<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> <HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>1900 'Rikers Island Rescue' Mystery Medal</TITLE> </HEAD> <BODY link="red" vlink="red" alink="red" BACKGROUND="bgbars2.gif" bgproperties="fixed" > <CENTER> <TABLE border=0 width=640> <TBODY> <TR> <TD> <CENTER><FONT color=#ff7f00 size=+2 face=arial><B><I>1900 'Rikers Island Rescue' Mystery Medal</B></I></FONT></CENTER> <TABLE border=0 width=150 align=right> <TBODY> <TR vAlign=middle> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="mystery-medal-04.jpg" width=140></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>An overview of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY medal awarded to William J. Murray. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE> <TABLE border=0 width=280 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="mystery-medal-01.jpg" width=270></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Below the medal's silver color bar inscribed "Life Saver" appear two gold color bars: the first inscribed with the honoree's name, the second with "Rikers Is., Oct. 14, '00." <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE> <font face=arial color=blue size=+1><center><b>NY Life Saving Corps Inscription Raises Intriguing Questions</center></font><p> </b><FONT size=2 face=arial>This presentation, which explores some interesting aspects about the origins of the Rikers Island jail complex, takes a Q & A form. The inquiry came from a Long Island visitor to our New York Correction History Society (NYCHS) web site -- <i>correctionhistory.org.</i> The response was framed by the webmaster after research which, along the way, turned up some intriguing bits about an early Commissioner who rates being called "Correction's Father of Rikers Island" -- Francis J.Lantry. Anyone with additional facts, images, ideas and/or theories to contribute, please email them to <a href="mailto:nychs@nyc.rr.com"><img src="mocrrcyntashcyn.jpg"> </a> </font><font face=TimesRoman size=3><b><p>WEB SITE VISITOR'S INQUIRY --<p> Dear NYCHS Webmaster: <p>I am writing in hope that you can supply me with information about a medal I have in my possession. I believe it was awarded to my maternal grandfather William J. Murray by the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of New York in recognition of his heroism as a Life Saver. Its inscription, below the large-lettered word "Rescue," references in smaller lettering "Rikers Is." and "Oct. 14, '00." At that point in time, he was a young man married only a few years. His first-born, my mother, was just a toddler back then. The family lived on Manhattan's East Side in the vicinity of 50th Street. <p>Grandfather Murray died many decades ago. I never met him. A cousin sent me the medal from among Grandfather Murray's possessions that had passed down on his side of our extensive family. The medal was one of the few personal effects of Grandfather Murray not consumed by a fire at the home of one of his off-spring. <p><TABLE border=0 width=280 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="mystery-medal-03.jpg" width=270></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>The medal's design includes insignia of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY. That logo features the organization's initials on a life preserver, an anchor and oars of the type used with row boats which the group kept ready at rescue stations scattered along the city waterways. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>My cousin sent it to me because I am drawing up a family tree; that is, a kind of genealogical history. No one now alive on either side of the family knows how Grandfather Murray came to be awarded the heroism medal. <p>My maternal grandfather worked as a construction laborer. The indications are he probably was a bricklayer, although he may also have done some carpentry too. <p>Nothing in our family lore nor in my research suggests he was ever a Rikers prison keeper or an inmate. So I have no idea how or why his Life Saver medal would be inscribed "Rikers Is." below the word "Rescue." Nor do I have any idea whom he rescued or what were the circumstances of the rescue. <p> <p>I am sending photos of the medal in hope they might help you assist me. <p>Thank you for your consideration in this matter. <p><br><TABLE border=0 width=200 align=right> <TBODY> <TR vAlign=middle> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="1902-assembly-documents.jpg" width=190></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Image of cover of 1902 NYS`Assembly Session Documents Volume XI accessed via Google Books. