High Life in Greenpoint

July 2, 2007 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

I am plowing through my new(ish) Jenna Jameson book, How to Make Love like a Porn Star. It’s a really fun read; once I pick it up an hour or two will pass before I can muster enough self-control to put it down. Although I am certain the fact that I am raging pervert has something to do with my rapt fascination with this book, I have to concede that Ms. Jameson’s story is an interesting one and she tells it well. I like this woman— there, I said it.

In keeping with the spirit of fallen women, I have pulled a particularly choice offering from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives this week. It is entitled “High Life in Greenpoint” and dates from from July 11, 1871.


Two Shop Girls Horsewhipped by a Rich Man’s Son.


While the fact is well known that Greenpoint is one of the most dormant localities, as regards the gathering of general news items, it is also conceded that for scandal and gossip of the baser sort, there is not other single ward in the city to compare with it, the authority for which assertion is not based wholly upon brief articles which have appeared in weekly publication, an owner of which is a resident of the Seventeenth Ward, and is therefore assumed to be a competent judge.

At 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon, a genuine sensation transpired within a short distance of the Tenth street ferry slip, which was no less than the inhuman application of a lash whip, commonly used on road wagons by Pierre Smith, the scion of a wealthy family whose father Mr. Thomas C. Smith is a proprietor of the Porcelain works in Eckford Street. The particulars of the unmanly act as related by witnesses, and one of the victims, exhibit a cowardly spirit on the part of young Smith, stamping him as void of the first principles of genuine manhood, and for that reason unworthy the respect of his fellows.


were Miss Rachel Kenny, of No. Washington Street (now West Street), and Alice Mooney, a resident of No. 136 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, both of whom earn a livelihood by their industry, at a shop in New York. The one last named, who is a handsome brunette and an intelligent young woman, was some four years since employed at the establishment of the Senior Mr. Smith, and became intimate with the young man to whose persuasion she yielded, under his solemn promise of marriage. She found out in time that in trusting young Smith, she was leaning as it were on a broken reed, as he failed and utterly refused to be bound by his word of honor, compelling her to appeal to the Courts for the support of their child. This course of proceeding, instead of mollifying Mr. Smith, enraged him only the more, but up to the time of the last affair of the horsewhipping, he had managed to control his temper whenever chance threw them together. At the time of their coming face to face on Saturday, the two girls were on their way home from work, and in passing along the sidewalk, beside which Smith, in company with two fashionable female acquaintances, was seated in an open wagon, they directed an unflinching gaze upon the occupants of the buggy, especially at the young man.


Without a word being uttered by either party, Smith, as alleged, drew the whip and with an effort lashed it across the shoulders and hand of Miss Mooney, at the same time, as he claims, unintentionally striking her companion on the left cheek, cutting into the flesh, from which the blood flowed profusely. Smith at once drove on board the ferryboat, taking passage to New York, and thence to Central Park, among the beauties of which he soon doubtless entirely forgot the two poor girls whom he had so recently maltreated. At all events this seems probably, as when conversed with upon the act he coolly dismissed the matter with the remark that the women were bad characters, who made a practice of insulting him whenever they met, and that having the whip handy, in the moment of excitement he had lost his temper and struck regardless of consequences. Considering the obloquy heaped upon her, Miss Mooney, strange to relate, still seems to be


regardless of the great injury and slight upon her by him and his family, by whom the girl is apparently held in utter contempt as a prospective relative. After the encounter and departure of the buggy containing Smith and his two friends, the young women went to the Seventh Precinct Station, where a complaint was lodged against their assailant, whose arrest was not effected until this morning.


accompanied by his parents, both eminently respectable, and greatly grieved at the predicament their son was placed in, as also by his counsel ex-Justice Chauncey Perry, appeared before Justice Voorhies today to answer to charges of assault and battery with a whip preferred respectively by Miss Kenny and Miss Mooney, who were represented by Mr. H. B. Davis. In pleading to the complaints a distinction was made on the ground that the assault was a single act and for that reason one complaint should be entertained. Smith plead guilty to striking Miss Kenny and upon the decision of the Justice to entertain the complaint of Miss Mooney, the accused determined to contest the action of the examination of which was adjourned until Thursday next, when judgment will be rendered on the plea to the charge of Miss Kenny. To this course Mr. Davis made strenuous objection, as also to the reception of a bail bond for the appearance of young Smith on that day from the father, both of which were overruled, and the prisoner let go on the qualification of Mr. J. C. Smith in the sum of $200. Mr. Davis was proceeding to denounce to be the influence of


when he was summarily cut off by the Justice and requested to take his seat. With an apology to the Court for the utterance, which Mr. Davis said he did not intend should apply to the magistrate, the irate counselor took his seat, and in a few moments the score of interested Greenpointers left the courtroom in a body commenting upon the different phases of this latest scandal in their midst.

Whoever thinks the good old days were any kinder or gentler than today clearly didn’t live in 19th century Greenpoint as woman. Yikes.

Miss Heather


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