John Daly (gambler)

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John Daly
Born 1838
Troy, New York, United States
Died April 26, 1906 (aged 68)
Midtown Manhattan, New York
Nationality Irish-American
Occupation Sportsman and professional gambler
Known for Sportsman, gambler and underworld figure in New York during the late 19th century.

John Daly (1838 – April 26, 1906) was an American

sportsman, professional gambler and underworld figure in New York during the late 19th century. A protege of John Morrissey, he was involved in illegal gambling in Broadway and Midtown Manhattan for over thirty years. He was also among the principal rivals of “Honest” John Kelly up until the turn of the 19th to 20th century and was considered one of the most successful and wealthiest gamblers in New York at the time of his death.



[edit] Biography

John Daly was born in Troy, New York in 1838. He became interested in gambling at an early age spending much of his time at the local gambling house, one of many owned by sportsman John Morrissey, with whom he soon became acquainted. Daly became a protege of his and was eventually brought to New York where he earned a small fortune by the late 1860s. He owned a number of establishments, such as the Long Branch Club in Long Branch, New Jersey; however, his popular Broadway gaming resort was the one that he was most associated with. Daly later moved his gambling operations uptown and, in 1885, opened “John Daly’s” at West Twenty-Ninth Street, which became nationally known and one of the most popular spots in the city during the next twenty years.[1][2]

[edit] Thoroughbred racing

Daly was also involved in horseracing during this time and was considered one of the biggest operators in the race-track betting rings in the country. He also raced horses, both alone and with partners, before forming a partnership with David Gideon[3] in 1891. In their first year, they won the Futurity Stakes with His Highness and would dominate the competition for another four years. They twice won the Futurity with The Butterflies (1894) and Requital (1895) as well as the Suburban Handicap with Ramapo. The firm “Gideon & Daly” established a breeding farm near Red Bank, New Jersey called the “Homdel Stud”, but the property was leased when Daly retired from horse racing. Daly had mixed success in this enterprise, having lost a lot of money on both betting on the races and in the stock market.[1]

John Daly was associated with many political and underworld figures in his lifetime but was reportedly far closer to fellow sportsmen gamblers such as William Busteed, Sam Emery, Davy Johnson, Dinky Davis, and Richard Canfield, his eventual successor.[4] His establishments were sometimes subjected to police raids, and Daly was alleged to have paid protection money as high as $100,000 a week to the New York Police Department,[5] which led to his later involvement in the Lexow Committee investigations. Daly was described as “a man of quiet, engaging manners” and regarded as a “generous employer”, often continuing to pay his operators and allowing their families to live in his clubhouses even while his clubs were shut down by police raids. He also donated large portions of his income to charities in his later years. He was in ill health for two years prior to his death. Daly’s wife died in 1905, and Daly died at his East Fifty-Fourth Street home on the evening of April 26, 1906.[1]


