The Life and Brawls of Thomas Madden — former chief of West Duluth Police, saloon keeper and old fashioned thug

This post is a follow up to the post requesting information about Duluth’s old bowery district. The focus here is on Tom Madden, who managed to find himself in the news a lot. Set the Wayback Machine for 1891 and we’ll go in chronological order from there.

Dec. 13, 1891 | Duluth News Tribune

Patrick Mulligan May Die From Injuries Received From Chief Madden.

Patrick Mulligan, who runs the “Little Diamond saloon on Central avenue, and who had his jaw broken a few days ago at the brickyard bagnio by a blow from ex Chief of Police Madden, was taken yesterday to St. Mary’s hospital, where he is now hovering between life and death. His jaw was set by Dr. Magie a day or two ago, but serious inflammation has set in, and the doctor said yesterday it would probably be necessary to put a silver tube in his throat to enable him to breathe. His case is a very serious one and the chances are even between life and death.

At one time yesterday his case was considered hopeless, but early this morning he was reported to be somewhat better.

Mulligan’s condition caused a great deal of talk on the streets yesterday. After Madden’s alleged assault upon the inmate of the bagnio, known as “Flosie [?],” and his alleged attack upon Mulligan, he is permitted to depart from the city without any attempt at apprehension. He gave it out that he was going to the Pacific coast, but it is understood that he is not so far away, and that the authorities will be able to place their hands upon him when wanted.

If Mulligan dies Madden will have to answer to one of the most serious charges on the criminal calendar.

* * *

March 10, 1896 | Duluth News Tribune

Spectators of the Murphy-Patterson Fight Are Being Arrested.
Warrants For a Large Number of Persons Have Been Issued.

There is trouble in store for the spectators of the Murphy-Patterson prize fight. Sheriff McKinnon of Carlton county arrived in the city yesterday morning, having with him warrants for the arrest of Referee Tom Madden, George Esh, a Herald reporter and a well known business man. All were served yesterday and in the afternoon the sheriff returned to his bailiwick having Mr. Madden in custody. George Esh and the evening paper man will do down today, and Sheriff McKinnon will be in town probably with several more warrants. He has a long list of the culprits, among whom are prominent business men, sports and several of the well known young men about town.

It is said the Carlton county authorities are in possession of kodak pictures of all the throng which surrounded the ring. This will be used as evidence. The statute provides a penalty of imprisonment for not less than thirty nor more than ninety days. The powers that be declare that there will be no alternative.

Mr. Madden was arraigned late in the afternoon before Justice Kemp. He pleaded not guilty and deposited $100 bail to secure his appearance for trial March 18. He returned to Duluth on the evening train.

“Sheriff McKinnon is all right,” said Mr. Madden last night to the News Tribune.

“He says he is aware that those who witnessed the fight were gentlemen, and would treat them as such if they would be fair with him. I would have gone down alone if he had asked me.

“I saw a pile of warrants about three inches high and the sheriff told me it included some of the most prominent business men and attorneys in town.

“I heard some talk about changing the charge on some of the spectators from aiding a prize fight to stealing hay. I don’t know what there is in it.”

* * *

August 9, 1897 | Duluth News Tribune

Paddy Hogan Charges Tom Madden With Assault.

An afternoon between Tom Madden and a man named Paddy Hogan, which occurred in the former’s saloon at 518 West Superior street on Saturday night, bids fair to result disastrously for Madden. Hogan applied to the police yesterday for a warrant for Madden and it will be issued today. Hogan alleges that he was in the saloon and had some words with Madden and that the latter became incensed and knocked him down and then kicked him in the head. Hogan had certainly suffered as his head was a mass of cuts when he showed up at police headquarters and one of his eyes was swollen shut. Hogan is small in stature and is almost a midget when compared with Madden.

* * *

September 12, 1899 | Duluth News Tribune

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November 6, 1899 | Duluth News Tribune

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June 17, 1902 | Duluth News Tribune

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November 9, 1906 | Duluth News Tribune

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January 12, 1911 | Duluth News Tribune


Les Nelson

about 14 years ago

Looks like he took a "vacation" from the fall of 1899 until the summer of 1902.

That is quite a detailed piece of the darker side of Duluth. Thanks for the nostalgic trip down memory lane.


about 14 years ago

William Faulkner?!? (September 12, 1899 article)

Good lord, he started early! He would have been two!


about 14 years ago

There are a lot of great lines in those clippings, but I think my favorite is "Hogan is small in stature and is almost a midget when compared with Madden."


about 14 years ago

Thanks for the info, I highly enjoyed it. A dry Duluth on Sundays, not much has changed.


about 14 years ago

Maybe that's why Faulkner doesn't make any damn sense.

