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The Toledo Police Museum would like to thank Mr. Doug Tracy for his steadfast desire to preserve and share the history he inherited when scrapbooks belonging to his great-grandfather, Lewis B. Tracy,  were unexpectedly entrusted to him.


Doug is an inexhaustible source of information on Toledo's Tenderloin District and an authentic friend to the museum and all who seek enlightenment from our past. This story is a result of his extensive research.

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Toledo's Tenderloin District in the early 1900's. 

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James Boyle (May 5, 1908).jpg
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Fred Bechtel, Murdered Sgt James Boyle.jpg

During the period between 1900 and 1920, Mother Mack was a fixture in the Toledo underworld. A Welsh (or possibly Irish) immigrant named Catherine (Mulvahill) McDonald, Mother Mack was a small-time thief, fence, ex-con, saloonist, resort (brothel) operator and matriarch of the family business referred to in Toledo newspapers as the "notorious Mother Mack gang."


She and her family were prolific criminals who were in and out of jails and prisons as they plied their nefarious trade in the area of the Tenderloin and the Clover Leaf railway spurs just south of the city, with sometimes tragic results for both the victims and the perpetrators.


Convicted of perjury involving her possession of stolen goods in 1906, Mother Mack spent four years in the grim Ohio Penitentiary at a time when that prison still held female prisoners. Her son, "Big John" Mack, a jail-breaker, safe-blower, gunman and thief, was charged with the first-degree murder of Toledo Police Sergeant James F. Boyle in 1908.


Click on the photos on this page to read the story of how the trajectory of these people's lives met in tragic ways.

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