Colliers -July 1908
Rise of "FINGY" CONNERS
State Boss of New York, who "looks like a prize-fighter and talks
like a tough" -Dock scrapper, freight contractor, millionaire.
The record of how
he split the scalp of a Pole laborer, and jumped from cowhide boots
through brogans to spats -Bruised but victorious
J. CONNERS measures up as one of the most powerful figures in the convention
at Denver which is nominating a candidate for President of the United
States. He is chairman of the Democratic State Committee of New York,
Charles F. Murphy, controls completely the party in the largest of the
Slates. The New York delegation, which he dominates, composes 78 out
of the 1,002 delegates to the Denver Convention.
THE Buffalo docks, thirty years ago, were as Hibernian as a potato.
Those were the days when the peasant Irishmen, new to liberty, a great,
stalwart, energetic people, disorderly from the very excess of spirit
in them, were still living in colonies by themselves. The A. P. A. spirit
still raged in the land, a protest against the religion and customs
of the uncomprehended newcomers. Although the Irish colonies of Manhattan
Island were breaking up, although the new generation was already making
its inextricable mixture with the native people, the region of small
cottages, tenements, little stores, overshadowed by the great Buffalo
grain elevators, held a colony that was Irish of the Irish holds it
even now for that matter. The Buffalo dock region is a survival of earHer
days, as though an ichthyosaurys should come hopping down the street.
It formed a busy, wild city ward. At the head of the lake region, it
included the human flotsam and jetsam of the waters which banks up always
on a sea terminal, as well as that permanent population of splendid
virtues and splendid possibilities in disorder. Turbulent labor troubles,
turbulent social upheavals, turbulent politics, were its brand and mark.
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On the Ohio
Basin, center of all this region, stood a little saloon cocked up on trestles
over a culvert --a bar downstairs, a few rooms, used for a sailors' boardinghouse,
upstairs; and the sign over the door --but lately changed --read: "William
The proprietor, "Fingy" Conners, had a reputation as the stoutest
man in a free fight, the merriest roisterer on a spree, the toughest keeper
of a tough saloon, of all the dock region. In these late twenties of his,
he was a thickset. strong young tough, with an accent that shook his cheeks,
a coarse face, good-humored enough has his early photographs show-but
the kind of face withal that would cause one to shrink in a dark street.
When he was not needed behind the bar, He used to "mix" with
the loungers about the front of his place, exchanging the jokes of the
street, shaking dice, scheming over time cheap politics of his ward. At
the first sign of trouble from drunken longshoremen or scoopers, he used
to plunge into the thick of war with that joy and delight in a scrap which
had made him the terror of the wharfs before he acquired property and
became a saloon man. If they were too many for him, he reached for the
bung starter; if that failed, He took to the methods of Chinese highlanders.
There were no rules in his scrapping. When life in his own saloon became
too peaceful and wearisome, he salHed forth at the head of his toughs,
among whom he was king by right of might, to clean out the saloon of some
dirty Democrat --for he was a Republican at the time. ...more>>
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