Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Well my idea maybe half-witted but I think it's as good a hunch as anyone has ever had to figuring out Vivian's past. My idea that Vivian's maiden name may not have been Davis has been fun to research. Since Vivian had listed Springfield, Mo as her hometown, I started with some old school records from Greene County Mo. Luckily of the 2 other Vivian's that I found who were an appropriate age one was very easily eliminated. Vivian Gaunt was alive and well with her family in the 1920 census the same year that Vivian Davis is found living in KCMO in January of that year and by April marries George M. Chase.

So I have one other canditate. Vivian Byrne, who became more frustrating with every step (that is so like Vivian Chase)! I find Vivian Byrne in the 1912-1913 school year Springfield attending the Liberty School. I can't find her at all in the 1920 census, but in the 1910 census I find her with her family. She is the adopted daughter of G.W. Byrne and Susannie Byrne. I can find the Missouri death certificate for George Washington Bryne in 1928 but no further record for Susannie. I'm hampered because I am only guessing at Susannie's name. The 1910 census takers penmanship was not neat. I have no success with Susannah, Susan, or Susamie. Was the diminutive Susie used back then?

Well while it's too soon to tell if Vivian Byrne and Vivian Chase are the same people it is promising to me. The FBI and police tried hard to find out about Vivian's background. Maybe the reason that they got nowhere was that there wasn't any family left that she knew about. In some ways this is good in some ways it's frustrating. There's a good chance that I may learn all about another woman who turns out not to be Vivian Chase. Nothing beats a failure but a try. Oh yeah, start praying now because accessing adoption records is going to make getting Harry Pierpont's competency information seem easy.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


I've misplaced my copy of Robert Alcorn's Count of Gramercy Park. "Gentleman "Gerald Chapman has been mentioned in the last couple of books I read.
I guess he was the first 20th century celebrity criminal. My copy is old and moth eaten. I suffer from an allergy to dust mites so I figured I let it air out for awhile. Been over a year now, the book should be readable. If only I knew where it was.

Mr. Chapman was an extraordinary thief who escaped from federal custody (several times); while on the lam he committed a robbery in CT. A policeman was killed. Caught and sentenced to hang, the Gentleman's attorney argued that he could not be executed by a state because technically he was still a ward of the federal prison system. Lepke Buchalter's lawyer argued the same thing. It's surprising that Buchalter's attorney went that route. They hung Chapman and the public certainly liked him a lot more than they did Mr. Buchalter.

If I were to write a book, I think I would write it on Gentleman Gerald or someone like him. My understanding is that Alcorn's book isn't a definitive work. I haven't been able to find another bio on Chapman.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Lepke Buchalter

It's funny after finishing Paul R. Kavieff's biography of Lepke BuchalterThe Life and Times of Lepke Buchalter: America's Most Ruthless Labor Racketeer I can honestly say that I feel no sympathy for Louis Buchalter. I've felt more sympathy for serial killers than I did for Lepke. It stands to reason though. Lepke could not have been who he was if a wuss like me could identify with him! Let's see...started out as your basic pick pocket. Discovered more money in busting heads for or against labor unions. Discovered the real money was in taking over the businesses that he'd worked for. A lot of times the prior owners were killed or maimed when they protested. On the side he was the CEO of Murder, Inc. a group of hit men who specialised in killing people who displeased the mob. He did it all so well, too. In the end, he was taken down by a ruse conceived by Lucky Luciano and eventually paid the ultimate price for ordering the murder of a hapless trucking company owner he had hounded out of his business and never adequately compensated. Never pays to be cheap.
I've got mixed emotions about this book. I'm not sure if my lack of enthusiasm isn't because hoods aren't thieves.