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Sincerely yours, <p>J____ M____ D_________ </B></FONT></FONT> <P><center>* * * --- * * * --- * * *</center> <P><BR><B>NYCHS WEBMASTER RESPONSE -- <p>Dear J____ M____ D_________ : <p>Thank you for sharing images of your grandfather's medal with the New York Correction History Society web site. Working with the limited information provided, NYCHS research has come up with some additional facts about the rescue to which the medal refers. Hopefully some visitors to our web site will have other details to contribute. <p>NYCHS research found reference to the medal in a report by the volunteer rescue organization to the NYS`Assembly. The corps' report carried the following entry, #12, on a list of its 1901 heroism medal recipients: <p><center><table width=500><tr><td><font face=arial size=2><b>12. WM. M. MURRAY, Rikers Island, October 14, 1900. -- Rescued Charles and Jacob Kroll, of 69 Bloomfield street.</font</b></td></tr></table></center> <p><TABLE border=0 width=500 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="murray-saves-2a.jpg" width=490></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Image of relevant entry in 1901 medal recipients list of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY from the 1902 NYS Assembly Session documents via Google Books. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>The entry appears on Page 25 of the XI Volume of the Documents of the NYS Assembly's 1902 Session. The list, which begins on Page 23 and continues through to its 158th entry on Page 43, is entitled: "HONOR SCROLL OF NEW YORK, 1901. To Whom Medals Have Been Awarded." <P>Unfortunately, NYCHS' on-line searches so far have not found any other details about the rescue nor about the two Krolls rescued. The 1901 entry's address for them (69 Bloomfield Street) apparentlhy no longer exists. Indeed, very little of Bloomfield street itself still exists, or at least could not be found via the Internet. However, just enough of Bloomfield Street remains to establish that the Krolls' given residence must have been situated very close to the Hudson River in the vicinity of what back then was the city's huge meatpacking center alongside the piers. <p>The area still includes a meatpacking district although not as vast as in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. <p><TABLE border=0 width=500 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="2-bloomfield-map.jpg" width=490></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B>ABOVE: <I>Close-up via Google Maps shows current location of NYC Sanitation Dept. District 2 Garage at 2 Bloodfield Street abutting the Hudson. Back at time of their Oct. 14, 1900, rescue, the address for Charles and Jacob Kroll was 69 Bloomfield Street.</i> BELOW:<i> Via Wikipedia, a view of where Bloomfield Street meets the Hudson. Note Sanitation truck at DSNY's garage where Bloomfield Street juts out into the river. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="2-bloomfield.jpg" width=490></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> </TBODY></TABLE>The address<br> 2 Bloomfield Street is the current location of NYC Sanitation Department's Manhattan District 2 Garage near West Street at the Hudson River. <p>For decades in the late 19th Century through much of the 20th Century, the NYC Fire Department maintained on the Hudson at the foot of Bloomfield Street various of its marine units, such as Engine 51 and later Engine 86 and Battalion 25. The location also saw service as headquaters for FDNY Manhattan marine divisions 1, 2, and 3. <p>Given that the Krolls' home was situated so close to this busy point along the Hudson, the riverside location would seem more likely to have been the vicinity for the rescue in question than the waters washing Rikers Island. <p>In the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY entry for Murray's award, the position of "Rikers Island" comes immediately after the recipient's name. That positioning may have been intended to identify his personal location rather than to identify the location of the rescue itself. Examination of the other entries on the list shows the corps generally followed a set sequence with the entries' data: <p>First came the entry sequence number. Second, the recipient's name in capital letters. Third, the recipient's location. Fourth, the rescue date. Fifth, the names of those saved, and often but not always some details about the rescue such as its location and circumstance: overturned boat, broken ice, fall overboard, etc. <p><TABLE border=0 width=500 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="blackwell-tugger.jpg" width=490></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Image of another entry in 1901 medal recipients list of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY from the 1902 NYS Assembly Session documents via Google Books. Note that the recipient's personal location -- in his case, his work place, the tug -- comes immediately after the name. