Frederic Franklyn Van de Water.

Grey riders : the story of the New York state troopers online

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bridegroom when this was over, "we're going to
have the darnedest party ever you did see."

'You ain't going to have anything of the
kind." It was the helpmeet, now a duly ac-

128 Grey Riders

credited wife and shy no longer, who spoke. In
the seat of the wagon she straightened herself
up indignantly.

'You're going to come on home with me,
Lem," she ordered, "that's what you're going to
do. No more drunks for you.

'You're going to lead a decent life now.
Ain't I your lawful wedded wife and ain't you
got to obey me?"

The mountaineer drove slowly off toward the
cabin he had quitted so cheerfully a few hours
before. By his side sat the triumphant woman
who had just been promoted to wifehood.
Several times, he looked back at the trooper who
had mixed social reform with duty. There was
reproach in his gaze.

The people know the troopers as men who con-
sider no service they can render too trivial; as
policemen who respect their calling and revere
the traditions of their organization; as friends
of great courage, patience, and courtesy; as
representatives of the State government whom
political influence can never reach.

The government of the State recognizes in
them the most efficiently operated of its depart-
ments, whose members give the maximum of
service at the minimum of expense.

Vox Populi 129

The cost per day for the maintenance of a
trooper, including food, lodging, clothing, travel,
board and keep for horse, and incidental ex-
penses was $6.09 in 1920. In this same year the
men of the service returned to the State, in fines
collected, contraband confiscated, and stolen
property recovered, almost three times what it
had cost to maintain them for twelve months.

The entire department is run with all expenses
cut down to the line where further reduction
would hamper efficiency. Major Chandler has
examined all applicants for the force himself.
Since the foundation of the force he has gone
over some five thousand men. Physicians would
charge three dollars per examination. Thus
fifteen thousand dollars has been saved the State,
or more than half of the Major's salary since the
department was organized.

From 1917 until the middle of 1921 the
troopers had purchased no horses save the
initial draft. They had bred mounts to take
the place of those worn out in the service at an
insignificant cost to the State.

No bit of trooper equipment is ever thrown
away. If it cannot be renovated and used
again, it is sold and the proceeds of the sale are
turned over to the State.

130 Grey Riders

The fight against extravagance, against un-
necessary expenditure is unending. The extent
of the victory won each year is astonishing.

Yet beneath this stark shaving down of all
expense to the very border of efficiency; under
the devotion to duty and the courage which en-
abled 232 men patrolling forty-five thousand
square miles of territory to make from the
beginning as many arrests per man as the
patrolmen of congested New York City, with
a far higher percentage of convictions, there ran
the firm foundation upon which the entire
structure was reared service; unselfish, con-
siderate, tactful service.

Americans may laugh at the idea of a police
organization operating under the Golden Rule
of Sabbath School days, until they have studied
the New York State Troopers at close range.
Then they will scoff no longer. Consider this
order from their Superintendent:

"Common sense is a virtue. Exercise it in
all your dealings. Put yourself in the other fel-
low's place. Deal with him as you would wish a
member of your own family to be dealt with.'"

In a later order to his command, Major
Chandler elaborated this doctrine.

"Professor Charles Sumner of Yale," he wrote,

Vox Populi 131

"has divided the people of the United States into
four classes: A, the Rich Man who has his
money through inheritance or has made it
honestly or dishonestly. B, The Poor Man who
as a class has little power. C, The Reformer
who by stirring up existing conditions makes his
own living. Lastly (the largest class of all) D,
'The Forgotten Man.' He is the everyday citi-
zen, the voter, the taxpayer, who gets nothing
from A, helps take care of B, and practically
supports C: in fact he carries the load of the
nation on his shoulders.

"D, 'The Forgotten Man,' is the man whose
servants we wish particularly to be. Put your-
self in his place. Treat him as you would wish
to be treated yourself; with courtesy, with fairness,
and above all with honesty. If he calls on you for
a service, give him immediate attention, no matter
how trivial the request. It means much to him,
little to you, but perhaps a great deal to your

'I do not mean that we cannot be of use to
A,B,andC. These classes are more prominent
and naturally present themselves more fre-
quently to our attention for service.

