Excerpt from my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the Bloody Fifth in Philadelphia.” http://tinyurl.com/zbtz6an
1907—A glimpse at some of the bosses…
The Vare brothers—George, Edwin, and William—were dominant figures in the city of Philadelphia. With their start as sons of a South Philadelphia pig farmer, they all got involved in contracting with the city and had their hands in local politics from a young age. George, a produce huckster, drew his brothers into rubbish, garbage, and street-cleaning contracts. Called “slopcart salesmen,” they dumped the collected garbage along the Delaware River.
George Vare got elected to the State Senate, where he played a considerable role in making Boise Penrose (“the big grizzly” as he was known by his admirers) an important figure by the time Thomas Smith arrived in Harrisburg.
William S. Vare was the current recorder of deeds, having been re-elected in 1904 and now again in 1907. In this position, he had influence in the surety business of the city. It was Bill who arranged this meeting for brother Ed with Tom Smith.
All strong Republicans, they had deep roots in the densely populated area of Philadelphia below South Street and all the way down to “the neck”—home of the Philadelphia Naval Yard.
The more things change…the more they stay the same. Sad, but true.