Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Tue, 10.31.1905

‘Bumpy’ Johnson, Gangster born

"Bumpy" Johnson

*"Bumpy" Johnson was born on this date in 1905.  He was a Black mob boss and bookmaker in Harlem, New York City.

Ellsworth Raymond "Bumpy" Johnson was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Johnson got his nickname "Bumpy" from a bump on the back of his head.  When he was 10, his older brother, Willie, was accused of killing a white man. Afraid of a possible lynch mob, his parents mortgaged their home to raise money to send Willie up north to live with relatives.  As Johnson grew older, his parents worried about his short temper and disrespect towards whites, and in 1919 he was sent to live with his older sister Mabel in Harlem.  

Johnson was an associate of numbers queen Madame Stephanie Saint-Clair.  By the summer of 1952, Johnson's activities were being reported in the celebrity people section of Jet magazine.  That same year, he was indicted in New York for conspiracy to sell heroin and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He served most of that sentence at Alcatraz Prison and was released in 1963.  He was arrested over 40 times and served two prison terms for narcotics-related charges.  He was the main Harlem associate of Charles "Lucky" Luciano and what later became known as the Genovese crime family, and his criminal career inspired films and television.  

Johnson was under a federal indictment for drug conspiracy when he died of congestive heart failure at 62. He was at Wells Restaurant in Harlem shortly before 2 a.m., and the waitress had just served him coffee, a chicken leg, and hominy grits when he keeled over, clutching his chest. He was taken, by ambulance, to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on July 7, 1968.  He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.  


New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

Sometimes we walk hand in hand by the sea And we breathe in the cool salty air; You turn to me with a kiss in your eyes And my heart... WONDERFUL! WONDERFUL! by Johnny Mathis
Read More