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Assuming that pattern applies to entry #12, then "Rikers Is." may well be an indication of the place with which the honoree was associated, not where the rescue took place, although the two locations could on occasion be related. <p>Example: entry #49 reads "Blackwell's Island tug Thomas E. Gilroy" right after the recipient's name ROBERT M, HERBER and right before the rescue date June 9, 1901 and rescue details "Rescued John Evers of the Almshouse, Blackwells Island, who fell overboard at 17th St., East River." <p><TABLE border=0 width=270 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="Thomas-Francis-Gilroy2.jpg" width=260></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Thomas Francis Gilroy, for whom was named the tug mentioned in rescue list entry #49, served as NYC Mayor when the dual Department of Public Charities and Correction ran Blackwell's Island. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Leave aside for the moment that the entry got the middle initial of the tug boat name wrong (it should have been "F" for Francis), the point is that the location cited immediately after the name was the recipient's personal location. In the case of recipient #49, his work place: the tug. <p> Interestingly, the tug boat, originally operated by the Department of Public Charities and Correction, was named for the last NYC mayor to complete his full term before that dual agency was split into two separate municipal departments. <p>Under the legislation dividing the dual agency, effective Jan. 1, 1896, Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island) came under the Department of Public Charities jurisdiction, even though the split-off Department of Correction continued to run the Penitentiary and Workhouse on that island.<p>Thus at the time of Herber rescue of John Evers, the Gilroy steamer was a Public Charities Department boat. <p>When considering the possibilities for the 1900 rescue medal's "Rikers Is." reference, be aware that as the 19th Century ended and the 20th began, the island consisted of fewer than 100 acres. <p><TABLE border=0 width=270 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="1898streetcleaners.jpg" width=260></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Above is a detail from a DSNY web site image of an illustration depicting roll call of city's street cleaners circa 1898. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>It was being expanded via landfill operations that started in earnest nine years after the municipal government acquired the island in 1884.<p>Preparation of the underwater crib work to hold the "fill" began in 1893 <p>Soon thereafter Queens homeowners, who lived downwind from the garbage dumping going on at Rikers, demanded NYC Street Cleaning Department Commissioner William S. Andrews be indicted for polluting the air their families had to smell and breathe.<p>In reaction to these complaints during the summer of 1894, a Grand Jury did inspect the sanitation agency's dumping activity there and concluded the commissioner was doing the best he could to prevent and reduce the foul odors. <p><TABLE border=0 width=270 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="carpenters.jpg" width=260></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>Above is a detail from a "1920s Scenes of Rikers Rising from the River" close-up showing landfill operation crews engaged in carpentry work erecting a dock extending out into East River waters. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>I cite the landfill work at Rikers because it included the frequent comings and goings of scows filled with garbage, trash and various debris that required off-loading.<p>If you visit the <a href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/nycdoc/1920s-Rikers-landfill-photos/1920s-rikers-landfill-scenes-starter.html">"1920s Scenes of Rikers Rising from the River"</a> presentation elsewhere on this web site, you will see images showing how the very labor-intensive project involved men working near or over deep waters. <p>Among the close-up images in the 1920s Scenes #2 and #7 are a couple showing that the cabin on a scow sometimes served as "a home away from home." <p><TABLE border=0 width=280 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="scowcabin1.jpg" width=270></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I><I>Above is a detail from a "1920s Scenes of Rikers Rising from the River" close-up showing landfill operation scowman sunnying himself on the "porch" of his "cabin home away from home.". <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Scene #10 close-ups show landfill operation crews engaged in carpentry work constructing a dock. <p>Even though the close-up images are derived from photos taken decades later, the basic nature of the activity had not really changed much from 1900. <p>Our research also shows the Department of Docks during 1900 rendered construction services to the Department of Correction in the repair of the penal agency's own boat launch facilities on Rikers as well as building hoists, piers and platforms on the island for the Street Cleaning Department. <p><TABLE border=0 width=300 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><a href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/1906keepersball/1906keepersball.html"><IMG src="lantry-2b.jpg" width=290></a></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B>ABOVE: <I>A young Commissioner Francis J. Lantry.