This is not a story about Diamond Jim Brady (1856‒1917), who, during America’s Gilded Age, was a flamboyant, legendary businessman and philanthropist with an appetite for diamonds and other jewels. It is instead about Big Jim Brady, who, during America’s Gilded Age, was known for his own type of philanthropy, had an affinity for jewels, and was a legendary figure—as the handsomest and coolest of crooks.
Big Jim is a tough subject to tackle. From a young age, he was cool, slick, and secretive about his activities, leaving an intermittent and very difficult path to trace. Adding to the challenge—4 different ages applied to him spanning 24 years, 4 birth sites, and 4 aliases, besides the many identities he briefly “borrowed” from others. And just for good measure, top it off with three other well-known Jim Bradys from the same era.
Thomas Byrnes, one of the greatest police detectives in American history, wrote that Brady was a native of Troy, New York. He did have close friends and criminal consorts in that area, and family as well. One of his nicknames was “Albany Jim,” leading many to believe he was from Albany. Others placed his birth at Fairfield in northern Vermont. At any rate, he frequently spent time in the North Country. » Continue Reading.