Sláinte Mhaith! In honor of St. Paddy’s day, I’m going to tell you all about my favorite female gangster.
Sadie “The Goat” Farrell
Sadie Farrell was born in the slums of the Fourth Ward near the East River. She made a name for herself working the streets around the docks with a male companion, who gave her the muscle she needed. When a drunkard emerged from one of the local bars, Sadie would take a running start and ram the top of her head into the victim’s stomach. That’s how she got her name “The Goat.”
Sadie’s encounter with the legendary Hole-in-the-Wall bar’s six-foot female bouncer Gallus Mag further solidified her place as a New York legend. Mag was known for biting off unruly customers’ ears and displaying them in alcohol filled jars behind the bar in “Gallus Mag’s Trophy Case.” The night Sadie had a few too many pints and attacked the English Mag, Mag had a new trophy to display “Sadie the Goat’s Ear.”
One day at the docks Sadie saw members of the Charlton Street Gang unsuccessfully attempting to commandeer a small ship anchored in the middle of the North River (which is now the Hudson). Sadie took over leading the gang and in a few short days had them hijacking a larger ship with the “Jolly Roger” flying from the masthead. Captain Sadie and her gang up terrorized the North and Harlem Rivers, raiding small villages, and robbing poor people’s farm houses and the riverside mansions of the rich alike. Sadie was so engaged in her role as “River Pirate,” she ordered her crew to go on kidnapping sprees and even forced several members of her own gang to walk the plank.
Following the murder of several home owners by Sadie and Charlton Street Gang, Hudson Valley residents banded together and ambushed the Charlton Street Gang as it came ashore. Police patrolling the New York harbor put a stop to the gang from pillaging the small merchant ships on the North River. Eventually so many gang members had been killed Sadie was forced to abandon her pirating ways.
When Sadie returned to the Fourth Ward she was hailed as the “Queen of the Waterfront,” and with the cash she had earned from her pirating days, Sadie opened up her own gin mill.
Soon after Sadie’s return, the Hole-in-the-Wall bar had seven murders in just two months. The New York City police were going to shut down the Hole-in-the-Wall bar for good so Sadie visited Gallus Mag to make amends. Mag was so gracious she returned Sadie’s pickled ear. Sadie Farrell, “The Goat,” “Queen of the Waterfront,” wore her severed ear in a locket around her neck for the rest of her life.
Don’t believe me? Listen to it here.