In the 1890s, Group Maspeth, an Anarchist organization, numbered 30 members and was the largest group of German anarchists in Queens. Their meeting places were generally located in saloons or hotels on or near Grand Avenue. Believing capitalism to be evil, members of Group Maspeth infiltrated the workforce at area factories in order to cause havoc and destruction. In 1893, the New York Times chronicled the story of planted bombs at E.V. Crandall's Whiting Works on Newtown Creek. Here we present the final segment of the three-part saga.
ECKHOLDT HAS MORE TO TELL
New Revelations Promised About Maspeth Anarchists
Great plot to be exposed when the alleged incendiary comes to be tried – he declares that he fears he may be killed by those who wish to silence him – Constable Hock fears for his life, too – Some of the deputy sheriffs also apprehensive.
MASPETH, L.I., May 17 – This pretty village of Maspeth is much better acquainted with its little colony of Anarchists today, because of the confession of Otto Eckholdt published in this morning’s New York Times.
The confession astonished even Maspeth, which thought it knew its Anarchists pretty thoroughly before. It knew that there were at least a hundred men living in the village who were extremists in their Anarchistic views, and that innumerable incendiary fires, an occasional murder, and innumerable minor fractures of the law had been directly traced to the band of human wolves that makes Maspeth its home.
The New York Times’s article was new information to the village, in that it showed that the villainies of the gang of “reds” were not purely local, but took in New York territory, and contemplated death to members of the New York police force in certain contingencies.
Witnesses are plentiful today who are ready to testify to countless local atrocities on the part of the band.
Mr. Crandall, the proprietor of the Whiting factory, for setting fire to which Eckholdt is indicted, told a New York Times reporter that for a long time the rapid disappearance of his stock of bladders, in which he kept his fresh-made putty, was a mystery until recently, when a lot of them were found under a building filled with naphtha and kerosene with long fuses attached.
Some were also found, Mr. Crandall said, in burned buildings about Maspeth, showing that the village insured a lively existence to anyone who took the trouble to make enemies of the Anarchists, something which is not at all difficult.
Mr. Crandall further said that two attempts had been made to assassinate him. His factory was fired and completely destroyed in September last, and had been threatened repeatedly. Under Ruppercht, who was his foreman, the factory was an Anarchist hotbed. His steam pipes and valves were used to make bombs of, and his glycerine and various other materials were appropriated liberally by his Anarchist workmen without his knowledge or consent. That he is alive and well seemed a matter of profound surprise to Mr. Crandall.
Eckholdt’s talk with a New York Times reporter today will add a new chapter to the already startling story.
“I warn the authorities,” said Eckholdt, “that if they hold Ruppercht in only the present $500 bail, he will forfeit it at a critical moment and disappear when they want him most. He is rich, and the forfeiting of $500 will be as nothing to him.
“I decline absolutely to say now what my defense will be on my trial, but when I go upon the stand I will make disclosures that will startle the world – not Maspeth alone, nor New York, but Chicago, and even Europe.
“When I make the disclosures Ruppercht will be far out of reach unless the authorities see that he is held in ample bonds now to keep him in their reach.
“I hope to show that there is a plot to avenge the Haymarket affair. I will show that a list exists, or did exist, of marked men, and the whole world will know what gigantic schemes of destruction of life and property are held in reserve by the Anarchists of Maspeth and elsewhere.
“That is, if I live, for I know those fiends too well not to know that an effort will be made – a dozen for that matter, if necessary – to remove me.
“When they cannot fasten the plot to burn Mr. Crandall’s factory and Murphy’s big cooperage upon me, they will bring Frank Marshall forward to swear that I held a pistol to his head and threatened to blow his brains out if he did not apply the match. They are capable of anything. They have the money, lots of it, and they have dynamite in plenty and know how to use it. I don’t propose to be made a scapegoat of.
“If I die at their hands before my trial is over, I will fasten enough upon them to avenge my own removal.
