Writing of the origins of the Hell’s Kitchen Gang in the 1860s, (see The Gangs of New York, Chapter XI, Section 2) Herbert Asbury recounts the downfall of its only-mentioned chieftain:

“Under the leadership of Dutch Heinrichs this gang roamed through Hell’s Kitchen, levying tribute on the merchants and factory owners, breaking into houses in broad daylight, beating and robbing strangers, and keeping the entire district in a chronic state of terror. Much of their stealing was done at the old Thirtieth street yards and depot of the Hudson River railroad. Heinrichs was sent to prison for five years after he and two of his gangsters had attacked Captain John H. McCullagh, then a patrolman, who had ventured alone into Hell’s Kitchen to investigate the theft of two hogsheads of hams from a freight car.”

Asbury’s source for this was 1885’s Our Police Protectors: History of New York Police… by Augustine E. Costello. Costello wrote: “McCullagh, hearing of the robbery, went cautiously down towards the depot. On the way he encountered a notorious thief, nicknamed “Dutch Heinrich,” and two of his companions. Heinrich, with an oath, precipitated himself on the officer. A terrific struggle ensued, but after a time the thief went under. He was afterwards tried, convicted, and sent to State Prison for five years.”

However, McCullagh himself, in recalling this adventure for the January 6, 1889 edition of the New York Herald, clearly states the the crook he nabbed was “Dutch Herman,” the nickname of a notorious Hell’s Kitchen thief named Harmon Liedendorf, aka “Dutch Harmon.” In the 1874, Liedendorf was tried and acquitted of killing a Hudson River Railway watchman for lack of evidence, but was sent to prison for shooting at the officer who arrested him. He escaped, only to be recaptured a few years later. Articles about Liedendorf say then he was a member of the Tenth Avenue gang.

There was a different notorious contemporary New York-based criminal in the 1860s known as Dutch Heinrich (and variants Hendricks/Hendrick,Heinrichs/Heindrich, etc.) His real name, as far as can be known, was Henry Edwin G. Neumann/Newman, born about 1842. Neumann, at age 18, was arrested for pick-pocketing a watch in May 1860 in New York under the alias Edward Ryan. Despite his youth, he was described as a “noted pickpocket.” Other later accounts suggested that he provided goods to the Greenthal and Mandelbaum fencing operations. He was sentenced to two years in Sing Sing, where he became friends with sneak thief Chauncey Johnson.

Sneak thieves were elites among criminals–they did not resort to violence or break-ins, but instead stole in broad daylight, targeting banks and financial institution offices with lax security. They were only interested in large cash hauls, employing patient study of these workplaces, distraction techniques to trick others into looking away from stacks of bills or bonds, and sometimes special tools to reach behind counters.

During the mid-to-late 1860s, Chauncey Johnson and Dutch Heinrich scored several big jobs, including the Bank of Commerce in 1865 and the Broadway Bank in 1866. Both Johnson and Neumann were gambling addicts, and lost their money almost as soon as they stole it. They gained an infamous reputation as two of the most successful thieves in the nation.

“Dutch Heinrich” Neumann was sometimes mentioned as one of the suspects in the $2 million dollar Lord Bond Robbery of March, 1866, which stood as one of the largest unsolved robberies in American history (though many of the bonds were recovered). However, Neumann had been arrested for a different money grab the day before the Lord Bond robbery, so he could not have been involved.

In 1872, Neumann was arrested, tried and convicted of a bank robbery and sentenced to ten years at Sing Sing. However, almost immediately after he was sentenced, it became clear that he had been “railroaded” by vengeful detectives and was innocent of this particular crime; an appeal process was started by his lawyers, Howe and Hummel. During this period, Neumann exhibited signs of insanity. Some thought he was feigning, but most observers realized that his chances of acquittal at a second trial were so solid that he had no reason to fake an illness. Eventually he was let out on bail, but in such poor condition that newspapers believed he would not live much longer. In 1874, he boarded a steamer that was to take him to his native Germany to spend his last days there. Once other passengers learned who had booked the passage, they demanded that he be taken off before the ship sailed. In 1875 it was reported that he had died at an asylum in Germany.

2 thoughts on “Tangled in a Hell’s Kitchen Double Dutch

  1. Great job on Harmon and Heinrich! I did a piece on Harmon and the Fourty thieves for the Clinton Express in 2013 Keep up the good work.

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    1. I didn’t dig deep enough to know what happened to Harmon, after he was sentenced to a long stretch in prison. He had a brother William Liedendorf who got into trouble with the law, too. Tenth avenue Gang seems pretty hardcore.

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