Frederic Franklyn Van de Water.

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

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leaving rescuers and rescued a little awed by
their first contact with men of a service that
teaches its members to risk their own lives to
aid even lower animals in distress.

For there are others beside humans in rural
New York who owe gratitude to the troopers
and their vigilance. There is something in the
loneliness of farm life that breaks down a cer-
tain type of mind ; that makes some farmers neg-
lectful of their stock, or worse, drives them to
active torture of the animals.

Each winter, the records of the troopers receive
new tales of ghastly conditions in stables, cow


This Horse and Rig were Stolen and Abandoned near Berlin, N. Y. Troopers
Found the Starving Animal After Three Days

Catching the Rum Runner

Saviors of the Dumb 171

barns, and open pastures of certain farms, found
by the patrols and remedied as far as the punish-
ments dealt out by law can remedy the atrocities.

In almost every instance where cruelty to
animals cases are investigated by the depart-
ment, defective human mentality is at the
bottom of the trouble. Until the men in grey
began their work, these cases were rarely brought
to justice. Country folk are tolerant over toler-
ant and in most instances unbelievably re-
luctant to bring charges against a neighbor.

Each year, the troopers rescue from a score of
mute little hells starving or tortured animals.
Under their ministrations, the farmer who knows
not the meaning of mercy is learning the true
significance of the law and his stock is profiting

Take, as typical, the case of a man whose name
might have been Brown, a dweller on the out-
skirts of Shelby, Orleans County. His house
was neat and freshly painted, surrounded by well
tended grounds and carefully kept trees. Behind
this prosperous front stood his barns, with cattle
and horses starving to death there in Augean

Brown's more callous neighbors spoke of him
as "a little queer" and with that dismissed his

1 72 Grey Riders

case. Others, more tender hearted, bore with
him as long as they could and then notified
Troop A at Batavia.

Troopers Rowland and Rimmer of the Orleans
County patrol were assigned to the case. When
they rode up to the house, they rejected at once
the stories that had been sent to barracks con-
cerning Brown. The place was so aggressively
neat that as they entered they were convinced
they had been misdirected.

At the door which opened upon a speckless
kitchen, a woman told them that Brown had
gone to town with milk but would return pres-
ently. Would they come in and wait?

They declined but asked whether they might
look about the stables and outbuildings and,
receiving permission, headed for the barn, en-
tirely convinced that some mistake had been

This conviction lasted only until the wind
brought to their noses the sickening smell of ill
kept stables and to their ears the lowing of
miserable cattle.

Strong of stomach are Rowland and Rimmer
but they turned pale and gagged when they
entered the barn of what they had believed was a
model farm. The place had not been cleaned in

Saviors of the Dumb 173

at least a month. Over the walls of the stalls,
the heads of horses and cows peered; terrible
heads, little more than hide covered skulls.

In the fetid air was the steady moan of brute
suffering. It was evident that the animals were
starving to death.

There was no grain in the place. Search
revealed in the loft a little of what had once been
hay but was now chiefly mold. That was all
the fodder visible.

Behind the barn were the wasted carcasses of
three cows. They had perished in calving from
weakness brought on by starvation. Further
along, a few bedraggled, scrawny chickens were
stalking about the bodies of two yearling heifers,
also dead from starvation.

The troopers, still uneasy in their stomachs,
mounted and rode back to Shelby where they
made inquiries concerning Brown's standing in
the community. They heard much, and little
of that creditable. The more charitable of his
neighbors said he was mentally unbalanced.
Others said he was a "bad actor" who was mean
for the sake of meanness.

All of them begged that their names be not
used, fearing that Brown would burn their out-
buildings for revenge. A veterinary told of

174 Grey Riders

being called in to examine Brown's cows. He
said he had told the man they would be all right
if they were fed properly. To which, the veter-
inary said Brown had replied :

" I'm doing my best. If they die, let them die."

Armed with this information, Rowland and
Rimmer went before Justice of the Peace Boyd
and obtained a warrant for Brown's arrest.

' Watch your step boys, " His Honor remarked
as he handed over the paper. "You're after a
wild bird."

As they rode back to the farm, uneven tracks
in the dirt road ahead of them told them that
Brown had gone home. Only starved horses
would pull a wagon in such a wabbly fashion.

