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Monday, March 14, 2011

The Dead Baron

Eighty-one years ago today two hundred employees of a tin can factory near the Brooklyn waterfront, who were on their lunch break, didn't witness the murder of William "Baron" Simpson who was shot in the back of the head next to their building.

Baron was the boss of a group of dock workers and was known as a fierce street fighter. According to his brother Whitey, the dead man had just beaten up three guys an hour before the shooting. Police chalked it up to just another murder in the long line of dock racket killings which plagued the Irish waterfront.


John D. said...

Poor Baron, he forgot to bring his gun to a gunfight. Not a good plan.

Pat Downey said...

Yeah, that whole settle things with your fists mentallity is so Ninteenth Century.

Tom K. said...

Simpson was my great uncle and we were always told his nickname was "Beansy." His brother Whitey was my maternal grandfather. When I was a kid, I had heard about Beansy being in the "rackets" and killed on the docks years ago. I look forward to reading the book.

Pat Downey said...

Hi Tom,
Thanks for sharing. Some reporter may have came up with Baron, wouldn't have been the first time they took such liberties. Thank you for setting the record straight. Kind of odd that they got Whitey right though. Have you delved into Beansy's past at all?

Tom K. said...

Hi Pat: Sorry for the late reply. I have researched Beansy via Internet and all I have found is the NY Times story. No one has transcribed the Brooklyn Eagle or Brookyln Standard Union for that year,so I have no luck. I'm out west, but next time I'm in NY, I'll see if I can find anything on microfilm. I know my grandfather, Whitey (Frederick), got his nickname because he was extremely fair and had white hair all his life. I was told that Whitey was in the "rackets" and in jail a few times but around the time Beansy was killed, he had gone straight, because of the "Three Strikes Law," which would have given him mandatory life in prison for one more infraction. Interestingly, Whitey's brother Beansy got his nickname because he was "Black Irish," with a dark complexion and hair. They said he was as dark as a coffee bean, so they gave him the Beansy monicker. My grandparents, parents, aunts and all but one uncle are dead, so I can't find out anything further from them than what I heard in conversations years ago. My one living uncle was born the year this all happened and he seems to know less about it than I do. If I find out anyting further, I'll let you know.

Pat Downey said...

If you would like, send me an email. I may be able to offer some suggestions.