BLACK UNDERWORLD (THE BEGINNING)

As we stated in the short story Original Gangstas, Madame Stephanie St. Clair (first photo) was responsible for bringing the numbers (policy) racket to the United States in the 1920's.

St. Clair was a black French woman from Martinique.  In 1922, St. Clair took $10,000 of her own money and opened up a numbers bank in Harlem.  She became known as Queenie throughout Harlem.

Queenie recruited blacks to support her and her growing numbers game.

Within a year, she was worth more than $500,000 dollars with more than 40 runners and 10 comptrollers in charge.

For a short time, St. Clair was the wealthiest black woman in America.  It was unheard of for a black woman to have this type of money, especially in the 1920's, when the racial climate was extremely violent.  The following year, St. Clair's wealth surpassed $1 million.

Gangster Dutch Schultz sent two hit men after St. Clair, he wanted to take over her operation; she escaped assassination by hiding under her bed.

St. Clair may have brought the numbers game to New York but Casper Holstein (second photo) refined it and organized it.

Holstein worked as a janitor at an investment firm, while mopping, he would often observe how business was run.  He would eventually cultivate an interest in the stock market and began studying the system and its numbers. One day, he sat in a closet, studying clearance house totals, surrounded by mops and brooms, Holstein came up with a way to organize and fine tune St. Clair's operation.  He quit his job.

Holstein would run the administrative end of St. Clair's business, similar to a Wall Street firm.

Holstein would eventually branch out to head his own numbers operation. He would become known as the "Bolito King." Soon, he became the richest black man in the country, grossing $12,000 per day.  He was not selfish with his wealth, he became a humanitarian and a philanthropist by building dormitories at black colleges, donating money to black causes; supporting a Baptist school in Liberia and Harlem's poor children.   He also contributing to black artists, publications and hurricane relief funds.  At the time of his death, Casper Holstein was worth over $2 million dollars.

Much is not known regarding St. Clair's death.

The mob eventually muscled their way into the lucrative numbers racket, leaving numerous dead bodies in their wake.

*To read part two of this story and the eventual organization of the black underworld (Nicky Barnes, Frank Matthews, etc.) click on the following link,  Original Gangstas

*Source: Crimelibrary.com

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