03 January 2012

Cream Puff Daze

Hoda Epstein Wilson, ca 1866-1930
None of us now living had ever heard this story from any of our Wilson family.  It was first published in The Sun (New York, New York). Hoda Epstein Wilensky had been through a great deal.  On 19 May 1897, more than six years after her husband Zelig (Saul) had left for the United States, she accompanied her three children from their home town of Kazan (today Kozyany, Belarus) to Hamburg. From there they embarked on the Pisa and landed at Ellis Island on 1 June 1897. By the time my great grandmother Hoda Wilson moved to New York City in about 1906, she'd already lived in Hudson, NY and Albany. 

She must have been one formidable woman.  For some reason, I do not associate tenement life with cream puffs, literally or figuratively.  But, one does not live on bread alone. Frank Carrigan definitely got more than he'd bargain for.


Intruder Leaps Eight Foot Gap on Housetops Fleeing From Woman

When Mrs. Hoda Wilson, who lives on the third floor of the apartment house at 10 West 116th street, put on her hat and coat late yesterday afternoon and went to the corner delicatessen store she forgot to lock her apartment door.

A few minutes later Solomon Wilson, her husband, came home and found both doors leading to the apartment locked.  He returned to the sidewalk just as Mrs. Wilson was coming in with a bag of cream puffs.

“That’s strange!” exclaimed Mrs. Wilson and they rushed up stairs to investigate.  As Mr. Wilson began kicking on the kitchen door it suddenly flew open and a young man rushed out.

“Thief!” cried Mrs. Wilson as she struck the young man squarely across the face with the bag of cream puffs.  The intruder swallowed hard a few times, then began to descend the stairs four at a time.  He came out in a court back of the building, grabbed a fire escape ladder and climbed to the roof of 8 West 116th street, while Mr. and Mrs. Wilson startled the neighbors by shouting “Stop thief!”

From the roof of No. 8 the young man made an eight foot leap to the roof of the adjoining building at No. 6.  There he was trapped for he could not climb back and could not go on to the next building, there being none.

It was at this juncture that the desk sergeant at the Lenox avenue police station heard over the telephone that a burglar has been trapped on a roof in his precinct.  Detectives Barnett and Curtayne were dispatched to the scene and captured the young man while he was still licking cream puffs off his chops.

At the station he said he was Frank Carrigan, 20 years old, of 247 West 144th street, and then the police discovered that he was wanted in Rochester, N.Y. on a charge of having robbed his uncle, Joseph Carrigan, 228 Fremont street, that city, of $150 in cash and some diamonds.  Carrigan was locked up on a charge of burglary.

Later he confessed that he had robbed a house somewhere in West 146th street a week ago.  He couldn’t remember the exact address, but guessed he could point the house out.  When the money from that last robbery had gone he planned yesterday’s unfortunate burglary. #

The Sun (New York, NY), Sunday, 5 January 1913, page [unknown], column 2; digital images, Old Fulton, New York Postcards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 2 January 2012).


  1. My goodness, Mr.Carrigan picked the wrong woman to rob! I love reading newspapers at Fulton History. What a find!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Pam. I periodically must remind myself to revisit FultonHistory.com and do the same searches again because they are ever expanding their holdings.

  3. Welcome to the GeneaBloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

  4. Taken down by cream puffs! :-)
    I bet he never lived that one down.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  5. What a cool story! These are the finds that make it all worth while!

  6. Thank you Dr. Bill, Theresa and Heather. I thought I'd posted a reply to all of you last week, but now I see it is not listed. I appreciate the warm welcome and the readers.

  7. Mr. Carrigan sounds like just another Irish punk ;).

    There is a story in the Burke family about their Irish-born grandmother who, during Prohibition in NYC, had an active still in her kitchen closet. Someone in the tenement reported her to the police. Two Irish NYC cops came to the door to investigate. They were granted entrance, looked around, carefully opening every closet, pronounced the place "clean", thanked the residents and departed.

  8. Great Story and so lucky to have a picture! I just found an Epstein from Russia in our family tree and will start researching that line


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