Transformed, Or, The History of a River Thief, Briefly Told
by McAuley, Jeremiah
[New York]: Published by Himself. Very Good. (1876). First Edition. Hardcover. 76 pp. pages; Publisher's brown cloth, both covers with an elaborate decorative pattern with floral elements forming a border around a central panel, in which the title is stamped in gilt on the front cover, spine is plain, without lettering or decoration, pale peach coated endpapers. Wood-engraved portrait of the author as frontispiece. There are two additional full-page wood-engraved plates in the text. Copyright in the name of Jeremiah McAuley, dated 1876. This copy has a brief gilt inscription on the front free endpaper, dated Christmas, 1880. Jeremiah McAuley was born in 1839 in County Kerry, Ireland. His father was a counterfeiter who fled home to escape the law. At the age of thirteen, Jerry was sent to America to live with a married sister in New York City. Soon he was running with a gang on Water Street and was supporting himself by stealing. Later he was arrested and sentenced to fifteen years in Sing Sing Prison. He claims to have been innocent of those particular charges, but the book details many other crimes of the author's youth. While in jail he attended talks by a missionary convict, Orville Awful Gardiner, and began to meditate on the mistakes of his life - whcih lead to McAuley's reading the Bible in search of forgiveness for his sins. After reading it through twice, he was converted to Christ through the efforts of a lady missionary who visited the prison. His attitude and conduct changed to the effect that he was let out of prison in 1864 after serving seven years and two months. Upon release, despite his new faith, he soon returned to crime and alcohol, acting as a thief, smuggler and fence. He found lodging in a "lager-bier" saloon. McAuley claimed that beer of this sort had come up since he had gone away to prison. Assured that it was wholesome and harmless as root beer, the author took to drink, and beer quickly led to stronger stuff. The Civil War was ongoing, and the author made a living as an enlistment bounty agent - getting men half drunk, talking them into enlisting and collecting a half share of their enlistment bonus. But, with the end of the war, this lucrative endeavor ceased. The author then became a fence, buying and selling stolen goods, mostly from sailors and boat captains, paying with counterfeit money. This habit became somewhat discouraging to trade, so the author took to stealing directly, mostly from the boats. The following lurid and detailed account provides both the title and the heat of this little book. Finally, after some fits and starts, McAuley was saved again. After claiming to have had a vision of himself helping the poor, he raised money from various organisations, and on October 8th, 1872 set up a mission at 316 Water Street, New York. Assisted by his wife, Maria, who had shared his life of crime, he tended to the poor, providing food and clothing, as well as religious instruction. The same year he was given a new building by an eccentric member of the consolidated stock exchange, and renamed the mission the McAuley Water Street Mission. Night after night, many of the seats were filled with drunks and tramps looking for a place of rest and relief from the cold. McAuley's mission accepted anyone regardless of how dirty he looked, how foul he smelled or how uncertainly he stood to his feet. In 1882 he also founded the Cremorne Mission on West 32nd Street. Turning to journalism to promote his endeavours, in June 1883, he began Jerry McAuleys Newspaper which included accounts of his work and statements from those who had converted. Jerry McAuley died of consumption on September 18th, 1884 and was buried at Woodlawn cemetery. The Rev Robert M Offord edited his autobiography, which was printed in 1885 as "Jerry McAuley: His life and Work." His mission still operates at 90 Lafayette Street, New York. One of the plates depicts his wife Maria, who shared both ends of his remarkable life; the other depicts the steam vessel "Idaho" which burned on the river (as the author and a confederate were rowing out with the intention of robbing it. There are an uncountable number of accounts of sinners saved published, but this one is a classic of American crime. A well preserved copy in its original binding, with just two or three leaves with a few diffuse spots in the margins, otherwise tight and clean. ; Experience the pleasure of reading and appreciating this actual printed item. It has its own physical history that imbues it with a character lacking in ephemeral electronic renderings. . (Inventory #: 39135)
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