blackjacks and promised police protection.
The thugs arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday to familiarize themselves with the layout of the 5th Ward. Tuesday night they were put up in an unnamed center city hotel. On Wednesday they engaged in small fights with men who were James Carey supporters (Mr. Carney was the McNichol-Penrose candidate and won the election). Once the New Yorkers heard about the killing of the policeman they quickly left the city and returned to the Bronx. In his statement Falcone also complained that the gang was never paid for their efforts in Philadelphia.
In other developments, policemen of the 3rd & DeLancy Street station have asked the Director of Public Safety, William Wilson, to dismiss Police Lieutenant David Bennett who commands that station. Bennett was charged, with the Mayor, with conspiracy to commit murder. A similar request was made to the Director by District Attorney Rotan. As of today Director Wilson, who owes his position to the Vare-Smith faction, has refused both requests.
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