The wagon stood in the door yard when the
riders reached the farm. The barn doors were
closed and they knew they were being watched
from behind the half drawn blinds of the house.
They rapped and after an interval the woman to
whom they had talked before responded. While
they were speaking to her, a man presented
himself, pale of face and with hands held as high
as possible over his head.

'Well boys," said Brown, the "bad actor," in
a tremulous voice, "I surrender. You got me

Saviors of the Dumb 175

The troopers grinned at his terror and asked
him why the elevated arms.

"You fellows got guns," the man replied. 'I
thought maybe you was going to shoot."

He professed to have no idea what the troopers
were arresting him for, even after the warrant
had been read to him.

In the barn they found his horses, weak and
lathered with sweat, with the harness still on
them. Neither they nor the cattle had yet been
fed. The troopers shook down the least moldy
portion of the hay to them and then took their
prisoner to Shelby for arraignment. He was
placed on probation for a year under supervision
of the justice after he had promised to purchase
fodder for his stock at once. He explained his
failure to feed his animals by saying that he had
heard it was hard to get oats and hay and that
he thought it was better to keep what he had
rather than spend it feeding his animals !

It would be pleasanter to say that such cases
were unique, but the records of all six troops
refute this. Each winter spins the sickening
story over and over again the tale of callous-
ness to suffering in isolated farmsteads.

There are worse instances than the one cited
above cases where indifference has given way

176 Grey Riders

to some obscure sadist mania born of mental
degeneracy; tales of atrocities so hideous that
they are better left untold. These are rarer than
the instances of neglect, yet each winter brings
them forth.

This is another element the troopers are facing
and conquering in their fight to make rural New
York a better place to live in.

You don't have to possess a superlative imagi-
nation to fancy that there is gratitude in the
eyes of horses and cows that raise their heads
from pasture to watch the grey patrols ride by.



BY 7 o'clock on an evening in August, 1919,
Trooper R. \V. Morris of Troop D had com-
pleted unsaddling and grooming Bill in the
Endicott, N. Y., livery stable and the Toohey
brothers had finished beating up young George
Manetis who lived on the floor below them.

A little weary from the long hot day's patrol,
Morris sought the hotel and supper. Likewise
somewhat tired, but with the consciousness
of a job well done, the Toohey brothers gath-
ered for their evening meal, and, in celebra-
tion of the almost complete extinction of
young George Manetis, passed round the was-
sail bowl.

Meanwhile, young George, no longer the cock-
sure dapper lad of eighteen who had started off
for work that morning, had limped home from
the place of his assault on the public highway,
sobbing with pain and humiliation, to present to
12 177

1 78 Grey Riders

his aghast parents the wreck of what had once
been their son.

For a long time that sultry evening, James,
father to George, sat upon the lower of the two
porches jutting from the rear of the two family
house, rocking and debating moodily on many
problems; chiefly the Toohey brothers.

From the floor above, came the thumps and
howls of revelry that had become only too famil-
iar to James in the months that the Toohey
and Manetis clans had led, side by side, an actual
rather than scriptural lion and lamb existence.
The noise rankled more than usual to-night, for
the father knew its inspiration.

Clearly, he thought, as he rocked back and
forth, the Toohey s had never liked the Manetis
family. From the day James, his wife, and
numerous family had moved into the floor be-
neath them, the Tooheys had afforded no founda-
tion at all for an entente cordiale. Rather, they
had hailed James, in whose veins flowed as pure
a blood as Greece could afford, as a "wop" and

Three roystering, two-fisted, fearless Irishmen,
they had lorded it over the Manetis tribe as they
did over the rest of Endicott. No man in the
town cared to cross Richard, Francis, or William,

The Three Tough Tooheys 179

knowing that he was certain to have to lick three
men with perhaps a woman or so thrown in, to
win the argument.

Uncrowned kings of Endicott were the Toohey
brothers, and if they had demanded diadems, no
doubt the citizens, with a natural aversion to
having their heads punched, would have pro-
cured them.

James, head of the Manetis family, pondered
these things as he sat and rocked and smoked,
looking somberly out over the darkening pros-
pect of neighboring back yards. In him the tide
of helpless wrath was swelling and mounting.

