Arrested for ‘insulting Buffalo’ in 1914

       By Steve Cichon

When a 15-year-old boy got tired of big-city life in New York, he hopped on train and wound up in Buffalo.

1914 newspaper headline.

Nathan Kurtz’s long-term intention was to head out west, and maybe join the Army to fight some Indians. His short-term intention, however, was to see what Buffalo had to offer.

His youthful mistake was making an inquiry that a well-known Buffalo-backing police officer found insulting.

“Who’s the big noise in this small burg?” was the flippant question that “got the goat” of Patrolman William E. Jordan of the Franklin Station, according to the Buffalo Courier.

“What?” asked Jordan, who the paper called “one of the most ardent supporters of the slogan ‘A Bigger and Better Buffalo.’”

“I asked you if there was any chance of finding a regular hotel in this village,” defiantly repeated the 15-year-old scofflaw.

Feeling that the city he loved and called home was being insulted, Jordan collared the boy and brought him to the Franklin Street station, where it was learned he was a runaway. The young man’s parents were alerted so that they might send for their son’s return to New York.

When Jordan died in 1950, he was celebrated as one of the most colorful members of the police department.

His nickname was “Stormy,” and his arresting a kid for insulting Buffalo wasn’t the most unusual event of his career. He was the first Buffalo patrolman to arrest an airplane thief. His obituary in The News also proclaimed he was part of the department’s “treat ’em rough squad,” and he was tossed out of the department by Mayor Frank X. Schwab. He was later reinstated and promoted to detective before retiring in 1933.

A story in the Courier-Express explained, “Mr. Jordan had his ups and downs in the department, but none the less, he made his name feared by criminals of all types.”

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.