"But it ir D, 'The Forgotten Man,' the
average American who represents the people of

132 Grey Riders

New York State as a whole. Treat him fairly,
make him like us, and his kind will line up solidly
behind us to preach the motto of our department :
'Obedience to law is Liberty.''

Thus are summed up the ideals of the organi-
zation which Governor Smith, filled with mis-
information concerning its purposes and opera-
tion, sought to abolish early in 1918.

In his office in the Capitol the man whose
work was threatened with demolition almost at
birth watched while through no move of his own
toward defense or justification, neutral legisla-
tors became enthusiastic supporters of the State
Police and opponents were converted.

At length, after several weeks, word came to
him that the Governor wished to see him. In
his office, the Chief Executive went directly to
the point.

'I don't like your organization. I think it
ought to be thrown out!" was the opening salvo.

For an hour the two talked, the Governor
shooting blunt question after question, Major
Chandler answering directly and fully. As the
interview drew toward its close, the Governor
swung round in his chair and fired his last shot.

'You mean to tell me," he asked, "that this
department is a good thing for the State?"

Vox Populi 133

'Listen," Chandler parried. 'I've told you
what our men are, I've told you what they are
doing and the way they are doing it. These
men have been turned loose on the unpoliced
portions of the State to enforce the law.
Answer your own question."

Bang! went the Governor's fist on the table.
He rose and held out his hand to the head of the
organization he had assailed.

'I think you're right," he said simply. "I'm
with you."

In 1920 the man who had urged the elimina-
tion of the New York State Troopers said in an
address :

' I believed when I advocated the abolition of
the State Constabulary two years ago that I was
acting in the best interests of the people of the
State. Since then I have seen my mistake.

'It is a most essential department of the
State and if you do not believe I have changed
my opinion, ask the Superintendent of the force.
He will tell you there is no stronger advocate of
the constabulary than I am."



Six days a week, Lewiston dozed quietly in an
atmosphere of repose and comfort. Her burghers
were well fed and contented. Her police were
nice portly gentlemen, unused to excitement
or vigorous exercise. Tranquillity and amity
brooded over Lewiston. Righteousness and
peace walked hand in hand through her streets,
and to the drowsy sound of her industry the
serene flow of the Niagara River sang an

But even as the river in which Lewiston
bathed her feet glided on to the turmoil and
confusion of rapids and falls and whirlpool, so
life in the village slipped along gently each week
to the uproar and riot and mob rule of the alleged
Day of Rest.

Six days Lewiston labored and did all its work.
The seventh, only the brave-hearted ventured
forth .to the sanctuary even as Indian-hunted


Lewiston's Gang 135

Pilgrims of yore. The remainder of the be-
leaguered community remained indoors and re-
fused to stir forth until a hoarse whistle from the
river gave evidence that the excursion boat had

It was the boat that brought all the trouble.
Before it began to run Sunday excursions from
across the river, the Sabbath in Lew T iston had
been like the rest of the week, only more soporific.
Now meaning the spring of 1919 all this was

Satan had stood at the elbow of the owners of
the steamboat and suggested the plan of excur-
sions to Lewiston from Canada. When the ice
left the river, the boat began its Sunday trips
and Lewiston's gang came into being.

Lewiston's gang did not live there. It made
Sabbath visits to the community on the excur-
sion boat. It brought its liquor with it. It also
brought noise and defiance and belligerency and
other things that made Sunday for the burghers
of Lewiston a day of fear and for the policemen
of the town a period of torture and humiliation.

A hardboiled, vainglorious, boastful bunch
was Lewiston's gang. If possible, it started
fights with residents of the community; if
thwarted in this aim by the general meekness

136 Grey Riders

of the town, it fought internally. It wandered
through the streets, shattering what should have
been the Sabbath quiet with ribald song. It
left a trail of whiskey flasks and beer bottles;
of sardine tins and paper wrappings in its

It became Lewiston's greatest affliction, a by-
word and a hissing, and presently report of its
doings began to stream into the barracks of
Troop A at Batavia. Eventually there came
direct appeals for aid from the persecuted citi-
zens, urging that the entire troop be sent up to
Lewiston over Sunday, with, if possible, some
field artillery.

