On March 11, 1855, a significant event took place in Brooklyn, New York. William Poole, also known as “Bill the Butcher,” was laid to rest. Poole was a prominent figure in the city’s political and gang circles during the mid-19th century. His burial attracted a remarkable turnout, with 155 carriages and an estimated 6,000 mourners in attendance. This article delves into the life and death of William Poole, exploring his notoriety and the historical significance of his burial.

William Poole’s life was marked by controversy and violence. Born in Sussex County, New Jersey, in 1821, he later moved to New York City, where he became a butcher and gained a reputation as a fierce street fighter. Poole’s involvement in the Bowery Boys gang solidified his position as a prominent figure in the city’s criminal underworld.

The Bowery Boys gang was notorious for their involvement in political and social conflicts. Poole, as their leader, was known for his fierce loyalty and aggressive tactics. He became entangled in the political rivalries of the time, particularly the infamous Dead Rabbits gang, led by John Morrissey. The rivalry between Poole and Morrissey escalated to a violent confrontation, resulting in Poole’s severe injuries. These injuries ultimately led to his untimely death on February 25, 1855.

Poole’s death sent shockwaves through the city, and his funeral became a spectacle that reflected his influence and notoriety. The grand procession consisted of 155 carriages, each adorned with black plumes and drawn by four horses. The mourners, estimated to be around 6,000, included members of various political factions, gang members, and curious onlookers. The sheer size of the funeral highlighted the impact Poole had on the city and its inhabitants.

The burial took place in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, a historic resting place for many notable figures. The cemetery’s picturesque landscape provided a fitting backdrop for Poole’s final resting place. His grave is marked by a simple headstone, bearing his name and the dates of his birth and death.

The significance of William Poole’s burial extends beyond the grandeur of the event itself. It serves as a testament to the turbulent times in New York City’s history. The mid-19th century was a period of rapid urbanization and social change, with gangs and political factions vying for power and control. Poole, with his larger-than-life persona and involvement in these conflicts, became a symbol of the era.

To delve deeper into the historical context of Poole’s life and the events surrounding his burial, it is worth exploring external references. The New York Times archives provide valuable insights into the news coverage of the time, shedding light on the city’s perception of Poole and his funeral. Additionally, books such as “Gangs of New York” by Herbert Asbury offer a comprehensive exploration of the era’s gang culture and the figures involved.

In conclusion, the burial of William Poole in 1855 was a significant event that reflected the notoriety and influence he held in New York City’s political and gang circles. His funeral procession, attended by thousands, showcased the impact he had on the city during a turbulent period in its history. Poole’s life and death remain part of New York folklore, serving as a reminder of the complexities and conflicts of the mid-19th century.

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