Rochester Subway
Subscribe for Email UpdatesBecome a Facebook FanFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed Rochester History + New Ideas. Fresh from the Rochester Subway.

Topics


Rochester Subway Gift Shop


¤ Visit the Gift Shop
¤ See Combo Deals & Offers


Modern Rochester Subway Map


Modern Rochester Subway Map

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at Reconnect Rochester


Modern Rochester Subway Map


City of Rochester, New York

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Neighborhoods Map

Rochester Neighborhoods Map

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway Map, 1928


1928 Rochester Subway Map

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway DVD

The End of the Line - Rochester’s Subway (DVD)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Landmarks Poster

Rochester Landmarks Poster

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Work in Rochester

Work in Rochester

¤ View Details
¤ Buy from Amazon


Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

¤ View All Spaceman Art


Old Rochester Photos<br>and Historical Views

Old Rochester Photos
and Historical Views

(Framed Reprints Available)

¤ View All Rochester Photos


Rochester Subway Cap

Embroidered Subway Cap

¤ View Details


Rochester Subway T-Shirt

Rochester Subway T-Shirt

¤ View Details


Rochester Subway Token T-Shirt

RTC Token T-Shirt

¤ View Details


Rochester RTC Token

RTC Token (1948)

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Roch. & Brighton Token

Roch. & Brighton Token
(1887-90)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Railway Co. Token

Rochester Railway Co. Token (1900-09)

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Rochester School Fare Token

School Fare Token (1948)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester NYS Railways Token

NYS Railways Token (1909-38)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway Poster + DVD Combo

Rochester Subway
Poster + DVD Combo

¤ 

Add To Cart

 (Save 10%)


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1941),
Rochester Rail Equipment

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1938),
Subway & Broad Street

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1942),
Rochester City Hall & Subway

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1912),
Rochester’s Four Corners

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1905),
Erie Canal Aqueduct

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1928),
South Entrance to Subway

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway + Trolley Transit Passes

Original Subway, Trolley,
and Bus Weekly Transit Passes

¤ View All Transit Passes





Drunken Hijinks and Homicide in Rochester’s Sibley Building

October 5th, 2012

This was the Sibley Building office, and murder scene, of J. Frank O'Connor, a tailor merchant. A sewing machine and its table have been knocked over and lie in front of the radiator. The cutting table is at the right. A lower table, on the left, holds a bolt of fabric, a pressing board for sleeves, and an electric iron. A chair and a box of material sit in front of the lower table. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]
J. Frank O’Connor, known by his clients and friends as “Scrappy” O’Connor, was a merchant tailor. After a long weekend of partying, he would be murdered during a drunken battle in his office (shown above) on the second floor of Rochester’s Sibley Building. O’Connor’s body was found about 6:00 p.m., Monday, August 28, 1922. These are actual crime scene photos by Albert R. Stone…

The floor of the closet in J. Frank O'Connor's tailor shop is full of gin bottles. Clothing under construction hangs in the closet. Several straight chairs stand around the room. The glass in the door to the room has been shattered. In the far right corner, beyond the table with a bolt of cloth, a pressing board, and a whisk broom, is the sink where the murderer supposedly washed his hands. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]
O’Connor was widely known around Rochester for arranging parties with women and liquor for his wealthy and prominent friends; many of the parties were held in his Sibley office. He also owned a tailor shop on the corner of Main and Stillson. Notice the empty liquor bottles in the photo above? Investigators said they found nearly 50 empty gin bottles in the office. Remember, this is during Prohibition.

A large pool of blood marks the spot where J. Frank 'Scrappy' O'Connor bled to death. A pile of rags lies on the floor nearby. In the background is the room with a sink where the assailant washed his hands, stepping over O'Connor's body in order to do so. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]
At first his death was thought to be linked to two women heard arguing over him at about 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 27. However, on August 29, 1922, Owen DeForest DeWitt, a millionaire “clubman” and real estate dealer (shown below), was arrested for first degree murder after being found drunk in Syracuse at the Ondondaga Hotel. DeWitt, 45, lived at 14 Gramercy Park external link in Rochester’s Browncroft neighborhood.