I thought this guy must have been a nutjob, but then I read the part of his obituary where it said he was born in Canada, and suddenly it was all clear. Those Canadians, you have to watch your back when they're around.


about 13 years ago

September 12, 1899 | Duluth News-Tribune

Well Known Saloon Man Charged With Assault.

Tom Madden, a well-known saloon keeper, and Frank Adams were arrested yesterday on a charge of assault in the third degree. The complaining witness is Frank Corraly, but there is still another complaint for the men which was sworn to by Burt Emelew.

The two complainants allege that on Thursday afternoon Madden and Adams, together with William Faulkner, pounded them to the best of their ability. The story of the two men is that they went into Madden's saloon to rescue a friend that they say Faulkner had taken in from another saloon for the purpose of robbing him. They assert that when they went after their friend they were jumped on by the two men, and they show signs of hard treatment that they got somewhere. Adams also looks as if he might have been in a brawl.

Madden and Adams both pleaded not guilty yesterday and the examination was set for Tuesday morning. Madden went on his own recognizance but Adams was locked up in default of bail to the extent of $100. The men were arrested by Detective Troyer. He says that Madden admits punching one of the men while Adams admits that he got thrashed. Madden is said to have told the officer that the men were bums that went into the saloon for the purpose of robbing the friend of Faulkner. The complainants claim that they were knocked senseless and relieved of about $50 but no complaint has been made out for Madden and Adams as yet on that charge.


about 13 years ago

I love reading old-time news stories.  Sentences such as:  "Hogan is small in stature and is almost a midget when compared with Madden."


about 13 years ago

November 6, 1899 | Duluth News Tribune

Assault is Claimed to Have Occurred In Tom Madden's Saloon But Matter is Somewhat Mixed up—Cunningham is in St. Mary's Hospital Having Been Found Insensible on the Street.
With his face nearly beaten out of shape and his chest hurt James Cunningham was picked up at the corner of Eleventh avenue East and Superior street about 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon in a semi-unconscious condition, and taken to St. Mary's hospital. As usual, an investigation added another chapter to the long list of crimes, robberies and outrages that have occurred on the Bowery.

Cunningham was discovered lying on the street by a passer-by, who at once called up the ambulance and the man was taken to St. Mary's hospital. He soon recovered enough to talk, although evidently in great pain, while his mind was somewhat clouded by liquor.

Cunningham's stories of where he came from to Duluth don't coincide very well. He told the hospital attendant that he had recently arrived from North Dakota, where he had been working, but he informed Detective Troyer that he was one of the striking West Superior dock laborers, and had been on this side several days. The accounts of his injuries seem to agree all right, however. He said that on Saturday morning he was in Tom Madden's saloon, 630 West Superior street, and had been drinking heavily. After a time Cunningham asserts that he and Madden became engaged in an altercation, the cause of which he does not remember, until finally Madden rushed around the bar and gave him a number of punches in the face.

After having his physiognomy beaten up in bad shape, Cunningham claims that he was thrown down and Madden then jumped on his chest with both feet. Cunninghma's stories don't exactly agree here. It is said that he told the sisters at the hospital that Madden didn't jump on his chest, but that a stranger that was in the saloon did. To Detective Troyer the man claimed that all his injuries were due to Madden alone. After having been beaten and bruised until he was almost insensible, he claims to have been kicked out on the street. He wandered around all day yesterday and slept in some hallway Saturday night, and when he awoke yesterday morning he wandered around the city, going in an easterly direction, until he dropped on Eleventh avenue shortly before he was picked up.

To the detective, however, Cunningham said that he was taken to the Bethel last night by a stranger, who paid for him room for him, and that we wandered around the Bowery saloons most of Sunday. The latter story seems more correct, as inquiry at the Bethel branch on West Superior street elicited the information that a man named Cunningham was brought into the place last night by a man who registered and paid for Cunningham's lodging. The attendant at the Bethel says that he didn't notice anything wrong with the lodger's face, although he didn't pay any particular attention to the man. A man with a badly battered face was in the Bethel Sunday morning, however, although his identity is not known.

It is believed in some quarters that Cunningham's trouble really occurred Sunday morning instead of Saturday, and that the man is in such bad shape that he doesn't know when he was hurt. It is claimed that a man could not wander around the town with a chest in the condition of Cunningham's for twenty-four hours, and it is asserted that it would be a physical impossibility. The story of the Bethel attendant that Cunningham's face seemed to be all right Saturday night rather tends to confirm that view, in the opinion of many.

Madden's saloon was visited last evening, but the proprietor was not in. The bartender asserted, however, that Cunningham must be mistaken, as no such scrimmage as reported had taken place in that saloon. He claimed that if it had happened he would have learned of it, and was inclined to believe that Cunningham was probably too drunk to remember where the fight had taken place.

Last night the injured man was resting easily, although the extent of his injuries had not been fully learned.

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