“They will buy all the necessary witnesses, probably, to send me to prison, but I can prove enough against them to ensure their going, too. I must decline to be specific with you now. I will reserve all details until I go on the witness stand; then you’ll have the biggest sensation in years. I will not tell what the disclosures will be beyond what I have already told you, for it would be showing them my trumps, and I won’t do it. Just wait, that’s all.
“I’ll do more. I will tell the authorities now that if they don’t guard the witnesses for the prosecution carefully from now until the trial they’ll have none, for I am sure a plot is on foot already to ‘remove’ them.
“Those men are human bloodhounds, and the sooner the authorities recognize it the better for all concerned. They stop at nothing.”
Constable George Hock of Maspeth is again the hero of the hour. All through the unfolding of the dynamite plots, which the New York Times has chronicled as they have occurred, he has been the discoverer. He remarked today that he knew a plot to remove him was on foot and that it forced him to be careful of his beverages. Poison, he said, would probably be tried upon him. Next to dynamite, he says, poison is something the Anarchists dote on.
He told a New York Times reporter that he held a long consultation with Superintendent Byrnes in New York today. The nature of it he would not disclose, as he said the Superintendent had imposed absolute secrecy, but he would say that the Superintendent had thanked him profoundly for the information and would undoubtedly take a hand in bringing to light the biggest dynamite plot of the age.
The International Hotel, which was the Anarchist headquarters when owned by Ruppercht, and subsequently by Eckholdt, and where the symbolic red flag of the order was constantly floating, is now changed in character. When Eckholdt was arrested, three months ago, upon the charge of firing the whiting factory and the cooperage works next door to the hotel, Ruppercht sold it to one Wilbur.
It now bears the legend “Tony Wilbur’s Tammany Hall” and the Stars and Stripes have replaced the red flag of anarchy, and the followers of that fiery emblem are not wanted as patrons. The bold Wilbur has the hardihood to openly announce the fact.
Eckholdt, although of German birth, speaks without the slightest accent. He is of medium height, with reddish-brown hair and mustache and blue eyes. Ruppercht, whom he charges with being the leader of the gang and the controlling spirit in most, if not all, of the plots, is taller than Eckholdt, but of much the same complexion.
The Deputy Sheriffs are extremely guarded in their management of the prisoners. Repeated refusals of glasses of beer handed to them and their prisoners are necessary. They know that it would be so easy to drop an infinitesimal quantity of prussic acid into the beverage and thus speedily dispose of the prisoner and captor simultaneously that safety frequently demands that a “great thirst” shall go unquenched.
Ruppercht laughs at Eckholdt’s threats, and says he is only trying to get out of a bad scrape by implicating others.
Originally printed in the New York Times, May 18, 1893.
ECKHOLDT GIVES PARTICULARS
Describes the Bombs Maspeth Anarchists Took to Union Square.
LONG ISLAND CITY, May 18 – Otto Eckholdt, the indicted ex-Anarchist whose statement published in yesterday’s New York Times about the plot to blow up New York policemen at the Union Square labor meeting on May 2, 1892, created a sensation, was furious today when a New York Times reporter showed him the statement of Herr Most and Emma Goldman denying his accusation.
“Of course they deny it,” he exclaimed, with knitted brows and an angry stamp. “Why wouldn’t they! I’ll give them lots more to deny before I get through with this matter. I have made up my mind to make a clean breast of the Anarchist schemes that I have known all about, and they know it; that’s why they are beginning to deny things in advance.
“Not only is it true that Ruppercht carried a satchel full of bombs to that Union Square meeting, but I know of twenty others who went from Maspeth who carried them, too, and the purpose was to hurl them at the police in case the meeting was interfered with. Let them deny away; I’ll prove it on my trial, and will not show my trumps before that time.
“The bombs which we carried were made by Henry Ruppercht while he was foreman at Crandall’s whiting factory. They were mostly made of joints of steam pipes and pieces of the pipe itself loaded with high-grade dynamite, which Ruppercht himself made in the factory, and they were all capped and primed. Those carried by the New York Anarchists were round and about the size of a baseball, with caps on. These were intended to throw at a distance, with entire safety to the man who should throw them.
