Through Ellwood City Memories, I get to have a lot of fun meeting new people, seeing the enjoyment they get talking about the past, and learning all kind of things about my town. One of my favorite parts of Ellwood City Memories is the “History’s Mysteries”. I have learned a lot from some of the questions that have been brought up, but on the other side it drives me a little crazy when I can not get an answer. There is one particular mystery that a number of people have speculated about, but I have not gotten a proven definite answer to “Who or what was the Washer Gang?”
The first time I heard of the Washer Gang it sounded like it was a Prohibition-era, bank robbing, American gangster group that might have included the likes of John Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson. Then when I seen a picture of the men that belonged to the gang, wearing their suit and ties with button shoes and hats; well that just seemed to confirm it.
A little more investigation into the group seemed to indicate that the gang was earlier than the prohibition and closer to the earlier part of the 1900′s. One picture is of a member of the gang in his brand new car that he purchased from Badger Brothers in town here. It also appears that the members of the gang ranged in age from 17 to 25 or so and they actually had a clubhouse with a big bright sign reading “Washer-Gang Athletic Club”. Advertising is not exactly something a secret crime syndicate usually does.
Pictured above Harry C Newton, Joe Bellora, Jim Shallenberger, Fred Shelly, Charlie Stillwagon, Skinny Riley, Bert Shallenberger, Skinny Innes, and Jim Houk.
Apparently the Washer Gang was an “Athletic Club” from Hazel Dell, PA which you may recall was the Northside of the creek until becoming a part of Ellwood City. However, before Ellwood City became Ellwood City in 1892, both sides of the creek was all Hazel Dell.
We could not find any mention of this particular club in any of the history books. Mrs. Louise Carroll has written a number of articles on the gang for the Ellwood City Ledger; most recently in October 2010, January 2011, and April 2011.
Organizations like this are exactly the kind of things that this web page was started for. The history of our area is disappearing and we need someone somewhere to help us to keep these memories alive. If you know anything about this club, it’s members, or teh name of those pictured above that we do not have the name of please share. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your memories below in the comments section.
In the attached pictures, we have identified the following men, we are not sure if all were members of the Washer Gang, or just friends of members; Albert Doak, Archie Houk, Archie Moffett, Arthur Burbee, Babe Buggie, Bert Shallenberger, Charles Fye, Charlie Morrow, Charlie Stillwagon, Earl Rinker, Elmer Haswell, Evert Morrow, Fred Shelby, George Bundy, George James, George Shelby, George Thomas,Harry C Newton, James Shallenberger, Jim Houk, Joe Bellora, Joe Sheller, Lawrence Jones, Lee Waddington, Less Harper, Loyal Jones, Pat Rinker, Patsy Covert, Ralph Newton, Red Duffy, Skinny Riley, Skinny Innes, Tom Burbee, Walter Houk, Weeley Mercer, and Yellow Duffy.