Historian Christopher K. Philippo of Glenmont had to consult the Oxford English Dictionary to explain a newspaper account of a burglary in Mayfield in 1914.
The article from the Amsterdam Recorder reported, “A couple of professional yeggmen visited Mayfield late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, blew open the safe in the store of Thomas Embling and secured over $540 in cash. They also took a large amount of cigars, tobacco and cigarettes as well as several articles of clothing.”
Yeggmen? According to Philippo, “Yegg” apparently was the last name of an American burglar and safecracker in the early 1900s and the words “yegg” and “yeggman” were used to refer to safecrackers.
In the case of the 1914 burglary at Embling’s store, Sheriff William J. Sheppard and Undersheriff Frank Keaveney led the investigation. Later newspaper accounts indicate that Max Finn, Louis Cohen and John Smith were indicted. It’s not clear if the men were convicted. Finn’s attorney told the Schenectady Gazette that in his opinion Fulton County authorities had no case.
There are numerous newspaper accounts of burglaries at Embling’s store. Embling himself was fined once for failing to collect taxes. In 1907, Embling was supervisor for the town of Mayfield and treated his fellow supervisors to dinner and after-dinner toasts at Hammond’s clubhouse on the road between Mayfield and Gloversville.
Mayfield historian Betty Tabor wrote that Embling was from England and opened his Mayfield store in the late 1800s.
“Embling sold a large variety of goods such as groceries, flour, feed, hoes, and wallpaper,” Tabor wrote in 1994. “Several of Mayfield’s older residents remember this store, and the store’s sign has been given to the Mayfield Historical Society, after an area resident discovered it in his home being used as a bookshelf.”
Embling ran the store until 1928, when he went back to England. The building is the current home of the Mayfield Servicemen’s Club on South School Street. Tabor said that when the building was being remodeled by the servicemen in 1987, a package of tobacco was found in the wall, dated 1898.
More than 100 people are Servicemen’s Club members, veterans from World War II through the present.
Philippo found another crime story in the Gloversville Leader in 1901.
“John Woodward partially filled himself on liquid refreshments yesterday afternoon and then went to Englert’s market on Bleeker street, where he proceeded to fill up the space which was not occupied by liquor, and after eating a large quantity of dried beef, bologna and other food, he informed the boy in charge of the market that he would settle the bill as soon as ice froze over an orthodox lake of unusual heat. Woodward left the market and met Officer Louis Sperber, and the latter arrested him on charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct. This morning Recorder Wood sent him to jail for thirty days.”
A stern message
The Rev. John McIncrow had a stern message for parishioners at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Amsterdam in August 1886.
In its account of the popular priest’s Sunday sermon, the Recorder reported that McIncrow was not pleased that parishioners employed as spinners in local knitting mills got out of control at a social function:
“In alluding to the Spinners’ Picnic, Father McIncrow asked his congregation to pray for such of its members as had had any connection with the festivities of the day before. A great number of sins were committed at the picnic, and a heavy responsibility rested upon the souls of those members of St. Mary’s Church who gave their countenance and support to the affair.”
Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach him at 346-6657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.