Belle Moore found guilty as a white slave trader

Here is the conclusion to the story of Belle Moore.

Finally on April 26, Belle Moore called Miller and told him she had a couple of girls for his inspection. Miller took Amy Jackson with him as a witness. Jackson accompanied him under the pretense of being Madam Fuller’s maid. When Miller and Jackson arrived at Moore’s apartment, the two girls, Alice Milton and Belle Wood, were asleep in another room. Calling the girls “peaches and cream,” Moore opened the bedroom door for Miller’s approval. “Now, Dick, those girls are just what you want and I know they will please Frankie; I know they will get the money in any whorehouse.” Actually, the two young women had come from Mrs. Palmer’s, “disorderly house” a few blocks away at 137 West Forty-First Street.

After some haggling, a deal was struck for $75 for each girl. Miller did not have the full $150. Instead he pulled $90 from his pocket and borrowed $30 from Jackson. Belle Moore took the cash, rolled it up and stuck it in her stocking. Miller agreed to forward the remaining $30 to her within a reasonable amount of time.

She went to the window then and peered out. “I will look out and see if the coast is clear.” She was satisfied it was safe but still instructed them to all leave separately. Miller left first, carrying the girls’ luggage. Milton and Woods followed a few moments later and joined him in a waiting cab at Forty-second Street and Ninth Avenue.

Moore was arrested soon after and lodged in New York’s Tombs. Both she and Alex Anderson were indicted under the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Grand Jury for the sale of the two girls.

At Moore’s trial, Defense Council Alexander Karlin called Miller’s spending habits into question. The district attorney explained the money had come from an expense account privately given for this particular investigation. Karlin elicited a tally of between $3,000 and $4,000 spent on liquor both at drinking establishments, supposedly for information. Miller admitted that both he and Francis Foster bought champagne for the defendant.

Francis Foster was questioned about her own character. She told the court that she had been married up until the year before, but admitted she did not know where her husband was at the time. She testified that during the investigation, she spent weeks in the Tenderloin district gaining information and evidence from harlots, drunks and gamblers.

Karlin asked her if she thought it proper for a college educated women to be “going about in sporting joints.” Foster replied that she did not know what a sporting joint was but admitted to frequenting two saloons. She said Miller was always with her in these situations, and she never drank anything but champagne.

Although Alice Milton and Belle Woods had also been detained and held at the Magdelan Home, a facility for “unfortunate women,” the district attorney had no plans to put either of them on the stand. They had been described as mere children, hardly 16 years old. One story told that when Alice Milton consented to go to Seattle, she wept because she had to leave her teddy bear behind.

Milton was called as the first defense witness. Brown curls spilled out of her big red hat and tumbled over her shoulders. It was obvious even before she stated her age of 23 that she was not a child. Her attitude was evident in the way she dangled her patent leather shoe on the toe of one foot as she sat on the stand.

Her testimony differed from Miller’s. She claimed she was summoned to Belle Moore’s apartment to meet a man named “Dick Morris,” who would present an advantageous offer about going to Seattle to work for him. “I said ‘sure.’”

At Moore’s suggestion, Alice Milton contacted her friend, Belle Woods, to see if she might also be interested. According to Milton, that evening George A. Miller aka Dick Morris went to Mrs. Palmer’s where Milton and Woods worked.  He laid out his plan and asked them if they would be willing to go to Seattle. He also asked if they wanted money. “We said we did,” Milton testified.

When Belle Woods came to the stand, she gave her age as 25 and confessed that she had been married. She corroborated her friend’s testimony about the meeting with Miller. She said the three of them met at Mrs. Palmer’s and talked over the plans before she ever actually met Belle Moore. She told Miller that she would go to Seattle, but likewise, she might change her mind.

The two women agreed to meet Miller at Moore’s flat the next day, April 27, when the money would change hands.

In closing arguments Karlin told the jury that Belle Moore had been “seduced into crime through the agency of the Commonwealth of New York.

“You have no ‘white slave’ traffic uncovered here,” he said.

No one doubted that Belle Moore had persuaded Alice Milton and Belle Woods to accept the Seattle opportunity, or that she had taken $120 for connecting the parties. According to Karlin, Miller’s and Foster’s testimonies proved that they had pursued Moore. “She got the girls only after they (Foster and Miller) had scolded and begged, written and telephoned her for two weeks to do the thing she had promised.”

Karlin, again, brought up the money Miller spent on liquor. “Champagne out of the county’s money?”

In closing Karlin called Belle Moore “a mean, poor, inconsequential colored woman.” With that, tears pooled in Belle Moore’s eyes for the first time.

In spite of Karlin’s best effort, Belle Moore was found guilty of selling women for immoral purposes. It was an unexpected verdict as most everyone who followed the two-day trial believed she would be acquitted, or at the very least, the jury would be deadlocked. She was sentenced to the Auburn State Prison for at no less than two years and six months and no more than five years.

All posts on this blog are Copyright © 2012 Jane Ann Turzillo

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3 thoughts on “Belle Moore found guilty as a white slave trader

  1. Marilyn Seguin says:

    Jane, follow my blog at writinghistoricalfiction.blogspot.com

  2. That’s an amazing story. I wonder at the bad stuff that they didn’t managed to uncover.

  3. Gloria Alden says:

    This is all very interesting, Mary. Some young girls had no choice but to go into prostitution in those years. It was that or starve. I imagine there are a lot of cases like that today, too.

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