8. William Poole, AKA Bill the Butcher

Bill the Butcher's tomb
After the story of his life was popularized in the blockbuster film, Gangs of New York, Green-Wood cemetery finally gave Bill the Butcher a tombstone.

More than six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, William Poole was a terrifying figure in the Bowery Boys, a street gang based in 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 enforcement, 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 Poole’s bet on Morrissey’s boxing match.

The men decided to meet at the Amos St. Dock, which is equivalent to the end of W. 10th St. today, for their fight. Morrissey showed up with a dozen of his men. Rather than showing up. Poole sent 200 of his men to 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 in an unmarked grave. Finally, in 2003, after Martin Scorsese’s inimitable depiction of Poole in the blockbuster Gangs of New York, Green-Wood Cemetery erected a gravestone in response to his revitalized infamy, with his last words etched on the stone: “Goodbye boys, I die a true American.”