Charles M. Wallace’s Boy Gangs of Richmond

09/26/2014 11:10 AM by

The Boy Gangs of Richmond in the Dear Old Days: A Page of the City’s Lesser History is an out-of-print history of the city’s rapscallion youth by Charles M. Wallace from 1938.

I’ve never seen a copy in real life, though Richmond Then and Now has excerpts from the book available, and the stories (and names) are fascinating.

Someone really needs to make kid-sized shirts for the Union Hill Cats, the Church Hill Cats, the Twenty-Seventh Street Gang, the Fourth Street Horribles, the Butchertown Cats, the Pollywogs…

An account of The Shockoe Hill Cats:

I will give one of my earliest memories. My father and mother were driving out one afternoon in the late summer and this small personage was with them. I must have been very small, indeed, for I remember that I had on kilts, not having as yet attained my fourth birthday, when I was to assume the manly garb.

We drove to Shockoe Hill and the carriage stopped, so that we might take the view. There were no houses there at that time, save that one in which had lived the President of the late Confederate States and that other in which had dwelt the Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens. The hill had a flat top and precipitous sides. Some boys were playing at a distance from the brow of the hill; and at another point, two or three larger boys – they seemed like grown young men, to my small eyes – were shooting bull bats.

Of a sudden came the Butchertown cats, swarming up the hillside and throwing rocks. The boys on top the hill stopped their game and ran to the brow of the hill to defend the position. And a sharp battle developed in a few seconds. I remember that many of the Butcher cats had slings.




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