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Primary Sources: Ice Cream and Cake

During his second week in New York's famous jail, the Tombs, Harry Thaw bought fellow prisoners Fourth of July treats while detectives and the district attorney built their case against him.


New Light Shed on Actors in Roof Garden Tragedy

New York Daily Tribune
Thursday, July 5, 1906

Developments yesterday in the case against Harry Kendall Thaw, who shot and killed Stanford White, made the District Attorney's office confident that the net is slowly but surely being tightened about the prisoner. The efforts which Thaw, greatly aided by public opinion, at first made to show White as a man of exceptionally immoral habits, it is believed, have proved worthless.

The District Attorney's office yesterday received the original records of the detectives who had worked for Thaw and followed White. These records, tending to show that the stories told about White were exaggerated, have greatly strengthened the case for the state.

Not only has this offering of records hurt Thaw's chances, it is believed, but the District Attorney is busily engaged investigating two stories which have reached him. The first, which is considered the more important, is the story regarding a suit which Mrs. Thaw, when she was Evelyn Nesbit, is alleged to have threatened to bring against Thaw. Thaw, in settlement of it, the District Attorney has been informed, signed a paper which places him in anything but an enviable light.

The District Attorney has the name of the lawyer who witnessed this paper and he will be subpoenaed and forced to tell what he knows of the transaction. Not only will the lawyer be examined, it is announced, but a copy of the affidavit in the case will be in the District Attorney's hands within a day or two. Through this affidavit the character of Thaw will be fully exposed to the prosecution, and Mrs. Thaw, it is also understood, will be in anything but an enviable position.


Another story which is being investigated and which the District Attorney is informed as absolutely authentic, concerns Mrs. Thaw's actions since her marriage.

It was announced yesterday that detectives working for the District Attorney were out on these new developments and would be able to serve subpoenas on several people wanted as witnesses. Some of these persons will be at the District Attorney's office to-day or to-morrow and will be forced to tell their versions of the story.

Counsel for the defense of Thaw took an off day yesterday and taking advantage of the lull in the case, went out of the city for a needed rest. Both ex-Judge William M. K. Olcott and Terence J. McManus will return this morning, and will confer with Thaw to-day regarding new features in the case.

Assistant District Attorney Garvan was also out of the city yesterday. He will return this morning. Prior to his departure on Tuesday night he had a long conference with a witness, who furnished him much valuable information, it is said, and thereafter instructed the detectives on work to be done yesterday to unearth the information given him. Mr. Garvan is known to be much impressed with the two stories told him, and has reason to believe that each of them is true. The detectives' records, which he received on Tuesday, however, are considered by him the most important evidence thus far obtained against Thaw.

That the many friends of the Thaw family have awakened to the necessity of almost incessant work to free Thaw became apparent yesterday, when it was learned that Colonel H. Sellers McKee, of Pittsburg, had arrived in the city to see what could be done for Thaw. Colonel McKee is president of the First National Bank of Pittsburg. He is staying at the Waldorf-Astoria. He was asked about the case, and said that every one in Pittsburg who had known Thaw's father, William Thaw, was extremely interested in the case and was willing to do whatever could be done to help free Thaw.


"William Thaw was a great chum of mine," Colonel McKee said. "I and all William Thaw's old friends are very much interested. We are not so much interested on Harry's account solely as through our friendship for his father. He was one of the finest men that ever lived.

"We have all talked the case over, and stand ready at any time to come forward for the financial end of the defense, if needed, but I know it is not. I know that Harry's family will spend every cent necessary to get him clear of this terrible charge. Personally I will willingly give $50,000 any time if the defense wants it, and I know of many old friends of William Thaw that would do the same thing. We are a unit down there that Thaw must be freed."

Harry Thaw yesterday "treated" his fellow prisoners in the Tombs. As is the custom on the Fourth of July and other holidays, all of the women prisoners had ice cream and cake. The men prisoners would have fared no better than usual had not Thaw noticed the ice cream and cake being taken through the cells and asked the Rev. Mr. Wade what it was all about. He was told that the women prisoners, through the generosity of friends, were getting ice cream and cake.

"Can't I get in on that?" he asked the chaplain.

"Of course you can," Mr. Wade told him. "We would be only too glad if you desired to aid some of the unfortunates here and give them a little out of the ordinary."

Thaw was eager in his efforts to supply the ice cream and cake. He sent for the prison caterer and made arrangements with him for a generous supply. It was necessary for Thaw to purchase a large quantity, owing to the crowded condition of the Tombs, but every prisoner had sufficient and some left over. Even the deputy wardens and all the keepers had their supply. Thaw ordered forty-six quarts of ice cream and twenty-two dozen cakes for the prisoners. He ate heartily of the extra fare himself.


Thaw had prepared himself for a hot day in the Tombs yesterday, as he ordered four bottles of Koumyiss, which he sipped at frequent intervals during the day. Aside from one mail delivery in the morning he had nothing to occupy his time. There were a score of letters in this mail, and Thaw read them, saving a number of them for his counsel's perusal to-day. Mrs. Thaw did not see him yesterday. She was again unable to get a special permit, which is the only permit recognizable on Sundays and holidays, and Thaw therefore had no visitors.

Inquiries at the Hotel Lorraine, 45th street and Fifth avenue yesterday regarding Mrs. Harry K. Thaw showed that beyond suffering from a cold she is in good health. Mrs. Thaw sent down word by one of the hotel servants that "her health was excellent, with the exception of a slight cold."

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