Fred Weir, “Dis Conduct”, 3 November 1947

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Fred Weir came to New Castle from the south as a young man, just before prohibition began, and spent the twenties drinking and gambling in backroom establishments downtown and on the south side.

A woman named Mattie McKisson ran a Negro club in her home on the corner of Cochran way and South street, where she allowed dice, cards and liquor. On a spring night in 1922, Fred hired a taxi to take him there and told the driver to wait while he fetched Mattie. He called her out, but she refused to come with him. Fred drew a pistol and fired three bullets through the bolted door. He told the taxi driver to take him to the Mahoningtown district and waved the gun at him when he said he would rather not. Once they were on their way, the driver objected again and Fred fired three shots through the roof and the windshield. The driver stopped the car and Fred ran into Dieterlee’s lumber yard to hide. Mattie McKisson called the police. They found Fred on top of a tall pile of lumber, his pistol under some logs nearby. He was fined $25 for disorderly conduct and $5 for drunkenness.

In those years, Fred was often in court on charges of possessing liquor, gambling or being drunk. He was ordered to leave the city each time he was found in a raid on a disorderly house, but he never did. Around the time he turned thirty, he changed his ways. He stopped getting into trouble with the police, found himself a wife and concentrated on establishing a few quiet gambling operations in the south of the city. His arrest in 1947 for disorderly conduct—using a knife and a blackjack to threaten a numbers player who owed him money—was an uncharacteristic relapse, after which he returned to running his affairs in a manner that was less likely to draw the attention of the authorities. There is no further record of his life.

Sources: New Castle News (22 Feb 1922, “Twenty-Four Are Arrested”; 25 May 1922, “Revolver Shots Bring The Police”; 21 April 1924, Noise Attracts City Officers; Arrests Made”; 24 April 1924, “Pay Heavy Fines”; 21 Aug 1924, “Held On Suspicion”; 22 Aug 1924, “Sentence Suspended”; 27 June 1944, “Hold Trio On Burglary Charge”; 4 Nov 1947, “Two Are Held”; 29 Sep 1948, “Two To Receive Hearing”).


  1. Mike says

    More evidence for the possibility of rehabilitation outside of jail. I don’t know if ‘illegal bookie’ is really a productive member of society but I’m sure his customers appreciated the service. Pennsylvania got a lottery in 1972 – presumably Mr Weir either retired or moved into sports betting.

  2. Johnny says

    you sure he didn’t drop the ‘D’ at the end of his last name….

    I’m just saying, he ain’t a looker….

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