Dear to his heart was his eldest son. Paternal
love blinded James to the fact that George was
fresh, as only the second generation of foreign born
can be, and manifestly lacking in discretion, else
he would never have defied the Tooheys. Now
he lay inside, beaten almost beyond recognition.
His moanings came faintly to the ears of the
father sitting there on the dark porch and mingled
with the uproar of the Tooheys overhead.

Presently James Manetis knocked the ashes
from his pipe, entered the house, and under the
wondering eyes of his wife, put on the celluloid
collar and gorgeous necktie that were usually
reserved for Sabbaths and feast davs.

i8o Grey Riders

'I go," he explained, 'to complain of the
assassins on the floor above."

; 'It will do no good, " she protested, "you will
only bring more misfortune upon this house if
they learn of it."

'No," he responded determinedly, "men
told me to-night of the presence here of a new
policeman; a servant of the law without fear.
Him I shall seek and demand justice."

Out of the shadows that cluster thick about
even the main street of Endicott, a little swarthy
man came a few minutes later and timidly ap-
proached a figure in a grey uniform that paced
slowly up and down in front of the hotel.

'Poleece?" he quavered.

"State Trooper," Morris admitted, : ' what's
the trouble?"

He listened sympathetically to the tale of
fresh outrage by the Toohey brothers and then
hitched up his belt.

"All right, buddy," he said, laying a comfort-
ing hand on James's shoulder. "Lead me to 'em."

Windows were open to what breeze the muggy
night afforded, and while Morris and his guide
were still some distance away, the sound of the
Toohey celebration came to them through the

The Three Tough Tooheys 181

In the Manetis home, the woman and numer-
ous small Greek-Americans of assorted sizes
looked on, awestruck, while the man in grey and
purple with the great pistol at his thigh talked
quietly to the beaten George, and marked the
cruel welts and bruises on face and body.

Overhead, a mighty crash shook the ceiling
and a voice was raised in something eventually
identified as song.

"There they are!" said James, raising his
shoulders toward the racket overhead in a tragic

'* How do I get up there? " Morris queried. The
whole Manetis clan stared at him in amazement.

"Alone?" asked James.

"Sure," responded the trooper in a matter of
fact tone. " Unless you "


Til show you how," the complainant broke
in. 'But no more."

On the rear porch he pointed a trembling finger
to the stairway leading to a door on the veranda
above. Then he retired to the bosom of his
family which sat silent and listening. Presently
they heard many things.

Up through the darkness, Morris climbed to
the door and strove to knock loud enough to be
heard above the uproar inside.

1 82 Grey Riders

Eventually, uncertain steps came clumping
along the hallway and the portal opened a crack.
The trooper inserted a foot and pushed it wide,
revealing one Henry Johns, brother-in-law of the
Tooheys, who registered amazement and alarm
as well as one in his befuddled condition might.

"Who's been beating up that kid downstairs? "
Morris demanded.

His voice carried and a sudden hush fell upon
the revel in the room off the hallway. There was
whispering and a snicker. Then appeared in the
glare of the hall light a strange figure. Naked
to the waist the man stood, the wed and haired
like a gorilla. There was an evil slant to his
liquor-reddened eyes and his big hands hung,
half closed. It was Francis Toohey, one of the
unholy trinity.

'I licked the kid," he said. 'Who in a num-
ber of unprintable words are you, and whatche
goin' to do about it?"

"State Trooper," Morris answered quietly.
'You're under arrest and you'll have to go with
me before a justice of the peace."

"Like this?" Francis sneered, pounding his

'I'll give you just two minutes to get a shirt,"
the trooper replied.

The Three Tough Tooheys 183

Into the hall lurched another man, short, thick-
set, with a mop of flame-colored hair and a face
flushed to almost the same hue by alcohol. He
was William.

'If you're takin' Frankie, you'll have to take
me," the new arrival said thickly, "but I mis-
doubt you can do it, sonny."

Out of the room where the noise had been
going on when the trooper entered now came
Richard Toohey, apparently a little less the
worse for liquor than his brothers, and Mrs.
Francis Toohey for whom even this much could
not be said.

They pressed about Morris, a hard-breathing,
hard-looking crew. Others had withdrawn when
faced by them, or else offered compromise. The
trooper did neither.

''Get your shirt on," he ordered Francis
sharply, "and come along. Right away."

