He wasn’t really a mobster in the true sense, John Morrissey is best described as a tough. And probably within the top 5 for me.
Born in Templemore, County Tipperary, Ireland, came to the US as a child with his parents and settling in Troy, New York.
As a young man he worked a number of jobs, including steel mills, tough places where disputes were settled using fists.
It was in Troy where Morrissey first encountered Alexander Hamilton, a saloon owner who was looking for a new bouncer, he was so impressed with Morrissey that he did employ him.
Hamilton would be the catalyst that would drive Morrissey on to be one of the greats, in no small part thanks to his boasting about Morrissey.
While at the Americus Club on Park Avenue, which was a social political club owned by Captain Isaiah Rynders. Rynders at the time was aligned with the Know Nothing party, a Nativist political group.
While at the Americus Club, Hamilton was boasting about how great Morrissey was, this was heard by Bill the Butcher Poole, Dutch Charlie Duane, Tom Hyer, One Eyed Daly and a few others, they then proceeded to have a good laugh at Morrissey, particularly Dutch Charlie Duane, who they labelled The Farmer. Upon hearing this Hamilton let Morrissey know.
Morrissey said he needed an excuse to go to New York, he left Troy. He made his way to the Americus Club and Drew a deep breath and and walked in. Morrissey asked for Dutch Charlie Duane, who wasn’t there but Bill the Butcher, One Eyed Daly, Big Tom Burns and Captain Rynders were present.
Bill the Butcher burst into a loud laugh, I bet you’re the farmer from Troy. Morrissey responded with Yes I’m from Troy and followed with But you look your mother is a dollar street walker. That’s when the laughter stopped.
As Morrissey stood ready to fight Poole, he was hit from behind and within an instant they were all kicking, punching and beating him, Morrissey being a fighter himself fought back and held his own for a time but being so many beating him he couldn’t hold out for long.
After a time Captain Rynders called for them to stop but to no avail, Rynders then drew his knife and said Get away, by God I’ll use this knife on you, they moved away from Morrissey who was by now unconscious. Rynders stood beside Morrissey and called for the bartenders to move him upstairs.
Morrissey was nursed back to health but Rynders was impressed with his spirit. Captain Rynders would eventually switched allegiance to Tammany Hall and would work with Morrissey and the Dead Rabbits.
From the book Brandy for Heroes
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