14 Awesome 19th Century Street Gang Names

Street gangs in the mid-19th century had some pretty creative names.
Street gangs in the mid-19th century had some pretty creative names. / iStock.com/Oleg Elkov

You may have heard of the Bowery Boys, a notorious New York street gang of the mid-19th century. But there were plenty of other gangs fighting it out for turf during that time, and some of them had pretty great names. Here are 14 street gangs you wouldn’t want to mess with, even if their names made you laugh.

1. Baxter Street Dudes

Teenage former newsies who went around stealing when not performing at the theater they ran.

2. Boodle Gang

They specialized in nabbing meat off butcher carts.

3. Corcoran’s Roosters

Also known as the Charlton Street Gang, they specialized in robbing cargo ships.

4. Humpty Jackson Gang

With a leader whose most noticeable feature was his hunchback, this gang worked the Lower East Side, with their base of operations in a graveyard.

5. Molasses Gang

Their thing was to get a shopkeeper to fill a hat with molasses and then slap it over his head and run off with the cash drawer.

6. Crazy Butch Gang

A ragtag, clever bunch of teen pickpockets.

7. Tub of Blood Bunch

They worked the East River waterfront from their headquarters—a lovely-sounding bar called Tub of Blood.

8. Whyos

One of New York’s most powerful 1870s gangs supposedly used a special call that sounded like “why-oh!”

9. Yakey Yakes

This gang was headed up by leader Yakey Yake Brady and worked in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge.

10. Plug Uglies

A Baltimore gang active in pre-Civil War politics, a.k.a. election day rioting.

11. Kerryonians

An Irish gang from County Kerry.

12. Daybreak Boys

Known for wreaking havoc on the New York waterfront in the 1850s.

13. Potashes

Potash (from the Dutch for “pot ash”) is the name for potassium compounds once commonly used in soap-making. This gang was headquartered near the Babbit Soap Factory on the Lower West Side.

14. Dead Rabbits

A splinter group from the Roach Guard, this Irish gang fought hard against the Bowery Boys in over 200 battles.

A version of this story ran in 2014; it has been updated for 2021.