Owen DeWitt looks haggard in this photograph taken after his arraignment in City Court for the murder of J. Frank O'Connor. Not surprisingly, he said he had no recollection of any murder. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]

It was later reported in the Rochester Herald that both men, in a drunken daze, battled in the office rooms. O’Connor evidently struck his head on the floor, and as his blood oozed from the wounds, made by his fall against the glass of the show case, DeWitt washed his hands and left the office. According to this article in the Syracuse NY Journal external link on Wednesday, August 30, 1922, DeWitt admitted meeting O’Connor that fateful day, but said he did not remember being involved any altercation.

Mrs. Grace M. Begy (shown below) of 70 Stillson Street was held as a material witness for selling gin to DeWitt after the killing. It was reported that DeWitt staggered from the Sibley Building at 5 o’clock and had drinks at Mrs. Begy’s ‘Prohibition saloon’ on Stillson Street – while O’Connor was bleeding to death back at the office. Witnesses said DeWitt literally fell into a taxi and then took a train for Syracuse.”

Mrs. Grace Begy ran a 'Prohibition saloon' at 70 Stillson Street. She was called as a material witness in the murder case against Owen DeWitt for the death of J. Frank O'Connor. I bet she's got some stories to tell. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone Collection]

Oh, the stories a 1920’s prohibition saloon owner could tell.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 at 8:12 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Drunken Hijinks and Homicide in Rochester’s Sibley Building”

  1. Stella says:

    So appreciate your bits of history and your dedication to preservation. Keep it up. Is this a one-person show? Is your identity a necessary secret?

  2. Stella says:

    Ah. With a little more diligence, I’ve found links to your identity. Should you ever lose yourself, I can help you reconstruct! Once again, wonderful work. I count on you!

  3. Lisa says:

    I just street viewed 70 Stillson Street with the small hope that the building that housed the alleged Prohibition Saloon was still there. Nope. Looks like it’s all parking lot past Achilles. So unless it was in the building on the corner of Main there – it’s gone. Boo.

  4. @Stella, thanks for the vote confidence! Yes, while it is possible to find my name is on the bottom of this web site, or on Facebook, I prefer to keep the spotlight on these amazing Rochester stories.

    @Lisa, I also searched for 70 Stillson and came up empty. Here’s why… Chestnut Street was extended north to the Inner Loop a few decades later. It wiped out much of the buildings in this neighborhood. But you can still find 70 Stillman on this old plat map.

    The building on the corner of Main and Stillman was the building where J. Frank O’Connor’s tailor shop was located. From this photo it appears the lower facade has changed, but this is probably the same building that is there today. Duck Soupe restaurant is in there now.

  5. Justaguy says:

    I have been in quite a few houses and buildings in the northwestern part of the City that still had the remnants of Speak-easys in them. Bars of the style to rival the one at Rocky’s Restaurant down in basements accessible via sliding walls and hidden doors leading to rooms that the building owners told us were former Speak-easys. The Maplewood area and the northern St. Paul/Conkey areas were where I saw the most. This was in the late 1990’s.
    Also, crime scene photography was considered an ‘art’ form of sorts back then. Books have been published about it and I have looked at Film Noir as sort of being crime scene photos brought to ‘life’ or maybe it is my love of Noir that peaks my interest in those old photos..

  6. Bob Williams says:

    What we now call Grove Street was a part of Stillson Street before it was dismembered. 70 would have been two houses behind what we now call The Halo Lofts (http://www.halolofts.com/).

    It appears that the attached townhouses on ‘Grove’ and their gaping garage doors now dominate the site.

  7. Bob Williams says:

    This 1926 plat shows the Taylor Building, which I believe is the current structure that houses Duck Soupe.

    http://photo.libraryweb.org/rochimag/rpm/rpm00077.htm

    The tailor shop could have been in the vanquished Centennial Building as well, on the acute angle corner of Main/Stillson.

  8. @Bob, because I can’t allow you to show me up in the “geometry vernacular” category, I believe the tailor shop was at the OBTUSE corner of Main/Stillson. See the links in my comment #4 above.

    Incidentally I tried to go to Duck Soupe for lunch the other day and they were closed for repairs. I hate it when that happens.

  9. Michael Brandt says:

    Thanks for this tidbit of local history and the photos.

    For those of you who enjoy delving into local history, and learning a lot more details, you need to visit the website… http://fultonhistory.com

    This website has digitized many NY newspapers, going back over 100 years, and allows you to search the database and bring up the newspaper. Your choice of key words is very important. To learn more about this murder, use the following key words to bring up a couple of news paper articles ( 14 Gramercy DeWitt Rochester Democrat Chronicle ). Experiment with other key word combinations. Have Fun!


