3. William Poole, AKA Bill the Butcher: Green-Wood Cemetery

More than six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, William Poole was a terrifying figure in the Bowery Boys, a street gang of New York. While Poole was a butcher by profession, it was his ferocious fighting and ruthlessness that earned him the title “Bill the Butcher.”

By the mid 1850s Poole had become involved in political enforcing, with his personal gang supporting the Know-Nothing party and their anti Irish-Catholic immigration rhetoric. Understandably, Poole became the nemesis of John Morrissey, the son of Irish Immigrants and an enforcer for Tammany Hall. The two fought in a boxing match, the initial grounds of which was actually not their differing ethnic backgrounds or political opinions; rather, Poole had previously placed a bet against Morrissey, who was also a popular boxer, and in favor of his opponent.

The two decided to meet at the Amos St. Dock (the end of W. 10th st. today) for their fight. Morrissey showed up with a dozen of his men. Poole did not show up–instead sending two hundred of his men who beat up Morrissey and his men until fellow Tammanyites came to their rescue. Morrissey got his revenge later when he conspired to have Poole shot. Bill the Butcher was buried in Green-wood Cemetery (the same cemetery as Boss Tweed) in a grave that remained unmarked for over a century.

Finally, in 2003, after Martin Scorsese’s inimitable depiction of Poole in the blockbuster Gangs of New York, Green-wood Cemetery erected a grave stone in response to his revitalized infamy, with his last words etched on the stone saying, “Good bye boys, I die a true American.”