Isiah Rynders – The most powerful Irish mob boss in New York history

Right from the 19th century onwards, New York City had been better represented by the Irish mafia gangs. Some of the Irish mob bosses included John Morrissey, Mickey Spillane, Jimmy Coonan, etc. But, it was Captain Isaiah Rynders, who is considered to be the very first mob boss of Irish origin in the mafia history of New York City.

His early life

It was on 3rd January that he was born to Irish protestant mother and German/American father. Initially, he was well known as knife/pistol fighter and professional gambler on River Mississippi region. It was during the mid-1830s that he latched on to Tammany Hall and climbed his way up the ladder. His specialty is regarded to be having Five Points Street Mobsters to be organized on Election Day and to assure the Poor Irish of offering voting rights.

Rise to fame

He earned immense wealth and owned grocery stores in huge numbers and numerous dive saloons. He also established the Empire Club in 1843. Also, he organized street gangs like Plug Uglies, Roach Guards and Dead Rabbit. His best men comprised of Country McCleester, Paudeen McLaughlin, Dirty Face Jack, Lew Baker, Jim Turner and John Morrissey. Such was the influence of Rynders that the intense prodding of voters by his men led to Franklin Pierce’s presidential election in 1852 and of James Buchanan, 1856. With Buchanan being elected as President, he had Rynders appointed as U. S. Marshall for New York’s Southern District.

Criminal activities and his downfall

He was responsible single handedly for Astor Theatre Riots in 1849. His downfall is said to have started as he abandoned Tammany Hall inexplicably along with his Irish cohorts, to join ‘Know Nothing Party’ or opposition Native American party. His political organization got renamed to the Americus Club. Taking opportunity, John ‘Smoke’ Morrissey had seized Rynders’ place as Five Points Irish mobster commander and at the Tammany Hall.

On 4th July 1857, clearly saw the power loss of Rynders when gang riots which took place in this area as well as that of Five Points. According to New York Times, clubs, stones and brick bats were noticed flying around in each and every direction and firearms were branded wildly by men.  The same evening, Rynders was called in by the officials to stop this riot, which he did by begging the rioters to stop immediately the senseless hostilities. But his words were ignored by every party involved including the gang that he once ruled.