Sadie the Goat was probably a pretty gnarly looking girl. She had her ear bitten off in a brawl at a drinking tavern called the Hole in the Wall. The Hole was a notorious hang out for the wrong kind of people and their 6ft tall female bouncer named Gallus Mag was keen on removing people’s ears with her teeth. The Hole was forced to close after was the scene of seven murders in twelve weeks. Below is a painting of the overcrowded area of the time.
One day in 1869 Sadie the Goat was hanging around the waterfront area and witnessed an incompetent attempt by the Charlton Street Gang to nick a small boat. She offered to lead them in their next endeavor and within a few days they’d forcibly seconded a much larger craft and her career as a lady pirate had begun. They spent the next few months parading up and down the Hudson and Harlem rivers, pillaging small villages, raiding farms and robbing the occasional riverside mansion. Along the way Sadie took captives for ransom and occasionally made them walk the plank. Classic.
Walking the plank wasn’t as common place as Hollywood would have you believe, it was more of a specialist option for the more sadistic in nature. The victims would be bound, blindfolded and occasionally weighted down. The poor salty souls died of drowning, freezing or shark attack. None of which are probably that relaxing.
Her piratical career was pretty short-lived (just a few months) because once the farmers had caught wind of her regular attacks they got prepared. The farmers would riot and start firing guns at them from the shore. Piracy became a bit too dangerous so they gave it up for a life back on land. She was known from then on as the “Queen of the Waterfront”.
Unfortunately, as with all of these swash buckling tales, it’s difficult to know how much and how little about Sadie Farrell is gospel truth. She was mentioned in the book Gangs of New York, but little else is reported. No police records or newspapers of the time seem to mention her.
I’m happy to suspend disbelief for now though. It’s a good yarn. Click ‘next page’ for a piratical vixen from the seas around China….
â˜› Up Next: Tribes #1: The Mysterious And Violent Warrior Tribe Of North Sentinel Island