Of the gang of firebugs that terrorized New York during so many years seventeen have been convicted within eighteen months and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. The last to be convicted is Isaac Zuker, the ringleader of the band, whose sentence (provided it is sustained after the inevitable appeal) is for thirty-six years and six months. While the highest number of fires set by any one of the other incendiaries was fifteen, fully fifty can be laid to the door of Zuker himself in Newark, N. J., Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and this city, which he finally made his headquarters and wherein he sought out the meanest and the most poverty-stricken of his race to be his tools—men who for $25 would sell what does duty for their souls. Zuker and his head men worked separately in circles.


At the head of one was Max Grauer. with Louis Rothman as his “ mechanic;” a second was captained by Adolph Hirschkopf, with Glueckman and Manheim as his ‘mechanics;” while Samuel Milch was head centre of the third.using whomsoever he would to do the mechanical work of the business. These men made large incomes by their operations, since they not only acted as adjusters for the underwriters,but also reaped a large profit from the fires themselves. The annual income of Hirschkopf, ostensibly a barber, the most daring and reckless of the tribe, was at one time $to,ooo—all from incendiarism; that of Milch, the most cautious, $12,000; of Grauer, the most diplomatic, $12,000. What were Zuker’s gains is not known. From one fire in Brooklyn on Myrtle alley he netted $3,000. This, however, is certain that from being a penniless Jewish immigrant in 1878, he advanced through the pushcart stage and that of incendiary fires to being able to own a rickety house in Division street, this city, and is known to be worth $100,000—besides other moneys in other names. In Division street he collected a lot of damaged goods, which he transferred to 140 Mulberry street, Newark, N. J., and there had them insured, netting $2,100 out of the consequent fire, to which was added in a few days $2,500 for the loss sustained by the partial burning of his Division street house by a midnight fire, set by Schoenholz, with full knowledge on the part of each that the whole block might go and great loss of life might be the result. In both cases the insurance companies raised difficulties; but in each a compromise was effected.

This sort of thing had being going on on the East Side from 1885 to 1892, and then suspicion began to fall upon Zuker. Still the fires were set, and the suspicion was turned into certainty through information afforded by Shire Rosenbaum,a “mechanic,” whose death, he discovered, Hirschkopf, acting for Zuker, tried to bring about at a fire in Lynn, Mass. His information caused the arrest of Grauer, Rothman, and Sarah Silbermeister, the first in the series brought to trial and convicted. A panic ensued; Milch fled, but was afterwards accepted as State’s evidence, and is now awaiting trial. Through him evidence was secured against Frieldland,Gordon, and Krone.

To incriminate Zuker, however, there was need of Schoenholz, the Fourth street incendiary, who had escaped to Germany. He was,however, lured back by a detective and a confederate firebug—nominally for an arson job at St.Louis, Mo. He was confronted with evidence as to the Fourth street fire and acknowledged its truth, promising besides, but failing to keep his promise to tell all he knew o’ the firebugs’ doings. Zuker, however, was arrested, and on his part implicated Schoenholz in the Norfolk street fire where a life was lost. As the latter was refused release if he told everything about his comrades, he would not tell anything and was sent to Sing Sing for his forty-eight years’ sentence. After a few months,however,he changed his mind,and his testimony convicted Zuker.

Though there still remain other firebugs to be tried, and though others are under police surveillance for fire on the West Side,still the chief gang is thoroughly broken up. Meanwhile,however, Zuker has made a fortune out of the business, which has extended over eighteen years; has cost human life; destroyed at least one million dollars’ worth of property—some 300 or more houses and stores having been set fire to by his means. Among these were in this city fires at 424 West Fiftythird street; 25 Pitt street; 424 Grand street; 438 Broadway; 521 East Twelfth street; 178 Canal street; 185 Avenue C; and fires in Suffolk street and at One Hundred and Sixty-first street and Jerome avenue. For these seventeen persons, among them three women, have been convicted and sent to prison. In Zuker’s personal list figure the fires at 924 and 806 South street, Philadelphia, 140 Mulberry street, Newark, N. J., and 264 Division street, this city—his last job

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