Category Archives: Crime and vice

Fortune-teller scandal, 1897

A fortune-teller with a gift of gab went to prison in 1897, thanks partly to an investigation by Springfield’s first woman dentist. Arthur A. Waite went by the name of “Luke Leslie” when he set up shop at Second and … Continue reading

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‘Segregated district,’ 1909-15

In the early 20th century, the city of Springfield set aside a few square blocks where prostitutes were allowed to ply their trade without interference from police. The theory behind the quasi-legal “segregated district” was to keep the rest of … Continue reading

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‘Humane officer’ report, April 1904

Charles Stone (1847?-1911) was appointed Springfield’s first humane officer in November 1903. The position was part of the Springfield Police Department, and the humane officer had all the powers of any other police officer, but with the special duty of … Continue reading

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Temperance movement, 1874

Springfield’s women’s temperance movement lost much of its momentum in 1874, after a (male) Methodist minister went out of his way to blame the local liquor trade on immigrant Germans and Irish. Doubly unfortunate for the crusading women, Rev. William … Continue reading

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Slovenians in Sangamon County

In 1909, Slovenian immigrants Josef Grobelnik and Bartol Ramschak operated a popular tavern on South 15th Street. At the time, southeast Springfield was filled with young Eastern European families—most of them new arrivals to the U.S. While Grobelnik and Ramschak … Continue reading

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$50,000 faro fraud, 1931

A fraudulent card game in Springfield in 1931 cost one of Illinois’ most prominent Republican women $50,000 – and her career. Myrtle Tanner Blacklidge (1878-1958) had been U.S. revenue collector in Chicago for two years when she visited Springfield in … Continue reading

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H.B. Hill insurance scandal & suicide, 1934

With the insurance company he founded linked to Chicago crooks and his own job gone, Springfield financier H.B. Hill tried make his suicide look like a gangland murder. Hill shot himself in the head sometime on the afternoon of Dec. … Continue reading

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‘Army of God’ kidnappings (1982)

Three anti-abortion extremists, one of them a Springfield native, kidnapped an abortion clinic physician and his wife in 1982 and held the couple in an empty ammunition bunker near Illiopolis. The kidnappers – Don Benny Anderson, 41, a 1959 Lanphier … Continue reading

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Cantrall riot, 1926

Two hundred railroad construction workers rioted in Cantrall on Aug. 20, 1926, following a brawl at an illegal beer parlor. When village marshal William O’Neal intervened, the rioters beat him up and took away his revolver and badge. A half-dozen … Continue reading

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A.C. Littlejohn fraud and suicide

Angus Littlejohn, once a pillar of Springfield’s business community, spent three years in the 1930s trying to recoup his reputation and keep himself out of prison. He failed. On the morning of July 2, 1938, five minutes before he was … Continue reading

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