Something about the glint of the policeman's
eyes or the forward thrust of his jaw, awed the
half -naked man. He started to obey, but his
wife, frenzied with drink, leaped in front of him.

"Get out of this house," she screamed in the
voice of the half-demented. 'You dirty scut;
we'll trample in the ribs of you!"

"Ah-h," she turned upon her men like a fury,

184 Grey Riders

"are you men or are you babies? Will you let
this tin soldier walk away with Frank?"

Under the sting of her tongue, the half -drunk
men of her household muttered and stirred. She
continued to rage while Morris stood there
facing the five of them, very quiet, very alert,

His vigil was not long. Her words set William,
the red head, on fire. Like a springing cougar,
he was suddenly at the trooper's throat. He
missed his hold, but one hand caught in the collar
of the grey shirt, and tore it from neck to waist.
As Morris reeled, the wild man struck him twice
on the head.

Then the Tooheys closed in, three of them
urged on by the woman, on the policeman.

The terror that awed Endicott had fallen upon
Morris, yet he did not cry for aid. They were so
close about him that he could not reach the gun
at his side, and against his two fists there were
six of theirs.

Johns had fled at the outbreak of the trouble.
Only the drink-mad woman remained as a wit-
ness to what followed.

She saw the red-headed William come spinning
out of the struggling group in the hall and fall
on his face.

The Three Tough Tooheys 185

He staggered to his feet, dazed from the blow
that had struck him on the jaw, and with a bull-
dog snarl plunged again into the \vrestling group
who reeled through the hall. Once or twice there
was a muttered curse, or a sob for breath; only
these sounds and the tramp and shift of feet.
The Toohey brothers were at the job they loved

But it was no terrified, half -whipped-bef ore-
he-began farmer or mill hand against whom they
had gone now.

Fighting in the narrow passage against an
enemy with almost as many clutching arms as an
octopus, Morris retreated toward the door.
Drink hampered the Tooheys and thwarted co-
operation, but it also made them well nigh
insensible to pain.

Out onto the porch the fighting men staggered,
with the red-haired baresark swinging wildly
at the trooper's head. Twice Morris caught him
glancing blows, but he continued to bore in and
finally reached his enemy's jaw with a short-
arm hook that had all his stocky, powerful body
behind it.

Down went Morris with a crash of a falling
tree, and with a wild Irish yell the Tooheys
hurled themselves upon their victim before he

1 86 Grey Riders

could rise. But again they hampered each other,
and the man fought his way to his feet as William
rushed to finish him.

A heavy fist with all the wrath and power of
the trooper behind it, met him between the eyes
as he came on. The red head snapped back;
William half staggered, half fell; the railing of
the porch caught him midway between knee and
hip and he vanished with a scream.

The others paused in horror and gave Morris a
chance to reach for his gun. Seeing his motion
they rushed back into the house. Panting and
dizzy, the trooper ran down stairs and in the
yard found the prostrate William, no longer
seeking battle. He had just missed impalement
on a picket fence in his downward flight, had
skinned one leg badly, and was half stunned by
the force of his fall.

'You're under arrest," the trooper gasped
breathlessly, and this time William had no retort
to offer, save to rnoan and express the opinion
that death hovered over him.

While thus he lay, waiting his end, a weary,
scratched, and bruised trooper with the shreds of
a uniform on his body, but with the light of
victory in his eye, climbed again to the Toohey
home, kicked in the door, and confronted the two

The Three Tough Tooheys 187

battered men he found there, with a business-
like gun in his hand.

They admitted they were arrested when he
told them so, but said they needed to go to the
hospital rather than before a justice.

Half out of their wits from terror, the Manetis
family, crouching on the floor below, shuddered
in unison when at length there came a pounding
on the door.

"Open the door!" a familiar voice ordered.

Gladly they obeyed. At least their defender
was still alive.

A strange procession marched through the
home of the bullied Greeks and out into the
street. Three bruised and bloody victims
staggered and limped along ahead of a tattered,
triumphant man in grey who shepherded them
by gestures with a Colt .45. They made no
protest, but obeyed, mutely and meekly.

So the Toohey brothers passed en route for
the hospital where they were bandaged and the
jail where they were locked up. Their fearsome
reputation passed with them, and a chorus of
Greek-Americans, young and old, added the
unfamiliar word "State Trooper" to the prayer
they offered that night to the power that watches
over the bullied and oppressed.