Troopers Weinstein and Marcy were assigned
to the case. Weinstein is that peculiarly
deadly combination a fighting Jew. Marcy
is Irish. In the gloom of the next Saturday
night, they rode into Lewiston. Sunrise the
following morning saw them ahorse patrolling
the streets. They were at the pier when the
excursion boat came to the landing. From the
deck of the craft, the gang hailed the troopers
with obscenity and ghastly predictions of what
was going to happen to them. Something in the
appearance of the two grey uniformed horsemen
checked these boasts as the excursionists filed

Lewiston's Gang 137

ashore and they proceeded through the town with
at least a semblance of good behavior.

Twice or thrice during the day, trouble de-
veloped. For the first time since Lewiston's
visiting gang came into being, some of its mem-
bers found themselves under arrest. \Vhen the
visitors began to stream back upon the excursion
steamer late in the afternoon, Weinstein and
Marcy followed them to the dock. From the
deck of the boat, looking down upon the quiet
men in uniform who had cowed them all day, the
gang began to make amends for its earlier semi-
respectable behavior. Epithets in English and
French Canadian were showered dow r n upon the
pair and when originality had been exhausted, a
defiant chant was begun :

'We dare you come aboard; we dare you
come aboard."

At the childishness of it, Weinstein's dark face
wrinkled into a grin, but red spots came into
Marcy's cheeks and a dangerous light began to
dance in his Irish eyes. Presently, he dropped
from his horse, handed his bridle to Weinstein,
and his face hard and jaw set, began to climb the
gangplank to the vessel's deck.

The gang shrieked defiance and threats.
Marcy climbed on. Fists w r ere shaken in the

138 Grey Riders

air; bottles were brandished and frenzied voices
predicted all the terrible things that were going
to happen if the trooper came a step farther.
Marcy came a step farther, and another, and

Then the boastful voices of the mob began to
falter and die away. The aspect of a man in
whom there was no fear, walking slowly, steadily,
and a little scornfully toward what they had told
him was certain death, awed and quieted them.

Marcy stood on the deck, facing the scores of
enemies who had sworn to slay him if he dared
come aboard. His eyes were narrow and steady
and the faintest shadow of a smile flickered about
his mouth. He looked over the sheepish faces
before him and then spat overside scornfully.
For a minute thereafter he lingered, in the midst
of the men whom he had beaten by the sheer
strength of his soul. At length he turned and
slowly strode ashore. No jeers or shouts fol-
lowed him.

For the rest of the week the two troopers
patrolled the district. On Saturday they headed
again for Lewiston and were met by a call from
barracks demanding Marcy's presence there at
once. Weinstein rode into the town alone and
prepared to spend Sunday. Meanwhile, smart-

Lewiston's Gang 139

ing after their last week's humiliation, the gang
across the river was preparing for a raid on
Lewiston that would put all earlier forays to

At the usual time, the whistle from the river an-
nounced the approach of the excursion steamer.
As its blast died away howls and bellows and
warwhoops came across the water. The gang
was returning to wipe out the stain of last week's
defeat and to save time had got drunk already.

Whooping and dancing in alcoholic glee, the
men poured off the boat and climbed the run-
way slanting up from the pier's end to the street
where there stood a sturdy brown horse carrying
a motionless figure in grey.

Somewhat abashed, the gang looked about
for the other trooper and then began their shout-
ing and skylarking once more. But they made
no attempt as they streamed past the horseman
to put into effect any of the vengeful measures
they had planned.

It was Weinstein who assumed the offensive.
A drunken longshoreman rolled past him, bellow-
ing filth at the top of his lungs.

"Shut up!" AVeinstein ordered.

"Go to hell!" was the enthusiastic reply.

In an instant the trooper had slipped from

140 Grey Riders

his horse and had the uproarious one by the

"You're under arrest!" he said quietly and
then ducked a mighty swing that sang past his
ear. A second later, the unwilling prisoner was
groping blindly about, on all fours in the dust,
wondering what had struck him. Over him
stood Weinstein and toward him were charging
a score of the steamer's passengers, bellowing

The hand of the trooper fell to his revolver
butt. He did not draw, but something in his
attitude halted the advancing wave and silenced
it for a second.

