Category Archives: Crime and vice

Harry Taylor, first black firefighter, police detective

Harry Taylor (1861-1928) was Springfield’s first African-American firefighter, but became better known as a Springfield police officer and detective. Positions on both the police and fire departments were patronage appointments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Taylor was … Continue reading

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Hangings in Sangamon County, 1826-1927

  Sangamon County put to death seven men, all convicted of murder, between 1826, five years after the county was established, and 1927, when a new state law required executions to be carried out in state prisons. Those hanged were: … Continue reading

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‘Murder by abortion,’ 1946

A Springfield osteopath was convicted of murder after allegedly conducting an abortion that led to the death of a 19-year-old woman in 1946. Ronald U. Tilley (1897-1966) was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but the Illinois Supreme Court overturned … Continue reading

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Fisher ‘murder’ hysteria, 1841

The case of a “murdered” man who later turned up alive is one of 19th-century Springfield’s best-known legal controversies. That’s mainly because Abraham Lincoln wrote about it, but also because of the roles played by circumstantial evidence, a false confession … Continue reading

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The whipping post, 1828-37

A whipping post stood permanently on the northeast corner of Springfield’s public square from 1828 to 1837. It apparently was used infrequently, but often enough that whippings stuck in the minds of those who saw them. The post – which … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and vice, Early residents, Illinois capital, Law enforcement, Local government, Prominent figures, Sangamon County, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Mail robbery, 1923, ‘most daring ever’

Ten men eventually went to prison for a 1923 mail robbery the Illinois State Journal called “the most daring ever staged in this city.” The gang struck at 1:20 a.m. April 1, 1923, at the Chicago & Alton railway station … Continue reading

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Streetcar robberies, 1922

A rash of streetcar stickups culminated in 1922 with the shootings, one fatal, of two car operators. A.D. Mackie, general manager of the Springfield Consolidated Railway Co., responded to the first shooting by offering a reward for apprehension of the … Continue reading

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Poisoning and racial controversy, 1860

The sentencing of three African-American teenagers in 1860 on charges they tried to poison the employers of two of them highlighted differences in how courts and the newspapers treated blacks and whites at the time. Perhaps inevitably, the case also … Continue reading

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Johnston-Hatcher fires, 1907 & 1913

The Johnston-Hatcher Co. sold home furnishings of all kinds from 1899 to 1949 in downtown Springfield. The store, however, fell victim to two of the city’s most devastating early 20th-century fires. Johnston-Hatcher was the creation of two sets of brothers … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Airport, Amusements, Auto dealers, Buildings, Business, Crime and vice, Disasters, Farming, Fires, Presidents, Prominent figures, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stable fire, 1915

Fifty-one horses were “roasted and steamed to death” in a fire that destroyed a stable owned by Ira Dudley in the 900 block of East Washington Street on Sept. 15, 1915. The fire was discovered by two men walking along … Continue reading

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