The Brutal 1855 Murder Of The Real-Life Bill The Butcher

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The rivalry between Bill Poole’s Native Americans and the lads from Tammany Hall was coming to a head. A fight broke out between the two groups at a bar on Canal Street one evening when Jim Turner (of Tammany Hall) knocked a drink out of the hand of Tom Hyer, an associate of Poole’s. Guns were drawn by both sides, and warning shots were fired into the walls. By the end of the fracas, Lew Baker was beaten unconscious by Hyer, but not after severely cutting Hyer’s knuckles with a knife (per Murder by Gaslight). This was only the beginning of violence between the two gangs, which would eventually lead to Poole’s death.

Late one March evening in 1855, Poole entered a bar to give apologies to the bartender who had witnessed yet another brawl between the Native Americans and Tammany Hall. Soon after he walked in, he was followed by Baker, Patrick “Paudeen” McLaughlin, and other members of the rival faction. Poole was grabbed by McLaughlin, who challenged him to a fight. Poole responded by saying that he could best any one of the Tammany men in the group, one at a time. These words were met with Turner pulling out his pistol and shooting Poole in the leg. Poole and Baker then began to struggle, rolling around on the floor. At one point, Baker was able to pull out a pistol and shoot Poole in the chest.

Poole got to his feet and chased after Baker with a knife. But before he could make it to the street, he collapsed into the arms of one of his cohorts.

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