Lavinsky Shooting
Lavinsky Shoots at Colored Customer

The following excerpt was extracted from the Herald Democrat, November 28, 1895.

Read more about the Lavinsky family.

Also read more about the Lavinsky Conflicts.

Lavinsky operated a saloon called the “Owl Joint” at 124 Harrison Avenue. During their time in Leadville the Lavinskys left a memorable impact on their neighbors and community, perhaps not always in the best of ways. In October 1895, Lavinsky had a terrifying altercation with Samuel Blumberg, his neighbor over a shared set of stairs. (Read more about the "Stair Strife".)

The stair issue was not the only violent incident that Lavinsky would be involved in. As a saloon owner, he knew how to handle himself in rough situations. Lavinsky’s saloon, the Owl Joint, was a multicultural watering hole which had an interesting clientele. The Owl Joint illustrates how cosmopolitan and multiracial Leadville was during the 1890s. In November of 1895, Lavinsky experienced his next unruly escapade with some boisterous patrons at the Owl Joint. The following article in the Herald Democrat illustrates what happened.

“Sam Lavinsky, who keeps the Owl saloon at 124 Harrison avenue, got into an altercation with some colored boys and shot and dangerously wounded Joe Faulkner, the bullet entering the right breast two inches below the armpit, passing through the right lung and out the back at the lower end of the shoulder blade. The shot was from a 38 Caliber revolver. Since Lavinsky has been proprietor of the Owl the place has gotten the name of being a ‘tough joint,’ there being frequent brawls and disturbances. It is a sort of homogeneous hole where ‘cullud folks’ and ‘white trash’ congregate.”

Lavinsky On The Shoot

The Owner of the Owl Joint Takes
a Shot at an Obnoxious
Colored Customer

Bores A Hole In His Lung

The Proprietor Ordered Out Several Noisy “C-ons,” and One Charged Him With A Poker When Lavinsky Fired – Conflicting Stories Are Told

“Sam Lavinsky, who keeps the Owl saloon at 124 Harrison avenue, got into an altercation with some colored boys and shot and dangerously wounded Joe Faulkner, the bullet entering the right breast two inches below the armpit, passing through the right lung and out the back at the lower end of the shoulder blade. The shot was from a 38 Caliber revolver.

Since Lavinsky has been proprietor of the Owl the place has gotten the name of being a ‘tough joint,’ there being frequent brawls and disturbances. It is a sort of homogeneous hole where ‘cullud folks’ and ‘white trash’ congregate.

Miles Phillips, a ‘cullud gent,; runs the bar at such times as Lavinsky is in jail or at police sessions, answering such charges of disturbance of the peace as may be railed against him.

Yesterday’s quarrel, which led up to the shooting, occurred at about half past 4 in the afternoon. Joe Faulkner, Jasper Findlay, Joseph Anderson, John Hodges, William Johnson and Miles Phillips were all in the room, the latter running the joint in the absence of Lavinsky. The colored boys say they were engaged in a game of pool when Lavinsky ordered ‘the damned niggers out,’ as he said he didn’t want them in his place ‘nohow.’ There were bad names with terminations ending in ‘nigger’ and ‘sheeney’ which resulted in Lavinsky pulling his gun and firing the shot, or two shots, for two were fired, only one taking effect.

Perhaps the straightest account of the shooting is that given by Miles Phillips the assistant bar-keeper and manager of the joint in the absence of Lavinsky. He said: ‘Faulkner wanted drinks for himself and another of his chums, but hadn’t money to pay for them. When Sam Lavinsky refused to give them he grew ugly and Sam told him to behave himself or he would put him out of the house. The colored man called him a ‘damn Sheeny’ and he called the colored boy a ‘damn nigger.’ Sam was about to grasp a beer glass on the counter to smash the coon when Sam’s wife secured it and took it off the bar. Findlay tried to grab a billard ball off one of the tables, but I stopped him. Lavinsky then went back on the bar and picked up a billard cue, when all the colored boys jumped at him with chairs and Faulkner had the poker. Sam then went back and got his revolver and all the boys ran except Faulkner, who went towards Sam with the poker. As he was a firing a second time I think Faulkner must have hit the gun with the poker, for the bullet went to one side and struck the wall. The pistol fell to the floor and Faulkner secured it and was about to fire it at Lavinsky, who had ran behind the counter, when I secured it from him.’

The wound was dressed by Dr. Collins and he pronounced it dangerous, with about even chances for death or recovery.

Lavinsky was arrested by the Marshal Burgess and turned over to Officer Campbell, who led him to jail. He occupied the same cell last night as Tom Powers, John Connors, charged with burglary: Sam Murray, for assault and battery, and Charles Johnson, for petty larceny.

Lavinsky had a racket with a fellow by the name of Tom Cannon about a week ago at Ben Loeb’s place. This is said to have started in a row over a room at the Lavinsky joint, the keeper of the Owl having lodging rooms which he rents without asking questions. ‘Cannon,’ said Miles Phillips, ‘came in with a couple of women and wanted a room. I told him it had been rented to a railroad man but that if he’d pay the price I’d give him as good a room in its place. He swiped out a knife and was going to have one less coon in the world. When he saw I meant business he put up his dirk. Afterwards he met Lavinsky at Loeb’s and said he was going to finish him. In the scrap Cannon hit Lavinsky in the finger and Sam had him jailed for it.”

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Article from the Herald Democrat, November 28, 1895. Page 3.
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The following excerpt was extracted from the Herald Democrat, December 14, 1895.

Read more about the Lavinsky family.

