Gangsters in America – Caspar Holstein – The Harlem Policy King
He was considered a genius; a compassionate man who gives freely to the poor. But Caspar Holstein made his fortune in the Harlem number politics game, which he helped invent.
Casper Holstein was born on December 7, 1876, in St. Croix, Danish West Indies. Her parents were of mixed Danish and African descent, and her father’s father was a Danish officer in the Danish West Indies colonial militia. The Holstein family moved to New York City in 1894. An extremely bright boy, Holstein graduated from high school in Brooklyn, which was no small achievement for a black man before the turn of the century. After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy, and during World District I, he visited his homeland, which was then known as the West Virgin Islands.
When Holstein was discharged from the Navy, he worked various odd jobs, including janitoring a building on the Upper East Side. He also became a personal assistant to a wealthy white couple, and years later, after he made his fortune and they lost theirs, Holstein supported this couple and then paid for their funeral.
Seeking to improve, Holstein went to Wall Street, where he got a job, first as a messenger, then as a lead messenger, for a Wall Street commodities brokerage firm. Holstein fell in love with the game, especially horses, but he also dabbled in the stock market, perusing daily figures from clearing houses in Boston and New York. One day, Holstein came up with an idea that would dramatically improve his luck. I knew that people in black neighborhoods, like Harlem, loved to gamble, but most didn’t have enough cash to do so. When he had saved enough money to start his business, Holstein devised a plan in which people could bet as little as a dime on a random set of three-digit numbers, which would appear daily in the city’s newspapers. New York.
Using figures from the Boston Clearing House and New York City, Holstein took two digits from the middle of the New York number and one digit from the middle of the Boston number. So, if the totals for the two clearing houses were 9,456,131 and 7,456,253 respectively, the winning number would be 566; the “56” is the two digits before the last comma of the first digit, and the “6” is the last digit before the last comma of the second digit. This system was so random that it couldn’t be tampered with, as it would be later, when gangster Dutch Schultz got into the Harlem numbers racket and started using racing figures, which he actually tampered with. In the early 1920s, the Holstein system was all the rage in Harlem. Holstein became known as the “King of Bolita”, earning approximately $ 5000 per day.
Using his newfound wealth, Holstein generously contributed to worthy causes. He gave huge amounts of cash to the St. Vincent Sanitarium, the nationalist Garvey Movement, and funded prizes for the Opportunity Magazine literary awards, which uncovered much of Harlem’s young talent. Holstein built dormitories at black universities and funded many of Harlem’s artists, writers, and poets. He also helped start a Baptist school in Liberia and established a hurricane relief fund for his native Virgin Islands. The New York Times said that Holstein was “Harlem’s favorite hero, because of his wealth, his sporting inclinations and his philanthropy among people of his race.”
Seeing how Holstein and Stephanie St. Clair had turned Harlem into a financial bonanza due to their number scams, gangster Dutch Schultz broke in and took over their games. A) Yes. Schultz had great politicians, including the disgraced Jimmy Himes in his back pocket. Schultz also bribed the police and killed the black number brokers en masse. Schultz eventually forced St. Clair to work for him, but Holstein turned down Schultz’s offers to cement his numbers rackets.
In 1928, Holstein was kidnapped for a $ 50,000 ransom by five white gangsters, whom the Harlem public assumed were thugs sent by Schultz. News of the Holstein kidnapping made national news. The New York Times reported that Holstein had been seen at Belmont Racecourse just days before his abduction, betting more than $ 30,000 on the ponies. Holstein was released after three days in custody, insisting that he had not paid a ransom. His explanation was that his captors had felt sorry for him and released him with a $ 3 taxi fare.
However, Holstein’s story carried little weight, as he soon curtailed his political activities. A few years later, Holstein completely halted its street operations and it worked only as a better layoff. In 1935, even though he was barely gambling, Holstein was arrested for illegal gambling. He was tried and convicted and spent a year in prison. Holstein claimed he was framed, possibly by Schultz, but served his jail time without incident. When he got out of prison, Holstein got into the real estate business and provided mortgages for people in Harlem who were avoided by regular banks.
Casper Holstein died on April 5, 1944, at the age of 68. More than 2,000 people attended his funeral at Harlem Memorial Baptist Church. A scholarship at the University of the Virgin Islands and a housing development in St. Croix are named in memory of Holstein.