THIS is the story of men who hammered at the
gates of death and conquered the terror that
walks in darkness for the sake of the uniforms
they wore.

It is a tale of riders of Troop K, who, because
theirs is a service that never turns back, went
forward at dusk into a woodland thick with
undergrowth, where an armed maniac lurked
waiting for them. Men told them it was suicide
to enter that dark patch of forest. They rather
thought so themselves, but they went.

This was a little after sunset on the night of
May 2, 1919. The causes of the crime that had
brought the troopers from a quiet supper miles
away to gamble with extinction, run back, not
days but years, to the time when the brain of
William Albright began to wither and decay.

Many crimes of violence in the rural districts
have a similar source, for country folk seem to


"Queer, but Harmless' 189

insist on regarding an idiot as "queer but harm-
less" until he commits some atrocity to prove
the contrary.

So it was with William Albright. For ten
years his mind had been fading. In an old white
farmhouse on the Haverstraw Road, just outside
of New City, he lived with his son and daughter-
in-law. For a decade they and their neighbors
watched his brain die. From sixty to seventy,
Albright seemed to age t\venty years. He be-
came irascible, and subject to violent, blazing
fits of wrath. These were directed chiefly against
his daughter-in-law, for no reason except that on
the woman fell the chief duty of looking out for

Still, neither his own blood nor his neighbors
would admit that there was any menace to the
community in the roaming at large of William
Albright. He was queer but harmless, they said,
and was too old and doddery to do any harm,
even if he wanted to.

You do not have to be a Hercules to pull the
trigger of a shotgun.

On May 1, 1919, William Albright refuted the
opinion of his friends, as hundreds of other
"harmless" maniacs had done before him in
rural New York.

i9 Grey Riders

He bided his time until his son had gone off to
work. Then he crept upstairs, got his shotgun,
brought it downstairs, hid it, went into the
kitchen and began his familiar performance of
berating his daughter-in-law.

His querulous whine rasped her nerves and she
snapped back. Their voices clashed and mingled,
scaled higher and higher, and then the woman
screamed. There was a sound as though a door
had been slammed violently, another shriek, and
Mrs. Albright burst out of the house and stag-
gered into the road, blood streaming from her
breast and arms where the shotgun charge had

She threw a terror-stricken look behind her
and started running up the road toward her
aunt's home, a mile away. Out of the house she
had just quitted, came the "queer but harmless"
old man, the shotgun reloaded and ready, and a
hideous grin lifting his lip from his yellowed

He half hobbled, half ran down to the gate and
there flung the gun to his shoulder and emptied
both barrels at the fleeing woman. But she was
out of range, and though he pursued and fired
four more shots at her, none of them took effect.

Then William Albright, breathless but still

Patrols Leaving the Troop K Barracks, White Plains

"Queer, but Harmless' I9 1

vindictive, returned to his home and prepared to
go to war against the world. A little later he
stole forth, his pockets stuffed with ammunition,
his shotgun still clutched tight, and crept into
the patch of woodland behind his home.

Meanwhile his daughter-in-law, ridden by all
the fiends of terror, had run on; sobbing; not
daring to look back ; hearing the footsteps of her
father-in-law behind her until she reached the
gate of her aunt's home. Then she dropped,
gasping and bloodstained in the road, and when
they had carried her in, was so hysterical and
incoherent that it was hours before they obtained
any clear account of what had occurred.

Then the shadows were lengthening and night
was near and the country folk frankly professed
no desire to search the Albright home for the
madman at that hour.

The next morning, the Sheriff of Rockland
County was told what had happened. That
morning also the four men of Troop K who rode
patrol from the substation at Spring Valley-
Hackett, Rogers, Mangan, and McCormack-
turned their horses' heads back toward the
station where on the morrow there was to be

They had been far afield by devious routes,

192 Grey Riders

these four, and through the whole hot day's ride
their minds returned again and again to the
gorgeous supper that was to be theirs that night
in a certain home in Spring Valley where the
men in grey are always welcome.

The glow of work well done and entirely
completed suffused them that afternoon as,
horses groomed and fed, and reports made out,
they sat down at the table, prepared to realize

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