Name Portrait Life Comments
The Bottler d. 1908 A Five Points gambler who was forced by Kid Twist to make Kid Dahl, a member of the Eastman Gang, a partner is his Suffolk Street stuss parlor.[1][8]
William Busteed 1848–1924 Owner of a popular Broadway gambling resort and a chief competitor of “Honest” John Kelly.[1]
Richard Canfield 1855–1914 Longtime sportsman and gambler who, as the successor of John Morrissey, owned a number of prominent establishments and gambling spots including Morrissey’s resort at Saratoga Springs. His gambling house at Forty-Fourth Street was considered the most popular gaming resort in the United States until its close in 1902.[1][7][16]
John Daly 1838–1906 Owner of a popular Broadway gambling resort and a rival of John Kelly.[1]
Dinky Davis Owner of a popular Broadway gambling resort and a rival of John Kelly.[1]
Sam Emery Owner of a popular Broadway gambling resort and a rival of John Kelly.[1]
Pat Hearne d. 1859 Herne was an associate of Reuben Parsons who owned a successful Broadway gambling house during the 1840s and 50s. He himself was an avid gambler and, on more than one occasion, he supposedly gambled away an entire night’s takings and his own place.[1][14]
Kid Jigger A former gunmen-turned-gambler, Kid Jigger operated one of the most successful stuss parlors in Manhattan’s East Side. Johnny Spanish attempted to murder Kid Jigger after a failed extortion attempt but instead killed an eight-year-old girl during the gunfight and was forced to flee the city for a time.[1][8]
Davy Johnson d. 1911 Owner of a Broadway gambling resort, The Roseben, and a rival competitor of John Kelly.[1]
Reuben Parsons A native New Englander who controlled New York’s illegal gambling and policy banks during the mid-19th century. He was commonly known as the “Great American Faro Banker” in the city’s underworld.[1][14]
Sam Paul 1874–1927 An associate of Charles Becker, he and Bridgie Webber ran the popular Sans Souci Music Hall in addition to illegal gambling.[1][16]
Jack Rose 1875–1947 A gambler known as “Bald Jack” who was one of several men who ran second-rate gambling houses for Jack Zelig, he later testified against Charles Becker during the Becker-Rosenthal trial.[1][3][14][16]
Herman Rosenthal 1883–1912 An underworld bookmaker and part-time gambler who was forced to make Detective Charles Becker a partner in his gambling operation. He was later murdered by the Lenox Avenue Gang on orders from Becker when he threatened to reveal Becker’s role as an underworld figure.[1][16]
Sam Schepps Schepps ran gambling houses for Jack Zelig and later testified at the Becker-Rosenthal trial.[1][16]
Harry Vallon HarryVallon.jpg Vallon was another associate involved in illegal gambling for Jack Zelig and later testified at the Becker-Rosenthal trial.[1][16]
Wah Kee The first major underworld figure to arrive in Chinatown, Wah Kee ran illegal gambling and an opium den from the room above his Pell Street grocery store. His shop became popular among residents in the Bowery and Chatham Square. His success encouraged other Cantonese, particularly Chinese Tongs, to settle in Chinatown during the next several decades.[1]
Bridgie Webber 1877–1936 An associate of Charles Becker, he and Sam Paul ran the Sans Souci Music Hall together. Webber also ran illegal gambling houses for Jack Zelig.[1][1][16]

[edit] Prostitutes

Name Portrait Life Comments
Crazy Lou d. 1886 Bowery prostitute and dance hall girl.[1][9][12]
Bunty Kate fl. 1887 Five Points prostitute of Whyos leader Danny Lyons.[1][4]
Beezy Garrity d. 1886 Five Points prostitute killed during a shootout between Whyos leader Danny Driscoll and John McCarty.[1][4]
Gentle Maggie fl. 1887 Five Points prostitute under Danny Lyons.[1][2][4]
Hoochie-Coochie Mary A longtime Chinatown resident and prostitute. Found the body of murdered Chinese comic Ah Hoon in 1909.[1]
Jane the Grabber Madam and procuress involved in kidnapping young women and forcing them into prostitution and white slavery during the 1870s.[1][7][11][12]
Lizzie The Dove fl. 1887 Five Points prostitute under Danny Lyons.[1][2][4]
Pretty Kitty McGowan fl. 1887 Five Points prostitute and subject of a gunfight between Danny Lyons and Joseph Quinn.[1][4]
Red Light Lizzie Procuress and rival of “Jane the Grabber”, she owned half a dozen brothels and was a supplier of prostitutes to similar establishments.[1]
Old Shakespeare d. 1891 Bowery prostitute and alleged murder victim of Jack the Ripper.[1][2][6]


  1. ^ a b c “John Daly, Gambler, Dead.; Wealthiest Man of His Calling in New York — Noted Horseman Also”. The New York Times, 27 April 1906
  2. ^ Trager, James. The New York Chronology: The Ultimate Compendium of Events, People, and Anecdotes from the Dutch to the Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. (pg. 211) ISBN 0-06-074062-0
  3. ^ Bowen, Edward L. Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders. Lexington, Kentucky: Eclipse Press, 2003. (pg. 42) ISBN 1-58150-102-1
  4. ^ Asbury, Herbert. The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the New York Underworld. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928. (pg. 313) ISBN 1-56025-275-8
  5. ^ Morris, Lloyd R. Incredible New York: High Life and Low Life of the Last Hundred Years. New York: Random House, 1951. (pg. 226)

Further reading

  • Asbury, Herbert. Sucker’s Progress: An Informal History of Gambling in America from the Colonies to Canfield. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938.
  • Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-514049-4
  • Kroeger, Brooke. Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. New York: Times Books, 1994. ISBN 0-8129-1973-4