"Now," he rapped out, "everybody get back
and stay back!"

And everybody did. Through the crowd that
had recently been clamoring for his blood, Wein-
stein walked, his bridle in one hand, the collar of
his tamed prisoner in the other. No man at-
tempted to stop the little group as it passed
down the street and into the yard of the town


Yet when it had vanished, talk ran high once
more. Minds aflame with alcohol grasped
eagerly at the plan whispered by someone. The
rest of the day passed with little of the accus-

Lewiston's Gang 141

tomed Sunday disturbances to which Lewiston
had become resigned of late. The excursionists
stood in small groups, talking in low voices and
looking studiously away when the trooper walked
his horse past.

Late that afternoon, a not unfriendly figure
strolled with elaborate unconcern past the
mounted man, muttering out of a corner of his
mouth as he went:

' Beat it, kid ! Beat it ! Get outa here before
night. They're goin' to kill yuh."

There were a hundred or more of them, all
reckless and ready for anything because of the
alcohol that was steaming in their brains.
Against them was pitted one man and his horse.
But the man wore the grey of the service and the
ideals of that service held him where he was.
Had he been leaving town for any purpose, the
word that the gang would kill him if he remained
would have kept him in Lewiston.

So he stayed, waiting for the attack he knew
was coming. He could see by their furtive
demeanor that the men were planning trouble.
Sunset flamed in the west. Dusk came down,
and the few street lamps flickered into life. Up
and down the main street, the brooding figure
in grey walked his horse, waiting.

Grey Riders

At last they sprang their trap. Out of a side
street a man darted and ran to Weinstein.

"Say, trooper!" he gasped, "there's an awful
fight goin' on in the alley behind the hotel."

Weinstein wheeled his mount and trotted down
to the alley indicated. It was black and still as
a cave. As he spurred into it, something whizzed
past his head and splintered against the farther
wall. A man dodged by, shrieking, "Kill him!"
and Weinstein spun his horse about and followed
the only foeman he could see. Other missiles
clattered about him, and a yelling mob came
after as he chased the exhorter to murder to the
door of the hotel, through which the fugitive

The trooper turned to find the street behind
him black with men who were closing in on him
in menacing silence. Behind them the street
ran down to a pier that reached into the dark

Out into the center of the street, Weinstein
drove his horse and reined him in snorting. He
held up his arm there in the dusk and faced the
advancing mob.

"You've got two minutes to clear this street,"
he shouted. "Then I'm going to charge."

They laughed and hooted and howled names

Lewiston's Gang 143

not calculated to quench the battle fury that was
beginning to burn in the Jew's eyes.

"One minute left," he called.

A brick grazed his hat. Others followed. A
man darted across the street and as he passed
close to the head of the trooper's mount, hit the
animal across the nose with a club.

The horse reared in agony. As he came down
the man struck at the trooper. From Wein-
stein's wrist dangled a loaded riding crop. He
rose in his stirrups and brought this down across
his assailant's head. It cut through his hat and
laid open his scalp. He fell without a sound.

Then the trooper gathered up his reins, drove
his spurs home and charged. Down the street
he tore, hooves fusillading and showering sparks,
and into the mob. There were screams as he
struck it and they followed him as, crop swinging
like a saber, he plowed his path. When he had
fought his way through, he turned and charged
again one to a hundred and whipping them to
a standstill. He swung his horse for a third
plunge, but the lately bloodthirsty mob had
scattered and fled. Panic-stricken, the men, who
lately were going to kill him, turned and stam-
peded down the street toward the river. After
them followed the horseman, driving them on-

144 Grey Riders

ward like sheep. On the pier with the black
stream below, they halted. Behind them against
the sky was silhouetted the inspired figure of the
man and horse who had broken and beaten them.
He had only to charge once more to drive them
into the river by scores.

For a second Weinstein listened to the voices
below, begging for mercy. Then he wheeled his

"Get back to your boat,*' he ordered.

Very meekly the gang that was going to get
even with the troopers went. With them they
carried a dozen of their number who had dropped
beneath the swing of the riding crop. No shouts
and jeers drifted across the water as the boat
put off from shore that evening.

