Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nashville gangsters

My great-grandmother Louetha Jones was raised on a farm near Hopkinsville, Kentucky but decided to leave her family and become a nurse. In about 1918, she moved by herself to Nashville, Tennessee and began working as a nurse in St. Thomas Hospital. In the early days of January 1920, a man named Manulis Hosse was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound and Louetha was his nurse. The nurse and patient soon developed a “whirlwind romance” and were married within weeks, on January 26, 1920.

Manulis "Scutter" Hosse
Little did she know (or perhaps she did), Louetha had just married a notorious gangster. Manulis Hosse was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee and came from an established crime family that became even more successful during Prohibition. The Hosse family owned various speakeasies, brothels, and gambling houses in Nashville and Louisville. They also had a large business of smuggling (bootlegging) alcohol in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Manlius controlled the family’s business interests in Nashville. His gang included various relatives and in-laws, a judge, a lawyer, a newspaper reporter, a firefighter, and two black “laborers.”

Manulis owned a popular speakeasy in Nashville (which was probably the legitimate “soft drink stand” that had been busted for selling contraband whiskey). Perhaps most dangerously, Manulis and his gang were involved with political racketeering in Nashville. They competed with rival gangs to elect and “buy” their own corrupt mayors or city politicians, the process of which earned them many enemies. Manulis, nicknamed “Scutter”, and was said to be relatively brutal. A former Nashville police officer once said “If crossed, Scutter would shoot you as soon as look at you.”
Louetha Jones Hosse

Louetha apparently took well to the lifestyle and was happily married. It was said that she and Manulis “were very much in love, and liked to laugh a lot.” Despite their wedded bliss, their exciting life together was cut short. On January 30, 1921 (4 days after their first anniversary), Manulis was shot and killed in a restaurant by a police officer hired by his one of his political enemies. He was 28-years old.

Louetha had no children during her brief marriage to Manlius. After her husband’s murder, Louetha moved to Louisville to live with Manulis’ mother Carrie Hosse (who was the real head of the crime family). There, she met her second husband (my great-grandfather) Newell Brown and they were married in 1922. Louetha’s second marriage was much less criminal and probably even normal. They were happily married until they died 13 days apart in 1963. Louetha apparently rarely talked about her first marriage to any of her family.

Most of the above information comes from Paul Hosse, Manlius' great-nephew.

Part of the article about Manulis' death
in The Tennessean, January 31, 1921
My descent from Louetha:

Louetha Jones
->Bettye Brown
--->Randy Wadleigh
----->Ryan Wadleigh

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Ryan. When dad first published "The Plymale Family In America", his sister came unglued that he had listed her first marriage. She worked at the county court house and had personally destroyed what she thought was the only recorded record of the marriage. She was WRONG! :D Old skeletons and such are so much fun.