Abe Rothschild, alias Joseph Jaeger, alias Henry Smyth, etc., was both a
shrewd swindler and a hardened criminal. His record reads more like
fiction than a plain detail of facts. The offenses upon which he was
finally convicted were committed in Missouri in July, 1894. His arrest was
effected at San Lorenzo, Cal., September 30, 1894, by an inspector
attached to the San Francisco division, on the charge of using the mails
in conducting a scheme to defraud. Rothschild's latest swindling
operations were the boldest of the kind ever brought to the attention of
this Department. Having learned the name of a business man of high
commercial standing in some particular town, he would forge an order in
his name on some wholesale dealer for goods to be shipped to the place in
which the aforesaid merchant resided, or to some other locality where, as
the writer alleged, he was about to open a "racket store." As a
rule, these orders were promptly filled and the goods shipped as
Rothschild would then assume the name of the aforesaid " business man " and have letters addressed to him under this name at the place to which the goods were to be shipped. If the place chanced to be one at which the "business man" proposed to open a " racket store," Rothschild would appear upon the ground a couple of days in advance of the arrival of the goods, and by the receipt of letters through the post-office and frequent inquiries at the express and freight offices would succeed in establishing his identity sufficiently to make it easy for him to obtain possession of the goods upon their arrival. He would then disappear, carrying his plunder with him, which usually consisted of diamonds, jewelry, or other articles of small bulk, which could be readily transported with his ordinary baggage.
If the goods were ordered sent to the place where the bona fide business man actually resided, Rothschild, upon his arrival, would at once inquire at the post-office for mail, and when told that the most prominent business man of the town bore the same name he feigned great surprise. He would then call upon his namesake, form his acquaintance, and receive from him the letters which he had caused lo be mailed and which, naturally, had been delivered to the bona fide businessman with his regular mail, and the contents of which had greatly puzzled the local merchant. Rothschild had a suave and agreeable manner, and his knowledge of the contents of the letters which had mystified his namesake so clearly identified him with the transactions relating to certain goods which he expected would arrive by the next morning's express that he was enabled to secure the custody of the goods without arousing suspicion. His biggest haul was made on March 13, 1895, at Swainsboro, Ga., where he secured $4,400 worth of diamonds.
Soon after his arrest in California it was determined to transfer Rothschild to Missouri for trial for the offenses committed in that State. The prisoner, however, succeeded in escaping from the deputy marshal at Little Rock, Ark., November 12, 1894. He subsequently operated in several States and Territories and was traced through Mexico and Cuba back to the United States, and was finally rearrested at St. Marys, Ontario, March 25, 1895, while receipting for express packages. After much vexatious delay he was extradited and finally landed in jail at Moberly, Mo., on July 20, 1895. At his trial he was ably defended, but on March 12, 1896, he entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in the Missouri penitentiary. At the expiration of this sentence he will be taken to Georgia for trial at Swainsboro. Abe Rothschild is 45 years old and the son of a wealthy Cincinnati banker and jeweler. In 1877 he killed "Diamond Bessie" Moore near Jefferson, Tex. Just before his arrest for that offense in Cincinnati, he attempted suicide and shot out his right eye. Upon his recovery, he was taken to Texas, narrowly escaped lynching, was indicted for murder in the first degree, tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. The case was reversed by the supreme court and was in abeyance in the Texas courts for four and a half years, and he was finally acquitted. He confesses that his defense in his murder trial cost $35,000, and that the true story of his acquittal would create a sensation even at this late date.
Some years later, while connected with a wholesale house in New York City, he was involved in a business failure in which the liabilities aggregated $750,000. He was arrested for fraud in connection therewith, but escaped conviction. He then embarked in a career as a gambler and race-horse sport, and was known at the New York, London, and Paris courses. Reverses finally overtook him, and seven years ago he became a professional criminal. According to his own confession, there are over two hundred criminal charges against him in the United States, distributed in every State and Territory, and he has committed crimes in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, England, and France.
In his own defense he claims that his schemes were always original, and while he secured large sums of money, his victims were always wealthy and were confined to express companies, railroad companies, banks, and large business houses. he has been frequently arrested, but by the liberal use of money, with which he was usually well suppied, always managed to escape conviction until his recent sentence in the Missouri court, he attempted to purchase his release from the inspector who first arrested him in California, and has tried to bribe every jailer who has had him in custody since.
Annual Reports. Report of the Postmaster-General. Miscellaneous Reports - Page 664
Image: Courtesy of rights reserved by fables98