As we stated in the short
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.
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
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
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
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
*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