</i> BELOW:<i> An older Commissioner Francis J. Lantry. Click either image to access the "Virtual Tour of the 1906 NYC Prison Keeper's Dinner" on this site. Whom among the mustached men in the photos strikes you as most resembling Lantry. Click browser's "back" button to return. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><a href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/1906keepersball/1906keepersball.html"><IMG src="lantry-1b.jpg" width=290></a></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> </TBODY></TABLE>These observations point up that the various construction activities taking place on the island could have provided employment for your grandfather's masonry and carpentry skills. <p>He could have wortked there either as a municipal employee with one of the city agencies involved at Rikers or as a construction worker hired by one of the private firms under contract with a city agency at Rikers. <p>I can imagine a senario in which Grandfather Murray performed the rescue in the Hudson when his job at the time placed him in that vacinity but, after that work ended, he found a job at the island being built in the East River.<p>The time possibly spent by the Volunteer Life Saving Corps (VLSC) hunting his whereabouts may explain why a rescue which happened in October of 1900 didn't make the honors scroll of 1900. <p>Since your family lore contains no hint of his ever being incarcerated at Rikers (or anywhere else), I too am inclined to regard as unlikely his having been a Rikers inmate either at the time of his heroism or at its recognition by the VLSC. <p>I draw encouragement for this belief from the fact that the Correction Commissioner at the time was one Francis J. Lantry, a politician not adverse to interacting with the press to promote himself, his candidates, his causes, and the municipal agencies he led (Correction, 1/l/1898 -- 12/31/1901, 1/l/1904 -- 10/10/06 and Fire, 10/10/06 -- 2/10/1908). <p>Lantry seems have been the consummate politician from youth. <p>Apprenticed as a butcher's helper, he became active in the trade union movement, rising through the organizational structure to the high rank of Master Workman in his local Knights of Labor's assembly and for years served as its representative to the powerful District Assembly 49 in NYC. <p>DA 49's contingent to the 1886 K of L's national convention in Richmond, Va., kicked up a social storm <ul><li>by including among its 60 delegates a "colored man," Frank Ferrell, <li>by refusing to be separated from him in hotel and theatre accomodations, <li> by insisting he be permitted to address the huge gathering and <li>by proudly proclaiming sentiments later summarized thusly: "In the field of labor and American citizenship, we recognize no line of race, creed, politics or color."</ul> <P><TABLE border=0 width=500 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="lantry-plaque.jpg" width=490></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>The structure at 165 West 29th St., Manhattan, is a former firehouse. So atests a building plaque proclaiming Francis J. Lantry as Fire Commissioner. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Regardless of whether Lantry was a member of that trail-blazing DA 49 contingent himself, its high visibility and vitality as activist labor organization was very much the political environment that contributed to shaping his character and propelling him to seek public office. In 1892, he ran for Alderman as a Tammany Democratic candidate and was narrowly elected. Renominated 1894, he was elected, again narrowly. The district pre-Lantry had been consistently Republican. <p>Lantry was named Correction Commissioner by Mayor Robert Van Wyck, effective Jan. 1, 1897, serving through Dec. 31, 1901, the first of his two separate terms as head of NYC DOC. He later also served as Fire Commissioner. <p><TABLE border=0 width=270 align=left> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="Manning2.jpg" width=260></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER>During Lantry's first term as Correction Commissioner, his Deputy Commissioner was a former editor and reporter for William Randoph Heast's morning daily <i>New York Journal,</i> Neuville Osgood Fanning, above. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Certainly, his proven organizational skills were a factor weighing favorably in Van Wyck's considering him to head up the correctional system. That Lantry was the Tammany District Leader where the mayor also resided and voted likely figured as another factor in his being appointed. <p>NYC DOC's first five-borough commissioner (the city had just emerged as "Greater New York") was not one of those bureaucrats who shrink from encounters with the press. <p>He seemed to welcome them, which may account for why his deputy commissioner (the agency had only one in those days) was a former editor and reporter for William Randoph Heast's morning daily <i>New York Journal,</i> Neuville Osgood Fanning. The latter, after he left municipal service, worked for the <i>Brooklyn Eagle.