Sundays in Lewiston are pastoral in their
quiet now. The burghers wear no hunted ex-
pressions as they set out for church. The
shattered nerves of the local police force have
mended ; and from across the river no gang comes
to mock law and order and the grey uniformed
men who are the servants of these.



THROUGHOUT the remainder of Governor
Smith's administration, the State Troopers went
steadily forward. When he relinquished his
antagonism, the last great obstacle was removed
from their road. From then on, the way was to
be fairly clear. The squadron of grey horsemen
felt their future was assured. Those who had
supported the organization took new heart from
the tacit endorsement of the chief executive.
Labor leaders and others who had decried the
continued existence of the force lost voice and
courage when it became known that Governor
Smith had changed his opinion and had now no
intention of abolishing the squadron.

The commanders of the department turned
with a new enthusiasm to the great work that
still lay before them. Much had been done.
There was still much to do. Throughout the
year that followed, they went carefully over the

10 145

146 Grey Riders

structure they had erected, remodeling, dis-
carding, improving.

The story of the troopers during that period is
not one of triumphant advance with fluttering
banners. It is a tale of hard, painstaking work,
of minor discouragements, of petty disasters.

The organization was young. It had been
brought together swiftly. Time had been lack-
ing for accomplishment of all the preliminary
work that might have been done in other than a
war year. Now, the war had ended and Major
Chandler and his subordinates set to work to
remedy the minor faults that had been ignored
perforce in those more strenuous days. They
went over the organization with critical eyes
from top to bottom.

What was useless or harmful in the organiza-
tion, they cast out. Where they found a member
of the team of 232 men who was doing more than
his allotted share of its work, he was promoted.
Where they found shirkers, idlers, inefficients,
they got rid of them.

By the time this work of revision had been
completed, the personnel of the department had
undergone radical changes. There was no tre-
mendous shake-up. There was no cry of reform
and reorganization. The young force had not

They Carry On H7

yet completely crystallized. While it was still
in flux was the time to revise and discard. This
was done thoroughly.

Certain of the troop officers had resigned
during the war, either to go into service abroad
or to take up private business. One or two,
having been tried and measured carefully, were
found to be wanting in the high qualities of
leadership that the service demanded. They
were asked to resign.

In every instance their places were filled from
the ranks. This has been the inviolable rule of
the department. Since its organization, Major
Chandler has not been obliged to go outside the
troops of his command for officer material.
Rarely have his selections failed to make good.
Yet when they have, they have been removed
swiftly and impartially, and others have been
chosen to take their places.

This period of shifting and changing might
have played havoc with the morale of a force
organized upon different lines. Yet from the
beginning, the men realized that merit and merit
alone w r as to be the advancing power in the de-
partment. Each promotion emphasized this
more strongly.

To-day among the twelve officers of the six

Grey Riders

troops of the service, there is but one man, Cap-
tain John A. Warner of Troop K, who entered the
department with a commission. All the others,
including the present Deputy Superintendent,
George P. Dutton, have served in the ranks.

All of this revision was not accomplished in a
month or a year. It was a gradual process that
continued over the first three years of the de-
partment's existence. By the time it was com-
pleted, each man in the service was in his proper
place in so far as it was humanly possible to place
him there.

The rank and file of the organization were
combed and searched out and proven quite as
strictly as were the officers. From the first, the
State Troopers were known as an organization
into which it was extremely hard to get, but out
of which it \vas simplicity itself to pass.

From its inception the department has had a
long waiting list. Not only has any dereliction
of duty been punished by instant dismissal, but
men of good repute who somehow have been un-
able to catch the spirit and purpose of the ser-
vice are quietly told that they did not fit and
are invited to resign.

The man who has served and left the depart-
ment, voluntarily or otherwise, can never hope

They Carry On 149

for reinstatement. This rule has been found
necessary because of inducements offered to
troopers to take up more lucrative work in the
service of corporations and individuals. Once
out, in nine cases out of ten, they have clamored
sooner or later for permission to return. If the
organization was to be stabilized it was necessary
to give an unvarying refusal to all such appeals.
Since the close of the war, not a man has

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