The shooting caused an uproar among Leadville’s African American community, as is evidenced by the following article from the Herald Democrat.

“The shooting of Joe Faulkner, a colored boy, by Sam Lavinsky on November 27, created much excitement among the colored contingent in the city. Lavinsky kept a saloon to which low whites and negroes resorted, and a number of colored boys were in his joint playing pool at the time of the shooting. Lavinsky is a Hebrew, and has a very excitable and quarrelsome disposition. Seeing the men of ‘culler’ in his place he ordered them out. They objected to his expression: ‘Get out of here you damned niggers,’ and refused to go. This led to a quarrel ending in Lavinsky shooting Joe Faulkner in the breast. Faulkner’s life was despaired of, but, as the saying goes, ‘you can’t kill a darkey with a gun,’ Faulkner fooled the doctor and was sufficiently improved to attend court.”

Joe Faulkner survived and Lavinsky went to trial for the incident but was acquitted because his actions were seen as “self-defense.” This incident is a prime example of the colorful life which Lavinsky led in Colorado. It also illustrates he was a figure with a controversial reputation.

Sam Lavinsky Is Held

He Is Bound Over to the District
Court for Shooting Joe
Fulkner

The Color Line Is Drawn

The Court Room Was Crowded With Colored Boys Who Sympathized With the Man of Their Race.

“The shooting of Joe Faulkner, a colored boy, by Sam Levinsky on November 27, created much excitement among the colored contingent in the city. Lavinsky kept a saloon to which low whites and negroes resorted, and a number of colored boys were in his joint playing pool at the time of the shooting. Lavinsky is a Hebrew, and has a very excitable and quarrelsome disposition. Seeing the men of ‘culler’ in his place he ordered them out. They objected to his expression: ‘Get out of here you damned niggers,’ and refused to go. This led to a quarrel ending in Lavinsky shooting Joe Faulkner in the breast. Faulkner’s life was despaired of, but, as the saying goes, ‘you can’t kill a darkey with a gun,’ Faulkner fooled the doctor and was sufficiently improved to attend court.

Lavinsky made no defense and was held to appear at the next term of the district court to answer the charge of assault with intent to kill.

He furnished a $1,000 bond and is now out of jail.”

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Article from the Herald Democrat, December 14, 1895. Page 8.
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The following excerpt was extracted from the Leadville Daily Chronicle, May 19, 1896.

Read more about the Lavinsky family.

Read more about the Cooperman family.

Lena Lavinsky, Mr. Lavinsky’s wife, also had her own altercations with members of the public, a trait she shared with Mr. Lavinsky.

In May of 1896, Lena Lavinsky got into a nasty row with Fannie Cooperman. On May 19th “Lena Lavinsky [appeared] in court at 2 o’clock Wednesday, May 19. Her arrest was caused by Fannie Cooperman, who accuses her of having committed a breach of the peace by calling some very bad names.” The next day this was followed by an article in the Herald Democrat which elaborated on the situation.

“The Lavinskys and the Coopermans of West Fourth street are very much in court. The mothers Lavinsky and Cooperman have grievances to settle that they have taken before Justice Walls. Mrs. Fannie Cooperman is the complaintant. ‘Now comes Fannie Cooperman,’ again, but not to let it appear that she wishes to give her patronage to one court, she comes to Justice Grant and enters a complaint against David Lavinsky, the 12-year-old scion of the house of Lavinsky, whom she accuses of having made dire threats against her own offsprings, Moses and David. Then Mr. Lavinsky takes a hand. He files a complaint against Moses and David for thrashing his little David… Mr. Lavinsky states that he and his wife are peaceful and law-abiding, and desire no quarrels with their neighbors. They claim that the whole prosecution is due to green-eyed jealousy on the part of rivals in business.”

Big Grist From The Courts

The Justices Were Kept Busy All Day on
Sundry Civil and Criminal
Cases.

Lena Lavinsky gave bond in the sum of $50 [?] for appearance in court at 2 o'clock Wednesday, May 27. Her arrest was caused by Fannie Cooperman, who accuses her of having committed a breach of the peace, by calling some very bad names.

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Article from the Leadville Daily Chronicle, May 19, 1896. Page 4.
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The Day In The District Court

Lavinsky and McGeeney Cases Were Tried Before a Jury and an Acquittal Secured in Each Lavinsky Took a Shot at a Darkey Whom He Claimed Was Disturbing the Peace and Quiet of His Saloon There Was No Malicious Mischief Proven Against McGeeney.

There were two trials of criminal cases in the district court yesterday , resulting in acquittals in both cases. Neither case was particularly important, but the lawyers naturally consumed much time in arguments, in cross-examination and other legal formalities and quiddities.

M. Lavinsky kept a saloon on the corner of state street and the avenue last year, and one afternoon it was invaded by a gang of colored negro musicians. Among the members were Charles Faulkner and Jasper Finley. Lavinsky had much trouble in curbing and controlling the colored men and during the melee shot Faulkner, but the bullet struck him in the head and glanced off. For this Lavinsky was arrested, and yesterday had his trial.

A peculiar circumstance in connection with the case is that since the trouble Finley, who had afterward been arrested for robbery, committed suicide in jail by taking a drink of carbolic acid. According to the story told by the various witnesses Finley started the row, and when Lavinsky ordered the crowd out of the house Faulkner grabbed a poker and made toward the proprietor, who drew his revolver in self protection. The jury evidently came to the conclusion that a man had a right to protect his house against a riotous gang and Mr. Lavinsky was duly acquitted.

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Article from the The Herald Democrat, July 14, 1897. Page 2.
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