</i> <p>Among the causes Lantry promoted through the news media of his day was Rikers expansion. If any single municipal official deserves the doubious distinction of being called the "Father" of that penal colony island, it's Lantry. While he had no hand in its acquisition by the municipal government, more than a decade and a half later he was the key player in reviving the city's moribund plans to grow the island into a correctional complex. <p>Under the headline "Reclaiming Rikers Island," the <i>New York Times</i> on Nov. 25, 1900, declared: <center><table width=550><tr><td><font face=arial size=2><b>It is largely to Commissioner of Correction Lantry's efforts that the plans and the scheme whereby Riker s Island, bought by this city in 1884 for $180,000, can be turned into a property worth several millions without the expenditure of a cent. The island was originally bought for a a site for a new penitentiary, but the money necessary for improvements was not available. A few frame buildings to serve as temporary prison quarters were erected at the time. These, however, remained unusued. Not even water, for drinking or other purposes, was provided. The island was left to rot or to sprout, just as it pleased, and, as far as its value to the city was concerned, it was a dead loss. <p>Such was the state of aftairs when the law was passed in New York that prohibited convicts' handiwork from competing in the open market with the products of labor: The question was what was to be done with the prisoners to keep them employed without violating the new law. Riker's Island, lying within plain view of the granite walls on Blackwell's Island, solved the problem. Mr. Lantry proposed to use the convicts to level and lay out and extend the useless property, and, once this complete, to build a new penitentiary thereon. <p>. . . the area of the island was eighty acres. By filling in the shoal spots and building a sea wall to retain the filled ground the area of the island would be trebled. Long ago, during the administration of Mayor Gilroy, an effort had been made to reclaim the submerged land, and the effort had been a dismal failure . . . . </font> </td></tr></table></center> <p><TABLE border=0 width=330 align=right> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="MayorGeoBMcClellan2.jpg" height=190> <IMG src="Charles_F__Murphy2.jpg" height=190> </CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#ff7f00> <CENTER> <H4><B><I>The power struggle between Mayor George McClellan, ABOVE LEFT, and Tammany Hall boss Charles Murphy, ABOVE RIGHT, caught Francis J. Lantry in the middle. He was one of only two Commissioners whom McClellan carried over into his second term. Lantry would have been content to continue heading the Correction agency, which he had previously led during Mayor Robert Van Wyck's administration. <p>But in October 1906 McClellan wanted to entice away from Murphy one the latter's allies on Tammany's executive committee, John V. Coggey, a borough superintendent of sewers. The carrot was the Correction post. <p>Also at that time, the mayor had need to fill with a proven McClellan loyalist a commissioner vacancy created at FDNY when one of his closest confidants, John H. O'Brien, resigned that post to take on what considered then a bigger position, the NYC Water Supply, Gas and Electricity Commissionership. <p>In that era, a question likewise arose whether or not being transferred from running DOC to head FDNY was a demotion for Lantry, even though the shift involved no change in salary ($7,500). As the </i>Times<i> phrased it: "There might be a difference of opinion whether Mr.Lantry's change [of assignment] is a promotion but the Mayor's harty endorsement of Mr. Lantry made clear how Mr.McClellan regarded it: "'Oh, [Lantry] is a splendid Commissioner of Correction . . . I wish I could distribute him around . . . he is a very efficient Correction Commissioner. . . . " <p>Lantry, also a Tammany district leader and member of the Hall's executive committee, had sought to maintain collegial relations with Tamanny chief Murphy. But when push came to shove, Lantry stood with McClellan against the Murphy move to have Tammany back publisher William Randolph Hearst, BELOW RIGHT, for N.Y. Governor at the November 1906 Democrat state convention in Buffalo. <p>Later Lantry was accused of working less than enthusiastically on behalf of Hearst as the party's top of the ticket. The lack of full support for Hearst among the Democratic Party's district leaders and grassroots organization was a factor in the