Dutch Mary (Madam) - Reading, PA
Mary Steffy, born April 23, 1872, came to work in Reading as a domestic worker during WWI earning $5.00 a week. She eventually became a prostitute and then a madam of her own brothel at 608 Cherry Street, Reading, PA.
Mary married John D. (Jack) Quinn who worked for the Reading Railroad and tolerated his wife’s profession.. On July 19, 1915, Mary found John dead on the dining room floor at the age of 49. He committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid.
Mary Quinn, known as prostitute madam “Dutch Mary” Gruber, became an FBI informant and was the person who took down mob boss Tony Moran.
Tony Moran approached Dutch Mary to put her operation under his control and she said NO! Moran then had the city’s chief detective raid her establishment over and over again hoping she would give in.
In November 1937, Mary wrote law enforcement letters requesting a meeting. Federal agents picked up Mary and drove her out of town for the meeting at which time she gave them very important information.
Before Mary could meet with agents again several men with New Jersey license plates broke into her brothel and asked for $500. She scrounged together what she could and they left. Despite being threatened Mary continued to give the agents information about Moran.
Mary was shut down for good in 1957 after she refused to play ball with a corrupt mayor.
Mary died on August 14, 1959 at the age of 87. It is said she was with friends at the Stork Hotel at 8th and Bingaman Streets and fell off a bar stool into the arms of one of her favorite policemen and died. Mary is buried next to her husband at Charles Evans Cemetery, 1119 Centre Avenue, Reading, PA.
Mary was remembered not only as a famous madam in Reading, but also for his kindness. At Christmas she would purchase shoes and clothing and distribute to the needy and drop off baskets of food on steps in the poorer areas of town.
After her brothel was torn down during urban renewal, people flocked to get pieces of the building as souvenirs.