Author: Diarmid

Walter Tomski, “Adultery–Assault & Battery”, 27 January 1938

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When Walter Tomski was arrested in January, 1938, his father, Frank, was in the workhouse and his brother Chester was in the reformatory. That month, the New Castle police made almost a hundred arrests for intoxication; eleven for disorderly conduct; eight for loitering; six for being a suspicious character; twelve for fighting; nine for running a brothel; another nine for visiting a brothel; three for intoxicated driving; one for speeding; and one for carrying a concealed […]

Frank Costal, “Larceny Bicycle”, 18 March 1945

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In 1923, Frank Costal’s grandmother, Beatrice, found an unusual lizard in the street—eight inches long, brown with yellow markings. She had never seen one like it. She took it down to the New Castle News office. No one else had seen one like it, either. Some years previously, she had lost a leg when she stepped out in front of an automobile. Unexplained fires broke out in her house every so often. It burned down […]

Glenn C Neely, “Drunk & Dis” 6 July 1948

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Glenn Neely got too drunk on the weekend of New Castle’s sesquicentennial celebrations. It was his last summer as a bachelor—he was due to be married in November. That may have had something to do with it, but it’s just as likely that it didn’t; a lot of people got too drunk that weekend. He probably met Larry Day and Norman Ross in the cells. Glenn was a building contractor at the time. Later, he […]

Fioravante Pisano, “Firearms Act”, 14 Feb 1951

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The police arrested Fioravante Pisano because he’d fired a gun in his basement. His wife, Amelia, thought he was going to kill himself. They charged him with a firearms violation and took his photograph when they booked him, but let him go once he’d calmed down. No harm done, and it was Valentine’s day. Fioravante had been sick and depressed for a long time. Things hadn’t been good since the war. He and his brother […]

Donald T Wells, “B and E, Safe Robbery” 31 May 1932

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Donald Wells was a brakeman for the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroad for nine years until he was furloughed when the steel factories shut down after the Wall street crash. He had done casual construction work since then, travelling as far as Tennessee for a structural iron job, and he’d served a little time in the workhouse for larceny and burglary. He had a wife, but had been sleeping in his car for the past […]

Loyal Weller, “Conspiracy”, 10 March 1933

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Cora Cunningham’s father graduated from medical school as the civil war started. He spent four years as a battlefield surgeon. Both armies were using a new type of bullet—a conical thing that shattered bone rather than being deflected by it, as a musket ball would be—so his work mostly involved sawing off the arms and legs of young men after each engagement and stitching their stumps closed with squares of skin cut from the discarded […]

Loy Powell, “Drunk & Dis” 28 July 1951

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Loy Powell had been drinking in the Lincoln hotel for some time when he saw another customer, James Wise, arguing with Walter Tewell, an off-duty policeman. He watched as Tewell ended the argument by arresting Wise, who continued to struggle. When a patrol car arrived, Loy saw an officer beat Wise unconscious with a nightstick. Loy ended up becoming involved, one way or another, and the officer beat him, too. The hospital gave Wise eight […]

Zear Mack Hogan, “Burglary”, 28 July 1958

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Zear Mack Hogan got married while on parole from a prison farm in Ohio. A week later, he broke into the office of Castle Roofing and Sheet Metal, just west of New Castle. Sometime after midnight, the owner, Russell Delaney, saw someone moving around inside the place and went to investigate. When he opened the door, Zear hit him with a wrench and ran off. Delaney’s arm was broken. He called the police. Zear broke […]

Chester Tomski, “Parole Vio & Auto Theft”, 15 January 1939

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Chester Tomski ran away from home at the age of thirteen. He hitchhiked around the Franklin and Oil City area, stealing what he could to get by—like the $2 in the pocketbook he took from ten-year-old Bernice Hazlett—and selling stolen bikes for $1.50 or so. He was caught after a week and sent home. Four years later, when he was seventeen, Chester was arrested behind the wheel of a car he’d stolen from the parking […]

“My Colorful Past”

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Matt Loughrey, an Irish photographer and digital artist has been doing good work colorising black-and-white photographs of criminals from 19th century, immigrants on Ellis island and heroes of the Irish rebellion and other famous and obscure historical figures. (You can see more of his work here.) He recently got in touch to let me know he’d colorised some of the mug shots I’ve posted on Small Town Noir, and he sent a video showing the transitions from black-and-white to colour. I’ve taken […]