victory of Republican nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, BELOW LEFT. <p>Later, when Murphy turned off the patronage spigget for city job seekers from Lantry's district and put up a candidate to challenge him in a district leadership primary, the veteran politician stepped down for the sake of the home district. <BR></B></I></H4></CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> <TD bgColor=#007fff vAlign=bottom> <CENTER><IMG src="Gov-Charles-Evans-Hughes.jpg" height=230> <IMG src="wm-randy-hearst.jpg" height=230> </CENTER></TD></TR> <TR> </TBODY></TABLE>The 1900 newspaper article detailed how Commissioner Lantry had his Rikers reclamation task force -- 200 inmates and their keepers -- ferried daily from Blackwell's Island to Rikers aboard DOC's "little steamer <i>William L. Strong,"</i> named for the mayor who presided over the spin-off of Correction and Public Charities as separate agencies from the dual Department of Public Charities and Correction. <p>The story described how Lantry publicly challenged other NYC agencies for not following up on the original plans to expand the island and how privately he wheeled, dealed and wheedled his way into getting necessary resources and approvals to advance the project. <p>While this aspect of the Rikers jail complex origins is interesting in itself, these facts are mentioned here to suggest that Lantry would have leaped at the opportunity to spotlight the island's reclamation that would have been presented if a DOC staffer or inmate assigned there had been among the heroism medal recipients. <p>The Commissioner was no stranger to the Volunteer Life Saving Corps of NY. He had been chosen by it, when an alderman, to present its herioism medal to a young woman from his district, she having rescued a 9-year-old who had fallen in the river at 34th St. Alderman Lantry delivered the main address at the ceremonies March 29, 1897. His readiness to serve as a VIP presenter of a VLSC medal demonstrated again Nov. 13, 1906, when as NYC Fire Commissioner he pinned the honor on Fireman Philip C. Pregenzel for rescues performed in the waters off Coney Island-Seagate, Brooklyn. <p>Because of the foregoing considerations, I share your belief, JMD, that your grandfather's connection to Rikers wasn't as a DOC staffer or inmate. Rather, I suspect he was among the construction artisans (bricklayer, mason, carpenter, etc.) who were employed by the various contractors working on the landfill project and that for some reasons of his own, he preferred not to have his home address published and simply had VLSC enter his general work place, Rikers Island, as his personal location. <p>In any event, his being recipient of a VLSC medal must be regarded a great honor since the corps was held in high esteem in the several states where its volunteers functioned as a kind of civilian auxiliary to the federal government's, U.S Life Saving Service, one of the Coast Guard's antecedent agencies. <p>While some corps units responded to emergencies in coastal waters, other units performed their rescue mission on inland waters. The corps units were very much community based and functioned with a high degree of degree of autonomy. The grassroot movement emerged not long after the Civil War and remained a presence in seaside and riverside locales well into the mid-20th Century, in some places even lingered into the late 20th and early 21st Century . <p>While some VLSC medals each year went to members who performed heroically in carrying out their particular unit's mission in a specific stituation, many medals also went to non-members for individual acts of heroism. <p>One such award went to a Rikers-connected carpenter/bricklayer from the East Side. No statute of limitations exists on saluting herorism. One hundred thirteen years later, congratulations are still in order for Grandpa Murray. Thank you, JMD, for giving us the opportunity to render an appropriate acknowledgment.</TBODY></TABLE></CENTer> </FONT></TD></TR> <TBODY></TBODY></P></TABLE></center> <P> <HR color=#ff7f00 SIZE=5 width="50%"> <CENTER></CENTER><HR="50%"> <P> <CENTER> <TABLE border=3 borderColor=#3333ff width=600> <TBODY> <TR> <TD bgColor=#87ceed width="25%"> <CENTER> <H5><B><A href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/index.html">To<BR>NYCHS<BR>Home Page</A></B></H5></CENTER></TD> <TD bgColor=#ff9900 width="25%"> <CENTER> <H5><B><A href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/nycdoc/html/nycdoc.htm">To<BR>NYCDOC<BR>History Menu</A></B></H5></CENTER></TD> <TD bgColor=#87ceed width="25%"> <CENTER> <H5><B><A href="http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/chronicl.html">To Correction<BR>Chronicles<BR>Starter Page</A></B></H5></CENTER></TD> <TD bgColor=#ff9900 width="25%"> <CENTER> <H5><B><A href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/doc/html/home/home.shtml">To<BR>NYC DOC<BR>Home Page</A></B></H5></CENTER></TD> </TR></TBODY></TABLE></CENTER></BODY></HTML>