James Vallely NYPD:

By Tom Vallely

James Vallely of the New York Police Department is a bit of a mystery.  From news accounts it appears he was involved in the arrest and transportation--including perhaps saving the life of--  Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley.  The President was visiting the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

I originally heard of James Vallely through an article from the 1933 Palm Beach News.  It referred to him as Captain James Vallely. My assumption was that he was a Captain for NYPD.

Unfortunately that article is no longer online.  I'm trying to obtain it the old fashioned way--begging by email.  Okay, the real old fashioned way would be to go to Palm Beach and look through microfilm.

I have located a few online articles about James Vallely. 

The first article details the escape with the assassin but does not cover the deception detailed in the death notice.  The Palm Beach News article also referred to the fact that a patrol wagon was sent to the front to draw off the hostile crowd while James Vallely drove the carriage away from the back with the assassin inside.

The Buffalo Express, Sept. 7, 1901:
... "Lynch Him" cried a hundred voices and a start was made for one of the entrances to the Temple of Music. The soldiers and police sprang outside and beat back the crowd. ... In the midst of the confusion, Nieman [Czolgosz] still bleeding from his blows and pale and silent with his shirt torn was led out quickly by Capt. James F. Vallely, chief of the exposition detectives, Assistant-Commandant Robertson and detectives. They thrust him into a closed carriage. The detectives leaped in with him and Capt. Vallely jumped in the driver's seat as they lashed the horses into a gallop. A roar of rage burst from the crowd.

"Murder! Assassin! Lynch him! Hang him!" yelled the thousands, and men, women and children tore at the guards, sprang at the horses and clutched the whirling wheels of the carriage. Nieman huddled back in the corner concealed by the bodies of two detectives.

The Buffalo Express refers to him as Captain James Vallely, chief of the exposition detectives.

In an article dated August 2, 1902,   the Times details how Police Commissioner Partridge was reorganizing the Detective Bureau at police headquarters and demoting 24 detective sergeants to patrolman at a cost of six hundred dollars a year per man.  Seventy-six more detective sergeants were reduced in pay by the same amount, reclassified as patrolmen and reassigned to detective duties.  He retained sixty detective sergeants including James Vallely.  By the way, the commissioner saved a total of eighty thousand dollars.  He planned to use that to hire 112 new officers. So James Vallely was an NYPD Sergeant a year after being referred to as a Captain in the Buffalo Express article.

The second article is from September 28, 1900, a full year before the assassination.  It details the soap opera death of millionaire William Marsh Rice, missing funds and the investigations of Detective Sergeants Arthur A. Carey and James F. Vallely of Captain McCluskey's staff.

The final entry is the one publicity we must all eventually face:

Time Magazine Nov 29, 1937:

Died. Captain James Vallely, 83, detective; in Houston, Tex. In Buffalo, on the night of Sept. 6, 1901, Vallely was called from his office to the Temple of Music where President McKinley had just been shot. He found a furious mob trying to get at Assassin Leon Czolgosz, who had been seized and put in a back room. Vallely ordered a patrol wagon sent to the building's back entrance. While the mob surged around it, Vallely sneaked Czolgosz out the front, took him to jail in the President's carriage.

It is possible to conclude that James Vallely was a detective sergeant with NYPD in 1900 and 1902.  In 1901 he was a Captain at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo.  My conclusion is that he was a detective with NYPD and worked an extra job with the Pan American Exposition.  In that case nothing has changed but the material of the uniforms and the type of weapon carried by police.  Moronic bureaucracies led by mediocre leaders and working extra jobs to make ends meet seem to be the universal glue that hold together the traditions of law enforcement.

Photo from the 1933 Palm Beach News NYPD Captain James Vallely

  • P. Scott Vallely reports that he is the great great grandson.  
  • Dawn Vallely of Easley, South Carolina reports her Grandfather, George L Vallely was the Grandson of the late Capt. James Vallely.
  • Chris Vallely reports that the family left Ireland (in the 1860's?) and went to Lanarkshire, Scotland. They too have the myth of the Armada survivors in the family history.

As a footnote, James, Scott, Dawn and George may be fairly closely related to me since my family also made the trek to Lanarkshire Scotland before sailing for the states.  My grandfather's brother was James Vallely but with a middle initial of A and he died in Colorado. 

Diane Vallely Greene update May, 2010
His parents may have been John Vallely and Sarah Cosgrove, not Patrick that is listed on the death certificate.

Texas Death Index, 1903-2000 Texas Death Index, 1903-2000
Name: James Francis Vallely 
Death Date: 19 Nov 1937 
Death County: Harris 
Certificate: 55496
Name: James Francis Vallely
Death Date: 19 Nov 1937
Death Place: Houston, Harris, Texas
Gender: Male
Race: White
Death Age: 84 years 8 months 7 days
Estimated Birth Date:
Birth Date: 12 Mar 1853
Birthplace: New York
Marital Status: Widowed
Spouse's Name: Catherine Vallely
Father's Name: Patrick Vallely
Father's Birthplace: Ireland
Mother's Name:
Mother's Birthplace:
Occupation: Retired
Place of Residence: New York, New York
Burial Place: New York City, N Y
Burial Date: 20 Nov 1937
Additional Relatives:
Film Number: 2117398
Digital Film Number: 4168343
Image Number: 1043
Reference Number: 55496
Collection: Texas Deaths, 1890-1976

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