Post a Comment...



  Most Popular...
  1. Inside Rochester’s Terrence Tower
    (views: 41,776)
  2. Pot Holds Bowie in Rochester
    (views: 35,156)
  3. Inside Abandoned Medley Centre (a.k.a Irondequoit Mall)
    (views: 26,218)
  4. University of Rochester’s Lost Swimming Pool
    (views: 22,911)
  5. Inside Rochester’s Abandoned Walters Psychiatric Building
    (views: 19,146)
  6. Deep Inside Rochester’s Big Old Sibley Building
    (views: 17,270)
  7. The Old Barber House
    (views: 16,317)
  8. History of Seabreeze Amusement Park
    (views: 15,619)
  9. Abandoned Glass House
    (views: 15,319)
  10. Abandoned Girl Scout Camp Beech-Wood
    (views: 13,507)
  11. The Best Holiday Light Displays in Rochester v1.0
    (views: 12,909)
  12. Durand Eastman Park and the Lady In White
    (views: 11,337)
  13. Exploring the Caves of Rochester, NY
    (views: 10,421)
  14. Inside the Abandoned Camp Haccamo, Penfield
    (views: 10,159)
  15. Rochester Mafia, the Banana King, and the Infamous “Barrel Murder”
    (views: 9,745)
  16. Inside the Abandoned Vacuum Oil Refinery
    (views: 9,477)
  17. Abandoned Theme Park: Frontier Town
    (views: 9,402)
  18. Inside 65-67 Chestnut St. – Old Hotel Richford
    (views: 7,138)
  19. Inside RG&E Beebee Power Plant – Just Before (and during) Demolition
    (views: 6,527)
  20. Inside the Abandoned Sykes Datatronics Building
    (views: 6,277)

Topics

  • Architecture (63)
  • Art + Culture (118)
  • Events (104)
  • Freebies (9)
  • Interviews (32)
  • Opinion (107)
  • Other (1)
  • Reader Submitted Stories (126)
  • Rochester Apartments (5)
  • Rochester Destinations (97)
  • Rochester Gifts (18)
  • Rochester History (200)
  • Rochester Homes for Sale (6)
  • Rochester Images (207)
  • Rochester News (341)
  • Rochester Subway (51)
  • Rochester Subway Stories (17)
  • Subways Around the Globe (11)
  • Train/Railroad Stuff (47)
  • Transit + Infrastructure (200)
  • Uncategorized (18)
  • Urban Development (259)
  • Urban Exploration (60)

  • Rochester Subway Information

    Get Email Updates...
    Stay up-to-date on Rochester-related stories, artifacts, and ideas that you won't find in the mainstream news. Totally free, never spammy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


    ¤ See Past Issues
    ¤ Our Privacy Policy

    Links

    Get Involved...

    ¤ Reconnect Rochester

    Related Blogs...

    ¤ A Town Square
    ¤ Moderate Urban Champ
    ¤ Our Tiny Earth
    ¤ The Rochesterian
    ¤ RocVille
    ¤ Rust Wire

    Resources...

    ¤ RochesterDowntown.com
    ¤ Rochester's Public Library
    ¤ ROCwiki



    Want to Advertise
    on RocSubway?
    Drop us a line.


    Other ways to follow RochesterSubway.com...

    Subscribe for Email Updates

    Email

    Become a Facebook Fan

    Facebook

    Follow Us on Twitter

    Twitter

    RSS Feed

    RSS

    Questions + Comments

    For questions about the Rochester Subway Poster or about your order, please email info@rochestersubway.com.

    Want to SAVE Shipping Costs?
    Buy the Subway Posters at these local shops...

    About the Rochester Subway Poster...

    ¤ Parkleigh [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Poster Art [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Rochester Public Library Store [ ...map it ]

    ¤ Rochester Subway Poster Press Release
    ¤ Article by Otto M. Vondrak
    ¤ Design by Mike Governale

    More About The Rochester Subway

    Help Support...

    ¤ Rochester Subway (Wikipedia)
    ¤ The End of the Line - Rochester's Subway, DVD
    ¤ Abandoned Subway Photos (Opacity.us)
    ¤ Walking the Rails (YouTube Video)

    ¤ Friends of RochesterSubway.com