Dan, generally referred to as “Uncle Dan,” was the more forward of the four brothers O’Connell — Dan, John, Edward, and Patrick. Despite dropping out of school in fifth grade, he was elected to office and became Albany’s Democratic Party leader.
Allegedly, when someone asked Uncle Dan why the city workers weren’t pad a higher wage, he responded, “Why pay someone a high wage, when you can hire 3 or 4 men for the same money?”
John J O'Connell, Jr.
“Butch” O’Connell, Jr.
John was the son of John “Solly” O’Connell, Sr and nephew to Daniel P. O’Connell and Edward J. O’Connell.
Mobsters kidnapped him in 1933 and demanded $250,000 ransom. Eventually, John was returned unharmed — for only $40,000. Eight mobsters were convicted in the crime.
John J O'Connell, Sr.
John J. “Solly” O’Connell, Sr.
Solly O’Connell was John O’Connell’s father — and the original kidnapping mark. Why his son John was taken instead remains a mystery.
“Solly” took over the family’s substantial interest in a local brewery, Hedricks. Rumor was that Albany County establishments that didn’t sell Hedricks, didn’t get a liquor license.
Daniel O'Connell & The Democratic Party
Daniel Patrick “Dan” O’Connell
(November 13, 1885 – February 28, 1977)
Daniel Patrick “Dan” O’Connell
In 1919, Daniel Patrick “Dan” O’Connell, a brick layer who dropped out of school in fifth grade, was elected County Assessor of Albany, NY. He became chairman of the Democratic Committee and was instrumental in unseating the Republican Party that had held Albany for 20 years. He is credited with establishing the New York Democratic political machine.
As O’Connell’s power grew, his connections spread further and deeper. O’Connell’s first major political victory was with William Stormont Hackett as candidate. Hackett, a businessman and lawyer, was the first candidate to mark the O’Connell’s longtime strategy of running wealthy non-ethnic Protestants to earn Democratic Party respect from the predominately Irish-American working class. After several re-elections, Hackett was primed for the race for governor, but died following a car accident in Cuba.
Next in line was O’Connell-backed Lt. Governor Edwin Corning. Corning’s health was failing so he declined to run — he later died on the operating table during surgery to amputate his second leg after gangrene had set in due to complications from diabetes.
New York Democrats then looked to Franklin D. Roosevelt for the 1928 race. Roosevelt won and served as governor until 1932 when he was elected President.
Edwin Corning’s son, Erastus, was elected mayor of Albany in 1942 and served until 1983. Edwin’s brother, Parker, was elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Although unproven, O’Connell also has been connected with the murder of Legs Diamond in 1931. A bootlegger, gambler, and gangster, Legs was staying at a rooming house in Albany while awaiting trial. Stories say that O’Connell ordered a hit on Legs to be carried out by the Albany Police Department. It is suspected that Albany police sergeant William Fitzpatrick shot Legs and was later promoted to Police Chief as a reward for his service. Other suspects include the Oley Brothers, who were involved in kidnapping O’Connell’s nephew, and Dutch Shultz, a Jewish-American mobster who bailed out two bank robbers involved in the kidnapping and turned up dead days after their release.