“I see that Most and Emma Goldman say that Ruppercht is a coward and would faint at the site of dynamite. They are foxy. He is one of them and they think by making a timid lamb of him before the public to shield him. They are great liars.
“Ruppercht owned and ran the International and was the most violent and wild taker of the whole Maspeth colony. He was the head of all. There was a circle or band that controlled the colony and kept all the secrets and laid out all the plots. Ruppercht was the boss of this council of seven.
“At every big meeting at the hotel and elsewhere he openly advocated the destruction of millionaires, capitalists, and policemen. Why, at one of our big meetings in his hotel, the Sheriff of this county sent out a squad of deputies to see that we didn’t carry the meeting too far.
“That man there had charge of the deputies,” and Eckholdt pointed to Deputy Sheriff Louis Walters, who stood in the cell door during the interview.
“Ruppercht singled out Mr. Walters in his speech and said: ‘Poor men are downtrodden in this country. When they attempt to rise they are crushed by officers of the law like that man there. Our only hope is in Anarchy and the bomb.’”
Deputy Sheriff Walters had no difficulty in remembering the occurrence Eckholdt referred to. He had been sent out by the sheriff at the head of a squad of deputies to prevent a breach of the peace. The Anarchists, he said, were cheering Ruppercht’s violent speech in which he denounced capital, the Government, and others of the law, and he said that when Ruppercht pointed at him and spoke the words already quoted, they all sprang to their feet and made the building quiver with shouts of “Hoch die Anarchie!”
Eckholdt’s trial upon the charge of arson, for which he is under indictment, will come up next month in Long Island City. It is then that he proposes to unfold his sensational disclosures.
Originally printed in the New York Times, May 19, 1893.
ONCE ANARCHIST, NOW PETTY THIEF
Eckholdt, of Bomb and Dynamite Fame at Maspeth, Again Arrested
NEWTOWN, L.I., July 28 – Otto Eckholdt, reputed leader of the former band of Maspeth Anarchists, is again in the hands of the law. Instead of devoting his spare time to the manufacture of dynamite bombs as heretofore, it appears from the complaint he has degenerated into a petty thief. He was accompanied by Rudolph Liese of East Williamsburg, and Max Fredericks, who boarded with Eckholdt. They were arraigned before Justice Smith in Middle Village today, accused of stealing a harness owned by August Wilkens of East Williamsburg.
Liese turned state’s evidence and informed the Justice that Eckholdt planned the robbery, and that the plunder was secreted in Eckholdt’s house. Later it was found in the place designated, covered with a blanket. The prosecution was not prepared to go on with the trial and the case was postponed to Thursday of this week.
Eckholdt came into prominence a year ago through his arrest on a charge of setting fire to the Crandall Whiting Works in East Williamsburg. He told of a plot to blow up the New York police with dynamite at a labor meeting in Union Square at which Emma Goldman spoke. He asserted that all the workmen employed in the Whiting factory were Anarchists, and that they devoted their spare time to manufacturing bombs. To confirm this latter assertion he was taken to the works under guard and from different hiding places brought forth dynamite bombs enough to blow up the whole of Maspeth. From under the floor of the engine room he also brought to light a box of dynamite and the fixtures employed in the manufacture of bombs.
The men implicated in the confession were arrested, but by some oversight of the Justice before whom they were arraigned they were released on light bonds, and they promptly left for parts unknown. For some reason or other, Eckholdt was never prosecuted, and soon afterward regained his freedom.
Originally printed in the New York Times, July 24, 1894.
ANARCHIST ECKHOLDT SENTENCED
LONG ISLAND CITY, Sept 28. – Otto Eckholdt, at one time a leader of the Anarchists of Maspeth, was sentenced to four years imprisonment in Sing Sing by County Judge Garretson in the Queens County Court, in this city, today. Eckholdt was accused of stealing a set of harness, and was convicted on an indictment charging him with grand larceny.
Originally printed in the New York Times, Sept 29, 1894.