Martin Brennan – First leader of the Gopher Gang

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Michael Martin Brennan, also known as Marty Brennan, was born in 1886 in NYC. His parents were born in Ireland. Martins father, an Ironworker, died in 1899 from Tuberculosis when Martin had just turned 12.

A young Martin attended Public School No. 106 on 37th St. between 10th and 11th avenues in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. At about 10 years of age, his parents were forced to send him to Catholic Protectory in Westchester County for 2 years during his father’s illness. At 13, Brennan had a fall of 40’ at Fort George on the Hudson which caused him to be laid up in hospital for 2 months. He did not return to school because of financial difficulties. His mother sent him to work to help run the household.

In the early 1900’s, its said that Brennan had organized the small bands of youth’s that were roaming Hell’s Kitchen into one large group forming the Gopher Gang. It became the largest and most powerful Irish gang in NYC totaling 500 members.

In 1908 at age 22, Brennan had spent a year in Elmira Prison for stealing a case of gin. He was out for 1 year and then returned to prison at age 24 to 43. In June of 1908, a newspaper article lists Cronin as the leader of the gang. At sometime, a committee of three was formed consisting of Brennan, George Gallagher and Stumpy Malarkey.

In 1910, Brennan along with others were sent to Sing Sing and finally Dannemora prison for manslaughter. He had a faint dot tattoo on his wrist. brennan was sentenced to 19 years of hard labor. George “Newboy” Gallagher, who actually committed the murder of William Lennon, was released after 9 years. They called him “Newboy” because he was a new member and the name stuck. Many had tried to get Brennan released, but to no avail, including George who wrote a letter to the court. George Gallagher stated he killed William Lennon in self defense. Lennon, a bartender, had slashed Gallagher in the face during a card game and later Lennon put two bullets into his stomach, but George Gallagher miraculously survived.

George Gallagher

Gallagher later killed Lennon with two bullets to the heart. He was in prison from Nov. 1910 and released July 1917. In 1920, he was a Stevedore in the Trucking Industry and died in April 1928 at age 41.

By 1925, Marty was employed as a Longshoreman at S.S. Pier on the Westside of Manhattan. In 1930, at age 44, Marty Brennan had married Mary Beadle. Mary’s 1st husband, Peter Beadle was a policeman. He died in 1919 and Peter’s only child, Walter from a previous marriage, spent time in Sing Sing for Larceny. Walter was raised by Peter’s brother, Richard. He had 2 sons that went to prison, including David ‘Davie the beatle’ (Sing Sing) and James (Auburn State Prison). Peter also had two other brothers that were policeman. One brother spent time in Sing Sing for bribery then later became a NYC detective. He had 3 tattoo dots on his forearm.

In 1930, at age 22, David Beatle walked into a Speakeasy on 11th Aveune and shot three brothers. Lawrence Lawlor the bartender, and his brother Michael ‘Booty’ Lawlor . The third brother, William Lawlor was the only one that survived. All were described by police as Hell’s Kitchen racketeers.
In 1939, at age 32, David ‘Davie the beatle’ was slain at the corner of 10th Aveune and 46th street by gunshots from a passing taxi. He was described as a Dock Boss that knew every racket. The cause of death was bullet wounds to the face, head and brain. Three Longshoremen were put on trial for the crime.

In 1940, Martin “Marty” Brennan had moved to Queens. His occupation was listed as Stevedore. In 1947, Marty Brennan died at age 60 and his wife, Mary Brennan died four years later.

The Gopher Gang. Owney Madden is sitting in the middle of the back row leaning forward. Marty Brennan is the second person to his right and George Gallagher is all the way to the left.

Research from Christine Brown


Posted on

February 10, 2021

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